|a very rugged mousse|
Not even Nigella is perfect. The orange muffins from Nigella Bites are merely ok and her instant chocolate-orange mousse from Nigellisima didn’t work out for me (although it has worked for others, apparently.) To make this intriguing instant mousse, you whip cream and fold in some sweetened condensed milk. Nigella: “for the self-styled tastemakers of the world, condensed milk is really beyond the pale. So how can you blame me for wanting to slip it into any recipe whenever possible?”
Into this airy-runny-cloying cream you now fold melted chocolate, fresh orange juice, and Aperol. Alas, the chocolate seized when it made contact with the cream and I couldn’t seem to break it up again, so there were all these chunks of seized chocolate in the mousse. Mark, who didn't know this was unintentional, said, “The chocolate chips are a nice touch.”
|a very boring muffin|
I'm glad someone thought so. I feel that the whole point of mousse is the smoothness. But even if the texture had been perfect, this mousse was too fruity, too sweet, and I would have given it a thumbs down anyway.
But I will forgive Nigella anything.
|a very charming book|
I’m trying to write a little about books I read, at least when they’re good, which Mary-Louise Parker’s collection of autobiographical essays definitely is. Her essays take the form of fantastically odd, mostly endearing letters to men who have played a significant role in her life, including her revered childhood priest, the oyster picker who provided the oysters for her father’s last meal, a beloved wether goat, and the hospital orderly who tried unsuccessfully to take her newborn son to the nursery. As an actress, Parker is funny and off kilter. So are her essays. They contain no gossip and almost no names. Don’t expect to read about how Billy Crudup left her for Claire Danes when MLP was pregnant with their son. This comes up, but only very obliquely in the apology letter she addresses to the poor NYC cab driver who picked her up around that time and started driving in the wrong direction. ("So, Mr. Cabdriver, I apologize for the profanity and the blame. I caused your turban to pop loose from its foundation and that was extreme. . . .") She makes it funny -- she makes almost everything funny -- but there's real heartbreak in these essays, too, and grief, disappointment, and self-reproach. They're pretty great.
Lately, it feels like I can turn any book (or movie) into a source of self-help inspiration. You know, news I can use. Is that wrong? Shouldn't my approach to art be more disinterested and pure? Yes, probably, but who cares. I found plenty of juicy self-help tips in these pages, particularly in the essay entitled “Dear Mentor.”
“Our first week rehearsing together, we were outside on a break and you asked me what my character did at night when she couldn’t sleep. I rattled off stuff I thought was super-interesting before I said, 'and I feel like she’s the kind of person who . . .'
“I kept on, but something I’d said had given you a twitch Your face was very close to mine and I remember the direction our bodies were facing in the courtyard, all of that. . . .
“You were nodding while I rambled and when I stopped you said,
“'Uh huh? All that is good? But I would be careful of thinking about people as ‘kinds of people.’”
|I didn't think Mary-Louise Parker (i.e. beautiful actress) was the kind of person who could write sparkling, brainy, and delightfully bizarre essays.|
Spend even just a few hours trying to avoid instantly categorizing the people you run into. I have. It's interesting and it's hard.