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Archive for the ‘Poldark’ Category

Waking up near the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon in Santa Monica.

The Pacific Ocean is at the end of our road!

They’ll start this morning at Dodgers Stadium in downtown Los Angeles and run the twenty six miles plus a few more yards east-west to the water’s edge.

They–the everyday runners–will feel exhausted but exhilarated to have made it to the line.

We can sympathize!

Today’s the start of our last full week; tomorrow we head to Palo Alto and San Francisco for two bookstore signing sessions.

The apricot tree outside our window has little pink and white flowers ready to burst into life against the almost cloudless blue sky.

Los Angeles is herself again after the drenching downpours of yesterday which we thought would put a damper on  the event at Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont village–Angelinos stay home when it rains we were told.

NOT SO!–enough brave souls ventured out to make it a modest sell out.

This evening–a “poignant” Poldark reunion.

Ross meets Elizabeth again after thirty five years.

We are having dinner with Jill Townsend.

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The book event in Washington was held in this Georgetown home.

Signing books in advance of the evening

A brief talk to the assembled group

Wonderful book event in Georgetown last night!

Thanks to author, nutritionist and all-around whirlwind, Katherine Tallmadge for organizing the event; Nancy Taylor Bubes for opening her beautiful home to more than 80 guests, the American Institute of Wine and Food  for co-sponsoring, and Executive Chef, Janis McLean of Bistrot Le Zinc for demonstrating the potato-less salmon fishcakes recipe–and thanks to all who turned out, many bringing dishes prepared from recipes in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

The Washington Post’s Food Editor Bonnie Benwick was present the entire evening and wrote a wonderful account today: http://wapo.st/xGHO30/.

We leave balmy Washington D.C. where the magnolia blossoms are opening for the Windy City  tomorrow!

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Here’s the American tour schedule:

 Washington D.C.: Wed., March 7th 6-8pm, Georgetown event with cooking demonstration:
In Chicago area, a pop-up book-signing at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble in Evanston (northern suburb)
on Sunday, March 11th at 3pm.
In LA, Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont on Saturday Mar 17th 1pm-3pm.
126 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Tel: 323-465-1334
Fax: 323-465-6093
E-mail: chevaliers@earthlink.net
In the San Francisco area:
Wed, March 21st, 7pm, Books Inc,
Thursday, March 22nd The Booksmith, 7.30pm Downtown San Francisco in Haight-Ashbury,
1644 Haight Street, San Francisco CA 94117
415-863-8688 p 415-863-2540 f

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New York, New York–it’s a wonderful town!

I’m doing two pop-up (i.e. they don’t know–you do!) book (or dvd) signings in Manhattan.

Sunday, Mar 4th,  3pm at the Starbucks inside the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Broadway at 82nd.

Come have coffee or tea, bring your book or DVD (or order it).

Anyone unable to make that, the following morning at 10am (Mon Mar 5th) I’ll be at Le Pain Quotidien on 2nd Ave between 49th & 50th.

On the road...

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A picture’s worth a thousand words.

This is Meredith’s lovely montage.

She not only takes great photos but she puts them together beautifully to tell many stories on the way.

Shows more summer than winter–no harm in whetting the appetite though…!

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Richard Morant who played Dr  Dwight Enys in the first series of Poldark has died suddenly in London after a short illness.

Richard as the good Doctor Enys in Poldark 1975

 

It is desperately sad news. Though we hadn’t met for many years, we’d remained in tenuous touch. He was coming to support the launch of my cookbook in September, but was thwarted by a huge traffic jam on the way out to Chiswick that evening.

Richard had the most life-confirming giggle of anyone I’ve met. He would say something serious and then after a pause, would collapse in self-deprecating laughter–though there was no doubting his sincerity.

In a recent retrospective TV programme about Poldark, he was asked the reason for its continuing success. This was his eloquent and just reply:

“It’s about love—it’s about betrayal—the things that hurt us– the things that give us joy.”

“Like any kind of creation where people you know are going through their emotions, expressing their feelings of love, life and death–it evokes strong attachments, strong passion and you love it.”

“You love them, you love the people, you cherish them, you honour them, you respect them.”

In an email response to the invitation to my book launch, he wrote:

“Someone sent me a link the other day to a YouTube compilation of me in love scenes with Judy Geeson and others… ahhhhh sweet youth. I laughed and felt sad too.  It still surprises me from emails and letters, the feeling shared that we touched so many people’s hearts with our simple story, and continue to do so. I feel our world then was a much more innocent place.

Bless you Richard.  I was lucky to know you.

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This blog, was set up at the end of January 2011 to help promote my book of recipes--Delicious Dishes for Diabeticswhich was published on the 4th of August in The UK and on November 1st in the USA.

Today I’m publishing my 200th post!

To mark the  occasion, here’s a review of the book we discovered yesterday on an interesting site targeted at book lovers:

Delicious Dishes for Diabetics

Robin Ellis (Author)

Better known for his role as the dashing Captain Ross in the 1970s BBC series ofPoldark, the writer having been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes was determined to manage his condition through life style changes rather than medication.

This is a very well written, visually attractive, concise cookbook, which appeals to diabetics and non-diabetics alike. It is organised in clear sections, from Soups in Section 1, through to Grains and Pulses in Section 11.

Instead of the usual photos of dishes, there are enchanting illustrations instead.

The recipes are tantalizing; Farinata (Pancake), Comfort Lentils and Caponata, to name just a few. My only criticism is that a few healthy puds or cakes could have been included as there is no sweet section.

The book is based on the ‘Mediterranean’ diet; plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish etc.

It really appealed to me, firstly being vegan vegetarian and secondly with Type 2 diabetes in my family. This book would make an ideal gift.

Reviewed by: Alison B-Hill – Bradford

How did I come to write a cookbook?

I tell that story in my updated memoir, Making Poldark.

That slim volume is being republished later this year, to coincide with the release in American of the boxed set of Poldark dvds by Acorn Media. I thought I’d share an excerpt of the new chapter with my blog readers….

“Why don’t you write a cookbook Robin?”.

A cookbook? That’s a bit of a leap!

I liked to cook—in fact that’s mainly what I did now.

Twice a day I cooked (still do)—lunch and dinner–and did the marketing.

But a cookbook…?

Weren’t there too many cooks writing too many cookbooks?

And I wasn’t a professional.

It was flattering that friends suggested it though.

My resistence stayed firm for some time–for a few years in fact. I was happy cooking for Meredith and friends who came to visit.

I continued collecting recipes and pasting them in a red foolscap notebook—Ma had done the same in a blue one. We clearly shared a compulsive urge to look for recipes that work.

Brother Jack and sister-in-law Christine kept my bookshelves up-to-date with the newest cookbooks—as did friends who knew I’d be delighted with any new addition.

The pressure was growing though!

When Meredith noticed me writing up a few recipes for the fun of it, she began to say at lunch and dinner tables, “Robin’s writing a cookbook”!

“Really–what a good idea!”

“Um—yes. I’m enjoying it—we’ll see….”

Then on subsequent visits the first question to me was:

“How’s the cookbook going, Robin?”

“Um–fine thanks–slowly.”

About four years ago I’d started working with a laptop—more practical than the desktop in my office.

One afternoon I found myself sitting in the shade under the trees in the garden, experimenting with an introduction to the putative book!

Clearly I had started believing in the idea myself.

The following summer a friend emailed me from her home in the Basque country asking for recipes. She knew I liked to cook, and was too busy working to do much searching for new dishes.

It was a tipping point.

I realised I had a range of interesting recipes ready to send off.

These later formed the basis of the collection that Meredith packaged up to send to potential publishers, testing the waters.

The response was friendly but unproductive.

Unless you are a TV chef/cook or have a current celebrity profile, it is hard to interest that cash-strapped world.

It is tough out there.

Meredith then had a brainwave. It was obvious in a way, but one doesn’t always see clearly what is staring you in the face. 

There was nothing in the proposed book that I didn’t eat on a daily basis and I had been diagnosed 10 years earlier with type 2 diabetes. Meredith ate the same meals as me and didn’t feel deprived. This could be a book of everyday eating for diabetics that the entire family could enjoy too.

The title came later.

Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

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I remember Judy Geeson (who played Caroline Penvenen in the second series of Poldark) once asking me how long I took cleaning my teeth!

Such a question! It must have been nervesanxiety provokes strange conversations.

We were standing around waiting to record a scene at the BBC’s Studios in Birmingham, in 1977.

She was shocked when I told her it usually took me about 20 seconds and that I once had to have 22 fillings after not seeing the dentist for 3 years.

“You must spend at least 3 minutes and floss every time, beforehand.” she told me sternly.

Duly admonished I have followed her advice ever since.

This exchange came to mind when Meredith sent me the link to a website that describes in detail what can happen to a diabetic’s teeth when glucose  levels are unchecked.

It also has useful tips about how to keep your mouth healthy:

People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).

By controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help prevent periodontal disease.

I brush and floss three times a day.

Thanks Judy!

(We quickly got our teeth into the scene!)

Toothsome threesome--Angharad, Robin and Judy!


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Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple has died, aged 56. In an early interview with Playboy magazine he is quoted as saying:

We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” (my italics)

This put me in mind of John Bloomfield, the costume designer on the first series of Poldark.

I remember once seeing John sitting on a dry stone wall in Cornwall while we were filming, sewing a button onto a part of a costume that would never be caught on camera, but was an authentic period detail.

It didn’t matter to him that it probably would never be seen, but he knew he wouldn’t sleep well that night if his costume had been incomplete!

We had worked together “B.P.” (Before Poldark!) on an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s social satire, Bel Ami.

He made me 17 stunning suits for the five-part serialisation, all of which he would sketch out beforehand in an original way.

John's pasted paper sketch for a George Duroy suit

With pieces of coloured paper–cutting like a tailor–he would build a patchwork portrait of the outfit.

Attention to detail from the start!

Rest In Peace– Steve Jobs.

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We had these last night with quinoa, plain green beans, and garlicky yogurt sauce.

It’s adapted from a recipe by Rick Stein–known as the uncrowned king of Cornwall.

When we were filming Poldark in Cornwall 35 years ago, eating out in the county was very different from what we experienced last weekend and Rick Stein has a lot to do with it.  His fish restaurants in Padstow have set a benchmark. Things have improved!

We tried to reserve a table at one of Rick’s places a couple of weeks before our trip but they were all booked–sad for us but “Hooray” for Cornwall!

for 2+

500gms/1lb aubergines–cut up into smallish pieces (quicker to sauté), lightly salted and left in a sieve or colander for an hour to drain off their liquid, then dried ready for the pan. (This seems tedious to do but they absorb less oil this way.)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1” square piece of fresh ginger--chopped fine

3 garlic cloves–pulped with half a teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of water

2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds–crushed

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

500gms/1lb tomatoes–chopped with their juice (or use tinned)

3 more tablespoons of water

  • whizz the ginger and garlic in a tablespoon of water to form a loose paste.
  • heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan that you can cover.
  • when hot, add a single layer of  the dry aubergine pieces.
  • turn them in the oil and sauté on all sides until nicely browned–a pair of cooking tongs comes in handy here–then set aside. (It’s worth taking your time to make sure the aubergine is cooked through.)
  • continue the process until all the aubergine pieces are cooked, adding more oil as needed.
  • let the pan cool a little before heating two tablespoons of oil and adding the fennel and cumin seeds.
  • let them colour for a few seconds before adding the ginger and garlic paste.
  • cook this gently for a minute or two before adding the coriander, turmeric and chili powder.
  • cook this gently for a minute before adding the tomatoes and the extra water.
  • turn the lovely looking mix over and cook on a low heat for ten minutes to form a sauce.
  • add the aubergine pieces turning everything over thoroughly before covering the pan and cooking for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  • test the doneness of the aubergines, cooking them a little more if necessary, adding a little more water if  needed.
  • check the seasoning and sprinkle some chopped mint, fresh coriander, or parsley over the dish before serving.

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