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Archive for the ‘Robin Ellis’ Category

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My memoir of MAKING POLDARK–with a chapter on how I got involved in the 2015 adaptation of Winston Graham’s romantic saga, and behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of the new series–is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER on Amazon.

(The book is currently available only on Amazon USA.)

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To celebrate the ‘first night’ of the new Poldark on British TV this evening, here’s a roast chicken even Prudie* could cook in the kitchen at Nampara**!

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From my first cookbook,  Delicious Dishes for Diabetics:

Every cook has a version of this classic–roast chicken.

This one is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s simple, tasty and robust recipe.

Serves 4/5

1 free-range chicken

olive oil

salt and pepper

6 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic – unpeeled

a  lemon – halved
a glass white wine

Heat the oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

Rub the chicken all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper

Stuff the cavity with the bay leaves, garlic and lemon halves.

Roast the chicken for 1  1/2 hours.

Halfway through, baste it thoroughly.

When it is cooked, it should be nicely browned and the juices should run clear, not pink.

At that point, remove the pan from the oven and move the cooked bird onto a platter to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, tip the roasting pan and spoon out most of the fat/oil—leaving about a tablespoonful in the pan.

Pick up the bird carefully with a pair of oven gloves and up-end it, letting the juices run back into the pan. Add any juices that have settled in the platter too.

(A little tricky—but worth it for the taste of the gravy.)

Park the chicken and cover it with foil to keep it warm while you make the gravy.

Add the glass of white wine and scrape any residue sticking to the pan.

Gently stir over a low-ish heat for 2–3 minutes.

You could add some stock or more wine to make it go a little further.

Taste and pour into a warmed jug.

We had this for lunch today!

 * Prudie and Judd are Ross Poldark’s old retainers who have let **Nampara–the family “seat”–go to wrack and ruin, while Ross is away soldiering in vain to save the “American Colonies” for the King.
Prudie’d do well, cooking this to get back into Ross’ good books!

Tonight we’ll be raising a glass to Aidan, Eleanor

and the whole wonderful cast!

Go well and bon appetit, mes braves!

 

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This week marks the end of the testing season–feet, heart, liver, kidneys, prostate, skin–you name it!

On Monday it was the annual love fest with Dr Nguyen Ngoc Luong, my opthamologist.

A man of few words, Dr Luong sits on a swivel chair with an alarming revolving table to his right.

At the push of a button this table goes in to action, swinging round to position a new chin rest at eye level between me and the good Doctor. This happens three times in the course of the test.

Then comes the checking of my long sight.

Reading off the numbers or letters projected on the wall opposite, as Dr Luong slips different lenses in and out of the “pince-nez” he fastens onto my nose.

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I feel like a schoolboy keen to answer teacher’s questions correctly.

Now it’s time for the most intimate moment of the session.

We both shift nervously on our chairs preparing to stare into one another’s eyes for a few breathless moments.

My freshly shaved chin juts towards his as he points a penetrating light at my pupils–shining  it into every corner of my cornea and beyond.

Breaking the spell, he leans back and utters three precious words. To my relief–a few days short of Valentine’s Day–not “I Love You” but…

“Pas de diabétes!”

I uncross my fingers–and feel foolish again for indulging in the Superstition Game.

Another year CLEAR!

 

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Meredith shows me a Breugel 16th century winter scene reminiscent of the world outside our windows at the moment–except for the skating.

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It leads her into thinking of other artists’ depiction of winter.

“Who was that painter we liked at the Metropolitan after we saw that Matisse exhibit a few years back? Industrial landscapes and the boxers. Remember?”

Club Night by George Bellows

“B-B-B-Be…”

I use my hands to mime the thing that fans a fire into life.

“Be-Be-Bel-Bello-BELLOWS!”

“George Bellows–brilliant realist painter–died too young–42, he was. Painted winter–town and country.”

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“Wow!” says Meredith. “Nothing wrong with your memory!”

Next day this article appeared in the newspaper–explaining why…!

Apparently the antioxidant, resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts, has a positive effect on the hippocampus–the part of the brain vital to memory, learning and mood.

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Cheers! Santé! Good health! Chin chin! Salud! Prost!

Now what did I say was for supper…?!

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I used to think walking was pedestrian!

I ran or jogged, or bicycled–walking took so long.

But then we moved here to rural France, where it’s a bit hilly. As I was getting older, I started walking.

Six times a week–usually for about 40 minutes–usually the same route, which never felt the same two days running (so to speak)!

Then one day I OVERDID it–and my left knee “went”.

I stopped for a while and tried the exercise bike– but it wasn’t the same.

Gradually my knee healed and I started walking again, but less–three or four times a week.

I settled into a routine of roughly 40 minutes every other day.

Three times 40 equals 120--so some weeks I was 30 minutes shy of the 150 minutes recommended aerobic exercise per week.

Recently I changed my routine again: Now I walk every day but for less time–a little over 20 minutes.

So that ring ups the magic 150.

And I feel good on it. “Ah, that’s done!

Exercising each day–but not TOO long–lifts my spirits without becoming a burden.

One is less likely to throw in the towel.

(Also I’m thinking of my knees.)

I’m in good company…

 

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.

~Charles Dickens

 The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise and of all the exercises, walking is the best.

~Thomas Jefferson

 I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.

~Abraham Lincoln

 To find new things, take the path you took yesterday.  

~John Burroughs (American naturalist)

Thoughts come clearly while one walks.

~Thomas Mann

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.

~Jacqueline Schiff  (poet)

 

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Sucrine they are called here in France, I guess because they have a sweetness to them.

These tightly packed little tornadoes are known as baby gem lettuce in the UK.

They have an agreeable crunchiness that lends itself to strong contrasts–hence the addition of anchovy.

Anchovies are usually a background sound in cooking but here they solo occasionally. I love ‘em–but they are not to everyone’s taste.

I ordered this a couple of days ago in our new favorite restaurant–Chez Germaine in Gaillac.

A pre-movie (Whiplash) lunch with Donald Douglas (aka Cap’n McNeil in Poldark!) and Emma Temple, his partner.

This place is the French version of a tapas bar–warm and convivial–and the food comes in small quantities on individual plates. I ordered a plate of baby squid persillade (in parsley and garlic oil) and this salad. Perfect with a glass of the local red wine (Gaillac).

The combination of the crispness of the lettuce and creaminess of the goat’s cheese with the occasional bite of anchovy had everyone dipping in!

Meredith–not too sure about anchovies showing up so brazenly–suggested substituting roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds–good idea.

You could add them anyway–but I like the salad’s simplicity.

for two

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ingredients

2 sucrine (baby gem) lettuces–deconstructed and sliced up

half a goat’s cheese “log”–or other shapes–pulled apart to spread its creaminess

3 or 4 anchovy fillets–sliced into smaller pieces

dressing

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic–pulped in a mortar with a pinch of salt

salt and pepper

—————–

Add the lettuce to a favorite bowl.

Add the cheese and the anchovy pieces.

Make the vinaigrette

Add the wine vinegar to the garlic in the mortar and whisk.

Add the olive oil and whisk it in to make the vinaigrette.

Pour it over the contents of the bowl.

Turn everything over carefully until the little lettuce gleams with pride.

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Just back from UK where I recorded my memoir of Poldark as an audio book–with an extra chapter about taking part in the new BBC/Mammoth version–40 years after doing the original!

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Two days in a small, soundproof booth in a basement recording studio in Hove in Sussex, while the wind and the rain raged above ground.

I was fortunate to have three helpmates in the studio running the show–and keeping my nose to the microphone.

Chris Daniels, sound engineer, owns the studio and is a member of that fraternity of calm console operators who are never flustered.

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They have seen it all before–and behave as though they read the first verse of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, IF, before sitting down to work:

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And you’ll be make a Sound Engineer, my son!
(With apologies to Mr. Kipling.)
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My old friend, Constantine de Goguel Toulouse-Lautrec–his grandmother was in St. Petersburg in the October Revolution of 1917 and survived–sat in the producer’s seat and guided a rusty performer through the sessions with grace and years of experience.
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He’s a fine actor and an experienced dialogue coach for movies.
He also runs Spoken Ink–subtitled “The Home of Short Audio“–well worth checking out.
Meredith made up the triumvirate as back-up producer keeping a beady eye on the script and an ear out for things that could be better (like the American pronunciation of “Potomac”!).
Her occasional ripple of involuntary laughter was a morale boost for The Man in the Sound Proof Booth!
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The project is in post production now. When complete, we’ll announce it here.

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