Yelly Writes

Missing the sestras!

If you think a show about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning will mostly be a documentary, think again!

Double helix image copyright Dabarti
Double helix image copyright Dabarti

At this year’s Emmys, Tatiana Maslany won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (FINALLY!).  You might know her from The Woman in Gold, or The Vow.  I thought it was well deserved, and I thought it was a gross injustice when she wasn’t nominated in 2014 and when she was finally nominated in 2015, I couldn’t believe she didn’t win!  This woman plays all the clones (to date: Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Krystal, MK, Beth, Katja, Jennifer and Tony…apparently there are 22 known clones but not all of them are actually in the storyline).  They have different looks, different characters, different accents because of the different nationalities and different storylines!  If you have trouble remembering the items on your grocery shopping list, have a think about Tatiana Maslany’s script work!

tatianamaslanyI was drawn to this show because, being the child of a geneticist, who spent most of free time in her father’s cytogenetics laboratory, the premise of the series was interesting.  What would you do if you found out that you were a clone and there are several of you and and there was something sinister involved in your creation?  Every time I watch episodes, I wonder what my father would think.  I still think I should get him copies of the series.  I think he’d enjoy it!  But it might be a good idea for me to wait until the fifth series has been released as he might want to watch the entire series in one go!

I’ve now finished the final episode of the 4th series.  Yep, I started watching it when it first came out in 2013!  After the first 2 episodes, I was hooked.  Really bad.  Am so thankful for Apple TV because it means I could binge watch and find out what was happening to Sarah and her sestras (the clones call themselves sisters, and one of the clones is Helena who escaped from a Czech cult calls her sisters sestras so that caught on so now the clones – the main ones, Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena – call each other sestra).  But it is addictive.  Once you get hooked on OB, you’ll never not want to watch the next episode.  It’s because each clone has a story and you start having a favourite clone, or you start wondering what Felix, or Mrs S or Art or the devious Castors are up to!

orphan-blackNow that I’ve finished Season 4, there is the interminable wait for Season 5.  I have it on very good authority that Season 5 will be the last season for OB (silent scream: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!).  I might need to get a box set just for me because I will miss OB, and like a junkie, I will need a fix.  Because I will want to watch it over and over again, from the very beginning (which is always a very good place to start, even Fraulein Maria says so!).

Hmmmm.  I wonder if Alan will want to watch OB from the very beginning with me.


Yelly Reads

Comfort reading

There are books that you just pick up and read and it feels like being enveloped in a soft, warm duvet.  These are my comfort books.  Over the years my comfort reading list has evolved and my current list has been my go-to list for a few years.  I had titles by Ingalls Wilder, Austen, Brontës, Keenes, and Blume in my list when I was growing up.  I think these will always be my duvet day standbys, but now that I’m (way) over the age of majority, my tastes are a bit more varied.  I find myself reaching for the following books:

The Languedoc Trilogy by Kate Mosse

LanguedocTrilogyIt’s a series of books that are set in Carcasssone, in the Languedoc region of France, near the Pyrénées.  I find myself repeatedly drawn to books that have a bit of historical fiction in them and these definitely hit the spot!  They are an excellent read.  I started with, of course, the first book of the trilogy, Labyrinth.  Once I’d read this, I knew I had to get the other books to read.  So I moved on to read Sepulchre and Citadel.  It’s not difficult reading, even with the history and the Occitan language inclusions.  I’ve read each book about twice now.  Next on my to-read list is Kate Mosse’s Winter Ghosts, which is also set in the Languedoc region.

Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

HarryPotterbooksSo who hasn’t read the Harry Potter books?  I fell in love with the world that J.K. Rowling created.  I first started with the Scholastic Books version and moved on to the Bloomsbury editions which I enjoyed the most.  It had all the British references that makes Harry Potter Harry Potter.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

EatPrayLoveI was still in the Philippines when I watched Oprah Winfrey interview Elizabeth Gilbert in 2007.  Oprah waxed lyrical about the book, how the insights changed her life.  That piqued my interest but I didn’t necessarily think it was going to be this mind-blowing read.  It wasn’t until I moved to England that I actually read the book, and I read the book at just the right time.  I read it when I was at a crossroads of my life and needed to make a lot of difficult decisions about the direction I wanted my life to take and who I wanted to have in my life when I moved forward.  It changed my life and helped me get a different perspective.  I still read the book, when I need to be inspired or need to think about things differently.  Yep, the book is amazing like that.  I even did an Oprah – I bought the copies of the books and sent it to my friends so they could read it too!

Julie and Julia: My Year Of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

JulieandJuliaI love this book but I think part of the reason I love this book is because I really did love the movie and I so loved Amy Adams in it.  Amy Adams made the character relatable and made me want to read the book (mostly because I love to cook, read cookbooks and I have a blog where I can be, more often than not, self-deprecating).  I think Oprah liked the book as well, which was another factor (I do love Oprah’s book club choices!).  I know there are a lot of reviews about how bad Julie Powell really is, how selfish she is and self-centered and all that.  But when I read the book, I found myself wanting to find out how she managed to dig herself out of the hole she put herself in.  I mean, I know that she had an affair (this wasn’t in the movie), but Julie Powell in her book certainly wasn’t a flat character!

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

thehappinesstrapI was introduced to this book by my therapist.  I needed counselling because I was fast approaching a burn-out at work and I was getting more and more sick because of stress and it was affecting my performance and my psyche.  I absolutely loved this book because it allowed me to learn how to tackle my worrying (most eldest children will be able to relate to the pressure that we put ourselves under to be perfect, how we all constantly worry that we won’t measure up).  The most important thing is that it taught me to think about my worrying differently.  I think I’m a long way away from not being a worry-wort (I think that’s what makes me good at my job – I worry about the future too much!) but I’m getting better at dealing with the stress that worrying brings.  It is a different approach to therapy.  I still read portions of it when I have moments.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

TheGirlOnTheTrainI LOVE this book.  I bought it off Amazon because it was about a girl who rode a train everyday.  Hello! My daily work commute involves me getting on a train for over an hour to get to work.  It was something I thought I could relate to (no spoilers so that’s all I’m going to say).  But I didn’t expect this lovely little thriller to grip me in the way that it did.  I couldn’t wait to get home so that I could read more of it and find out how the story unfolded.  I nearly missed my several times because I was so engrossed!  Am so looking forward to Paula Hawkins’ second book.  This was an amazing debut!  I would suggest reading it before the movie hits the screens (Emily Blunt’s in it!) because they’ve changed a few things in the screenplay.

Yelly Eats

The flat white from Flat White

There are a lot of reasons why I’d love to live in London.  There’s something about the frenetic activity of a world-class city that makes one feel alive.  For one, the shops don’t close at 5 or 6PM.  There’s always something to do and there’s always something to happen.  What I love about my London trips is that you literally walk in history.  Each corner and cobblestone may have had a place in history!

And the food!  London is such a cultural melting pot that one is spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where and what to eat.  You have a choice of going to a restaurant chain or going to an independent one-of-a-kind shop.

I love my coffee strong (some might say strong enough to stand one’s spoon in!) and while I will always somehow feel a certain loyalty to Starbucks (sometimes Starbucks coffee can leave me wanting more), London offers a wide variety of choice when it comes to places where one can get a brilliant cuppa.

One of my favourite street food purveyors of great coffee is Bean About Town.  Their coffee is strong and robust and you get the perfect caffeine hit.  I’ve been known to head to South Bank when a headache rears its ugly head just to stop a migraine from coming (obviously only when I’m actually IN London)!  I remember once my migraine really was starting and we were in South Bank  I was very disappointed that they’d run out of beans and I couldn’t get my caffeine fix.

One of my favourite coffee places of all time though is Flat White.  It’s this little coffee shop nestled in between vegetable stalls and fabric shops on Berwick Street in Soho.  It serves, well, flat whites (of course!), cappuccino, lattes, and a selection of other coffee based drinks.  They also offer a great selection of teas.  If you’re feeling peckish and need a little something to have with your cuppa, they’ve got a selection of bread-based eats and baked goodies as well.

I love Flat White.  Mostly because they make a good flat white – strong and not at all too watery or milky.  For those who haven’t had a flat white, a flat white is a coffee drink developed in Australia in the 1970s and further developed in New Zealand in the 80s.  It’s prepared by preparing steamed milk with small, fine bubbles into a shot or a double shot of espresso.  Flat White a smallish narrow restaurant that has a long L-shaped banquette.  But what I appreciate most about this little gem of a coffee shop is that even though seating is limited, the atmosphere is very laid back and no one rushes you to gulp down your drink, inhale your food and free up seating space.  You’re allowed to chill out and linger over your coffee.  The staff are wonderfully friendly (no question too silly!) and you are served with an amazing efficiency (the music is not too loud and brilliant to listen to!)!

Table Flat White

If you’re ever in Soho, and you’re dying for a cup of coffee, mosey on along to Flat White.  It will definitely be worth it!

Flat White's flat white


Yelly Eats

Pecan pie!

Pecan pie has always been something that I loved but never really learned to make until quite recently (thank you to Hummingbird Bakery for sharing their secrets! If you haven’t got their books yet, you should go because the books have foolproof, easy to follow recipes!).  I love how it looks when you’ve lined your flan pan with the pie crust and arranged the pecan nuts for decoration on top of the filling.  Then you wait for 55 minutes or so and bring out the beautifully toffee-coloured cake.  I’m smiling right now, just thinking about it.

So I’m sharing the love and the joy of baking and sharing my favourite pecan pie recipe.

For the pie crust:
260 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
110 g unsalted butter

Directions for the pie crust:

  1. Put the flour salt and butter in an electric mixer and beat on slow spead until you get a sandy consistency.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon water and beat until well mixed.  Add a second tablespoon of water and beat until you have a smooth, even dough.  If the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon of water, but be careful not to add too much water.  It is safer to beat the dough at high speed to bring the ingredients together.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest of 1 hour in the fridge.

For the pecan pie filling:
Pecan Pie - pre-baking200 g caster sugar
250 ml corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
60 g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g shelled pecan nuts, chopped, plus extra pecan halves to decorate

Directions for the pecan pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC (325ºF).
  2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Line the prepared pie dish with dough and trim the edges with a sharp knife.
  3. Put sugar and corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and leave to cool down slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs briefly with a balloon whisk until they’re mixed.  Slowly pour the warm–not hot as this will scramble the eggs!–syrup into the eggs, stirring briskly.  Add the butter and vanilla extract to the syrup and eggs mixture and stir until all the butter has completely melted.
  5. Put the chopped pecan nuts into the pie crust and then pour the syrup-egg mixture over the nuts.  Arrange the pecan halves gently on the top of the filling.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 mins (in a fan oven about 55-57.5 minutes will be perfect) or until the filling is a dark, caramel colour with a slightly crusty surface.

Pecan pie - post-baking