Before you say anything, I know these are not pears, they are butternut squash. However, when I arrived home from work last Saturday for dinner at our house, where we were meeting Dan’s girlfriend, Katie’s parents for the first time, I was a bit tired and my initial thought was, ‘What huge pears!’ And if the title of my blog seems somehow familiar, I was nodding towards the famous Roald Dahl book, James and the Giant Peach! Talking of books, the title of my new book is confirmed as My Mother’s Secret, and there is a picture of the cover further down this blog.
But back to Saturday evening; the butternut squashes were not the only gift Diana and Andrew brought us, homegrown in their allotment, by the way, they also brought these beautiful flowers. It hasn’t been the best week weather-wise, but I just managed to catch them in a puddle of sunshine on Monday morning – the colours scream Autumn, don’t they?
We had a really good evening getting to know a bit more about Katie’s family and her as a little girl, and I managed to avoid getting the naked baby pictures of Dan out to embarrass him – next time maybe? I’d made my Vegetarian Lasagna, an Eton Mess and a Luscious Lemon cake before leaving for work, and Chris did Tricolore as a starter (mozzarella, avocado and tomato) – clean plates all round, so hopefully they enjoyed it. And I’ll be making Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto for dinner tomorrow night.
Talking of Italian recipes, I mentioned on my live reading on Instagram (juliagroberts) and Facebook (JuliaRobertsTV) last Friday that we were having Minestrone Soup for dinner and someone requested the recipe, so here it is:
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 large carrot (diced)
- 1 medium potato (diced)
- 50g of chopped frozen spinach
- 150g of frozen peas
- 50g of spaghetti
- One dozen fresh basil leaves
- 1L of veggie stock (made with a veggie stock cube)
- 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
- 200g tin of chopped tomatoes or 200g of Passata
- Black pepper
- Grated parmesan to serve
1. In a large saucepan, fry the diced vegetables in a little oil for 5 minutes.
2. Make the vegetable stock with boiling water and the stock cube, and stir into tomato purée, then add to the pan with the chopped tomatoes / passata, basil, oregano and black pepper. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Add the frozen spinach, frozen peas and the spaghetti broken into 2 inch lengths. Bring back to the boil then simmer for a further 15 minutes.
4. Serve with the grated parmesan cheese and herby garlic bread or ciabatta.
I’ll be reading some more from Alice in Theatreland tonight at 8 p.m. and also the book blurb for My Mother’s Secret to give you a flavour of the story – you see what I did there? My mind is still on food! The cover was revealed on Tuesday and thanks to people pre-ordering, it has spent the past couple of days at number one in the Hot New Releases in Women’s Popular Fiction chart – that’s a first for me so I’m really thrilled! I absolutely love the cover that Bookouture have designed for me, with strong and evocative colours, as did our lovely QVC guest, Lorna Ko who has read all my books. She also said she was intrigued by the ‘shout line’… Will the truth hurt or heal? It’s not actually published until January and there’s still some fine-tuning to do as the copy-edit arrived yesterday, but I’m really excited to share this story with you.
That will be me spending a lot of time at my writing desk in my five-day break from QVC, mind you. Now that the weather has turned, I think we all spend much more time indoors. We managed (the ‘royal we’ there, as Chris actually did it) to get the covers on our garden furniture on a nice dry sunny day before the rain set in – it all looks tucked up and cosy for the months ahead.
Speaking of which, Wilfie hasn’t been anywhere near his Silentnight Orthopaedic Pet Bed that he so loved last winter, for the whole of the summer. He’s barely been out of it for the past few days, so winter is definitely upon us again. It’s hard to believe it’s almost November and that Christmas is eight weeks today!
First, though, is Halloween. We don’t normally do anything special, but there was a request on our local residents What’s App group asking if any of us would be prepared to offer trick or treating for the children who live on our lane as they’ve already missed out on so much fun stuff this year. Chris immediately said we’d be happy to and headed off to the shops to buy sweets and spooky decorations. He’s even planned how the sweets can be delivered to the children at a safe distance by using our Velux window opening pole! He’s quite enthusiastic about it and filmed this little video to show me what he had planned – the candles are flameless by the way, if you were worried about safety.
So, while we’ll be answering the door to trick or treaters, you might well be watching the launch of the Tarte Today’s Special Value during the 9 p.m. show tomorrow. If you’re a Shape Tape fan, as I am, it’s one you won’t want to miss. Normally, the Shape Tape and sponge are £28 on our website and the Today’s Special Value also contains the new Shape Tape foundation, Lights Camera Lashes mascara, eyeliner and a sparkly bag – it’s already on presell on our website if you want to check it out.
Finally, I wanted to finish by paying tribute to Bobby Ball who passed away yesterday. I was only sixteen in 1973 when I went off to Guernsey for my first summer season as a professional dancer. Cannon and Ball were on the bill and I can remember great times backstage singing harmonies with Tommy and Bobby, who both had really good singing voices as well as having a very original and funny comedy act.
At times during that summer, my first away from my family, I was very homesick and having people around who could lift your spirits had a massive impact on me. I’ve kept the programme from ‘Champagne Showtime’ for forty-seven years and Bobby’s words, ‘To my little angel’ feel very special as we say goodbye to a very funny man who has gone too soon.
I’ll be back on air next Thursday with a two-hour Charlie Bears show from 2 p.m. Until then, much love and stay safe