Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Go and kiss someone!

What the world needs now is love, sweet love...

"The Kiss", oil painting and photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How to make a burger

In the news today, sales of ready-made burgers have dropped by 43% since the 'horsemeat' crisis. I'm like everyone else in that I work, come home frazzled and need to eat. I cook every day and never buy processed food; you see, I don't trust manufacturers one bit. Business is about making money and in order to make money, corners have to be cut, margins have to be squeezed and an unsuspecting consumer is frequently duped. I learned from my days in global companies what really goes on and the person who always bears the brunt is the consumer.

It is not that my personality is indefatigable and that I possess endless reserves of energy- no, as I am getting older, I am aware that my energy is finite. I merely prefer to feed myself and if one knows how, there is minimum effort involved. My father died of Parkinson's Disease and there can be nothing worse than a person watching themselves diminish on an almost daily basis. For me it follows that nutrition and what we eat (plus what goes on in our heads) are our best defenses against illness.

The French thinkers of yesteryear believed that illness begins in the digestive tract. In other words, digestion is key to good health. I practice this thinking and eat like a peasant. My food is simple and quite bland. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to entertain and frequently make dinners of 10 courses if there's an opportunity but for myself, on an everyday basis, I eat extremely simply.

Jean Giono, another favourite author, was put on a strict diet as his health began to fail. He reached a point where he savoured his meals to such an extent that he could taste the single grain of salt which he was allowed to add to his plate of food. It is this thinking which I practice-  respect and savour food.

So please, try making your own burgers. A packet of mince is still relatively inexpensive to buy and 400g of mince will make at least 8 patties. All in all, burgers are cheap, easy to make and healthy.

This recipe harks from my days of barbecue fanaticism but the burgers can be grilled or pan-fried just as well. Use the same recipe to make meatballs (which you can dress up with a tomato-based sauce).

400g lean beef mince (although I love fat and will happily use the fatty, cheap mince too)
tablespoon ketchup
dash Worcestershire sauce
half teaspoon salt or teaspoon soya sauce
1 egg
good grinding black pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped - optional
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/pulverised - optional
tablespoon finely chopped parsley or  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or small bunch chives, chopped finely - optional

If using the onion, saute quickly in a dash of olive oil until just beginning to brown- the burgers will taste better if the onion is pre-cooked. Add all the ingredients together and using your hands, mix well. If you have a stone pestle and mortar, you can mix the ingredients together that way- the pestle will make the mixture quite smooth. Shape the patties into the size of your choice but bear in mind that bigger patties take longer to cook. You should end up with 8 regular-sized patties that would fit neatly into a bun. Rest the patties, if you have time, for around 15-30 minutes. Cover and place in the fridge (this will help them hold their shape when you cook them)- go have a bath while you wait.

Grill: place the patties under a pre-heated grill (medium heat) for around 4 minutes each side. Turn twice for well done or once for medium.

Pan fry: heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add a knob of butter. Once the butter begins to foam and turns a light brown, add the patties. Fry for four minutes each side as above.

Leave the cooked burgers to rest- this will release the juices and the burgers will be more moist- for around 10 minutes. Keep covered in a warm place. Serve and eat as you wish.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The cold weather is perishing

We are all gnashing our teeth in this coldest of spells. The weather in Britain is temperamental to say the least- in one day we can experience all four seasons. In fact, we have a joke- if you complain it's too warm or too cold, you will frequently be told: "Just wait a minute!".

This capricious climate suits my personality- if it was the same all the time, I would be at a loss. I like the adventure of never knowing if I should take my brolly or leave it at home. And of course when it is left at home, it rains! There's a lesson in there somewhere but don't ask me what it is.

So if you come to the UK: dress like an onion: wear layer upon layer that you can remove as necessary or pile back on. Simple really!
The Hound in the Snow. Photo copyright SvD.

How to be Happy

Famous author Lizzie Ford mentions my book!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Proper champagne

I am quietly in the process of emptying my cellar as it is pretty pointless having bottles of this and that. But for the record, proper champagne should not look anemic but rather should be of a dark blond colour and the taste! Well, soft and fruity but a little bit dry plus the bubbles should wake up the back of the throat. Et voila! This bottle was a gift from a friend who is a recipient of a Legion d'Honneur no less- she knows her olive oil from her balsamic vinegar. Please note the delicious hue....Excuse the lipstick marks- that is moi.

Photo copyright SvD.

The Choir

Spirits used to visit me in my sleep and I would paint them the next day. This is an example of four 'brothers' who were singing while I slept.
Oil on canvas. Photo and painting copyright SvD.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Your happy memories 02/17 by Your happy memories | Blog Talk Radio

Your happy memories 02/17 by Your happy memories | Blog Talk Radio

Do join me, host, Samantha van Dalen, tomorrow live on air when we discuss NEW BEGINNINGS. Share your stories with listeners: you can email me:
I will read out your emails during the show!

Or join me live on air.

Se you then!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Promote your book on this popular blog

Samantha welcomes you to list your book titles on this popular blog for others to see.

London Souffle is a popular blog read by thousands each month.

Your book will remain listed on this site for one year from the start date.

Samantha cannot guarantee that your book will sell nor offer individual promotions but she will advertise your book throughout the year to her twitter feed: @londonsouffle

Step 1: Pay a contribution of more than UK£500. via the PayPal link on this site.
Step 2: Please send an email to: to include:
  • Your name
  • Confirmation of the contribution amount you have made to PayPal
  • The book title
  • A short synopsis of not more than 250 words
  • Please include a .jpg image of the book cover
  • Be sure to include the link to Amazon, link to your blog or other links that you want readers to know about. You can add as many links as you like. 
  • Samantha will post your words as you send them- she will not edit them in any way.
  • Samantha regrets that she will not promote erotica or pornographic works
Step 3: Once payment is received:
  •  Samantha will list your book on this blog in the "WRITTEN BY..." function.
  • Samantha will promote your book on this blog once per week for 52 concurrent weeks via Twitter
We're all authors in it together so I'm happy to help spread the word about your masterpiece!
If you would like a recommendation from authors I have promoted on this site, please contact @penabook and @zimblermiller on Twitter, amongst others.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Where I write

 This is where I sit and think (and write).
 Photos copyright SvD.

What I ate in the last few days

Photos copyright SvD.

There is beauty in the most unlikely places...

This disintegrating leaf laying in the mud in the woods, soon to be trampled on by a paw or a hoof or a foot. Winter is sodden and cold, deadly for organic matter like this leaf, soon to disappear into the mud on which it is laying. The cycle continues and is infinite.

Natures teaches us much about life- for free.

This morning in the woods. Copyright SvD.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Your Happy Memories
The topic today was: What's past is passed grief. Why living in the past is bad for you.

Download a free copy of MAESTRO

MAESTRO will be free to download on Amazon (kindle version only) from tomorrow 11 Feb until 16 Feb. Take advantage of this special promotion. If you would like to, please write a review of the book once you've read it - this is optional and only if you want to. Thanks!!!

Genre: psychological thriller

A London high flier rents a country cottage and is drawn to her landlord, a mysterious artist suspected of killing the cottage’s previous tenant. Sara, burnt-out by her career and relationship-weary, holidays alone near a remote English village where her presence sets off a chain reaction that compels her to investigate a twenty-year-old enigma – a case closed for lack of corpse or witness. Sara follows a trail of circumstantial evidence leading to her landlord Gillane, an artist who surrounds himself with secrecy. Reckless or refined? Gentle or jackal? Who is this man? Why is she drawn to him? Maestro is a story of souls: attracted by need, repelled by fear, choosing to live in isolation yet searching for connection. Maestro plays an intoxicating melody – when the music stops, who will be left without a chair?
Copyright SvD.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013

Listen to me LIVE today on local radio

Hi All,

I'm live on air at from 1-3pm today (UK time). I'll be playing my favourite music and rambling on and on. Have a listen!!! Email me your special requests at

You can also email me your funny stories and chaste jokes to entertain listeners....

Morning has broken...

That orange thing, emerging from its slumber, reminds us that each day is a chance to begin anew. Never give up.
(That black speck looks mysteriously like a UFO...)

This morning. Photo copyright SvD.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


This morning in the woods.

Copyright SvD.

Proper English mud

An Aussie friend once spent Christmas chez moi and remarked in horror at the amount of squelchy, musky-smelling mud everywhere (in the woods on our dogwalking). Aussies don't do mud like us Brits- the upside is you need rain for mud which is a better option than drought.

Me in my wellies in the woods this am. Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

Listen to me LIVE on Ridge Radio

Hi All,

I'm live on air at from 1-3pm today (UK time). I'll be playing my favourite music and rambling on and on. Have a listen!!! Email me your special requests at

You can also email me your funny stories and chaste jokes to entertain listeners....