Seriously, there isn’t much I can say about this lady that you don’t already know. She’s a legend in the arena of women’s fiction and we have all read at least three of her books. I don’t want to get too big for my britches, but I want to be Jane when I grow up. Not only does she write engaging characters but she in a very clever and delightful lady in her own right. Carry on, Jane!
To survive on a desert island:
- A machete. I am obsessed with making things cozy and am quite convinced that I would busy myself making huts and palapas to end all huts and palapas, possibly with separate living area and bedroom, and deck.
- Ukelele. The latest in a long list of Jane’s mad hobbies has been learning to play the ukulele (It is surprising what you can achieve in a week if your children are spending the holidays with their father), which is shockingly easy. Most songs seem to use about four chords. I would look at it as fantastic practice time, and a way to stop getting bored.
- Knife set and skillets. Who knows what I’d be able to forage, but I would definitely need my kitchen stuff. When I went to cooking school we had a fantastic little roll-up bag stuffed with all the basics, and everything you would need from chef’s knife and paring knife, to vegetable peeler and microplane. I would definitely like to bring that.
- Magnifying glass. The matches I thought of would doubtless run out, and am pretty sure I could make a fire using a magnifying glass and dry twigs. I know this because I used to do it with my kids when they were small.
- Sunblock. I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma last year and although cancer-free after surgery, I’m not allowed to go in the sun anymore.
In my purse at all times:
- Three thousand tissues. I have no idea why. I have a fear of not having tissues, especially in winter when my nose runs all the time, so whenever I stumble upon a box of tissues I grab a few and put them in my bag.
- Six lipsticks. Same fear of not having enough means I always worry that I will be out and won’t have lipstick on me so I buy them in bulk and they all end up in various handbags, with none in my make-up drawer. So I buy more. It is a frustrating and never-ending cycle.
- Chewing gum. I hate gum. I think people who chew gum, particularly with their mouths open, look like slow bovines chewing cud. However, as a breath freshener, used briefly, it is far better for me than a tube of mints as they last. I can demolish a tube of mints in minutes, hence the gum.
- Business cards. I’m not a very savvy networker. Plus I’m English, so it never occurs to me to hand out cards, but after fifteen years of living in America I am learning that when someone hands you their card, as so often happens at parties, it is useful to have something to give back to them. I had my cards made at Soho Letterpress after falling in love with the writer Jill Kargman’s cards, and they have my name and email on, and that’s it. I really, really hate the phone, and nine times out of ten won’t pick up, so this seemed like the most sensible option.
- Imitrex shots. It’s like an epi-pen, for migraines. Can’t go anywhere without it.\
In my wardrobe:
- In summer, Havaiana flip-flops, and Tretorn sneakers. I am so spectacularly casual that when I have to dress up for a public appearance, I never have any idea what to wear other than T-shirts and sneakers or flip flops.
- For above T-shirts, see J-crew. And lots and lots of navy and white stripes.
- Weird fluffy socks filled with lavender that you heat up in the microwave, that I simply call ‘Hot socks’. Part of my very boring health issues has been a series of auto-immune conditions including one, Raynaud’s Syndrome, that means my feet are always like blocks of ice. During the day it’s fine, but I can’t sleep at night, so I heat these ridiculous socks up to get to sleep.
- Hello Skinny Jeans jeans. Sadly at the moment I am just admiring them from afar as they are far too small, post-holidays, for me to even attempt inching them up past my ankles.
- Tons of scarves. I am firmly of the belief that scarves transform a wardrobe. I have a million, all in the only colors I wear: fifty shades of greige.
In my Library:
- More books than I could possibly mention. Right now I’m ploughing through a million advance reading copies of books that won’t be out for a while, so among the books I have loved this past year have been:
- May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes
- You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
- Us by David Nicholls
- Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
- Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
In my Pantry:
- Stock cubes. Every now and then I go through a phase of making my own stock, freezing it in ice cube trays and turning it out into great big Ziploc bags so I always have some handy, but I also make sure I keep stock cubes for when I have run out and am desperate.
- Onions, garlic, carrots and celery. I lump them all together because I use garlic in everything, and onions, carrots and celery, what the French call Mire-Poix, form the basis of pretty much every sauce, soup, stew or casserole that I cook. I start softening the onions in oil, add the carrots and celery, and will often strain them out at the end of the dish, but the three add a depth of flavor to any dish, particularly when combined with aromatics: a bay leaf, parsley stalks, fresh peppercorns and thyme.
- Preserved lemons. I love middle-eastern cooking, and particularly Moroccan tagines. The lemons, preserved in salt (which you can buy but are very easy to make), add a unique flavor that just isn’t the same with regular lemons.
- Cat food. In our house (and garden) live: 2 adults, 5 children, 2 dogs, 5 cats, and 7 chickens. The amount of cat food required to take care of the cats is staggering. I thank God every morning that my husband came along, because without him I am quite certain I would end up like Big Edie in Grey Gardens, surrounded by a hundred cats and a few raccoons.
- Eggs. Thanks to the chickens, there are always tons of eggs, and we have all learned to start our day with various egg recipes, although my favorite is still the simplest of plain omelettes.