Fall begins

The first beginnings of fall have started to make themselves known; we’ve already had some chilly nights, some beautiful moon and star-scapes even over the city and the rustle of the first leaves starting to fall and die on the sidewalks turning the concrete orange and brown; but it’s been the pretty spectacular sunsets over the last few days that have really made this first week of September particularly magical.

These are all shot on Nikon with Sigma glass.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.
51°29’57.0″N 0°06’02.3″W

The right tool for the job

Believe me when I say, having the right tool for a job can make the difference between getting the job right and making an utter mess of it which you immediately regret: not just financially but in time and materials wasted – because there is almost nothing as frustrating as realizing you could have done a job better or finished it five times quicker because you were using the wrong tool.

Now tools come in all shapes and sizes as a maker; many are specific to particular specialisms, others are tools you find yourself reaching out for again and again just because they’re so damn useful – my advice with tools has always been if you know you need one –  buy the best you can afford, and very few shop brands come as close in build quality or consistency of finish as Makita.

I love Makita tools. They’re solid, feel good in the hand and resist wear like no other brand, and I’ve been using these since my earliest days in commercial radio when I was just as likely to be found in a crawlspace, or a racks room, as I was learning my craft in the studio itself.

These local stations were hands on – everyone worked to keep the station on air – and it was in those rack rooms and in studio crawl spaces I learnt (often the hard way) that you should always pick the tool that’s going to get the job done right, first time, and the byword for that level of efficacy was Makita.

That’s where I come to this: my latest buy to help in the total rebuild of my current workspace – the Makita 39 piece screwdriver bit set, which I have to say is classically Makita: everything from the bits to the sculpted hex ratchet are made in metal, the bits are color coded for easy loading showing you at a glance if you’re picking up a Torx, Philips, Pozi, Square, Slotted or Hex bit and the case is fully indexed: meaning every component has it’s own defined tight fitting slot to ensure you’re never faced with a jumble of components when you open it.

And the case – well this is where I love Makita even more, because I’m a sucker for a well made container, and this one is no exception, you could pitch this like a baseball and it’d bounce intact, solid injection molded plastics with rubber bump stops and a strong clasp means this small box of tricks is going to look and work as nicely in ten years time as it does today – and when you’re buying tools, isn’t that exactly what you want?

The importance of inspiration

I don’t take many days off – I don’t mean like sick days, or weekends though, I mean days out of my studio where I clear my head of what’s going on in the shop and instead broaden my creative horizons: I know I’m bad at this, I know it’s something I should do more of, and yes – I know that not only do I have the time to do this, but I must actually do this thing for my own personal well-being.

Simply put, you can’t create in isolation – it’s not healthy for your soul, it’s not healthy for your work and it’s not healthy for your skillsets: because while you’re stuck in your own bubble you’re ignorant of new trends, methods and ways of working.

So today, inspired somewhat by having recently read and then obsessively re-read and re-listened to Adam Savage’s amazing new book Every Tool’s A Hammer, I decided to engage with other creatives, and hopefully learn or be inspired by the work of the masterful Stanley Kubrick.

Now I have been a Kubrick fan for as long as I can remember – he’s up there in my top three with Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino of directors who capture light and life with a level of obsessiveness that appeals to my own creative passions – so I consider it a huge honor to be able to lift the veil on the processes of his work, and I knew that I just had to spend the afternoon absorbed in the Kubrick Exhibition at the Design Museum in Kensington.

Boy oh boy, if you’re a Kubrick fan, or a fan of film generally, this is an exhibition you shouldn’t miss, I spent all afternoon gushing over meticulously constructed props, endless reams of hand-written production notes, insane lenses and edit rigs that brought his ideas to life and of course the thousands of archive photos of productions.

I cannot recommend this exhibit enough, which runs until the 17 September here in London, go do yourself a favor, set your creativity alight right now.

An antidote to Monday

We’ve all been there, Monday evening, Monday blues: crashing into the house after work and ordering trash or worse raiding the freezer for a meal that’s lazy to cook, but deeply dissatisfying to eat.

Well do that no more: my Mac and Cheese is the antidote to Mondays. It’s rich, unctuous and guaranteed to make you feel better about the world and with just 15 minutes of prep and then 30 lazy minutes in the oven there’s still endless amounts of Monday evening left to catch up with your Netflix guilty pleasures.


Perfect Mac & Cheese 

The prep for this meal is split into two parts, both can be done at the same time – so first put a pan of water on to boil and set your oven to 350°f or 180°c, and butter a deep baking dish. Once your pan and your oven are both at temperature add a little salt to the water and tip your pasta into the pan.

You’ll need to give the pan a quick stir every couple of minutes, but otherwise it can be left to its own devices. Cook till you’re a minute shy of al dente – the brand of macaroni I use says it’s ready in 8 minutes so I cook it for 7 – drain once your time is up and then return to the cooking pan coating the pasta with olive oil where it can be set aside until you’re finished with the rest of your prep work.

Now while your pasta is cooking, grate your cheeses and find a good deep chefs pan, add the butter and flour to that pan until you have a nice smooth roux (where flour and butter have combined), then add your milk and cream gradually whisking as you go until the mixture starts to bubble, at this point add salt and pepper to taste and tumble in the Gruyere and the Cheddar, keep whisking till it’s smooth and entirely combined and then add your cooked pasta, stir well before pouring the whole mixture into your greased baking dish.

Finally, add your topping – In a small dish combine panko bread crumbs with smoked paprika, parmesan and a little melted butter: then simply tumble that across the top of your pasta, and that’s it – your work is over: into the oven it goes and 30 minutes later you’ll be demolishing it and coming back for seconds I almost guarantee.

Serves 4. Or makes a great meal for 2 with guaranteed leftovers


Going the extra Mile 

This is a dish that you can play with to your hearts content, so experiment – you can add almost anything to a Mac & Cheese to suit your tastes, crispy bacon, roasted cauliflower, deeply aromatic chorizo, cayenne pepper, roasted peppers, garlic, little cheese bombs of blue cheese, or a layer maybe of stringy buffalo mozzarella, and I wouldn’t be forgiven if I didn’t mention how Mac and Cheese is a gateway to cholula. So make it your way and your life will be better for it.

Ingredients: 

  • 8oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups extra mature cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumb
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 1 Dash La Chinita smoked paprika (more for less flavorsome brands)
  • To taste salt & pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

All day lazy curry

Recipes for curry can often be super involved – and that is great when you want to spend the day in the kitchen – but as much as that is appealing work and home life don’t always allow that, so this is the antidote to days when you want the melting warmth of a filling curry, but want to put your feet up with a good book instead; I give you my all day lazy crockpot butter chicken.


Crockpot Butter Chicken 

The prep work for this meal is a ten minute job, cut up the chicken into bite size pieces or drain the chickpeas if you’re making the veggie option, finely dice your small onion and add all the ingredients directly to the slow cooker pot except the cream and spinach, stir to combine and coat all the ingredients and then turn your crockpot on.

I cook mine stirring briefly every hour or so for six to eight hours on low, if you want to eat a little quicker you can cook on high for four hours; but I think the flavors are that bit more aromatic if you take the slow road.

In the last 30 minutes of cooking add your cream and spinach, stir thoroughly and serve with a bread and rice of your choosing: I’ve used pilau and basmati and both are good, and this goes really well with a fluffy naan or crunchy wedges of a baguette.

Serves 4. Or makes a great meal for 2 with guaranteed leftovers

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb chicken breasts or thighs or chickpeas if you’d prefer vegetarian
  • 1 small onion
  • 1½ Cups Coconut Milk
  • 3oz tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ghee (or butter)
  • tbsp minced lazy garlic
  • ½ tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, you can leave this out if you like)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups spinach

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

A hearty tray bake for fall

If like me you’re in love with fall you’ll totally get the desire to shut away the world on the darkening evenings and have something really hearty to warm your body & soul.

Now I just happen to believe that there are few things which do that better than a huge plate of winter vegetables, and after I found these beautiful heritage carrots at Borough Market I was inspired to find something to do with them, this is the result of that experiment.

Heritage carrots, Kent farm potatoes and some stock veggies


Hearty Sausage & Veg tray bake 

The lazy among you will be glad to hear that although the list of ingredients for this dish looks fairly long, the prep work is reassuringly short: I’d say confidently that even the most hesitant cook could get this all together in under fifteen minutes – I certainly wasn’t hurrying and had finished all the prep work in ten minutes or so.

I start by preheating my oven to 350°f or 180°c – I cook using a convection oven, so if you’re not make sure you set your oven appropriately higher, somewhere around the 390°f or 200°c range.

Get your vegetables together, if you’re using large carrots you’ll need to chop them into smaller chunks, same with the parsnip into chunks or batons, just so they cook evenly. Mince the garlic, and top and tail your onion before cutting it into quarters and finally cut the potatoes into halves – they should be a comfortable fork full in size.

Now I use a large metal bowl for this, the reason for which I shall reveal shortly, if you have one – use it – if not you’ll just have a little more washing up to do after. Toss all the veg in the bowl and coat with the thyme. oregano, salt and pepper so they’re evenly covered, then tumble them out into a deep baking tray. Then throw your sausages into that same bowl to coat them in the remaining herbs and seasoning, once they’re evenly coated with what remains place them on top of the veg in the center of the tray.

I used pork and apple sausages in natural skins for this dish, but any good quality sausage will do so experiment! Make sure your broth is ready to go – I use two jellied capsules of vegetable and beef stock combined with water in a two cup cup to make my broth, they don’t need to be separate, just make them together.

Now, here’s the reason I used a metal bowl, you need to melted butter for your roux. I gave my bowl the quickest blast of heat from the hob to melt the butter before I tumbled in the flour whisking it into a roux (which if you’re not sure is just a combined ball of flour and butter), once that’s combined keep whisking as you add your broth, it will combine and start to thicken and become smooth – as soon as it does pour into the tray being careful not to get it on the sausages so they brown properly, make sure the liquid is distributed evenly throughout the pan and once done you’re ready for the oven.

I cooked mine for 55 minutes turning the sausages after 25 minutes, check the thickest potato with a knife to make sure they’re all done (they should be!) and demolish with big chunks of bread and a nice wine, I guarantee this is a meal you’ll return to for seconds.

Serves 2 very hungry people or add 2 extra sausages to serve 4.

Ingredients: 

  • 6 butchers sausages
  • 1.5lb small potatoes
  • 2 large carrots or equivalent volume of smaller carrots
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2½ tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

Super fast – Super filling Fettuccine

I am a huge fan of pasta: it doesn’t matter what type it is, creamy, filled, coated, baked, I’m sold, but I’m also an enormous fan of a meal that can be put together really quickly.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m more than happy to spend all day in the kitchen watching a meal come together over hours – but there are nights when you just want to eat immediately – so this Fettuccine dish is an instant win for me, combining deeply satisfying creamy pasta with an ability to be eating it in just 15 minutes flat.


One Pot Sun Dried Tomato Fettuccine 

First cut up the tomatoes in small even pieces, then mince the garlic; that’s all your prep work done –  no really I’m serious, you’re done – how good is that?

Set the tomatoes aside, and sauté the garlic over a low to medium heat in a deep chefs pan for a minute or two until its softening, being careful not to let it brown or it’ll be bitter.

Once it’s soft add the chicken broth, tomatoes, milk and pasta to the pan with quite a lot of fresh cracked black pepper – I’ll probably add twenty or so turns of the pepper mill to this as I bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it’s bubbling reduce the heat and cover stirring every couple of minutes to make sure that the pasta is fully submerged and isn’t sticking.

The brand of fettuccine I buy is usually approaching ready in about 7 minutes, at which point I remove the lid, add the parmesan and stir thoroughly for another minute or two on the heat to allow it to properly thicken, once all that sauce is adhering to the pasta you’re ready – serve and demolish immediately with additional parmesan and a few sprigs of basil to finish.

Serves 2 very hungry people, or 4

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 8 oz fettuccine
  • 12 pieces sun dried tomatoes
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

A new green deal

The environment has been an issue my whole life, from elementary school through high school it was instilled in us that we had to not only look after, but heal our planet. Looking after our world is not a new idea – hell, I’ve been wandering the planet now for almost 40 years now –  so I think we can definitely say climate change, and environmental responsibility is not something that has suddenly arrived that people are struggling to get their heads around.

And while many of us are doing our best to live with a light footprint on the world, we’ve been told by governments and NGOs alike for years that it is up to us to make the difference; but the reality of the world in 2019 is that individual responsibility will only take us so far. The biggest changes need to come from legislation aimed at the largest dirtiest corporate polluters.

the message needs to be clear: go green or go out of business altogether.

The dirty businesses – which are so frequently also heavily subsidized by government – have for too long been given a pass to pollute with impunity: and that’s hardly a surprise when so often between government and heavy industry a revolving door has operated where the people that make our laws walk directly into jobs where profit is reliant on polluting.

That must stop.

So it’s with joy in my heart that I’ve cheered on so many environmental campaigners these last few weeks bringing our cities to a pollution free standstill with polite civil disobedience aimed directly at the dirty business and their political enablers who have failed our planet over the last 40 years. Direct action has a great track record for affecting change and I sincerely hope that the concern and anger at our politicians track records’ on the environment continues to grow.

I believe that we’re dangerously close to a catastrophic tipping point, but I also believe in humanity, I believe that we can change the world – but it’ll need more than just personal change.

So the next time you’re sorting your recycling, or reducing your plastic usage, or fitting a low flow meter for your water, also take 10 minutes out to write to your elected representative: and don’t just stop there – call out businesses that have poor environmental records – use your buying power to say no – organize at work to demand your own companies are ethical and green, and ensure that any person that denies climate change, or passes the buck when they have responsibility finds their opportunities for advancement or publicity massively curtailed.

We can and will make it clear that if we can make the effort personally, then they should to – the message needs to be clear: go green or go out of business altogether.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2018
Photo Location: Südlicher Randweg, Möhnesee, Nordrhein-Westfälischen. Deutschland.
51°29’03.1″N 8°03’23.6″E

Dissecting Los Angeles

Cities fascinate me – from being a very small child the bustle, noise and culture clash of a big city has been intoxicating, and it’s a buzz that is as addictive now as it’s ever been. I’ve never more happy than when I’m exploring a city – and Los Angeles is a world city I just can’t get enough of, so it was with great interest that I noticed a book by – former book critic of the LA Times – the great: David Ulin.

His book, Sidewalking Coming to terms with Los Angeles is a series of essays about how walking the famously pedestrian resistant LA has given him a new understanding of it’s history, it’s culture and it’s exciting developing history.

Now I will say straight out, if you’re expecting a guide book, you’re going to be disappointed, this is not a guide; it’s a dissection of how cities work, live and breathe using LA as the model: and how you can only learn the rhythms of a city on foot: an idea I’m all in favor of as a regular pedestrian explorer. If you love cities, Los Angeles, urban development issues and how histories are woven into the fabric of our built environment this will be a compelling read.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy you can purchase it from amazon here: Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles

Making a baker out of me

I love bread, it’s always been a comfort food and a daily essential for me. But despite being fairly confident in the kitchen – whether cooking or baking – I’ve never been confident about baking my own bread.

I think this has partly stemmed from the disappointment I’d feel if I put the time in to bake, and then didn’t get a result that was edible, and a lack of confidence in the technicalities – so many books and guides online jump straight into the deep end of kneading, proving and so on without explaining what they are, how you do them, or what they actually do.

So after collecting bread recipes and putting them in my forever ever pile of things I’d like to try for months I resolved to throw caution and flour into the wind and bake myself some bread. My long term ambition is to produce all the bread we eat myself, I’d like bread to be an event, rather than an (all to ready) snack – so I thought I’d try the simplest recipe first and work my way up, so I’m sharing with you today my no knead dutch oven loaf.


No Knead Bread

This bread just couldn’t be simpler: four ingredients mixed together with spoon which are then left, covered, for eighteen to twenty four hours in a warm place (I put mine in a microwave) to the yeast to do it’s thing.

Once your eighteen to twenty hours is up, it’s risen and you’re ready to bake pre-heat your oven and importantly your pot to four hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit, scoop up the dough into well floured hands and work it into a roughly smoothed ball on a well floured surface before adding to your pot with some additional flour on the base if you’re concerned it might stick.

Bake it for thirty minutes with the dutch oven’s lid on and an additional fifteen to twenty with the lid off to allow the crust to become golden.

Once baked the bread should come out of your pot without any trouble, but if you want to check you can rap your knuckles on the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow, it’s done – if not return it for another five minutes – I’ve never found it takes any longer than 45 minutes, but ovens do vary – and importantly always be sure to let the loaf cool completely before you’re tempted to slice it.

I’ve tried this with white and wholemeal flour, both tasted lovely – the only differences I could see and taste were that the wholemeal flour gave a denser loaf, while the white flour rose slightly more and as a result had an airier texture.

Ingredients: 

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cups water room temperature

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2018
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.