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Interview with Colour Me Wednesday

words Laura Maw

25th April 2016

Colour Me Wednesday, in their own words, are a DIY feminist vegan indie pop-punk band, fronted by sisters Harriet and Jennifer Doveton, with bassist Carmela Pietrangelo. Infectiously catchy, their songs cover left-wing politics, mental health, feminism and veganism. Their new four-track EP, Anyone and Everyone, is full of their trademark sugary pop and punk candour, and accompanied by hand-made collaged CDs made from recycled materials in Harriet’s shed.

I met with Harriet and Jennifer before their gig at DIY Space in London, to talk about their new EP, riot grrrl and collaging.


Could you tell me a bit about making your EP?

Jennifer: I wrote Don’t Tell Anyone, the first song on there, for my solo project and Harriet really liked it. It’s about how there are certain things you just can’t change. The chorus is about not wanting people to know how hard you try if you fail. You can try and change yourself, but you just have to accept who you are.

Harriet: We’ve been playing that for about ten months, but all the other ones are really new. I wrote Two-Fifty For You Girls about white men telling me to stay out of politics, but they also want me to go out and vote for who they tell me to. A lot of the lyrics are based on real comments we’ve had, so they’re essentially quotes. Then we’ve got Horror Story, which is about paranoia when you’re making friends in your mid-twenties because you have no idea of their history. It’s about having that trust issue.

Did you make the artwork for the EP yourself? I love the collaged zine feel of them.

Harriet: Yeah, it was the size of this table! We did it on Jen’s floor and collaged the background and taped it down. We had to stand on a chair to photograph it and I was holding lamps by Jen’s legs. We live in such small spaces as well so it was quite hard! The vinyl isn’t made yet, but we have loads of handmade CDs.

And they’re all different, right?

Harriet: Yeah, it’s what we did when we first started the band. We just made everything ourselves from recycled stuff in my shed.

Do you just have a shed full of different collage materials?

Harriet: I do! It’s 100 percent collage.

Jennifer: And Stephen King novels.

Would you say the DIY/riot grrrl ethic influences the way you make your music?

Harriet: My first influence was Juliana Hatfield, but she was never put in the category of punk, which isn’t really fair because her music involved a lot of distortion. After I started playing guitar, when I was around 20, I got into riot grrrl.

Jennifer: I think it was part of a pool of influences, rather than being the only one. I’ve listened to a lot of Bikini Kill and what I’m most struck by is how bands like that inspired our generation. There are plenty of criticisms of it, like it was very white, but I think you can pick the good bits of the past.

You can choose what you bring forward... Speaking of riot grrrl and DIY, I was going to ask Harriet about Kate Nash, because you toured with her with The Tuts. She’s one of my favourite artists. How has she influenced your music?

Harriet: I remember being on Tumblr about four years ago seeing pictures of Kate Nash. She was playing electric guitar instead of keyboards and we noticed her transitioning into quite a punky style. We got in touch with her and sent her the music video Jen made for The Tuts and she just loved us. She’s really supportive of female musicians. I’ve got her album Girl Talk in my car, I listen to it all the time - it’s such an amazing album. That definitely influenced my songwriting.

What do you have lined up for the summer?

Harriet: We just got announced for a festival called Handmade in Leicester.

Jennifer: Our bassist Carmela’s solo project, Ay Carmela, is going on tour with my solo project, Baby Arms. After that we’re doing a European tour!

Colour Me Wednesday’s new EP is out now and available to buy here.

Not Quite Recipe Friday: Rhubarb and Almond Cake

words Liz Seabrook

23rd April 2016

Homebaking isn't about perfection; it's about making something to share, taking time away from a screen or just satiating that need for something sweet without spending £3.50 on a single muffin.

For this Recipe Friday, our lifestyle editor Liz Seabrook picked some rhubarb from the garden and made a birthday cake for her mum with the things she could find in the kitchen cupboards and the garden. And don't worry, she didn't mind the slightly singed sugar one bit.

You will need
150g salted butter, at room temperature
50g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp
2 medium eggs
200g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 orange
100g Doves Farm gluten free* self-raising flour (or normal SR Flour)
1 tsp baking powder
400g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 4cm lengths (cut in half lengthways first if very fat)
2 tbsp flaked almonds

How to: 
One. 
Preheat the oven 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease a 22cm springform tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Two. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until creamy. Add the ground almonds and orange zest, sift over the flour and baking powder and mix well.

Three. Spoon half the mixture into the tin, carefully spreading it right to the edges. Arrange just under half the rhubarb on top, keeping it away from the edges of the tin. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the extra sugar.

Four. Spoon over the rest of the cake mixture, then spread it to cover the rhubarb. Arrange the rest of the rhubarb on top, in a circle, filling in any gaps (keeping it away from the edges). Scatter over the flaked almonds and sprinkle with the remaining extra sugar.

Five. Bake for 1 hour until golden, cover with a tent of foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until firm to the touch in the middle. Leave in the tin to cool before transferring to a wire rack. If not serving warm, allow to cool completely.

We recomend serving warm with a drizzle of ginger syrup and maybe some icecream! Mmmm YUM!

Recipe adapted from Sainsbury Magazine to be gluten-free using Doves Farm gluten free self raising. 

Recipe Friday: Meringue Girls Mojito Baked Alaskas

words Meringue Girls

15th April 2016

Baked Alaska is an absolute classic meringue recipe. We have given it a Meringue Girls twist by combining a zesty lime and coconut sponge with mojito sorbet and blowtorched brown sugar Italian meringue. A proper summer holiday on a plate. Don’t forget your cocktail umbrella!

You will need:
Makes 4
For the Mojito sorbet (cheats can get shop-bought from Waitrose!)
125ml fresh lime juice
4 tbsp Jamaican white rum
150g icing sugar
120ml water
zest of 1 lime
a handful of mint (roughly 20 leaves), finely sliced

For the sponge:
170g softened unsalted butter
170g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g self-raising flour
70g desiccated coconut
juice and zest of 2 limes

For the brown sugar Italian meringue:
60g egg whites (from 2 medium eggs)
50g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
30ml water

Equipment:
a sugar thermometer
a blowtorch
cocktail umbrellas

To make the mojito sorbet:

One. Put the lime juice, rum and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the water, lime zest and mint. Pour into an airtight container and freeze overnight. Due to the alcohol content this sorbet sets softly, so use it quickly.

To make the sponge:

One. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 5. Butter a large baking tin (approximately 24cm x 18cm) and line it with non-stick baking paper.

Two. In a large bowl or using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time – the mixture may start to look split, but don’t worry. Add the flour, coconut, lime juice and zest and fold gently until you have a smooth batter. Pour the mixture into your baking tray and smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for about 20 minutes, until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed.

Three. Run a knife around the edge of the tin, turn the cake on to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Once completely cool, cut out 8cm diameter circles from your sponge. We’ve used a cookie cutter, but a knife around a tumbler is fine.

To make the brown sugar Italian meringue:

One. Put the egg whites and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a clean glass bowl with a hand-held whisk. Don’t start whisking yet.

Two. Put the remaining caster sugar, light brown sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium/high heat. (Don’t stir, as this can cause the sugar to crystallize and you’ll get crunchy bits in your meringue!). Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling, attach a sugar thermometer to the pan and continue to boil without stirring until the syrup reaches 120°C. Then take the pan off the heat.

Three. Now turn the mixer on to high speed and whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and carefully pour in the hot sugar syrup in a very slow steady stream. Be careful to add the syrup directly to the egg whites, without it touching the side of the bowl or the whisk on the way down, otherwise it will cool before it hits the eggs. Once all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer on to high speed and keep mixing until the sides of the bowl feel cool.

To assemble:

Finally. Place your four sponge circles in your desired serving dish. Using an ice cream scoop, place a perfect scoop of mojito sorbet on each sponge circle. Working quickly, cover the sorbet and sponge with Italian meringue – a mini palette knife is useful here. Blowtorch to a golden caramel colour and serve immediately with a cocktail umbrella.

If the above sounds like too much effort, head down to Broadway Market to buy ready made sweet treats. Original recipe and image from the MG’s latest book Meringue Girls: Everything Sweet out now and published by Square Peg.

Our Little Sister: An Interview with Director Hirokazu Kore-eda

words Jason Ward

14th April 2016

It seems fitting that talking to Hirokazu Kore-eda closely resembles the experience of watching his films. The august Japanese director and his work share the same quiet, gentle, contemplative qualities: our conversation was filled with long pauses as he carefully weighed his thoughts. There is something respectful in the act, which finds its match in his films' humanism.

Kore-eda's latest, Our Little Sister, is no exception. A drama about three house-sharing sisters who invite their teenage half-sister to move in after their father's death, it delicately explores the inner lives of its characters and the complications and joys of sisterly relationships. Ahead of its release, we spoke to the director about making the film.

Our Little Sister is based on Akimi Yoshida's manga Umimachi Diary. What about the story made you want to turn it into a film?

I'm a fan of Akimi Yoshida so I've read all of her work, not with the intention of adapting any of it at all. I normally write original scripts so it's rare for me to adapt other people's work. It's not something I look for, but as I read this particular one I knew that it would make a great film and that other people would be trying to make it too. I really wanted to do it myself, which doesn't happen often so I trusted it.

The film's key dramatic action is the death of the estranged father, which takes place before the story even begins. Your work often looks at the aftermath of a big event rather than at the event itself. What interests you about that approach?

You're right that I'm attracted to the aftermath of events. I wonder why. It's quite difficult to explain.  Portraying people left behind and how they deal with that is interesting to me. I started as a documentary film-maker, and when I was 28 the first documentary I made was about a man who committed suicide. There was a big scandal in Japan about factory poisoning causing Minamata disease. He'd worked in the ministry of the environment, felt responsible and killed himself. The documentary was shot, of course, after his death, so while it was about him it was more about how his wife coped. That was my first proper film and I wrote a nonfiction book about it too, so maybe that's how I became drawn to aftermath as an idea. Sadness and new hopes are always together. I'm moved by the duality of life, that losses come with gains too.

What I like most about your work is that it's deeply humane. All of the characters in Our Little Sister naturally show kindness towards each other in both big and small ways. Why is the kindness between people important for you to depict?

“Why?” questions are the very hardest for me to answer. I was attracted to how the characters accept each other. The sisters are able to accept their late father's weaknesses, and the younger sister who felt guilty about her existence eventually accepts that it's okay for her to be alive. Kindness is reflected in acceptance. In Japanese society, maybe that is something that's disappearing. Everybody just wants to fight each other. I want to show that it's possible to accept others and therefore to be kind.

The film depends on the audience believing the relationship between the four sisters. How did you work with the actresses to make it feel authentic?

It's a combination of a few factors. We shot over a ten-month period to capture the different seasons and in between the girls did a lot of things together, they went to see movies or went for meals. They bonded quite well away from the filming. What also contributed is that I interviewed a lot of real sisters about their relationships and incorporated the research into my depiction. What came out of those interviews was that, certainly in Japan, a lot of the quarrels between sisters were about clothes – who borrowed what and who's wearing what.

At this point you've been making fiction films for twenty years. Do you think what you're fundamentally interested in is the same or has it changed at all over that time? Are the things that excited you about film-making in 1995 the same things that excite you now?

I think it has evolved through the years. It's not the same as it was originally. From a viewer's point of view I can't quite say how my work has changed, however. It may or may not be related to the way that cinema has changed over that period too. To bring in a baseball analogy, though: if you're a young pitcher you'd just throw straight with speed, but as you get older, two decades later you might start to throw curveballs. The sheer power can't continue over twenty years. So now I may try to do different tricks and throw some curveballs. That's an analogy, but it reflects what's changed within me. The more I make films the more confused I get, but it gets more fun, too.

Our Little Sister is in cinemas now. Images: Curzon Artificial Eye

Recipe Friday: Edible Flowers Lollipops with Sexy Sherbert

words Meringue Girls

8th April 2016

This month's Recipe Friday is hosted by the Meringue Girls, and for the second installment in the series we'll be making edible flowers lollipops with sexy sherbet!

We’ve opted for pansy lollies, but you can use any edible flowers you can get your hands on – such as violets or roses. This is an incredibly quick and easy recipe that creates a tongue-twisting trip down Memory Lane.

MAKES 18

For the edible flower lollipops:

· 225g granulated sugar

· 100ml glucose syrup

· 60ml water

· a couple of drops of natural passion fruit essence (or any other essence you desire!)

· edible flowers

For the sherbet:

· 300g icing sugar

· 1 tbsp citric acid

· 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

· 3 tbsp freeze-dried fruit pieces (e.g. raspberry or strawberry)

Equipment:

· a pastry brush

· a sugar thermometer

· lollipop sticks

Combine the sugar, glucose syrup and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. When it comes to the boil, dab a pastry brush into a cup of tap water and brush down the sides of the pan just above the boil line to remove any sugar crystals that have formed.

Attach a sugar thermometer to the pan and allow the mixture to continue to boil, without stirring, until it reaches 154°C. Immediately remove from the heat. Add a few drops of your chosen flavouring and stir to combine.

You need to work quickly to form your lollies. On a silicone mat or a sheet of baking paper, put a blob of sugar syrup down and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out into a circular shape. Place your lollipop stick, then put an edible flower on top. Finish by covering the flower completely with more sugar syrup.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. Wrap the lollipops individually in cellophane, tie with string and store at room temperature for up to a month. They are sticky, so keep them separate from each other.

To make the sherbet, simply whiz all the ingredients in a food processor or mix together in a bowl to form a fine dust.

To serve up a sherbet fountain, fill a small shot glass with sherbet, place a liquorice stick or lollipop in the middle, and get fizzy.

Women Who Changed the World: Harriet Tubman

words Aimee-lee Abraham

6th April 2016

Every fortnight, Oh Comely will be dedicating a blog post to the life of an extraordinary woman you ought to know about. This week, we’d like you to meet Harriet Tubman: an abolitionist, liberator, and humanitarian who ruled the Underground Railway with a pistol and a barrel of belief.

“There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive.”

Born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of 1800's Maryland, Harriet Tubman endured the harsh life of a field’s hand from birth, fending for herself and her siblings while their Mother worked in their master’s “Big house”. Sometime between 1834 and 1836, an iron weight directed at another fleeing slave struck her instead, landing with such force it fractured her skull and drove fragments of her shawl into her head. Although she suffered from seizures and periods of semi-consciousness for the rest of her life, the incident was the catalyst of her self-driven revolution.

Continually hired out for odd-jobs despite her impairment, Harriet worked on the docks and in a timber gang. It is here she learned of the secret networks of communication within an exclusively male world. Combining a mariner’s knowledge of safe zones with her own skills of disguise and deception, she became uniquely equipped to flee the horrors of slavery. In 1849 she ran away, leaving her family and Husband of five years behind at the plantation. With nothing but the clothes on her back and the North Star as her compass, she evaded bounty hunters and found work as a housemaid in Philadelphia, saving her wages to return South and conduct escape missions. Despite the substantial reward placed on her head, she returned to the site thirteen times and helped seventy people find freedom via the covert Underground Railroad. Dubbed “Black Moses” on account of her unrelenting faith and conviction, she carried a loaded pistol and was unafraid to use it against captors, nor to warn fellow fugitives who showed fear or hesitation.

At the outbreak of the civil war, her talents were noticed by the Union Services, who hired her to work as as a spy. Prized for her ability to move unnoticed through rebel territory, she became the first American woman to command an armed military, leading a raid that saw the liberation of another seven hundred slaves along the Combahee River. During this time she also worked as a cook, nurse, cleaner, scout, laundress and teacher--selling pies, gingerbread and beer in order to supplement her pitiful wage.

 In her later years, she became ever more politicised and continued to campaign for women’s suffrage and black liberation before founding the Harriet Hubman Home for the Aged: a safe space for sick and indignant African Americans who had sustained injuries similar to her own. Aged ninety, she passed away safe in the knowledge of her immaculate record. She never lost a single fugitive, nor allowed one to turn back. 

Further Reading: Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson

Images: Library of Congress, Bettman/Corbis of The NYT Photo Archive

Recipe Friday: Meringue Girls' Prosecco, Strawberry and Popping Candy Truffles

words Sarah McCoy

31st March 2016

For this month’s recipe Fridays we are tucking into sugary treats thanks to the Meringue Girls! And to start us off we have some fizz popping truffles.

Homemade chocolate truffles are deceptively easy to make, yet so impressive. The perfect little treat for popping in your mouth when you’re sitting on the sofa, after dinner, or if you are planning a decadent high tea. Everyone’s heard of champagne truffles, but these use our fave fizzy Italian tipple – prosecco.

You will need
MAKES 25
For the truffle ganache:
280g good-quality dark chocolate (70%)
250ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
100ml Prosecco (drink the rest of the bottle while eating your truffles)

For coating:
60g freeze-dried strawberries
60g coated popping candy or normal ‘Fizz Wiz’ popping candy

One. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Two. Start by making the truffle ganache. Break the chocolate into squares and place in a large glass bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan over a low heat, and stir until the butter is melted. Let the cream reach a gentle simmer, then pour over the chocolate, whisking until it’s completely melted. Add the prosecco and whisk until combined. Pour the lot into a lined shallow tin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and preferably overnight.

Three. Mix your freeze-dried strawberries and popping candy together on a large plate and set aside.

Four. To shape the truffles, dip a melon baller or teaspoon into a cup of boiling water. Scrape up balls of the ganache, reshaping them with your hands if necessary, then drop them on to the plate of freeze-dried strawberries and popping candy*, rolling them around to get an even coverage.

Five. Repeat until you’ve used all the ganache. Place the truffles on a baking tray lined with baking paper and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before enjoying.

*Coated popping candy doesn’t absorb the moisture of the truffles, so the ‘POP’ stays until you bite into them. Uncoated ‘Fizz Wiz’ works well, but absorbs the moisture, so these are best eaten quickly. If you prefer to keep your truffles simple, just roll them in good-quality cocoa powder.

Original recipe and image from the MG’s latest book Meringue Girls: Everything Sweet out now and published by Square Peg.

The Adventure Issue: A Call-out

words Aimee-lee Abraham

29th March 2016

Oh Comely's upcoming Summer issue is all about adventure. Whether lost on purpose or accidentally in love, we'll be talking about the adventures we plan for and the adventures we don't. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear from you.

For a chance to be featured in our pages, send a 100 word pitch and two writing samples* to words@ohcomely.co.uk by Friday 8th April

Good luck! We can't wait to go on an adventure with you. 

Image: Derek Abraham

*Please note that we do not accept poetry as a writing sample. Read our full submission guidelines here