Cookbooks: June & July 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, over the last month and a half these are the new recipes I have tried:

Sag Aloo Korma
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Curries & Stews – Page 128

Just before the mad heat arrived, I had my vegetarian friend come round for dinner, giving me the perfect opportunity to try out this veggie korma recipe. A mixture of regular potatoes, sweet potatoes and spring onions are fried off in korma paste, then simmered with chard, spinach and chickpeas in milk, and as the potatoes naturally thicken the sauce – no naughty cream is needed! A rich, ‘creamy’ curry, which is packed with all the good stuff. Win, win! Great recipe.

Tuna and Sweetcorn Wraps
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Meals On The Move – Page 140

After enjoying the fresh, juicy Ham Salad Wraps in May, I decided to try this tuna version. Like the ham wraps, these are simply large tortillas generously filled with lettuce, sliced pepper, cucumber and carrot, but this time with a mixture of tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise. Again these made for lovely, satisfying lunches without too much stodge, which I enjoyed even more than the ham ones! Definitely be making these again. Great recipe.

Chilli Salad Bowls
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Vegetable & Salads – Page 116-117

Then the heat wave hit and eating our regular chilli favourite became pretty much out of the question, so I decided to give this a go instead. A real gutsy salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions; tossed in lime juice; served in baked tortilla bowls and topped with chilli mince, cheese, salsa and crème fraiche. While a little messy to eat, this was delicious and easy to make, especially as I used ready-made tortilla bowls. Great recipe.

Summer Veg Pilaf
The Co-operative Magazine

After enjoying two of the Co-op’s light, summery risotto recipes, I thought I would try this alternative rice recipe, that I had also cut out and saved. I have never made a pilaf before, but this was super simple to make in just 35 minutes. A rich, spicy one-pan rice dish with peas, green beans and courgettes, which was perfect served with crunchy, salad leaves for an easy mid-week meal. Great recipe.

That’s four fabulous new recipes tried altogether. I also re-made The Hairy Dieters’ yummy Chicken Stir-Fry, although I think I might need to give up on the crispy coating on the chicken: it just won’t stick!

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?


Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10… Novellas & Short Stories

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Favourite Novellas/Short Stories

Now and again, I think we all crave a novella we can finish in one sitting or a short story collection that we can easily dip in and out of when time is tight. So here are ten of my favourite novellas and/or short stories:

  1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – The timeless, warm-hearted tale of the ghostly and redemptive journey one-night of the infamous miser Ebenezer Scrooge.
  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – A gothic, atmospheric Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson mystery out on the foggy, lonely moors, in search of a diabolical hound.
  3. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – A touching and charming tale that follows the lives of the women of Cranford, a small rural town in Victorian England.
  4. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – The classic, gothic horror that follows a governess as she desperately fears the house is haunted or that she might be losing her mind!
  5. A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle – The first Sherlock Holmes short story, from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection, which also introduces the infamous Irene Adler,
  6. Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau and Joe King – A gripping, kick-ass opener to Gelineau’s and King’s crime noir thread of their epic fantasy series, Echo of the Ascended.
  7. The Birds by Daphne du Maurier – The atmospheric, gothic horror novelette about birds attacking humans, that went on to inspire Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film.
  8. High House by Rosy Thornton – One of my favourites from the sixteen short stories in Thornton’s gentle and magical Sandlands collection, that focuses on the creatures and people of the Suffolk landscape.
  9. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – A short, modern masterpiece which introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, who will fatefully go on to be the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
  10. Even in the Cannon’s Mouth by Adrian Tchaikovsky – My favourite from the five Shakespearian-inspired short stories in the fantastic Monstrous Little Voices collection, edited by David Thomas Moore.

What do you think of my choices? What are your favourite novellas and short stories? Also, please link in your post in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

New Read: Vanishing Grace

As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and I am very lucky that my church has it’s own book club to help me with this. In May, we read and discussed the classic Christian memoir, God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. Next up, for our June meeting, was Vanishing Grace by best-selling evangelical author Philip Yancey.

Yancey’s international best-seller What’s So Amazing About Grace? explored Christianity’s great distinctive element from all other faiths: grace. Now in Vanishing Grace he returns to this theme and vigorously questions what exactly the church has to offer the broken world of today, and why, to outsiders, Christians often seem the bearers of bad rather than the good news! (I haven’t read the previous book, but I didn’t find this a problem as I found this book didn’t refer back to it or presume you had knowledge from it.)

Yancey discusses this whilst reflecting on the current, depressing state of the evangelical church in the USA. Honestly, I found this first half of the book slow and pretty hard going. Mainly because I found it difficult to relate to as – while the Church of England church I attend is evangelical in style – I am not an American evangelical and thankfully, I have never faced such negative and angry views against my faith.

Fortunately, Yancey then moves on to explain how it doesn’t need to be this way and draws our attention to modern-day pilgrims, activists and artists as examples of how to communicate the gospel to a world that thinks it is less and less relevant to them. Most importantly he suggests that Christians need to remind themselves about the good news at the heart of their own faith. This second half of the book was a lot easier going for me and I read it in less than half the time than the first half took me! Which means I finished this book just in time for my church’s book club meeting in mid-June.

At the meeting, I was relieved to find I wasn’t the only one who struggled a little with the structure of this book, in particular the first half. We all agreed we much preferred the second half, where Yancey highlighted inspiring individuals who live out and share the good news in simple, fresh ways, even though we felt the final chapter was superfluous as it added nothing new. Several members shared that they had read and enjoyed other books by this author, and that this was perhaps not his best. So I am definitely keeping an open mind about reading more by Yancey.

Overall, I thought Vanishing Grace was a challenging read and sometimes we need to be challenged, especially about our faith. Whilst I didn’t feel this had the best structure and style, I did think it had some real gems of wisdom, advice and inspiration within. Good read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Philip Yancey?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10… Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Best Books I’ve Read In 2018 (So Far)

I have been fortunate to be blessed, although in lower numbers, with some quality reading thus far this year. Here are ten books I have enjoyed the most:

  1. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier – A gripping, gothic suspense, which had me time-travelling back to the wild, dangerous Cornwall of the 1300s.
  2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi – An eye-opening look at Islam and an inspiring tale of finding the peace in Jesus.
  3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë – A beautifully written classic, with engaging characters, that cleverly explores the societal troubles, strifes and wrongs of the time.
  4. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew – An inspiring and thrilling tale of one man’s truly awesome faith and mission, which also made for a wonderful discussion point at my book club meeting.
  5. Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver – A collection of great new and traditional recipes for all the family with a super food twist.
  6. Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir – A powerful tale of a courageous woman, that completely immersed me into tumultuous Tudor England.
  7. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory – Another brilliantly written and researched piece of historical fiction, which, while it lacked the romance and magic I loved from The White Queen, it did grip me from beginning to end!
  8. The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers – A great collection of vegetarian recipes. I look forward to trying them.
  9. Queen of Hearts, Volume 3: War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes –  A fitting and very satisfying ending to this clever and refreshing re-imagining of Wonderland.
  10. A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King – Another nostalgic and thrilling mystery. I look forward to reading more from this series.

Have you read any of my choices? What have been your favourite books so far this year? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

New Read: Headline Murder

After being on my autumn and winter to-be-read lists without success, I finally got round to reading Headline Murder by new-to-me author, Peter Bartram, at the end of spring. This is the first book in Bartram’s Crampton of The Chronicle crime, mystery series.

It’s August 1962, and Colin Crampton, a crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, is desperate for a front-page story, when he receives a tip-off about the disappearance of the owner of the seafront’s crazy-golf, Arnold Trumper. On further investigation, Crampton scents a scoop as he discovers that Trumper’s vanishing act is possibly linked to an unsolved murder and dodgy property deals. However some powerful and dangerous people are determined Crampton should not discover the truth, so he will need to use every journalist trick in the book if he is to land this exclusive.

What follows is a very British murder mystery, with twists, turns, colourful characters and a good dash of humour too. All of which befits a story set in Brighton: one of Britain’s coolest, trend-setting towns. Plus Bartram took me back and brilliant evoked the time and style of the swinging sixties – like two of my favourite crime dramas, Endeavour and Inspector George Gently – with its classic cars, well-cut suits, pop music, food and smoky pubs! So I was pretty much in setting heaven! And while there is a dark, realistic edge to this, there is no gratuitous blood or gore, which makes this perfect for those, like me, who prefer lighter murder mysteries.

We follow all the fast-paced action and unravelling plot through the eyes of our protagonist, Colin Crampton, a dedicated – if sometimes rather cocky – local reporter. Who is willing to go the miles, even risking personal grief and putting himself in danger to finally solve this mystery and get his story. I must say I became very fond of our reporter, especially seeing him get up to all kinds of mischief while on the case, which also leads to romantic strife with his feisty Aussie girlfriend, Shirley!

What I was also really impressed with was how Bartram was able to so realistically describe the world of crime reporting, for even a journalistic novice like me! So it was no surprise to learn, after finishing this book, that Bartram has years of experience as a journalist himself. I just loved how he brought alive the smoky, bustling newsroom, with its ringing phones and clicking typewriters. And how – in an age without computers or mobile phones – Crampton has to do good, old-fashioned leg work and trips down to the archive office, as he desperately tries to produce the sort of copy that is demanded for the editor’s deadline.

All in all, I am so pleased I finally got round to reading Headline Murder. It was a good, page-turning murder mystery, with a likeable protagonist and great setting. I would be very interested in reading more from this series. Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other mysteries set in the colourful Brighton?

Meme: Six in Six 2018

With us saying goodbye to June on Sunday it means we are now half way through 2018 and it is time for the seventh Six in Six meme, the brain child of Jo at The Book Jotter. Which I think is a great way to reflect back on our reading so far. So here are my six authors/books in six different categories from the last six months:

Six new authors to me:

  1. Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
  2. Lee Strobel, The Case for Grace
  3. Michael R. Miller, The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King
  4. Mingmei Yip, Peach Blossom Pavilion
  5. Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  6. Peter Bartram, Headline Murder

Six authors I have read before:

  1. Karen Maitland, The Plague Charmer
  2. Laurie R. King, A Monstrous Regiment of Women
  3. Geoffrey Trease, Seven Kings of England
  4. Alison Weir, Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen
  5. Philippa Gregory, The Red Queen
  6. Colleen Oakes, War of the Cards

Six series of books read, continued or started:

  1. A Very Brief History series, Mark Black
  2. Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Laurie R. King
  3. The Dragon’s Blade trilogy, Michael R. Miller
  4. Six Tudor Queens series, Alison Weir
  5. Cousins’ War series, Philippa Gregory
  6. Queen of Hearts trilogy, Colleen Oakes

Six non-fictions I have read:

  1. Super Food Family Classics, Jamie Oliver
  2. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi
  3. The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie, Si King & Dave Myers
  4. Seven Kings of England, Geoffrey Trease
  5. God’s Smuggler, Brother Andrew
  6. Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey

Six fictions I have read:

  1. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman [Re-Read]
  2. Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen, Alison Weir
  3. This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Hazard of Shadows, Mike Phillips
  5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë
  6. The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier

Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year:

  1. Joanna Hickson, First of the Tudors
  2. Susanna Kearsley, Season of Storms
  3. Terry Pratchett, Pyramids
  4. Jodi Taylor, Just One Damned Thing After Another
  5. M C Beaton, Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage
  6. John A. Heldt, Indiana Belle

What books and authors have you enjoyed so far this year? Please let me know if you have taken part in this meme too.

Goodbye June, Hello July 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are well? Surprisingly, here in the UK, we have been in a blistering heat-wave for the last week or so. As well as the scorching temperatures, I have been far too busy for reading out on the patio. With three school trips; the busy wind-down to the end of term, and applying for new jobs. Plus I enjoyed an Olly Murs tribute & curry night and booked my summer holiday! During all that this is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 1          Non-Fiction: 1

First this month, I finished reading Christian non-fiction Vanishing Grace by best-selling evangelical author, Philip Yancey. A thought-provoking and sometimes challenging read, which made for a very interesting discussion at my church’s June book club meeting. Then I got my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge started with the gripping, gothic suspense The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier, which had me time-travelling back to the wild, dangerous Cornwall of the 1300s. So while a slow start in numbers, it was a cracking start for quality. I’m afraid I am really behind on my reviews though, so you will have to wait for my full thoughts on both of these.

Pick of the Month: The House on the Strand

Altogether that is just two books finished, which makes this my new, lowest month of the year! Clearly I have just been too busy! However through out June, I have been reading non-fiction Charles II, Biography of an Infamous King by John Miller and the swashbuckling classic Sandokan, The Pirates of Malaysia by Emilio Salgari. Then at the end of the month, I started reading Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole and The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen (for my church’s next book club meeting).

In July, I look forward, bitter-sweetly, to the end of term, the summer holidays and hopefully reading more!

What did you do and read in June? What are your plans for July?