Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen panic, with a love story.
Gorgeous Choc Hotlate, a recipe for hot chocolate topped with ice cream, from the equally gorgeous book The Contented Vegan. What could be better on a snowy day?
The book is a satisfyingly chunky hardback with lots of beautiful full page colour photos that reminded me of when my son was a toddler and used to like to look at recipe books. He would point at each picture and say ‘Nums!’ Well, there’s lots to say ‘nums’ about in this book.
Written by a chef who has been vegan for over 30 years, the pages are bursting with great advice for people starting off on the vegan journey and those who’ve been on it a while.
I enjoyed the section on raising vegan children and it also brought back memories. The author advises trying to make the food to be eaten with other children as ‘normal’ as possible. I recall planning such a meal and getting my daughter to check that her friend liked spaghetti, thinking a nice Bolognese style sauce would go down well. Indeed, the initial report came back positive. But I will never forget the look of sheer horror on the child’s face when presented with a bowl of spaghetti and sauce.
‘What is this?’ she asked.
‘Spaghetti,’ said I.
‘But spaghetti comes in orange juice.’
Luckily I did have a tin at the back of a cupboard, so all was well!
Recipe sections include breakfast, snacks, lunch, suppers, family dinners and feasts and celebrations. We’ll be trying the Winter Solstice Pie and the Fennel and Pepper Presto has caught the eye too. In fact I can tell it’s a book of nums that will be dipped into often over many years.
It’s snowing again, may have to make more Choc Hotlate!
Autumn is well and truly underway. High winds. Flooding. Beautiful trees. Log fires. And lovely roast dinners. Above is a quarter marrow (peeled, deseeded) stuffed with the simplest of nut roasts made by blending/processing walnuts, almonds, sweet potato, celery, parsley, sage and some Vecon stock. Roast for about 45 minutes at 200c/400F. YUM.
Holly Bourne’s new YA novel, The Places I’ve Cried in Public is too important a title for us not to mention. It’s a book about abuse. It could help prevent abuse and even lessen the lasting negative impact on the targets of abusive behaviour.
We follow Amelie as she revisits the places she cried during her relationship with Reese, a relationship that she thought was loving. Through this story the author deftly points out many of the red flags that are hallmarks of abuse and which are often ignored or not noticed by young people (or people of any age). This can be because when you’ve grown up in an atmosphere of abuse and control, these behaviours seem normal, but it can also be because they are new and unknown, or because they are perpetuated as acceptable, as in one conversation we were party to recently where an abusive individual was described as merely having a ‘strong personality’. No. A world of big bad no.
Two of the strongest early indicators of whether you’re dealing with an abusive or narcissistic personality, in any relationship type, are that person’s reactions to both your failures and your successes. A toxic person will revel in your failures, your heartbreaks and, in fact, anything that goes wrong for you at all. They will patronise rather than empathise, and sometimes try to convince you that an event that was simply unfortunate was actually your failure.
And success? Well, you’re not allowed to have any. They will chip away at it, pointing out others who’ve had more success, or are ‘better than you’. You may actually learn never to speak of your own achievements, understanding that it makes this person feel bad. They will attempt, and quite possibly manage, to sabotage you too.
I love it when I have a book that I’m enjoying so much I resent all other activities that take me away from it . Things like housework, cooking, sleeping… ugh… website work, long walks and lovely trips out with friends are still good 🙂 I did/do/will manipulate any conversation to a discussion about the books in question and the author though 😀
Halfway through the second title in the Millennium trilogy with the aspergian character Lisbeth Salander. Long term readers of the blog will know that I do like writers who are saying stuff that needs to be said. Exposing the rot in the hope of helping clear it away. Here we have institutional abuse, sadistic bullying, violence against women and children and the compliance and ignorance of those around the situations against a very thrilling murder plot with corruption and political comment aplenty. Wonderfully recognised individuals. So exciting, I have to go…
We will have been married 20 years this year… which causes me to reflect how far we’ve come, how much the world has changed in that time and to note the two items above. They were given to us as a wedding present by friends who I used to babysit for and here they are still with us, I don’t think any other dish we own has survived that long! The Cranks Recipe Book sparked my interest at once, as I had eaten in their restaurant in London while a student, and it called to mind lovely brick walls and earthenware plates of hearty soup (they now have one restaurant in Devon).
It really taught me to cook, being the only cookery title I had at the time (bit of a change there then) in our first flat that we loved so much. I was fairly clueless when it came to the culinary arts. I remember phoning my mum at times with questions such as ‘how do you cook a neep? I can’t even seem to cut it up’. With the book I learned to bake bread, make cakes and the wonderfully frugal crecy plate pie, prepare soups and casseroles got put in the dish 🙂 It influenced me in more subtle ways too. Being the one and only it got thoroughly read and I absorbed the health oriented nature of the pages, reading for example, how much adding fresh herbs enhanced the nutritional value of the food. I remember the excitement of planting up a small herb garden and reading more deeply into these subjects. Looking at it now I notice all the cheesy recipes but you could just use any one of the many vegan cheeses available now or leave it out altogether.
Bit different when we first went vegan – a vegan cookbook obtained from the library that shall remain nameless (mainly as I can’t remember it’s name, I think it was somewhat generic, but also I do not want to slander it as it may have had other redeeming recipes) was responsible for me making a vegan cheese out of marg and yeast extract 13 years ago – absolutely disgusting, totally foul!!
As for the dish, it still gets used though not as much anymore. The odd apple/rhubarb crumble is popped in it. I now favour my big Le Creuset that you can cook on the hob and in the oven with – very handy for making a sheperdess/red dragon pie base in and just putting mashed tatties on top and then into the oven it goes. I am very lucky to also have two similar cast iron AGA pans/casseroles given to us by another friend who had them sitting unwanted and unused in his garage, and these are my 3 usual dinner cooking pans now.
We’ve always been blessed with friendship 🙂 I am currently reading Walking to Greenham sent to me by a wonderful woman and friend… a fascinating book and I find myself contemplating the larger worldwide changing of the times. What will the next 20 years bring?