Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Book 99: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Another in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series: I read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler - a Taming of the Shrew re-imagining this summer and it was ok, but not brilliant - this is much better. Indeed, excellent. This is, perhaps obviously, based on the Tempest, and it's very cleverly constructed as well as being an engaging tale in and of itself. It's also, perhaps surprisingly, as a substantial portion of it is set in a prison, very funny. The other Hogarth authors will have a hard time bettering this.

Dinner, 8/11/17: Mixed bean Goulash (Alex cooking)

And we made cornbread to go with it.  Yum. (The cornbread isn't vegan.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dinner, 7/11/17: Creamy Lemon Cabbage Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs (Good Food)

We especially like the garlic breadcrumbs with this one - great texture contrast.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Dinner, 6/11/17: Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup

One of the things that's always a mystery to me is how food magazines can photograph soups with a garnish (like crispy bits of bacon) - they always fall to the bottom. The soup still tastes great, but the garnish doesn't float on top (unless it's chopped herbs or something). 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Dinner, 4/11/17: Jacket Potatoes with Toppings & Bacon

When Geoff was a kid, they always had baked potatoes on Bonfire Night - we think this is an excellent tradition. Of course, we also have jacket potatoes on other nights - it's a nice, easy meal which everyone likes, which is warm and filling in the winter. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Dinner, 1/11/17: Chili (Geoff cooking)

October Roundup


  • 31st: Courgette & Mushroom Tart
  • 30th: Leftover Mac& Cheese
  • 29th: Thai style baked fish, potatoes, carrots
  • 28th: Macaroni Cheese with spinach & walnuts
  • 27th: Dinner out for Liv's birthday
  • 26th: Cheeseburger Quesadillas
  • 25th: Pork Curry
  • 24th: Chicken Laksa
  • 23rd: Purple sprouting broc with butter beans, etc
  • 22nd: Leftover lamb shanks in tomato sauce
  • 21st: Roast Pork, roast potatoes, cabbage
  • 20th: Indian takeaway
  • 19th: fend for yourself
  • 18th: Spag bol (freezer)
  • 17th: Spicy Indian Potato Wraps
  • 16th: Thai Pork Stir-Fry
  • 15th: Fennel & Bacon Risotto
  • 14th: Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Tomato & Garlic
  • 13th: Goat Cheese, Parma ham & Sun-dried tomato pizza
  • 12th: Fend for yourself
  • 11th: Spaghetti with Pesto, Peas & Soya Beans
  • 10th: Mexican Bean & Tortilla Bake
  • 9th: Summer White Bean & Tarragon Soup
  • 8th: Teriyaki Salmon, New Potatoes, Courgettes
  • 7th: Creamy Cider & Mustard Chicken, Mash, Broccoli
  • 6th: Pasta with pesto Genovese
  • 5th: Fend for yourself
  • 4th: Fend for yourself
  • 3rd: Chicken Katsu Curry
  • 2nd: Out in Wimbledon before Theatre
  • 1st: Out with Sarah in Brighton

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Progress Update - October

At the start of the year, I set a few reading goals, with the overall aim of trying to make my way through books I've had for a while and haven't read, and trying not to acquire too many new books. The goals were:
  1. Read at least 100 books in 2017 (approximately 2 per week; hopefully I can accomplish this)
  2. Buy/acquire fewer books each month than I remove from my TBR shelf/list
  3. Read or otherwise get rid of at least 1 of the books I've had since before 2015 (there were 4 on the list at the start of the year) and at least three of the books I  bought during 2015 (12 on the list)
They are (fairly) reasonable goals, which shouldn't stress me too much. In theory.

In January:  books read: 8; list reduced by: 2; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In February: books read: 12; list reduced by: 11; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In March: books read: 8; list increased by: 1;  pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In April: books read: 10; list increased by: 8; pre-2015 reduction: 1; 2015 reduction: 3
In May: books read, 14; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 3
In June: books read, 9; list reduced by: 3; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In July: books read: 7; list increased by: 5; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In August: books read: 15; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In September: books read: 8; listed increased by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0

And now, for October: 
  • I read two books from my list (A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley)
  • I read one book which I bought in Waterstones in Brighton on October 1st, but didn't really get a chance to add to my list (Wonder by R J Palacio)
  • I read one book I picked up in a charity shop and started straight away (The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell) because I needed a book while waiting for someone
  • I read two books which were in the house already (The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness and Disturbance by Jan Burke)
  • I read one book which I picked up at the RA earlier in the month, and again, started straight away, so it never made it on my list (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, Grayson Perry/ Wendy Jones)
  • I bought three books in Waterstones in Brighton (but read one of them almost straight away) and one in a second hand shop there. And then I bought some more books in other places, because I'm like that! I did buy some birthday presents, which don't count, but of course as I was in the bookshop, it seemed rude to go away without buying anything for myself... And then there was the time I was stuck in a coffee shop with no book, so had to get something from the charity shop next door. And I bought a book in the shop in an art gallery, but I did start reading it straight away, so it's not on The List.... Oh well, excuses excuses! And yes, right at the end of the month, I bought some more books in another Waterstones because we were doing some early Christmas shopping.
October goal progress:
  1. books read: 7 of 9 books 
  2. books removed from list: 2; books added: 6; net result +4
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 3;  from 2015: 0 of 2

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2017.  There were 46 books at the beginning of January, and there are now 47, which seems like a net loss, but most of them have changed - only 11 books are left on the year from last year or before  - books acquired in 2017 are underlined. I really must see if I can stop adding books to the list, at least until I get a few more removed...
  1. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (charity shop, April 2017)
  2. Elizabeth Aston, Mr Darcy's Daughters (from Taffy's house in Florida, April 2017)
  3. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  4. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  5. Mikhail Bulgokov, The Master and Margarita (charity shop, April 2017)
  6. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  7. Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Mother's Day 2017)
  8. Alexia Casale, The Bone Dragon (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  9. Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  10. Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  11. Emma Donohue, The Wonder (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  12. Bi Fieyu, Three Sisters (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  13. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade's End (Nov 2012 - birthday present - bought after the BBC adaptation - but I knew I wouldn't read it straight away as I wanted to let time pass from the adaptation.  Enough time has probably passed now...) *
  14. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  15. Claire Fuller, Our Endless Numbered Days (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  16. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (would be a re-read, bought shortly after his death - spring 2014 - as I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and I didn't seem to own a copy - think my old one fell apart, probably...) *
  17. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  18. Linda Grant, The Dark Circle (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  19. Hella Haasse, The Tea Lords (Bookhandel von Rossum, Amsterdam, August 2017)
  20. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  21. Christina Henry, Lost Boy (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  22. Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  23. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  24. N K Jemisin, The Fifth Season (AbeBooks, Sept 2017)
  25. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  26. Ernest van der Kwast, The Ice Cream Makers (Amsterdam, August 2017)
  27. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  28. Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet (2nd Hand Shop, Brighton, October 2017)
  29. Edward Marston, The Railway Detective (Charity shop, Farnham, Sept 2017)
  30. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  31. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  32. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  33. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  34. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  35. Maggie O'Farrell, This Must be the Place (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  36. Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero (charity shop , April 2017)
  37. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  38. Michelle Paver, Dark Matter (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  39. Sara Perry, The Essex Serpent (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  40. Lucy Ribchester, The Hourglass Factory (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  41. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  42. Marcus Sedgewick, She is not Invisible (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)
  43. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)
  44. Ali Smith, Autumn (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  45. Sally Vickers, Cousins (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  46. Lucy Worsley, A Very British Murder (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)

Dinner, 31/10/17: Courgette & Mushroom Tart

An old standby. Puff pastry, red pesto, thinly sliced courgettes and mushrooms, grated mozzarella. And there you have it.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Book 98: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, Grayson Perry (Wendy Jones)

Picked this up when I was up at the RA a few weeks ago; I've read articles/interviews by/with Perry before and he always struck me as incredibly intelligent and articulate, so despite my general tendencies away from non-fiction I thought this would be really interesting. And it is. Quite an interesting exploration of his formation as an artist and his discovery of his transvestism. A couple of times in bookshops I've been drawn to his book about men and manliness (The Descent of Man) but haven't yet bought it; this memoir makes me think I probably should do so.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book 97: The Girl Next Door, Ruth Rendell

Picked this up in a charity shop when I was caught out without a book and had to meet someone in a coffee shop; Ruth Rendell is always reliable. This isn't so much a mystery, as we pretty much know whodunnit from near the beginning, but the stories all unfold and unravel and it's well done. 

Dinner, 29/10/17: Thai Style Baked Fish

This was baked in foil - really nice. It's trout, but you could use other fish. Flavourful and moist. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book 96: The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness

This is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. I thought the first was very good, and this was good as well, though I found that, even more than with the first one, it was just so tiring to read as everything is very tense and fast paced and full on, all the time. It's the nature of the story, and makes sense, but it's not relaxing. I'm not sure I'll read the third one; might wait for one of my kids to read it and then just have them tell me about it. 

Dinner, 28/10/17: Macaroni Cheese with Spinach & Walnuts

Another in the many variations we have on macaroni cheese - a great comfort dish, nice in this autumnal weather. This one had a crunchy topping with bits of bread and walnuts, which was really nice. And the addition of leeks and spinach to the body of the dish was good, too. Plus it makes lots, so there are leftovers for lunches, which is nice as I'm back to work this week...