Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dinner, 18/10/17: Pasta Bolognese

Even better because it came from the freezer and I didn't have to cook it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dinner, 17/10/17: Spicy Indian Potato Wraps

I really enjoyed this, though some of the members of my family who are less keen on sweet potato didn't like it quite so much. No one disliked it, mind you, but some people have rude things to say about sweet potatoes...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dinner, 16/10/17: Thai Pork Stir-Fry (Itsu Cookbook)

This was really nice - I added some carrots. We really liked the pineapple in it. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dinner, 14/10/17: Slow cooked lamb shanks with tomato & garlic sauce

Served with saute potatoes & green beans. We have had this before, it's a very nice way to cook lamb shanks - they do really well in the slow cooker.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book 94: Disturbance, Jan Kelly

Another in the Irene Kelly series - the last, I think. This is one I never read previous when I've read the series. It seems like a fairly final resolution to the series. I've enjoyed reading these all the way along - they are intelligent and characterful.

Dinner, 10/10/17: Mexican Bean & Tortilla Bake (Alex cooking)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Book 93: Wonder by R J Palacio

A children's book about being different and not fitting in and about how middle school sucks (it does) and friendship and all that sort of thing, from a somewhat unusual point of view(s). Well done, and touching.

Dinner, 7/10/17: Creamy Cider & Mustard Chicken with Mash & Broccoli

Friday, October 06, 2017

Book 92: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers

I confess to buying this book almost entirely based on the title (I did read the blurb as well), but it didn't let me down. A bit of a slow-burner, more driven by character than plot, which is fine with me. I enjoyed the author's creativity when it comes to creating sapient beings. I'll read the second for sure.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Dinner, 3/10/17: Chicken Katsu Curry (Itsu cookbook)

This was excellent - we all liked it (or rather, Olivia, Alex & I were the only ones home, but we all liked it).  We also liked the mix of rice and quinoa with it - nice texture.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Books in

Well, why not start the month by buying some books.... I took Sarah shopping in Brighton as a belated birthday treat, so of course we ended up in Waterstones. I did actually buy some books from the YA table as well, but they are technically for her (even though I kept a couple to read and she took a couple), so they aren't couting in this tally of books in. Wonder is a book I've seen before but hadn't got around to reading (it's a children's book), then I was talking about it with a friend as Alex is leading (with other Year 10s) a book club for year 7s, and this is their first book, so I decided to give it a go.

This one came from the second hand shop rather than Waterstones...

September Round Up


  • 30th: Steak & Ale Pie
  • 29th: Pork & Kimchi stir fry
  • 28th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 27th: Sausage & Bean Casserole
  • 26th: Five spice chicken & vegetables
  • 25th: Ravioli with Leeks & Lemon
  • 24th: Thai Red Beef Curry with Green Beans
  • 23rd: Devilled Mushrooms, Salad, Bread
  • 22nd: Cheesy Bean & Chipotle Quesadillas
  • 21st: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 20th: Chinese Garlic & Ginger Pork
  • 19th: Broccoli Pesto Pasta
  • 18th: Jacket Potatoes with Toppings
  • 17th: Salmon Tikka Masala
  • 16th: Chicken & Potato Curry (Geoff cooking)
  • 15th: Lentil Shepherd's Pie
  • 14th: Spaghetti Bolognese (Geoff cooking)
  • 13th: Thai Green Vegetable Curry
  • 12th: Paneer Stuffed Pancakes
  • 11th: Black Bean Tacos
  • 10th: Sausages, Spicy Wedges, Baked Swede
  • 9th: Ghobeli
  • 8th: Chorizo & Chickpea Soup
  • 7th: Quick Spinach and Garlic Pasta
  • 6th: Pork Escallopes, Potatoes, Carrots
  • 5th: Middle Eastern Chicken "Pizzas"
  • 4th: Stuffed Courgettes with Feta & Olives
  • 3rd: Big Brunch (no dinner)
  • 2nd: Pasta with creamy tomato, rosemary and caper sauce
  • 1st: Chorizo & Pepper Fritatta

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book progress update - September

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

And now, September: 
  • I read five books from my list (More Than This, Patrick Ness, My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millweed Hargrave, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, Little Gods by Anna Richards )
  • I read one library book - the second book about his experiences with autism by Naoki Higashida (Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight)
  • I read one more of the books my class will be using as texts this school year (Treason by Berlie Docherty)
  • I re-read one book, which I'd picked up for 40p from the Friends' table at the local library (Case Histories by Kate Atkinson). It wasn't on my list. 
  • Starting September off with a bang, I bought 5 books in charity shops on the 1st of Sept! And ordered one book in the post from AbeBooks, as several friends had reviewed it well.
September goal progress:
  1. books read: 8 of 17 books 
  2. books removed from list: 5; books added:6; net result +1
  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 42, which seems like only a few less, 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. 
  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. Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Book People, May 2017)
  9. Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  10. Emma Donohue, The Wonder (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  11. Bi Fieyu, Three Sisters (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  12. 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...) *
  13. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  14. Claire Fuller, Our Endless Numbered Days (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  15. 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...) *
  16. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  17. Linda Grant, The Dark Circle (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  18. Hella Haasse, The Tea Lords (Bookhandel von Rossum, Amsterdam, August 2017)
  19. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  20. Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  21. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  22. N K Jemisin, The Fifth Season (AbeBooks, Sept 2017)
  23. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  24. Ernest van der Kwast, The Ice Cream Makers (Amsterdam, August 2017)
  25. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  26. Edward Marston, The Railway Detective (Charity shop, Farnham, Sept 2017)
  27. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  28. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  29. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  30. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  31. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  32. Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero (charity shop , April 2017)
  33. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  34. Michelle Paver, Dark Matter (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  35. Sara Perry, The Essex Serpent (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  36. Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Waterstones Wimbledon, December 2016)
  37. Lucy Ribchester, The Hourglass Factory (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  38. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  39. Marcus Sedgewick, She is not Invisible (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)
  40. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)
  41. Sally Vickers, Cousins (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  42. Lucy Worsley, A Very British Murder (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)

Dinner, 30/9/17: Steak and Ale Pie (Hairy Bikers)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book 91: Little Gods by Anna Richards

I picked this up in the pound shop ages ago, and finally got around to reading it. I feel somewhat ambivalent about it, having finished - parts of it I really liked, but at the same time, it didn't quite grab hold of me the way the best books do. But it was an interesting idea, and I certainly don't regret having spent time with it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dinner, 27/9/17: "Cheat's Sausage Cassoulet" (Sainsbury's Magazine)

Really, this would more sensibly just be called sausage and bean casserole, but it's tasty. I used Toulouse style sausages this time; next time I wouldn't, I'd just go back to the ones we usually use...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dinner, 26/9/17: Five Spice Chicken with Vegetables (Ken Hom)

Again, no veg in the recipe, but I added some because we like veg with our stir fries and I don't like to cook two different dishes on a quick weeknight dinner...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dinner, 24/9/17: Thai red beef curry with green beans (Ainsley Harriott)

A simple red Thai curry with coconut milk. I added the beans (not in the recipe), just cooking them for a few minutes at the end.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dinner, 23/9/17: Devilled mushrooms, salad, bread

This particular recipe has Worcestershire sauce in it, but you could easily substitute that for soy sauce or tamari to make a vegetarian/vegan version...  We used to eat this quite often, too, before we had a house full of kids who don't like mushrooms. Most of them weren't here today.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book 90: Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8, Naoki Higashida

This was an interesting followup to the previous book, written by a young main with severe non-verbal autism. I do find both books somewhat repetitive, but there are also interesting insights into what it might be like inside the head of someone with extreme, non-verbal autism. 

Dinner, 22/9/17: Cheesy Bean & Chipotle Quesadillas

We're a big fan of most Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, as long as they aren't too stodgy. Quesadillas, with a wide variety of fillings, are a favourite.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dinner, 20/9/17: Chinese Ginger and Garlic Pork

We used to have this dish quite a lot and it sort of got forgotten about, not sure why. I might bring it back to have more often!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dinner, 19/9/17: Broccoli Pesto Pasta

A very simple dish,where you cook the broccoli, then mash it into a rough paste, with garlic and a few other things. Easy, tasty, quick.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dinner, 18/9/17: Jacket Potatoes with Beans, Cheese, Bacon

This is one we often have on nights I'm not around; decided it was time we had it when I was here. Gotta love a good baked potato...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book 89: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I really enjoyed this kind of wacky SF novel; it was pretty different from just about anything I'd read before, but not in a bad way. Extremely difficult to summarise, especially without giving away important stuff, but it was good fun.

Dinner, 17/9/17: Salmon Tikka Masala

Salmon curry with courgettes, onions, tomatoes. Yum. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dinner, 15/9/17: Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Probably shouldn't be called a shepherd's pie if there's no meat in it, but I have to call it something. Tasty!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book 88: Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

A young adult title, fantasy.  I thought the beginning and build up to this story were superb; it somehow didn't quite maintain that level for me towards the end, though the finish was very nice. Lovely writing, though. I'd definitely read another by the same author.

Dinner, 12/9/17: Paneer Stuffed Pancakes (source unknown)

This was a magazine recipe, but not sure which magazine, possibly Vegetarian Living. Anyway, it was extremely yummy,so we were all happy - the filling for the pancakes was chickpeas, spinach and paneer cheese, with curry paste & passata - really tasty. Again, the recipe suggested coconut yogurt (i.e. yogurt made with coconut milk) as a topping, and it was very nice with this - just the right contrast. Alex pointed out that we'd had two very different "things in wraps" meals in a row - hadn't even noticed before - but then, "things in wraps" is a very versatile kind of meal...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dinner, 11/9/17: Black Bean Tacos (Good Food magazine)

This is a terrible picture of what was actually a very nice dinner - soft tacos with a black bean filling. There was a guacamole sauce and a salsa with pomegranate seeds in it, which I really liked, especially the texture.  We had both corn and wheat tortillas, though I liked the wheat better in this instance. And it was a bit too spicy for Sarah, though not for the rest of us.  It used coconut yogurt as a topping, which Geoff found a little sweet (you could use regular yogurt or sour cream if you wanted to, but this was a good alternative for vegans). 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book 87: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

I picked this up a while back because I had read Olive Kitteridge  by the same author and thought it excellent; this was also excellent. Strout is a great writer, and the characters are so real, true and earnest you almost ache reading it. Must check out the rest of her books (I think I've read another, a long time ago, though I have no recollection of anything beyond the name - Amy and Isabelle.)

Dinner, 10/9/17: Sausages, Spicy Wedges, Baked Swede

Nope, it's not two different sets of chips, it's roasted/baked swede (rutabaga) a vegetable I tend to only use in stews, and always forget how nice it is in other ways...

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Book 86: Treason by Berlie Doherty

This is another of the books my class will be reading this year; I enjoyed it. It's a strong story about family and loyalty and set in an interesting, if perhaps overused, time (court of Henry VIII) - but for nearly all, if not all, of the kids in my class, it will no doubt be the first book set in that period they've read, so that won't matter for them. I found it well written and compelling and not suffering from the tendency to dumb things down for children - yes, it's simplified, but still intelligent. A good choice - and exciting enough to hold the kids' attention, I'm sure.

Dinner, 9/9/17: Ghobeli (Rice with Lamb and Carrots)

This is an old standby - we particularly like the pistachio and dried cranberries on top, adds something really nice to the dish.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Book 85: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (re-read)

I read this quite some time ago, but chanced across another copy somewhere for free or very little money, so decided to read it again - although I remembered elements of it, some of the detail was gone, so it worked well as a re-read, despite the mystery nature (in part).  She's such a good writer - must go back and fill in the other gaps of things I haven't read by her...

Dinner, 5/9/17: Chicken "pizzas", salad

This is from a Middle Eastern cookbook, and is basically a spiced chicken, onion and nut mix on top of flatbreads, toasted. It's not hard, and it's really tasty and quick. My pre-requisite for a weeknight supper...

Monday, September 04, 2017

Dinner, 4/9/17: Stuffed Courgettes with Feta & Olives

Everyone likes this one - the stuffing is very tasty with feta, olives, sundried tomatoes, lemon zest and capers (not in the original recipe, but we always add them).