Friday, June 30, 2017

Dinner, 30/6/17: Courgette, Mozzarella and Mushroom Tart, Salad

After a day out at a university open day, something quick and easy was on the menu. A standby.

Books and Reading, June 2017

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

So, how about June:
  • I read three books from my list (The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman, About Grace by Anthony Doerr,  Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo) and started a fourth (The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern), which I will either finish or abandon (probably finish) in July; it will count as a July book, though.
  • I read part of a book I picked up at the community bookswap shelf at the local train station (The Hidden Side of the Moon by Joanna Russ), but it doesn't really count because I didn't read more than about 1/3 of it.
  • I read (in one evening and put back) a book found in the bookcase in my hotel in Exeter (The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney)
  • I re-read four titles I had in the house (Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane, Madam, Will You Talk; Nine Coaches Waiting & The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart)
  • I read a book purchased because it's the second in a series that both Sarah and I are reading, but which wasn't on my list (Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton)
  • I bought a book from the library Friends organisation's booksale shelf (40p!) - I think I have read it before, but it's a good one (Case Histories by Kate Atkinson). I'm not adding it to my list.

June goal progress:
  1. books read: 9 of 48 books 
  2. books removed from list: 3; books added: 0 ; net result -3
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 3;  from 2015: 0 of 4

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2017.  There were 46 books at the beginning of January, and now there are 36 (but a lot of them are different! (Books acquired in 2017 underlined)).
  1. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (charity shop, April 2017)
  2. Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (charity shop, October 2016)
  3. Elizabeth Aston, Mr Darcy's Daughters (from Taffy's house in Florida, April 2017)
  4. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  5. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  6. Mikhail Bulgokov, The Master and Margarita (charity shop, April 2017)
  7. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  8. Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Mother's Day 2017)
  9. Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Book People, May 2017)
  10. Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  11. Chris Cleave, Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Mother's Day, 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. 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...) *
  14. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  15. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  16. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  17. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  18. Alexander MacColl Smith, Emma (charity shop, April 2017)
  19. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  20. Rebecca MacKenzie, In a Land of Paper Gods (Christmas Present, 2016)
  21. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  22. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  23. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  24. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  25. Kiran Millweed Hargrave, The Girl of Ink and Stars (Waterstones Wimbledon, April 2017)
  26. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  27. Patrick Ness, More than This  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  28. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  29. Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero (charity shop , April 2017)
  30. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  31. Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Waterstones Wimbledon, December 2016)
  32. Anna Richards, Little Gods (pound shop, November 2016)
  33. Julia Rochester, The House at the Edge of the World (charity shop, April 2017)
  34. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  35. Marcus Sedgewick, The Foreshadowing  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  36. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dinner, 28/6/17: Orecchiette al broccoli (Gino D'Acampo)

I confess, this is the photo from the book because I forgot to photograph this, but it looked pretty much the same. We thought this dish was fabulous, and highly recommend it.  Not to be confused with his recipe for orecchiette with broccoli and tomatoes, which might also be really nice, but isn't what I cooked.  Available online here, among other places.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dinner, 26/6/17: Chicken Korma, Courgettes

A standby, although apparently it was even better this time. The only difference is that I used up some leftover creme fraiche in it, instead of yogurt, which is what usually makes it creamy. But who knows, maybe that was it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dinner, 23/6/17: Spicy Potatoes & Spinach with Paneer

This recipe actually didn't include the paneer - I chucked that in myself. Nice addition, though.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dinner, 19/6/17: Chicken Goujons, Potatoes, Salad

A quick weeknight supper, again, with two people away sometimes the cooking looks a little different!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dinner, 18/6/17: Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus

Just Alex and me for dinner tonight - Olivia works on a Sunday afternoon/evening (closing shift at the pool), Geoff is away in Switzerland at a conference, and Sarah is on holiday in Bulgaria. Alex and I are the only ones who really like sweet potatoes, so....

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Dinner, 17/6/17: Homemade pizzas

Olivia and I were out today at a university open day (Sarah is in Bulgaria on holiday; Geoff is in Switzerland at a conference), so I wanted something fairly easy for dinner - Alex put the pizza dough on when we were partway home, and it was ready when we got here. After that, it's just a matter of assembly (this one has no tomato sauce, just chili oil, garlic, some meat and cheese) and cooking and then relaxing in the sunshine with your yummy pizza!

Book 60: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

This is the second in a duology (first was Six of Crows) I started a while back. When I picked up the first one, I didn't realise there was another trilogy of books set in the same world, so I went back and read those in the intervening space, to get a better understanding of the world. It's not essential, but I'd recommend the trilogy first if you are going to look into the Grisha world. I really enjoyed all five of these, despite reading them in an odd order. It was an interesting premise for a Fantasy world, and I do think that YA writing is very strong these days - makes me wish I was a YA again - ok, not really. Just makes me wish we had books like this in the days when I was. I love the outcasts and rebels in this pair of books and overall, probably like them better than the Grisha trilogy, which is a bit more serious.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dinner, 16/6/17: Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpease with harrisa & spinach couscous (

This is a recipe I've cooked a few times before, and each time I've made a few alterations; we really like this variation, so it might stick. I accidentally dumped the couscous into the pan with the harissa onions, because I was talking while cooking, but it worked brilliantly.  Cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable and can be cooked in so many ways. With this one, I also roast the chopped up stems and leaves of the cauliflower and add them to the finished dish.  Vegan if you don't sprinkle the feta on it (if the couscous is vegan).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dinner, 14/6/17: Red Kidney Bean & Green Bean Curry (Hairy Bikers)

The Hairy Bikers' latest cookbook is not only a "diet" book, but also, vegetarian. Some of the stuff looks pretty promising. This was great.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dinner, 13/6/17: Tahini & Honey Chicken and Paprika Potatoes (John Whaite)

This is actually a photo from the last time we had this, as I wasn't home, and Alex forgot to photograph his creation - he cooked. We did the marinade on the chicken the night before, and the rest was easy assemblage on the day. Very nice. And easy!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dinner, 12/6/17: Pasta with Pesto & Veg

This was a using up leftover bits kind of dinner - the pesto was in the freezer from a previous meal; the broccoli and asparagus were both extra bits from previous dinners. Win-win. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book 59: About Grace by Anthony Doerr

I picked this up because I read and really enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See by the same author. This is his first novel, and although I thought it was a bit of a slow starter, it was actually quite a strong story with a compelling plot and characters. It lacked that special bit of magic that made All The Light... such an amazing story,  but then again, so do 99 per cent of books written. 

Dinner, 11/6/17: Steak, Asparagus, New Potatoes

The steak was on sale, the asparagus was new season, the potatoes were Jersey Royal. What more is there to say?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book 58: The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart (re-read)

...and here's the last Stewart re-read, at least for the present. I like this one a lot, though not quite as much as my very favourite few. But it's still a nice, satisfying old friend to visit.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Book 57: Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (re-read)

Whenever I re-read a Mary Stewart, I usually end up reading several of them. This is one I hadn't revisited in a while, so I enjoyed that, though I admit, it's not one of my very favourites.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Dinner, 6/6/17: Mexican Bean and Tortilla Bake

Another quick meal - Sarah cooking again tonight to help me out on busy weekdays, as she's a lady of leisure at the moment. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

Book 56: Madam, will you talk by Mary Stewart (re-read)

Mary Stewart is another favourite author I turn to when I want something comforting and not to challenging to my tired brain. This is, possibly, my favourite (though perhaps not; it's hard to be certain). 

Dinner, 5/6/17: Lemon, chicken and artichoke pasta

Quick pasta dish using the leftover chicken from last night's roast.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Dinner, 4/6/17: Roast Chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage

Sunday roast. Not that we have one every Sunday by any means, but sometimes we do. Today was one of those times!

Book 55: Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane (re-read)

Read this one a number of times before; it's the first of a series of historical novels, following a group of families through American (and English) history, mostly during times of war. This one is set during the American Revolution. Always enjoyable.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Book 54: The Light Between Oceans, M L Stedman

This is quite well known and popular at the moment, I think - been made into a film, perhaps? It was enjoyable, though I didn't think it was quite as amazing as it has been hyped up to be. Finished it in a tea shop in Exeter, and left it on their community bookcase!

Book 53: The Bargain, Mary Jo Putney

Found this in the bookcase in the hotel we've been staying in, in Exeter. Decided that I needed something relatively mindless to occupy myself while Olivia did some maths revision; my other book was enjoyable, but a little serious for late in the evening. I'm sure I've read this before, though it's not noted down, but Putney is usually fairly reliable among romance authors, so it's not a big deal to read it again.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

May Roundup

What was for DINNER, MAY 2017

  • 31st: Grilled Halloumi with Lentil & Beetroot Salad
  • 30th: Sweet Potato Saag Aloo
  • 29th: Middle Eastern Chicken Flatbreads, Cauliflower Salad
  • 28th: leftovers
  • 27th: BBQ at Jane's
  • 26th: Homemade pizzas
  • 25th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 24th: Sausage & Rocket Pasta (Sarah)
  • 23rd: Chinese takeaway
  • 22nd: Fajitas
  • 21st: Hot dogs, chips, salad
  • 20th: Lunch out at Wisley with family
  • 19th: Cauliflower Steaks
  • 18th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 17th: Fend for yourself Wednesday (last minute meeting)
  • 16th: Bang Bang Chicken
  • 15th: Broccoli Pesto Pasta
  • 14th: Sausages, oven potatoes, green beans
  • 13th: Ribs, Jacket Potatoes, Asparagus
  • 12th: Asian Steamed Chicken Dumplings
  • 11th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 10th: Pasta with tomatoes and black olives (Sarah cooking)
  • 9th: Mac & Cheese with Spinach & Bacon
  • 8th: Courgette & Red Pesto Pizza
  • 7th: Bombay Potato Fritatta
  • 6th: Tacos
  • 5th: Sticky Sesame Chicken, Pak Choi
  • 4th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 3rd: Pasta with Rocket & Walnut Pesto
  • 2nd: Asparagus and Potato Chowder
  • 1st: Chicken, Courgette & Potato Tray Bake

Book 52: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse by Charlaine Harris

Third in this series - apparently I have read these before, but again, no memory whatever of this one. It's not a highly memorable story, I suppose, though the author is good - I've read lots of her things before, and the story is enjoyable. Weird! I counted this one as a May read as I read all but a few chapters last night...