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This Week

This week I have been stressed.

Honestly that could be the end of that. However I have been up to a few things that might be worth mentioning. My latest cookbook review has been posted on the Huffington Post blog looking at ‘Boutique Baking’ by Peggy Porschen.

I’ve been writing political poetry, I’m not sharing much of it online but I am thinking of combining the found poetry idea with political poems to see what comes next. I’ve also looked at more paint colour combinations than is healthy. I now sit and talk about interior decor. My apologies for becoming so deeply dull.

I have read a huge number of books recently and took loads back to the library so I’ll just name a few. ‘Matched’ and ‘Crossed’ by Ally Condie were great although it took me a while to get into them. ‘The Secret Countess’ by Eva Ibbotson sounded like it would tick lots of boxes for me and I was thrilled when I liked it as much as I thought I would! ‘Miss Wonderful’ by Loretta Chase which was an unusual pick for me but I actually really enjoyed it. A lot of the books I’m reading at the moment are ones that were 9 or 10 rated by The Book Smugglers. I also decided to re-read ‘The Daughter of Time’ by Josephine Tey after reading Nicola Upson’s series about the author. Another recommendation was ‘Hexwood’ by Diana Wynne Jones which Zoë Marriott recommended and I have three more that she suggested for when I am in the middle of moving. I finally read ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green (I’ve been spacing them out to save them) which I thought was wonderful but it still only sits at #3 or 4 on my John Green list. I’m glad I didn’t start with it, anyway. ‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kagawa was a surprise and another that took me a while to enjoy but I’ll be getting the rest of the series. I’m now reading ‘Half-Brother’ by Kenneth Oppel which is great so far.

And, if that isn’t enough I have four books to read that I picked up at Edge Lit yesterday. For once all of the books I got at a convention were ones that I wanted to read – no swapping required! It was a brilliant day out where I saw friends that I don’t see often enough, met some people I only knew from the internets and (if I didn’t terrify people too much) made some new friends as well.

Vick.

Talking About Food

A very quick update over here to say that I am going to start putting a few foodie type reviews up. I have been talking to several people about doing some ‘real’ restaurant reviews but I want to get some practice in before I try it out properly.

I’m looking mainly at places that are local to me but also will probably write up places that I have been when on my travels. When I’m writing poetry I often go to cafes because I am in-between houses at the moment and so go crazy if I don’t escape in between. This means that there are going to be more coffee shop reviews than restaurants. Also, I like cooking more than eating out most of the time!

The other point that I have been thinking about lately is how important it is for me to make clear that I don’t get paid for the reviews, I am very nervous about accepting review requests when the restaurant would know I am going to be writing it up. This is only a hobby for me, I would love to have a budget but right now I don’t and so I won’t be eating at many top end places but at the same time I know for certain that the best places are not the most expensive and vice versa.

In a related note I’ve been pretty unwell lately and so recipe testing has been put to one side, I’m gradually getting a bit better so I should be able to get back on track and write up some of the cookbooks that I have been sent to review.

Vick.

This Week

This week I have mainly been working. There has also been a lot of reading.

Having not posted a round-up last week I’m a little behind on the links. I reviewed ‘Tea With Bea’ by Bea Vo, ‘Food You Can’t Say No To’ by Tamasin Day-Lewis and ‘Adventures with Chocolate’ by Paul A. Young on the Huffington Post UK blog.

Over here I have done a review of ‘The Cook and the Gardener’ by Amanda Hesser. I have finally gotten around to posting all about my business (just in time for me to go and add a new section to the website in the next couple of weeks!) and I’ve also added some new pictures and recommendations from my visit to Shropshire.

I’ve read ‘Dreadful Sorry’ by Kathryn Reiss which was excellent, ‘I Am Legend’ by Richard Matheson which I really didn’t enjoy and some fantastic thrillers. Having seen a recommendation on Twitter I picked up ‘The Obelisk’ by Howard Gordon and finished it in about six hours flat and then even more surprisingly did exactly the same with ‘Lock Down’ by Sean Black. I can’t wait to get more from both authors. I also read ‘Perfect Death’ by Kate Ellis, I try normally not to jump right into the middle of a series of novels but I wanted to try this out and it did stand alone well, and I’ll try and find others as well now. The other books I’ve been reading have mostly been poetry – partly because I love reading it and also to find some new poems to use when I’m doing my ‘After Poetry’ project and writing-in-the-style-of poets.

I’m planning a trip into town to look for some new cookbooks to review because I have completely run out and so until I’ve found some new ones the reviews will be quiet for a while.

And now I’ve got a quick reading break in the sunshine before getting back to work on a very long to-do list for my business-side. There will probably also be a large cup of tea involved.

Vick.

The Cook and the Gardener

Since I started blogging my recipe reviews over on the Huffington Post UK blog I’ve more or less completely stopped reviewing cookbooks on this blog. I’m organising a full archive with links to all of the cookbook reviews I’ve done. It’s taking me a while because I keep changing my mind about how I want it organised – this is nothing unusual for me! That will be coming soon.

I’ll be doing a couple more cookbook-ish things as well in the future but for now I thought I would do some mini reviews of books that have been out a while but that I have gotten out of the library recently and enjoyed. So here’s the first.

The Cook and The Gardener – Amanda Hesser
Absolute Press – 2005
Illustrations: Kate Gridley

“The Cook and the Gardener” is all about Hesser’s (the cook) time spent at the Château du Feÿ and the influence of Monsieur Milbert’s (the gardener) walled garden and wonderful vegetables. This is pretty much the ultimate lifestyle/recipe book.
There are vast quantities of notes and long written sections with recipes dotted between them. The recipes themselves are organised in a seasonal frame with the best ingredients from each month highlighted one at a time. There are no photographs at all but small illustrations dotted through the book. It feels like something to sit and read on a Sunday afternoon while jotting down ideas for recipes for the week ahead.
I am always on the lookout for cookery books that can become staples in the kitchen. Books like Delia’s Complete Cookery Course or the Ballymaloe Cookery Course where you know you will find the right flavour combination, a good lunchtime idea or the timings you need for a roast dinner. “The Cook and the Gardener” is along those lines and has a very impressive number of recipes. There is a lot of writing in here so if you want just recipes this is probably not the right book but if you like the story behind the food it is very well written.
There are beautiful and rustic ideas all the way through that are inspired by classical French cooking as well as some lovely and innovative recipes. Some of the meals can be quite long and often run over several pages which makes it a bit more awkward to cook from but there are also lots of quick soups and sides. The notes that Hesser has included are wonderful and give a real insight both into her own cooking and also the way that you can adapt recipes to suit your own style.
This is not an easy book to get hold of anymore but I would highly recommend grabbing it if you do come across it. Lots of beautiful ideas for everything from large dinner parties to a comforting, simple supper dish. A real treat.

This Week

This has been a strange week. Up and down weather. Lazy and very busy days.

I read ‘The Mistaken Wife’ by Rose Melikan, ‘Welsh Legends and Folk-Tales’ by Gwyn Jones, and ‘Ratcatcher’ by James McGee. I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry but mostly in mixed collections.

I’ve tried to describe what is going on with my rather confused mess of a life over here. I’ve also posted my reasons for not putting my poetry online anymore. I am thinking at the moment about writing a couple of poems specifically for the blog though.

I’ve reviewed ‘The Good Table’ by Valentine Warner over on the Huffington Post UK blog. I put a few pictures from my Shropshire holiday online.

Work has been up and down for some very boring reasons, once again I need to write a to-do list. And then do everything on it.

In other very important news I bought some Toffee Nut syrup from Starbucks. Now I never need to leave the house again. Plus, I am seriously considering using all of next week to do a very full write-up of my time in Shropshire. You have been warned.

Vick.