Monthly Archives: July 2017

Reading List (25/7)

A wonderful, if controversial, idea. How do you feel about this? I would love to do this now but I’m not so sure how I would have felt about eco-conscription at age 17…

Sourdough starters can help us understand microbiomes! And the researchers are sequencing the sourdough starter DNA. This is so unbelievably cool! Geek out!

‘Plants are raveningly addictive. If you haven’t read Charlotte Mendelson’s Rhapsody in Green, go and get it now. It is a wonderful memoir about learning to garden in the city.

The challenge of being a senior woman in academia.

One of the challenges of writing anything is receiving feedback on it. This is some incredibly useful advice that might help you cope. I am going to refer back to this when I next get feedback. Particularly the stuff about learning to divorce yourself from your writing. (Part of my project for the coming year!)

More about why women swim. (Thanks Loul!)

Should you have cheese with your apple pie?

For Northanger Abbey, read Girl in a Gothic House’. If you are not a Janeite, don’t read this. A lot of it made me laugh out loud.

This is from 2012 but I only read it this week, and I love the idea. I’ve started my own list of what I would have printed as my ideal bookshelf.

Knitting could be good for your health.

Chocolate ice cream cones. I quite liked this post about decorating cake with a little sister.

We are losing touch with nature. Forest bathing might be one solution.

Why we need creative, non-conformist thinkers.

Begin with hopelessness.

Renaissance tarts.

I made this for lunch today. I added sweetcorn to my salad (just grilled on the open flame of the hob), and served my dad a version with leaves and no tomatoes. The dressing was a combination of sunflower oil, toasted sesame oil, pomegranate molasses, and lemon. All delicious. All to be made again before the summer is out.

This weekend I finished The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot on the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Mead has read Middlemarch at various points in her life and in the book she talks about how these readings have changed over time. There is a lot about Eliot’s own life, and the mirrors and reflections Mead feels it has with hers.

Have a good week! x

Reading List (18/7)

Hello! We are in the middle of July already. Goodness. I am reporting from my house, where I am currently recovering from knee surgery. I had to have my ACL reconstructed after I ruptured it playing netball last year. (The dangers of playing a twisty sport like netball). I’m not allowed to walk too much at the moment although the physios did agree I could take short walks when I get cabin fever and/or the weather is lovely. So far, I’ve made it to the park at the end of my street for some dog therapy, once, and almost to the end of the street to meet A- on his way home from work, also once. Mostly my day is spent resting, elevating, ice-ing, doing physio prescribed knee exercises, and book/journal writing.

I have managed to grow one tiny tomato on my tomato plant so I am on tomato-watch! I wait for it to ripen with a withheld glee. I also started some radishes in a pot on the weekend and they have already sprouted so we are on radish-watch too! I am growing lettuces for cut-and-come-again salad leaves. My living room window turns out to be the perfect place for pot-grown vegetables. Which is good because I am not going to make it to the allotment for a while. But I did get to take my mom last week, pre-surgery, and she helped clear some more of the ground!

I spent the weekend reading Turning: a swimming memoir. I rarely read books this quickly but I love this one. The voice reminded me of Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, that same questioning of life and living in your late twenties, recovering from love and loss. Turning is about the author (Jessica J. Lee) swimming in the lakes that surround Berlin. She writes, “if I returned to Berlin, I could write myself on to the landscape, on to my own memories of the place. I could layer new meaning on to the lakes“. There is such a poetic resonance for me in this idea, that you can become part of the landscape, but not be lost into it. Of late I have wanted to get out into ‘the wild’ more. Many authors talk about a ‘rewilding’ – learning to be outdoors, amongst nature again. It is why I love the Cornish landscape/seascape so much, because it feels wild and unencumbered there. I suppose this longing is now made worse by my convalescence, the requirement that I stay in, recover in the city. To cope, I seem to be reading nature-based memoirs, many of them about swimming.

Cheryl Strayed on the power of words and writing. An essay for our times.

Swimming spots and nearby distilleries (both whisky and gin). My kind of swimming holes! Next time I venture near these places, I am going to write them into the itinerary.

I love this summer menu combination. If anyone wants to feed me this summer, I’ll happily sit down to this. And these peach pastries. They sound like my ideal summer dessert – peaches, pastry, custard. They’d be good to serve at a dinner party/supper club I think.

A kitchen story.

More musings on the origins of avocado toast and the geopolitics that contribute to it’s worldwide ease of access. I may or may not have made a bacon/avo/tomato sandwich for lunch after reading this.

Art, gardening and public health solutions come together on one happy floating barge-garden. This is such an innovative idea.

Yet another confetti cake to try out. I still haven’t made one.

Two essays on Anna Atkins, here and here. She was a Victorian naturalist and her cyanotypes I find mesmerising.

Some advice on avoiding a summer hangover. Or any hangover, for that matter.

Growing strawberries in Cuba.

It is 200 years ago today that Jane Austen passed away. This website has all the myriad events going on in celebration of her life. I may even crack open a copy of Pride and Prejudice in her honour later.

It’s summer which means Americans (in particular) are talking about all things s’mores. Apart from disagreeing with the choice of biscuit (they should be Marie biscuits. Graham crackers don’t exist in South Africa), I’m all up for a s’more. Particularly after a braai and a few glasses of rosé. So first up, David Lebovitz’s s’mores ice-cream pie. Can I just say oh my! Any takers to come over and mix this up for me? Or you can do Molly Yeh’s mini s’mores cakes   or Deb Perelman has s’mores cupcakes

An account of sailing to the Bahamas.

I finally finished listening to this conversation. It was so wonderful. Near the end of the conversation, Celaya talks about photographs, and one that he has on his desk. He says, “that photograph knew everything that was to come, in the leaning of Carol, the future was there”.

That is all for this week! Have a good one! x

 

 

 

Reading List (11/7)

Bureau cats! Squeee!

Apparently people have stopped eating as much ice cream. This is not me or Serious Eats. I made two batches over the weekend – mint choc chip and strawberry-buttermilk. Both are delicious.

These aubergine fritters. Please could someone rassle some up for me for dinner?

Eating food from Egypt in New York City.

The changing purpose of Spanish bulls.

The important power of women’s bookclubs. “Women getting together to gab about books was viewed as suspicious rather than silly and self-indulgent“. A read that got me thinking about what it means to create community, and share ideas. Do you do this in some way? I have a WhatsApp bookclub group, and a cookbook club. Clearly this is something I respond to! And on the other side, someone who finds it difficult to join groups but finally finds one that fits.

Lessons from Shakespeare.

The different meanings of colours.

A long but fascinating read on what is the self?

A new book on influential women and their foodways. Also, has anyone read Barbara Pym? I haven’t but now I want too. Any recommendations of where to start?

On loss and baking. Such a lovely post about the recipes that we share.

Jeong Kwan, the incredible monastery chef featured on Chef’s Table, visits NYC.

Eater has launched a London site!

Have a good week! x

To food blog?

I read Orangette’s latest post a few days ago and it got me thinking. Orangette is one of the last remaining blogs that I love to read. Like read read. I love the way Molly writes about food, but mostly I love the way Molly writes about her life. And I love how the two mesh together in various ways. I find with lots of food blogs nowadays, it is all about lifestyle, with a heavy dose of very beautiful pictures. There is less of the grittiness. Less of the real. Everything is curated. And quite frankly, it is rather exhausting. So now, rather than reading about people’s lives, I am reading their projected existences through their pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I love these food-photography-lifestyle blogs. But I miss those other blogs, the ones that were about life and writing and food. And didn’t really have fabulous pictures and often featured ordinary, slightly mucky kitchen tables. Maybe they are still out there but got lost in the ether that is the very full food blog world? (If you know of any, send them my way – Rachel Roddy’s Rachel Eats used to be one but now it’s in The Guardian instead, which is great by the way but not really the same). So Rachel and Molly are the two I read regularly. But that isn’t really enough to feed by habit.

So I have begun to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, I should write the blog I want to read instead? I used to write a little about my life but I have always been quite guarded about it. And when my PhD came to an end I moved into just curating reading lists because that was all I could manage in amongst all the other things I was doing. I’ve tried writing snippets elsewhere, starting other projects and then abandoning them because really, this is the space I like to write in. So hello *waves manically*, here I am.

I have no idea how this might work yet but I thought I would start with some info on where I’ve been the past eighteen months or so, when all there has really been here is the reading lists (and let’s be honest, there is quite a lot of me being random on those lists but not much detail). The short version is I finished a PhD, got an office job, developed a bout of anxiety and depression, busted the ligament in my knee (surgery next week), got a new job (as a researcher and it is AWESOME), signed a book contract, started to recover from anxiety and depression, started knitting and took up yoga and swimming. Of course there is a much longer and wordier version of this story but that’ll do for now.

In amongst all of that I have been baking (several birthday cakes, one wedding cake), trying not to drive A- mad with my weirdness (almost 3 years together), and I’ve bought an ice cream machine (finally!). I also recently took ownership (rental-ship?) of an allotment in Sneinton in Nottingham. My mother (and pretty much everyone else) is convinced it needs an army of gardeners and a lot of money. It’s only a half plot and is mostly covered in bindweed so I will have to make it work as I have neither an army of gardeners nor tons of extra cash. I am also about to become immobile for around 6 weeks while my knee recovers from its reconstruction. But I went to the site the week before last and the robin came over to say hi so I think I am going to like it there.

Mostly I am learning to do what I can and not stress to much about the rest. This is very difficult. A lot of what I may write about is how difficult it is to give up perfectionism for sanity. I am also busy writing a book. My kitchen table currently looks like this:

Mucky kitchen table masquerading as desk

Tonight for dinner I made what effectively turned out to be a spiced beef pizza but which was supposed to be this. Mine looked nothing like the picture but it was delicious. I also didn’t really follow the recipe, and apparently my pide folding skills need severe work but more on that some other time. I ate some of it (it feeds a small army) with tomato salad, while watching Wimbledon (Nadal v Young) in the dying light of a summer day.

More soon. x

 

Reading List (4/7)

Hello July! And happy 4th to all you Americans out there. I am back from my week off and have begun by throwing myself into book writing and article writing this month and next.

In celebration of the 4th, watch Ina Garten decorate her flag cake this year.

I quite like the sound of these almond biscuits.

And grilled cheese with zucchini? I am willing to try this. (I do love zucchini though.)

Documentaries based on African stories. I haven’t watched these yet but they all sound good.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was 20 last week and I love this story about sharing a love of Harry with the next generation (and the anxiety attached to wanting them to love it as much as you do!)

Advice on how to approach meditation.

This biscoff ice-cream. My god.

Authors who own bookstores recommend summer reads.

Reading cooking books to cope with foreign-ness.

This is quite a dinner party how-to guide. My advice? Cook something you’ve cooked before, have fresh flowers, lots of wine, enough plates…

Chefs and addiction.

A food training programme with a difference.

Have a good week! x