Tag Archives: writing

Reading List (15/8)

Summer Notts

I just loved this description of French markets in the summertime.

Cormoran Strike is coming to the BBC! Whoop!

This pie. On huckleberries. The pictures of all these different pies. Drool.

The atmosphere is listening. Read this!

I finally got around to listening to Samin Nosrat on Radio Cherry Bombe this weekend. I totally have a chef crush on Samin. She just sounds like the kind of person I want to be friends with. She is now also a new columnist for the NYT magazine and has a list of the cookbooks that shaped her as a cook and a writer.

Chefs on the foods, mentors, and meals that influenced their cooking.

I love these photographs, contrasting college first-years with their final year selves. I wonder how I would’ve said I had changed at that point?

Rare cooking books.

The truth about glamourising chef work.

Two vice chancellors talk about the challenges facing early career academics.

Trying to decide what to eat in an incredibly noisy media environment. A doctor is criticising the medical advice on Goop.

A review of a new book on food conquests of the British empire. Some interesting criticism is drawn on the use of language, and how this perpetuates ideas of the empire.

New website find. This is both hilarious and true, all at once.

I listened to an episode of the Guilty Feminist (I just love them, and they make me laugh out loud, often when I’m walking in the street so other people look at me awkwardly and I just think yeah!) called Intrepid Women and now I want to read the book they were talking about – women resisting the Nazis in occupied France.

Have a good week! x

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 (21/6)

A short but sweet (and quite late) list today. I’m just back from Spain, having avoided the internet (with the exception of some social media) for nearly a whole week.

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So I’ve read nothing except some interesting things on the Brexit referendum which is happening on Thursday (and had some interesting conversations with Europeans who cannot believe the British will vote to leave). Andrés and I have not really seriously discussed what will happen if the vote is for leave. But it will have implications for us both. I hope you are getting your vote on, if you can.

On the mistrust of science.

This. This is exactly the kind of teaching I want to do.

Totally want to make these lemon bars sometime soon.

Cooking from old, historical recipe books.

I read most of Like Water for Chocolate on the plane this morning. It is such a wonderful book, full of food and memory, sensuality and family life. Read it if you haven’t already.

I’m making this for dinner tonight, post netball match.


Reading List (14/6)

I am always at a loss of what to write when tragedy befalls. What happened in Orlando at the weekend was truly awful and horrific. And I am sad. Sad that we live in a world where hatred and intolerance are still so common, where people are divided by what makes them different, rather than united around this difference. God!, the world would be so boring if we were all the same. This post by Sarah Kieffer captures a lot of what I’ve been thinking recently.

Here is this week’s reading list. Tomorrow we fly to Spain for a wedding, which I am glad and excited and nervous about. It is my first Spanish wedding and my current fluency is still stuck on basic greetings. But here’s to hoping for sunshine and beaches and wine and jamón and friends and family.


This cookbook review made me want to buy the book: The Starving Artist Cookbook. I am fascinated by how people come to learn how to cook, and this is a great example of how this happens, at least I think it is, judging from what I have read online (I haven’t procured a copy of the book just yet.) If you need persuading, check out the blog from whence it all began. Also, a cookbook with illustrations. Le sigh.

These thoughts on what ‘home’ means. And this essay on immigration, new homes and longings for foods.

This is such a fantastic essay (or sorts) about cooking and grief.

It has been 10 years since the publication of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. How much has changed in those 10 years? An interview with the author.

Some thoughts on creating the perfect cup of coffee.

The secret to better brownies, whip the eggs and sugar. Or, cover them with salted caramel

Food photographer of the year.

Cherry season is upon us!

I was desperate for a book to read on the train on Saturday, coming back from London. (I finished my book on the way down.) Hatchards was already closed so I was forced to choose from the limited selection in WH Smith. On a whim, I took the new Kate Morton (because I have loved all her other books), even though it felt indulgent. (I really must get shrinked into post-PhD acceptance of reading for pleasure.) I have gobbled up, devoured, consumed The Lake House as if it might disappear and I might not know what happens. I intend to finish it in Spain this week. And in case I do, I’ve bought Like Water for Chocolate on my Kindle.

This video on making mozzarella (via Smitten Kitchen).

If all those bars and diners in movies and tv shows were real.

Understanding the food industry behind wisdom on what to eat.

This made me laugh. I have strong feelings around tomato sauce (ketchup) brands. (And judging by the conversation Jen and Ali and I had around it, I am not the only one.)

Lastly, this series of photographs of food against Pantone colours is just great.





Reading List (7/6)

Welcome to June! Sunshine, the smell of summer holidays, sunscreen, iced coffees, this ice-cream (currently in my freezer, awaiting consumption) and salad. I am excited.

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For Jen: ‘breakfast has no mystical powers‘.

Do you struggle with portion control? How do you know what is enough? This is a handy infographic and some truths from food writers.

A poem about language and tests.

We should all be learning to cultivate grit. Or should we?

A rose called Julia Child.

Do you like a souffle? I love a them. I think (but I could be wrong, it might be someone else entirely) that one of the pastry chefs I worked with used to pronounce them ‘sou-fils’, and now that is how I say them in my head (and often out loud, by accident). I remember making them during service at Gleneagles. It was possibly the most stressful thing to have on the menu, as they have to be prepared to order and so much could (and did) go wrong. Last August, in a bookshop in Derbyshire with my mom, I bought a copy of Desserts: A Lifelong Passion by Albert Roux precisely because there is a recipe for a pistachio souffle that is on my list of things to do this year.

I am re-reading for the bajillionth time, Sophie’s Bakery for the Broken Hearted. I am so busy at work at the moment (it is student events week), that I cannot process a new story through my brain. And I’ve got Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by my bed too (which I had to take back to the library to prove I hadn’t scarpered away with it and then take out again). I am dipping into it when I can. Last night I read the chapter titled ‘The Low Tech Person’s Batterie de Cuisine‘, which expressed my feelings about kitchen equipment precisely. As I have a tendency to cause electronic equipment to spontaneously combust (please, never ask me to do anything with a Thermomix), my own kitchen supplies are pretty rudimentary. I mean yes, I do have an inordinate supply of baking tins, and I *may* have a severe problem with wanting to buy all the bundt tins but mostly we make do with a few pots, some baking dishes, and a number of wooden spoons. And it was only in December that I finally splurged on a standing mixer. Which is about as far as I am willing to go, electricity-wise, in the kitchen.If you want to know more about Laurie, you can read about her here, here and here.

An article on Anna Tasca Lanza’s cooking school in Sicily. I have said before that I love the idea of her Cook the Farm 10 week course, but really, any course here would be a dream I think. Possibly the Language of Food one, with Rachel Roddy and Luisa Weiss?

Lastly, I am mostly the antithesis of a morning person. But this coffee alarm clock that has been doing the rounds on the internet this week may just motivate me to raise my head from the pillow.





Reading List (17/5)

The best pizza in the world. For our next eating trip. I love how the ingredients are all locally sourced, supporting the local economy, and how they’re growing wheat specifically for the pizza bases. (Thanks Jen!) And as a contrast, making your own pizza at home. The comments section is, quite frankly, just hilarious, and illustrative of some of the snobbery associated with culinary capital.

And keeping things Italian – Rachel Roddy’s chocolate almond cake and her list of kitchen essentials. 

What do people think of the decision to close the BBC recipe website? Is there something to be said about the need to preserve such recipe collections?

I’m reading another Sarah Moss novel (I am on a roll). This time it is Bodies of Light. So far, it is all dark Victoriana, tumultuous mother-child relationships and slums. I am loving it.

A tour of the White House Kitchen Garden.

I’ve just read a few academic articles on foodie tourism, which I hadn’t realised is a) a thing and b) I am possibly guilty of participating in. But if you’re way ahead of the game and plan all your travelling around food, here is a list of festivals and events you might want to add to your radar. If I could, I’d go to the national cherry festival.

Women in kitchens in Mexico.

Grief, patience and endurance. This is such a great article about cultivating resilience in the face of trauma.  After losing her mother in a violent attack in Afghanistan, Samira Thomas writes: ‘In that time, it [the grief] looked a lot like a disease to me, one that I had to cure quickly. I have since come to realise that haste to recoil, to return to original form after trauma, constitutes another form of violence. I found no peace in the rush.’ There is a tendency, I think, after great trauma and grief, to long for a return to wholeness, when the world was not painful and simmering behind a curtain of grey fog – to return to the person you were before. Thomas captures understanding that this is not truly possible by reading the poet Hafiz, and through reading, comes to regard the grief as a ‘process of becoming’.

A wonderful essay on how to find your place in the world by listening to your soul. And this advice, to embrace the deep desires of your heart and go for it now.

This fantastic restaurant, that is a family business, practicing sustainability. I love the story about the oyster shells!

Should the state be responsible for feeding children in the school holidays?

Ruby Tandoh has written a brilliant article for Vice, on health and wellness. She writes from personal experience about finding ‘wellness’ and how it left her unwell. She talks frankly about the dangers of excluding whole food groups from our diets, noting that the one thing nutrition science is clear on is variety. ‘Nutrition is an impossibly complicated and contested field, and rarely do we agree upon what is and is not good for us. In the absence of certainty, the safest and arguably most healthy approach to nutrition falls back on variety – of food groups, macronutrients, ingredients. When cure-all good health is promised via the exclusion of whole food groups, that might be to go against the grain of one of the few nutritional sureties we have.’ She links to the moralising of food discourse which has become so prevalent in British society in recent years – the ‘goodness’, ‘cleanliness’ or ‘purity’ of certain foods which then transforms other foods into things impure, unclean or bad and then also transforms the eater of such foods into someone impure, unclean, dirty or morally wanting. [I investigated glutenisthedevil.com that Tandoh mentions in the article. The posts there are all from 2014, and the author comes from a family with a history of coeliac disease. Nevertheless, I particularly enjoyed the second thing I saw on the site, a recipe for ‘easy gluten free roast chicken’. Recipes like that make me want to bang my head against a desk because obviously, roast chicken is gluten free unless you choose to stuff it with a bread-based stuffing…] You can read about orthorexia (where you develop unhealthy obsessions with ‘healthy’ foods) here.

And on the topic of balance, these lemon squares.