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Archive Entries for November 2008

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Sunday November 30, 2008

Books in November

  • Monday Mourning and Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs [Read by Barbara Rosenblat ]
    MondayMourning.jpg BreakNoBones.jpg Two detective-aficionado friends have told me they are keen on these Temperance Brennan novels, while sharing my scorn and derision for the TV series based on the characters - so I thought I should read them. And they were right; the stories are interesting and well written.
    The TV series is "Bones" - and when I say 'based on the characters', I use the term loosely, since the name of the leading character seems to be the only item in common with the books. However, it seems the TV character is intended more to be based on the author herself (who is an academic who writes detective mystery novels...).

  • The Confession of Brother Haluin by Ellis Peters [Read by Stephen Thorne]
    BrotherHaluin.jpg Over the years I have really enjoyed the Brother Cadfael stories. I am not sure why - perhaps the historical context is interesting, but I do like the simplicity of the tales and the certainty of right and wrong that is portrayed in the stories; any inconsistency of what was considered right in the day, compared with what might be right 1000 years later, is overcome by making Brother Cadfael a little more of a liberal thinker than his peers. However, they are tales of human nature, and when it comes down to it, that has not changed very much.
    I really enjoyed the television series with Sir Derek Jacobi, supported by a strong cast of excellent and experienced British actors. [I always thought, though, that Jacobi was miscast in this role. Don't get me wrong - he is excellent and his portrayal is excellent, but he does actually look credibly like an intellectual monk, whereas there is an implication in the text that Cadfael's physical appearance always betrays his background as an aging but tough ex-soldier.**].
    This is one story that I did not know at all, so it was interesting to find it. However, almost from the moment of the "confession" in the first few chapters, I could see the entire plot laid out before me, and simply had to wait to hear it unfold. This did not spoil the pleasure of it, but it was a bit slow in the telling. Of course, in real life, and to the characters, the outcome would not have been expected in this way, but unlike them, I knew they were in a mystery story....
    **Years ago, my friend Helen suggested Don Henderson (now no longer with us) for the role. In 1989 Henderson had a great part as a priest (opposite Leslie Grantham, his fictional brother) in "The Paradise Club" - but he has appeared in many mainstream productions in his career, even including StarWars, and towards the end of his life in Red Dwarf. Here is a lovely picture of him with another of my favourites, Michael Elphick from their cookery series "The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Cookery".


Posted on November 30, 2008 at 1:31 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday November 23, 2008

Stir-Up Sunday

What?! (I hear you cry) Stir-up Sunday already!

I chose to make my Christmas Puddings and cakes this weekend, (started yesterday in fact), thinking I was a little early. But the arrangement of dates this year has meant that the last Sunday before Advent does not fall on the final weekend in November - so I am just in time. I made several puddings (which have to steam for 6 hours - for the largest one) and 2 of Delia's whisky Dundee cakes.


For the puddings I always use a recipe from the Jocelyn Dimbleby Christmas Book, which is a book I can recommend, but you will have to look on eBay, as it was published by Sainsbury's in 1987. It offers a light weight pudding made using breadcrumbs rather than a heavier cake mixture; I think several cooks now produce a similar light weight version in this way - it's not too sweet either, and not too much brandy, though it can be as alcoholic as you care to make it!

The sight of all these unavailable cakes made us want one to eat, so I made a classic Victoria Sponge with home-made raspberry jam filling for us to have for tea. This is Nigella's recipe from How to Eat - a great book - Nigella gives us good recipes but to my mind is an excellent journalist, so it is a pleasure just to read her books, as well as cook from them.
"This book changed my life" (o - and my figure!).


Posted on November 23, 2008 at 10:49 AM. Category: Kitchen and food.

Thursday November 13, 2008


Just a pretty sunrise on the way to Portsmouth, and the ferry to Caen.



Posted on November 13, 2008 at 11:39 AM. Category: Days Out.

Saturday November 8, 2008

More Apples

Continuing to "deal" with the apples - this is one of my favourite desserts. It looks very pretty with its icing sugar dusting, and is quick to make, (once you have assembled the ingredients); in fact, the quicker the better, as it needs to go into the oven as soon as possible after the flour is mixed in.

Almond Apple Dessert Cake


(serves 6 - or 4 greedy people)

  • 3oz butter
  • One large egg
  • 4oz castor sugar (I like the 'golden' variety)
  • 1 teaspoon of almond essence
  • 4oz self-raising flour sifted with 1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder
  • 12oz Bramley apples, (weight before peeling)
  • icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C in a fan oven, or Gas Mark 5. Use ½oz of the butter to grease a 6 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in a pan until just runny.
  3. Peel and core the apples - you can slice them now, or wait until you are ready to use them, to try and avoid their turning overly brown.
  4. Beat together the egg, sugar, and almond oil; then pour the melted butter into the mixture in a thin steady stream while still beating. (Use an electric whisk if possible as it makes it much easier to do this).
  5. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.
  6. Spread about two thirds of the mixture in the bottom of the tin.
  7. Quickly slice the apples and put them roughly on top of the mixture.
  8. Finally spread the remaining mixture over the apples. This seems like an impossible task as there is very little mixture left with which to work, but smear it over as best you can (use a flexible spatula to get all you can out of the bowl), and don't worry that it is not smooth - this will even out in cooking, and the mixture will rise up to mostly cover the apples.
  9. Now put it into the oven, and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the apple is soft (test with a skewer); check towards the end of the cooking time to make sure the cake is not going too brown on the top.
  10. Once out of the oven, loosen the sides of the cake with a knife, and carefully push out. When slightly cooler, dust with icing sugar.

This can be served warm or cold, and keeps for a couple of days (covered) in the fridge. I'm afraid this is another dessert designed to be served with cream.

Posted on November 8, 2008 at 10:55 PM. Category: Kitchen and food.