Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: The Red Dress edition



Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the topic is a book quote freebie. I don't really do quotes, or at least not short quotes. When I save quotes they are usually quite long so not really suitable for a TTT post!

I do, however have this one from The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

So inspired by this quote - I bring you red dress covers!

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons - Now, I know I am cheating with this one because there is no sign of a red dress on the cover. However, in the scene where the two main characters meet, Tatiana is wearing a white dress with red roses on the cover.

The Jewel of St Peterburg by Kate Furnivall - Now this is a red dress!

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley - I never miss an opportunity to include a Kearsley book in one of these lists.

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder - I loved this book!

To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick - I really need to read another Chadwick novel. They are always so good! Luckily I have more than one here to choose from.

The Pearlers Wife by Roxanne Dhand - I haven't read this yet but the premise sounds so interesting.

Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas - I am pretty sure I could have found ten red dress covers just in the historical romance genre!

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare - Another historical romance!!

Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop - Moving on from historical romance this time to fantasy.

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan - I can't not have this book on the list seeing as it inspired this whole list!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci

Earlier this year I heard about this book, in particular the audio version. I was looking for something engaging and easy to listen to, and so, despite the fact I don't read a lot of non fiction, I gave it a go. Boy, I am glad I did.

I did intend to post  about this back in February when I was on a bit  of a Tucci kick, but I wanted to get the book from the library so that I could grab a recipe or two out of it. Howeverr, it took months for it to come in. Obviously a popular book. Luckily it came in time for me to participate in this round of Cook the Books.

From the opening paragraphs of this book, this was a delightful audio experience. Even now that I have the book sitting here, I can hear Tucci's voice as I flick through the pages and read various paragraphs.

As the title suggests, Tucci takes us on a meander through his life using food as the lens. We start with his childhood, move through to a formative family trip to Italy which really cemented his love of the country, and then on to his life as an actor. 

There are some passages which were a delight. For example, there is an exchange early in the book between his parents and grandparents which made me laugh out loud. The gist of it was that grandma was trying to give his parents some money towards a family meal so there was a prolonged discussion where the parents are saying no, so grandma tries to give it to the kids instead! 

In addition to these simple exchanges, there are also some name dropping and sumptuous meals with famous friends, but the reality is they are people who are in his orbit. For example, he is married to Felicity Blunt, sister of actress Emily Blunt, who is married to Jon Kasinski. You get the idea.

It isn't all glitz and glam. Obviously he does get to mix in those circles, but Tucci has to deal with his own share of challenges including the death of his first wife Kate leaving him to raise their children and his own battle with cancer. In his case, it was cancer of the tongue and the treatment meant that he couldn't eat or taste much at all which for a dedicated foodie like him was obviously challenging.

When I was thinking about which recipe to share for this post, there really was one that jumped at me and that was Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano. There were two main reasons for this. One is the the way that Tucci waxed lyrically about it in both the book and in his TV series (which I reviewed here). The second reason is that I love cooking with zucchini, or more precisely chopping zucchini. When I am chopping zucchini I feel as though I have some knife skills which is definitely not true.

I actually enjoyed the process of making this recipe, but it is time consuming. It took me a long time to fry all the zucchini but Tucci does mention that you could do this part in advance so on the day that you are cooking it you can just in effect put it all together. And as for the taste, it was really delicious. The zucchini was sweet and when you put it together with the cheese and pasta it was deliciously creamy.

I highly recommend this book, in particular the audio version. And now, having revisited this book for this post I feel like I need to go and start watching season 2 of his series Searching for Italy. Or maybe I should start from season 1, episode 1 and make my way through them all....again..

Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano

About 16 fl oz sunflower oil or vegetable oil, or, if you choose, olive oil
8 to 10 small zucchine
75g fresh chopped basil
Sea salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
500g spaghetti
200g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place sunflower oil in a large potand bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.

Slice the zucchine into thin rounds and fry in the oil until they are golden brown. Remove and set aside on paper towels.

Sprinkle with basil and salt.

Transfer to a bowl and drizzle liberally with olive oil.

Boil the pasta until al dente and strain, reserving about two cupfuls of the pasta wwater.

Place the cooked pasta in a large pan or pot over low heat along with the zucchine mixture and combine gently. Add the pasta water, a little at a time, to create a creamy texture. You may not use all of the pasta water. Now add some of the Parmigiano to the mixture and continue by stirring gently and tossing. When the mixture has a slight creaminess, remove from the stove and serve immediately.

I thought I would also share a Youtube video of Stanley Tucci making a different recipe, for no other reason than I can.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano
Sunday - Out for dinner
Monday - Mexican Chicken and rice
Tuesday - Quick Cannellini Bean cassoulet with toasted baguette
Wednesday - Ham and cheese omelette
Thursday - Creamy mustard chicken with crispy potatoes and green beans
Friday - Takeaway Friday

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Monday, May 16, 2022

This week.....


I'm reading....

A quick glimpse at my post last week tells me that I was intending to finish The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and then I was going to read Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore. One out of two ain't bad right? I did finish The Lincoln Highway and I enjoyed it. I can now see why so many people love his writing and I am definitely intending to read more by him.

I did read a couple of chapters of Birdcage Walk but in the end I realised that it wasn't the book for me right now, so I ended up returning it to the library unread and I started reading The Lost Valley of Stories by Vanessa McCausland. It's early days but I can see myself getting stuck into this one.

I'm watching....

This week I finished watching both Bridgerton and Picard and didn't start anything new! I am already looking forward to the next season of both of those shows.

Actually, we did kind of start something. My husband loves sailing and the third season of Sail GP started this weekend, so we watched some of that tonight. I have a bit of a plan to try and get to Christchurch in New Zealand for one of the later rounds in the season. We'll see how that works out.


I was still crook last week but unlike the week before I actually worked all week! It took until Friday for me to have a day where no one said shoudl you be here.

Luckily, I was recovered enough to be able to go and see Hamilton again! So good! And I then listened to the soundtrack again today.

We also went to dinner last night with three of our four kids and their respective partners (well, the two that have a partner) because it is my husband's birthday today. I think he was happy with that as a celebration! A bit of sailing on the telly, a bit of rain on the roof, some cake and he's a happy man. Or at least he says so!

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish
Weekend Cooking: Cajun Risoni with Chorizo
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: April stats

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge April stats



This year as part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge I am intending to provide some stats after each month and then at the end of the year I will do an overall wrap up for the year. That's the plan anyway. And today I am sharing a few stats about April, so three months in I am sticking to the plan!!

During April there were 80  reviews shared by 27 participants. This month five of you have shared more than 5 reviews which is amazing! Well done and keep it up! 

In terms of the books, there were 7i individual titles reviewed, written by 75 different authors. 

There were only 2 books that were reviewed more than once this month. One was an an older title and the other is a new Austrlalian new release. They were:

Katherine by Anya Seton which was reviewed by Becky at Becky's Reviews and at WhatMeRead.

The Nurses' War by Victoria Purman wsa reviewed by Shelleyrae at Book'd Out and also by Denise Newton

The other authors who were reviewed multiple times were Kate Quinn, Kerry Greenwood and Stacie Murphy

It's not too late to join the challenge this year. You can find all the sign up details here and if you have a link to add to the challenge the May Linky can be found here.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Cajun Risoni with Chorizo

After a few months of not really trying too many new recipes, we have once again said that we are going to try and make some new recipes. It's a solid plan. Now we just need to stick to it. Every month we we get the free magazines from the supermarkets and this recipe comes from one of those.

Recently we made Baked Nasi Goreng and this week we tried another recipe. Only thing is, it really did share a lot of similarities to the nasi recipe! Yes, instead of rice this recipe uses risoni and it is a different flavour profile, but after we finished this one we were talking about the fact that we could add prawns in.

We did find that this stuck a little to the bottom of the pot, but I do think that might have something to do with the fact that we had the heat up too high. Oh and instead of using half a packet of risoni we used the whole packet. Oops.

I would mention that risoni is an example of one of those ingredients which goes by another name in different countries. For example, in the US I believe this is called orzo. 

Usually my favourite recipe to cook with risoni is this Bacon, Vegetable and Risoni Soup, but this recipe will definitely be one that we make again.

Cajun Risoni with Chorizo

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
250 grams chorizo sausages, thinly sliced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, deseeded, finely chopped
3 tsp cajun seasoning
250g risoni
400g canned diced tomatoes
2 cups salt-reduced chicken stock
2 thirds cup frozen peas
3 spring onions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chorizo, brown onion and capsicum for 4 minutes, stirring, or until softened. Add seasoning and risoni, then cook for 1 minute, stirring, or until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, 1/4 cup water and stock, then bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding peas in last minute of cooking, or until risoni is tender. Season.

Stir half of the spring onion into risoni mixture. Serve topped with remaining spring onion.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Eggs and baked beans with toast
Sunday - 
Monday - Risoni with Chorizo
Tuesday - 
Wednesday - Beef and Veggie stir fry
Thursday - Pressure Cooker spaghetti bolognaise
Friday - Takeaway

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish ....


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the topic is Bookish Characters (these could be readers, writers, authors, librarians, professors, etc.)

Here are my choices, which re possibly more accurately described as bookish books or having bookish characters.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles - One of the central threads in the book revolve around a book called "Professor Abacus Abernathe's Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers and Other Intrepid Travellers" that the youngest character in book carries around with him everywhere he goes

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran - This book is all about the life stories of these characters and how the past continues to shape us. One of the key characters also moonlights as an author, albeit under a pen name.

The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland - Another ode to words and books, with an author as one of the main characters.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr - Doerr brings us mutliple stories, all connected through one fable

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley - When an author finds herself living in a cottage in Scotland, the voices of the historical characters from her story come to life (and another excuse to sneak a Kearsley book into a TTT post!)

The Great Passage by Shion Miura - A nice story telling about the creation of a dictionary.

Beach Read by Emily Henry - Two authors who write in different genres end up living next door to each other.

The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte - During WWII, the German army use Tolstoy's country house as a base.

Aria's Travelling Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin - Books and France! Yes please.

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan - Books and Scotland. Yes please!

What books did you have on your list this week.

Monday, May 09, 2022

This week...

I'm reading...

Well, after last week's post where I said I needed to finish one of two books for book club on Saturday. In the end, I didn't finish either of them, and I didn't go to book club because I have been sick all week.  I have only got 100 pages to go of The Lincoln Highway so I will definitely finishing it today.

The next read-on-a-theme choice is "family". I am pretty sure I will find at least one book on my real or virtual foundations which will suit that theme.

I have already decided that my next read is going to be Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore. Or rather, the library told me that the book must be returned soon so I have to read it.

I'm watching...

Lots of time feeling crook over the last week has given me plenty of TV viewing time in contrast with previous weeks where we have watched very little.

I finally finished watching The Parisian Agency season 2 so I am going to have to find some other Paris porn to watch. I do really enjoy watching this show with the amazing houses that the very wealthy quite often look at and think it isn't quite enough or just right! I really the family dynamic between the family who run the agency. 

We are big fans of the British show, The Repair Shop and so we were very please to start watching the Australian version. One episode in and we are happy with it so far.

I also started watching a Korean reality show called The Hungry and the Hairy. The idea is that two celebrity friends head out on their motorbikes and visit some of South Korea's famous sites and eat some amazing food. It's a premise that has been seen around the world before, but I don't recall ever watching much set in South Korea. I will watch a bit more and I am thinking that maybe it will be a Weekend Cooking post at some point.

I have a number of shows on my list that I want to watch including shows like Outlander, Julia, Reacher and more, but this week I started season 2 of Bridgerton. I think I am just over half way through so hopefully will watch more this week.

Finally, we binged a few episodes of Picard on Saturday night


We had a few plans over the weekend but none of them happened.

We really are getting to crunch time in relation to this house. We need to get this house to a point where it is ready too start showing people through. To say I am starting to stress and get a bit anxious about this whole selling and moving thing is an understatement. Luckily every time we go to the new house we are pleasantly surprise by the progress that has been made. Just have to keep the end goal in mind I guess.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: One Word Reviews!
Weekend Cooking: What I Baked in April

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date


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