Monday, April 12, 2021

This Week ....

 I'm reading....

I finally picked up the fourth book in the Granite Springs series by Maggie Christensen. I read the first three books in the series in quick succession earlier this year but despite my best intentions I hadn't yet got to the next book. The Life She Finds was actually really good.  I am really enjoying these more mature romances set in country Australia.

I have now started Railway Girls in Love by Maisie Thomas, which is the third book in the Railway Girls series, and the review for this one will be up later this week. I read the second book last week and enjoyed it.

I'm watching...

We haven't really started anything new. We are all caught up on both Great British Bake Off and the associated Extra Slice. I have decided to try and make the technical challenge from each episode. More precisely I had decided to do this until I got to the third episode and saw what the technical challenge was, after which I decided to just make something. 

We are also up to date with The Arrow and the Winter Soldier which is good, although if I had to pick between that and Wandavision, I would pick Wandavision every time.

We are also excited that Anh's Brush with Fame is back on too. We really enjoy the conversations that Anh has with various celebrities while he paints their portrait. Definitely falls under the definition of fee good TV.


Actually not a lot going on this week.After being away last week we had a quiet weekend, but we are in preparation phase for the next home reno project. We'll see how that goes.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Watery Books
Weekend Cooking: Sounds of Silence Dinner

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

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Sounds of Silence dinner at Uluru

Last week we fulfilled a dream of mine and visited Uluru in the red centre of Australia! It is a place that I have wanted to visit for years. We were supposed to go in September of last year, know.....Covid happened.

It was such an amazing place to visit, and I could write for ages about the experience,  but today I wanted to focus on the food side of the trip. Whilst shows like Masterchef have contestants regularly using native ingredients, I wouldn't suggest that it isn't really that mainstream yet. I think I have tried a cheesecake before that featured native ingredients, but I didn't really enjoy it, so I was a bit concerned that I wasn't going to like anything, but, in the end, I needn't have been concerned.

On our first full days at the resort we did a lot of the free activities, one of which was about bush food. Whilst the area around Uluru is full of shrubs and low trees, we were assured that there was plenty of food about, if you know what you are looking for. It was also important to know about different varieties because they may have very different properties even though they are part of the same family. For example, there was a type of leaf called senna that you could eat, but there was a very close relative called chocolate senna that is a laxative so you don't want to eat at the wrong time! In addition, the guide talked about honey ants, witchety grub, bush tomatoes, desert plums and so much more. It was very interesting! 

At the end of that talk we all got to taste Wattleseed Shortbread which was delicious. It is a minimal amount of wattleseed that is added into the recipe - just enough to give it a distinctive taste. I have shared the recipe below.

The highlight of our trip was the Sounds of Silence dinner. What a night. It started with sparkling wine and canapes as the sun set, with views of both Uluru and Kata-juta in the distance. During dinner there was a didgeridoo being played and then there was a talk about the stars. Given that there is so little light pollution out there, the amount of stars you can see in the sky is amazing compared to in the city.

I am guessing that the little boxes containing the canapes are to keep the event COVID friendly rather than having someone walking around offering up platters.

We then had a starter of bush tomato soup, which didn't taste dissimilar to normal tomato soup but maybe a little sweeter.

There we moved onto a buffet dinner. I can't remember what all the different meats were, but the coleslaw type salad that you can see in the photo included shredded crocodile in it, which was actually very nice. You could do something similar with chicken or fish quite easily. The fish was delicious as were the lamb cutlets, and I am really going to have to play around with roasting cauliflower because that was delicious too!

The dessert was also buffet and all of them were delicious and all had at least some native flavourings in them too, ranging from bite sized (two bits at most!)  brownies, to cheesecake, crumble tarts and pudding with custard

The people at our table included an older couple who ended up not living too far from us, an older lady, and then one young English couple and one young American who had both been working in Australia for a couple of years and were making sure to see as much of the country as they could. The wine flowed freely, as did the conversation. 

It was a magic night!

Wattleseed Shortbread

200g unsalted butter, softened

90g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

250g plain flour

2g baking powder.

5g wattleseed

Preheat oven 1t 190C (374f)

Lightly cream the soft butter and sugar

Mix in the egg yolk

Fold in the flour, baking powder and wattleseed

Roll into small balls

Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown, then cool on a wire rack.

Weekly Meals

Saturday: Airport dinner where there was very little open!
Sunday: Seafood Chowder Pie
Monday: Takeaway
Tuesday: Garlic Lamp Rump with Capsicum and Walnut dip and fattoush
Wednesday: Pineapple and chicken kebabs with rice
Thursday: Pork Vindaloo with rice and salad
Friday: Pizza (family dinner)

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, April 06, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Watery books


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean which was submitted by Beauty & Her Books. While I could name some books that have annoyed me, I am twisting the theme this week to be books with a water theme.

Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Sea Glass by Maria V Snyder - Must get back to this series this year!

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley - Never miss an opportunity to mention this book.

The Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen - I think I heard that SAA is working on a new book, which is exciting!

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Lake in the Clouds by Sarah Donati - Not my favourite in this series, but still a good read!

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss - This is a book that doesn't come out until next month but I read it last week and really enjoyed it. The title translates to River of Dreams

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation: Shuggie Bain to A Rose for the Crown

Welcome to this month's edition of Six Degrees of Separation, which is a monthly meme hosted by Kate from Books Are My Favourite and Best.  The idea is to start with a specific book and make a series of links from one book to the next using whatever link you can find and see where you end up after six links.  I am also linking this post up with The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

I decided to make this exercie a bit harder for myself this month because I knew the starting point, and I knew where I wanted to end up. Normally, you just see where you end up, but by having the end in mind meant that it took me a few attempts to get from point A to point B, but I got there in the end!

The starting point this month is Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart which is a book I don't see myself reading any time soon. What I did know about that book is that it is set in Scotland.

The Shakespeare play Macbeth is often known as the Scottish play, so my next link is Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King which I read an enjoyed many years ago because you can't get more Scottish than that really.

A more recent read about a Scottish woman is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Moving away fromm Scotland, this time I am linking with the name Eleanor. Eleanor of Aquitaine  was queen of both England and France, the only woman in history to hold both of these titles. There are a number of books about her I could have chosen but I have chosen to use The Autumn Throne by Elizabeth Chadwick as my title. This is the final book in a trilogy about Eleanor.

Eleanor is part of the Plantagenet dynasty from whom the houses of Lancaster and York derived. In turn these were the two sides of the War of the Roses, which was part of the inspiration for A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin.

From fantasy inspired by the War of the Roses, I am turning back to history with The Rose of  York: Love and War by Sandra Worth. This is a story about Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his wife, Lady Anne Neville.

Another book about Richard, who eventually became Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings is A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith, which is where I wanted to end up because, well, it is Easter Sunday!

Next month's starting point is Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Coffee and Wine

As you read this, we are in transit on our way back from visiting Uluru in Central Australia. It is the first time for the both us to see the world's biggest monolith, and visiting Northern Territory, not to mention the first time leaving our home state of Victoria since the end of 2019!  My plan is to post about our visit in next week's Weekend Cooking post.

Yesterday I posted about a book called Sweetheart by Sarah Mayberry which is part of a multi-author series set in a Vermont cafe. As you would imagine there's plenty of food mentions when you read a book set in a cafe, but for this week I thought I would share this quote about coffee and wine! 

Part of the reason for choosing these quotes because I am not much  of a connoiseur when it comes to wine or coffee. What I do know is when I like or or I don't but that's as far as it gets. I do like the idea of the processes that goes into making both of them. I like the idea that both coffee and wine vary depending on where it is grown and can be influenced by so many things from the makeup of the soil, how rocky it is, whether it was picked under a full moon. That all fascinates me. But yes, give me a glass of wine or a glass of coffee and the most I can probably tell you is if it is smooth or not.

"Come on in to the apartment and meet Larry," Beck said.

"Sounds good," I said, wincing at how bright and chirpy I sounded.

Beck's mouth twitched again, as he led me down a short corridor. After passing his office and the packing room, we walked through a doorway into a large space that run the full width of the building. Two big metal machines were spaced along the far wall, while pallets piled high with burlap sacks filled a corner.

"Are these the roasters?" I asked, forgetting to be nervous for a second as I went to examine the large circular tray attached to the front of one of the machines.

"Yep, these are our babies," Beck said. "That's the cooling tray. Beans go in there, and once we get past first crack, and we're happy with the roast, we pour them out here to cool. " He pointed to a large hopper on top of the machine, then to the tray.

"First crack is when the beans open up in the heat, right?"

He raised his eyebrows. "Bang on the money."

"I did some googling," I admitted. "But Google didn't tell me how you know when you've got first crack."

The space was scrupulously clean, and the delicious smell I'd noted the other day in the packing room was stronger here, a mixture of the baked bread scent and caramelized sweetness he'd just described.

"So this is where the magic happens," I said.

And then a bit later

Beck glanced down at the wine I'd brought and a broad frown crossed his forehead.

"I wasn't sure what we were having and the guy in the store said this was good with almost anything," I said.

"Where'd you go? Hunger Mountain Co-op?"

"How did you know?" I asked, surprised.

Beck stepped over to the fridge and retrieved a familiar bottle.

"We bought the same wine," I said, getting the joke

"From the same manager, I'm thinking, since I got the same spiel."

We both laughed and any residual tension I'd been holding melted away.

"If it sucks, we can go back and complain together," I said.

"Let's give it a shot."

He opened the wine and poured two glasses, handing mine over. We both took an experimental sip.

"I'm tasting wine. I think there's a top note of wine in there, too. And maybe a little wine on the palate afterwards?" I said

"Definitely," Beck said, taking another mouthful and swirling it around his mouth ostentatiously, sucking his cheeks in and out and generally looking ridiculous. "Pretty sure the grapes were picked on a Friday by a redheaded man with big feet and a gambling habit.'

"Insightful," I said.

"It's what I do," Beck said with a casual shrug.

Are you a coffee or wine connoisseur?

Weekly Meals

Saturday: Peri Peri Chicken with chips and salad
Sunday: Leftovers Quiche
Monday: Leftover Leftovers Quiche

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.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Sweetheart by Sarah Mayberry

Sarah Mayberry is one of my favourite Australian contemporary romance authors so I am always excited to hear that she has a new book coming out. The interesting thing about this book is that is part of a series that is set in a world created by another author. Let me see if I can explain that a bit better as I found it a very interesting concept which I don't think I have heard of before.

Author Sarina Bowen published the first book in her True North book in 2016 and since then series has continued. The series is set in Vermont and some of the key locations/settings were the local cafe, The Busy Bean, the bar called Speakeasy and there is a sports team as well that has been featured.

Now Bowen has set herself up as a publisher to bring The World of True North to life. Within the World of True North, there are going to be four series/story streams with each book written by different authors who can use the setting as well as some of the existing characters from the series and then they get to tell their own story. There are going to be 46 books all up. 46! The four series are going to be Busy Bean, contemporary romance set in the coffee shop, Moo U which is contemporary sports romance, Vino and Veritas which is going to be LGBTQ romances and Speakeaasy which will be more sexy romance (I think).

This book is set in the Busy Bean which is owned by a couple of friends who have had their own stories in the original series. This book focuses on Haley who has recently started working in the cafe. In addition, she is a talented leather artisan who is trying to buiild her online business up. When the cafe has a drop in customers soon after she starts, Haley needs to be investigate to be sure it isn't about her coffee making skils. 

It turns out there are some new coffee roasters in town who are supplying the opposition cafes, one of whom happened to be Haley's sisters ex-boyfriend, Daniel Beck. Haley always had a thing for Beck, but obviously he is out of bounds. Beck is attracted to Haley but his relationship with her sister Jess was volatile, to say the least, so he doesn't want to put himself in a situation where he needs to relive how awful that time in his life was. And yet, they can't seem to stay away from each other.

There are a couple of things that I expect from a Sarah Mayberry book is great chemistry from the characters, and that there is a depth to the story, and this book is no different on both of those fronts. This time she tactfully explores the impact of mental illness and the effect that it can have on whole families. 

So given the unusual nature of the series, the question is did I enjoy the world of True North enough to want to read more. I have already bought the first book in the actual series by Sarina Bowen, and I can see myself dipping into the greater series as a whole too. And, of course, I will still be looking for any Sarah Mayberry book I can get hold of, but to be fair, I did already know that even before I started this book.

Tomorrow I am going to be sharing a couple of quotes from this book as part of my Weekend Cooking series!

Rating 4/5

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: April


 Thank you to everyone who shared a review this month! I can't wait to see what you all share in April.

I am very excited to have so many of you signed up and linking up to the challenge already this year, and I look forward to reading your reviews throughout the year! I am sure there is going to be a lot of great historical fiction discovered and shared with fellow HF lovers!

If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late! The sign up post is here.

Just to recap what participants need to know. At the beginning of each month I will put up a post which will have a Mr Linky embedded into it for you to add your link.

Please remember...

  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (fantasy, young adult, graphic novels...)
  • if you have time, have a look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!
I have created a group on Facebook which you can find here and don't forget to use the #histficreadingchallenge hashtag on the socials.

Here is the link for you to use to share your reviews this month! Happy reading!


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