Saturday, October 16, 2021

Weekend Cooking: National Cook Book Month

Did you know that October is National Cookbook month? Or at least it is in the US, and I am jumping on the band wagon. I stumbled across it recently when it wsa mentioned by Wendy from A Day in the Life of the Farm.

I thought that this week I would share my latest cookbook acquisitions over the last few months.

Air Fryer/Air Fryer Healthy

We recently acquired an Air Fryer which is exciting, but then we realised that we didn't have the first clue what to make in it, except for fried chicken. So based on some recommendations from an air fryer group on Facebook we rushed out and bought these two books. Ask me how many recipes we have made out of these books? That's right. None!!  We have been using it to cook our working-from-home lunches during the week, but we do need to explore more. I did attempt to do a medley of roast vegetables, which were really inedible. 

If you have any favourite air fryer recipes I would love to hear about them!

Keto BBQ by Myron Mixon - Back in May, I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book when BethFishReads did a giveaway. Now that we are coming into BBQ season, we have had a look through. My husband is very keen to try some of the spice rubs.

Time to Eat by Nadiya Hussain - After doing a joint review of Nadiya Hussain's Nadiya Bakes back in August, I knew that I was going to have to buy moreof her cookbooks. There are a number of recipes that I know I want to try. I also think that I might buy another one of her books soon.

Chocolate by Kirsten Tiballs

Kristen Tiballs is a very success chocolate and patisserie chef based here in Melbourne. She has appeared on Masterchef Australia many times, and won internations awards. I have borrowed this one from the library to see what I can find to try to make, or techniques to learn or just to look at the amazing looking baking all the way through it!

I have already put a holding post in place for the end of September next year, and maybe I will ask all of you to share about favourite, new, or old cookbooks!

Weekend Meals

Saturday - 
Sunday -  Pulled Pork
Monday - Pumpkin, Coconut & Chickpea Curry with Curry Leaf Tarka & Naan
Tuesday - Grilled Spiced Lanb with Cucumber & Tomato Salad & Bombay Potatoes
Wednesday- Southern Indian Roasted Chicken with Indian Slaw, Dill Rice & Toasted Almonds
Wednesday - Pumpkin, Coconut & Chickpea Curry with Curry Leaf Tarka & Naan
Thursday - Fried chicken
Friday - Pub meal at home

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, October 15, 2021

Music A to Z: T

Welcome to this week's edition of my Music A to Z feature. Each week on Thursday, (oops a day late this week), I am going to share a song where either the song or the artist name begins with the letter for that week. This week, the letter is....


This is Me from the Greatest Showman soundtrack - As I have mentioned previously I have a tendency to keep the same song as a rington for years, until suddenly, I feel the need to change it. We went to see this movie and I changed it that same day. And then I kept it for about 3 years. This version is from before the making of the movie had even been approved!!

Teardrops by Womack and Womack- This is one of those songs where I couldn't tell you any other song that the artist does, but I do love this one, and I can't help but the top of my voice. It turns out that I thought the song was called Footsteps on the Dancefloor so nearly put it on the F post.

Sing by Travis - I have always loved songs with a bit of banjo in them. I think it is the country music background.  I went through a phase a few years ago of listening to this band a lot.

Back for Good by Take That - I have a new appreciation for Gary Barlow, and by extension Take That, as a result of the Crooner Sessions that he hosted during lockdown. They were so much fun. This is my favourite song by Take That.

Do you have any T songs or artists? Feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Settings








Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Favourite Settings

So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite settings

WWII - The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte - I know that there is a lot of talk out there about people being over WWII as a time period, but I still love it, mainly because there is so much variety. You could read about Europe, America, Australia, Japan, about someone on the frontlines or the people left behind or so much more. This book is set in Russia, features a German main character and was one of my favourite books of last year. (review)

WWI - The Desert Nurse by Pamela Hart - Actually,  I do enjoy books set against any big conflicts, so I do enjoy it when I read a good book with a WWI setting. I must find some more.

Bookshops/Libraries  - The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan - There's something very comforting about reading books about books, whether it is characters who love to read or work in bookshops or whatever.

Cafe/Bakery/Restaurants -  Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber - The heat in the kitchen (both due to the cooking and between the people who work there on occasion), the sense of community, the delicious sounding food! What's not to love.

Scotland - The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley - I love both historical and contemporary books set in Scotland. It is a place that keeps calling my name.

Paris - The Black Swan of  Paris by Karen Robards - Speaking of places that call my name. One day I will get back there. The most recent book I read set in Paris was this one.

Russia - Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten - I don't read them as much as I should be I do love a good book set in Russia.

Africa - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - I have long loved a book set in Africa. I chose this book to spotlight because it is a book that was set in Africa (at least at the beginning) and I read it while I was in Africa

Melbourne - Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood - I love it when you get to read a book where you recognise the landmarks and places that are mentioned in a book.

Rural settings - Snowy Mountains Daughter by Alissa Callen - I do love a good rural romance setting. There are so many great books out there. Whole series set in small country towns where you get to know the whole community.

And what's better than one of these settings? When you manage to combine two or more. Bookshop cafe in Scotland...I'm there. Although I am not sure all the combinations would work.

What are your favourite settings?

Monday, October 11, 2021

This Week ....

 I'm Reading

The truth is I'm not reading much at all. I started reading The Vanishing Days by Susanna Kearsley and only got a couple of pages in. I thought about reading something else, but didn't. I need to read the next four chapters in The Sundial, but haven't quite made it there yet.

I was listening to The Winter Sea, and I was listening to The Bear and the Nightingale, but didn't get very far with either of them.

And I need to start thinking about my book club choice. I did think vaguely about listening to The Midnight Library, but I should probably have started a few months ago if I intend to finish it.

Next week will be a better reading week.

I'm Watching

We have now watched all the available episodes of Ted Lasso and I am sad. I am not sure if Robert is up for it or not but we might need to watch them all again. We have already watched the first season twice, so I might be able to convince him. Or I might not.

We also watched a couple more episodes of Squid Game. We will watch it to the end in due course.

I did start watching another Korean series which has a totally different feeling to it. As in, it could not be more different to Squid Game if it tries. It is a series called Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. Basically it is about a big city dentist who moves to a small country town right on the ocean. So far it's very cute.

Last night I started watching a show called The Parisian Agency on Netflix. It is a reality TV show that focusses on a family that sells high-end real estate. The parents work with their three sons, and they are all super close but also pretty vocal with each other. The houses they look at are pretty amazing, even if their buyers aren't that impressed,  so I might watch a bit more of that because, you know, Paris.  

We also watched the first episode of Celebrity Masterchef Australia. It was so good to be back in the Masterchef kitchen!


Nothing much to add here either. We are still in lockdown. Robert's daughter moved into her newly built house this weekend. We haven't been able to see the house since the framing stage. We are hoping to get some more freedoms soon and get to go and see her new house, and them, but we will see.

Whilst I am definitely ready for lockdown to be over, and I am ready to be able to do things on the weekends, I am not sure that I am ready to do things with vast crowds of people. I know that is contradictory, but to be honest, that pretty much reflects my mind right now. Over it all, but not ready to take the risk of leaving the house except for very specific reasons.

Posts from the last week

Music A-Z: S

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

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Weekend Cooking: The Last of the Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens

Recently my friend has started a new bookclub. It is something we have tried to do for a while now, but it never worked out, so this time she put a call out on Meet-Up and has bought together a group of people who share a desire to read but are otherwise a group of strangers. Well, other than the two of us who already know each other.

I was really keen to have this be a read-on-a-theme bookclub rather than nominating a specific book to read, although we may also do that on occasion. The theme for this time was Spring and I chose to read The Last of the Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens because blossoms mean spring right? It was a book that I already had on my ereader as a review copy and it also counts for Weekend Cooking - it's a triple whammy!

The story opens on 7 February 1967, a day known as Black Tuesday in Tasmania. On that day, there were horrific bushfires in and around Hobart and many people were killed, injured or made homeless. 

I count myself very lucky to have never been too close to a bushfire. The closest was a few years ago when there was a grass fire a couple of suburbs away and we were instructed to evacuate. As an Australian, every summer we dread the days when the news headlines start with stories of bushfires raging, of the volunteer fire fighters risking their own lives to try and save the homes and towns of others, of heartbreaking stories of homes lost or even worse, lives. Whilst I haven't personally been affected, I know people who know people who have lost it all. And we have all smelt the smoky air as it drifts across the country, felt the gloom descend and the pride that we feel in those people on the front line who give so much of themselves to help others.

The first few pages of this book were gripping as the author took us into the face of these horrendous fires in Hobart. The fear and the panic, the desperate need to get back to your family, and the heartbreaking moment when you realise that you have lost significant parts of your livelihood or heritage, and, even worse, members of your family. It was so well written, I could feel the tension, fear and the heat.

Our main character is Catherine Turner, a young teacher who grew up on her family's apple orchard in the Huon Valley. As the fires spread Catherine makes is charged with supervising the children who can't get back to their families due to the fires closing in. As soon as she is able, she makes the somewhat reckless, actually make that very reckless, decision to try to get home to her family's orchard. The roads are closed, and she and her friend are told not to proceed, but they do and in doing so they place themselves in the path of danger.

When she does get home, it is to scenes of utter devestation all through the valley. Fire is fickle. It can destroy great swathes of land and yet some structures will remain standing. For the Turners, they pay the ultimate price. Their main house is gone, and their young son/brother is dead. Fortunately a cottage remains for them to live in while they start to rebuild their lives. Catherine's father has always been of the opinion that the land is no place for a girl so the orchard was always going to go to Peter, despite the fact that he wanted to be a vet and Catherine wants to be an orchardist. Catherine's mother has been devestated by the loss of her son and withdraws into herself.

What follows is a history of the apple industry in Tasmania, since that fateful day and some of the key events of the late 1960's through to now through the lens of Catherine and her friends and family's lives.  Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle but the apple industry has been decimated over the last 50 years thanks to the fires, to changes in the export markets and increasing transport costs. These changes resulted in schemes from the government to pay people to rip out their trees, and families moving away to find a new life off the land. On the positive side there are the introduction of more efficient farming techniques and the introduction of organic farming methods.

Catherine's closest friend is Annie who is married to Dave Pearson. On the day of the fire, she is at home with her kids, plus young Charlie who is the son of Dave's friend Mark. Annie has five sons and a much wanted newborn baby girl. Annie grew up in an affluent family in Hobart, but she was disowned when she married Dave. Mark is living on their property with Charlie seeking an escape from his life in Melbourne, although Annie would like him to be gone. 

As Catherine gets to know the shy Charlie, she also begins to get to know Mark, but there are many impediments, not least of all the fact that he is married to the absent Lara. Catherine faces many challenges to keep her family legacy, whilst still having to deal with the ongoing trauma that is the legacy of the fires and her brother's death.

This is the author's debut novel, and it is a strong debut. I enjoyed learning about the history of the apple industry and the lives of characters. Some of storyline was a bit unlikely, but it was definitely readable.

It should come as no surprise that there were lots of mentions of food, most of which were apple recipes. I wanted to make something apple-y, but I wasn't sure what until Mae shared a poem about apple pie a couple of weeks ago. I have also been thinking that I needed to try and make a "proper pie" which sent me off on a search for recipes.  

Mae had mentioned having cheese with her apple pie, which is a new flavour combination to me and, in the end, I took that idea and twisted it a little and made a cheddar cheese flavoured pie crust, filled with apples and topped with a streusel which apparently. Apparently this style of pie (without the cheddar) is called a Dutch Apple Pie. 

I took bits and pieces and inspiration from various recipes and put them all together, but predominantly it was based on this recipe from Olive and Mango. I didn't use the nuts in the streusel because we have a nut allergy in our house (my son is allergic to tree nuts) so I looked around at various other streusel recipes until I decided to use rolled oats in my streusel.

And the verdict? I enjoyed the flavour combination, but it got mixed reviews in my house. Robert said that he would like it to be made again but with just a plain crust and my son wouldn't even try it! So overall, I would use that recipe for the apples again, but it would be a different pastry and an adapted streusel.

I am linking this post up with the Australian Women Writers ChallengeHistorical Fiction Reading Challenge and Foodies Read.

Weekly Meals

Saturday - 
Sunday -  Fancy Dinner
Monday - Pork Chops, mash, mushroom sauce, broccoli
Tuesday - 
Wednesday - Spaghetti Bolognaise
Thursday - Fajitas
Friday - Take away

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

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Music A to Z: S

Welcome to this week's edition of my Music A to Z feature. Each week on Thursday, I am going to share a song where either the song or the artist name begins with the letter for that week. This week, the letter is....


Fairground by Simply Red - I have been lucky over the last 10 years to be able to see many of the bands that I love. There are, however, a couple that I still have on my must see list. Simply Red is one of these

Stop by Sam Brown - Do you have a song that you just have to yell (note yell not just sing!) when it comes on the radio. This is one of those songs for me. It does have a couple of notes that are way outside my vocal range and so it isn't pretty for anyone who happens to be in hearing range, but I am definitely enthusiastic!

Don't Stop Movin' by S Club 7 - This is definitely a get up and dance kind of song! I could have easily chosen several of their songs and said the same thing

Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbin and the Herbs  - This song always makes me think of my grandfather. Not because he was a fan of this song, but rather because this song is on the soundtrack to the movie Footrot Flats and he was a big fan of that cartoon, at least in book form.

Do you have any S songs? Share them in the comments!

Monday, October 04, 2021

This Week ..

I'm reading

I actually read a couple of books this week which is quite a surprise!!  I was partly able to do this because we took Monday off and then we were forced to have Tuesday off because we didn't have any power. What else can you do but read in that situation when there is no power and no internet?  

The first book I finished was Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin. It's not too early for Christmas books is it? As usual I love the way that Rebecca Raisin writes about food and books, and this was a fun read. My review for this one will be up in a couple of weeks.

Once I finished that book I was back on the familiar question of what should I read next. Because we had no internet, I couldn't download anything new to read and none of the 270 books that I already have downloaded on my Kindle were calling my name.

I was struggling until I happened to see my library books from last week and it was a case of decision made. I absolutely loved Viola Shipman's book The Heirloom Garden when I read it last year, so when I saw the library copy of The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman sitting there that was it. This is inadvertly going to be the first of three books over the next few weeks. I was excited to be approved for a review copy of  The Secret of Snow which is out later this month. Then that same day I went to the library and The Clover Girls was there waiting for me! 

I also picked up The Fence by Meredith Jaffe and The Goblin Empire by Katherine Addison.

I am now reading The Sundial by Shirley Jackson, the readalong book for RIPXVI. I am three chapters in and I have to say it isn't exactly what I expected.

I'm watching

I mentioned RIPXVI and the two new series we started this week both easily fit for that challenge. On Friday night, we started watching the series of What We Do in the Shadows, mainly because we had just watched the latest available episode of What If? What We Do in the Shadows is a comedy/horror about a group of vampires that live in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fun. We'll see if we watch any more or not.

Speaking of horror, we started watching Squid Game last night. On Wikipedia this is classified as a "survival drama" series, but it is pretty scary as far as I can tell. The body count is certainly high. This is a big hit on Netflix right now and you can see why. Think The Hunger Games on steroids! Have you watched it?


Other than a couple of days off as I mentioned above, it was a pretty normal week, whatever normal means. We are still in lockdown here, but we are now able to go 15kms from home and we are allowed to meet other people outdoors, so we can start to meet friends. We did that yesterday as some of our friends are moving to the country in a couple of weeks.

We are looking forward to having more freedoms, but I think we will still be a bit wary of venturing too far from home. There are definitely days when we are over being at home.

I did attend our second book club meeting on Zoom this weekend.  There were four of us in attendance this time and I enjoyed the conversation. We are doing a read-on-a-theme bookclub, and this month the theme was Spring. The next theme is "Books about books". So far I have thought of three different options, all of which were packed in a box which is in the shed, so I am going to have to come up with something else.

Posts from the last week

Top Ten Tuesday: Fruit Salad. Yummy! Yummy!

Music A-Z: R

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - October

Weekend Cooking: Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe


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