Saturday, January 30, 2021

Weekend Cooking: National Croissant Day

Normally on the final Saturday of the month I share all the things that I have baked during the month, but this month, that would be a very short post as I only actually baked one thing! Which of course means I have had to think of something else to post.

Last year during our lockdown one of the ways we discovered to treat ourselves was a bakery from the other side of the city called Mosaic Patisserie that delivers to our area! We tried all sorts of things from the bakery including the most delicious ready to bake treats including danish pastries, pain au chocolat, chocolate fondants and two different types of croissants. 

This week the bakery sent us an email advising us to orderr for National Croissant Day, which I don't think I knew about before this. Or maybe I did and I just didn't remember. That's possible too.

One thing that I was surprised to learn was that this most quintessentially French pastry actually has Austrian origins, and was originally called a kipferl. There seem to be a couple of different stories as to the origins of the croissant but what does seem to be consistent is that the original shape of the croissant is reminiscent of the crescent on the Ottoman flag.

One story is that Marie Antoinette took these Austrian pastries to Franch when she married into the French royal family but however they got to France, the French were the ones to make this their own.

The croissants that we had were so delicious you really could  just eat them as they were, but they were also good with jam. What we didnt do with these is have them with ham and cheese which is what we normally do when we buy them from the supermarket.

We haven't done anything specific to celebrate National Croissant Day this year, mainly because we have had several croissant days over the last 9 months. Having said that, I am now tempted to put an order in again! We will be ordering croissants, but we might also order something else delicious at the same time!

As to what I made this month, I was attempting to make a Honey Sponge Roll. However, my sponge was way too light and too puffed up to roll, so instead we had a very small sponge cake and filled with cream. The mix of spices smelled so good! And it was a big hit when we had it as dessert for a shared lunch.

I did suggest to my husband that I have been neglecting him for the last month by not making anything, but he insists it isn't true. I am making something today, which hopefully he will enjoy, and hopefully it won't be the only thing that I have to share next month!

Weekly Meals 

 Saturday - Roast chicken and Meditteranean vegetables

Sunday - Miso steak and baked potato

Monday - Salmon teriyaki stir fry

Tuesday - Enchiladas

Wednesday - Chicken a la Plancha with pasta salad

Thursday - Dinner with friends

Friday - Beef skewers with orange and radish salad

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, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: New to me authors in 2020


Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is New to me Authors I read in 2020. 

When I looked at my stats for last year, it revealed that I read books by 40 authors I hadn't read before, which gives my plenty of scopes for today's theme. However, today is officially Australia Day so I am going to focus on Australian authors that were new to me last year.

I was very lucky last year to read lots of great books by Australian authors. Three of the four books that I gave the ultimate grade of 5/5 were by Australians, and they were all new to me authors. 

Minnie Darke - The Lost Love Song is Minnie Darke's second book and it was a lovely read. I believe that it was being released in the US so hopefully other people will get to experience this lovely book too. (review here)

Alison Stuart - I actually read a couple of books by Alison Stuart during 2020, and quite frankly it was about time. I have signed copies of her books on my shelves for many, many years. I first read The Postmistress, which I gave a really good grade, but the sequel got top marks. (review here)

Steven Conte - I don't remember ever hearing about Steven Conte, but that might not be all that surprising given that there was a gap of 13 years between his last book, The Zookeeper's Daughter and this book. The Tolstoy Estate was an exceptional read! (review here)

Having never read them before last year, I read multiple books by the following authors

Ella Carey  - I read four books by Ella Carey last year, with three of those being part of the Paris Time Capsule trilogy about an apartment located in Paris that was abandoned during WWII and only opened again after 70 years. (tag here)

Lily Malone - Another trilogy, this time a rural romance series, I really enjoyed reading about the small town in the south of Western Australia, especially seeing as I was able to travel through the area in December 2019.(tag here)

Rebecca Raisin - I have shared a number of quotes from Rebecca Raisin during 2020 as I just love the way that she writes about food, books and Paris!

The following four books are all books that I rated very highly. All of them except for the last one got 4.5/5 and so I definitely highly recommend them.

Julian Leatherdale - This author died in 2020, having left behind 3 novels. I enjoyed this one a lot so I do intend to read more.

Meg Keneally - The Wreck is a book that was this close to getting a 5/5. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I do need to read her first solo novel, Fled. She has also written a mystery series with her dad, Thomas Keneally, and I have a least one of those books here to read too. (review here)

Tania Blanchard - I had seen Tania Blanchard's books around before but I hadn't read them. I still need to.

Katye Nunn - This book had a gothic feel to it, which I enjoyed, and I do intend to go back and read her other books. I saw recently that her next book is out at the end of March and it sounds fascinating. It's called The Last Reunion. (review here)

Monday, January 25, 2021

This week.....

 I'm reading...

It'll be no surprise to find out I read the third book in the Granite Springs series by Maggie Christensen this week, after reading the first two books in the series over the last couple of weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series so far, and so I will definitely be going back to it.

I did, however, think that perhaps I should break it up a bit by reading something different. In this case, it was by picking up The Things We Don't Say by Ella Carey!

I have also made a bit of progress on my audiobook, The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley. I have finally started to come around to the main character in the modern part of the dual timeline. 

I'm Watching....

We didn't really watch anything much this week.


My laptop died....dead, dead, dead. We are waiting to see if it can be repaired but last time we spoke to the repairman it sounded hopeful that it can be fixed. I am looking forward to having it back, not least because blogging on my work laptop is okay, but there are a few issues. For example,  I can't add a Mr Linky to my posts on my work laptop because the site is blocked.

We are doing a lot of talking about ensuite bathrooms and gardens, which means it must be nearly time to start the next renovation project. Watch this space.

Posts from the last week

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

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Chorizo and Sun Dried Tomato Tortilla

One of our most useful kitchen acquisitions of the last year has been the slow cooker/pressure cooker that I received for my birthday in June. At the time, I had no idea that I needed one, but we have used it quite a lot.

One day we were at Kmart and found a cookbook which has recipes for both uses. We then bought volume 2 of the book, and once again we have many, many recipes that we want to try. On Sunday we decided that we needed to pick one to try and we chose a recipe for Chorizo and Sun Dried Tomato Tortilla, because it isn't your normal casserole/stew type recipe.

We did, however, come a bit unstuck. Firstly, my husband who does most of our cooking got called out to a job with the community service organisation he volunteers for, so I had to cook. And then secondly there was an issue because the recipes calls for the tortilla to be layered up into a 20cm cake tin and then put inside the pressure cooking. The only problem is that my 20cm cake tin has small handles on the side, which prevented it from lowering into the pressure cooker. So because I was couldn't use the pressure cooker, I cooked the potatoes in a saucepan.

I therefore had to improvise, which is not my strong point. I am not someone who can open the pantry door and take a bit of this and that and then create something delicious. I am a recipe follower so an obstacle such as the one I mentioned above is one that causes me to panic a little! Well, I am a recipe follower until I'm not. 

I was therefore quite pleased with how this worked out given that I had to adapt the recipe! Instead of following the recipe as written below, I cooked out the zucchini, onion and chorizo a bit more, and then baked it in the oven for around 45 minutes covered in foil, then another 15 minutes without the foil. I also forgot the garlic, but I only just realised this now! And that I put 25g of parmesan in instead of the cheddar cheese. The parmesan was supposed to go on some rocket to accompany the tortilla which we didn't want to have.

Sun dried tomato isn't one of our normal go-to ingredients.  We did enjoy it as is but we are thinking that you could adapt the ingredients quite easily. We are thinking about maybe doing chorizo, red capsicum and onion and get a delicious tasting lunch dish that we could prepare on the weekend and have for lunch during the week.

Chorizo and Sun-Dried Tomato Tortilla

Serves 6.

3 medium potatoes (600g)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion (200g), sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

250g (8oz) cured chorizo sausages, thinly sliced

3/4 cup (135g) semi-dried tomatoes, chopped coarsely

2 medium zucchini (240g), grated coarsely, squeezed dry

10 eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup (120g) coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Peel potatoes and cut into 5mm (1/4in) slices. Place in a 6 litre (24-cup) pressure cooker; add enough cold water to just cover. Season with salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or until three-quarters cooked; drain. Spread potato slices on a tray to cool

Dry pressure cooker. Heat half the olive oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic and chorizo, stirring for 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Stir in tomatoes and zucchini; season to taste.

Lightly grease a 20cm (8in) cake pan; line base and side with baking paper. Cover base with potato. Spread vegetable mixture evenly over potato. Combine egg and half the cheese; season. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover tightly with foil. Fold a 60cm (24in) length of foil to make a narrow sling; place under the pan. This allows for easy removal from the pressure cooker. 

Place a trivet n base of the pressure cooker and add 1 cup (250ml) water. Place cake pan, with foil sling, on trivet over the water; secure pressure cooker likd. Bring cooker to low pressure. Reduce heat to stabilise pressure; cook for 45 minutes or until just set. Release pressure using the quick release method. Alternatively if using an electric pressure cooking, your cooker will stabilise itself.

Preheat over grill (broiler) to high. Transfer tortilla, top-side up, onto a greased over tray. Cook under the grill for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden

Weekly meals

Saturday- Apple Pie and Cream

Sunday - Chorizo and sun dried tomato tortilla

Monday - Japanese chicken curry with rice

Tuesday - Salmon teriyaki stir fry

Wednesday - Spanish tuna pasta bake

Thursday - Honey chicken with rice and broccolini

Friday - Burritos (out for 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, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Get to in 2020....but I didn't!


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 Meant to Get to in 2020....but I didn't. The reality is that this post could be a top 50 or 100 books and it might not still be enough!

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - After reading With the Fire on High early in 2020, I was super excited to read this book, even pre-ordering it, but I still haven't actually reading it.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel - I have listened to the first two books in this trilogy and I do intend to do this one on audio too, but with substantially reduced listening time a 38 hour long book feels like too much of a commitment right now.

The Survivors by Jane Harper - I have really enjoyed Jane Harper's other books, and I really need to go to see the new movie which has been made of her first book, The Dry!

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr- Oh the surprise when it was announced that there was going to be a new book in the Virgin River series after many years, no doubt on the back of the success of the first series of the adaptation on Netflix. And yet, haven't even looked at the first page yet.

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal - I have been a fan of Barbara O'Neal for a long time now, and yet I still haven't read this one yet!

Death and the Maiden by Samantha Norman and Ariana Franklin - When Ariana Franklin (who also wrote under the name Diana Norman) died more than ten years ago, I was upset to think that we wouldn't get any more of the Adelia Aguilar story. This book brings the series to it's conclusion.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams - This book came out just near the beginning of the pandemic and I heard the author talk about this in one of the first online author events I attended, which is what made me buy the book

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten - I enjoy reading a good book about Russian history, or at least I will when I get to it!

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain - This is one author I am convinced that I will really enjoy....when I actually read her!

The Paris Hours by Alex George - Recently I was scrolling through my blog and I came across a quote I have shared from a previous book by this author. It reminded me again that I want to read this book.

So there's just ten of the books that I meant to read last year, but didn't quite get to!

Monday, January 18, 2021

This week....

I'm reading....

Last week I mentioned that I was reading the first book in the Granite Springs series by Maggie Christensen. I finished that book and moved straight onto the second book, The Life She Chooses. There's every chance I will read the third book straight after this too!

I have been going into the office once or twice a week. Whilst I could catch the train, I don't think I am ready for that just yet, so I have been driving in. And the unintended bonus of that is that I have been making some progress on my current audiobook, The Sun Sister by Lucina Riley. I am glad to be listening to this as the next, and final, book in this series. Hopefully it will be out this year.

I'm watching...

I know that I am late to the party, but we started watching The Queen's Gambit last Friday night. We watched 5 episodes in a row. I think we will end up watching the rest of it this week.


We also watched the opening episode of A Discovery of Witches last week. It feels like we have been waiting a while for the second series, so I am glad it is back. 

We also have a soft spot for any series of Coast, so we are excited to be waching the new series of Coast Australia.


Over the weekend we went to a new to us place, and visited the Australia Garden which is part of our Royal Botanic Gardens. The weather wasn't great, but we enjoyed our visit and definitely will go back. It has already provided some inspiration as to what we might do in our front garden when we get around to landscaping it!

We really need to go back down there and spend several hours. There's so much that we didn't get to see other than from the tour bus that we took.

Posts from the last week

Weekend Cooking: Anatomy of a Road Trip
Sunday Salon: 2020 in review

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

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Salon: 2020 in review

Well......what a year 2020 was hey?

I thought I should put my review post for last year together today, otherwise it is going to be June and I won't have done it yet.

Reading wise, last year was a pleasant surprise for me. I set my Goodreads goal at 50 books, thinking that was going to be quite optimistic, but by the end of the year I had revised that up to 75 books, and I exceeded that goal as well. 10 years ago I would have been horrified at reading 75 books in a year but now I think that goal feels about right. My best reading year since I started recording my reads was 243, but the worst during my prolonged reading slump was only 13 so 75 seems like a happy medium.

First off, I never got around to doing my monthly posts for November and December so I'll do that first. Things got very hectic at work at the end of the year and I only finished 3 books from mid November and one of those was an audio that it took me a couple of months to get through, so it's not even as though I read the full book in that month.

My November reads were:

From a Paris Balcony by Ella Carey (3.5/5) - The third and final book in the Paris Balcony trilogy by Australian author Ella Carey. Read my review here.

The Lost Village by Danielle Sacerdoti (4.5/5) - I really enjoyed this novel set in a small Italian village. See my review here.

Wildflower Ridge by Maya Linnell (3.5/5) - This is the debut novel by Australian author Maya Linnell. I learnt of this author via her posts on Instagram. I need to read the follow up novel soon.

The Flip Side by James Bailey (4/5) - This was a fun premise. A man is turned down when he proposes to his long term girlfriend, and vows to make all of his life decisions based on the flip of a coin.

And in December

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan  (4/5) - I have really enjoyed all of the books set on Mure and thsi was no exception. Unfortunately it took me a good couple of months to listen to this book because it was just too hard to listen to while I have been so busy at work!

Clean Slate by Zoe Foster Blake (2/5) - I thought I would try this book, which I guess is more of a novella, because it was a short listen. I enjoyed the narrator, Australian actor Stephen Curry, but oh, my goodness, the characters were awful. 

So let's have a look at the stats for 2020 shall we.

I gave four books the maximum rating possible of 5/5. They were 

 The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke  (review)

The Goldminer's Sister by Alison Stuart (review)

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman (review)

The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte (review)

The pleasing thing is that 3 out of these 4 books are by Australian authors. 

One of the ways that things did change for me a lot last year was that I read a lot more e-books than usual. I have had an e-book reader of some description for many years now, but I never really considered it my main format for reading. I was always more a paper reader, with a few e-books thrown in, but not anymore. Now, it seems, I have to make a concerted effort to pick up a paper book.

My ratio of male to female authors was at it's normal lopsided state with 8 books read by male authors. To be honest, when I was looking at my spreadsheet I had to look twice to check if that was right because it seemed kind of high! One of those was my sole non-fiction book for the year which was John Baxter's book, Saint-Germain-des-Pres: Paris's Rebel Quarter, which I read in anticipation of our trip to Paris which never actually happened!

Genre wise,  I stayed very much in my swim lane, with the vast majority of the books I read being either historical fiction, women's fiction or romance, with just occasional forays into other genres. I did have to do a double take when I was looking at my spreadsheet and saw a horror book there, but then realised it was Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, which I actually enjoyed a lot.

Of the 77 books I read, 40 were from new to me authors, which I have to say is surprising!

38 of the books I read were by Australian authors which I am pleased with. Of course, I should diversify as I know that there are a ton of great international authors, both female and male, that I am missing out on but I am also more than happy to support the local industry and authors as much as I possibly can.

Not surprisingly, most of my books were new releases, but there are a few older ones!

I have never been much of a re-reader. This year my re-reads were the first two books in the Poison Study series, Poison Study and Magic Study. I thoroughly enjoyed going back to the world of Ixia and I do intend to read more. I also read the third book, and have had the fourth book sitting on my shelf for at least 10 years so it might be time

This year, I have set my goal for 75 again. I am going to try and stay off Netgalley. I say that despite the fact that this morning I saw a post from Viola Shipman talking about his next book and someone commented that it is available on Netgalley and I was like okay, I need to log on NOW, so let's see how that goes shall we?

In blogging news, I was back with a vengeance this year after not blogging at all in 2019! And I am here to stay! I have to be now that I am hosting Weekend Cooking each week, and also hosting the Historical Fiction Reading challenge! I do have a couple of other ideas brewing, one of which is to do with music so hopefully that will come to fruition shortly.

And what have I learnt today? I need to do a crash course in doing graphs in the latest versions of Excel because I just could not work that out when I was doing this post! That will be my challenge for the coming week!


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