Tag: Books

Bali and My Holiday Reading Habits

Salamat Datang!  I’m back from two week in Bali and, whilst I have yet to cook anything, I am serious blogging withdrawal so I thought I would give you a brief catch up on the trip.  There were many hours of pool and beachside lazing so I did a LOT of reading.  So, I thought I would do a combined what we did / what I read post and also let you know the…ahem…science behind how I choose my holiday reads!

Stop #1 – Ubud

Our first stop was Ubud in central Bali.  Unlike the rest of Indonesia which is Muslim, the Balinese are largely Buddhists.  They are deeply spiritual and part of their spirituality involves putting out offerings for the Gods each day.  Offerings on the ground ward off evil spirits, offerings above the ground attract the good spirits. Sometimes you will also see an offering with a cookie or a cigarette or a glass of arak in it.  These are the ancestor offerings and contain the respective ancestor’s favourite things! 

Balinese Offerings

They also adorn their statues of the Gods with fresh flowers each day! 

Bali StatuesI did a Balinese cooking class at Ketut’s Place which was awesome!  The class was in an open kitchen overlooking rice paddies and a garden where most of the vegetables we used were grown. Ketut was also a fabulous host, knowledgeable and incredibly funny! I can’t wait to get back into cooking so I can show you some of what I learned!  Incidentally, there are only four names in Bali.  The first child is always called Wayan, the second is Made, the third child is Nyoman and the fourth child is Ketut.  If a family has more than four children, it starts all over again with child #5 being called Wayan.


Bali Cooking SchoolWe did a trip to the Ubud Monkey Forest.  Now these guys take the term cheeky monkey to a whole new level – if it isn’t bolted down, they will steal it – hats, sunglasses, cameras are all fair game!  We sat down for a little rest at one point and the Fussiest Eater in the World had a monkey rifling through his pockets!  Another baby monkey held out what was his prize possession for us to look at – it was a diamond earring.  So brazen!

Monkey Forest 6

Monkey Forest 5Ubud Monkey Forest3

Ubud was lovely, a lovely place to chill out.  The cooking class was amazing and I would recommend that to anyone.  Food highlight was eating at The 3 Monkeys on the Monkey Forest Road.  The downside/s were that it was a little rainy and the villa we stayed in happened to be next to a chicken farm.  I don’t know if you’ve ever lived next to a chicken farm but the roosters start crowing at around 3am and do not STFU.  Afternoon naps became a thing!

Holiday Reading Habit #1 – The Re-Read/s

I have an annual book cull where I get rid of all the books I have read that I didn’t enjoy (so many this year, it has been a really BAD year for reading for me).  Then I  do a sweep of my main bookshelves and pull out anything that I look at and think “Now…what was that about again?” and these go onto a holding shelf where they become the basis for the holiday re-read.  The holiday re-read is ruthless.  It is a case of love it or leave it. Literally.  Leave it in the hotel or ideally, swap it for something better in the hotel book exchange!

I had two re-reads in this years picks and OMFG…if anything could convince you of how varied my reading tastes are, have a look at these. Lets start with:

allmenarebastards.com by Allison Rushby

I read this cover to cover on the plane.  And had time to spare. Which should tell you everything you need to know.  It’s a light, frothy piece of chick lit about a girl who sets up a website called allmenarebastards.com which,  quelle surprise,  goes viral and how she finds true love despite her man hatin’ ways. It made the 6 hour plane trip to Bali go by relatively quickly but the main character really annoyed me.  I also found myself wondering why this had made the re-read shelf and was not dispatched to a better place, i.e. the local charity shop in the first instance.

Verdict: Left it on a jet plane.

The Raw-Shark Texts by Stephen Hall

I bought this when it first came out in 2007 and remember being not entirely taken with it. Obviously not enough to discard it but I remember thinking it was a bit too clever-clever, a little too fond of it’s own high concepts and wordplays (for an example…name the Raw-Shark Texts is a play on words on the Rorschach Tests administered by psychiatrists).  I chose it because about a week before I left I was listening to some old booky podcasts and heard it being reviewed favourably on on Hear…Read This.  This was enough to get me to pull it off the shelf for another go.

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  A man wakes up one morning with no recollection of who he is.  Turns out he is Eric Sanderson v 2.  Through letters from the original Eric Sanderson he learns that he lost the love of his life, Clio in a diving accident in Greece.  Eric and his  cat called Ian embark on a quest to find Dr Trey Fidourus who may hold the clue to Eric’s past.  Eric’s nemesis in this quest is a Ludovician, a gigantic thought shark who, before it kills you, destroys your memories. 

It is a really clever book and I enjoyed reading this a lot more this time and felt that I either understood, or was not as irritated by,  the wordplays and stylistic concepts as I was the first time round.  I also enjoyed the story which is all about the power of words and memory and loss a lot more than I did the first time round.  However, I felt that reading this twice was enough and it did not make the journey home with me. 

It was also quite unnerving lying on a beach and reading about a (thought) shark.  All the more so when I slipped on a rock on Lembongan island and cut my knee open.  The only place to wash it was in the sea and the entire time I kept thinking of how sharks can smell a drop of blood in about a billion parts of water and expected to be attacked any second!

Verdict: Left (somewhat reluctantly) in Sanur.  Standout character – Ian the cat. 

Stop #2 – Legian


Ummm…if my photos are anything to go by I didn’t carpe diem at all in Legian.  It would seem the opposite – all my photos are of night times, bars, cocktails, restaurants…and the Fussiest Eater in the World getting up close and personal at a drag show!  It was much busier than Ubud with better weather and thankfully no roosters!  In amongst all the tourist tat there here is some good shopping to be had in in Legian and it’s neighbour Seminyak.  I bought two lovely leather handbags for a fraction of the cost back home.  If you do want the tourist stuff, be prepared to barter hard. 

Legian cocktailsLegian Drag Show2

Holiday Reading Habit #2 – Personal Development

I like to use our winter holiday as a time of reflection and planning for the “year” ahead.  My birthday is mid August so I tend to set my annual goals each year to start from September.  Our winter break is a great time for reflection  on the year gone by and what to aim for in the coming 12 months.  To that end, I like to get a bit of my personal development reading in during this time.  This is also my time to plan for the blog and I had a super ( at least I think so) idea for a new segment.  Stay tuned for that. 

This year I read:

Radical Self Love by Gala Darling

I think I would have loved this book had I read it in my 20’s when I totally lacked confidence in myself. Having someone say that it is ok to be yourself, however offbeat or oddball that self if would have been very empowering.  Now, that I am an old curmudgeon, I didn’t find anything in here that I hadn’t heard before.  Having said that, I think there are times we could all use a little boost and I think this will be a book I turn back to in those times to get some motivation or see myself out of a low patch.  And having said THAT, I found her talk of tapping as a way to relieve everything from eating disorders to childhood traumas to be way too out there for me.  Does anyone do this? I had not even heard of it before reading this and it sounds highly spurious. Please correct me if I am wrong!

Verdict: A real pick and mix.  Some parts I will definitely refer back to, some parts (the tapping) were not for me.

Let it Out by Katie Dalebout

I used to be a frequent listener to Katie’s podcast, The Wellness Wonderland but I gave it up because it got a bit too woo-woo for me.  There is a bit of that in Let it Out but I feel that the great journalling tips contained in here far outweigh the flakiness quotient.  I have not finished this yet but, as a sporadic journaller who wants to be a regular journaller, this contains some great ideas!

Verdict: Definite keeper!

Stop #3 – Sanur

On the way to the beach resort of Sanur we drove to Tanah Lot, one of Bali’s most beautiful temples:

Tanah LotAnd we did a day trip to Lembongan Island…tropical paradise! 

(Except for when you fall over over and  cut your knee on a rock so are a bit too scared to swim in case a shark gets you!)

Lembongan Island


Holiday Reading Habit #3 – The One You’ve Been Wanting To Read for Ages

I took The Goldfinch with me.  Did not even open it.  Very disappointed with myself as that is a big and heavy book to be carrying around for no reason!


Holiday Reading Habit #4 – The Book Set in the Place You are At

Epic fail.  Did not even think of a book set in Bali to read.  BUT had an awesome idea for a book set in Bali to write.  Then again I was rather cocktail fuelled at the time.  Lets see.  If it’s still burbling away in there by NANOWRIMO, maybe I’ll have a crack at writing it!

Holiday Reading Habit #5 – The Total Surprise

This is usually something I pick up on my travels but this time was something I had with me. 

I finished Gala  Darling by the pool and could not be bothered to walk back to the hotel room to get The Goldfinch.  And here’s my Gala Darlingesque tip for the young and impressionable.  ALWAYS walk back to the hotel room to get the book you really want to read.  Because otherwise you will flick on your Kindle to something like The Good Girl which you have already started and didn’t particularly enjoy but hey, its there and there’s no point in starting anything new when you have The Goldfinch waiting in your hotel room. 

Maybe I have read too many of the Gone Girlesque books that have come onto the market since the original but this story of a kidnapping did not grab me at all. 

Verdict: Should have walked back to the hotel room to pick up The Goldfinch

However, I read it here so life was not all bad!

Sannur Beach 3 Sanur Resort SanurBeachResort2

Back soon with some cooking!

And tell me how do you choose your holiday reads?

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Adam’s Big Pot and Some Golden Rings of Aussie Deliciousness!

“I hope somewhere in this book there is a dish or two that you choose to serve to your family.  Something that gets asked for again and again, and each time you make it, it becomes a little more your own.  Then one day, years from now, when the people you cooked for have left and live their lives and come back to visit, you make that meal for them again.  And that’s what makes them feel like they’re home”

Adam Liaw, Adam’s Big Pot

Okay.  Now that there’s not a dry eye in the house we’ll talk Tasty Reads. 


Golden Rings - Salt & Pepper SquidOur latest theme has been Asian food and I kind of lucked out in that I already owned one of of the book choices, the absolute classic Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook.  But ‘s that’s not what we’re going to talk about today.  Because, on high recommendation, I bought Adam’s Big Pot.

For those of you who have not heard of him, Adam Liaw was the winner or runner up or something in Master Chef a few years ago.  But you don’t need to know that.  What you do need to know is that apart from his annoying man-bun, Adam Liaw is immensely likeable. 

I on the other hand am not intensely likeable, in fact I am a contrarian at best and part of my reason for choosing this book was to take it down,  It was SO highly recommended I thought there was no way it could live up to the expectations that had been set. 

I stand corrected. 

This book is AWESOME.  

I have not been so excited about a Tasty Reads book since Persiana  – only 17 recipes to go after I totally botched the baklava on the weekend.  But we’re not here to talk about my cooking disasters.

OK, fine, seeing as you insist.  I overcooked the sugar syrup so when I poured it over the pastry it set like toffee so the top of the baklava is tooth breakingly hard and the bottom is, to use some Australian vernacular, as dry as a dead dingo’s donger.  My fault entirely, because after cooking the syrup for the requisite amount of time I thought it looked too watery.  And because having made Baklava precisely…let me see…never before, I considered myself a bit smarter than the recipe.  (Sigh, eyeroll, face palm).

But lets not focus on the bad, let’s talk about why I am excited by this book!

Adam’s Big Pot – Highlights

  • This is a very good primer in Asian food, lots of counties are represented – Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, India.  A great variety without being too daunting.
  • There are lots of super photos
  • Adam’s descriptions of each recipe are great
  • He’s not too prissy – he offers lots of alternatives – eg if you don’t have a master stock handy, use chicken.
  • His tips are great
  • The book is beautifully presented
  • The meals are quick, easy and approachable
  • Cooking from this book is like cooking with an old friend.  He’s just so damn likeable!
  • The food is super delicious.  I have only made one thing I didn’t like (see Dishes Made below).

Adam’s Big Pot – Weaknesses

I feel like I’m being super picky here but you know, just so you know this isn’t paid for by Adam or anything (ha!  I wish!). 

  • If you were utterly unfamiliar with Asian cooking and you wanted to try a lot of the recipes in here you may have to buy a lot of ingredients that you may not use again if you did not love the dish and / or they may make you break out into hives (see below).
  • I think the Bits and Pieces section which is the very first in the book and contains the recipes for the curry pastes, the stocks and all the other base ingredients would have been better placed at the end of the book. 
  • No bread!  No roti, chapati, naan or paratha! I would have LOVED at least one bread recipe in here!

Adam’s Big Pot – What I’ve Cooked

Carrot and Cumber Som Tam. 

So good.  This is Adam’s version of my favourite, green papaya salad.  Lovely, fragrant, spicy, fresh. 

Adam's Big Pot - Som Tam (2)Tuna Takaki Salad.

Just divine!

Adam's Big Pot - Tuna Tataki SaladTuna, Corn And Avocado Salad

This is on high lunch rotation!  I have made it pretty much every week since finding this recipe.  The recipe calls for raw corn, I have used tinned and leftover grilled corn.  All super.

Adam's Big Pot - Tuna SaladChicken and Cashew Nuts

Something in this recipe made me break out into a horrible rash and massive hives.  I suspect it was the dark soy sauce because it was the only thing I have not used before.  This probably says more about the excitability of my skin than a real flaw with the recipe because the fussiest eater in the world was perfectly fine.  He had seconds and took it to work the next day. 

Adam's Big Pot - Chicken & CashewsTandoori Chicken

Starting with homemade tandoori paste!  I was RIDICULOUSLY proud of myself for making this. Who makes their own tandoori paste?  Isn’t that  what supermarkets are for?  But it was so easy to do.  I will never buy it again!  And you know, seeing as I am Ms Allergic to the World, the more things I can control in my diet the better!

Adam's Big Pot - Tandoori PasteAnd then the chicken:

Adam's Big Pot - Tandoori ChickenSalt and Pepper Squid

I love squid.  The Fussiest Eater in the World will, however, not touch it with a ten foot barge pole. So, I quite often make it for one.  Adam’s recipe is so quick to cook, it is a great after work meal for one or many! It’s also why I bought rings instead of tubes – easier to control portions.  Although there do seem to be quite a lot of rings in the pictures…I really like it.

I also had absolutely no idea that Salt and Pepper Squid was not a thing everywhere. 

Adam says

“You could argue that salt and pepper squid is Australia’s national dish.  It’s universally loved and you can buy it in just about any pub, Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese restaurant or Italian café around the country.  On top of that, it’s not commonly found in any other country.  It’s a truly homegrown favourite”

So, here it is rest of the world.  What are you waiting for? Make this tonight.  And thank me later! 

Salt and Pepper Squid

Salt & Pepper Squid
A super quick, easy and delicious dish from Adam's Big Pot.
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  1. 2 litres peanut oil for deep frying
  2. 500g squid tubes, cleaned (or rings)
  3. 3 tbsp rice flour or cornflour (cornstarch)
  4. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  5. 1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced
  6. 2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  7. 1 tsp salt flakes
  8. 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  9. Coriander leave, lemon wedges and aioli to serve
  1. Heat the oil to 200C in a wok or large saucepan.
  2. Cut down one side of the squid tubes and open them flat. Lightly score the surface in a cross -hatch pattern, cut into bite sized triangles and toss in the flour.
  3. Shake off excess flour an deep fry the squid din batches ffpr about a minute per batch or until just cooked and lightly golden.
  4. Drain well.
  5. Remove the oil, leaving about a tbsp in the wok. Heat the wok over medium heat and add the garlic, chilli and spring onion.
  6. Toss in the wok for about a minute, or until the ingredients are lightly browned.
  7. Add the squid and toss constantly scattering with the salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the squid from the wok, scatter with coriander leaves and serve with lemon wedges and aioli.
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Now that you have seen some of the contents with this book, maybe you can help me to make a decision on what to cook for our book club meeting next week. 

I have some of the tandoori paste left so it would be sensible to make the tandoori chicken again.  And the naan and the rojak I made from the Charmaine book when I made the tandoori chicken were super and the flavours went really well together.

However, with so many other delicious recipes still left to cook, including:

  • Prawn and Grapefruit Salad
  • Tom Yum Fried Rice
  • Kuku Paka which is an African chicken curry
  • Whiting With Nori Butter
  • Tiger Skinned Chicken
  • Baked Thai Fish Cakes
  • Canonigo which is a Filipino desert made from meringue, orange custard and caramel

It’s a pretty hard decision to make. So what do I do?  Go for the tried and tested or branch out with something new?

Oh and seeing as I’m asking questions, do you cook asian at home?  What is your Asian favourite cuisine?  What is your favourite Asian recipe?  You know I’m nosy and love to know your business so please leave comments!

Anyhoo, I’ve loved cooking from this book and I’m awarding it Five Golden Rings of Squiddy Delciousness!

Let’s see if the rest of the Tasty Reads  team agrees!

Have a great week!

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History Happy Hour – April 15, 1912 – Punch Romaine

“Everyone knows what rockets at sea mean,” said the portly Boston Harbor pilot.

“They mean distress…It means, please come to me because I am  in trouble.  Simple as that.”

“But you see, that’s just my problem. If it is that simple, I’m trying to understand why the ship that The Titanic saw did not come….Is there any reason why the captain would not go to the aid of the distressed ship?”

“No, if he saw them, he must go.  It’s the oldest tradition of the sea.”

The Californian was the closest ship to The Titanic on the night it sank, possibly only 8 miles away.  It was close enough for crew members to see the lights on the sinking ship and the eight distress rockets sent up by The Titanic.  They alerted the Captain.  And, yet, they did not go to help.

This is the story of The Midnight Watch.

Punch Romaine2

The Midnight Watch is a super read. I loved it and I’m sure it is going to rank high in my books of the year. Even though, it is also soooooo frustrating.  Right from the start you know that The Californian did not go to help The Titanic.  And of course, you want to know why.  And at times you want to reach into the book and shake one of the people and yell “Why?  Why didn’t you do something?” WHY?”   Or, as one of the reporters in the book says to Captain Lord of The Californian

“If you’re the only one who can speak, then you must speak more!”

First Class Food on the Titanic
Chocolate Eclairs were served to the First Class Passengers on The Titanic.

The writing is beautiful.  From tales of heroism and gallantry to cowardice and inaction, The Midnight Watch covers the best and worst of human behaviour both in the face of, and following momentous events:

“Because by now we knew the numbers.  Fifty-eight first-class men has found their way into the lifeboats but fifty-three third-class children had not.  It was an almost perfect correlation.  For almost every rich man who lived a poor child had died”

American IceCream
American Ice Cream was on the menu for Second Class Passengers on The Titanic. Passengers in First Class were served French Ice Cream

“What Franklin (Head of The White Star Line) thought of the Captain I couldn’t know, but I did know that if he, Franklin, had been accused of abandoning so many people, the weight of shame would have broken him.  And yet, Lord’s head was upright, he seemed to bear no weight at all”

So, so good.  The Midnight Watch not only brought the story of The Californian but the entire period  to life.  This is the kind of historical fiction that I love; writing that truly transports you to another time and place.  Oh and, if you wiki Captain Lord, he looks EXACTLY how I imagined he would!  

When I read I  see the words as a movie in my head and I think that this would make a fabulous film.  The journalist searching for justice, the proud, flinty Captain; the second officer torn between loyalty and a desire to tell the truth.  It would be amazing. 

Titanic Third Class Food
Third Class passengers on The Titanic were fed hearty, no frills fare. Fresh bread and butter, cold meat, cheese and pickles were part of their menu.

I was initially disappointed with the “answer”  posited by David Dunn as to why Lord and The Californian did not go to the aid of The Titanic.  Although perfectly plausible, It felt to me like an anti-climax; such a little reason for such an appalling consequence.  But then I realised – pretty much any answer would have been disappointing.  Because the only acceptable answer to the question of “Why didn’t you save the 1500 people who died that night?”  would have been “Because we were too busy saving 1501 people elsewhere”.  

Nonetheless a totally brilliant read.

Punch Romaine3Punch Romaine was served To First Class passengers on The Titanic as a palate cleanser between the first and second courses on the fateful night of April 14th.  It is a white wine, rum and champagne cocktail served over…wait for it…. a mound of crushed ice.  Which is surely worth it’s own line in Alanis Morisette’s Ironic.  Don’tcha think?  

On a total tangent, Romaine was one of the names my parents had picked out for me before I was born.  Can you imagine a more foodie name than Romaine Fryer?  Then again, Taryn was bad enough growing up, can you imagine going through life with the same name as a lettuce?

You know what else is a lettuce? 


Which brings us back to…..doh, oh, oh, oh….or Punch Romaine. 

Punch Romaine

Punch Romaine
Yields 1
A white wine, rum and champagne cocktail that was served to First Class Passengers on the Titanic on the night it sank.
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  1. 1 egg white
  2. 1 oz. white rum
  3. 1 oz. white wine
  4. 1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
  5. 1⁄2 oz. lemon juice
  6. 1 oz. fresh orange juice
  7. 2 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
  8. Twist of orange peel, for garnish
  1. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine egg white, rum, wine, simple syrup, lemon and orange juice.
  2. Shake vigorously until well mixed and frothy.
  3. Mound crushed ice in a large coupe glass, and pour drink around it.
  4. Top with champagne, and garnish with orange peel.
  5. Enjoy
Adapted from http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Punch-Romaine-Cocktail
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Have a wonderful week!

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The Black-Eyed Susan

“I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories. 

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. 

The lucky one”

Black Eyed Susan 1

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin is the story of Tessa Cartwright.  As a teenager, she was abducted and left for dead in a field of Black-Eyed Susan flowers along with other dead and dying girls. They become collectively known as the Black-Eyed Susans.  Tessa is the only survivor.

Now, in her thirties, the man accused of the crime, the man whom Tessa’s testimony helped put away is facing death row.  And Tessa is having doubts about his guilt.  And if he’s innocent, then the real killer is still out there….

Black Eyed Susan 2
I came to this book in two ways. 

It was one of the selections we had for our Crime /Thriller month in bookclub along with Maestra (the one we chose), The Method (which I am currently reading) and The Ex (which I just bought as I noticed it was super cheap as I was getting the link).

Then, the  very next day after we had made our choice,  Heather who writes the blog Meta’s Meals wrote a very positive review of Black-Eyed Susans on Goodreads and I promptly decided that it was going to the top of my reading list!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Black Eyed Susan’s. It was very suspenseful and the plot was original which is a really hard thing to do in crime fiction. I only hope Maestra which is our book club choice is half as good.  Mind you, last year we chose Girl on The Train which…urrggghhhh…I cannot even tell you how much I hated that book. 

But this one’s good.  And it has a gorgeous cover!

Black -Eyed Susans

Whilst reading The Black-Eyed Susans, I discovered that there is a cocktail called the Black-Eyed Susan.  It is the official drink of the Preakness Stakes Horse race which is run in Baltimore each year as the winning horse is draped in a blanket made of these flowers. 

This was delicious.  I love pineapple juice and St Germain in cocktails so there was no way I wasn’t going to like this.  The lime juice gave it a nice little kick of tanginess too!

The Black-Eyed Susan also got the thumbs up from resident bon vivant F Scott. 

Black Eyed Susan 3Oh, and before anyone complains, I know the flowers I have used in my photos are not Black-Eyed Susans.  I am not even sure if they grow here, or, if they did when they would flower.  Anyhoo, the gerberas were the closest (only) thing my local florist had that came close!

Here’s the recipe.  Why not make one and have a sip whilst reading the book!

Black Eyed Susan
A delicious refreshing pineapple and citrus cocktail with a hint of Elderflower.
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  1. 45ml Vodka (The Preakness recommend Finlandia)
  2. 15ml St Germain
  3. 60ml pineapple juice
  4. 7.5 ml lime juice
  5. 22.5ml orange juice
To Garnish
  1. Orange Slice
  2. Amarena cherry
  1. Combine all the drink ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake, baby, shake.
  3. Pour over ice into a Collins glass
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and an Amarena cherry
  1. I used Amarena cherries for this because their darker colour looked more like a black eye than a Maraschino.
Adapted from www.preakness.com
Adapted from www.preakness.com
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Thank you Heather for the recommendation.  If anyone else would  like super book recommendations from Heather, why not follow her, or me on Goodreads!

Have a wonderful Easter!

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Dishiest Dish – Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts

It’s been a while since we have had a dishiest dish – I thought it was timely that we had  look at some I had cooked successfully!  I made these Apricot and Rhubarb Frangipane Tarts over the break.  They were pretty easy to make and tasted delicious!

Rhubarb and Apricot Frangipane TartsAnd who says you can’t play with your food?  These are perfect for a little game of tic-tac-toe!

Or you can give them to people you like as little kisses and hugs.  Valentine’s day’s a-coming.  Why give someone flowers when you can give them some delicious almondy fruity deliciousness?

Who doesn’t love

  • Crisp buttery pastry – no soggy bottoms here!
  • A lovely sweet almond filling
  • The apricots and rhubarb, both of which have a natural tanginess help to make the tarts not too cloying or heavy. 
  • An amaretto and apricot glaze

Never mind saying it with flowers.  Proclaim your love with pastry!

Rhubarb and Apricot Frangipane Tarts2

My Six Week Challenges

This year, instead of setting a series of resolutions, I was inspired by my friend Ali to try a series of smaller challenges over the course of the year.  I started mid-January with 6 weeks of no alcohol.  The start of February sees me trying to build a meditation practice!  I am aiming for 42 days straight of meditation.  I haven’t figured out what I will pick up in mid-Feb but that’s half the fun – deciding what to do next!  Hopefully some things I will stick with and some things I may do another six weeks later in the year! 


I have been on a reading binge –  I have had a real spurt of books I have  enjoyed.

Disclaimer by Renée Knight

Imagine if you started reading a book that had mysteriously appeared in your house only to find out the book was about you.  Specifically about you and an incident from your past which you have kept hidden from everyone – and the only other person who knew about it is a long time dead….

I would give this one a 7/10.  The plot required a hefty suspension of belief on a couple of major points but all up, a fast paced enjoyable read.

All These Perfect Strangers – Aiofe Clifford

I loved this.  But I am a big fan of the mystery set in academia.  The Secret History is one of my favorite books and there are some similar themes here.  This is not released until March – I was given a free copy for review but it is certainly one I can heartily recommend. 

Funnily enough, the book in Disclaimer was called The Perfect Stranger.  It was a really weird but totally cool coincidence!


The Grown Up – Gillian Flynn

This short story (it’s just over 6O pages on my Kindle) has more twists and turns than a spiral staircase.  I loved it.  And you can read it from start to finish in about an hour!



Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

Another outsider goes to posh school – mayhem ensues book.  I did tell you I had a thing for them.  Do not read this if you are one of those (annoying) people who has to like the main character in a book.  Tifani/Ani in Luckiest Girl Alive is awful!  She’s shallow and self obsessed, snarky and mean.  I am about three quarters of the way through this and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I hope the end is not a let down.


I just noticed three out of the four of them mention Gone Girl. And have black, white and yellow covers. I’m sensing a zeitgeist. 


Come Dine With Me

I started watching old episodes of the British Come Dine with Me on the telly over the break and am now utterly obsessed with it.  I soon exhausted all the episodes available and am now mainlining episodes on You Tube.

The  best part is the narrator.  He is hilarious.

Oh and there was a series of episodes with my girl-crush Sabrina Ghayour of Persiana fame.



Another British show. This is like a reverse Family Feud where people try to guess the least popular answers to a question, the goal being trying to get an answer that whilst correct, no one in the studio audience chose.  It would be a fairly run of the mill quiz show if not for the hosts – host and co host who are just delightful.  Charming, witty.  Smart.  I could watch the two of them banter all day!

The XFiles

So excited about this.  We were a week behind the States so are only two episodes in.  And it’s been great.  Even though I have been watching the classic episodes, when I heard that theme music and saw that they had kept the old intro I got almost a little teary….

Other Stuff


And speaking of getting a little teary, I went to see Nigella Lawson in conversation.  She was brilliant.  There a not many people for whom I would stand in line for and hour and a half just to get a book signed by she was worth every minute.

NigellaNigella2Now, how about a recipe for these babies?

Frangipane Tarts3


This week I am looking forward to cooking:

  • Chicken, Feta and Zucchini Meatballs from my latest Tasty Reads Choice, Life in Balance by Donna Hay.  We have our meeting in a few weeks and I feel I have not done this book justice.  Time to get cracking!
  • A Biscotten Torte from the A-Z of Cooking
  • Tomato, Peach, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Salad.  I am the only person in my family who likes fruit mixed in with salads that are not fruit salads.  Does that make me weird?  Or them?

Time to share.  What are you enjoying reading / watching / doing?

What was the best thing you cooked this week?

Whats top of your list to cook next?

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2;

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