Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings is simply awesome.  A gem of a book, exquisitely constructed and very witty. I may even add this book to my Top 20 (although I haven't yet decided what I would be prepared to remove).

The author blurb will give you a touch of what I mean:

'Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible.  She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned how to write fiction.  She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.'

After each chapter there is a page that deals with growing vegetables – quite why I'm not sure – but the author lets her wit shine through here as well.  Not only were these pages entertaining – they also inspired (or re-inspired) a wish to do a bit of gardening.

As a sample, here is  what she says about growing cabbages:

'Start cabbage seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost, assuming you know when that is.

·         Put them outside a week before you want to put them in the ground, to harden them off and get them excited about the wider world they're about to inhabit.
·         Put them in the ground 2 or 3 weeks before the last spring frost, so they're good and settled before it comes and startles them.
·         Plat 12 to 24 inches apart in rows, depending on size of head desired.  The closer you plant, the smaller the heads.
·         They are many, many ways to prepared cabbage, most of them delicious.  If you think cabbage is smelly, it's because you've been overcooking it.  Cook it for too long and it produces hydrogen sulphide, presumably as a comment on your cooking skills.  Sorry but that's how they roll.'

But all that is just the appetiser, the main course is the story. The author of Be Frank With Me (another good book) is quoted on the cover as saying 'this is my favorite kind of book – hilarious, sad, joyful.  Beautifully written. Fun. I dare you not to enjoy it.'

I couldn't agree more.  Get this book and enjoy all the characters – especially Lilian.

One small postscript – there is a sprinkling of bad language in the book – but I didn't find it at all gratuitous.  There is no x-rated content. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Hope your Tuesday goes well...

Poached Feijoas – a Tuesday rehash for you

Carole's Chatter: Poached Feijoas

Feijoas poached in wine – a real treat!  If you are familiar with feijoas (you might know them as Pineapple Guavas) then you'll know that they have a distinctive and fabulous flavour.

I heated up ¾ cup of sugar, 1 cup of white wine (I used viognier but it could be any white wine), ½ cup of water, juice of ½ a lemon, splosh of vanilla essence and a couple of bay leaves.  I simmered the feijoas cut in half in this mixture for 10 minutes.

Then take the feijoas out and boil the remaining liquid until it is syrupy.

You can serve this just with a little cream – my preference – or you could add some chopped nuts on top!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Did you know that Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day?


This month's quiz is about Geography.  It's a tiny bit harder than usual so apologies if you don't get as many right as usual.

As always, you can check the answers by highlighting the line under the question.  How well did you do?

1             What is the world's longest mountain range?

2             What is the third largest US state after Alaska and Texas?

3             What is a sea containing many islands called?

4             What colour is the Bakerloo line on the London Underground map?

5             What is the capital of Tasmania?

6             Which country has the longest coastline?

7             What is South Africa's largest city?

8             Bali is a mountainous island of which country?

9             Where is the Forbidden City?

10          In which country is the Mekong Delta?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

I like this woman!

One pot lamb chops

Carole's Chatter: One Pot Lamb Chops

This One Pot Lamb Chops concoction was borne out of laziness (and also hating mountains of dishes). 


Lamb chops
Kumara (sweet potato)
Grated cheese
Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper


Heat up your oven to moderate temperature

Oil your casserole dish – make sure it has a lid

Layer up slices of potato, kumara, and onion – salt and pepper each layer as you go.

Put the lamb chops on top.

Pour your stock and sherry over the top.  I had it coming up to just under the chops.  I used a beef stock but any meat or vegetable stock would work.

Half an hour before serving add a layer of sliced yams on top and then 10 minutes before serving your sliced tomatoes and the grated cheese and parmesan.

Cook the last 10 minutes with the lid off.

The vegetables were lovely and tender, the dish was saucy but not too saucy.  And the meat was very tender.

I was very pleased with the outcome of this dish done on the fly.