Saturday, December 15, 2018

Paul Hollywood's Soda Bread

I bought this book after I started watching The Great British Bakeoff. This is the first thing I've made from it. I went online and got the US equivalents for the British measurements.

Soda Bread 

500g (2 1/2 cups) plain white flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (what we call baking soda)

1 tsp salt

400 ml (13.5 oz) buttermilk


I didn't have quite enough buttermilk so I used some regular milk.

1. Heat (we would say preheat) your oven to 200º C (395º F) and line a baking tray (cookie sheet) with baking parchment (we say parchment paper) or silicone paper. I used parchment.

2. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, then stir in the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it quickly into a ball. Flatten the ball a little with your hand.

3. Put the dough on the baking tray. Mark it into quarters, cutting deeply through the bread, almost but not quite through to the base. Dust with a little flour.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through - it should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave it to cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten within a day of baking. It freezes well.



It looks pretty darn good! But I could hear Paul telling me I could have baked it just a wee bit longer. Though the picture below is blurry, you might be able to see it is a touch underdone. 


Also, instead of an all-purpose flour, which I think is the equivalent to what the British call "plain", I used what I've learned from GBBO, is "strong flour."  


I guess I just assumed this would be right. Next time I might try the all-purpose, or part all-purpose. Also, he says you can use half wholemeal (whole wheat) which I will definitely do next time, though I wanted to make it his way the first time. And yes, I will make it again. It was so quick and easy and really delicious, even if it could have used maybe 5 minutes more in the oven.

You may visit Beth Fish Reads for more food related posts.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Today's picture/An update on the crèche picture from two days ago

This is what I found after Hazel went home today. She brought every figure in - the Wise Men, the shepherds, and all the animals so that they are all close to and gazing at the Child in a manger. It made me cry. "Through the eyes of a child" indeed.



Thursday, December 13, 2018

November books

Finally, I'm caught up! I just got it into my head that I had better do this now. 2018 is slip, slip, slipping away! As with all these posts, read from bottom to top. Sorry for confusion. This was just the easiest way for me to list them.

November - 8

57. Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry - book 2 in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1966
Kindle
reread
finished 11/27/18
American writer/American setting

56. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - book 1 in the Rabbi Small series
by Harry Kemelman
mystery 1964
Kindle
reread
finished 11/22/18
American writer/American setting

I read the Rabbi Small books years and years ago. I listened to them on Recorded Books tapes. I learned so much about what it means to be Jewish. The rabbi is great friends with the local policeman, who is Roman Catholic. He solves crimes through logic and the Talmud. Fascinating. I'm quite sure that nothing has ever been written like these books. They are informative, interesting, and just plain fun to read. This is one of my favorite mystery series.

55. Still Life with Bread Crumbs
by Anna Quinden
fiction 2014
Kindle
library book
finished 11/19/18
American writer/American setting

And I loved this one, too. Very different story, but it was just terrific. How do writers come up with ideas like this? Or any other fictional books. It is a miracle to me that one could invent a whole world, peopled with interesting souls.

55. Miller's Valley
by Anna Quindlen
fiction 2016
Kindle
library book
finished 11/17/18
American writer/American setting


I haven't ever read any of Anna Quindlen's fiction before. I've sometimes caught a word or two about the books, and the subject matter just didn't appeal, but I knew when I first heard about this book that I would like it, and I more than liked it. I thought it was a great book. I don't want to say much about it because it is nice to discover a story on your own. The time period was about the same as my growing up, so there was a lot of familiarity, but even if you are older or younger, it is still such a good, good story.

54. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
An Introvert's Story
by Debbie Tung
nonfiction graphic novel 2017
finished 11/16/18
English writer/English setting

Along with the Garrood book below, this was my favorite of the year. I thought the drawings were fantastic, her story so interesting. It was just perfect. I am definitely an introvert, which I knew already, but this book pointed out new facets and I just nodded my head. I am so fond of this author who I don't even know.

53. Night Blind - book 2 in the Dark Iceland series
by Ragnar Jonasson
crime fiction 2015
print
finished 11/13/18
Icelandic writer/Icelandic setting

I so liked the first book, and couldn't wait to read this one. In it we have gone ahead five years. The third book goes back to just after the first book. Interesting way to do it. I heard that the author was supposed to be at the Malice Domestic conference, which shows that, as I noted before, this is not noir. The head of the police is shot dead, which so upsets the balance of this small town in Iceland. I really enjoy this series.

52. The Conqueror Inn - book 18 in the Bobby Owen series
by E.R. Punshon
mystery 1943
Kindle
finished 11/12/18
English writer/English setting

Time for some more Punshon, I thought. I love these Bobby Owen books. Always interesting.

51. Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles
by Frances Garrood
fiction 2018
Kindle
finished 11/1/18
English writer/English setting

If pressed, I might say this is my favorite book of the year. It is everything I love in a book. Warmth, country living, people who care about each other, characters who are individuals. I heard about it hereI could hardly wait to begin and I enjoyed every minute of the book.

October books

October was a gem of a reading month. I read and read and read.

October - 9

50. The Book of Stillmeadow
by Gladys Taber
nonfiction 1948
print
finished 10/28/18 (read monthly over the year)
American writer/American setting

As you know, this was a year long book which I finished in October. Wonderful Gladys.

49. A Front Page Affair - book 1 in the Kitty Weeks Mystery series
by Radha Vatsal
mystery 2016
Kindle
library book
finished 10/27/18 (another 3 day book)
Indian born writer - lives in the US/American setting

I really liked this book set in the early years of the twentieth century. I didn't think I was a big historical fiction fan, but I was wrong. I've read so many this year, and loved them all. Kitty Weeks writes for a newspaper, and longs to report on the more serious stories, which of course happens! Looking forward to reading the next one.

48. Rogue Lawyer
by John Grisham
fiction 2015
Kindle
library book
finished 10/24/18 (a three day book)
American writer/American setting

I am a big Grisham fan! I recently went searching on my state's downloadable books site and found lots of his books. I plan of reading them all over time. He tells a good story, the pace is good, the characters are good. What's not to like. Oh, and I like the author. I've heard several interviews, and he just seems like a really nice person. Rogue Lawyer is very good!

47. Even If the Sky Falls Down
by Susan Jackson Bybee
fiction 2015
Kindle
finished 10/21/18
American writer/South Korea setting

Years ago, I used to read Susan Bybee's blog. I believe she was teaching in South Korea, a place dear to my heart because my children were born there. I had lost track of the blog over time but was aware she had written a book. I finally bought it for my Kindle, and truly enjoyed it. An important part of the book is the history of the older Korean characters who talk about the wartime. These reports are very moving, and give the reader a good sense of that time, and the country itself. Wonderful book. I did find her new-name blog and it is here.

46. The Music Shop: A Novel
by Rachel Joyce
fiction 2017
Kindle
library book
finished 10/15/18 (another two day book!)
English writer/English setting

Such a wonderful book. I loved it to pieces. It reminds me a tiny bit of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity in the sense of the importance of music. Good people, these characters. I wish I knew them in real life.

45. The Death of Mr Lomas - book 1 in the Inspector Knollis series
bu Francis Vivian
mystery 1941
Kindle
finished 10/13/18
English writer/English setting

Another new author for me, and I liked this book so much. I've bought the second one, too. Exciting for me to have found lots of new writers this year!

44. The Word is Murder: A Novel - book 1 in the Detective Daniel Hawthorne
by Anthony Horowitz
mystery 2017
Kindle
library book
finished 10/9/18 (two days!)
English writer/English setting

I just loved this book! I could hardly put it down. A unique and fascinating idea - he is a character in his own novel! I don't want to say anything about the story, except read it!

43. Death in Dark Glasses - book 17 in the Thomas Littlejohn series
by George Bellairs
mystery 1952
Kindle
finished 10/2/18
English writer/English setting

More Bellairs!! Great book.

42. No More Words 
A Journal of My Mother,
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
by Reeve Lindbergh
nonfiction 2001
print
reread
finished 10/1/18
American writer/American setting

This is an exceptional book on many levels. It is about the last years of Reeve's mother's, the author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, life. It is frank and honest. She began writing a diary after her mother came to live in a little house built for her on Reeve's farm. She had had a stroke and couldn't live alone or travel back and forth from Connecticut to Vermont anymore. Anne had exceptional caregivers, Buddhists who were compassionate and so very helpful. I wonder if I were in Reeve's position if I would have dared to write some of the things she did- thoughts we all have when a parent dies a lingering, long death. But she did because she knew it would help others who were going through it. That need to have your mother be herself again - caring about you, her child, rather than you having to care for her. Reeve is eloquent in her plain speaking. This is a beautiful book, and if you haven't read it, please do give it a try, and really every book Reeve Lindbergh has written. She is just so, so good.

September books

September - 3

41. The Murder of a Quack - book 4 in the Thomas Littlejohn series
by George Bellairs
mystery 1943
Kindle
finished 9/22/18
English writer/English setting

40. The Dead Shall Be Raised aka Murder Will Speak - book 3 in the Thomas Littlejohn series
by George Bellairs
mystery 1942
Kindle
finished 9/11/18
English writer/English setting

When I discover a new-to-me author, like Mr. Bellairs, I wonder how many others there are that I've never heard of. I am so delighted with almost every one I've read over the past several years. We readers are lucky, lucky that there is so much choice in our world! I am looking forward to both of Martin Edwards' books about some of these gems from the past, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books and The Golden Age of Murder. I'm sure I will meet many more writers I've never heard of.

39. Fatal Finds in Nuala - book 4 in the Inspector de Silva
by Harriet Steel
mystery 2018
Kindle
finished 9/3/18
English writer/Sri Lanka setting (Ceylon in the story)

Every book is good in this series, and I've just bought the new one, a Christmas book!

August books

Please don't feel you need to comment on these book posts. My notes are short and sweet without giving you much information. If any book piques your interest, you could look it up on Goodreads.

August - 5

38. Murder in an English Village - book 1 in the Beryl and Edwina mystery series
by Jessica Ellicott
mystery 2017
Kindle
library book
finished 8/30/18
American writer/English setting

A new mystery series set in post World War 1. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to the second in the series! One of the women is an American adventuress and the other an English lady. They knew each other at school, and now circumstances have brought them together. I just loved the characters.

37. Death Sends for the Doctor - book 27 in the Thomas Littlejohn series 
by George Bellairs
mystery 1957
Kindle
finished 8/23/18
English writer/English setting

It didn't seem to matter that I began this terrific series at book 27. I so enjoy Chief Inspector Littlejohn, and have read a few others. I really can't get enough of these old mysteries.

36. Moving To The Country
by Reeve Lindbergh Brown
Reread
fiction 1983
print
finished 8/22/18
American writer/American setting


I read this book many years ago, and after seeing Reeve at my local library, I decided to find a used copy and buy it. I had told her while she signed my copy of her new one,Two Lives how much I liked her first novel. She seemed happy I had mentioned it and said it had been a while since she had read it. I liked it a lot. It is very true to the time period, and I expect a lot of it is based on her own life.

35. At Seventy
A Journal
by May Sarton
nonfiction 1984
print
finished 8/8/18
American writer/American setting

I had a reading scheme this year to read along with May as she went through the year following her 70th birthday. I tried, but it just didn't work. I ended up reading it all at one time, though I did write about the first month here. I so enjoyed this book, and after reading a part where a little movie was made of her, I went searching and bought a copy. It was wonderful to see her!

34. Dead Cold Brew - book 16 in the Coffeehouse mysteries series
by Cleo Coyle
mystery 2017
Kindle
finished 8/8/18
American writer(s)/American setting

I do so love this series. I have written many book reports about various books over the years. Even after all these books, I find the characters and stories as interesting and gripping as ever. There is a warmth to the series that one doesn't always find in mysteries. The reader really knows the characters and cares for them. Just lovely.

July books

Honestly, couldn't I have found a few minutes each month to write about that month's books, instead of zooming through like this in between making bread and doing desk work, and last night in between episodes of the new GBBO!

July - 6

33. Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek - book three in the Samuel Craddock series
by Terry Shames
mystery 2014
Kindle
library book
finished 7/31/18
American writer/American setting

32. The Last Death of Jack Harbin - book two in the Samuel Craddock series
by Terry Shames
mystery 2014
Kindle 
library book
finished 7/24/18
American writer/American setting

31. A Killing at Cotton Hill - book one in the Samuel Craddock series
by Terry Shames
mystery 2013
Kindle
library book
finished 7/19/18
American writer/American setting

Boy, did I ever love this book, and the others I've read so far in the series. Samuel is an ex-policeman in Texas who keeps some cows and goes to visit them each day. He loves where he lives, and truly cares about the townspeople. They care for him as well, and often call on him for help instead of the often-drunk or hungover new chief of police. Here is a little video of the author (try and ignore the music!).



30. Murder at the Brightwell - book one in the Amory Ames series
by Ashley Weaver
mystery 2014
Kindle
finished 7/13/18
American writer/English setting

What a great and promising beginning of a series! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the setting, the time period, and fully intend to go on and on reading the adventures of Amory Ames, a really delightful character. This is another series written now and set in the 1930s, a time period I enjoy spending time in.

29. Heart Spring Mountain
by Robin MacArthur
fiction 2018
print
finished 7/6/18
American writer/American setting

Not only did I really, really like this book, but I will always remember it as the heat spell book I read sitting in the living room in front of a fan for hours! I've written about Robin MacArthur's book of short stories here, and her first novel is equally good. She has an amazing eye for the realities of life that aren't always visible in rural Vermont (or any other rural area of this country, I would guess). This is a wonderful book, and she is a terrific author. I can't praise her enough, and Heart Spring Mountain really deserves a long post of its own.

28. Nigel
My family and other dogs
by Monty Don
nonfiction 2016
print
finished 7/1/18
English writer/English setting

This is the year that Monty Don has come into our lives. Britbox began offering the English television program Gardeners' World. It is one of the best shows I've ever seen. Monty Don is the warm, calm, reassuring, enthusiastic, humble host. I bought two of his books, follow him on Instagram, and am also watching some other shows he has done via Netflix. Wonderful how we can get these programs over here now! Nigel is his aging Golden Retriever. He and a younger Golden, Nell are the real stars of Gardeners' World. Don writes about the other dogs in his life, telling him a bit about his own life in the bargain. Really wonderful. I loved it.

June books

June - 5

27. Claws for Alarm - book 8 in the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series
by Karen MacInerney
mystery 2018
Kindle
finished 6/23/18
American writer/American setting

Another good installment in a favorite series. Always great recipes are offered, as the main character runs an inn on a Maine island.

26. Offstage in Nuala - book 3 in the Inspector de Silva series
by Harriet Steel
mystery 2017
Kindle
finished 6/16/18
English writer/Sri Lanka setting (Ceylon in the story)

Such a great new series! Highly recommended by me.

25. Dearly Beloved
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
fiction 1962
print
finished 6/14/18
American writer/American setting

I've had this book on my shelves for years and I thought it time to read it. I found very good. The book is, as you might guess, about a wedding. The reader gets to see what each person is thinking and feeling. No wonder weddings are so emotional for all of us. A book well worth reading for any time and age.

24. Two Lives
by Reeve Lindbergh
nonfiction 2018
print
finished 6/8/18
American writer/American setting (other than descriptions of places her parents traveled)

As I have mentioned before, Reeve Lindbergh is one of my most favorite writers. I've loved everything she has written, and this new one is no exception. The "two lives" are the life she lives on her Vermont farm and her life as a Lindbergh. She came to my little town library and we so enjoyed her talk. She is completely engaging and unpretentious. She is someone you would like as a friend.

23. Dark Clouds Over Nuala - book 2 in the Inspector de Silva series
by Harriet Steel
mystery 2017
Kindle
finished 6/4/18
English writer/Sri Lanka setting (Ceylon in the story)

As I wrote before, I do love this series. It is rather my favorite kind of cozy mystery. Well described locale and an intelligent, kindly sleuth with a wonderful wife.

May books

May - 3

22. The Native Heath
by Elizabeth Fair
fiction 1954
Kindle
finished 5/26/18
English writer/English setting

A most pleasant book. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I like the 1950s English setting. This isn't like a Miss Read book. I believe this one is thought of as "middlebrow" fiction. Miss Read isn't, to my way of thinking. She is more "topbrow" to me! However, I am able to enjoy both writers, and have bought another EF book for my Kindle.

21. A Murder is Arranged aka When Thieves Fall Out - book 8 (last) in the Inspector Richardson series
by Basil Thomson
mystery 1937
Kindle
finished 5/4/18
English writer/English setting

Another Basil Thomson! Oh, how I wish he had written more in this series. I love being within the pages, spending time with Inspector Richardson.

20. To Die But Once - book 14 in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
mystery 2018
Kindle
finished 5/1/18
English writer (who now lives in the US)/English setting

This particular Maisie Dobbs will always be very special to me, for I read it on the plane heading to Texas, and then spent one whole day reading on the porch where I stayed. A neighbor from the next room went by me a few times and said it must be a very good book, and I said it was! I don't know when I've spent a full day reading. The weather was fine, the scenery peaceful and beautiful. I also read when I was eating. Perfect!



April books

Not many books read in April!

April - 3

19. Trouble in Nuala - book 1 in the Inspector de Silva series
by Harriet Steel
mystery 2016
Kindle
finished 4/28/18
English writer/Sri Lanka setting (Ceylon in the story)

This is a terrific new series. I love the tender relationship between the Inspector and his wife. The setting is idyllic. The mysteries are interesting. Really just perfect books! Here is a half hour long podcast with the author.



18. The Milliner's Hat Mystery aka The Mystery of the French Milliner - book 7 in the Inspector Richardson series (though he is hardly in this one) by Basil Thomson
mystery 1937
Kindle
finished 4/24/18
English writer/English setting

17. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy aka Death in the Bathroom - book 6 in the Inspector Richardson series by Basil Thomson
mystery 1936
Kindle
finished 4/9/18
English writer/English setting

Two more Inspector Richardson books. I just love this series. Only 7 in all, but wonderful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

March books

As with the February books, I copied and pasted the information from my book list which is why the color is red, and why the first one of the month is at the end of the post.

March - 4

16. The Dartmoor Enigma aka Richardson Solves a Dartmoor Mystery - book 5 in the Inspector Richardson series
by Basil Thomson
mystery 1935
Kindle
finished 3/29/18
English writer/English setting

15. The Case of the Dead Diplomat aka Richardson Goes Abroad - book 4 in the Inspector Richardson series
by Basil Thomson
mystery 1935
Kindle
finished 3/17/18
English writer/English setting

I do love these Inspector Richardson books by Basil Thomson. You may read more about the author here. Fascinating life story, and such good books. I love every one I read, and expect at some point to go through them again. He is one of the best mystery writers I've read, and I only heard about him recently.

14. The Diary of Two Nobodies
by Giles Wood and Mary Killen
Illustrations by Giles Wood
nonfiction 2017
print
finished 3/14/18
English writers (Mary born in Northern Ireland)/English setting

There is nobody like this couple. I read Giles' column each month in The Oldie magazine. He has very strong opinions which often differ from his wife Mary's. I wish I'd written about this book when I first read it so I could take time to quote passages. For now, I will say I found it to be simply delightful. You might have to be English, or a hopeless Anglophile as I am to love it as I did.

13. Murder on the Bus - book 4 in the Inspector Cuthbert Higgins series
by Cecil Freeman Gregg
mystery 1930
Kindle
finished 3/3/18
English writer/English setting

I so enjoyed this book, and plan to read more in the series. I find this time period  of English mysteries to be very soothing. Perfect for bedtime reading, or if I happen to wake up during the night.

February books

I started off the year with a bang and actually wrote a post on the books I read in January. And that was it. No more. The 11 following months zoomed by with some changes and a big trip and suddenly it is December. I'm going to give it the old school try and see if I can write, very, very briefly, about the rest of the year, and then I hope next year to write more about what I read. Writing monthly about Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow book and Susan Hill's book has shown me that it is good for me to write about what I read. I think more deeply about a book when I write something about it.

Without further ado, here are my February reads. I copied and pasted from my book lists, hence the red, and the backwards order.

12. Stir It Up!
by Ramin Ganeshram
young adult fiction 2011
print
finished 2/26/18
American writer/American setting

A delightful young adult book about a girl who works in the family restaurant and wants to be a celebrity chef. I highly recommend it. Lovely book.

11. Dear Susan
Letters to a Niece
by Ben Hartley
nonfiction 2011
print
finished 2/22/18
English writer/English setting

This was a beautifully illustrated and written book, one of those books I would never have known about had it not been for an English blogging friend. It is a dear, dear book. The drawings are delightful, and his writing is as if he is talking to her, my favorite kind of letter. They are reproduced from the original handwriting. You may read about the project here, and I hope you do. This is what Cath wrote which made me want to read it.

64. Dear Susan: Letters to a Niece by Ben Hartley. Another non-fiction, this time by an artist who moved from The Peak District down to Devon to teach art in Plymouth. Ben Hartley went to live in a rural village and wrote letters to his niece that were illustrated with beautiful little drawings and full of interesting anecdotes. A totally charming view of life in a Devon village in the 1960s. 

10. Snowblind - book 1 in the Dark Iceland series
by Ragnar Jonasson
translated by Quentin Bates
crime fiction 2015 (it is billed as a thriller but I think it is really more police procedural, so I'm going to stick with crime fiction)
Kindle
finished 2/21/18
Icelandic writer/Icelandic setting

I so enjoyed this mystery. It is not Icelandic noir. It is set in a small village that is completely dark for a few months a year, and is rather cut off from the rest of Iceland during the winter. I really liked it, and have since read the second in the series.

9. A Far Cry From Kensington
by Muriel Spark
Reread
fiction 1988
Kindle
finished 2/7/18
Scottish writer/English setting

 I did like this book, but I don't think Spark is really for me. 

8. Mrs. Mike
The Story of Katherine Mary Flannigan
by Benedict and Nancy Freedman
fiction 1947
print
finished 2/5/18
American writers/Canadian setting (with a tiny bit in Boston)

This book really deserves a post of its own. I'm sure many of you have read it. It is the story of a young woman who is sent to live with her uncle for her health. Do people still do this? Go to the sea, or the desert, or the mountains to improve their health? Anyhow, she meets a young Canadian mountie, and they marry and go off to a sparsely populated, wintry part of the country to live. The book doesn't shirk from very realistic details of the hardships and worries and tragedies they see in their new life together. It is really, really wonderful. I loved it so very much.