Getting back on the horse.

‘I’ve been showing off, it’s a soothing feeling.’
Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day.

I have fallen off the blogging horse and it was that line, from a book about grabbing life by the horns, ironically enough, which threw me.

It made me think about what I’m doing here. I hadn’t considered before that much of the pleasure I’ve taken from blogging has, in fact, been due to the soothing effects of showing off. I’m not certain that my garden, over-run as it is with dandelions, or my amateur attempts at cooking, however excellent my cheese toasties, are good enough to merit boasting about.

Besides that, for a stay-at-home parent the school holidays demand a different rhythm. There is the pleasure of time spent helping the Small Girl with her Country House Sticker Book, you can probably guess that book was really a little present for myself, oh, the joy of it, and playing Paper Dolls and doing things for which there is no internet link, like picking bowls of white currants together and chasing butterflies.

The summer holidays also bring the complementary penance of never having ten minutes alone which makes any type of writing an almost impossible endeavour.

What little quiet time I have carved out has been spent at work. The highlights:

Tragically tardy, here is a link to my July edition of Cooking The Books. I chose a light and frivolous book, ideal for a bit of mindless beach reading. While the title may be less than appetising, the recipe, mind you, is seriously delicious. No-one has eaten my quiche (my mother’s quiche, to be exact) without asking for the secret to it’s light and, dare I say, frivolous texture.IMG_7848

Sarah Healy tweeted that my article on her book was a ‘candid, beautiful review’ which gave me quite the thrill. A review of the review, eh? It meant a lot to me. Click here to read about The Sisters Chase.IMG_7800 (2)

To the cohort of Persephone fans out there, thank you again for inviting me to join your ranks. I contacted the wonderful women at Persephone Books and they sent me reams of information and some gorgeous photos for this article: Though she be but little, she is fierce!IMG_8079If you haven’t yet come across Persephone Books, can I plead with you take a look? They are very special.

Last week was enjoyably spent testing recipes from Valeria Necchio‘s gorgeous new cookbook, Veneto. This, truly, was a labour of love. Our happiest days of newly-wedded bliss were lived in the Veneto. Teenage Son, my eldest, was born there and cut his teeth on the region’s crusty bread. It was a shock to realise how long ago it was but also how much the food, and a glass or two of Prosecco, still has the power to bring it all back. Click here to read my review of Veneto.

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So tardy am I with this post that the time has come round to tell you about the August edition of Cooking The Books. Having taken the light and frivolous route for July, I opted this time for a classic. Both the book, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and the dish, Crabe Mexicaine, are mouth-watering. Click here for a sneak preview of Eat Like Hemingway.

Still, I am circling that horse and thinking it looks a bit too high for me. If I could only do it half-heartedly, without revealing too much of my self, it would be grand. But I can’t. I’ve decided to take a short break, to enjoy the summer, fleeting as it is, and to live life for a while without forming it into sentences in my head.

Follow me on Bookwitty for book reviews, book lists, books cooked and all things bookish.
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Thanks for sticking with me,
Lynda.

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake and an Extraordinary Book.

Kate Atkinson. Life After Life. Cooking the books.

Kate Atkinson. Life After Life. Cooking the books.

My small girl was born half-strangled, the umbilical cord wrapped four times around her neck. Unlike the birth days of my other children, it’s not a memory I like to revisit. What-ifs crowded so closely against reality that I can’t think about what happened without also re-living the nightmare of what nearly happened. My small girl was born on…

Click here to read more.

Cooking the Books while Elizabeth is Missing.

Tete a tete narcissus, table-top daffodils.

Elizabeth is Missing.That’s a great title, isn’t it? What a hook? You can’t help wondering who Elizabeth is and what’s happened to her.

Emma Healey‘s beautifully crafted book broke my heart a little bit, as all good books should.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Maud is 82 and confused. Sometimes she can’t quite recall what the machine for heating bread, you know, making it brown, is called. Sometimes she’s not certain who that young woman in the kitchen is. And why are there six cups of cold tea lined up on the hall table?

There is one thing of which Maud is absolutely certain; Elizabeth is missing. Elizabeth is not at home and her nasty son is acting suspiciously. The problem is that nobody will listen to Maud anymore. They won’t believe her and it’s very difficult to solve a mystery when the clues, a powder compact and a hair comb, don’t make sense and, furthermore, she can’t quite remember who it is she’s searching for. She has to rummage in her pockets to find the note she wrote to remind herself. Who was it that’s missing? Oh yes, that’s right, Elizabeth.

Oh Lord, this was heart-wrenching. To be honest, I wasn’t too concerned about Elizabeth. I guessed that she was either dead or grand. It was Maud’s loss that squeezed my guts – her loss of memory, loss of dignity and loss of identity.

If I were to cook a dish to represent this book, it could only be tea and toast as that’s about all Maud is up to.

Elizabeth is Missing is an intriguing and satisfying but, ultimately, terrifying read.

Notice how dark this photo is? It was snowing outside the window, just inches from the cup, when I took it. Perfect weather for tea and toast. My job has a lot of perks.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Speaking of which, I have exciting news for you. Well, it’s exciting for me but you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

As you know, I have been reviewing books for Bookwitty for a while now. I love it SO much. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, my dream job. I can’t believe my luck. Now, it gets even better because they have trusted me with a regular slot, combining my two favourite things in the world: books and food. You might almost call it a column although I’m wary of recalling my Carrie Bradshaw aspirations.

Every month I will write about a book and include a recipe that bears some relationship to that book. It might be a dish that was cooked in the book or it might be a representation of my own devising. I’m SO excited about this as I have already LOVED writing this type of blog post.

Remember A God In Ruins and a Far Breton.? People should eat more Far Breton. It’s great for readers due to the absence of crumbs! I also loved doing The Improbability Of Love On First Dates. That was an ideal book and an ideal recipe for Valentine’s Day if any of you are thinking that far ahead.

My Prue Leith review with a recipe for Mozzarella in Carozza  was the spark for the whole column idea. In December, I cooked some honey-soaked Greek cookies . For diet-conscious January I suggest puffy chouquettes as featured in Muriel Barbery’s Gourmet Rhapsody. These light-as-air morsels could hardly be considered a sin.

Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery

Plans are afoot to have something naughty prepared in time for Valentine’s Day. Here’s a sneak (and, again, snow-lit) preview. I started re-reading this book last night. I’ve noted on the first page that I read it for the first time, as a barely legal 19-year-old in 1991. It still has the power to make my heart race. I must be still alive then.

Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

I feel that my brain has been packed away in wadding for the past two decades while I have been raising children. Slowly but surely now, it is coming out of hibernation. This, this blog, the book reviews and the interaction with you, feels to me like a small miracle and I am very grateful.

Tete a tete narcissus, table-top daffodils.

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