Thursday, 30 January 2014

January's Cake of the Month

I once - several years ago now - bought a cake from Meg Rivers. Ever since, they have periodically sent me catalogues, which I enjoy browsing but then self-satisfyingly decide that there isn't much in there that I couldn't make myself. One thing, though, that always catches my eye is the Cake Club. The idea is that you pay a flat fee and the nice people send you a cake, seasonally appropriate naturally, each month of the year. A lovely idea but the £175 price tag makes me flinch every time. (£175?!? For 12 cakes?!?) So I had what I considered, somewhat immodestly, to be a brainwave. I'll have a homemade version! 
Presenting January's Cake of the Month...

Whole Orange Spice Cake
Whole orange spice cake
Image borrowed from Mary Berry's website
A Mary Berry recipe, where you boil a whole orange, then process it and add it to the cake batter alongside mixed spice and cinnamon. 'Twas delicious. So much so, that the piece I had set aside to photograph disappeared from the tin faster than I expected. Perhaps that's just as well because it certainly wasn't as pretty...
Oh, and as for my brainwave. It was days later that it dawned on me. Of course, Sue did it first...

Friday, 3 January 2014

Reading List - December 2013 and an end-of-year review

 "Sweet Tooth" by Ian McEwan.
"Christmas Delivery" by Susan Willis.
"The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks.
"December" by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.

It's been an interesting project, this recording of my reading habits. I've read 71 books in 2013, which works out at almost one and a half a week. Of course, it doesn't happen as steadily as that, some weeks I'm plodding on with something I'm not really enjoying, getting distracted by magazines, or articles on the Internet and at other times (usually school holidays) I'll devour 3 or 4 books in a week.
I have always considered myself a fiction-only reader and it was a surprise to note that I've actually read 13 non-fiction books. Most of those are related to housekeeping or parenting, so not exactly weighty intellectual tomes but that's not what I look for in a book nowadays.
I did try and choose a "Book of the Year" but found it too hard. I've loved every Persephone-published book I've read this year, all 8 of them and my favourite books by contemporary writers have been "The Betrayal" by Helen Dunsmore, "Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowling and "Sweet Tooth" by Ian McEwan. Other books I've read - usually those which I've picked up somewhat randomly from the library - have proved to be absolutely forgettable. This seems a shame when there are so many wonderful books out there waiting to be read but I still feel it is always worth taking a chance on unknown authors.
I've really enjoyed this small project, so much so that I think I'll continue to record the books of 2014. It's exciting to think of all those books waiting for me. I hope this new year brings you some wonderful reading too....