Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Spicy Chickpea and Lentil Fritters

I have looked everywhere for this recipe. And it was in my file - right at the back, misfiled with desserts. As if! I need more vegetarian options, and this is a good one. However, it's got gluten, which is a problem for me. So I'm going to try it out tonight and use chickpea flour, rather than breadcrumbs - I'll let you know, sure it's just as delicious.

30 ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic , crushed
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400g can lentils, rinsed and drained
5ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
1 carrot, grated
250ml breadcrumbs/chickpea flour/buckwheat flour
30 ml fresh parsley
30 ml fresh coriander
1 egg, beaten

Heat half the oil in a pan. Saute onion and garlic together for 5 minutes over low heat. Place onions, lentils, chickpeas, spices, carrot, breadcrumbs into a bowl and mash. Add parsley, coriander and other seasonings to taste. Add beaten egg. Form into shapes - rounds or fingers, whatever your preference. Fry for 3 minutes per side in frying pan with rest of oil.

Dip in sweet chilli sauce or tzatziki and serve with a green salad.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

You will know me by Megan Abbott

From Goodreads:

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk.

Megan Abbott has written a few books, none of which have I read.  This is a well-written suspense novel. There are lies, secrets and anxious moments on nearly every page.

To add dysfunctional parents and highly strung teenagers to the already fraught environment, this is set in the world of competitive gymnastics, where everything is forsaken and abandoned, for the sake of pursuing a child prodigy's flimsy dream of becoming an olympic athlete.

An excellent depiction of the stressed and broken world we live in, and the disastrous outcomes possible. I'm not sure I like the title - it's a tad forgettable, but the plot moves at a great pace, from the point of view of Katie, Devon's mom.

An exciting 4 stars.

ISBN: 9780316231077

If you read and enjoyed this, you may also like Try not to Breathe by Holly Seddon or The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh or what about Megan Miranda's All the Missing Girls. Also good is Night Road by Kristin Hannah.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Carpe Diem

Do you ever have those days when you don't want to walk, you want to dance? Dialogue shouldn't be spoken, it has to be set to music? Everything seems loud, bigger, brighter and life is good, and yours for the taking. No? Maybe it's only me? And it hasn't happened in a very long while.

Tackling the week in the right frame of mind makes a difference to how it all turns out. "Seize the day", from the Latin 'Carpe Diem' is better translated - "pluck" or "pick"; "enjoy" or "make use of" today. Don't leave it until tomorrow, or worry about the future. Living today completely will impact tomorrow. It's not just the things we are avoiding that we should embrace today, it'a also the things we love to do - don't waste a moment. Do them now.

So run like the wind, walk with a spring in your step. Notice the wondrous world around you, and change the soundtrack in your head from whatever's playing to something more upbeat.

Do I have any ideas for you? What a question.

Justin Timberlake is my music of choice today. It's Can't Stop the Feeling.

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet...

Ooh, it's something magical
It's in the air, it's in my blood, it's rushing on
Don't need no reason, don't need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I'm in my zone...

Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

Have a beautiful day and a glorious week!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Small things

I love old hymns. The famous ones, and the not-so-well-known ones. I love thinking, as I listen to, or sing them, of the people from ages past, who received strength from the words, who had their hearts lifted, and were able to bow down at the - often very beautifully written - words of adoration and praise to our Saviour. 

Here's one I only found recently. It's another Fanny Crosby favourite. All the way my Saviour Leads me. And it starts with my favourite poem of hers - "Oh what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see..." Sung by The Haven Quartet, the rendition is simple and lovely.

The story behind this is that Fanny Crosby was desperately in need of five dollars.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ten of the Best #60

Good morning everyone. How was your week? Glad it's over? Me too.

Let's have a moment of sleepy silence for the wonderful weekend. Where we can lie around, turn off our phones, read, enjoy the sunshine, watch some sport, and just goof off. No work, no pressure.

But before we get there, let's just check what we may have missed on social media this week. Ten more minutes, and we're done - then your phone can be turned off for the rest of the weekend.

Here's what I saw, and saved to read later. Click the pictures for the links, and use your back button on your browser to come back for more. 

We will start with some newsy stuff. Good news there was this week. Mostly from home. The blue light brigades are stopping, and there was this speech from the leader of the DA.

And then that open letter to Lynsey not-so-Sharp, the sorest loser at the Rio Olympics.

I loved these pictures. Getting me in the mood for a holiday. Wild horses. So beautiful. 

The music. It’s an oldie. It’s a goodie. I adore this song. And it has to be sung by a choir. This is a great rendition. Bravo, Andre Rieu 

I apologize in advance. This is one of the longest clips I have ever posted. And it has my all time worst comedy in it - they laugh. At themselves. You’d think that makes it not funny. Well, in this case it works. So well, I didn't mind the length, and I found myself more and more drawn into the quirky humor. Enjoy. 

This week, we're showcasing all my favourite things. Next? Coffee. What it does to you, and all the amazing effects it has.

Some more humour. Bill Bryson is being serialised in The Daily Mail. Here, he reveals why British people are the happiest on earth, while on a visit to Bournemouth.

Guess the real names of the books, when given their working titles. This is difficult, I think I failed it.

And a lovely piece of writing - how to love the girl with anxiety.

The best advice from the literary world...

That's my ten. And now my weekend can begin.

In case you missed it - The Olympian Ten.

And a link to last week's Ten.

More Tens.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Ten of the Best of the Olympics

I know, I know. The closing ceremony has been done and dusted. Everyone is back home where they belong (especially glad that the whining 800m girls have stopped getting airtime). We are all able to get on with our lives and there are so many more hours in the day now that the 2016 Olympics is over.

But, nostalgia. Let's take a moment. For the great moments. 

First there was the Boks' send off of the SA team.

The obligatory mugging story...

Friday Books - You will know me

On Fridays I participate in BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

This week's book-

Click the cover for the Goodreads blurb. Which cover do you like best?

The vinyl banners rippled from the air vent, the restaurant roiling with parents, the bobbing of gymnast heads, music gushing from the weighty speakers keeled on the window ledges. Slung around Devon's neck were three medals, two silver and one gold, her first regional-champion title on the vault. "I'm so proud of you sweetie," Katie whispered in her daughter's ear. "You can do anything."

Here's my P56 (55 since 56 is blank)

"Necessity is what you do when there is only one path, choice, or desire."

- Nadia Comaneci, Letters to a Young Gymnast

My husband has just finished this book, and needs to write a review. Now he is asking me to read it, so he can discuss it with me before he writes the review. He knows. He cannot discuss it with me before I've read it. I may have to poison him. So guess what I'm reading this weekend?

I don't mind really, it actually looks like a great read, and I'm looking forward to it. I may have to hide away and read, though. I would really like to finish it before the discussions begin, and I don't think that's his plan!

Tell me what you're reading, and I'll pay you a visit. 

Happy reading everyone.

Check out my updated reviews : - 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Wasted by Mark Winkler

"My name is Nathan Lucius. I sleep with the light on." are the only words on the back cover blurb of this book. These are also the opening words of the novel.

At last, a book promoted without spoilers. Long reviews (a little ironic, as the book is a mere 61217 words according to the cover), but no spoilers. Great.

What else do you need to know about Nathan Lucius? He is a damaged soul. He is different. Yet Mark Winkler obviously loves him, and so did I.

Remarkable, since I don't think I am the book's target market. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It was soul baring, shocking, very honest and ultimately heart wrenching. Set in Cape Town, Nathan narrates us through the mess that is his life. It reads like non fiction - a memoir. The short sentences and present tense create an atmosphere that is congruent with the unfolding of who Nathan is. The pacing is good, and you can finish the 187 pages in an afternoon. You may not want to, however.

4 stars


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Cheat's Chicken Schnitzel

Week 4 of the current eating regime - no dairy, no wheat or many carbs, no seeds or nuts. Mainly protein and vegetables. And did I mention sugar and alcohol? No? That's because there is none of that either.

It's about now that I start trawling shops looking for versions of food I can eat - like pasta (found this), bread (I can eat 100% rye), and anything to flavour my food that isn't turmeric and masala and coconut cream.

While I was dusting off old recipes, I found this one in the recesses of my mind - when I'd had my initial foray into the low sodium world.

You know when the rest of the family gets burgers for dinner? And you could just have one. Doesn't have to be a takeaway version, a home cooked one will do. And chicken is fine, because who needs mince anyway?

Here's how to make the chicken strips/schnitzels/burgers in a really healthy way.

You need: chicken fillets, cut into strips if you want, homemade tomato sauce (or the low sodium version, or even just a tin of tomatoes, liquidized), mustard (also lo-so), mayonnaise (homemade is best), garlic/onion powder, some fresh/dried herbs of your choice and a few Ry-vita biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs.

Mix the ingredients (except chicken and crumbs) into a paste - I used 6T of tomato sauce, 1T of mustard 1T of mayo and a teaspoon of the powder and herbs (I used oreganum) each. Coat the chicken pieces in the paste, and then in the crumbs. Place on an oil-sprayed oven tray, and bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes - turning them ten minutes in.

Now cut open a bread roll (I found some baked with almond flour at Jacksons), and serve your chicken burger with a slice of tomato and piece of crispy lettuce.

And feel good, because being on diet doesn't mean you have to miss out on everything.

The original version of this used baked quinoa, not crumbed crackers, but that's too much effort for me - it's here on, which is a great site for adapting recipes - being creative and staying healthy.

I'm off to find a different recipe for tomorrow night - we can't have burgers again.

More recipes.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Last Photograph by Emma Chapman

Emma Chapman’s second novel, The Last Photograph tells the back story of Rook Henderson - an award winning photographer who carries Vietnam and the agony of all that living life behind the lens with him. Always.

Now he has to add dealing with his wife June’s death to his burden. His son Ralph looks to him for comfort and attention.

Beautifully written, there are nuggets on almost every page - “In the darkness, it is easier to be thrown back into the past”, and “There was the smell too, of things growing.”

However, I had almost no connection with any of the characters. The plot, which was told in reverse, was quite ordinary and unsurprising. Although I appreciated the gorgeous prose, and the detailed research and insight into Rook’s life, it was a let down in terms of enjoyment and satisfaction. Beautiful - yes. Evocative - certainly. Memorable - maybe not.

2 stars

ISBN: 9781509816545

You may also enjoy Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker - also about Vietnam, or what about Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott?

Monday, 22 August 2016

Keep Dreaming

This morning, I struggled to disentangle myself from my dreams. And I wondered - what if I didn't? 

This wasn't another of my many ploys to avoid waking up and putting on my running shoes. I had had enough sleep, and was ready to face the day. I just thought - What if I keep dreaming?

Our dreams and visions are powerful. When we're fast asleep, we don't seem to have any control over them. But during the day, what's to stop us dreaming big of better ways to do this amazing thing called life?

This is my plan today - not to "wake up" that much that I get all practical, realistic and sensible about life. To keep creative, energized, with a "maybe I can" attitude. If we dream big, we imagine what a better future could look like. And when you're walking/running/ exercising, it's a perfect time to dream. Your brain has more oxygen, and if you're outdoors, you have the perfect palette of colours and pictures to inspire you. 

And the miles you plod, instead of feeling like forever away, will fly past you as your beautiful mind takes you on journeys you cannot travel on foot.

So join me - let's dream big, aim high, and live better as a result.

Oh, and the music. My muses - Freshly Ground. A South African group who make down to earth yet totally inspirational music. Here's Doo Bee Doo. Listen as you go, and imagine a better world. 

Enjoy this? Check out last week's post.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Ten of the Best #59

Good morning sunshine. It's been a week. Such a week. The big question for me is whether I exclude all the many Olympian posts from today's ten, and devote a page to them tomorrow? Or whether we just pop them in today. There are so many.

Let's start and see how we go.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Friday Books - Wasted

On Fridays I participate in BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

This week's book-

Click the cover for the Goodreads blurb.

My name is Nathan Lucius. I sleep with the light on.

I buy old photographs of people I don't know. I give them names and arrange them into a family tree on my wall. This means I can have a new family whenever I want.

Here's my P56 (or 57, in this case)

The inertia is not just mine. It's like a thick wet blanket over everyone. I go to Eric's on my own and watch him draw the same old alpine scene while we discuss the heat. It's a silly conversation. Sometimes words are easier than silence.

This book looks a little hectic. But it is short, so I think I can read it quickly. It also looks like it may torment me a little, so I may have to put it down for a while - have you ever done that? Just can't carry on reading, and have to distract yourself with another book.

Tell me what you're reading, and I'll pay you a visit.

Happy weekend everyone.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty was much anticipated in my reading world. Having read most of Liane Moriarty's novels - starting with The Husband's Secret, and culminating with Big Little Lies a whole two years ago, which I gave five stars - not a common occurrence in my reading life.

Then I saw the title and the cover: -

And I loved that there were no commas, and I loved that this was going to be a clever light read, with some twisty bits, but told in a style that was fitting to the story, as in her previous novels. Like an undercover detective, I stayed away from reading anything else about the book - usually that spoils it, and then I got the Audible version for a trip.

On about the seventh chapter entitled "The Day of the Barbecue" my curiosity peaked. On the seventieth chapter similarly titled, it all felt jaded, the tinsel dusty and the deep dark secret a flat shallow muddy puddle.

The story - without spoilers - revolves around childhood and forever friends Erica and Clementine, married to Oliver and Sam respectively. Sam and Clementine have two young girls. We also meet Vid and Tiffany, Oliver and Erica's neighbours, and their daughter Dakota. Great characters as usual, and they are nicely drawn - likeable and flawed.

The plot is also good. Clearly something significant happened on The Day of the Barbecue. But the telling. Oh my goodness, it couldn't have taken a word longer.  

I'm not even sure it could have been edited down. When my children were about five, they used to delight in telling me about a fifteen minute episode of The Teletubbies. Trouble was, it took thirty minutes for them to explain the 'story'. This was a little like that. Except I wasn't stifling yawns while reading - it was good writing. Not as wryly amusing as her others, but still relatable.

If you've got through this very long review, you'll probably enjoy the book. And I won't have to tell Liane Moriarty fans to read it, they certainly will. 

If you've never read her, start somewhere else, not here.

3 stars

ISBN: 9781250069795

You may also enjoy Try not to breathe by Holly Seddon or The Girls by Lisa Jewell.

More reviews.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Black Bean Cakes with Salsa

Morning all. I'm making this for dinner tonight. My family probably won't like it, they don't usually. But I'm in the mood, I do the cooking, and at least I won't be sitting waiting for them to express grateful satisfaction and appreciation for the meal, and be denied. I know they'll moan. I may even smile a little. To myself, of course.

Why do I do this? It's healthy, vegetarian, and we never eat enough of the ingredients in this delicious (to me) recipe.

Love it or loathe it? Leave a comment below.

Black Bean Cakes with Avocado-Corn Salsa

3/4 cup diced red onion
olive oil
2 t crushed garlic
1 T taco seasoning/Spices of your choice
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander

250ml cream cheese

Avocado-Corn Salsa: 
1 tbsp lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes /cayenne pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels 
1 cup halved grape tomatoes 
1 small avocado, diced 
1/3 cup diced red onion 
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil 
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Saute onion in olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat.

Mash together seasoning and  black beans in a large bowl with a fork. Stir in remainder of ingredients until well blended. Shape mixture into 6 (1/2-inch) patties.

Cook patties in remaining 3 tbsp hot oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

To prepare avocado-corn salsa, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, oil, mustard and dried crushed red pepper flakes/pepper in a large bowl. Stir in corn kernels, grape tomatoes,avocado, red onion, basil, and coriander. Add seasoning to taste.. 

Optional :  top  cakes with grated cheddar. Bake until cheese melts. Add salsa.

Serve with potato rosti/fresh bread rolls.


More recipes.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris

This is one of those books that you want to devour in a single sitting. BA Paris has done well to create a story and plot that leave you desperate to find out what happens next.

As the title suggests, all is not as cosy as it seems in Jack and Grace Angel's perfect marriage.

He is a lawyer, specialising in defending female victims of domestic violence. She has given up her career to marry him. Her sister, Millie, has Down's Syndrome, and Grace is delighted that Jack has accepted the fact that she feels so responsible for Millie's happiness.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Morning Star

Hey hey hey, it's Monday morning. And we need to get up, and start exercising for the week. There are so many reasons, but this morning we are running/walking/cycling/gymming because it's a new week, and we know how important it is to keep going. Our bodies need exercise, and there isn't a better way to start your week, in my opinion.

This is the weekly Monday Motivation post, where I haul out a few words and some music to get you pumping. I need it too - the motivation, that is. Ok ok, yes I need the exercise too.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Book Bargains

Well, if you're here you are probably a little like me - your desire for books is much bigger than your monthly budget for them. I feel your pain. I have had a run of good luck with inexpensive books recently. And I thought I'd share my fortune with you.

If you've visited my blog before, you'll have gathered I live in sunny SA. The land of great beauty and really expensive books. Coupled with an exchange rate that doesn't help. Our most famous bookstore stocks paperbacks that sell for an average price of about R320 (around $25 or £18) - it could be a bit more, I haven't bought one from there in ages.

My strategy? I browse the expensive book shops for ideas, but find them elsewhere. Yes, like the cartoon.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Ten of the Best #58

Hey there all you gorgeous people. Looking good, lying in your bed on a Saturday morning. So, before you get out of bed, here's a roundup of what was hot on social media this week. All the news, the funny and the entertaining, in one spot.

I love this summary of all that is SA this week. After the dismal election results, and the ongoing talks of coalitions, it was also Woman’s Day. Read Richard Poplak’s great summary, if you haven't yet - it featured on EVERYONE's timeline. Click on the Zapiro pic.

Of course the politicians made promises like “the ANC will be in power until Jesus comes again.” So now everyone is making jokes about the second coming. Here’s my favourite.

Gymnastics in the Rio Olympics has been amazing, and I loved the story of Simone Biles. Then I realised it has been 40 years since Nadia Comaneci and when I watched this, thought - was she just ahead of her time?

If animals could talk, what would they say? These are FUN-NEE . Very.

The music post of the week… Happy Birthday by the classical composers. Played by Nicole Pesce.

There were also some medical breakthroughs shared. I found this one particularly interesting - the paralysed patients are walking, contrary to expectations. The Independent reports.

Here’s a handy hint for you - how to fix a zipper. 

Maya Angelou’s poem, narrated by Maya Angelou.

The tables are turned on David Attenborough in this cute clip.

And we'll end with a SA classic - the Cremora ad. Shouldn't need any introduction. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch it here.

The bonus post this week is very short - because EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who needs a dog like it.

Bye beautifuls, see you all next week.

Want more? Here's last week's post.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Friday Books - Behind Closed Doors

On Fridays I participate in BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

This week's book-

Click the cover for the Goodreads blurb.

The champagne bottle knocks against the marble kitchen counter, making me jump. I glance at Jack, hoping he won't have noticed how nervous I am. He catches me looking and smiles.
'Perfect,' he says softly.

Here's my P56

So when I told him...that not only had I painted Fireflies myself but that I had created it by kissing the canvas hundreds of times wearing different shades of red lipstick, he lavished so many compliments on me that I was pleased I had managed to surprise him.

I've just started this book. So far, it's good. As it is a psychological thriller, I'm a little surprised that so far it's a happy, only-in-your-dreams type of love story. Not soppy, but you can tell from the excerpts - I keep waiting for the violin section to start up. 

Even so, something's off - I can tell. And I can't wait to find out what. I think I may pull an all nighter this evening!

Tell me what you're reading, and I'll pay you a visit.

Happy reading everyone.


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Work like any other by Virginia Reeves

Work like any other tells the story of Roscoe T. Martin, an electrician by trade, but married to Marie,  a farmer's daughter. Roscoe is forced to make the most of what he has, and make farming - which he hates - work. He tries, but nothing cooperates, and everything is failing - the farm, his marriage and his life. Set in the 1920s, you can imagine the difficulties. Reverting to what he knows, Roscoe decides to run in an illegal line of electricity to help with the farming. And it works. Until it all goes horribly wrong. 

This debut novel by Virginia Reeves has many things to recommend it.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Another day, another diet

Sigh. Another diet. I can hear your intake of breath and see your eyeroll. I know. 

In my defense, it's not for weight loss, it's to try to eliminate this last bit of infection I'm trying to get rid of. And under MD and dietician's advice. It's by far the worst I've had so far. No carbs (except a small bit of potato, and brown rice), no sugar, and wait for it - no dairy. Right there, that's the killer. I love my tea, with a splash of milk. No splash. All together now - sigh.

I'm digging deep for dinner plans. And I saw this on - which is a great site for recipes. It's for dinner tonight, with a piece of seared salmon. I'll be skipping the parmesan - but you go right ahead - have my share. Enjoy.

Zucchini Noodles with pesto and baby tomatoes - add salmon

4 small zucchini, ends trimmed
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cherry or grape tomatoes, optional

Use a julienne peeler to slice the zucchini into noodles. (I'll be buying my zucchini already julienned from the local store - see you there!) Add to a pan with some coconut or other oil and fry gently.

Combine the basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until blended. Season. (This is the basil pesto.)

Combine the zucchini noodles and pesto. Toss until zucchini noodles are well coated. Top with tomatoes, if using. Serve at room temperature or chilled, if you didn't cook the zucchini, or warm if you did. You can do either.

Add salmon.