"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Novel in the Viola


This is the second novel by Natasha Solomons. I have read a number of negative reviews lately about this one. I must say that I did enjoy it. I have found novels set in WWII very interesting. I find them intriguing to place yourself through the pages in these turbulent times.

This is the story of Elise Landau told by herself looking back. She is sent by her parents from Vienna to England on a domestic service visa knowing a war is coming. They want to be sure Elise is safe. She is employed at Tyneford House owned by Mr. Rivers. This starts her on a long new life where her entire world changes. She finds loves and then war ravages all she cares for.

I am leaving this review short as I would not want to give away too much for anyone wanting to read it. Maybe one of the things that heightened this for me was having seen a documentary on the BBC over domestic service and how it changed in time. It covered the many girls and women who came over from Austria and Germany before the war broke out. To hear the words of one of these women being interviewed brought this story even more to life for me.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rode bietjes stamppot - Dutch specialty

Rode bietjes stamppot (stamppot is a traditional dish where potatoes are mixed with one or more vegetables) is a tasty alternative to having the typical kale or andive in your stamppot. Rode bietjes are red beets as you can see from the photo. They do turn your potatoes to a red color but, believe me, it is delicious and simple to make.

Red beet stamppot
about 700 grams potatoes (approx 1-1/2lb)
500 grams cooked red beets (approx 1lb)
1 leek
salt and pepper
Dutch smoked sausage or preferred meat

Peel and cook the potatoes until soft. Add a pad of butter and mash them with a hand masher. Add a splash of milk being sure to keep the potatoes quite stiff. You do not want to make a creamy mash for stamppot.

Meanwhile, dice the cooked beets and slice the leek. Cook these together in a pan with a pad of butter, thyme and salt and pepper. This does not need to be on the heat for long as you just want to heat the beets and wilt the leeks.

Mix the vegetables into your potato mash and heat through. Serve with a Dutch smoke sausage or any meat of your choice. A traditional Dutch winter meal.....

Eet smakelijk!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Importance of Being Earnest

I just loved listening to this performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. It is a recorded live performance and, just as the wit of Oscar Wilde, is perfection of the English language with a humorous view of English society in the Victorian era! This is an Audible book that I will be listening to over and over...

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pumpkin Gingerbread

I made this recipe this weekend for a nice treat. I found it online but once again changed some things. If you make this ahead, let is sit overnight and the tastes intensify. We found it tasted better when we had some with our morning coffee. The perfect treat for a crisp fall day!

Pumpkin Gingerbread
Dry ingredients: mix together
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Wet ingredients:  stir together well and then add the dry ingredients mixing just until the dry ingredients are combined. Do not overstir.
3 eggs
12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree

Grease and flour a 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Bake in a 180C preheating oven for about 45 minutes. Check to see if the cake tester comes out clean and remove from oven. Allow to cool before cutting.

Eet smakelijk!