"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

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Thread


When I finished the last page, I closed the book and said WOW. I had The Thread by Victoria Hislop in my basket to order for ages but kept thinking I would not like it. How mistaken I was. The fact that is was based in Greece made me leery. I was uncertain I would be able to feel any connection to the story. What I did not know was that this was two love stories wrapped up in one beautiful cover. 

Mitsos is in Greece visiting her grandparents. Katerina and Dimitri begin to tell him the stories of their lives. Their story begins with a great fire in 1917 that virtually destroys Thessaloniki. It is in the midst of this time that Dimitri is born. Five years later, Katerina is separated from her mother and baby sister while fleeing Asia Minor. These two major events alter both the children's lives so that they become linked. It is a tender love story against the backdrop of racial problems, complexity of class and even invasion and occupation during a world war. 

The second love story is one I had no idea about when I bought the book which pulled me so deeply into the story. It is the love of a woman and her needle and thread. This story speaks to me from the very core of who I am as a needlewoman. I loved the descriptions of Katerina's talent with her stitches. I found the special relationship she has with her neighbor Roza heartwarming. She loves to spend time with her stitching away as kindred spirits. The quilts in the story became real to me. I could see them as they were being described. 

I found this book well written with beautiful language of place, people and time. The descriptive passages brought me into the homes while the women worked on their clothes, rugs and embroidery. I could visit the haberdashery with Katerina, walk through the fabric warehouse with Konstantinos or experience the buzz of the busy Moreno tailoring workshop. For the history and romance, this is a wonderful read but, for any who enjoy needlework of any kind, it is a true treat that will leave you wanting to run and pick up your own needle and thread.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pasta with cheesy sauce and rocket

Jos and I love pasta dishes. I am always experimenting various combinations. We tried this and it has now become a favorite as it is not only tasty but very easy too. 

Pasta with cheesy sauce and rocket

150 gram corkscrew (fusilli) pasta
handful of thinly sliced sweet red pepper
2 large handfuls of rocket (arugula)
3 thin slices of salami, cut in strips
5 mushrooms, sliced
For the cheesy sauce:
75 gram mascarpone cheese
75 gram Parmasan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
around 4 tablespoons pasta water
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
dash of red chili flakes
drizzle of virgin olive oil

Cook pasta as directed on package. Save a little of the pasta water for later.

Saute the salami, red pepper and mushrooms in olive oil. Add the pasta and mix thoroughly.

In a bowl, mix the mascarpone, lemon juice and seasonings. Now add enough pasta sauce to make a creamy sauce. Crumble Parmasan flakes into the sauce. Drizzle a little olive oil in the sauce.

Pour the cheesy sauce over the pasta and toss in the rocket. Serve immediately.

Eet smakelijk!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chicken spread bagel

A friend and I lunch together almost weekly. It is fun to come up with things when it is my turn to make lunch. Recently, I served her this bagel with chicken spread that I had whipped up that morning. It is so good freshly made and was so simple to do. This makes enough for three to four bagels.

Chicken spread bagel
1 boneless and skinless chicken breast
1 spring onion
1/2 stalk of celery
2 to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon of sharp mustard
drizzle of lemon juice
generous pinch of tarragon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Poach the chicken breast in vegetable bouillon for 20 minutes. Leave the chicken to cool then slice into bite size chunks. Slice a spring onion and dice the celery. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Now season to taste with the tarragon, salt and pepper. Mix in the chicken breast, spring onion and celery well. You can add a little extra mayonnaise if needed.

Toast a bagel and place a helping of the chicken spread on a bed of baby Romaine lettuce leaves. Garnish with red pepper rings and serve with slicked cucumber and pear on the side.

Eet smakelijk!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bay of Secrets


I found Bay of Secrets by Rosanna Ley very intriguing. How would it feel to find everything you thought to be true was all a lie. How would it be to be left alone in the world not knowing your true past or knowing you were part of others being denied that knowledge. These two woman faced different dilemmas but found a common bond through their pasts.

** possible spoiler alert ** Two stories that end up entwining. Two stories of women who must be courageous to face the future which has been tainted with the past. One story takes place in Spain during the revolution. In the days of dictatorship, Franco creates a law that children are adopted from single mothers by wanting and deserving parents. The tragedy is how the adoptions talk place...a mother is either coerced into giving up her child or is told her child died during birth. The child is sold to a worthy couple with their name placed on the birth certificate and all documents destroyed of the biological mother. Sister Julia finds herself taking part in one of the many clinics practising this atrocity. But she decides to start secretly recording the names of the mothers and the adoptive parents. 

Ruby Rea has come back to Dorset to go through her family home after her parents die tragically in an accident. She finds a shoebox in her mother's closet that changes her entire life. Tom and Vivien had a secret that sends Ruby on a search for the truth about her birth and for a mother that she never knew. 

In Ruby's search, she meets Sister Julia. It is time for the truth to be told and Sister Julia sees that Ruby is the one to be her voice. 

Happy reading!