Monday, 28 April 2008

Reading's Not Just For Summer ,,,,, It's For Life

My exams are nearly finished and I have 4 whole months free from uni work. Unfortunately this means I'll be returning home which happens to be almost the middle of nowhere. I am a pretty prolific reader and I get through them very quickly. Since the BBC ran the big read in April 2003 I have been meaning to read some if not all of the ones on the list. Now is a good time to put up the list and keep track of my progress. The ones in italics are one's I've read already at some point.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Total 33
What's irritating is that there's probably another 10 there that I've started to read and never got round to finishing. This was partly because I went through a habit of just sitting in the library and also because I usually have multiple books on the go.
Currently I'm reading (among other things) Love in a time of Cholera. Unfortunately I think I should of saw the movie first as whenever I read the book and then see the movie I hate the movie. If its the other way round I tend to like both. It's a strange world

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Organic Overboard

First off before i get pelted with rotten (pesticide ridden) vegetables i do think organic is a great idea. So is buying local food.
However there are two predominant barriers to this. First of all organic food is expensive. I understand the economics of this , of course its going to take more money as it takes more time, however while theoretically its meant to taste better , in actual fact because its become gimmicky to a certain extent and there's a limited market the quality isn't as high as it could be. I'm not talking about aesthetics , i can handle odd shaped potatoes , i mean real taste. This is from a supermarket food point of view, I'm assuming food bought from a farmers market is much better.
Buying locally is something i see popping a lot on American blogs, i think this is wonderful in fact i wish i could do it myself. Unfortunately I live in the middle of a city and local food is hard to come by. While there is a farmers market , its twice a month and is predominantly cheese and meat. At home which is theoretically more in the countryside , there are farm food shops and the quality is usually pretty good as well as some of it being local. But again its a bit hit and miss for being local.
So while the ideal of eating locally and organically is a good one , realistically its not one i can achieve. But here's to tomorrow hopefully.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Start of a Phase

When I was about 14 or 15 I went through a phase of attempting to cook curries. Not Thai curries , which my stepmother could of helped with, oh no , I had to be difficult and went straight for Indian curries with their never ending list of spices. As my mum realized it was probably something I would grow out of she got me a few of the basic spices over time , Cumin ,Coriander ,Cardamon and Garam Masala etc. And I was happy.Even if each curry no matter what the fresh ingredients would end up tasting the same, I was learning and experimenting. Unfortunately my tolerance for spicy food is much higher than my mums so she had a few nights where she ate mostly rice , (Sorry!)after I over did it with the chili powder or chillies.
Now I'm a bit older and theoretically wiser , I've decided to give a range of Indian recipes a go, helped by the fact im not limited by cookbooks anymore. The first one is kind of a mix of the orginal recipe from here an adaptation from here and my sheer absentmindedness.

Serves 2 by itself or 4 with rice

1 can of cooked black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 small onion ( i used half a large onion)
4 cloves garlic
Half inch ginger
1 finger chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
Half tsp garam masala powder
Half tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil

Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chili finely ( I grated my ginger) Heat the oil until its really hot then add the cumin. Once they start to sizzle or pop add the onion garlic ginger and chili and keep stirring till the onions turn brown. Add the beans and half fill the bean tin with hot water. Add water to the beans and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric and garam masala then serve.

Both recipes originally call for tomato and coriander powder but unfortunately I didn't have any. The chili was due to a mention of red chili powder and I like a bit of heat. I would defiantly cook this again but will also try the original recipes to see which I prefer. Picture up soon as my camera has run out of batteries.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Delia again

Sorry folks , between going to Amsterdam and (theoretically) revising for exams I haven't had much time or inclination to cook. However I did manage to roast my first chicken solo and it turned out delicious if I may say so. Also I cooked another Delia curry. Not the most photogenic of dishes it didn't warrant a picture but it looked pretty damn close to the one on the website. It's one that works well for veggies and students. Nice and easy and you can leave it alone to cook once everything's in the pan. One side note though it doesn't heat up very well as it tends to lose its taste on reheating. I didn't have any limes, lime pickle or chili but I think it tasted nice enough without it although I would recommend the chili if you like some kick. So on to the recipe.

Ingredients

2 large eggs
3 oz (75 g) green lentils
3 oz (75 g) creamed coconut
1 large onion
2 fat cloves garlic
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece root ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
1 level teaspoon fennel seeds
1 level dessertspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil
1 rounded teaspoon turmeric powder
To serve:

5 fl oz (150 ml) rice, cooked

First peel the onion, cut it in half and then into thin slices , peel and chop the garlic then peel and grate the ginger – you need a good heaped teaspoonful. The creamed coconut should be shredded with a sharp knife and placed in a heatproof measuring jug. At this stage put the kettle on to boil.

Now place the frying pan over a medium heat and, as soon as it gets hot, measure the whole spices (cardamom, cumin, fennel and coriander) straight into it. What they need to do now is dry-roast, and this will take 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan from time to time to toss them around a bit and, as soon as they start to jump, remove them from the heat and tip them straight into a mortar.

Now place the pan back over the heat, turn it up high and add the oil. As soon as it is really hot, add the onions and, keeping the heat highish, let them sizzle and brown and become quite dark at the edges, which will take about 5 minutes. After that, turn the heat back down to medium and add the ginger and garlic , along with the turmeric . Now crush the roasted spices finely with a pestle, add these to the pan as well, then stir everything together. See to the coconut next: all you need to do here is pour boiling water up to the 1 pint (570 ml) level in the jug containing the coconut, then whisk it all together.

Now stir the lentils in to join the rest of the ingredients, add the coconut liquid, stir again and, as soon as it reaches simmering point, turn the heat down. Put the lid on and let the mixture simmer as gently as possible for 45 minutes, stirring it now and then.

To see the original recipe go to here