bookworm #30 and #31

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Its almost December, and I have a bumper addition of book reviews! If that doesn't get you in the mood for a relaxing weekend of cosy comforts, then I don't know what will. As always no spoilers, just my thoughts and views on each. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler 

This is actually almost impossible to review without giving the plot away! Just a few chapters into the story you are met with a huge twist, which I don't want to ruin. Its definitely an interesting story line and one which prompts some thought and discussion. I have to say the hype and mystery surrounding this book really caught my attention, but I don't know how blown away I was by the end. It was nominated for a Man Booker Prize though, and have heard lots of interesting takes on the story - its definitely worth a read!

Daughter by Jane Shemilt

I loved this and was totally hooked from the off. You start the book by learning about Naomi's disappearance, and the story takes two paths. With each alternate chapter you learn more about the days leading up to Naomi's disappearance, and then the aftermath. I have to say I wasn't totally hooked with the chapters focusing on the family's life after her disappearance - they took a while to get going. There were so many twists in the plot though, and little by little you learn more and more about the family and the circumstances surrounding Naomi's disappearance. I really enjoyed how the plot unfolded and although finding the ending a little hard to believe, felt it tied up loose ends. Nothing worse than a disappointing ending, especially with this sort of detective, mystery-solving type theme! I would definitely recommend this for an easy but engaging read. 

gilded golden gorgeousness

Monday, 24 November 2014

It's no secret that I love Anthropologie - their home wares make me swoon. At Christmas time it just goes into overdrive! Gilded golden heaven. Since a store opened locally to me in Guildford, my love have just developed. And my bank balance diminished...

Twisted twig measuring spoons £24, Gilden thistle nut bowl £12, Langholm cheese knives £32, Limited Edition Monogram Mug £8

Yes, their prices aren't always purse-friendly but if you have a good old rummage there are some really great buys. Last year I didn't get my hands on a golden monogram mug, so this year I was in there straight away! At only eight quid, they are a relatively guilt-free buy and would make a great gift this Christmas. In fact, I think Anthropologie is perfect for gift-buying. A lot of the gorgeous items they sell are just that - gorgeous - but not something many of us can justify spending money on. I mean, who doesn't want bronzed, golden and silver cheese knives?! I certainly do, but wouldn't be able to justify buying them myself. 

Macedonia coaster £8, Arbor floret cocktail napkins £24 for four, Monogram pouch £24, Arca jewellery box £20 


Thursday, 20 November 2014

For me, festive food means cheese. Lots of cheese. Last year our Christmas cheeseboard was eaten weeks before Christmas came around, we just couldn't wait! The King of all cheeses has to be a baked Camembert - gooey deliciousness.

When I was contacted by Laura Ashley and asked to write a recipe for their blog, I knew exactly what I wanted to try out. What's better than cheese, than cheese wrapped in pastry? This is the perfect appetiser for those times you have guests but don't know what to feed them, and despite it being a tad messy, would work at a Christmas drinks party. 

You will need:
Puff Pastry
Cranberry sauce

The how to is really simple. I'm a firm believer in cutting the odd corner here and there - there's absolutely no shame in reaching for pre-rolled pastry! Lay the pastry out on the greaseproof paper in comes wrapped in and plonk your Camembert in the middle. Do a quick check that the pastry will fold over the cheese - if not, use a rolling pin to just roll the pastry out a little larger. Next up, spoon on a good amount of Cranberry sauce over the top of the Camembert. You'll want to use two to three tablespoons of sauce to ensure it really comes through with the cheese once cooked. Fold the pastry over the cheese fairly tightly, being sure to cut off any extra pastry - it wont cook fully if there are big overlapping pieces of pastry. Liberally brush on a beaten egg to help the pastry form a gorgeous glaze. Pop in the oven on about 180C for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. 

Serve straight from the oven with warm crusty bread. We ate it alongside some cured meats and caramelised onion jam for an extra treat. Delicious. 

If this is a little too much for you, then you can take one step back and go for a simple baked Camembert. Take it out of the packaging, pop it in a cheese baker like this one (you could poke in a few garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary, or simply a small brush of olive oil and rock salt) and bake in the oven for about fifteen minutes, or until it is soft in the middle.