So apples may not seem like the most interesting topic, but I was just reading this fascinating article on BBC news … Did you know, for instance, that that tasy, refreshing variety, the Granny Smith apple was discovered growing on a rubbish heap in Australia?! It grew completely by chance, and was found and cultivated, rather than thrown away. What a lucky fruit!
Did you also know that all Bramley apples came from one single parent tree that was grown around 1810 in Nottinghamshire by a young woman called Mary Anne Brailsford? Every single Bramley apple pie every made and scoffed owes its existence to that one, humble, Regency seed.
Is it just me, or is that kind of amazing?
Go here if you’d like to read the article for yourself: British to the core. As for me, I think I’m going to go and eat an apple. Lush!
PS – I probably shouldn’t admit this, but when I was very little (about 5 years old) I hated the name Clare and wanted to change it to something different every other week. For quite a long period of time I decided I wanted to be called – wait for it – Rosie Apple. Yes, that was what I seriously wanted my name to be. I think I even refused to respond to anything else for a day or so. Oh dear!
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged book, cupcakes, fantasy, Food, novel, sushi on Tuesday, 16th February, 2010|
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I just wanted to give you lovelies a quick update on what I’ve been up to …
- Applications – a couple for jobs and a couple for PGCEs. They take up a lot of time and are quite dull, but they need doing, alas!
- Tulle skirt. Meh. It’s finished, but it looks frumpy and I’m not impressed by that! I’m plotting ways to possibly de-frump it, or else it’s going in the bin (well, probably not the bin, but the pergatory that is under the bed). Maybe making it a lot shorter (it’s knee-length at the moment) will help, but I’m a bit anxious to do that as once it’s cut, there’s no going back!
- Reading – I forgot to mention this in my “You Should Read This” post, but You Should Read This (Robin Hobb’s Ship of Magic). It’s one I bought before we moved but hadn’t got around to reading yet and I’ve just picked and ye gods I already love it something rotten. I’m only a few chapters in and I suspect it might become my favourite book ever. Yes, that’s how much I love it. I might have to write a full review once I’ve finished it, but for now I’m going to gush about the things I love about it: the writing is ohmygodsIwishI’dwrittenthat amazing – certain turns of phrase she uses are so simple and yet so perfect it leaves me wondering how anyone has ever described that thing in any other way, and this especially impresses me because these days I am so picky about writing that I can’t help but see every single flaw, so for me to be wowed this much is rare; the characterisation and characters – they are so incredibly real from what I’ve read so far, the chapter I’ve just finished in particular gets under the skin of that character so utterly that I felt I was seeing into the mind of another person, not reading made up imaginings; which brings me to that imagination – this is fantasy at its best, in my most humble of opinions – I’m quite well read in the genre and the ideas she comes up with are so unique and original without being too outlandish or unbelievable, which is exactly what fantasy should be. OK, must stop gushing about Robin Hobb now, but I have major Writer Envy and Awe and Love and Wows!
- Valentine’s-ing – the Boy and I don’t like going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, it’s just a bit cheesy for our tastes, being out with loads of other couples and so on, so we went out on Thursday for a quiet meal and on Sunday I baked him cupcakes (raspberry with vanilla icing and red sparkles- yay!) and we got Yo Sushi take away (YUM!), watched our guilty pleasure (Smallville) and then went to a pub quiz. It was a lovely day.
I should’ve taken pictures of the cakes, I know, but they were just too yummy not to scoff all at once … but here’s some sushi to look at instead:
I heart sushi!
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Posted in Editors and Agents, Recipes, Writing, tagged easy cooking, Food, novel, plot, submitting for publication, Writing on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2009|
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Today I’d like to share a couple of wonderfully helpful articles out there in teh interwebs/blogosphere relating to writing and submitting fiction (though some of the advice might very well apply to other forms of writing)…
First, let’s start with the writing, because if you haven’t written anything, you can’t submit it! My favourite ‘crabbit old bat’ (her own words), AKA Nicola Morgan, has written a thoroughly bloody brilliant post about Story Structure and Shape. She likens the peaks and troughs of a story’s structure to breathing – and she is completely right! This is a truly top article from a truly top blogger. Read it and follow her. That is an order.
Next, we move on to the scary world of submissions… Now, as I haven’t finished writing a novel (yet), I haven’t started on that particular merry-go-round/rollercoaster/other speedy, spinney ride, but that doesn’t stop me (like other aspiring writers) from thinking about when that time comes and researching how it works. Forwarned is forearmed. Or something.
So, yes, let’s think about submitting our work to publishers…
Do the words ‘slush pile’ send doomladen shivers down your spine? Don’t have a clue how to submit to one? Want to know how to stand the best chance of getting that submission read? Then Daniel Clay’s A Winning Strategy for Escaping the Slush Pile is just what you need. It’s written in a very readable and humble style that imparts lots of useful information and offers that thing that us writers need to cling to – hope. (Via Girl Meets World – an informative blog from a fellow aspiring writer.)
And finally, I leave you with something non-writing-related but which (I hope) will prettify this post and perhaps even tantalise your tastebuds… Here’s a very cute turtle cupcake and the recipe/instructions:
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Posted in 18th century, tagged 18th century, accessories, drink, Food on Monday, 31st August, 2009|
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Huzzah – The Boy is back from his festival! So I’m taking a break from sewing to spend some time with him. I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent with the neck of the shift (ie, making it up as I go along), but I’m hoping it should work out well – photos when the neck is finished.
For now, here’s a quick bit of fun from my 18th Century file…
Being the owner of a sizeable sweet tooth, I have always loved sherbet. What I didn’t know until I started researching the 18th Century is that it was also (and is still) a drink of Middle Eastern origin. Also, sherbet-the-sweet was originally a powder that you mixed with water to make a sweet, fizzy drink. So in my over-fertile imagination, sherbet-the-drink and sherbet-the-sweet came together with a splash of alcohol to make the equivalent of champagne in Quin’s world. Effervescent yumminess!
I’ve found a site that tells you how to make fizzy sherbet-the-sweet, but I’m really curious to know how to make the drinkable kind – from what I’ve read, it definitely sounds like it’s different, but similar (and it sounds like the Middle-Eastern drink is even more different). The search is quite difficult as apparently the American meaning of sherbet is a frozen dessert (looks like sorbet from what I’ve read). I have found this page, with a recipe for fizzy drink powder. I must try it out, but I’d like to find a way to flavour the sherbet, but have no idea how I could add a dry flavouring. Perhaps flavoured sugar (eg, vanilla flavoured) would work?
If anyone has any tips or has tried making any of these forms of sherbet, I’d love to hear from you!
And here’s something pretty to keep your eyes amused:
I really must find some way of getting my hands on pretty fan sticks so I can make one of my own.
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Posted in Recipes, tagged chilli, easy cooking, Food, recipe, yum! on Friday, 21st August, 2009|
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I used to think of chilli as being too complicated to make without a readymade sauce, but it is so easy to make a really tasty sauce, which you can make as hot or mild as you like. I made this at the weekend (and went off to do other things while it cooked – gotta love low-maintenance cooking), then had the leftovers the next day with a jacket potato – YUM! I thought I’d share my recipe as it is easy, cheap (cheaper than a readymade sauce) and great for a big group of people, which can sometimes be daunting to cook for!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 red or white onion
1 pack of lean beef mince (500g)
1 pepper (whatever colour you like)
Couple of garlic cloves
1 tin of tomatoes (if you like it more saucy, you might want two tins – I find the sauciness varies depending on the brand)
1 tin of kidney beans or mixed beans
Beef stock cube
Oregano (thyme will do if you don’t have the oregano)
Tabasco and/or flaked chillis
Rice or baked potatoes or potato wedges or whatever you want to serve with the chilli.
Optional extras: red wine, paprika
- Brown the mince off in a little olive oil in a deep frying pan. Chop up the onion, pepper and garlic in the meantime.
- Once the mince is browned, I like to drain off the fat that comes from the mince as I prefer the taste and less grease. Add the onion and garlic as well as a teaspoon of Season All, 2 teaspoons of oregano and a good grind of black pepper (I love the stuff, but it’s down to personal preference). Fry off until the onion softens.
- Add the peppers, tinned tomatoes, beans, a bay leaf, a small pinch of flaked chillis (depending on taste), a small splash of Tabasco sauce (again, to taste), a tablespoon of tomato puree, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and the stock cube. If you’re using them, I’d also add 1/2 tsp of paprika and a generous glug of red wine at this point. If I’m not using wine, I add a couple of of tbsp of hot water. Stir well and simmer gently, allowing the wine to reduce down if you have added it.
- Go and do something else. The beauty of this is that you can leave it for anything between 30 mins and an hour (or more). I generally leave it for about three quarters of an hour, occassionally stirring and tasting, perhaps adding some more hot water if it starts to dry up. If it’s tasting bland at any point, I’ll add a fair sprinkle of Season All, more black pepper, more oregano. If you like it hotter, just crank up the chillis.
- When you’re happy with it, fish out the bay leaf and serve your chilli with rice/tortilla chips/flour tortillas/jacket potatoes/potato wedges. Optional extras: soured cream, guacamole, grated cheese, salsa, etc.
- Stuff your face, feeling that smug satisfaction that can only come from having made something easy and tasty that wasn’t from a jar.
*I love this stuff! It’s great on potato wedges and my boyf sprinkles it over olive oil on the skin of a jacket potato before it goes in the oven. It is quite salty, though, so don’t add extra salt on top of this. If you can’t get hold of it, that’s not a problem, it’s just that you’ll need to buy the separate spices (which can work out more expensive): paprika, chilli (can used crushed chillis), nutmeg, coriander seed, cayenne pepper and finely-chopped fresh celery. You also might want to add an extra clove of garlic and/or another onion.
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