Read, ate, watched

Life lately

Fluke, by Christopher Moore. It was seriously random and highly entertaining. I’m so sad it’s finished!

It started off, a seemingly normal story. There’s a marine biologist named Nate who studies whales and why they ‘sing’. There’s Kona, whose real name is Preston Applebaum. He’s a white boy who talks and acts like a drugged out rastafarian. There’s also Clay, a marine photographer and Amy a cute research assistant.

As Nate gets closer and closer to the reason why the whales sing, he begins stumbling upon some secrets he shouldn’t know. He sees what appears to be the words ‘Bite me’ written on the fluke of a whale. Then, he finds himself being swallowed by a humpback  and things really start to get strange. I knew the kookiness was beginning when a chapter of the book suddenly started with ‘Please take your shoes off while inside the whale’……

Totally recommend this if you like quirky, slight odd books and strange characters.

Hainanese Chicken from Temasek in Parramatta

I keep reading about this style of chicken in food mags and blogs. It’s a classic Singaporean dish and very healthy. Literally just poached chicken infused with ginger. It gets served with rice cooked in chicken stock and chilli and kecap manis sauces.

I was hoping I’d love it but unfortunately I did not. I’m not a huge fan of cold chicken (unless it’s BBQ’d!) so this to me was slightly gag worthy. I also didn’t like the feel of the chicken skin in my mouth. Apparently you can get it served without the bones and without the skin. Can’t say I’m prepared to try it again though.

Biutiful. I loved this Spanish film, mainly because Javier Barden did such a stellar job!

Javier plays Uxbal, a man who you discover in one of the first scenes of the movie has prostrate cancer. He’s divorced and raising his two kids by himself. And he never, ever, tells anyone that he’s sick. He also seems to have the psychic ability to communicate with the dead, however this isn’t really a central part of the film.

I really loved his character. He seems like such a moral person and tries so very hard to make a good life for himself. However at the same time, he’s up to his neck in petty crime. You see people go to jail and also die tragically because of his actions. But even knowing this, you see this behaviour in the context of his circumstances and you just want him to come out on top. It’s quite emotional and pretty heavy in some parts but I loved the story and I loved how it showed the rough side of Barcelona, not just the touristy parts we all usually see.

Javier has such a beautifully expressive face and he made this movie truly biutiful for me. If I was a movie critic, I’d give it an 8.5/10.

The little book of BIG ideas

I think this is a great book for adults and kids alike. Plus that pencil holder is awesome sauce!

The book has 40 pages, each with a drawing prompt that will encourage you (or your kiddywink) to be creative and dream up an answer to things ‘When mail gets lost where does it go? or ‘If monsters wore shoes what would they look like?’

Love it! Wish I’d discovered this BEFORE Christmas.

Afternoon tea party

Here’s a lovely cake suggestion for an afternoon tea party. Spiced carrot and pistachio cake from Susan Blake’s Afternoon tea parties.

There’s something comfortng and homely about carrot cake. This one has a lemony cream cheese frosting and a dense moist crumb.

225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
150ml sunflower oil
3 eggs
200g soft light brown sugar
350g grated carrot
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
60g roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
a 20 cm cake tine, greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

For the frosting and to decorate:
200g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Chopped unsalted pistachio nuts

Preheat the oven to 180c.

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, beat together the oil, eggs and sugar. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together. Add the grated carrot, orange zest and nuts. Mix! Mix! Mix!

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, level out the surface and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice and zest until smooth and creamy. Spread over the cooled cake.