Wednesday, 30 January 2013

bookworm #16

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

This book was lent to me by my Mum and although not something I would usually choose,I was drawn to the 'psychological crime thiller' plot tagline. I actually really like crime thrillers, but am often put off by the scary looking covers. I know, pathetic. I am a huge wimp when it comes to horror films and just can't watch them - I always have this fear crime thrillers will give me the same chills! Regardless of my reservations, I thought this sounded like something I would enjoy and quickly dug in. 

Sister is a story about a girl who goes missing, and her sister who takes it upon herself to investigate her disappearance when the police don't seem to be following important leads. As this is a crime novel there are loads of twists and turns in the plot, and I don't want to give anything away. I'll just say that it takes so many different directions and has a really interesting ending. 

At the back of the book there was a list of Rosamund Lupton's top ten reads, which I thought was a lovely idea. I wish more books did the same, as I love getting book recommendations. I'm currently writing all the ones I get recommended in the back of my diary; the list is mounting up!

As I say, I do love a crime thriller as I love seeing it all come together and tying up all the strands of the plot. I've read a couple of Jeffery Deaver novels which I enjoyed, in particular The Vanished Man, and am going to look out for other crime thrillers. 

Do you like crime thrillers? Can you recommend any?


Friday, 25 January 2013

take the edge off

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

The inspiration behind this post was, unfortunately, nothing more than the fact that a pack of 4/5 chicken drumsticks costs only £1 at Sainsburys... can't say no! So I picked up two packs, went on a hunt for some jerk paste/marinade and off I went. Super easy, and even more tasty! 

You will need:
Chicken drumsticks or thighs
Jerk paste 
Red Pepper
Salad to serve

Obviously you can make your own jerk seasoning if you have the time or inclination... I had neither. I picked up a jar of the stuff for just over a pound - lovely!

Start off by seasoning your chicken. Smother over your paste/marinade and leave the chicken to absorb the flavours for as long as possible in the fridge - overnight is ideal, but a couple of hours would be fine. 

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and put in your chicken. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the skin becomes crispy.

Take your chicken out of the pan (don't wash up the frying pan just yet though!) and put into a baking tray. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 25 minutes - this depends on size and cut of chicken however, so check the pack instructions before!

For the rice, cook your rice as normal. I used basmati just because it's what we had in the flat, but long grain is more authentic. 

In the pan you cooked the chicken in, fry off half an onion, a few rashers of diced bacon, a diced red pepper and lastly a handful of sweetcorn. This means all the flavours from the jerk chicken will go into the rice mixture. When the rice is cooked, mix in the fried mixture.

Check your chicken is cooked through before serving by putting in a knife and check it runs clear. You don't want pink meat!

Serve with the rice, and a side salad. We just had some chopped tomatoes and cucumber. Corn on the cob would be a good'un too! Depending on what jerk seasoning you use, and how much, the chicken can have a kick to it, so serve with a dollop of crème fraiche to cool.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

bookworm #15

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This review has been a long time coming! I bought the book a little while ago from my local Oxfam book shop and have to admit it sat on my bookshelf for a little while untouched. Looking back, I have no idea why! I wish I'd read this book sooner, as it really touched me with its kind and thought provoking storyline. 

The story is set in a small Scottish town, where both the main characters Lou and Will live, however with completely different lives. Before Will's accident, he was a successful business man living in London who, from all accounts, enjoyed his money, authority and women. At 35 however, he was knocked down my a motorbike and left a quadriplegic - unable to use anything from the neck down. He moved back to his parent's home where he lives in an assisted-living type annexe attached to their house; he is unable to care for himself and as a result needs round-the-clock care. 
The is where Louisa comes in to the story. She is employed by Will's parents as a carer for Will, but she soon realises they haven't been entirely truthful with her and are hoping for more. No, not necessarily love, but they want Will to learn to enjoy life again. 

I don't want to give too much away as this novel is full of twists and turns, heartbreaks and heartaches, but surprisingly enough, a huge amount of laughs and love. The story itself deals with some moral and ethical issues; the right to die, and all the emotions and internal concerns that go alongside that. You learn to see the situation from both Will's and Louisa's perspective, perhaps thinking about the issue in a way you hadn't before. The story is not just about Will's troubles however, and we get to see into Louisa's reality and how she has come to be so dependent on small-town life. 

Yes, this sounds horrifically depressing, but I promise you it is one of the best books I've read for a while. It isn't just filled with doom and gloom - Jojo Moyes is similar in style to Marian Keyes and is able to address serious issues with the care they deserve, but as well as with humour and compassion. 

This is definitely a must-read! I'm looking forward to reading some of Moyes' other novels; The Girl You Left Behind is next on my list!

Health warning: I cried like an absolutely baby several times whilst reading this - beware!!

Have you read Me Before You? What did you think?


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

like everybody else

Ok, so I originally wrote this post in the days between Christmas and New Year... then completely forgot about it. Not one to waste something good, I thought I'd share it with you anyway! 

Nothing is better than pie and mash at this time of year, and what better opportunity than when you have a freezer full of turkey? This is the perfect recipe to use up the Christmas leftovers, but you could also make this with leftover meat from your Sunday roast.

You will need...
400g turkey meat 
2 leeks
Bacon or ham
100ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
Plain flour
Dijon mustard
Crème fraiche
Shortcrust pastry

Start by chopping your leeks, turkey and bacon. If you have ham leftover, use this instead of bacon! You could also use mushrooms instead of ham/bacon or in addition. 

In a pan, fry off the bacon and leeks until the leeks are softened. Mix in a tablespoon of plain flour and cook for a minute. Add the wine and cook on a high heat until it has reduced a bit. Then add the stock and mustard and leave to bubble until reduced down and the sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, and then add the turkey. 

Stir through a tablespoon or two of crème fraiche (we forgot to do this, damn!) and put into a pie dish. Roll a layer of ready to roll shortcrust (or puff) pastry over the top and trim the excess. Crimp the edges with a fork, and generously brush over a beaten egg.

Bake for about 30 minutes on 180C. Serve with mashed potato and veg - we went for corn on the cobs with plenty of butter and a pinch of salt. 


Friday, 11 January 2013

caught the buzz

As you may know, I love a good read. I recently posted about my top ten books from last year and finished off with Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I really loved this book, and although I've seen a fair bit of hype surrounding it since reading, I'm surprised it hasn't been raved about more! I'd really recommend it, and will do a proper review soon. I've now just started reading Cloud Atlas - I've actually found it quite hard to get into, did anyone else find the same? I don't really have any idea what was going on in the first part, but am now onto the next character which seems more interesting. Hoping I get into it soon as have heard so many good things!

Anyway, in my top ten post I discussed where I buy my books from. I tend to stick to charity shops for most books, but then will buy any 'special' reads new/first hand. I like to buy novels by my favourite authors new to add to my bookshelf collection! The problem is, our flat is tiny and we have very little room for... well, anything. Our bookshelf is very nearly full and I'm starting to get concerned about my ever-growing collection of novels. 

I know what you're all thinking... what about a Kindle? Well, both my parents have one and I have to admit I'm intrigued. It would mean travelling around would be a whole lot easier (I'm fed up with fraying book corners in my handbag!) and lighter, and would save space in my fit-to-burst bookshelf. I'm just not sure I can let go of good, old-fashioned books. I love that feeling of holding a book, turning the pages and yes, I'm going to be completely ridiculous and say I appreciate a pretty cover. Despite this, I took my Mum's Kindle for a 'test drive'... and have to say I was impressed. Its not like reading from a computer screen at all, which I was afraid of, and is so light it makes reading that new Marian Keyes hardback that little bit easier! I've also been lucky enough to have a go with the new Kindle Fire, and... wow. It is incredible! I've definitely picked up the technology buzz recently and feel the Kindle could be my next purchase... I'll be hitting up Carphone Warehouse very soon I think!

I'd love to know what you think. Do you have a Kindle? Would you recommend it?

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