Books, writing and chocolate truffles.

Am so happy with today’s finds! From these three here I love Graves the most and will soon write about him and the others, so if you enjoy reading about books and writers, feel free to follow me on my instagram account . You won’t see much about food here but I wanted to share with you a recipe for some yummy chocolate truffles. Perfect to indulge on while reading a great book!

Ingredients:

200 gr Raw almonds

200 gr Raw cashew nuts

Pinch of Himalayan salt

Pinch of cinnamon

10 Medjool dates pitted

Dash of water

Topping:

200 gr melted dark chocolate

Method:

Mix all ingredients in a food processor apart from water until well mixed. Pour water very slowly until the mixture forms into a dough. Roll into balls.

Melt the chocolate, bain marie method. Keep the chocolate melting on low heat and roll each ball in the chocolate. (I use a toothpick to make things easier, you can use a fork too). Transfer to parchment paper and freeze until it’s time to enjoy.

 

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Cherubs, Campbell and up in the air.

Two spirits reached this world of ours:
The lightning’s locomotive powers
Were slow to their agility:
In broad daylight they moved incog,
Enjoying, without mist or fog,
Entire invisibility.

The one, a simple cherub lad,
Much interest in our planet had,
Its face was so romantic;
He couldn’t persuade himself that man
Was such as heavenly rumors ran,
A being base and frantic.

The elder spirit, wise and cool,
Brought down the youth as to a school;
But strictly on condition,
Whatever they should see or hear,
With mortals not to interfere;
‘Twas not in their commission.

They reached a sovereign city proud,
Whose emperor prayed to God aloud,
With all his people kneeling,
And priests performed religious rites:
“Come,” said the younger of the sprites,
“This shows a pious feeling.”

YOUNG SPIRIT.

“Ar’n’t these a decent godly race?”

OLD SPIRIT.

“The direst thieves on Nature’s face.”

YOUNG SPIRIT.

“But hark, what cheers they’re giving
Their emperor! — And is he a thief?”

OLD SPIRIT.

“Ay, and a cut-throat too; — in brief,
THE GREATEST SCOUNDREL LIVING.”

YOUNG SPIRIT.

“But say, what were they praying for,
This people and their emperor?”

OLD SPIRIT.

“Why, but for God’s assistance
To help their army, late sent out:
And what that army is about,
You’ll see at no great distance.”

On wings outspeeding mail or post,
Our sprites o’ertook the Imperial host;
In massacres it wallowed:
A noble nation met its hordes,
But broken fell their cause and swords,
Unfortunate, though hallowed.

They saw a late bombarded town,
Its streets still warm with blood ran down;
Still smoked each burning rafter;
And hideously, ‘midst rape and sack,
The murderer’s laughter answered back
His prey’s convulsive laughter.

They saw the captive eye the dead,
With envy of his gory bed, —
Death’s quick reward of bravery:
They heard the clank of chains, and then
Saw thirty thousand bleeding men
Dragged manacled to slavery.

“Fie! fie!” the younger heavenly spark
Exclaimed — “we must have missed our mark,
And entered hell’s own portals:
Earth can’t be stained by crimes so black;
Nay, sure, we’ve got among a pack
Of fiends and not of mortals.”

“No,” said the elder; “no such thing:
Fiends are not fools enough to wring
The necks of one another: —
They know their interests too well:
Men fight; but every devil in hell
Lives friendly with his brother.

“And I could point you out some fellows,
On this ill-fated planet Tel us,
In royal power that revel,
Who, at the opening of the book
Of judgment, may have cause to look
With envy at the devil.”

Name but the devil, and he’ll appear,
Old Satan in a trice was near,
With smutty face and figure:
But spotless spirits of the skies,
Unseen to e’en his saucer eyes,
Could watch the fiendish nigger.

“Halloo!” he cried, “I smell a trick:
A mortal supersedes Old Nick,
The scourge of earth appointed:
He robs me of my trade, outrants
The blasphemy of hell, and vaunts
Himself the Lord’s anointed.

“Folks make a fuss about my mischief:
D — d fools, they tamely suffer this chief
To play his pranks unbounded.”
The cherubs flew; but saw from high,
At human inhumanity,
The devil himself astounded.

The Cherubs by Thomas Campbell.

Finished reading the poetry of Grigson, Muir and Stokes before end of month so I read some good old beautiful classics. I like modern poetry but it’s the classic poetry that sweeps me off my feet.

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The Remains of the day, dignity and real gentlemen.

Mr. Stevens is a professional butler working at Darlington. He receives a letter from Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper, and by the tone of her letter he feels that Miss Kenton is not happy with her marriage and that therefore she might consider coming back to Darlington. Encouraged by his new employer to take a break, Mr. Stevens decides to go on a trip to meet her and hopefully bring her back. But is this call solely on professional basis or is there something more? And so he takes us with him on this journey, and whilst driving and lodging in different places he reminisces about the past, telling us in a beautifully melancholic way what his work meant to him. What made him a professional. What dignity is all about. He also tells us about the harmless yet meaningful bickering between him and Miss Kenton especially in the beginning of her employment. He gives us a hint that there may have been something more between them but as always Mr. Stevens is so professional he even hides his feelings from his own self. Analytic, sometimes as cold as fish and callous even, yet you can’t help admiring him for staying calm and in control even in very difficult situations. He was used to putting his feelings aside. A butler yet more of a gentleman than many, including some who were considered to be so because of a title. Is it not, in the end, a noble heart that makes a real gentleman? That gives you that kind of dignity and allows you to remain calm even when someone snaps his fingers at you? A noble heart that drives you to be, at all costs, that professional and disciplined; the utmost refusal, under any circumstance, to lose control or be vulgar. Many regard this level of servitude as weakness. I think it’s a sign of real strength. Only a strong person can be that disciplined and that gentle at the same time. That selfless… This book went down like a glass of cognac after a long day. Whenever I read from it my mind relaxed, absorbed its elegance and made me forget all the rest. I can’t remember the last time a book made me love both the story and the language itself that much. Beautiful in many ways. 5 stars.

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Best days, latest finds and simple pleasures.

Finally, the best days of the week! I started off today with some errands and then some book hunting.  I found these beautiful, colourful 1960s London Mysteries Magazines (‘A quarterly anthology of the best Crime, Mystery & Detective, Fact & Fiction). Have you seen these before? I love them and I’ll be reading them soon and will do some research about them. I’ll share with you anything I get to know as I go along…

Back home and it’s cooking time.  I pay attention to what I eat during the week but on weekends I let go a bit and I bake a different pie every weekend, today it’s a typical Maltese dish – Timpana. Basically it’s a hearty meal of pasta in pastry (I am really letting go this weekend). Then for dessert I have made the easy, raw, no-bake, all natural, yummiest cherry cheesecake ever. Here are the recipes:

Timpana

Ingredients:

500g pastry (frozen sheets)
500g dried macaroni or penne
300g beef mince
300g pork mince
300g bacon, finely diced
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
150g tasty cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten
2tbsp tomato paste
400g tomato purée
500ml chicken or beef stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For glaze you can brush with a beaten egg

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Fry onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the meat, stirring & cooking for 15 minutes. Pour the stock, mix well and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomato purée. While the sauce is cooking, cook pasta as per instructions (make sure not to over cook!). Drain and mix with sauce, adding tasty cheese. Stir in beaten eggs very slowly to give consistency to the mixture.

Line a greased baking dish with the pastry, also on the sides. Fill it with the pasta and cover the top with another layer of pastry which has been pricked all over with a knife to let steam escape. Bake for 1 hour and 15 mins.

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Jessy’s version of a Yummy Raw Cherry Cheesecake

Base:

200g raw almonds

200g pitted dates

1tsp of maple syrup

1tsp of vanilla extract

Half a banana

Filling:

20 fresh pitted cherries

200g raw cashew nuts

2 bananas

1tsp of maple syrup

1tsp of vanilla extract

I include chocolate in all my desserts because I am a chocolate freak, so for those who want to include it:

3 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp raw cocoa powder

3 tbsp maple syrup.

Put base in a food processor and mix until it turns into a dough like mixture. Press the mixture in 6 and 1/2 inch cake tin with a spoon. For the filling mix everything in the processor again until really creamy and pour onto the base. Freeze whilst preparing the chocolate topping by melting the coconut oil and add in the rest. Whisk until well mixed and pour on cheesecake. Freeze until time to eat.  Sprinkle with desiccated coconut and some lovely fresh cherries. Enjoy!

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Tarka the Otter, what makes sense and what doesn’t.

This book took me back to a particular moment when I was little, in front of the TV, watching a documentary about orcas. After that one I decided that I didn’t like documentaries. There you are watching the beauty of an orca for half an hour, soft slow music in the background, beautiful footage of the killer whale floating effortlessly in the vivid blue, beauty and grace; getting all emotional when she gives birth and melting over her offspring… and then just like that the overall mood of the documentary changes and suddenly the orca turns into a ruthless killer, devouring a sweet little innocent seal who was doing nothing but minding his own business. Pleading eyes. Blood everywhere. No, I didn’t like documentaries at all. This went on throughout my childhood years; if someone at home was watching a documentary, I left the room. Time went by and so did that innocence. Slowly I started seeing sense in the fatidic circle of life.

Tarka the Otter is about the sense in all that but also about that which doesn’t make sense. For most of the book we get to see what life is about for an otter. In this case, the life of Tarka (meaning Little Water Wanderer or Wandering as Water). His life as an offspring, depending on his mother, and soon enough his adventures and challenges as an adult. You understand why his mother eventually leaves him and why he has to tear a rabbit or a bird into pieces. You understand why sometimes Tarka is the one who is hunted down. You understand all that. But then man comes along, and all of a sudden Tarka’s life is threatened by the senseless and for the life of me, I will never understand that…

Williamson left me speechless, I couldn’t believe all the attention to detail. A great observer for sure, his writing – a means of transportation.  The rawness reminded me of McCormac’s The Road. If not a feast for the senses, it is one of awareness for sure. He managed to write a whole book about the life of an otter, day after day,  without making it sound like a monotonous recurrent episode. My senses became sharper. I swam and played and hunted with Tarka and I became to love him. An emotional read but well worth it, hence that painting!

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Neruda, The Wide Ocean and The Poem.

12910556_10154052059089659_1197099060_nOcean, if you were to give, a measure, a ferment, a fruit
of your gifts and destructions, into my hand,
I would choose your far-off repose, your contour of steel,
your vigilant spaces of air and darkness,
and the power of your white tongue,
that shatters and overthrows columns,
breaking them down to your proper purity.

Not the final breaker, heavy with brine,
that thunders onshore, and creates
the silence of sand, that encircles the world,
but the inner spaces of force,
the naked power of the waters,
the immoveable solitude, brimming with lives.
It is Time perhaps, or the vessel filled
with all motion, pure Oneness,
that death cannot touch, the visceral green
of consuming totality.

Only a salt kiss remains of the drowned arm,
that lifts a spray: a humid scent,
of the damp flower, is left,
from the bodies of men. Your energies
form, in a trickle that is not spent,
form, in retreat into silence.

The falling wave,
arch of identity, shattering feathers,
is only spume when it clears,
and returns to its source, unconsumed.

Your whole force heads for its origin.
The husks that your load threshes,
are only the crushed, plundered, deliveries,
that your act of abundance expelled,
all those that take life from your branches.

Your form extends beyond breakers,
vibrant, and rhythmic, like the chest, cloaking
a single being, and its breathings,
that lift into the content of light,
plains raised above waves,
forming the naked surface of earth.
You fill your true self with your substance.
You overflow curve with silence.

The vessel trembles with your salt and sweetness,
the universal cavern of waters,
and nothing is lost from you, as it is
from the desolate crater, or the bay of a hill,
those empty heights, signs, scars,
guarding the wounded air.

Your petals throbbing against the Earth,
trembling your submarine harvests,
your menace thickening the smooth swell,
with pulsations and swarming of schools,
and only the thread of the net raises
the dead lightning of fish-scale,
one wounded millimetre, in the space
of your crystal completeness.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Hoffman, the depths and the lines.

1507981_10152790960354659_2237149647528204071_nSublime and wonderful art thou, O deep,
Illustrious ocean, vast unmeasured waste!
Lost in thy contemplation, I do seem
Even as a grain of sand upon thy beach,
That shouldst thou reach thy giant arms to grasp
Would melt away in thy dissolving foam,
Nor yet be missed among the myriads left;
Yet in thy calms and tempests, I can read
The moods and passions of the human soul;
Nor are they changing winds and tides more real
That those that sweep and sway the depths of thought.

Calm is thy breast today, thou fitful main,
And yet perchance before the eastern star
Sheds o’er thy surface her supernal beams,
High on yon crags thy maddened spray shall dash
And the wild roar of elemental war
Shall cause the dwellers on thy cliffs to quake
And the brave mariner to grow sick at heart.

Why is this murmuring, this wild unrest?
This never-ending conflict with thyself,
As if thou wouldst burst through thy massive gates
And fling thy treasures through celestial space,
Strew the pale Occident with coral sprays
And the blue zenith with ten-thousand gems;
Or scatter pearls throughout the Orient flames;
Or yet go seething through yon crested heights
And with a voice like Gabriel’s trumpet, tell
The pent-up secrets of thy hidden depths
Unto the flaming beacon of the day?

‘Tis vain- with all thy vast gigantic power,
Thou canst but cast a few frail treasures forth,
Perchance a seaweed spray or tinted shell,
Dripping and glistening from thy briny surf,
Cast out upon the sands, that wheresoe’er
Fate or caprice may bear its fragile form,
A whispered song from its pink lips is heard
That seems to speak of caverns deep and lone
Sunk in thy heaving bosom, restless sea,
That eye hath never seen, nor yet a ray
From the bright flickering lamps of Heaven has pierced.

Thus do the surges of the spirit rise
And dash against their narrow prison walls,
Clap their rapt wings and long for liberty;
Or in a vague unrest beat to and fro,
Forever striving to yield up the things
That pent in their own beings will not rest
Ah! like the sea, they only render up
Perchance a thought from out their hidden caves,
That, like the sea-shell, murmurs of the depths
That slept before undreamed of far below;
Within the human soul lie depths as deep
As ever slept within the ocean’s breast,
And heights that rise beyond the breaker’s crest
In the vain wish to pass their narrow bound.

Lo, o’er the depths of ocean and of soul
Breathes forth a voice that calms their wild unrest:
‘Peace, be thou still,’ ‘to me thou shalt yield up,
The garnered fullness of thy hidden things;
To me the deep shall pour her treasures out;
To me the ocean shall her secrets tell;
At my command the sea shall burst her gates
And the chained treasures of the depths come forth;’
So shall the soul break forth at last in song;
So shall her pent-up longings be unloosed
To sweep adown the aisles of endless time;
So shall the depths therein in endless praise
Pour out their garnered fullness unto God.

By Martha Lavinia (1865-1900)

This wonderful poet passed away at the young age of 35. She knew she wouldn’t live for long but she wanted to do some good in this world and so she did through her writings.