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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The Forgotten Garden, the 1900s and Cornwall.

Nell’s life changes on her 21st birthday when her supposed father reveals the truth. Found abandoned at an Australian quay with nothing but a small suitcase, he takes her home to be taken care of until her family comes for her, but no one does, and so he and his wife decide to raise 4 year-old Nell as their own. Shocked & now with a suitcase containing fragments of her past, Nell shuns everything and everyone & embarks on a journey to find out her real identity. But there was much more behind her story than she imagined, a dark mystery involving a woman named Eliza known as The Authoress, which was hindering Nell from finding out who her parents were. In the meantime she marries the wrong person, becomes a reluctant mother & a downright cynical. She spends years trying to solve the mystery, & just when she starts seeing some light, her estranged daughter comes & asks her to temporarily take care of Cassandra (Nell’s grandchild). Cassandra’s mother never returns & Nell puts solving the mystery aside & concentrates on raising her granddaughter. Through the years they become close, Nell being Cassandra’s rock during a tragic life-changing event, but not close enough for Nell to tell her about her past. That is, until she dies. Cassandra inherits the suitcase, a cottage in Cornwall and soon she finds out, the mystery. Can Cassandra solve it? She feels she owes it to her grandmother and so she travels to Cornwall. There was something strange about the cottage but what made it intriguing was the discovery of a hidden garden, locked and forgotten for many years… Most of the book was inspired by Morton’s personal life, her grandmother learned she was adopted on her 21st birthday and only told her three daughters about it when they grew up. I like Morton’s grown-up fairy tale style. Time-travelling, this one going back to the 1900s with their gothic vibes, & of course some garden magic similar to The Secret Garden. The plot, the great descriptions (which prove that she did some very good research, including medical) and reading about idyllic Cornwall made this book of 645 pages with small text still worthwhile.

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Some reds, Donne and a Black Beauty.

Some of my beloved reds. Had to include Donne, one of the favourite poets. A lot of depth in his poems,  you can tell he went through a lot…  I read the rest years ago apart from Quo Vadis and I think all of them are worth a re-read. Black Beauty was one of my childhood favourites. Pity it’s the only book published by Sewell. She came from a poor family and it took her six years to write this gem, but perseverance paid off, an instant success when published… Most probably this book is behind the reason why I love black horses the most. I love horse-riding, for me it’s one of those things that accentuates life.  When I crave it I cross the island and go to a family owned business in the north. The hour ride is like a dream, a path by the cliffs and before you scenery of nothing but wild, untouched landscape and the sea. I always end up speechless and can’t speak for some time afterwards… Hope you are having a lovely Saturday🌷

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The weather, the moods and the longing.

What I posted yesterday on instagram, feel free to follow if you like :)…

Today was a very strange day. We had a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily, something quite rare for us here in late June. We knew it was coming thanks to the forecast but still everyone was astounded. It is so rare, many still planned to attend outdoor events, despite the warning, you can imagine the disappointment. I think I was the only one at work who had a huge smile. I couldn’t think of anything but books! What is it with books and rain? It’s still raining but I am finally home ready to give in to the longing. I long to be surrounded by all of this constantly really but rain makes me long for it even more. I’m in the last part of The Forgotten Garden and this weather is just perfect for this book. It’s been a slow read but only because I had much to do and had to take breaks because of the small text… The garden mentioned in the book made me think of one of the most beautiful gardens in impressionism – The Garden At Bougival as painted by one of the best – Berthe Morisot. She was one of the ‘rejected impressionists’ who held their own exhibitions, along with Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne & Renoir. This particular garden inspired her to paint 40 paintings (this one 1884).

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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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Beloved Puffins, breathtaking heat and cooling ice-cream.

These are some of my Puffins. Children on the Oregon Trail was one of my favourites. This one is a 1963 edition. The others are early seventies. Do you collect Puffins too? Their covers are so lovely! I even love the word and that’s what I call my son, that is, until he lets me. Here we are already experiencing some high temperatures but what makes it worse is the high level of humidity. Being a small island here it can get breathtakingly humid (that includes Lion King hairstyle too). So, to cool off I’ve made some natural, easy ice-cream. We call it the CCB. Here’s how if you want to try. If you’re allergic to nuts simply omit and if you have an ingredient missing no problem, it still comes out good, just make sure you have bananas 😉

Chocolatey Coconut Banana Ice-cream (per person)

2 bananas

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp raw cocoa powder

Desiccated coconut (as much as you like, we are fans)

1 tsp Pure Maple Syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mixed everything together in a blender and freeze until ready to eat. If you want you can drizzle some raw chocolate (as per previous recipe post). Optional: Sprinkle with some nuts and more coconut. Have a nice weekend!

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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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