Bread to strengthen one’s heart!

I decided that one thing to do to pass my sick leave time was to go back to making bread in my bread machine, which I had abandoned n the corner of the kitchen for a while – over a year indeed. So gaily got some new flour and yeast and switched it on and lo and behold a fuse went and all the lights went out. We fixed the fuse and off I went again and yes, you guessed it a fuse went again. Both times just after the mixing and kneading and before the bake started. conclusion – old machine was done for – no more as they say – definitely a dead parrot!

So Which’s online site was searched as to what they recommended and then we had a choice of two – both by Lakeland but at opposite ends of the price spectrum but both the best buys.

Let’s buy the more expensive one says hubby as it clearly does rather more and so we did and since then i have been working my through the book supplied with the machine and also my own bread machine  cook book by Jennie Shapter which has 250 pages of gorgeous things you can make in a bread machine.

Of course I started with white bread, wholemeal bread, seeded bread, rye and wheat mixed (not very successful) ready mixes (less successful than from scratch) and added milk or egg.

Now I am on to the more exotic. First it was banana bread. That went down very well with some friends who buttered it and ate it with cheese.

This weekend I made bread with a hidden vegetable – a way to get kids to eat them without a fuss – make bread with them.. parsnips!  You’d never know from looking at it – or tasting for that matter. Really nice. The one vegetable bread I am not keen on baking is beetroot. I just don’t fancy the pink colour!

20140927_141655 Parsnip Bread





The second thing I baked was a Bavarian Plum Cake which actually has a bread dough base. I think it could have been taken out of the oven a few minutes sooner but with hot custard it would be delicious… nice cold or warm without though. Maybe ice-cream  or clotted cream? your choice I guess.

I have an order for a caramelised onion bread for our daughter but I shall keep on experimenting…







Does knitting always mean a murder?

a knitted London taxi

Murder Tightly Knit:

Vannetta Chapman

Now any title with knitting in it always attracts me as I knit everyday – physiotherapy for my arthritis but also keeps my hands busy! However, in this book knitting is fairly tangential to the storyline except in 2 aspects:

  1. The owner of the wool shop is involved in what might be considered a conspiracy;
  2. Amish women are frequent knitters; often knitting clothing for themselves and their families or for sale to increase their income. And some of the wool in the shop comes from Amish farmers.

Now in this particular wool shop they sell a very special kind of wool that is also very expensive – that is camel wool. Not I’ve heard of alpaca and so on wool for knitting but this was the first time I’d come across camel wool to knit with. Although thinking about it, camel hair coats have been around for ages and are much prized and expensive!

I therefore looked up camel wool and what could be knitted with it – I’m always curious like that – I knew that it could be woven and thus used for cloth, tents, carpets etc and of course the use of camel hair like this goes back to Biblical times and thus producing such wool would be very appropriate for an Amish farmer.

So we come to knitting with it. If it is baby camel wool then it seems it is possible to knit with the pure wool, but older camels’ wool is usually mixed with something like cashmere. Baby wool is lightweight, extremely soft, durable, heat conducting (ideal for those who have circulation problems), hypoallergenic, and contains lanolin thus reducing static and being dirt repellent! My word, the ultimate wool it would seem… one web site I encountered really believes this and raves about its medical potential for a number of conditions (

So, digression over, back to the book. One of the characters within it is called ‘Miss Marples’ by some of her friends and the writing style, with lots of red herrings and twists and ‘cosy’ women (of a certain age) undertaking investigations alongside the police in a small enclosed community is very reminiscent indeed of Miss Marples!

It is not a thriller, and not a police procedural, but there is murder and nefarious doings and an understanding of Amish life. It was tagged as ‘Christian’ but to me it seemed more that the main characters had strong religious beliefs rather than it being any type of Christian fundamentalism of preaching. As such, and as a non-believer, I was still happy to read it  as I didn’t feel preached at, but just accepted the beliefs and ways of expressing themselves as being part of the way the man characters lived their lives. I was in fact interested in how the characters operated psychologically.

I was somewhat surprised and concerned about the prevalence of ‘preparedness’ for disasters element that seemed to be around in these locations with the US and the number of guns and ease of acceptance of their use bothered me but then it always does when US life in detective novels especially, is described.

Overall, the book had a slightly cosy villagey feel to the style and writing without stretching the brain too much.

3.5 stars and would recommend to someone who would be interested in the Amish.

Sweet strawberries: Child Actors and the Price of Fame

This is actually another book review of a light hearted (chick lit?) book called Life is Sweet by Elizabeth Bass.

The child actor in question is now the owner of a cupcake shop where the signature bake is a strawberry cupcake. Too sweet and sickly for me but then I don’t like chocolate cakes particularly either – now coffee and carrot cakes and courgette and lime, yum yum…

What we find out about is the price of a short lived career as a child actor and its constant intrusion into adult life and how difficult it is to persuade fans that they are not ‘friends’ and therefore are not entitled to know all about you i the most minutest detail. That what you see on the box is not the truth of a person and the actor is playing a part – get that? – playing a part….

So this book explores the issues of fans and their belief systems in the context of a former child actor still struggling to convince people that she is not that person anymore even after 17 years and that yes, really, her cake shop is her way of earning money now.

As cupcake books go, it is nice to see a different use of the theme. In terms of exploring issues around fans and actors it is better. I am therefore going to give it 4 stars. but for me it was not weepy and did get a little sickly – but then as I said above, strawberry cupcakes are so not my thing!