COUSIN CONNECT


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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A HOUSE IN FEZ BY SUZANNA CLARKE

I have been wanting to read this book since reading a review, and finally was able to obtain from my local library.
After having read quite a few books on people buying houses in France and Italy, this story struck me as "oh good, someone is bucking the trend" and challenging themselves.
The author and her partner, Sandy McCutcheon, fell in love with Morocco whilst on a trip, and decided to go back, buy a house in the old sectin of Fez, the Medina and restore back to some of its former glory.
As usual, they have lots of frustrating episodes with tradesmen, but that seems to be the norm. in whatever country you mention.
Wonderful photos featured throughout the book, and the "massreiya" must look fantastic by now.
I also enjoyed the historical facts that featured throughout the story, as I admit to not being very knowledgeable about that part of the world - such as:
Fez was once the largest city on the planet. Founded in 789, it became the centre of Moroccan scientific and religious learning, a status due to the altruism of a remarkable woman named, Fatima al_Fihria.
She was one of a group of refugees who feld religious persecution in Kairouan, Tunisia, in the 9th century. Fatima was from a wealthy merchant family and used her inheritance to start a place of learning. Karaouiyine University was completed in 859, and is the oldest educational institution in the world.
Classes in religion are still held in the complex, which also contains a mosque and a library.
Being a woman, she couldn't actually attend the university herself, but plenty of men did - Muslims and Christians from all over North africa, the Middle East and Europe.
In fact, Karaouiyine had a major impact on mediaeval Europe. In the 10th century, Arabic numerals, including the concept of zero, were taken back to France by a student, who went on to become Pope Sylvester II. He used his newfound understanding to invent a more efficient abacus, the basis of modern computing.
Karaouiyine University also rejuvenated and spread the Indian concept of the decimal poiint, for which accountants are no doubt eternally grateful.

Thanks to the author for a great book.

There is also a blog that you can read through - fezmorocco.blogspot.com

Sunday, 27 July 2008

THE PROUD VILLEINS by Valerie ANAND

I am going well - have just read the 2nd book in the Historical Reading Challenge and enjoyed the story immensely.

Rating: 4
Country: England

I had not heard of this author until seeing her mentioned on the Historical Reading site, so decided to get into her world.

The story starts around 1040 AD with Sir Ivon De Clairpont, a Norman Knight who has been captured and taken as a thrall, after the Massacre of Gildenford, wherein the knights were betrayed by the English earl, Earl Godwin.
Ivon cannot accept his fate and attempts 3 times to escape his bondage, but eventually realises that his only way out is to kill himself.
Following his 3rd attempt at escape, he is injured in the chase by his captors, by an arrow to the ankle, and one of the thrall women, Gunnor is to look after him.
She has been trying to catchi his eye for sometime, but Ivon feels that as he is a Knight, he is above the other thralls.

Eventually the barriers break down, especially after Gunnor realises that Ivon wants to do away with himself, and they settle down and have children.
Through the plagues etc that follow, Ivon and Gunnor are left to look after their grandson, called Ivon Oddeyes (the de clairpont men have eyes that are 2 different colours). Ivon grows up a confused boy, as his grandfather has told him the story that he is descended from Norman knights . Ivon witnesses many atrocities, all mainly by the Normans, and eventually when he marries and has the opportunity of becoming a freeman, he will not accept his Norman background, and refuses.

And so the story follows through the descendants up to the 1200's

I am looking forward to the other books in the series
THE RUTHLESS YEOMEN
WOMEN OF ASHDON
THE FAITHFUL LOVERS
THE CHERISHED WIVES
THE DOWERLESS SISTERS

Would recommend to any reader of historical fiction.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

SRI LANKAN RECIPE

This dish is delicious and was cooked as part of the cooking demonstration at our Rare Fruits Social Day this month:

DEVILLED EGGPLANT

2 eggplants (aubergines)
2 cloves garlic - sliced or chopped
1 large onion - chopped into small cubes
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 green chillies (optional)
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon Maldive Fish (optional)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons milk (any supermarket milk - no need to use coconut milk)
Salt
Oil for frying

First slice egg plant into thin strips, and mix with turmeric powder and salt, and deepfry until brown. Keep aside to drain oil.
In a pan add about a tablespoon of oil, mustard seeds, garlic, curry leaves, chillies, Maldive Fish and onion and fry for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add the fried eggplant, salt, sugar, curry powder and fry for a further 5 minutes, the eggplant will reduce in quantity.
Next add the lime juice and milk, stir well and turn off stove. Cover and leave for 2 minutes, the heat still in the pan will reduce the liquid, if any.
There will be a bit of extra oil in the pan, this can be drained off (the extra oil comes from the deep friend eggplant.)

This goes well with rice. It can be served warm or cold.

FREE RECIPES

I now have some of the recipes for the dishes that were cooked at our Rare Fruits Social Day, and will post them for anyone who would like to try.

GARLIC CHIVES

4 cups garlic chives
2 eggs
salt
oil

Top and tail garlic chives. Wash and cut into 2 inch lengths.
Put 1 tablespoon of oil into heated wok. When wok is hot, put in garlic chives, fry until wilted and crack eggs into it. Put in salt to taste, stir until eggs are set. Dish out and serve as a vegetable.

SWEET LEAF VEGI. COOKED IN COCONUT MILK - SAYUR MANIS LEMARK

1 bunch of sweet leaf vegi. stripped for the leaves, washed and torn into pieces, to release its sweetness.
2 tablespoons of soaked dried prawns
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch square balachan (shrimp paste)
1 or more chillies, hotness to your taste
1 tin of coconut milk
1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
salt
oil

Blend dried prawns, garlic, balachan and chillies until fine. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into hot wok, put in blended mixture. Fry unti mixture is fragrant or aromatic., put in the prepared sweet leaf vegi. Stir fry until wilted, pour in 2 to 3 cups of water, stir and put in sweet potato pieces. Cook util sweet potato pieces are soft, then pour in the can of coconut milk. Put in salt to taste.
When it comes to the boil, it is ready.

BLACK RICE PUDDING - PULOT HITAM

2 cups black rice
2 screw pine leaves for flavouring (dauan pandan) or vanilla essence
1 can of coconut cream
2 cups sugar
2 litres of water

Wash pandan leaves and cut into 2 inch lengths. Wash black rice and put in a large pot. Put in th pandan leaves and boil rice unti soft and sticky. Watch the pot because when the rice is sticky, it tends to burn. When it is soft and sticky, put in the can of coconut cream. Put in sugar, stir until dissolved and bring to the boil. It is then cooked.
Discard the leaves, or one teaspoon of vanilla essence can be added during cooking.

TIP
Can be cooked in a crock pot for the day and add the sugar and coconut cream at the end of cook.

These recipes were provided by Margaret, who was born in Malaysia of Chinese parents. Her cooking is influenced by Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

READING LIST FOR BOOK GROUP

Now that I have posted our 2008 list, maybe other readers are interested in what we have read in previous years.

2007 READING LIST

SEVEN DIALS - Anne PERRY
STORM BAY - Patricia SHAW
THE LACE MAKERS DAUGHTER - Gary CREW
VITNERS LUCK - Elizabeth KNOX
SHIPWRECKS - Akira YOSHIMURA
WIND IN THE WILLOWS - Kenneth GRAHAME
PEARLS - Colin FALCONER
REBECCA - Daphne du MAURIER
BY MYSELF AND THEN SOME - Lauren BACALL
WOMEN ON THE ROCKS - Kristen WILLIAMSON
THE MOORS LAST SIGH - Salman RUSHDIE
THE QUEENS FOOL - Phillipa GREGORY


2006 READING LIST

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING - Tracy CHEVALIER
THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL - Asne SEIERSTAD
LAST OF THE MOCHICANS - J. FENNEMORE COOPER
PORTRAIT IN SEPIA - Isabel ALLENDE
THE PIANO TUNER - Daniel MASON
THE READING GROUP -Elizabeth NOBLE
THE HISTORIAN - Elizabeth KOSTOVA
1984 - George ORWELL
JOURNEY TO THE STONE COUNTRY - Alex MILLER
THE DANISH GIRL - David EBERSHOFF
THE MERMAID CHAIR - Sue Monk KIDD


2005 READING LIST

THE ENGLISH PATIENT - Michael ONDAATJE
THE CASTLEMAINE MURDERS - Kerry GREENWOOD
BIRDSONG - Sebastian FAULKS
THE DA VINCI CODE - Dan BROWN
THE ALCHEMIST - Paul COEHLO
SEA GLASS - Anita SHRIEVE
BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS - Da JIN
THE DISCOVERY OF CHOCOLATE - James RUNCIE
LORNA DOONE - R E McLEOD
MIDNIGHT BAYOU - Nora ROBERTS
LOSING MY VIRGINITY - Richard BRANSON
MISS GARNET'S ANGEL - Sally VICKERS

READING LIST 2008 FOR BURRUM FILLYS

Now that I am adding more postings on books/reading etc. I felt it opportune to post the reading list for the book group that I run.

When I selected the books for the year, I made up a small scrapbook for each of the ladies, with motifs and writing about each book. Must admit to being quite pleased with the result, and the ladies just loved their copies.

Anyway here is our reading list:

THE VILLA IN ITALY - Elizabeth EDMONDSON (January)
THE WINTHROP WOMAN - Anya SETON (February)
THE GREENGAGE SUMMER - Rumer GODDEN (March)
THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES - Stef PENNEY (April)
SHANTARAM - Gregory David ROBERTS (May)
COME IN SPINNER - Dymphna CUSACK & Florence JAMES (June)
THE TEAHOUSE FIRE - Ellis AVERY (July)
MUSIC & SILENCE - Rose TREMAIN (August)
THE JANISSARY TREE - Jason GOODWIN (September)
THE FIREMASTER'S MISTRESS - Christie DICKASON (October)
FIRST LADY - Michael DOBBS (November)
SEA CHANGE - Robert GODDARD (December)

So far, we have enjoyed most of the books, but I was not over enthused on The Tenderness of Wolves and Music and Silence.

SIMON THE COLDHEART - GEORGETTE HEYER

My first read for the challenge and what an absorbing story.

This story is away from the norm of Heyer's Regency novels, being set in the 1400's
(England and France).
A forward in the book by Heyer's son records that:

"this was first published in 1925 when my mother was in her early 20's. Nevertheless many of her readers will not have seen it before.
My mother was her own sternest critic and many years ago, stated there were some 5 to 6 titles which she never wished to see reprinted. This is one of them.
After her death in 1974, I was persuaded to read the book once more, and soon came to the conclusion that, in this instance at all events, her judgment had been too harsh.
In the book, it is easy to detect in it a quick eye for historical detail and an ability to paint a scene from another age which were to become the hallmarks of her later works."

The dialogue between the characters is in "Old English" but you get used to this as you progress through the story, and in fact it makes the story, so cleverly has Heyer written.

The main character is Simon the Page, who becomes Simon the Lord, all by his own doing and in doing this, becomes a close friend and ally of King Henry.

Romance is introduced into the story towards the closing chapters when Simon's resolve crumbles, when he meets Lady Margaret of Belremy (France), who has refused to surrender to the English.
Simon is resolute and very chivalrous and never thinks he will meet a woman who can measure up to him.

A very enjoyable read and would recommend to all Georgette Heyer fans.

Reading, Writing and Ranting: Historical Fiction Challenge

Reading, Writing and Ranting: Historical Fiction Challenge

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

DARING BOOK CHALLENGE

I came across another book challenge whilst reading through my posts from another challenge that I am participating in.
This one is called A DARING BOOK CHALLENGE http://daringbookchallenge.blogspot.com/
and they are from the Daring Book for Girls list. Lots of old time childrens favourite, plus some I have not heard of.
Thinking of joining this one as well, so I will certainly have a wide scope of reading to keep me going through the year.
Plus my own Book Group list of books, which I have only 2 more to read.

Have chosen these books - so far!!

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES - L M MONTGOMERY
EMILY OF NEW MOON - L M MONTGOMERY
BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA - KATHERINE PATERSON
THE ILLYRIAN ADVENTURE - LLOYD ALEXANDER
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING - ASTRID LINDGREN
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA - C S LEWIS
THE GOOD EARTH - PEARL S BUCK
ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS - SCOTT O'DELL
THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND - ELIZABETH GEORGE SPEARE
THE DARK IS RISING - SUSAN COOPER

EASY KNITTED BALACLAVA PATTERN



Here is an easy pattern for a Balaclava, which my mother has recently made for a friend of my brother's who has gone to work in Holland.
Mum did not want to knit using circular needles, so I found a few patterns, as she used these as a base, and adjusted accordingly. Plus it is a lot easier to read that others I found on the net.

Size 3.25mm needles( or size 10)
1 ball of 8ply yarn (100 grams).

CAST ON 112 STITCHES.
Knit first row into back of stitch, then continue in Rib of K2,PS for 6 inches.

Continuing on 3.25mm or size 10 needles, change to Stocking Stitch and knit 3 rows.
On the 4th row - Purl.
Purl 35, cast off 42 stitches, Purl 35.
Work on this last set of 35 stitches (leaviing other 35 stitches on stitch holder), and stocking stitch for 3 1/2 inches (finishing with a Knit Row).

Break off wool, leaving enough to be sewn into seam later.
Now pick up the other 35 stitches from the stitch holder.
Stocking stitch for 3 1/2 inches, starting with a Knit Row and finish with a Knit Row.

Next Row - Purl 35, turn needle, cast on 42 stitches, turn needle and Pul 35 stitches from stitch holder. Now you have 112 stitches on your needle.

Next - Stocking stitch across 112 stitches for 20 rows, then decrease for head.
1st Decrease - K12, S1,K1, PSSO - 8 times (104 stitches)
2nd row - Purl
3rd Decrease - K11, S1,K1, PSSO - 8 times (96 stitches)
4th row - Purl
5th Decrease - K10,S1,K1,PSSO - 8 times (88 stitches)

Continue in this manner decreasing one (1) stitch each alternate row until last 5 rows
K2,S1,K1,PSSO - 8 times (24 stitches)
Purl
K1,S1,PSSO - 8 times (16 stitches)
Purl
Knit 2 TOG across (8 stitches)

Pull wool through these 8 stitches twice and fasten off tight, then sew down back of Balaclava to beginning (ribbing).

To finish off the front face, Mum used 2 needles (3.25mm or size 10). You will find it easier picking up stitches if you use a smaller needle (or crochet hook if you prefer)and then transfer to your size 3.25mm or size 10 needle.
Pick up between 60 & 70 stitches from the left hand side and the bottom with wrong side faciing, then start knitting K2,P2 with the right side facing, for 5 Rows.

Cast off loosely on wrong side (6th row).
Knit same with top and other side, knitting 5 rows and casting off on the 6th.

Catch in the corners neatly and when finished, press lightly with a damp cloth.

HAPPY KNITTING.

The photos show the finished Balaclava

Thursday, 17 July 2008

HISTORICAL READING FICTION CHALLENGE

I hadn't browsed through the Historical Tapestry blogsite for a week or so, and after catching up on the posts etc. decided to check out a couple of the other links.
What a great find - another person has on her blog a reading challenge.
The time frame is from the 1st April to the 1st October, and you select 6 books that you want to read, and then post a review of each of them.
Had quite a lot to choose from my list, so have selected the following, as they are available from my local library:

THE MANOR OF DEATH - Bernard KNIGHT
DAUGHTER OF YORK - Anne Easter SMITH
THE GOLDEN TULIP - Rosalind LAKER
SIMON THE COLDHEART - Georgette HEYER (this is on my bookshelf to read)
THE PROUD VILLEINS - Valerie ANNAND
THE ROBSART MYSTERY - Fiona BUCKLEY

I had selected other books, but these were not available from the library, but maybe later on they will become available:

WHY MERMAIDS SING - C S HARRIS
THE ALEHOUSE MURDERS - Maureen ASH
THE MAYFLOWER MAID - Sue ALLAN
THE TALE OF HILLTOP FARM - Sue Wittig ALBERT
WINTER IN MADRID - C J SANSOM
AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE - Jacqueline WINSPEAR

The Historical Novel society publications have numerous listings, and as I read through each journal, make a note of the books that I would like to read, so had plenty to choose from.

I don't think that I will ever run out of books to read, especially now that there are so many wonderful book blogs on the net.

the site for this challenge is http://readingwritinggranting.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 13 July 2008

RARE FRUITS COOKING DEMONSTRATION

Our Rare Fruits Group had an enjoyable day yesterday, as a few members of different nationalities showed us how to cook the vegetables etc. that they use.
We were shown how to cook with Bitter Melon or Gourd - both as a hot dish with pork, and also as a salad.
Banana Blossom that was made into a salad.
Sweet Leaf and Kan Kong was also cooked up, and I especially enjoyed these dishes.
Another side dish was a large bunch of Garlic Chives that had been chopped into 3/4cm pieces, cooked in oil till it started to wilt, then 4 beaten eggs were added to the dish.
Another Malaysian speciality was Black Rice - this was delicious as well.

In the Sri Lankan area, a yummy Eggplant dish was cooked, as well as a Chicken Curry.
The recipes I can post later on, as these will be included in our next groups newsletter, which I will have to edit in a couple of weeks time.

THE GOOD MASTER BY KATE SEREDY

I finished reading this delightful book, with a few tears in my eyes.
The story is about Kate, who is sent to live with her Uncle and help out on the farm.
A Hungarian story, first written in 1935 - I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of the book on Bookmooch as a friend in the craft group wanted a copy.
The book has drawings throughout the story, and you get a feel for the customs of the people as well.
Will try and obtain another copy as I am sure my grandaughter would love this story.

A comment on the back cover says
"A genuinely joyous and beautiful book ....a astory that 9-12 year olds should not miss (The New York Times).

I have to agree and would add - for adults as well.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

ORGANIC COTTON YARN

I received the latest catalogue of The Fox Collection yesterday, and you can now buy the cotton yarn - 11 shades of colour, so I can now stock up on my supply, as I use this yarn to knit dishcloths.
There are numerous free patterns that can be accessed on the internet, and I continue to find great motifs.
Am thinking of knitting up quite a few of the squares to make a knitted rug.