Toad in the hole

Ingredients

  • 12 sausages (meat or veggie)
  • One large onion
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 140g plain flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200ml of milk
  • Vegetable oil

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200degrees
  • Heat up an oven proof dish with a little oil in.
  • Crack the four eggs into a bowl and incorporate the flour a little at a time until smooth.
  • Gradually add the milk to the egg and flour mixture and whisk until it has all incorporated.
  • Season the Yorkshire pudding mix with salt and pepper and leave to one side
  • Chop the onion and brown in a little oil in a pan, add the sausages and brown them, season with salt and pepper and some dried thyme.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and add the sausages and onions, tipping all of the oil into the bowl (be careful as the oil will be extremely hot).
  • Add the Yorkshire pudding mixture to the sausages and place back in the oven.
  • Cook for between 25-30 minutes until browned (don’t open the door during this time or the Yorkshire pudding will sink).
  • Once ready, serve with gravy, mashed potatoes and peas!

Review on ‘Troubled Blood’ by Robert Galbraith

This is the most recent book in the Strike detective series, written by J.K Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I haven’t read any of the other Strike books and stumbled across this one as a result of recent publicity. After reading this, I will definitely be buying the other novels of the collection! It’s one of the best novels I have read and is certainly right up my street.

The novel is centred around the life of Detective Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacot. The story explores one crime in particular, the forty year old disappearance of Margot Bamborough, who’s daughter has hired the detectives to uncover what happened to her mother. The initial investigation was flawed by unorganised detective work and mass media coverage , which led to many believing that serial killer Dennis Creed had killed Margot. All of the evidence (of which there is a lack of) that was collected during the initial investigation has to be re-interpreted by Strike, which proves to be a difficult task throughout.

Galbraith introduces a number of characters who each have the capability to have harmed Margot, there are so many twists and turns to the plot which made it difficult to strop reading! I certainly didn’t guess the result of the investigation, the plot was very clever in the way that it unravelled to reveal what had happened to Margot forty years previous.

The novel doesn’t solely focus on the disappearance of Margot, it’s a well rounded story that has so many different plot lines and elements. Parts of it made me gasp and others made me cry! Alongside the detective element of the novel, Galbraith incorporates a semi love story that unfolds throughout.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime novels, especially those that deal with cold cases. With so many twists and turns, it’s an exciting novel and one that certainly did not disappoint!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Review on ‘Predator in the House’ by Joanne Parsons

This post is slightly different to my normal style of review! It’s my first ever Reedsy review! I hope you all enjoy and give the book a read to support the author.

This book tells the story of a detective working in the Sex Crimes Unit who vows to seek justice for victims of sexual crime by any means necessary. The main character, Karl, faces a number of difficulties, including a diagnosis of cancer and a toxic marriage. The text follows his life and the complications that dealing with sexual predators leads to as he rids communities of them one by one. During his vendetta, Karl experiences a series of complications that threaten to destroy his need to cleanse society of predators, a task given to him by God. It’s a text that explores the very real issue of child exploitation and does so in a way that allows readers to recognise signs of sexual exploitation.

I thought that this was a well written book, full of twists and turns that made me want to continue reading. However, I did think that the plot unravelled a bit quickly and there were possibly too many events that occurred in such a small space of time. Saying this, it was an action packed text and I did enjoy reading it. The use of the toxic marriage as a secondary pitfall to the protagonist’s life added an extra element of suspense. The descriptive nature of the events that took place were one of my favourite elements of the text, it lead to me analysing every part of the main character’s movements and really getting involved in the plot. 

This hasn’t been my favourite book to read as I thought it was too fast moving and I didn’t have much chance to take in the different plot lines completely. However, I would say that it is worth a read as the plot is full to the brim of action, suspense and twists. The perfect reader for this would be someone who is a true crime fanatic and who enjoys a crime novel/series. It may be a difficult read for some due to the issues that it discusses, however, it is such an important topic that is bravely covered by the author and is one that is not highlighted enough within literature.

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/predator-in-the-house-joanne-parsons – here’s where you can find the review and details of the book!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Recipe for sprinkle sponge

Ingredients

  • 200g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 2/3 tbsp milk
  • Multi-coloured sprinkles/hundreds and thousands

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160degrees and grease your preferred baking tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating into the butter and sugar mixture.
  • Add the vanilla essence and stir.
  • Sieve the flour into the mixture and gently fold using a spatula or a metal spoon, making sure all of the flour has been incorporated.
  • Transfer into the baking tray and gently shake to level the cake.
  • Bake for 20/25 minutes until cooked, it should be springy to touch or you can use the skewer test (knife/skewer should come out clean).
  • Once removed from the oven, cool in the tin for 15 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled make the icing by mixing the milk and icing sugar together. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time as you want really thick icing for this cake.
  • Spread the icing over the top of the cake and decorate using sprinkles!
  • You can eat this on its own but it’s amazing served with custard!

Top tip: you could use food colouring in the icing to really make your cake special and colour co-ordinated for any occasion!

Review on ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S Lewis

A classic book that is a must read in my opinion! I actually got the idea to review this from a poster that I’ve recently bought with the ‘top 100 must read books’ on it! I’ve read the majority of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ books of which there are seven, but this is probably the most well known of the set due to the existence of the movie of the same name.

A novel about four siblings who wander into the fantasy realm of Narnia (reached through the back of a wardrobe), this book has everything you could want from a fantasy novel. The plot contains everything; family disputes, great battles, plot twists and magic. The types of characters that Lewis creates range from evil witches, to sympathetic fauns and a lion who is almost godlike within the text. Although some might categorise this as a children’s book, I’d definitely say that it can be appreciated by adults and children alike.

The plot of the book always has its reader wanting to read more, there was never a part that I found dull! In this sense, it reminds me of the world of Tolkien (although an easier read) and the intricate worlds that both authors are able to create are truly admirable. The descriptions of the characters and the landscapes of Narnia are transportive and really allow the reader to experience the events as if living them. I think this is one of the reasons why the book has transferred so well into the movie franchise that is so well loved by fans.

This is just a short review today but I’ll also be reviewing a couple of other books from this series and possibly then write an overall one to decide on a favourite! I’d definitely recommend reading this book and the rest of the series (this isn’t the first, ‘the magicians nephew’ is the first novel when reading in relation to the ‘history of Narnia).

Happy reading!

Meg x

Lancashire hotpot

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 800g of lamb cut into chunks
  • One large white onion
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 800ml beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp mint sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 3 large potatoes (sliced into relatively thin circles, you may need more depending on the size of the dish you are using)
  • Dried thyme
  • Your choice of veg to serve, I do this with broccoli

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180degrees
  • Brown the lamb in a pan on a high heat. Once browned transfer to a different dish.
  • Slice and fry the onion in the lamb juices until soft. Add the lamb back to the pan with the onions.
  • Add the flour to the lamb and onions and stir so everything is coated.
  • Add the beef stock to the pan and mix thoroughly.
  • You can now transfer this into a casserole dish that is oven safe.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and mint sauce to the lamb mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the lamb (if you don’t have a lid you can use some foil) and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and add the chopped carrots and stir.
  • Layer the potato slices on top of the lamb, covering the whole dish.
  • Sprinkle some dried thyme over the potatoes and bake in the oven for a further hour.
  • Once ready, serve with your choice of vegetables!

Review on ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare

I thought I’d write a slightly different post today and tell you all about one of my favourite Shakespearean plays: Othello. This is less of a review and more of an analysis, similar to my post about my dissertation!

Othello is a tragic play, about a black Soldier who marries a white Senator’s daughter but finds himself manipulated into a jealous rage as those around him conspire against him. With comments on racism and sexism, this play explores the unfair nature of society and has some of the most memorable characters of the entire Shakespearean canon.

From the start of the play, it is clear that Othello is destined to fail within the society that he is a part of. Race is used by many as a motive to undermine and plot against the protagonist. Although there are parts where Othello is unlikeable due to his actions towards the faultless Desdemona, Shakespeare enables an audience to feel empathy for the tragic hero as it is made clear that he has been manipulated by those around him and consequently feels guilt and remorse for his actions.

The female characters in this play are admirable and really convey how forward thinking Shakespeare was when writing in the Early Modern period. I discuss this in more detail in my dissertation which you can find on my page! My favourite character is Emilia, she’s a standout feminist icon of the Shakespearean canon and it’s truly inspiring that she exists in such a male dominated form of writing. The women in this play are ultimately caught up in the traps of a patriarchal society, and each are made to suffer as a result.

Although the end of the play is, expectedly, tragic, there are many lessons that can be taken away from it’s story. This is a relatively simple play to understand and if you aren’t a huge fan of Shakespeare I would still suggest at least watching an adaptation of it! It’s a play full of drama and suspense and is one of the plays that made me fall in love with the work of its writer!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Review on “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson

I’m not a huge reader of gothic horror texts but I read this book in one day, I was completely hooked! The Netflix adaptation of this doesn’t follow the plot of the novel at all, so if you have seen the series don’t worry, I happen to think the book is far better! Jackson’s text is thrilling and haunting and it’s a book that makes you want to carry on reading, if I were to use one word to summarise this book it would be gripping’!

If you’re new to this genre, this is a rather short book so I feel like it’s one that can be used as an introduction to horror texts! Some other horror texts, such as the Stephen King novels, are equally as gripping but can be a bit of a challenging read if you’re not a huge fan of the gothic genre!

From the very beginning of the book, Jackson creates an eerie atmosphere through the use of plot and characters alike. The setting and histography of ‘Hill House’ forms the perfect backdrop for the ghost story that takes place. Jackson forms the basis of the novel by incorporating psychological mysteries to its plot, leaving the reader to gauge whether the hauntings are psychical or are a result of Eleanor being emotionally disturbed. The use of the house alongside the experiences of the characters really allows Jackson to add a sense of terror to her writing.

This review is just a short one as the novel itself is short and I don’t want to give too much away. This book relies on suspense and psychological plot lines to really draw its readers in, no wonder it has been considered as one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Recipe for Chinese chicken curry

The image I’ve used for this is the curry sauce from this recipe but using a crispy fried chicken rather than chicken breast. To make this you just need to fry your chicken pieces in oil after coating in egg and cornflour.

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 2 large white onions (one for the curry and one to put into the sauce)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into chunks
  • 3tbsp ground ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp of curry powder
  • 3tbsp plain flour
  • 1tbsp turmeric
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • An apple that has been peeled and grated
  • 5tbsp coconut milk
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • White rice to serve
  • Chopped spring onion to serve (optional)
  • Chopped red chillis to serve (optional)

Method

  • Chop one of the onions into large slices and fry in some oil until soft.
  • Add the chicken to the onions and fry until cooked through (keep on a low heat to keep warm whilst you make the sauce, add a little water if it starts to stick to the pan)
  • Blitz the second onion (dice it first) with the ginger and garlic. You can grate these if you don’t have a food processor).
  • In a separate pan from the chicken, fry the onion mixture for a few minutes in a little oil.
  • Add the flour and curry powder to the onion mixture and cook out for around 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the turmeric.
  • Add the chicken stock to the roux a little at a time, continually mixing until it’s all incorporated.
  • Add the grated apple to the curry sauce and cook on a low simmer until it’s thickened.
  • If you’d like the sauce thicker you can always add some cornflour mixed with a little bit of water.
  • Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and honey.
  • Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and onions and stir so that everything mixes together well, simmer for a few minutes.
  • Serve the curry on top of some white rice with some spring onion and chopped chillis as a garnish!

Review of ‘milk and honey’ by Rupi Kaur

This is a text that was all over social media a couple of years ago, it’s a collection of poems written under four themes from ‘the hurting’ through to ‘the healing’.

Some of the poems in this may be uncomfortable to read for some, but I think that’s exactly why they need to be written and read. Rupi Kaur discusses a range of topics that encompass experiences and difficulties that different women face in their everyday lives, as well as taboo topics that others may be frightened to discuss. The topics that are discussed are both brutal and wonderful, and a range of different women are included throughout.

The poetry in this book is beautifully written, and some of the illustrations perfectly match their poetic counterparts. It’s a book that can be flipped through and still appreciated for the way in which the author conveys pure emotion in very few words.

I’ll include a few of my favourite poems just below but anyone interested in feminist pieces should definitely look into buying this. It includes so many raw, emotional and inspiring poems and is so easy and quick to read if long novels aren’t your cup of tea!

Happy reading!

Meg x