The world is split in two
A recipe for stress relief
As UK politics implodes following the EU referendum, I offer you a moment of peace and quiet. Obviously, you could read my book (available via Amazon!) or you could get cooking with avocados. Take out your frustrations on a small, inanimate green object: mash it to smithereens…
Here is this week’s Making Mondays Marvellous recipe: Guacamole
Obviously, this is my version of it rather than a recipe book’s. I know you are supposed to use lime, but I didn’t have any so used lemon. I think the red onion added a nice touch. Fresh coriander would have been good too, but it turns out I had a jar of coriander leaf in the cupboard which made a decent substitute. (No – please don’t ask why I would have a spare jar of coriander leaf. It was probably bought for a purpose a long time ago, and it is probably best that you don’t ask what it’s best-before date is…)
First, the aggression part: mash two ripe avocado pears in a bowl. Finely chop/slice the onion and tomatoes. Add them to the avocado and mix. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and sprinkle in a decent amount of coriander leaf. Finally, add ground or crushed chillies to give a bit of zing. I think the creamy avocado will tolerate quite a lot, but of course your palate might not!
Verdict? Well, the photo doesn’t do it much credit. It was delicious, and was enjoyed by the Withenay parents with their chicken fajitas / tortilla wraps. The children, as usual, were a lot more skeptical: I couldn’t hide away the healthy ‘green’ of avocados under the veil of chocolate. I think lime would have given it a bit more zip than the lemon juice did, and I’m sure fresh coriander would have added more flavour. But, overall, it was a good ‘store cupboard’ homemade guacamole.
Family verdict: ????
(That’s really to indicate some liked and some disliked, but their reasoning was wrong!)
How do you make guacamole? Give this a try and see what you think!
Don’t forget to buy the book – no recipes included!
Beware the Falling Avocados is available as a paperback in the UK HERE and as a kindle version HERE. In the US the paperback is HERE and the kindle version is HERE.
I am a writer
I am ready for a rest at the end of a rather hectic week. The book launch was one thing; a charity I’m treasurer for had an important meeting about funding, the children made big decisions which involved me-as-mum making difficult phonecalls, (paid) work was normal but included an evening seminar and the nation (UK) has had a referendum on staying in Europe. All of great importance in different ways.
But today I realised that I am a writer. (Just putting that in words makes me feel like I’m coming out at Writers’ Whinge, or whatever our equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous is). Obviously, I kind of knew that before: spending years writing, preparing and publishing In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree, and then repeating the process for Beware the Falling Avocados, does imply that I am a writer. My suspicion is that a proper writer would take less time and be more efficient and procrastinate less (yes, I really want to put the washing out/ walk the dog/ meet friends for coffee/ complete my tax return/ check twitter and Facebook…).
I spend time thinking and time writing and time editing. I spend time publishing and publicising. I promote my books as much as possible and purposefully push myself to the edge in order to get them known, against my better nature. Writing is what I do in between all the other stuff (see previous procrastination and hectic week paragraphs!)
This is why I know I’m a writer: today I concentrated on the next book. I have the outline of a novel which – with a bit of luck and a fair wind – will set sail into the publishing sea at some point in the future. Probably a long way off; possibly never, as I gather most authors leave their first novel in a bottom drawer… and their second and third… and only get published after many trials and errors. Not only did I work on the book I loved it! I spent three hours in the library sorting through paperwork and drawing a diagram of the plot structure. There are still some weaknesses to iron out, and a lot of questions to answer, but as a basic outline I feel quite confident. (Until I look at it afresh tomorrow, no doubt…)
I have no title for this venture. I feel I should give it a pet name, like ‘Bert’ or ‘Edith’ or ‘Fair weather friend’, but am likely to stick to ‘Novel 1’ for the time being. Perhaps a title will spring to mind as I actually put pen to paper/ tap away at the keyboard… That is the next job: harnessing the discipline to sit down and write. Not just when I feel like it, but regularly, so that the words accumulate, the characters come to life and the story takes a form of its own. I can’t wait to begin this exciting adventure!
In the meantime, I’m praying for peace for my country and the world. Who knows what the next 24 hours (let alone the eternity of ‘future’) will bring. The UK has already been rocked by the murder of Jo Cox MP and has been split by so much venom on both sides of the EU argument. I hold to Jo’s words: More In Common.
Make tea, not war.
(Obviously, particularly read Beware the Falling Avocados, available on line as a paperback here and for kindle here. Just can’t keep that marketing and publicity department down!)
Reflections on a book launch
A big THANK YOU to everyone who came to my book launch on Saturday. It was lovely to see so many people. I am a little slow-witted at times, so it was only part way through that I remembered I’d delegated the role of ‘official photographer’ to my husband but hadn’t told him. This picture is my sister’s.
Quite intellectual looking, I think… apart from the array of beer barrels as a backdrop.
You may also note the biscuits just to my right hand side. They were supposed to be avocados – well, they did look a bit avocado-ish, though I was worried they looked more like fried eggs (albeit green ones).
My friend Rachael asked for the recipe and, as I am pursuing an avocado-themed recipe series for the next few Mondays (see last week’s post for Chocolate Mousse), I thought I’d share it as they look like avocados, though there is no avocado in the ingredient list.
Making Mondays Marvellous: (Avocado) Chocolate Biscuits
Place 225g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 egg yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used less, as I was icing the biscuits). Sift together 250g plain flour, 25g cocoa powder and a pinch of salt (I used salted butter so didn’t add extra salt). Mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Then add 100g of finely chopped plain chocolate. Stir well. It should be a stiff dough, which you can roll out on a floured surface and cut into shapes. Put on a baking tray, spaced apart, and back at 190C for 10-15 minutes.
Helpful points to note:
- You’ll need a lot of flour for rolling. If you don’t need shapes, it would be much easier to create balls of dough and flatten them.
- The chocolate chunks can make cutting shapes awkward! Not all my pears were perfect…
- The avocado effect was simply using the same pear shape to cut out green sugar-paste icing, and cutting a hole in the middle (I used the letter ‘O’, though experimented with the number ‘0’ as well!)
- Do check your cutters. Some plastics don’t survive even the top level of the dishwasher. (There will be no more regular pear-shaped biscuits in our house now…)
And that was that!
General verdict: ????
(Of the 90 I made, only 5 came back, and 4 of them I’d hidden away!)
Thanks once again for your support. It was a wonderful afternoon and a delight to share the publication of my book with so many lovely people.
Don’t forget to buy the book – no recipes included! Beware the Falling Avocados is available as a paperback in the UK HERE and as a kindle version HERE. In the US the paperback is HERE and the kindle version is HERE.
Today’s the day: Beware the Falling Avocados is on sale.
It is available as a paperback in the UK HERE and as a kindle version HERE.
In the US the paperback is HERE and the kindle version is HERE.
Other countries should also be able to purchase the paperback and kindle versions via Amazon. It will be available to purchase through other ebook providers shortly.
Thank you so much for travelling with me through this journey!
A moment of joy
Sometimes children are the best medicine. They drive you mad, they frustrate you, they seem to come from another planet… but nothing makes you laugh as much as a child, particularly when they get one over their intellectual father. Here is an extract from Beware the Falling Avocados.
Our destination was the café that operated out of a small booth in a garden near the entrance to the Agricultural Showgrounds. Once a year, at the beginning of August, the showgrounds were the home of the Agricultural Show, a magnificent spectacle of animals, produce and business from around the country. I would make a beeline for the red, green and blue baby chicks, which delighted me every time. The colours came because the eggs were injected with food dye, much like my dad’s experiments with snowdrops and coloured ink. I’m not sure how ethically sound the practice was, but I was reassured that the colours just faded as the chicks grew older. For the other fifty-one weeks of the year the buildings on the site were rented out to businesses, which the café neatly served.
The approach to the showgrounds was down a long straight road past the polo grounds.
“Horses!” Matthew exclaimed as we passed the stables.
“Aren’t they beautiful,” I said. Their glossy coats shone in the afternoon sun. Undoubtedly those horses were treated well.
“Horses have necks,” said Matthew. This was a slightly unexpected observation, but indisputable.
“So they do, Matthew,” said Stephen. “So they do.”
“But shorter than a giraffe’s,” he added.
“Yes, yes…” Again, neither of us could quibble with his factual accuracy.
“Everything has a neck,” said Stephen.
That was his downfall.
“No they don’t Daddy. Walls don’t have necks. Cars don’t have necks.”
“Well, no Matthew, but…”
“Trees don’t have necks. Wheels don’t have necks.”
“Chairs don’t have necks. Grass doesn’t have a neck.”
“Stairs don’t have necks.”
“MATTHEW!” Stephen finally made Matthew stop. “Matthew: I’m wrong, you’re right. Not everything has a neck.”
I grinned sneakily. My son had turned four years old and had managed to get one over his father, a rare event for anyone. I couldn’t wait for him to have many more opportunities.
Beware the Falling Avocados is available as a paperback or eBook from Saturday 18 June – and yes, that is tomorrow!
Book launch date: Saturday!
And we go back to the beginning…
Beware the Falling Avocados is available as an eBook or paperback from Saturday 18 June. Here is the first chapter, in which we return to Zambia after a month’s holiday in the UK and I encounter creepy-crawlies in the dark…
In my last post I promised that I would share some avocado recipes. I do not claim to be a chef, so you will discover a number of my recipes are haphazard, made up of what I can find in the cupboard to substitute for not having x, y or z. (That may also explain some of my children’s comments…)
As we are going ‘back to the beginning’ today, here is the first one I made with all the right ingredients. It was quite some time ago, and more done out of intrigue as a friend had posted it on Facebook. So, in my house, it is quite simply known as Anneliese’s Chocolate Mousse.
Take 1 banana, 1 avocado (recommend ripe fruit, ready to be mashed), 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 2-3 dessert spoons of honey, 1/4 cup water and a splash of vanilla essence. Put all ingredients into a bowl and blend well.
Put into small pots, refrigerate and (a little later) serve!
I like recipes that are this simple. The children liked it too – not leaving any for me to lick out of the bowls. (Their verdict may be swayed by it being chocolate.) It is also both gluten- and dairy-free.
Withenay score: ???
Why not give it a try and let me know what you think?
Don’t forget: Beware the Falling Avocados is available as a paperback and eBook from 18 June 2016.
A week to go, and a special bonus…
Just over a week to go to the book launch – yikes!
Beware the Falling Avocados is my second book, the sequel to In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree. It shares more tales of our time in Zambia.
Some of you will have read ITSOTMT (yes, I should have thought of a more nifty title!) and be wondering whether anything could get worse than losing the passports before emigrating. Well, yes it can. Or, if not worse, at least differently bad.
Beware the Falling Avocados encounters cockroaches, fuel shortages, cats, water shortages, fish, friends and family visiting, The Big Five, the DRC, camping and travels with The Professor and The Bishop. (You’ll have met The Professor and The Bishop in ITSOTMT: somehow they survived that and have more abuse heaped upon them in this book!)
And then there’s the unexpected turn of events. (As if all the others were expected!)
Here is the back cover:
Over the next few weeks I’ll share some stories and excerpts from it and – almost most importantly – some avocado-based recipes (with a view from the family who’ve been forced to eat whatever I’ve produced). Maybe I’ll do that on Mondays and, parallel to Withenay’s Wordless Wednesdays (WWW), I’ll have ‘Making Mondays Marvellous’ (MMM). (Though the children might disagree with that…)
But, because some of you will be interested in reading the first book first, I have reduced the eBook price of In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree to $0.99 in the US, and corresponding adjustments in other countries. (Kindle calculates this all by itself. Interestingly, for the UK it comes out as 99p, which doesn’t seem to match up with the sterling/dollar exchange rate in my head, but I can’t do anything about their algorithms – sorry.)
Catch it now – I’ll just keep this low price to the end of the month. (June 2016, for clarity’s sake, in case you are randomly looking at this sometime in the future!)
Don’t forget: Beware the Falling Avocados is available as a paperback and eBook from 18 June 2016.