Saturday, 29 October 2011

Samphire and Clam Risotto

Wow look at this! Samphire and Clam Risotto and believe me it tasted much better than it looks! When I get internet and manage to unearth the cookbook I got this recipe from, I'll post the recipe for you but for the moment I'm just looking through photos thinking...mmmmm I'm hungry!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In an English Country ... Garrrrr-den

I've had a bit of a rough time over the past few weeks - culminating in moving flat yesterday and now having to sort through all my things again, sort out an internet connection for the new place, change address with about a million and one different companies etc etc. I'm so appreciative of everyone who has continued to come and visit Creating Trouble even though I haven't blogged for about two weeks now. A huge thank you! I suspect it will be a while before I manage a proper blog post with new projects etc etc or even one of my weekly shout-out posts as I don't have internet at the new place, but please bear with me and I'll get there eventually!
Anyway, last weekend I was definitely in need of some TLC so I took a break at my parents' house - a gorgeous Queen Anne cottage (actually 2 cottages converted into one) which I love. Thought I'd share a photo or two with you so you can see why it's such a great place too!

The garage - but the roses are beautiful beside it!!!

My mum is an absolute whizz in the garden - how beautiful are the roses? She also grows tomatoes, courgettes, beans, cabbage, various herbs, potatoes and goodness knows what else (it's different every year)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Reading a Little.. October

The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood

Since reading The Handmaid's Tale I have loved Atwood's work - her writing is gripping and she paints a very bleak picture of the future. I really enjoyed The Year of the Flood- it isn't a sequel to Oryx and Crake, rather it works alongside it. There are a number of character overlaps between the two books and I found the ending of this quite poignant when compared to the ending of Oryx. A disturbing vision of Earth in the future where cloning and DNA mutations have become out of control - people can literally renew bits they don't like, hair transplants are so common it is like going to the hairdressers and the splicing of various animals has led to some freaky and downright weird combinations. Forget Ligers - I wouldn't want to be caught anywhere near a Liobam or one of the humanised pigs that feature in this. A group of people have become disillusioned with the way things are and in a peaceful protest refuse to eat anything meat related, scavenge for useful bits thrown out in the trash and are totally self-reliant - they grow their own food, make their own clothes and recycle what they can. This tells the stories of Ren and Toby - two of 'God's Gardeners' and the people who's lives have intertwined with theirs along the way. As always, Atwood managed to keep me wanting to 'just read the next page' until I found I was still up at 2am having to get up for work at 6... very enjoyable and has made me want to go back to revisit Oryx and Crake.

Arthur and George - Julian Barnes

I read something else by Julian Barnes about ten years ago and hated it so hadn't read anything else by him since. But I was intrigued when someone suggested this as a biography I should try. It is really a historical novel and while there are clearly a lot of embellishments, there were places that I really wasn't sure how much had been made up. It tells the combined stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji - one a rising star in the literary world, keen to make a noise and get recognised for what he did, the other a quiet solicitor who gets wrongly accused of the Wyrley Outrages due to prejudice and incompetence by the Staffordshire police. The events are based on facts: Conan Doyle did become a champion of injustice and stepped in to help prove George's innocence although the home office never totally cleared him of all charges. Having read Nevermore earlier this year I found it quite strange coming across all sorts of cross overs- especially in the spiritual and relationship parts. I enjoyed reading this but more because I was interested in the subject than because I was attached to the characters or the writing style. 

 The Red Tent - Anita Diamant

This had me gripped right from the very first pages. It is the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, sister of Joseph and his brothers and how her destiny was formed. The Red Tent is the story of the women, of the secrets and rituals they held and the pleasures and tragedies each lived. Dinah is the only daughter mothered by Jacob's four wives and because of that, she is petted and adored by all her mothers. She learns the way of midwifery from her mother Rachel and the guidance of Inna - a midwife who joins Jacob's train. This is a tragedy and there were definitely places where I just could not believe what I was reading, but it still held me wanting to read more. It gives a believable idea of what life could have been like for the women of the era, how, before Judaism and the other major religions were properly formed, different people and tribes accepted and embraced other gods, or certainly lived in respect of other's beliefs. Dinah's fate is that of a girl who is forced to grow up too quickly in a cruel world, where her greatest love becomes the root of misery for many. Beautifully written, engaging characters and evoking a huge amount of sympathy from the reader, I highly recommend this novel.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Quick Tuna and Cannellini bean recipe

Ever have that feeling that you just cannot be bothered to cook? I do all the time - or rather I do when it's just me around on my own. I usually end up eating a piece of toast or, if I'm very lucky, an omelette. But last night I decided to do something majorly simple but a bit more adventurous. OK not very adventurous at all, but at least it was quick and required minimum effort and, more to the point, tasted great.

Quick Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad

Serves 2


1 tin of cannellini beans, drained 
1 small tin of tuna (ethically sourced of course)
4 tbsp red onion finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped finely
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the cannellini beans in some salted water until soft enough to eat. Drain them and allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile combine the onion, parsley, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a jug / bowl / whatever you usually make dressing in.
When the beans are at room temperature, flake the tuna on top and then drizzle the dressing over it. 

Super simple, easy and pretty tasty too. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Getting back to normal

Some of you may remember that back in April I got into a bit of a bike was pretty serious and has resulted in me going backwards and forwards from hospitals since. But on Friday my physio said I could get back on my bike...YEEEEHAAAAA!!! I am so excited about being able to finally do some exercise again after such a long period of sitting around doing nothing at all. So I arranged to pick up my slightly sad bike from my sister's (who has been amazing, both throughout and since and has kindly been keeping my bike safe at hers while I was recuperating). I had seen it since so it wasn't a shock seeing my bike again, I already knew what the external damage was:

I had totally torn through one of the handlebars, with enough force to severely scratch the metal underneath the padding as well. And I suspected that I had damaged the front fork as well. Knowing how I looked after the crash, I doubted my bike would have fared much better. Sure enough, there was definitely something wrong with it when you tried to move it - it kept veering off to the right and was very much weighted on one side. I wasn't about to ride it without it getting checked out anyway so we went straight to the bike shop. 

And today I picked it up! 

I had to replace the handlebars completely but otherwise my lovely lovely bike is totally fine :D I'm so excited to have it home again! So excited, I took my first (baby) bike ride - admittedly I only went through the park from the station back to ours but I just felt really glad to be back on my bike again. It may be a while before I attempt to ride to work or think about a hill but I am definitely happy to feel that I am beginning to get my normal life back again. HURRAY! 


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