makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My daughter and I tried a new fruit today - persimmons - and they are delicious! Orla less convinced than me - she insisted they were tomatoes, so was a little disappointed when she took a bite. Lovely sweet, delicate taste and a bit like a cross between a plum and a peach in texture. Looked them up in a gorgeous cook called Produce by Lynne Mullins, and apparently they have been grown in China for thousands of years, before spreading to Japan and South-East Asia. Here's a few pointers for buying and eating them:

  • should have no brown patches and a fresh, green calyx
  • can be stored in fruit bowl for a few days
  • make excellent dried fruit (peel and dry whole or cut in slices and dry)
  • can be eaten crisp like an apple or left to mature
  • known as sweet persimmons or fuyu fruit
A couple of recipes to try in the future:
  • Sweet persimmons and king prawn salad with pecans and balsamic vinegar
  • Sweet persimmon wedges with rosewater creme caramel
Now if that doesn't convince Orla...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just finished reading a brilliant novel by a guy I went to university with, Sam Meekings. Always a bit of a worry to read something by a friend in case you don't enjoy it, but Under Fishbone Clouds is a wonderful read. I learnt so much about China and the Cultural Revolution, and the prose is sumptuous. I'm recommending it to anyone who'll listen! Expect even greater things from him in the future...

Under Fishbone Clouds Sam Meekings

'Under Fishbone Clouds' is a love story, a family saga and a compendium of Chinese history, folklore, myth and culture. The Kitchen God, a Chinese deity, has been challenged by the Jade Emperor to fathom the workings of the human heart. In the course of his quest, he follows the life of Jinyi and his wife Yuying, from their youth until their old age. This tale is interwoven with Chinese traditional folktales and stories from ancient Chinese history, while the omnipresent backdrop to Yuying and Jinyi's lives is the sequence of dramatic events of recent Chinese political history, which determines the course of their lives.

'One of the great delights in life is the discovery of a new novelist of obvious talent. Sam Meeking's debut novel, 'Under Fishbone Clouds' is one such discovery utterly beautiful and memorable. Set in China the reader is invited to follow the life journey of Jinyi and his wife Yuying, from their youth until old age, always aware of the dramatic events of recent Chinese political history, and with the voice of ancient Chinese mythology firmly at one s shoulder. This is very fine storytelling that handles, with great care, life often at its most raw. Meeking presents us with the gift of a brilliant debut novel.' --Alexander McCall Smith

'Nuanced, alert and intelligent' --Scotland on Sunday

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roses from the garden

My recent thirtieth birthday prompted me to consider how different my life is from the one I once imagined I’d have. I thought I’d be a successful writer or artist, consumed by work, living somewhere fast-paced and urban, possibly married, but without kids. Babies were something you did after 35; then I’d get a nanny, so I could carry smoothly on with my brilliant career. Well, things haven’t exactly panned out like that! The girl who was once so angry and determined, who saw everything in black and white, seems to have mellowed into something far softer and far less serious. A mother of two, the bank lists my occupation as “homemaker”. I have one unpublished novel to my name and another simmering on the back-burner. I still wear a lot of black, but now it is covered in baby sick, mashed banana, and all manner of other best left unidentified substances. I don’t drink; I don’t smoke. My only vice is coffee, which I’ve limited to two a day (due to breastfeeding), but refuse to give up. I pad around barefoot in my 1950s cottage and more often than not, I feel like a 1950s housewife, cooking, cleaning and caring for the babies. And for the most part, I’m surprisingly happy doing this!

The down side to all this domestic bliss is that it’s near impossible to switch to writer-mode in the evening. When you’ve spent the day dealing with the relentless needs and demands of small children, your mind is not free to wander, but cemented down in the reality of moment-to-moment existence. How do you slip into the world of ideas when you have been so consumed by the thousand little things that occupy each day?

But why fight it? Why not just embrace all that is wonderful about being a mother at home? I am told, time-and-time again, that it will all be over before I know it and to make the most of these years because one day I will wish that I could do it all again.

So this is my blog; my way of sharing all the wonderful little things that make up our days. Here you’ll find recipes, photographs, a few hastily constructed sentences, maybe even paragraphs, the odd craft project, and many book recommendations. “Just enjoy it!” is my new mantra, so I hope you do…
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