Monthly Archives: August 2012

Books, books, books; my plunge into the dark side of reading

Books, books, books

Growing up in rural Ireland we never had a TV at home; my parents didn’t believe watching TV was conducive to a child’s upbringing. This caused some issues at school when I had no idea what everyone else was talking about, both Corrie and Eastenders remained a mystery to me until I left home to go to University. Even today I occasionally baffle people with my lack of knowledge on 80s and 90s popular culture.

My parents eventually bought a TV when I was 19, I came home from Christmas during my first year at University and my sister took me excitedly into the living room to point out the new flat screen TV which was covered by a nice blue cloth. The novelty of having a TV wore off quickly and it remained largely covered apart from the occasional evening when we decided to watch a DVD.

Without a TV most of my childhood and youth was spent reading, I was forever in a corner curled up devouring a book. My mum used to ration my book consumption to one a day when we were on holidays; maybe she thought I’d become crossed eyed from too much reading. And years later my sister told me that I had never played with her when we were growing up as I was always reading.

Books have always been a big part of my life, I used to read anything I could get my hands on and birthdays and Christmases were always filled with books. As a teenager I was totally enthralled by red headed Anne Shirley, Scarlet O’Hara and Emily Brontë’s Cathy to name but a few adored heroines, while simultaneously devouring The Lord of the Rings trilogy and all the Swallows and Amazons books. Then in my early twenties – along with all the fabulous books I read in my English literature classes at University – I discovered P.G. Wodehouse, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Åsne Seierstad and loads of other amazing authors.

I’ve always coveted my books and after living in London for two and a half years I finally got all my things shipped over from Ireland. Over Easter my mum and I spent an entire day going through boxes of my stuff – mostly books – in a freezing storage room in the remote town where I grew up in Ireland. I was so excited when everything finally arrived; five boxes filled to bursting point with books and my old bookshelf. I never felt complete without all my books around me and now I can start re reading all my beloved books all over again.

When it comes to books I’m pretty old fashioned. My boyfriend on the other hand is the exact opposite, always up to speed with technology and the latest trends he’s long been threatening to get me a Kindle. My argument has always been that I love having the physical book, breathing in that gorgeous book smell, and the idea of getting into bed and reading a book on a digital device, well that’s quite frankly wrong!

Vikram Seth vs Kindle

So it was with trepidation that I unwrapped a Kindle for my birthday. I had handled these alien devices in Selfridges before out of curiosity, where I found them to be less scary than I expected. A few weeks later and I’m really liking my Kindle a lot; it’s easy to use, it reads like a book – maybe a stupid observation but it was a real worry–and it’s so light in my handbag compared to the giant copy of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy which I’ve been putting off reading as it weighs a ton.

However, all that said, I still feel a bit weird using it to read in bed. I’ve got a few books left which I will reserve for bed time reading and use my Kindle for tube journeys and everything else. But I’m sure that sooner or later, with a gripping book I’ll properly descend into the dark side of reading, they’re just too convenient!

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Cookbooks, street food and delicious Greek Gyros (minus the sun)

Cookbooks

So it was my birthday the other day and two of my friends – they had never met before – got me cookbooks. I wonder where they got the idea from that I liked eating and cooking! One is a Lonely Planet cookbook of the world’s best street food – it’s awesome – the other is an Indian cookbook, as the author says, ‘Eastern recipes for Western cooks,’ it has some amazing recipes. I was well chuffed and as you can imagine I’ve already been busy using them, and drooling over all the pictures of course.

I’ve done my fair share of travelling – not nearly enough though – and one thing I adore when I go abroad is trying out the local cuisine. For a while now I’ve been thinking about doing a few blog posts on food from the different countries I’ve visited and now, well I have the means and motivation to do just that. So I’ve decided to write a few  posts on my favourite street food from a few of the countries I’ve visited and lived in.

Beautiful Greece

First up is Greece, now I adore this country, and economic problems or not, nothing will deter me from going back again. I’ve been to Greece and Corfu a number of times and each time I’ve been there the first  thing my sister and I do on arrival is head out to find a Gyros. This divine local street food is just delicious and you’ll never guess, there was a recipe for it in the street food cookbook!

Paprika seasoned chicken

And Gyros is what I decided to cook for dinner tonight. Now the recipe says that it’s complex to make, I have to disagree, the preparation time is simply a bit lengthy. I made a chicken Gyros and it was, if I may say so myself, absolutely delicious. The first thing I did was season the chicken with paprika, oregano, salt and pepper which I then doused in white wine vinegar and left in the fridge to marinate for an hour.

Tzatziki

While it was marinating I made the tzatziki, from previous experience I’ve learnt that it’s important to take as much of the liquid out of the cucumber as you can before adding the rest of the ingredients.

When everything was ready and seasoned I fried the chicken until it was cooked through. Wile it was sizzling away I warmed up the pita pockets in the grill and chopped an onion and a few slices of tomato. Once the chicken was ready I placed the diced cubes on the pita and topped this with the tzatziki, onion and tomato slices and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Chicken Gyros

It was absolutely delicious, the marinated paprika chicken was perfect and the tzatziki was delicious, all that was missing was sunshine and a view of the beautiful turquoise of the Ionian Sea. Ah well, some day I’ll go back again with my sister and enjoy a Gyros the proper way.

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