Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Tony Webster had always wanted to lead a quiet and uneventful life. Recently retired, he is puzzled when he is bequeathed £500 from the mother of a girl he dated in his early twenties. Yes, her mother seemed to like them when they dated, but it was over thirty years ago and the relationship ended badly. In a bid to determine why she has left him this money he gets back in touch with his ex-girlfriend Veronica; finding her uncooperative and evasive when he asks the pertinent questions. Tony reasons that he will find the answers to these questions by looking back on his time at University, his relationship with Veronica, and her subsequent relationship with one of his school friends.
Tony remembers his relationship with Veronica to be one-sided; ending acrimoniously she left him and soon moved on to one of his school friends, Adrian, whom Tony had introduced her to. Within their friendship group Adrian had been the intellectual and the boys struggled to stay in touch with him past his education. He remembers Adrian committing suicide shortly after sending Tony sent him a letter warning him off Veronica. He remembers Veronica being selfish and manipulative; so it makes sense that she’s withholding information from him. It doesn’t, however, make sense for Veronica’s mother to bequeath him money and some pages from Adrian’s journal. Tony is determined to find out why his present doesn’t match his memory of past events. Why did Veronica’s mother leave him money and Adrian’s diary? Why did Veronica leave him for Adrian? In other words, he’s seeking the sense of an ending.
I think that you can enjoy this book on two levels: an intellectual treaty into the trustworthiness of the memories which ground our sense of self and a thrilling mystery with twists and turns as Tony uncovers long buried secrets and surprises. Either way, it is extraordinarily well written with twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader interested. I know people are usually put off by the ‘Booker Prize’ label as this usually indicates a dense and hard to follow plot but this was genuinely unputdownable. So much so that I was stood in the kitchen reading it whilst attempting to prepare dinner…!
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I've wanted to try and make my own pizza for some time now but have always been put off by the fancy recipes I've seen online. Some require a granite slab, others for you to be making the dough on your counter, to pre-heat your baking tray, to own a specialist pizza oven, the list goes on..... They all seemed so complicated and trying to one-up one another. I have tried to keep things basic here; the key thing here is learning how to make the dough. It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it and you can make it in a big batch, freeze it, and use it later on. Practice is key - so if, like me, you're a beginner I recommend you also ignore the fancy chef recipes and try this one and remember to let me know how you get on!
If you're an experienced pizza chef feel free to share some pearls of wisdom in the comments!
To make two medium pizzas, you will need:
for the base:
- 300g strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
as well as the yeast mixture:
- 7g dried yeast (these come pre-weighed in sachets)
- 300ml lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- lashings of mozzarella (I used one 125g ball between two and would've preferred two if I'm honest)
- tomato paste
- whatever toppings your heart desires!
mix together the dried yeast with the sugar, olive oil, and the lukewarm water; let this rest for a few minutes.
sift 300g of strong white flour into your bowl; add the tea spoon of salt; create a well in the centre of the bowl
gradually pour the yeast mixture into the well; using a fork bring the flour into the mixture; keep adding the mixture and stirring until a dough-like consistency has formed
turn out this dough onto a floured surface; knead the mixture for a few (four or five) minutes; when the mixture is smooth put it back into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth; if you want a thicker crust let the dough prove for a while, after the dough has risen you will need to knead it some more.
on a floured or olive oil surface (depending on your preference) roll out the dough into two rounds. the dough should be quite thin as it will rise in the oven. place onto a baking sheet with some tin foil and a dash of oil (if you like your base crispy!)
add your toppings! start with the tomato sauce, add some mozzarella, and whatever your heart desires!
heat your oven to 240'C / 220 fan / gas 8. bake for 8-11 mins until golden and crispy.
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