Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Best #SlowCooker Chocolate Banana Cake #baking

I'm linking up with The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer and The Sunday Salon at Readerbuzz.

We lit our first firebowl of the summer season this week! Dave's repurposed a barbecue which was left behind by the previous owners of our static (and it can still be used as a barbecue too though neither of us are that keen on barbecued food). It's much smaller than the firebowl we had in Polegate so perfect for our bit of riverbank and you can see Dave's impressive logpile in the background of the photo! We sat out until nearly 10pm chatting, watching the flames and listening to a few birds and frogs who didn't want to go to bed either.

I reviewed a great Indian cookery book this week (Spices And Seasons by Rinku Battacharya) and was delighted that Heather at Based On A True Story commented to let me know about her monthly foodie books linkup. Any post you've written about food-related books can be shared so recipe books, foodie memoirs, cafe-based cozy mysteries, ...!

Also cooking related, I baked up possibly The Best Chocolate Banana Cake ever! In the slow cooker too - my Morphy Richards Sear And Stew model does bake excellent cakes! Light enough to be a little crumbly, but still with a slightly fudgy texture reminiscent of brownies. I was amazed we managed to make it last two days!

If you'd like to make this cake yourself, simply add the following ingredients to a large mixing bowl, stirring in after each addition:
3 large ripe mashed bananas,
50g rapeseed (colza / canola) oil (yes, I do mean grams, not millilitres!),
100g brown sugar,
225g plain flour,
3 heaped tsp baking powder,
2 tbsp cocoa or drinking chocolate powder,
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon,
a handful of sultanas,
a little soy or nut milk (if needed to get the consistency right.

The batter consistency needs to be about the same as a chocolate mousse for slow cooker baking because not as much water evaporates as when oven baking.
Grease the slow cooker pan with about a tsp of oil, or uses a paper liner if you're organised enough to have any. Turn the slow cooker onto High, spoon in and roughly level your cake mixture, then put the lid on and bake in slow cooker for 2 hours.
When a skewer comes out clean, remove the whole pan (and turn the slow cooker off!). Allow the cake to cool for half an hour or so before turning it out.

In bookish news, congratulations to Champaklal who's won the In The Sun by Mixie Plum giveaway I hosted on Literary Flits!
If that's not you, there's plenty of other chances to win ...

Giveaways closing soon
30th May: Win a $25 Amazon gift card to celebrate the publication of What We Do For Love by Anne Pfeffer
30th May: Win a print copy of Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva
30th May (blog post on 27th): Win a Spell Bag and Pendulum to celebrate the The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale by Rebecca Henry blog tour
31st May: Win one of five print copies of Robot, Take The Wheel by Jason Torchinsky
(All current giveaways here)

On my blogs this week were:

Stephanie Jane
It's Only 6 Weeks until #PlasticFreeJuly! + #giveaway
Books From The Backlog - To The Blossom From The Flame by Jason Srebnick
5 Books, 1 Theme - Books To Film

Literary Flits
What We Do For Love by Anne Pfeffer Spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt
Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva Spotlight + #Giveaway + Playlist
Pink Ice Creams by Jo Woolaston Spotlight + Excerpt
Spices And Seasons by Rinku Battacharya review
Robot, Take The Wheel by Jason Torchinsky Spotlight + #Giveaway
Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi review
Shantallow by Cara Martin Spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Artisan Rainbow
Seven Fun Of The Fair Craft Supplies #GetCrafty
Seven 1960s #Vintage Dresses - #Fashion

Have a great week!

Friday, 24 May 2019

5 Books, 1 Theme - Books To Film

For my second 5 Books 1 Theme post I have chosen five of the books I have read which have also been turned into films (or movies if you're American!). Of the five I've only actually seen three of the film versions, though for Hitch-Hikers' I've seen the film and the TV series and I've listened to the radio series. You could say I'm a fan!

(Click the cover images to visit each book's Literary Flits review.)

Have you read any of these five novels? If so, what did you think of them?
Which other books can you recommend which have also been made into films?

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Books From The Backlog - To The Blossom From The Flame by Jason Srebnick

Books from the Backlog is a weekly post hosted at Carole's Random Life In Books. Carole says it's "a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread. If you are anything like me, you might be surprised by some of the unread books hiding in your stacks." Find out more and link up your own posts on Carole's Random Life In Books.

I enjoyed taking part in Books From The Backlog last year, but got out of the habit of the weekly posts. Now I hope to use this meme to stoke my enthusiasm for my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge. I'm posting one BFTB a fortnight and then Actually Reading The Book before the next post is due!

Last time I chose Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada and my review is on Literary Flits.

Next up is:

To The Blossom From The Flame by Jason Srebnick

The city of New Boston...

In the world of Aaron Cogwell going to work at his Corporation seven days a week for a minimum seventeen hour work day is the norm. Weekends are an archaic thing of the very distant past. Now there are workends: Four hour work stoppages every thirty-six days. The Corporations are nothing if not efficient. People are judged by marks such as Corporate status, the size and class of their residence and by how much "stuff" they have in their display chambers. And this information is all very public and available for viewing on the HRN. Government still exists but is a small and meaningless footnote in a very large Corporate world. People now pledge allegiance to their Corporation. 

Aaron is more than happy with his life like this. He's thankful to his Corporation for all it has given him. For all of the stuff that he and his wife have been able to accumulate. They were given this life by the Corporation. And they are forever loyal for it.

Then again this is all Aaron or anyone else in CorpWorld has ever known. There are no alternatives. At least that is what Aaron believes. Until one day a major event changes his life’s course and he meets a mysterious stranger who helps him to realize that, indeed, there is a choice.

I downloaded Jason Srebnick's debut novel from NoiseTrade so long ago (three-ish years, oops!) that it's now got a completely different title! Escape From Corpworld has become To The Blossom From The Flame. It's a dystopian tale and I do enjoy dark dystopia so fingers crossed for this one.

Monday, 20 May 2019

It's Only 6 Weeks until #PlasticFreeJuly! + #giveaway

2019 will be my third year of taking part in Plastic Free July, a month long challenge which encourages people around the world to be more aware of how much single-use plastic we encounter unnecessarily in our daily lives - and what alternatives are available to help stem the plastic tide!

You can read my previous years' posts through this link and visit the Plastic Free July website for inspiration and encouragement with your own challenge.

Some of my favourite plastic avoidances are:

1. Collecting glass jars for my store cupboard and fridge instead of buying rolls of clingfilm or plastic tubs.
2. Using upcycled cotton dishpads and coconut scourers for washing up instead of plastic 'sponges'.
3. Making my own Mouthwash and Toothpaste, and using a Bamboo Toothbrush.
4. Buying produce such as fruit and veg, nuts and dried fruit, oats, etc, loose rather than prepackaged.

Other ideas are to:
1. Refuse plastic straws in drinks.
2. Use and reuse a flask instead of buying bottled water.
3. Avoid expensive pre-chopped fruit and vegetables.

Plastic Free July is a time to try out different ideas and to be inspired by sharing tips and hacks with a global community. It's not a question of launching into a Plastic Free life overnight, but of each of us taking small steps to reduce our plastic consumption. Together we really can make a difference!

The hardest part initially for me to get used to was being prepared. It's now second nature to keep a cotton shopping bag rolled up in my handbag, or to carry a water flask when we go walking, but this wasn't always the case. For miserly me, it helps that Plastic Free solutions are often cheaper in the long run and I do love saving money! They're not always as convenient though so I needed to be aware of planning until the new habits were established.
For example my £4.99 water flask easily paid for itself within a couple of months and it's still going strong after two years. But it wouldn't have been any good buying the flask if I never remembered to fill and carry it, therefore still buying bottled water as well! Preparation is key!

And if you want to treat yourself to a Plastic Free solution or two so you are all set for Plastic Free July, I might have just the Giveaway for you here! Ethical Superstore stocks a good Plastic Free range of products (as well as many other fair trade, organic and eco-friendly products) and I have a £10 Ethical Superstore gift voucher to give away! Simply enter through the Gleam widget below:

£10 Ethical Superstore gift voucher giveaway

The Giveaway is open to the UK and ROI until the 3rd June and I will pick a winner on the 4th. Please be aware that Ethical Superstore only deliver within the UK and the Republic Of Ireland so if you don't have a delivery address in these countries you will not be able to use the voucher!
The giveaway is entirely my own and is not endorsed by either Plastic Free July or Ethical Superstore.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Oh no! Horace the Hymer is poorly

I'm linking up with The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer and The Sunday Salon at Readerbuzz.

A mixed week of glorious sunshine and dreary rain showers so we've enjoyed some time lounging on our pretty riverbank (with a book or six, obviously!) and we've been for some pretty local walks. Roses are blooming here in a fabulous variety of colours and scents, and it's the beginning of elderflower season so I might, finally, get around to making elderflower cordial this year.

We got bad news about our motorhome on Monday. We took it to a recommended local garage last week because the front tyres seemed to be wearing strangely. A mechanic had a look and we've now got the repair quote. Gas struts, ball joints, new tyres ... Yeah, it's quite a lot of money :-(
Fortunately (always look on the bright side?) the garage is within walking distance of our static and we're not actually living in the motorhome at the moment. So it all could have been a lot more inconvenient, although it is still frustrating.

Let's change the subject! I got the Dead Good newsletter yesterday announcing the last chance to make nominations for their annual Dead Good Reader Awards is Tomorrow. Dead Good are a crime and thriller publisher so the six categories are all crime fiction related, hower your nominations can be books from any publisher within the past year. See your favourites recognised and maybe even win £100 worth of crime books as a reward for participating!

And something other than books which always cheers me up is food. This week's Recipe Recommendation is a practically fat-free alternative to feta cheese made from this Simple Vegan recipe. It's actually a marinaded tofu which is very simple to create with just a few store cupboard ingredients. I marinade the tofu cubes for 24 hours in the fridge, then drain them and sprinkle with a little salt. I don't think anyone would be fooled that this is actually feta, but I am loving it's fresh tangy flavour as a lighter cheese substitute in Greek-style salads with chopped vine tomatoes, sliced radishes and black olives.

Giveaways closing soon
22nd May: Win a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Strongman And The Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop. (Hosted at Passages To The Past)
23rd May: Win a $20 Amazon gift card to celebrate the A New World - Conviction by M D Neu blog tour
24th May: Win a signed PB of In The Sun by Mixie Plum
25th May: Win $20 Amazon gift cards and copies of Free Pizza by G C McRae
25th May: Win one of ten print copies of The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow

(All current giveaways here)

On my blogs this week were:

Stephanie Jane
#Notebooks - Covetable Stationery inspired by my #BookOfTheMonth
COYER Summer Hunt Challenge signup
Book Blogger Hop - Which author would you like to interview?

Literary Flits
Where The Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt review
I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman review
A New World – Conviction by M D Neu Spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt
Bloom Where You Are Planted (Life the Expat way) by Lasairiona E McMaster review
Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada review
Twelve Unending Summers by Cholet Kelly Josué review
In Love With The World by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche review

Artisan Rainbow
Seven Beautiful Butterflies Craft Supplies
Seven Anne Boleyn #Tudors #GiftIdeas

Have a great week!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Book Blogger Hop - Which author would you like to interview?

This week's question (17th - 23rd May 2019) is:
Which author would you most like to interview, and why? (submitted by Nicki @ Nicki J. Markus/Asta Idonea

Another tricky question here because I'm not sure there are any particular authors I would like to interview. I enjoy reading question and answer segments on blog tour posts, especially ones that give me insights into the various ways authors go about creating their works, however generally I prefer to simply experience their resultant books without knowing much (if anything) about the specific person behind each pen.

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer's permission, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the meme on February 15, 2013.

Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop's purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

COYER Summer Hunt Challenge signup

I spotted the 2019 COYER Summer Hunt Challenge over at Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life when Books Of My Heart posted their signup post, and I decided that I would like to take part. This will be my first COYER challenge and I am looking forward to getting involved.

The Challenge runs from the 1st June until the 31st August and, as I understand it, all books read during these three months are eligible for the Challenge. As well as reading a lot of books generally, there are also lots of themed readathons and a treasure hunt to get involved with. Most of these extras take place over different weeks during the three months so I've made myself a calendar below which I'll add to as needed. If you're interested in taking part too, I'd suggest going straight to the Official Sign-Up Page for all the information because there's Facebook and Instagram events planned too!

June 1st: Challenge starts
June 7th: Twitter Kick-off (6pm EST)
June 9th-22nd: Deserted Island Read-a-thon
July 7th-13th: Sharknado Read-a-thon
July 20th: Twitter Check-In (1pm EST)
July 21st-27th: Swabbing the Deck Read-a-thon
August 11th-24th: Evil Octopus Read-a-thon
August 25th: Twitter Wrap-Up (4pm EST)

Let's get reading!