Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Jacqui Murray – Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath – Anne Goodwin


The Crossroads Trilogy – The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray is the first book to be celebrating recent reviews. I have read both books in the trilogy and can highly recommend.

About The Quest for Home

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

“Bravo Jacqui! A fine read and meticulous research.” — Sue Harrison, author of the acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy,

Xhosa flees what she had hoped would be her new home after being attacked by invaders from the North. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands of what we now call Europe. As she struggles to overcome strangers around her and disruptions within her People, Xhosa faces the reality that her most dangerous enemy may not be the one she expected. It may be one she has trusted with her life.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man spreads across Eurasia. Xhosa must regularly does the impossible which is good because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

A recent review for the book

This is the second book of the Crossroads trilogy, and it picks up right where “Survival of the Fittest” left off. I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to continue the journey. Xhosa continues her quest to get her people to safety. Although I loved Xhosa’s strength and interactions with her people, it’s the wolf that held my heart. The journey in this prehistory world is fast-paced and full of danger. The details drew me into their world without weighing down the action. There is the perspective through the group that broke off from Xhosa’s people which added to the depth of this narrative. The characters all struggled to survive with sustenance, shelter, and the quest for control which is not much different than modern times. I’m enthralled with prehistoric fiction and this series. I can’t wait for book three. I highly recommend “The Quest for Home” and the rest of the Crossroads books!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WSGPFH5/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07WSGPFH5

A selection of other books by Jacqui Murray

Read all the reviews and buy the books:   Amazon Author Page US

And: Amazon UK

 Read more reviews and follow Jacqui on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/84832.Jacqui_Murray

Connect to Jacqui via her Blog: Worddreams,

The next review is for the poetry collection  Roads: A Journey With Verses – Vandana Bhasin and Smitha Vishwanath

About Roads

“Roads” is a poetic rendezvous that takes the reader on a panoramic journey, making one pause, ponder and celebrate life.

The book is a light, alluring read that instantly strikes a chord and elevates one’s spirits. A trove of 60 poems, it is quilled with beads of nine virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Serenity, Love, Hope, Strength, Joy, Compassion and Gratitude. The verses encapsulate life’s ebbs and flows while prompting the reader to enjoy its simple pleasures.

“Roads” is a book that you would want to keep on your bedside, for a quiet read before retiring for the night or for the morning wisdom to seize the day. With poems revolving around emotions that each of us experiences, “Roads” very easily develops a personal connect with the reader that is defiantly refreshing.

“Roads” is a journey with verses. Take it on yours.

One of the reviews for the collection by Kurian of Obsessed 2015

I love poetry and even wrote a few here and I thought I could also come out with poetry, as well wishing friends commented positively on them.

Then I was reading some of the comments elsewhere from people who are good in poetry, rubbishing random people like me writing crap in the name of poetry.

That’s when I came across this book, Roads. Frankly, the first thing attracted me was that the authors are both ex-bankers like me.

With that connection established, I got the book and started reading.

The collection of poetry has one striking feature. The authors start with a summary giving a background to the poem that follows.

For me poetry has the superiority over literature as the reader gets to interpret the lines in a beautiful way. The verses add to this edge.

The book is of 60 poems arranged under nine virtues. I think the poets have contributed 30 each. Of course I didn’t count, which is a deliberate decision.

But then, one may not be able to find out who the poetess is by reading the poem as both have similar styles for a reader like me trying to follow their expressions of the heart. Perhaps all hearts speak the same language. In fact the poets have hinted that it’s a reflection of their life journey.

Though not an expert, I can say that I enjoyed reading each and every poem. Bankers also can be good poets. And the poems here are really good.

By the way, I am sure that the experts that I spoke about initially will endorse these beautiful poems. The banker colleagues have made us proud.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TW5WT23

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07TW5WT23

Connect to Vandana via her blog: My Feelings My Freedom

Smitha V

Connect to Smitha via her Blog: https://lifeateacher.wordpress.com

And the final review today is for Anne Goodwin with a recent review for  Underneath…..A psychological thriller.

About Underneath

He never intended to be a jailer …

After years of travelling, responsible to no-one but himself, Steve has resolved to settle down. He gets a job, buys a house and persuades Liesel to move in with him.

Life’s perfect, until Liesel delivers her ultimatum: if he won’t agree to start a family, she’ll have to leave. He can’t bear to lose her, but how can he face the prospect of fatherhood when he has no idea what being a father means? If he could somehow make her stay, he wouldn’t have to choose … and it would be a shame not to make use of the cellar.

Will this be the solution to his problems, or the catalyst for his own unravelling?

One of the recent reviews for the book

After reading the blurb, I was immediately excited by this book, as I could see some similarities to John Fowles’ novel The Collector – a book I love.

As a result, I really liked reading Underneath. It was incredibly easy to keep reading – I was definitely hooked.

Each part of the book – I believe it’s split into 6 parts – begins with a mini prologue which is set after the imprisonment has taken place. After each of these, the book returns to the current narrative, where Steve and Liesel are still happy and in love. I thought these sections were especially good and intriguing, because I was keen to learn how Steve unravels from an ordinary man into a crazed kidnapper.

I say ‘an ordinary man’ as, for most of the book, Steve is just that. There’s nothing sinister about him at all, really. Although there are some flashbacks to Steve’s childhood, in which he is bullied by his older sisters, I was not convinced his childhood was damaging to the point of causing extreme psychological issues and violent tendencies which would bubble to the surface later in his life. Personally, I wish these flashbacks had contained stronger evidence of a troubled childhood development such as, for example, Steve regularly lashing out in anger as a child, struggling to accept being told ‘No’, or showing a fascination for murder or kidnapping stories in the news. I think these sorts of things would have provided a more solid basis for the motivation behind Steve’s future plan to imprison his girlfriend. As it is, Steve’s decision comes completely out of the blue, which is arguably less creepy than a premeditated attack.

This plan is also carried out quite late in the book; I was more than halfway through before any kidnapping began. This might be something for you to bear in mind if you prefer fast-paced thrillers, as Underneath is much more of a “slow burner”. Whilst I might have enjoyed a quicker pace, in the long run, I didn’t really mind because I thought it gave plenty of time to characterise and develop Steve and Liesel well.

Having said that, I did prefer the imprisonment scenes somewhat more than the build-up to the imprisonment. The last third or so of the book was especially engrossing. There are some great twists and, following the kidnapping, Steve gradually becomes more enraged and unhinged. The ending was also dramatic and satisfying; due to his psychological state, Steve begins to hallucinate people from both his past and present – whether dead or alive – and that was fascinating to see from his perspective.

As I have mentioned, there are a few things I wish had been done slightly differently. Nevertheless, I still really liked reading Underneath and, after reading a review e-book copy, I’d love to support Anne Goodwin by picking up a paperback copy myself as well.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Underneath-Anne-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B06X9VN6CD

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Underneath-Anne-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B06X9VN6CD/

Also by Anne Goodwin

 

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO/

Find more reviews and follow Anne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14157781.Anne_Goodwin

Connect to Anne via her blog:https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author Anne Goodwin


Welcome to this week’s Sunday interview and my guest is author Anne Goodwin whose latest short story collection Becoming Someone was released in November 2018.

Anne Goodwin loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in May 2017.

Before we take a look at Anne’s books, let’s find out more about her.

Welcome Anne and thank you for joining us, can you share what was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?

Swimming front crawl. I didn’t learn to swim until I was almost in my teens, but I managed a reasonable breaststroke. For several years, I would go to the swimming pool a couple of mornings a week before work. It took me a while to realise – well it was early morning – that the pains in my knees were due to that breaststroke kick. So I switched to front crawl, but found myself exhausted after just one length. I wasn’t uncomfortable putting my head in the water, and could more or less manage the sideways breaths, but I covered the distance almost as fast floating on my back. After a few years, I lost interest and don’t even have a swimming costume now.

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

There was a time I might have answered “singing” to the above question although, in all honesty, assuming I couldn’t sing, I didn’t try very hard to learn. It wasn’t until my late 40s that I plucked up the courage to enrol for individual lessons. While they helped enormously, I wanted to sing classical, but my teacher thought my voice wasn’t good enough. Nevertheless, a few years later, after early retirement, I approached an all-comers choir and, despite my incompetence and inexperience, I was welcomed in. Although I’ve definitely improved, I still consider myself a struggling soprano (and would never want, nor would I be good enough, to sing solo), singing with others brings out the best in my voice. I’m so grateful to be part of it and I love the classical repertoire. The sound quality isn’t great but I have a YouTube clip of what might have been the first performance I took part in, and still one of my favourite pieces:

Sally here: That is wonderful Anne and how fabulous to have found such an all inclusive choir that sounds to amazing.

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

If only I could have both on my doorstep! At the moment, we live in a small town which sometimes feels like the best of both worlds and sometimes the worst. I’ve never lived in the countryside, but get out there walking as often as I can. I often fantasise about moving to a small village, but I also fear I’d find it claustrophobic. When I lived in a city I appreciated the culture and a choice of restaurants within walking distance of the house. But it could be a pain having to drive through snarls of traffic to get out to the hills. My first two novels are set in cities, driving strongly in places I know, but my next will be set in a small town with a rural backdrop.

Do you have a phobia and do you remember how it started?

It’s not exactly a phobia, but I’m very sensitive to particular types of noise; for example, I can’t stay out in the garden if a neighbour has a radio on. I used to try and stick it out, but I get quite distressed and lose the connection with my own mind. I also feel it physically in my gut. These days I can often work around it and, of course, for a writer everything is material and I do have a WIP about a teenager with phonophobia, which I’m finding interesting, especially as I don’t find my own situation easy to explain.

What are the five things that you would always find in your handbag or briefcase?

I rarely carry a handbag or briefcase: it’s partly about protecting my posture, something I learnt about through the Alexander technique. If I’m not out for long, I’ll put a purse, key or whatever in my pocket. (However, I must admit that this backfired this summer when I carried home blackberries in a pocket, leaking colourfully through a plastic bag into my trousers.) If I’m going to be away from home for a couple of hours or more I’ll take a small backpack with a water bottle; migraine medication; bank card; phone and a couple of business cards, because you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to tell people about your books! Also, a dear friend whom I first met in cyberspace sent me a lovely lightweight foldaway shopping bag, so that goes in my pocket now too, just in case I need to carry anything more. (But I’ll never risk ruining it with blackberry juice.)

And here is Anne’s latest release

About Becoming Someone

What shapes the way we see ourselves?

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Rachel Poli 4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection December 28, 2018

I absolutely love the cover. The colors are so pretty together, the font of the title is simple but makes itself known, and the birds have a sense of symbolism to them. This cover was well done.

First Thoughts:  I enjoy short story collections. I love seeing different perspectives from different characters and this was no different. I’ve enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s work in the past and didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to read her latest.

Plot: The plots vary from story to story and they’re very different from one another. There are a few that have similar themes, but each story is unique from the one before it and they were all interesting backgrounds.

Characters: As the title and summary suggests, each of these stories showcase the characters “becoming someone.” Everyone goes through their own struggles and battles and we all have good times and bad times. The characters in these stories had their own troubles to deal with and life kept moving on for them. Some were easier to get through than others, but the characters were becoming their own within their short tales.

Writing Style: This is a collection of 42 short stories and no two are the same. The writing style for each differed as well, depending on the character. The POV varied and there was even one story where the narrator spoke in first person and wouldn’t give their name. It kept the book interesting and made me wonder what sort of story and character would await me on the next page. Overall, they were all well written.

Overall: This book is well written and is a good length at nearly 300 pages. There are definitely some stories that I enjoyed more than others, but they were all an experience nonetheless.

Favorite Quote: “Loitering with a raspberry milk-shake in yet another coffee-bar, she was afforded multiple glimpses of men with flowing golden curls, but none adorning the head of her prince charming.” -Anne Goodwin, Becoming Someone;

Read the reviews and buy the book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-Someone-Anne-Goodwin/dp/1908600772

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1908600772

Also by Anne Goodwin

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO/

Find more reviews and follow Anne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14157781.Anne_Goodwin

Connect to Anne

Website and reviews: https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/reviews.html
Blog:https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Annecdotist

My thanks to Anne for sharing some of her interests outside of writing and I know that she would love to hear from you.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Eleventh Day of Christmas with guests Colleen Chesebro and Anne Goodwin.


Just two more parties to go before the big day and for this celebration I am delighted to welcome writers Colleen Chesebro and Anne Goodwin, both of whom will be sharing their most precious Christmas memories.

I thought that we could not talk about Christmas without preparing something for the pets in the family. In the old days, and that was in fact only about 30 years ago, pets were fed on scraps as they had been for the thousands of years as our companions.  I appreciate that most of the animal foods available today may be rich in nutrients and full of vitality but I am afraid that I steer clear of dried food and prefer to go the natural route.

It is tempting to give pets the same treats that we enjoy but I am afraid that at Christmas treats like human chocolate are extremely dangerous. Chocolate is poison to dogs and can cause them to fit. Too many high fat, salty and sugary tit bits can also have a detrimental effect on a dog and cat’s digestion – and their first instinct is to vomit before producing rather evil smelling poop. It is important not to give you pets processed meats which contain a lot of salt or the turkey or chicken that you have prepared for your Christmas dinner because it too will have been spiced and seasoned.

Spread the food over a couple of days, as you can store cooked Turkey or chicken for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Give your pets a small amount on day one; say Christmas Eve, a little more on Christmas day and Boxing Day.

Sam our Collie established as soon as he came through the front door at 8 weeks old that the pellets that had been supplied by his breeder were inferior and he was now prepared for the good stuff. He never did take to dried food.  He finally settled on Basmati rice (anything that did not have that distinctive aroma was rejected) chopped cooked chicken and giblets, some carrots and green veg with a little salt free juice from the chicken.  I know some may say he was spoiled rotten but he was bright, intelligent and healthy his entire life and he always politely waited until we had started our meals before beginning his.  A perfect dinner guest.

Here are a couple of favourites that we prepared for Christmas – we fostered some cats in our time and had a small feral family in our garden in Ireland that also partook during the festivities as payment for the rats caught and left on my doorstep!  Sam loved Christmas and threw himself into the celebrations with great gusto…

Christmas Turkey or chicken Loaf for the Dog

Enough for 6 servings for a small dog and 4 servings for a large dog.

  • 2 lbs. of minced turkey.
  • 4 oz. of cooked and minced mixed vegetables (unseasoned)
  • 1 small crushed piece of garlic (anti- worms and fleas – and good for humans too)
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. of oats
  • 3 oz. of cooked basmati rice

Let’s Cook

Mix the turkey or chicken, vegetables, garlic, egg, rice and oats together thoroughly. Put into a greased pan (use a little butter) and pat down the mixture until level. Stand in a roasting dish of water in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook for around 1 to 1½ hours and then cool. Cut into portions and serve with a little salt free gravy. You will probably be asked for second helpings and third with a small piece of cheese to finish off!

Turkey Surprise – For the Cat
(The cat is likely to be very surprised if it is not out of a tin!)

Should provide 4 servings if you can hide from the cat. If not it will probably disappear very quickly.

  • 1/2 fresh unseasoned turkey breast or one chicken breast cooked and finely chopped.
  • 3 oz. of cooked carrots finely diced.
  • 2 oz. of finely chopped cooked spinach
  • 3 oz. of finely chopped green beans
  • 6 oz. cooked basmati rice
  • Unsalted chicken broth.

Mix everything together with enough chicken broth to bind the ingredients. Serve when lukewarm and watch your fingers.

My feral cats in Ireland waiting for dinner to be served…

Here is Leona Lewis to take us into today’s festivities with Just One More Sleep Amazon and courtesy of leonalewis

Time to meet my first guest today… the lovely Colleen Chesebro is a regular visitor to most of our blogs and her Colleen Chesebro Poetry Challenge no. 114, 115, 116 which is the last of the year offers you an opportunity to share your Haiku, Tanka or Etheree over the next couple of weeks. You will also find samples of Colleen’s own poetry on her blog and she is a respected book reviewer

Colleen M. Chesebro is a writer and author of YA fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She loves all things magical which may mean that she could be experiencing her second childhood – or not. That part of her life hasn’t been fully decided yet.  Her debut novel, “The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy,” won gold in the 2017 AuthorsDB.com cover contest.

Colleen lives in Colorado with her husband. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and friends. She also loves gardening, reading, and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art.

Colleen shares her most special Christmas gift…

When I was a young child, I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my German/Russian grandparents after my mom died. I don’t remember receiving many gifts. Christmas was about baking and eating, more of a celebration of my Grandma’s culinary delights. She baked up a storm for five days before the holiday. The smell of fresh bread permeated every crevice in their tiny house. Grandma would bake Christmas Kuchen and myriads of cookies that we would decorate together. Those are my favorite memories of Christmas. I still miss my Grandma.

When my own three children came along, including two stepdaughters, that was the gift I gave them, my grandma’s gift to me. I taught them to bake and enjoy the time spent together living within the spirit of Christmas. The presents didn’t matter. The important thing was to celebrate family. ♥

Sounds like an amazing gift to be passed on to generations of family and although I have already shared a song from The Sound of Music…. I hope that Colleen will enjoy another of the songs from the movie that features the whole family together. Edelweiss one of my own favourites..

You can read the reviews and buy Colleen Chesebro’s bookshttps://www.amazon.com/Colleen-M-Chesebro/e/B01N9MV2RX
Website: https://colleenchesebro.com

One of the recent reviews for Fairies, Myths & Magic – Nov 30, 2018 Miriam Hurdle rated it Five Stars.

Colleen in her book Fairies, Myths and Magic begins each section by an introduction. In the Fairies section, she describes the origins, the forms, and appearance of fairies. In the Myths section, she explained that myth is the oldest oral or written storytelling method to explain the strange natural or supernatural phenomena. In the Magic section, she points out that magic is defined as the supernatural power over the natural force and magic happens to us every day.

The short stories and poetry seamlessly weave into a pleasant dream that one wishes to stay in. The story of “Just What the Doctor Ordered” grabbed my attention because I have tinnitus. Roger’s tinnitus was cured after the fairs’ visit while he slipped into a dream over the Mojitos.

I love “The Pond” A Haibun/Tanka Poem with the line “As I gaze into the pond, I see the reflection of the woman I’ve become. Past and future meld as one.”

The short story “The Leaving” was engaging from the first line to the end. It’s eerie but not too scary.

I love poetry so it’s enjoyable to read Colleen’s many poems forms.

There are so many intriguing short stories and poems that one must read them to experience the delight of the book. Highly recommended to read for pleasure.

Day 11 (4th January): A very special woman St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), was the first American to be canonized by the Catholic Church in 1975. She had a tragic life in many ways but she established the first Catholic school in America in Maryland and it was also there that she founded the Sisters of Charity the first convent for religious sisters. She had a fascinating life and I have the link to her story on Wikipedia

Eleven Pipers Piping are believed to refer to the eleven Faithful Apostles following the betrayal of Judas. As I have previously mentioned this was according to the coded message within the original song that allowed Catholics to remember the tenets of their faith. And whilst largely discredited there is always a grain in truth in urban legends. However in modern times it has simply become eleven pipers piping…

Another beautiful carol O Holy Night from Kings College..The Carol (French: “Minuit, chretiens”, “Minuit, chretien” in original edition,or “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) written by wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). In both the French original and the English version of the carol, as well as in many other languages, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and on humanity’s redemption.

Now it is time to meet my next guest, author and book reviewer Anne Goodwin, who loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. You can find articles and posts on her own writing and also her Recommended reading

During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in May 2017. Her most recent release is Becoming Someone.

Anne shares her most special Christmas memory…..

My best Christmas present came forty years ago when I won the Sunday Telegraph Student Travel Writing Competition. Those being pre-internet days, I’m relying on my dodgy memory for the details, but the remit was to pen a postcard message, my first ever flash. Later, itchy feet took me to Asia, Africa and South America but then I hadn’t been beyond northern Spain. Unable to depict exotic settings, I mined my emotions, as I travelled backwards, literally and metaphorically, home by train. The prize money bought me an inter-rail ticket; the kudos brought the confidence to pursue my writing dreams.

What an amazing achievement and so pleased that Anne found her way back to her own stories and perhaps she will find more inspiration with this virtual Christmas Gift…a trip on one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.

You can read the reviews and buy the books by Anne Goodwin: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO
Blog: https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal

An early review for Becoming Someone Dorothy Winsor 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended December 15, 2018

This collection of short stories caught and held my attention throughout. I enjoyed the stories themselves, and loved the way the author was willing to play around and try different techniques, including one story in second person. Highly recommended.

Time for desserts and today it is Christmas Pudding with Trifle tomorrow – save some sherry to put in that…..

Like the history of Stollen earlier in the posts, The Christmas pudding that is available today for those of us who do not have the skill to make our own is very different from the original. It actually began life in the 14th century as a porridge that was savoury and made with beef and mutton with dried fruit such as raisins and the addition of wine and spices. It was actually the ‘slim shake’ of the day and eaten before any festivities during the year presumably to leave room for all the goodies they had back then such as a whole deer poached or otherwise..Nothing new in history then!

By 1600 the pudding had evolved to more of a cake consistency with the addition of stale breadcrumbs and eggs. It still contained the spirits and also beer and began to be associated with Christmas. However, there are always spoilsports and in the mid 1600s it was banned by the puritans for being too delicious and sinful by half….

Thankfully it received Royal approval and in 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal and by Victorian times most who could afford it were enjoying the same kind of steamed pudding that we do today. .

Although eaten at Christmas the pudding itself, like the rich Christmas cake is made several weeks if not months in advance. With the liberal addition of brandy to the mix it would probably last for years! It is then steamed to reheat while the turkey cooks and served with thick custard, icecream or whipped cream…

Carol Taylor our food expert provided a recipe for Christmas Pudding earlier in the year which is when it is best to make the dessert to allow to mature… here is the link for both the traditional and gluten free recipes

One of the  final drinks is one that you will be familiar with if you have been frequenting any of the high street coffee chains in the last few weeks… Festive Coffees...

When I did my management training with Schooner Inns steak houses in the mid-70s one of my jobs was to man the bar during busy periods. It was the in thing to finish the meal with a liqueur coffee which could be a pain to make since you could only serve a perfect finished glassful.

Into the wine glass you placed a spoonful of brown sugar, followed by the liqueur of choice – Irish coffees – Irish whisky – French with brandy – West Indies – Rum etc. Then you three quarters filled the glass with hot black coffee and stirred to dissolve the sugar. As that settled you then turn a teaspoon upside down over the mixture and gently poured double cream over it so that it settled on the top of the coffee in a thick white band. You should be able to see the coffee still jet black with the creamy topping. The glass would then be placed on a saucer and taken gently to the table to the eagerly awaiting diner. On busy Friday and Saturday nights it was not unusual to make and serve over 100 of these popular beverages. I got quite fast at preparing them and could usually make a perfect coffee in around 45 seconds.

However, there were times when the cream would break the surface of the coffee and it would become cloudy and those could not be served. In the spirit of waste not, want not those coffees that did not pass muster were then consumed after closing whilst the process of cleaning glasses and the bar was underway… Dreadful job but someone had to do it.

If you are planning to get in to get into that little black dress for the festive season…. I think you should just bear in mind that a Peppermint Mocha Latte with whip comes in at over 500 calories….

Thank you for joining us today and I hope you have enjoyed.. Tomorrow the final party before Christmas with a slightly different format… please drop in…thanks Sally