Today I thought I should write about a couple of blooks I’ve read recently. What is a blook I hear you ask – well, a blook is a book that has come from a blog, and there seem to be a lot of them about. As a blogger myself I was intrigued as to why/how some blogs were turned into books and did some snuffling about on the web to find out. There is a whole new industry it seems with publishers approaching popular bloggers to get them into print. One fascinating blog I have read for several years is Random Acts of Reality by Tom Reynolds who works in the London Ambulance Service; his blog has been turned into a book called Blood Sweat &Tea, and it has sold very well – as I read his blog I haven’t bought the book. There is also Wife in the North, and the blogs that seem to feature the sex industry which have become blooks, such as Belle de Jour,or the sex life/fantasies of the blogger, Girl with a One Track Mind.
All very steamy I’m sure, but not for me.
The first blook I read was Julie & Julia: my year of cooking dangerously, by Julie Powell. This book came to my notice ages ago, and loving both reading and cooking I made a mental note to get a copy. At that point I had no idea that it had developed from a blog. Julie Powell, a young Texan living with her husband in New York, felt trapped in a job she did not enjoy, and challenged herself to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s legendary cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So The Project was born, 524 recipes to be cooked in 365 days with Julie documenting her progress in a blog. The book which has sprung from this blog is sometimes very funny, sometimes very irritating, sometimes endearing, but it will not teach anyone how to cook that’s for sure. I enjoyed the book far less than I had expected – I suspect I am the wrong age for it; I wanted to tell Julie to stop being so disorganised and to clear up properly in her kitchen! (doesn’t say much about my character does it?). Never the less it is a light, amusing read, and it gave me my favourite saying of the moment “Man up, dude”!
The second blook I read was Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. This one was different in that it is a novel, but a novel that began (and continues) as a blog. Anonymous Lawyer is hiring partner at a large global law firm based in
He moans about Anonymous Wife and her spending habits, and worries about Anonymous Son and Daughter. As far as he is concerned the whole blog is just a secret bit of fun, but one day he gets an email from someone in his firm who knows he is the writer of the blog, and his job is suddenly in jeopardy.
This book is written as a series of blog posts interspersed with email exchanges, and although it is interesting in the way it shows the ruthless work practices within big corporate law firms in the
I am getting fed up to the back teeth with every single-issue group using Global Warming as an excuse to try to force us to live life the way they think best. The latest group to do this is the vegetarian/vegan posse who now say that eating meat, eggs and dairy produce is worse than driving a 4x4 on unleaded petrol 24 hrs a day, and all the industrial emissions in the world rolled into one.
Oh yeah, says who? Two scientists in
Paul McCartney has become the celebrity spokesperson for this group (not too surprising as his late wife established a successful factory-produced line of chilled and frozen veggie foods). He gave an interview to PeTA, (which stands for People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), saying that we must all go vegetarian to save the world.
Well he and PeTA can fuck off, I am NOT going to start eating Quorn; hands off my Osso Bucco, my roast leg of lamb, my steak and chips, pork chops with caramelised apples, Brie, Stilton, scrambled eggs, liver and bacon, and Cheddar, not to mention the Christmas Turkey. I take great care over the food I buy, cook and eat, meat is only a small part of my family’s diet, but it is a vital part, and much enjoyed. I don’t think some of these people have ever thought about the taste of food, or why we have evolved over thousands of years with our dental structure specifically designed to eat meat, and I am very, very dubious about the links with global warming.
This could force me to the barricades to defend my right to remain an occasional carnivore.
It is a Bank Holiday weekend here in Britain (and in South Africa), and I want do some gardening over the next three days, so meals must be minimum effort. This is an all-in-one dish, it can be prepped in advance, adapts easily for larger numbers and is ridiculously good given how simple it is. I cut the recipe from a magazine over twenty years ago and still make it regularly. Over the years many friends have asked for the recipe, so it has spread far and wide across the globe. Now you can make it too. Start it the day before, or in the morning ready for the evening meal.
5 Tablespoons lemon juice ( juice from approx 2 lemons)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or Herbes de Provençe (if you like you can use a mixture of Basil, Oreganum and Thyme)
Salt + Freshly ground black pepper
12 Chicken thighs, bone in, skin on; or 6 chicken breasts with bone and skin.
1 medium/large onion, roughly chopped – not too fine
150g sliced mushrooms
1 red or yellow pepper, de-seeded and chopped (or half red, half yellow for more colour!)
50g of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
18 small black pitted olives
250g Basmati rice
850 ml of boiling chicken stock
In a large bowl combine the lemon juice with the garlic, dried herbs, pepper and salt. Add the chicken pieces and toss well to coat.
Cover the bowl with cling-film and marinate for 2 hours at room temp or 24 hours in the fridge, tossing the meat occasionally. (You can put the chicken, garlic, lemon juice and herbs in a large plastic bag to marinate, gives more room in the fridge, but make sure it is tightly sealed.)
Grease a large, shallow, oven-proof dish and scatter the chopped onion over the bottom. Cover this with the sliced mushrooms, chopped pepper, tomatoes and olives, and then the rice. (You can do all this hours in advance)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Remove the chicken from the marinade.
Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer over the rice. Pour over any remaining marinade and then the boiling chicken stock.
Place, uncovered, in the oven and leave undisturbed for about 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed by the rice.
Serve with a mixed salad.