Yikes, the end of the year is nearing already! It’s gotten really cold and winter-y here, which means lots of tea, cosy jumpers and blankets. I’m looking forward to Christmas, but I kind of can’t believe we’re almost done with 2015… I know, I know, it’s a cliché, but really, what’s up with time going by this fast? It feels like it was just a month ago that I was whining about how damn hot it was outside, and here I am complaining about the cold every single day.
Anyway. November was quite a busy month for me, but it was also a fun one, as they all seem to be lately, which is a good thing, I guess! I hope to get a bit more reading done in December, because I still have five books to go for my Goodreads challenge, and gosh-flippity-darnit, I’m going to win that thing if it’s that last thing I do (or something a bit less dramatic). For now, though, here’s what I got up to on the blog in November!
Twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua lives unparented and half-wild among the scholars of Jordan College. One day her uncle, Lord Asriel, an experimental theologian and explorer, arrives with terrifying news from the north. Impelled at first by her own curiosity, but soon pursued by appalling dangers, Lyra is drawn into a savage struggle among the armoured bears and witch-clans of the Arctic, where a scientific research station is carrying out experiments too horrible to speak about.
In order to survive at all, she must leave her childhood behind and venture where no one has gone before – beyond the Northern Lights.
First published: 1995
Since I don’t have a lot of experience with baking gluten-free stuff, coming up with a gluten-free baked goodie for a charity sale last week was quite a challenge! Gluten-free bakes often turn out dry and crumbly, so I figured going with a carrot cake would be a good idea – there was no way that wouldn’t turn out moist and yummy (I hoped).
I decided to use my own carrot cake recipe as a basis for this one, because it seemed very suitable – apart from the flour, of course. Then came the actual challenge: what should I use instead of said flour? I thought about using gluten-free flour, but eventually I landed on using almond meal. It adds a very subtle nutty flavour, which goes well with the spices and the carrot.
While the cake was baking in the oven, I had a moment of slight panic, when I thought this endeavor would turn into a baking fail – after 35 minutes, the cake had turned quite brown on top, but was still way too jiggly in the middle. Luckily, that could be fixed with some aluminium foil over the top of the tin, and in the end this cake turned out very moist and delicious! Its structure is a bit different from the original, but it holds together and tastes incredible. What more could I want?
Whenever autumn rolls around, I get the urge to bake delicious things with speculaas spices. Speculaas is a big favourite here in the Netherlands, and the speculaas and chocolate muffins I made last year became a huge success with my friends and family, and it’s still one of my favourite recipes.
This year, I decided to go for the classic Dutch combination of speculaas and almond: a muffin flavoured with some lovely spices, and a heart of almond paste. I added a splash of liqueur to liven things up a little, and some almond sprinkles on top and voilà, another mouthwateringly good muffin!
These really are delicious, and I think I will be making them a lot throughout the winter. If you want to make them too but are thinking “but Anne, I don’t know where to get speculaas spices!”, worry no more! These spices are simply a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, and I’ve provided the measurements below.
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
First published: 2003
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
It’s been four months since I last did a Top Ten Tuesday, so it’s about time I did one again! This week’s prompt is Top Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I’m Looking Forward To or Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I Still Need To Watch, and there are so many films I still need to watch, so this seemed like the perfect prompt to ease back into Top Ten Tuesday.
So, let’s go!
A while ago I was approached by Invaluable, an online auction website with a huge collection of antique books. They asked me if I would like to put together a little collection of antique books that I would love to own, and if there’s one thing I love it’s browsing through books, so of course I said yes! I picked out a couple of lots I definitely wouldn’t mind owning, so here they are!
Lot 94: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
These are both first editions and include a few errors that were taken out in later editions. I’ve only read The Hound of the Baskervilles so far, but a very nice edition of the completed works about Mr Holmes is still on my wishlist, so wouldn’t this be a cool thing to own? Unfortunately, the estimated price is between $2,500 and $3,500. That’s a bit out of my price range, unless I make a load of money really fast. How much do kidneys go for these days?
Cress, having risked everything to warn Cinder of Queen Levana’s evil plan, has a slight problem. She’s been imprisoned on a satellite since childhood and has only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress involving Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf goes awry, the group is separated. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
First published: 2014
Yesterday I baked something for the first time since my birthday. That’s over three weeks without any baked goodies from yours truly! I’ve been a bit too busy to create new recipes over the past few weeks, so it was so nice to finally be able to get back into the kitchen and bake my heart out yesterday. Like I’ve said before, baking has a therapeutic effect on me and I felt strangely energised after I finished these cupcakes – ready to take on the world again!
I hardly ever bake cupcakes because I’m not a huge fan of frosting – I absolutely detest buttercream (way too much butter!). All of the cream cheese frosting recipes I came across during my research still incorporated quite a bit of butter, and I wanted no butter at all (can you tell I have a thing about butter?). So I decided to see what happened if I only used cream cheese for the frosting instead of also adding butter.
The result? A delicious frosting that even I like! I was afraid it might be a bit too runny, but, while it’s not as firm as buttercream, it works perfectly as frosting for a cupcake. A very succesful experiment, if you ask me.
Now about the cupcake itself: I modified my carrot cake recipe for this recipe and the cupcakes came out absolutely lovely. The cinnamon frosting adds the finishing touch – it’s a perfect treat for this time of year.
And that was October! It’s been a busy month, starting with my birthday and ending with the first two weeks of midterms. I think that’s the reason that I only read two books this month, the second of which I finished yesterday evening. Technically, I finished reading Cress in October as well, but I also included it in my Monthly Recap of September, so that would be cheating…
I also had a bit of a blogging slump this month. I didn’t really feel like writing a post after I’d had a busy day, or even if I had a bit of a more quiet day. I’d just rather read or watch Netflix than write or read blogs. But that’s over now! I’ve got plenty of motivation again, probably because of my blogiversary this past week. It does mean that there weren’t that many blog posts this month, though: only one recipe and two reviews. So this’ll be quite a quick recap!