Mr Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange

mr

Who would have thought Mr Darcy would keep a diary? Not me. However, Amanda Grange’s novel Mr Darcy’s Diary, has the taciturn hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice recording his version of events for posterity.

If Jane Austen had given her readers so much detail about Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice he would have lost a great deal of his appeal. As a romantic hero I found him far more attractive when I knew less about how his mind works. In My Darcy’s Diary the reasons for his behaviour are fully explained at every turn. Most of this is to his credit, but some girls (okay, me) like a bit of mystery.

A great many more conversations take place between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (Mr Darcy never calls her Lizzie) and are recorded in Mr Darcy’s Diary than in Pride and Prejudice. Apart from the additional conversations, there isn’t a great deal of substance to this novel. Mr Darcy seems intelligent enough, but he is very often tongue tied by Elizabeth and his first attempt at proposing marriage to her is even clumsier and ruder than Jane Austen’s version.

Lydia is more of a hussy than I ever realised. George Wickham’s character is also less likeable when you learn more about him based on Darcy’s experiences. Anne DeBourgh’s character is also slightly expanded.

I recently read Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange and enjoyed this book far more than Mr Darcy’s version of Pride and Prejudice, probably because Captain Wentworth’s Diary expanded on Persuasion by telling of events before the hero and heroine met in Austen’s story.

Despite my complaints, the character’s voices are captured very well, and Mr Darcy’s Diary is an enjoyable read. This book is ideal for the Pride and Prejudice readers who aren’t quite ready to let go of their obsession with Mr Darcy.

Mrs Darcy. Mr and Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy. Fitzwilliam. Dear Fitz. William. Will. Bill. Hmmm. That would make me the ideal reader.

Caramel Hedgehog

Caramel Hedgehog

Another winner from the Magnificently Simple Marvellous Slice Recipes Cook Book.

Sigh. I suppose it is obvious that I am getting fatter as I work my way through the recipes in this book.

Mum and my sister E asked for this recipe the instant they tasted these, which is a sure sign of a great recipe.

125gm butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 table spoon golden syrup
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet of crushed Marie biscuits

Melt the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and sweetened condensed milk together in a suacepan.

Caramel 2

Bring to the boil, add the vanilla extract then take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Mix the caramel mixture into the crushed biscuits then press into a lined slice tray.

Caramel 3

Refrigerate slightly before marking into squares, then leave in fridge until set.

Chocolate Brownies

Brownies3

These Brownies turned out a little bit dry. It wasn’t the fault of the recipe, as I’ve made it before and last time they were delicious. I overcooked them slightly.
I served them warmed up for dessert with cream, which helped a bit.

200 gm dark chocolate
200 gm butter
4 eggs
1 Cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
One and a third Cups plain flour
1/4 Cup cocoa

Melt the butter and chocolate using the double water method. I use two saucepans, with water in the largest and the smaller saucepan bobbing around above.

Brownies2

Cool the chocolate mixture slightly.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence.

Brownies

Mix the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then add the flour and cocoa. Don’t over stir at this stage, as this will make the mixture tough.

Pour into a lined slice tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes. Cool the brownies in the tin before cutting into squares.

Individual Chocolate Caramel Puddings

Warning, Chocolate Caramel Puddings are very rich. I have a cast iron stomach, but could only manage to finish about half of my pudding. Luckily He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers helped me out.

380gm can of caramel filling
1/3 Cup cream
200gm dark chocolate
70gm butter
3 eggs
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 Cup almond meal

Stir the caramel to remove the lumps and put 1/4 of the can into the bottom of four ramekins.

Choc pudding 4

Melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until melted.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until frothy.

Choc pudding 2

Fold in the chocolate and almond meal.

Choc pudding 3

Pour the chocolate mixture over the top of the caramel in the ramekins.

Choc pudding

Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Sit for five minutes before serving (leave them in the ramekin dishes to serve, as they come out in a big messy heap).

Sweet Treats from Frankie Magazine

sweet

Sweet Treats by Frankie Magazine is a gorgeous cookbook, full of old fashioned confectionery recipes for favourites such as Toffee Apples, Honeycomb and Fudge.

The styling in Sweet Treats is retro too, with the goodies photographed on lovely old plates (similar to what your Nanna would have used) and displayed on patterned tablecloths and doilies.

I made the recipe for Marshmallow Cones, which turned out exactly like the picture in the book. I have made marshmallow before, but must have buried the memory of how sticky home made marshmallow is. It tasted great, but believe me, it went everywhere. I was licking it off the kitchen benches, the beaters, knives, spoons, trays, you name it.

The recipe for Honey Joys is probably known to everyone in Australia, and is such a favourite that I expect most people can make them without following the instructions. Still, I had forgotten how to make Toffee even though I used to make about ten different recipes as a child (don’t ask me how many fillings I have in my teeth now, self inflicted, I know), but the photo brought back memories of just how good sugar, butter, vinegar and water are when boiled together, poured into a patty pan and sprinkled with 100’s and 1000’s.

I borrowed Sweet Treats from the library, but I’m on the lookout for a copy of my own.

Nutella Biscuits

Nutella

125gm butter
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup Nutella
1 egg
1 and 3/4 Cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 Cup chocolate chips

Cream the butter. sugar and Nutella together, before beating in the egg. Stir in the flour and baking powder with a metal spoon, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Roll into teaspoon sized balls then press down with a fork. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the tray.

Sea Shepherd

Sea2

Last weekend we went to Williamstown in Melbourne and had a tour of the MY Bob Barker, one of the Sea Shepherd’s fleet of vessels.

Funnily enough, the MY Bob Barker was originally built as a whaling vessel, but is now used to prevent illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the Antarctic carried out by the Japanese. Sea Shepherd are involved in other causes too, but anti-whaling is an issue which is dear to the hearts of a great many Australians.

The people involved in the Sea Shepherd organisation donate their time and to maintaining the vessels, fundraising, running campaigns and going to sea to carry out their works. They are a non profit organisation whose whole reason to exist is marine conservation.

Sea4

The tours of the vessels held every Sunday afternoon at Seaworks while the ships are in dock. They are free, but you can use your visit as an opportunity to donate money or food or useful items to the organisation. You can even donate your time. All of the books in the crew living area pictured below were donated.

Sea7

The orange suits pictured below give the wearer an additional five minutes of life if they fall in the water in the Antarctica. Everyone on the tour at this point gave a gasp of horror, even those familiar with Whale Wars, the television series which documents the Sea Shepherd’s efforts.

Sea8

The people from all over the world who dedicate their lives and time to this organisation and other causes on behalf of all of us are to be admired.

Golden Syrup Dumplings in microwave

Dumplings

Yum. Golden Syrup Dumplings are really easy in the microwave, perfect for a cold, Melbourne winter night.

Dumplings

1 Cup self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of butter
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon milk

Sift the flour and salt together and rub in the butter using your fingers. Mix in the beaten egg and milk to make a dry dough. Roll the dumplings into balls (this recipe makes about 12). Don’t over-handle the dough or roll the balls too tight, or they will turn out like rocks.

Syrup

1 Cup white sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 and a half cups of water

Place all of the syrup ingredients into a large microwave casserole dish and cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring twice.

Add the dumplings and cook with the lid on for 4 minutes on medium. Turn the dumplings over so they are coated in syrup and stand for 5 minutes before serving with cream.

Mum’s Chow Mein

Chow Mein

Growing up, no one told us cabbage was horrible, until we had visitors from the big city (Melbourne) one time and Mum made Chow Mein. My family gobbled up everything on our plates, because we loved Mum’s Chow Mein, and it was only later, playing outside on the farm with our more sophisticated friends, that we learned from them that nobody likes cabbage.

The Chow Mein incident happened at least thirty years ago, so I can’t remember what we said to this news, but I expect we politely heard them out without comment, just as they had earlier politely eaten Mum’s Chow Mein without comment.

I still love Chow Mein and have been making Mum’s recipe for He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers for years, who also loves it. If you’re talking to He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers, don’t tell him there is cabbage in it, since he is a city boy and might not like cabbage either.

500gm minced beef
1 onion, diced
1 tspn of butter
1 packet of chicken noodle soup
1/4 cabbage, sliced
1 tspn curry powder
1 Cup green beans

Brown the mince and onion in the butter in the biggest pot you have (I use a soup pot), then mix everything else in, put the lid on and cook on the stove for 40 minutes, stirring once in a while.
This recipe tastes even better the next day and is fantastic on lovely, buttery toast.