The Library Book

library

The Library Book is an enjoyable collection of essays, short stories and memoirs by all different writers.

I love libraries. I am lucky enough to have five in my area, with a fantastic range of books, ebooks, dvds, newspapers and magazines, all available to me for free because I am lucky enough to live in an area where my local council prioritises spending money on this service.

The Library Book celebrates libraries, books, librarians and readers. Some of the writers tell stories about learning to read, their first visit to the library and things that happened in the library. Others imagine a future with no libraries, while others discuss the future of libraries at a time when physical books are available alongside electronic versions.

My favourite chapters were Stephen Fry’s ‘Have You Heard of Oscar Wilde?’ where the library stars as the place where he discovered a bigger world than the one he lived in and ‘The Five Minute Rule’ by Julie Myerson, who wrote her first book at thirteen, which drew heavily on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

There are some quite famous authors amongst this mix, including Lionel Shriver, Ann Cleeves, Zadie Smith and Val McDermid, with no dud stories at all amongst the chapters.

The best thing about these stories was being reminded of being read to by Mum as a small child. Over and over and over, Mum read the same treasured Little Golden Books to us. My favourite was, (and still is) The Happy Family. The pictures in The Happy Family are particularly gorgeous.

Once I started school I was able to borrow from the school library. I was a library monitor at lunch time, which was wonderful. I changed my books every day and spent the whole bus trip to and from school reading novels, (approximately two and a half hours each day).

We weren’t members of the nearest town library, (we lived slightly too far away), but the first time I visited with a school friend who lived in town, I had mixed feelings. There were LM Montgomery books on the shelves that I really wanted to read, but the library building was a dark and slightly scary place. Joining a library for the first time in a big city as an adult was an exciting day. Over twenty five years later I still over-fill my library bag, which is filled with books allowing me escape, possibilities and secrets to be learned.

The Library Book is an enjoyable and for me, a thought-provoking read. (By the way, I borrowed this book from my library).

 

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Chocolate Truffles

truffle

These Chocolate Truffles are the bomb. I usually make two batches, using two different types of biscuits. I cover one batch with white chocolate and the other batch with milk chocolate. Yum.

The recipe below is for one batch only, but reverse the quantity if you want some white and some milk chocolate.

 

250gm packet of chocolate chip biscuits. (I use Paradise Triple Chocolate Biscuits).

395gm sweetened condensed milk

100gm milk chocolate

180gm white chocolate

Crush the biscuits finely.

Heat the sweetened condensed milk and milk chocolate gently until the chocolate is melted, then stir into the biscuit crumbs. Chill for ten minutes, or until the mixture can be rolled into balls.

Once rolled into balls, chill the mixture again for a few hours. The balls may have to be re-rolled if they don’t hold their shape.

truffles

Melt the white chocolate using the double saucepan over water method, then dip the balls and place on waxed paper to set.

 

 

 

Coconut Ice

coconut

It’s nearly Christmas! That means it is time to make Coconut Ice! Yay!

2 Cups icing sugar

3 Cups dessicated coconut

1tspn vanilla essence

395gm tin sweetened condensed milk

red food colouring

Mix the sifted icing sugar, coconut and vanilla essence together, then stir in the sweetened condensed milk.

Press half of the mixture into a lined tin (I used a square cake tin).  Colour the remaining half of the mixture using the food colouring and mix well. Don’t get the food colouring on your hands or you will look as if you frequent B&S Balls.*

Press the pink half of the mixture on top of the white half. I used a sheet of baking paper and a glass to roll the mixture flat.

Refrigerate overnight then cut into squares.

*Bachelor and Spinsters Balls, usually held in country towns. These days B&S balls are held in remote areas where the attendees either frock up or wear a suit, drink until they are sick and throw food colouring at each other. I don’t understand the attraction, but loads of people apparently do.

Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas

paris

Paris My Sweet is Amy Thomas’ story of living in Paris, where she was able to indulge her love of everything French. Dark chocolate, bonbons, Nutella Crepes, macarons, pain au chocolate, croissants, carrot salted-caramel cupcakes, baba au rhum, (personally, I think rum smells like the stuff that is used to wash hospital floors, but I would eat baba au rhum), madeleines, truffles, tarts, even le cookie au chocolat. I don’t speak French, but that sounds to me like chocolate biscuits.

Amy was working at an advertising agency in New York and writing a successful blog, Sweet Freak, when she was offered the opportunity to travel to Paris to work on the Louis Vuitton advertising account. Obviously, Amy jumped at the chance.

The stories of Amy’s food discoveries in Paris and in New York are wound around stories of her life in both cities. Even though Amy was delighted with the opportunity to live in Paris, she missed her friends and family desperately and had a hard time making friends with French people. Thankfully by the end of the book, Amy had a circle of friends in Paris, although they were mostly fellow ex-pats.

My only complaint about the book is that there were no pictures of the food, particularly of Pierre Hermes’ individuel cakes. I don’t believe Amy’s Sweet Freak blog is still active, however I’ve checked it out, and the pictures of her favourite cakes, pastries and other sweet treats are to die for. I swear, I put on three kilos reading Paris My Sweet.

I firmly believe Melbourne needs a similar book and I’m willing to do the research. Somebody has to do it and considering my fondness for cake, biscuits, pastries, cupcakes and other foods containing sugar, I believe I will be well suited to this task. I’m thinking of Melbourne Takes the Cake as a title… with a photo of me in the inside cover from ten years ago, when I was much thinner.

I don’t have any desire to travel to Paris after reading Paris My Sweet, but I wish someone would send some Parisian cake to me.