Orbis Terrarum 2010 Challenge- Going Places

I know I keep complaining about my lack of time but this is one challenge I couldn’t stay away from. As most of you know I do love to read and travel….and this project lets me do both ( well, almost) .
Confused?
Don’t be..Its like this-
take eight months to read eight books penned by 8 authors from 8 different countries . Aint it interesting???
….read up more on Bethanys blog here.
While Ive not really come up with a final list of books these are what I have in mind..

1.Trainspotting -Irish Welsh (Scotland)
2. Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov ( Russia)
3.Slaughter house five by Kurt Vonnegut American
4. The Handmaid’s Tale by by Margaret Atwood( Canada)
5.The cave by José Saramago ( Portuguese)
6.The Yacoubian Building by Alaa-Al-Aswany ( Egypt)
7.Alone in berlin by Hans Fallada (Germany)
8. ….probably something by Bapsi Sidwa

The Ugliest Cakes ..and a Book Review…

Margaret Shanti’s husband Ebenezer Paulraj is a pompous conniving selfish narcissistic man who attempts to destroy her self-confidence and reduces her to nothing more than his slave/cook. She decides to get back at him through COOKING!
Yes! you read right.
She feeds him delicious fat-filled food and makes him fat and sluggish and breaks him down. A teacher of chemistry, she sees life as a combination of acids, alkalines and gases.
Love” she says “ is a colourless, volatile liquid Love ignites and burns. Love leaves no residue — neither smoke nor ash. Love is a poison masquerading as the spirit of wine.
Although I first read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe many years ago( 2005 I think) it was only Margaret’s story that I continued to remember.
But I re-discovered the novel again when I read it again recently .I was amazed at the authors ability to weave an interesting story at the same time throw up some poignant questions on gender, family , societal hypocrisy and life in South-India of the 80’s.
Can a woman stay single and be happy at the same time?Is a woman’s life worthless unless she is a mother and a wife?
Unmarried Akhila,the 45 years old protagonist of the novel struggles with these questions.
During her train journey to Kanyakumari , aboard the Ladies Coupe of the train she meets 5 other women , each with problems agonies and issues of their own. Akhila’s life-story is thus contrasted with theirs.
Akhila has spent most of her life looking after her family, sacrificing her dreams for theirs. Even while she does finally fall in love-with someone many years younger to her, she has to sacrifice this too.
The other woman too share their life-stories , their anguishes and how they deal with what life and society throws at them. It seemed to me like these 5 women represented the 5 stages of womanhood and even belonged to widely different social classes.Jaanki, Sheela, Margaret, Prabhadevi, Mary –all of them have a story to narrate…some realistic, some too fantastical and far-fetched but nevertheless all interesting to read.
I loved how Anita, drew up the characters. The author managed to remain detached throughout the whole novel; never preaching but just narrating the facts as they are. Her portrayal of the Indian Woman of the 80’s- closeted by society yet pushing the walls to as Akhila put it “ find a place that was her own. To do as she pleased. To live as she chose with neither restraint nor fear of censure” was very realistic and inspiring.
The men however left a LOT to be desired. Every one of them was spineless and insensitive.
Where were the ‘good’ men ??
Still Ladies Coupe was an interesting,inspiring read.

Before I leave you here are some pics a friend send me….(don’t I club the unlikeliest things?)
Aren’t they simply the ugliest cakes you have ever seen…I wonder who ate them!!!

Desperately seeking Patty and a Book Review

“Who is patty and how does she make this.”

Well although Wynter was drooling after taking a bite of Patty’s cake, somehow it did not turn out so great for me. I have to confess it could be my fault. I read  the measurements all wrong and had to start all over again, then I accidentally burnt the chocolate, and then as if the gods were plotting against me, the cake just spilled over in the oven.

In spite of the disastrous cake baking process, the end result was just YUM!! But then how can something that has chocolate butter and sugar NOT taste good!! DUH!

But before I give you the recipe (if you wanna try it in spite of my disaster) let me tell you more about Wynter Morrison….

When I first flipped through the book ‘Bread Alone’, I thought it looked like just another  chick-lit(not that I dislike that genre)..but it was trulya really enjoyable ‘light’ read ,emphasis on light.

The book follows the trials and tribulations of (baker at heart-but she just doesn’t know it) Wynter Morrison, a thirty-one-year-old chanel wearing trophy-wife whose life falls apart when her husband suddenly announces that he feels their marriage is over.Kaput.

We then travel back and forth with her; to her past  baking internship period in France , her relationship with her parents, and also to the present , when she starts work and soon become part-owner of a quaint little bakery and how she slowly picks up the pieces and gets another chance at rediscovering her true self and finding love again(and I don’t mean her love for bread alone!!)

I loved the authors lucid , fluid style of writing.  I felt an almost poetic quality to her words, peppered with vivid imagery and  a lovely sense of humor.

Wynter , initially came across as a annoyingly shallow whiner-Spoilt and forever wallowing in self pity, acerbic and impulsive ..thankfully (for us readers) she stops grieving and starts to  transforms from the “willfully ignorant,” to a new woman who knows what she wants from life. Her friendship with CM is also portrayed very beautifully and realistically as is the camaraderie between her new baking buddies. Although the plot is very predictable and totally uninventive, the author makes up for these flaws with almost poetical descriptions of bread making and a feel good ending that deftly balances themes like self-reliance, love, revenge , recovery and even baking.

and now here’s the recipe

Ingredients

    7 (1 ounce)  unsweetened chocolate squares
    1/4 cup butter
    1 1/2 cups strong coffee
    1/4 cup bourbon
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups cake flour
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt

     

    espresso caramel sauce

    1 cup sugar
    1/3 cup water
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    3 tablespoons espresso

Directions

Grease and flour 2 81/2 by 41/2 inch loaf pans.

Put the chocolate, butter and coffee in a large heavy saucepan.

Place over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted, then stir vigorously until mixture is smooth and blended.

Set aside to cool for 10 mins, then beat in the bourbon eggs and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients and beat into the chocolate mixture until well blended.

Divide batter between pans and bake in a 275* oven for 50 mins, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Cool in pans for 15 mins, then turn out onto racks to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream, creme fraiche or Expresso Caramel Sauce.

“Espresso caramel sauce.”

Whisk the sugar into water and pour into heavy bottom saucepan.

Stir over med heat until sugar is dissolved, increase heat and bring to a boil. Do not stir, but wash down sides of pan frequently with a brush dipped in water.

Meanwhile heat the cream to a simmer in another pan.

When sugar begins to caramelize, lift pan carefully and swirl mixture to even caramelization.

Boil until syrup is a beautiful brown color, about 3-4 mins.Remove from heat and set pan in sink.

Slowly pour cream into the syrup , whisking to combine. Be Careful as it may splatter.!

Stir in espresso and stir until smooth.

If mixture starts to harden, return to low heat and whisk until dissolved.


Teaser Tuesday

teasertuesdays31Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser…

Her poor heart must be broken, people say, but it is’nt true.Her heart was merely squeezed and wrung dry for a time, like an old rag.

page 122

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

Teaser Tuesdays

teasertuesdays31Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

This morning i cant help wondering whats he’s giving Kelley.What she’s giving him.
Hopefully ,something that requires penicillin.

Bread Alone ,Judith Ryan Hendricks
p 148

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