As predicted my Year in Books choice for May, The Narrow Road to the Deep North was not an easy, nor comfortable read. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed it when much of the subject matter was so harrowing but I found it engaging and a good read.
I knew very little about the Burma Death Railway and found the descriptions of the conditions and the suffering absolutely horrific. But this is not just a story about war and death but is also a powerful love story. But so sad too... Have a box of tissues at the ready!
When I finished I decided I needed a little light relief and picked up the latest novel from David Nicholls when I was at the supermarket. Us. As I thought, it had a much lighter feel about it and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. It tells the story of Douglas and Connie who have been married twenty years. When Connie announces she thinks that their marriage is over Douglas attempts to win her back. Despite the comic veneer this is a moving and poignant story and at times incredibly insightful. I really enjoyed it despite at times recognising members of my family, and possibly myself, within these pages, which was just a little disconcerting!
And so to June... gosh, the months seem to whizz past. This month I am reading Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, which I am already enjoying. Especially with afternoon tea and date slice! This is something I haven't made in years and I don't know what made me think of it now but I'm glad I did. It does taste good! It is a recipe adapted from an old Cranks cookbook. Do you remember Cranks? I first discovered Cranks when I was working in London in the late 1970s and was toying with vegetarianism. They were very much part of the wholefood movement with wholewheat flour, raw sugar and plenty of pulses, beans and sandle wearing hippies. Not a bit like vegetarian food today with its flavourful Middle Eastern influences but good at the time and I loved their salads. It is years since I've used the cookbook but it still contains some favourites like this date slice.
This is my version of Date Slice
125g plain white flour
100g wholewheat S.R. Flour
75g soft brown sugar
150g unsalted butter
Heat the oven to 100 deg C and great and line a tin approx 25cm x 20 cm.
Chop the dates and combine in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons (90ml) of water and heat gently, stirring until you get a thick soft mixture.
In another pan, melt the sugar and butter together until melted and then stir in the flours and oats until combined into a crumble mixture.
Spread half the crumble mixture in the bottom of the tin and press down. Cover with the dates and finish with a final layer of oats. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin and then cut into slices.
Enjoy with a good book and a cup of tea!
This also works well with apricots... and I'm thinking of trying it with dried figs too. A sort of posh version of fig roll biscuits.
Speaking of apricots I also made a Tarte aux Abricot to take to friends last night. It looked good, tasted good... But the middle was a soggy mess so I need to work on that one before I go sharing recipes... or taking it to friends again! My brain is obviously still in a muddle!
What are you reading or eating?