I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) T and I recently celebrated two years together and I suggested making pizza. T pulled a face thinking it would take 98 hours. But, I whipped it up in half hour or so. So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

I’ve been reading a lot of books recently and a couple have really stood out. Like this one.

Want to give a quick shout-out to Pigeonhole. I tried to download the book after it had finished it’s serialisation.  But the app was letting me download it but it never appeared in my bookshelf. I shouldn’t have been able to get hold of it, but Pigeonhole let me because they are wonderful. This is what I thought of Lies by T.M Logan.

Blurb

 When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

My Review

Sometimes, secrets are best kept that way.

T M Logan’s debut novel ‘Lies revolves around the decisive moment where everything changes, when you find out something you didn’t want to know. The YES or NO choice that seems harmless but causes your life to dissolve into hell. Well maybe.

Joe Lynch is pretty normal. He has a lovely wife and an adorable son, and a normal job as a teacher. He spends his days pottering around doing all-together adult things. Until one day his son spots his mum’s car, somewhere where it shouldn’t really be. Following his wife Mel he finds her with their friend Ben at a hotel. From this moment everything begins to collapse. It looks like Joe is going to be arrested on suspicion of murder and he quickly realises he doesn’t know his wife, Mel, at all.

Character wise I loved Joe. Yes, he’s very naive, yes it takes him a long time to catch on but that’s why he’s so great. The trial by social media that he is forced to withstand is excruciating. Ben, (as described in the blurb,) dissapears but not for long. He taunts Joe, leading him deeper into the hell hole that’s been created. I wanted Joe to succeed, especially as he gets more and more desperate.

The writing is exceptional. It’s not gritty, but it is very engaging and clean writing with bite. The demise of Joe is wonderfully done. I felt like throwing the book on the floor a number of times. It’s not often that a book manages to make me desperate to read and piss me off at the same time. The writing is very cat and mouse, back and forth.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a super good read. I would say the ending was a brilliant twist but a little over the top. Saying that I didn’t guess it at all and was very, very shocked. If you love a thriller definitely get a copy. Thumbs up.

It’s been mentioned recently that book reviews are a little low.  Or maybe just book related bits and bobs. Apologies; I’ve been getting really into my Friday/Saturday posts. However, expect a lot of bookish bits because I’ve read some really bloody good books recently. Like this one – Death Message by Kate London.

Blurb

October 1987: the morning after the Great Storm. Fifteen-year-old Tania Mills walks out her front door and disappears. Twenty-seven years later her mother still prays for her return. DS Sarah Collins in the Met’s Homicide Command is determined to find out what happened, but is soon pulled into a shocking new case and must once again work with a troubled young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.

PC Lizzie Griffiths, now a training detective, is working in the Domestic Violence Unit, known by cops as the ‘murder prevention squad’. Called to an incident of domestic violence, she encounters a vicious, volatile man – and a woman too frightened to ask for help. Soon Lizzie finds herself drawn into the centre of the investigation as she fights to protect a mother and daughter in peril.

As both cases unfold, Sarah and Lizzie must survive the dangerous territory where love and violence meet.

My Review

As the blurb suggests the novel centres on two Met Police Officers DS Sarah Collins and PC Lizzy Griffiths. Sarah is tasked with solving the dissapearance of Tania Mills, Lizzy is returning to work at her new posting within the Domestic Violence Unit. The case Sarah has taken on is a complex case; Did Tania run away/have an accident? Or is it something more sinister? PC Griffiths is working with a young mother in dire need of help but refusing all attempts. How far will Lizzie go to protect the victim?

I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely throws up some conversations about the use of social media, texts, CCTV etc. I liked the discussion of the way the justice system operates. This would definitely be a brilliant book to debate and discuss at a reading group maybe. The writing is tough, gritty and edgy. It really throws the reader back and forth and gets you involved.

The characters are brilliant. Sarah is this cold, quite difficult character to get to know but that only makes the search for Tania more interesting. Sarah has to emphathise with Tania’s parents/friends/acquaintances and it’s fun to engage with that. I liked Lizzie less (despite sharing her name.) I found her confusing as she was both very weak and at times putting herself in terrible situations. However the constrast with Sarah was brill.

The writing is punchy and emotional with moments of great tension, it’s set in London after the great storm of 1987 and there are excellent twists and turns. I do love gritty female detectives!

Final Thoughts

I think something to note is that the stories don’t really interfere with one another that much which is a little frustrating. More correlation might have helped but both stories are brilliant stood alone. The author of the novel is an ex-met detective and it really really shows. The writing definitely questions and tries to understand what makes people commit crimes and what makes certain people more vulnerable to abuse.

Death Message is a banging novel – well worth a read.

I guess I should point out 2017 isn’t over so it’s not QUITE over. So I haven’t failed the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 yet.

Goodreads is something I use very rarely. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the clunky format, or because I don’t like rating books. It’s just not pivotal to my reading life/experience. However, this year I decided to try and read 100 books using Goodreads to document my books. Quite a tough number – and by May, almost half way through the year I’ve read 17.  Or maybe 18. But nowhere near the 50 I should be getting towards. At first I panicked, however, today it feels pretty good. Here’s why.

I’m reading more ‘difficult’ books

I guess difficult might be the wrong word. Basically, I’ve been reading quite intense books and it’s been harder to get through them. I’ve borrowed T’s Miklos Nyiszli’s ‘Auschwitz A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account.’ As you can imagine the writing is incredibly intense, difficult to read and v v emotional. It’s been best to read it in small chunks, but I’ll get there. (Review to come soon.)

I’ve joined a book club!

This probably shouldn’t be an excuse but I joined a lovely group of ladies and we read a book a month and then discuss over wine/gin/beer. (Also if you’re in Greenwich you should definitely come and say hi. First Wednesday of the month – Greenwich Union Pub, 7.30.) Anyway, the books we’ve read so far have been quite long and I’ve been writing questions, and notes so it’s taken longer to read the book. Saying that, I’m finding I’m doing it with all my books – which is a good thing.

I’ve started writing again

Well journalling mostly but writing as well. Although blogging is wonderful I’ve wanted to note down some bits but not online. Although it’s only a V small part of my day it’s eaten into my reading time. But, it’s a lot of fun so I’m going to keep it up. I might just fit the reading in before bed. Which brings us to the next point.

Sleep

I’ve started using a sleep cycle app and it’s basically said most of the sleep I get is crap. If it’s not crap, it’s just not enough. Which is a double whammy for Lizzy. I’ve also fallen asleep on the sofa a couple of nights last week and that’s a triple nope. So I’ve been going  up to bed earlier and sleeping earlier.  Seeing that a lot of my reading happens before bed it’s another cut in my reading time. But my sleep is definitely improving.

I’m watching too much Netflix

This is probably the main problem. Sue me.

(Also if you haven’t watched it yet – 3% is really good.)

You can follow my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 here. 

I’ve been reading from the Pigeonhole App again.

This time it’s the intense You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. Abbot has been on my list to watch for a while now. I’ve read a lot of good reviews but never quite got round to it. Today I finally did. Onto the review!

Blurb

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon. A gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But then a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community weeks before an all-important competition. Everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries to hold her family together. But she finds herself drawn, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.
 
You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

My Review

You get a jist from the blurb, this is a murder mystery. BUT, it revolves around family and the anchor that is Devon. Devon is a gymnastics prodigy. Her family have given everything to make her dream come true. When a supposed hit-and-run rears it’s ugly head, rumours begin to swirl. The novel details the hows, the whys, the confusion, melted into the intense mania of elite gymnastics.

The characters are intensely written. Katie is a mother overwhelmed and terrified by her daughter who is changing in ways she can’t control. Eric, the father, is obsessed with Devon’s dream – he’ll do anything to make her success a probability. Drew, the little brother notices the smallest details. He’s often forgotten and left in Devon’s shadow. He’s written wonderfully. Finally Devon – she’s a whirlwind that keeps her feelings close to her chest. She’s described regularly as a hard, perfectly smooth nut. It’s a perfect description of a teenage girl caught up in the stressful world of elite gymnastics.

The writing is sublime. Abbot is brilliant at writing about the psychotic world of teenage girls. The pain, the hurt, the secrets. Abbot has a way of manipulating the reader so you never quite know where to point the finger. I like the fact that the secret could be given away and you would still read on. The execution of the writing is spot on. The death brings a lot of secrets to the light and Abbot perfectly understands how to manage each character as it slowly unravels.

Final Thoughts

I loved the exploration of claustrophobia, secrecy and female adolescence. The story is full of suspense, and I liked the perspective of transition between girl and woman. Watching Katie try and control her daughter, whilst trying to push away multiple characters that wear on Devon. It’s exhausting and exciting. I like the theme of greatness and sacrifice and how to two mix, and how it affects little Drew. It creates a destructive but very exciting narrative, which I loved.

Abbott also manages to capture tiny moments (with a lot of meaning) in perfect clarity. Here’s an example.

He’d never woken up, and the only sound now was his breathing, hoarse and ragged. For a second she thought she saw his lashes lift, the white of one eye looking at her, but she was wrong.

It’s a brilliant story that had me hanging onto every word. Read it.

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