Sunday, 19 October 2014


Good Afternoon to you,

I do love a good book.  

When the house is quiet, I love to stretch out on the settee, pick up a good book and immerse myself for a couple of hours... and if time allows, even longer. Although I have to admit, these days, those times are rare.

 I tend to read more in the summer, when the garden is growing and all the hard work is done, and with the evenings staying light until 10 o'clock at night, sitting in the evening sun is such a lovely way to spend an hour or two.... but autumn has arrived and I will have to wait until next summer before I can enjoy that pleasure again.

I think I have mentioned before, that I love old books, and I have been buying them since I was a teenager.  I was recently in Gosforth, when I came across a 1930's edition of The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.  Now I know a little about the story, but I have never read the book, so I am very excited to read this little 4" x 6" book, with its very fine pages. When the book was sold in the 1930's it cost 2s 6d, which I know was a lot of money, at that time.

I read the first page and the paragraph opened with the words,

Outside Dorlcote Mill

'A wide plain, where the broadening Floss 
hurries on between its green banks to the sea, 
and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its 
passage with an impetuous embrace.'

If this is the beginning, I cannot wait to read the rest of the book.  I will have to be very careful, because as I said, the paper is very fine, and so I don't lose my page, I will place a ribbon in the book.  I use ribbons as page markers, as it is much easier to see which page I am up to. Ribbons also show me how many unfinished books I have, as I see ribbons draped from all my unread books.  I have checked, and I have four books on the go, but they will have to wait patiently in line to be read, until I have finished The Mill on the Floss.

The book is about life in the little town of St Ogg's in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire over 150 years ago. Much of the story is drawn from memories of the authors own childhood.

I wonder, did you know,  George Eliot was a woman. Her real name was Mary Ann Evans and she used the pen name of George Eliot, in a time when women writers were known for their romantic novels. Mary Ann wanted her novels to be taken seriously and so she wrote using her pen name, George Eliot. 

Mary Ann (or Marian) was born at Arbury Farm, Chilvers near Nuneaton, Warwickshire on 22nd November, 1819. Mary Ann wrote many books during her lifetime, including Silas Marner and Middlemarch.

So I am hoping I can make time between now and December to read The Mill on the Floss..... I really do hope I do, as I have a feeling, I will not want to pick up the book and read only a few chapters.... I feel it is going to be a pick up and push right to the end type of read.

So whilst my book is waiting to be read, with the ribbon already placed inside the book, I will tell you what I am making today.

Do you like almond flavour?

You can probably guess, I do. So it will come as no surprise, when I tell you, I am making a tart with almonds. Actually it is an apple and almond tart with a touch of cinnamon.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,

the wonderful Tony Bennett. The sleeve notes, written by Ralph Sharon, say that this show, held at Carnegie Hall, was sold out two weeks in advance. 

He wrote, 'Tony left the wings and made his way toward centre stage amid tremendous applause, and from that moment it was evident to the audience at Carnegie Hall that this would be the greatest night in Tony Bennett's career'.

The album is wonderful, listen and enjoy, 'Just in Time', 'Stranger in Paradise' and 'April in Paris'.

So whilst I am organising my ingredients, I am singing along with 'I Left My Heart, in San Francisco' (incidentally, this is a city I have always wanted to visit).



75g unsalted butter
175g plain flour
25 ground ground almonds
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of cold water


800g Bramley cooking apples


125g plain flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
60g unsalted butter
50g dark brown sugar
60g flaked almonds

Oven temperature:  180C
23cm loose bottom tart tin


Make the pastry
chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Roll out the pastry
line a 23cm loose bottom tart tin.
Trim the edges.

You might find that the pastry crumbles
a little when placing in the tart tin,
 but don't worry
as you can patch up the
holes with pieces of left over pastry.

Chill in the fridge while you
are making the topping
and cutting the apples.

Place the flour in a bowl

and mix together.

Add the
rub into the flour and cinnamon
until the ingredients
look like bread crumbs.

Add the sugar



Mix the ingredients together.

Set aside for the moment.

Place a baking tray in the oven
to heat up
(large enough for your tart tin to sit on)

Peel and core
the apples,
thinly slice.

Remove the pastry case
from the fridge
arrange the apple slices
in the pastry case.

Cover the apples
with the almond topping.

Don't worry if the tart looks a little
too full
as the apples will reduce slightly
when cooked.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes
or until the apples are
and the topping is browned.

I use a cake prodder to 
check to see if the apples are cooked.

I thought I would
tempt you
with a
 close up
the apple and almond tart.

As you can see,
I was tempted
the tart was very much enjoyed.

I have listed the ingredients for the pastry, but I did not go through the picture process, as we have made pastry many times.

You will have noticed that I did not blind bake my pastry case.  The reason is my good friend told me about this method.  I was a little sceptical at first, because using apples, I felt the base, when baked, would be a little soggy, but I am pleased to say, it wasn't.  I am going to use a heated baking tray, the next time I make a quiche, as I am sure it will be just as successful..... you don't know until you try.

I just wanted to say, I am sorry the pastry looks a little darker than it really is, but we are now into autumn lighting, and I always find it much harder to take good photographs at this time of year.

Oh yes, just before I go, as you know, I love dancing, so I am, an unshamedly, Strictly Come Dancing fan.... and guess who is singing this evening, in the results show..... yes, Tony that I am really looking forward to.

So take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

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