chestnut book blog

Read. Recommend. Revel.

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The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens here in the UK now and I’m gleeful! All spring and summer I have missed the calming, cosy Bake Off, so now 8pm on a Tuesday night is a sacred time. I settle down, cup of tea in hand, and join Paul, Mary, Mel and Sue for an hour of loveliness. I watch as the amateur bakers struggle with timings, deal with soggy bottoms and ultimately achieve baking triumph.

Inspired by the return of the Bake Off, I did some of my own baking this weekend as we had guests. Last winter, I was on the search for the perfect cookie recipe after noticing a decline in the quality of my favourite bought cookies (Ben’s). I needed a recipe that could let my homemade efforts compete with Ben’s, saving my pennies and satisfying my weakness for gooey cookies.

Thanks to the lovely Anna at Vivianna Does Makeup, I found it and have been revelling in gooey cookie goodness ever since (including this weekend!)! You can see the original recipe on Anna’s blog, but below is my version.

Cookie Monster Cookies

Make 10

200g unsalted butter / 300g caster sugar, 1 large egg, 275g self-raising flour / 75g cocoa powder / two big bars of chocolate of your choice (dairy milk and dairy milk crunchie are my preference) / splash of milk

Preheat the over to 220 degrees celsius (fan). Whisk the softened butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg, mix, then add all the dry ingredients including the chocolate (broken into chunks). Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the mixture. Now get your hands dirty forming ten lovely balls and putting them on baking trays (lined with grease proof paper ideally). Throw in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. They will still be very sloppy, but harden up after cooling for around 30 minutes. If you wait until the next day to eat these, they are even better I think.

Enjoy in moderation if you can!

Yorkshire tea bread

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There is nothing better than a slice of my home county’s wonderful tea bread whilst losing myself in a book! I make it using a secret recipe from my Grandma and it immediately takes me back to my childhood. So my plan for tonight is to snuggle down with the end of Gormenghast (post on my thoughts coming soon!) and a slice of this:

Homeade tea bread

Homemade tea bread


What do you like to nibble on whilst reading?

Books make a Home by Damian Thompson

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Books make a home

Books make a home by Damian Thompson

We’ve recently finished decorating our house from top to bottom and I was musing on how to store my books to best effect. I decided that I needed some bookish help to do that and found this little gem on Amazon. It is a beautiful coffee table book and has some stunning interiors in as well for those inclined to be nosy about other people’s homes (like me!). I took away from this book that rather than confining my books to three Ikea book shelves in our smallest room and piles by my bed, I need to start incorporating them into all the rooms in my house. The first thing I did is moved my cookery books into the dining room using an old cabinet and you can see the results below! I am really pleased as you can see them as soon as you walk into the room and it has made it a lot easier for me to consult them! My second action plan is to collect a few more beautiful hardback books and display them in my living room. Finally, if this is not too anal, I’m going to have a go at colour-coding my paper backs in the afore-mentioned Ikea bookcases! I’ll post a picture when I’ve done it.

My cookery books

And room for more!

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Whilst I was on holiday, I read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I must be one of the few people who have never seen the film so I came to the book completely fresh and with no expectations. What I found was a lovely story that warmed the cockles of my heart! To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my favourite books, and because of that, I have a definite soft spot for novels set in the deep south. The same deceptively gentle storytelling that Harper Lee uses is at work in this book as well, masking some horrifically violent events that happen in the course of the novel. The way Mrs Threadgoode and Evelyn Couch’s conversations reveal the story of Idgie and Ruth is a very clever device and I cared about all the characters deeply. I had wanted to get to know Idgie better than this method allows though as for me she is such a central character, and yet remains a bit of an enigma. The other thing I really liked about this book was the recipes at the back. Food and feeding those you love was such a central theme to the book that the recipes feel like the perfect ending. I have yet to try Sipsey’s Fried Green Tomatoes, but I certainly will if I see green tomatoes in the shops! If you are looking for a heart warming easy read with love, food and triumph over adversity, this is the book for you!