Time to Move On?

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Seven months ago, I expressed my doubts about where my blog Ilana-Davita was going. I had written there for almost five years trying to share snippets of my life. It had been an opportunity to write about books and films, to post photos and recipes and sometimes to explore the ‘meaning of life’. However I had never expected the richness of the interactions it would bring; thanks to blogging I have met wonderful people – some of whom are now my friends on Facebook.

In March, I started Hannah’s Nook as an attempt to keep a blog that better encompasses all that I am. It never really took off. Some projects fell through and I realised that building a new audience while retaining some of the former one is not easy.

I have now reached a point where keeping a blog is not as fulfilling as it used to be and I am still not sure whether I wish to go on with it. I believe blogging should be fun and inspiring rather than a burden so maybe ‘someone’ is trying to tell me something here.

Since I do not like things to hang in the air, I have decided to stop blogging during the summer holiday rather than keep wondering what I shall blog about next. I plan to come back at the beginning of September having hopefully made up my mind concerning the future of my blogs.

Meanwhile I’ll share a few ‘fun’ facts about Ilana-Davita
– Much to my dismay, the most popular post is Easy Potato Kumara Mash
– The blog has been viewed 161,786 times and has received 12,524 comments
– It is visited mainly by visitors from The United States, New Zealand, Israel, The United Kingdom, Australia and France
– It is followed by people from 37 blogs

Have a great summer!

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Time to Move On?

poppy.JPG

Seven months ago, I expressed my doubts about where my blog Ilana-Davita was going. I had written there for almost five years trying to share snippets of my life. It had been an opportunity to write about books and films, to post photos and recipes and sometimes to explore the ‘meaning of life’. However I had never expected the richness of the interactions it would bring; thanks to blogging I have met wonderful people – some of whom are now my friends on Facebook.

In March, I started Hannah’s Nook as an attempt to keep a blog that better encompasses all that I am. It never really took off. Some projects fell through and I realised that building a new audience while retaining some of the former one is not easy.

I have now reached a point where keeping a blog is not as fulfilling as it used to be and I am still not sure whether I wish to go on with it. I believe blogging should be fun and inspiring rather than a burden so maybe ‘someone’ is trying to tell me something here.

Since I do not like things to hang in the air, I have decided to stop blogging during the summer holiday rather than keep wondering what I shall blog about next. I plan to come back at the beginning of September having hopefully made up my mind concerning the future of my blogs.

Meanwhile I’ll share a few ‘fun’ facts about Ilana-Davita
– Much to my dismay, the most popular post is Easy Potato Kumara Mash
– The blog has been viewed 161,786 times and has received 12,524 comments
– It is visited mainly by visitors from The United States, New Zealand, Israel, The United Kingdom, Australia and France
– It is followed by people from 37 blogs

Have a great summer!

Favourite Smoothie Base

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Ingredients for two servings:

75g fresh or frozen raspberries
200ml yoghurt
1 banana
1 pkt of vanilla sugar
1-2 tsp grated ginger
juice of 2 oranges – about a glass
1 tsp almond butter
2-3 tbsp oats (optional)

Method:
Just put all the ingredients in a blender, mix until smooth and drink immediately!

Variations:

* Experiment with different fruit combinations – instead of raspberries, why not use strawberries or a mixture of re fruit? Ripe mangoes, peaches and nectarines are great choices too

* Instead of yoghurt and/or orange juice, use oat or almond milk

* If you’re not a fan of almond butter, try peanut, walnut, cashew, brazil or macademia nut butter.

* Instead of ginger, play around with other spices such as cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg

British Culture Quiz – the Answers

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Congratulations to all that were brave enough to take this quiz! Here are the answers.

1. What are the nations that compose the UK?
England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island
2. What is England’s national flower?
The rose
3. How many inhabitants are there in England?
52 million
4. What is the most popular food in Britain?
Fish and chips (curry is another possible answer)
5. What river flows in London?
The Thames
6. What is the Tube?
The London underground
7. What is a double-decker?
A bus that has two storeys
8. What is the name of the famous London clock?
Big Ben
9. Who is David Cameron?
The Prime Minister
10. Saint George is the patron saint of England. He was famous for killing something, what was it?
A dragon

11. Where is the Rosetta Stone?
In the British Museum
12. Where are the House of Lords and the House of Commons situated?
In Westminster Palace
13. What is Madame Tussauds?
A wax museum
14. What is the British currency?
The pound
15. What is 221B Baker Street famous for?
Sherlock Holmes’s fictional address
16. Why is 10 Downing Street famous?
Residence and office of the Prime minister

17. What is a bobby?
A policeman
18. What village in Somerset is famous for its cheese?
Cheddar
19. What is the name of the British flag?
The Union Jack
20. What is the town of Stratford upon Avon famous for?
Shakespeare’s birthplace

21. What is Liverpool famous for?
The Beatles
22. What are the main two political parties? Are they right or left wing?
Conservative party (Tories) right-wing, Labour party (Whigs) left-wing
23. Which religious building did Christopher Wren build?
Saint Paul’s Cathedral
24. What is Hadrian’s Wall?
A stone and turf fortification built by the Roman Empire in northern England to stop attacks by Scottish tribes
25. Who won the Battle of Trafalgar?
Admiral Nelson
26. Who were Elizabeth the first’s parents?
Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn
27. Name Henry VIII’s six wives.
Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr
28. What is Harrods?
An upmarket department store
29. Name the four Beatles.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr
30. What did Forrest Mars invent in 1933?
The chocolate Mars bar

31. Who is Nessie?
The Loch Ness monster
32. When is Poppy Day? What do the English celebrate?
November 11th; a memorial day observed since the end of World War I to remember the members of the armed forces who have died in wars
33. When is Boxing Day? What do people do?
December 26th; beginning of the sales
34. What do the letters BBC stand for?
British Broadcast Corporation
35. What is a GP?
General Practitioner
36. What is an MP?
Member of Parliament
37. What is the NHS?
the National Health Service
38. What is the RSPCA?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
39. What is the RAF?
the Royal Air Force
40. In what book can you find the following quotation: “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
Hamlet

41. Who wrote Murder on the Orient Express?
Agatha Christie
42. Who wrote Robinson Crusoe?
Daniel Defoe
43. Who wrote Pride and Prejudice?
Jane Austen
44. Who wrote Oliver Twist?
Charles Dickens
45. Who wrote Animal Farm?
George Orwell
46. Who wrote Harry Potter?
J.K. Rowling
47. Who wrote A Brave New World?
Aldous Huxley
48. Who wrote The War of the Worlds?
H.G. Wells
49. Who wrote Frankenstein?
Mary Shelley
50. Who wrote Wuthering Heights?
Emily Bronte

51. When was the Queen born?
April 21st, 1952
52. When was her coronation service held?
June 2nd, 1953
53. What is the name of the primary residence of the British monarch?
Buckhingham Palace
54. Name Queen Elizabeth’s four children.
Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward
55. Who was the Prime Minister when Queen Elizabeth acceded to the throne?
Winston Churchill
56. What is the motto of the British monarch?
Dieu et mon droit
57. Who is the only British monarch who has reigned longer than Queen Elizabeth?
Queen Victoria
58. What was Prince Philip’s religion before he married the Queen?
Greek Orthodox
59. What is Queen Elizabeth’s favourite breed of dog?
The Welsh Corgi
60. Concerning the line of succession, what is the main difference between the British monarchy and the Swedish monarchy?

Chilled Carrot Soup

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500g / 1 lb carrots
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp ketchup
salt
1 generous pinch of red flakes

To garnish:
100g fresh goat cheese
1 tbsp milk

Peel or scrub the carrots. Chop them and put them in a saucepan. Add the vegetable cube, the cilantro stalks (keep the leaves for later), the cumin powder, garlic, ginger and salt. Cover with one liter (2 cups) of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently until the carrots are tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove the cilantro stalks. Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the soup into a smooth consistency. Add the olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, red flakes and cilantro leaves. Puree again and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Before serving mix the cheese and milk so that it has a mousse-like consistency. Put a tbsp of cheese on top of each plate of soup before serving.

Alix & Valerie

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I decided to read Alix & Valerie, a novel by Ingrid Diaz, after reading a review on For the roses. I was ready to enjoy this book and was not disappointed.

Alix is a twenty year old theatre and film student who has been in love with her best friend for years. The latter is about to get married and Alix is ready to feel wretched for the rest of her life until another friend takes her to a club one evening. There she meets Valerie – part time student and bartender – and her horizon suddenly widens.

Alix feels attracted to Valerie and soon realises that there is more to life than unrequited love and feeling miserable. A relationship develops but then Alix discovers that Valerie has not told her the whole truth about herself.

It dawns on Alix that things will never be the same whether with or without Valerie yet she feels cheated and confused and is not sure what she now wants from life. As for Valerie falling in love was not on the agenda but now that she has she needs to deal with conflicting plans and desires. Both women are faced with the ultimate question: is it possible to salvage a relationship that started off on false assumptions?

The novel falls into three parts. At first, the plot unfolds from Alix’s perspective. When the dark truth is revealed, the story is told from Valerie’s point of view. In the last part both viewpoints alternate. This device allows us to share both characters’ emotions as well as to understand Valerie’s motives. A third person narrative would not have achieved the trick so effectively.

The characters are endearing and realistic. It is only too easy to identify with Alix and her lack of confidence as she goes through the different stages of their relationship. Her feelings of insecurity and exhilaration make her real, believable and cute.

The dialogues are witty and cleverly crafted. At times they provide a most welcome dramatic relief.

Last, but not least, the seaside-lover in me enjoyed the role played by the sea in Alix & Valerie and found the beach scenes very evocative and powerful.

Gluten-Free Clafoutis

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11 oz / 300g rhubarb, cut in small sticks
5.5 oz / 150g raspberries (frozen are fine)
3 eggs
1.5 cup / 375ml milk
3 Tbsp crème fraîche
3/4 cup / 150g blond cane sugar + 1/4 cup / 50g for the rhubarb
1/2 cup / 60g cornstarch
4 Tbsp tapioca flour (or ordinary flour)
Vanilla sugar to sprinkle

Originally, clafoutis is a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. However other fruit can be used. Here is a seasonal version with rhubarb and raspberries.

Place the rhubarb in a colander and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Let it rest for 1 hour so that it releases some juice.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the cornstarch and tapioca flour and mix thoroughly.

Slowly add the milk and cream, until the batter is smooth.

Arrange the fruit, rhubarb and raspberries in a greased oven dish, and pour the batter over the fruit

Cook for about 30 to 35 min at 400°F/200°C, or until golden in color. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar immediately.