Tummy Thursday: Book recommendation

I got a baking book for Christmas from, my brother in law. we might start a tradition of giving each other cooking books and baking books, though he doesn’t actually like baking much. He#s somebody who follows certain cooks and Yotam Ottolenghi is definitely one of his favourites (he asked for several of his books on other occasions.)

baking book

Interestingly, the international cover is different from the English one…

Now, cooking books are like other books. They’re for you to read, but they have the added benefit of also containing recipes. What I instantly liked about it was that it had a lot of cakes and cookies and such that looked absolutely doable. Now, as you know, I’m not one above spending three days in the kitchen to make a CAKE, but most occasions are for simple cakes that you make in an hour and then enjoy.

Of course I had to try one out as soon as possible and decided to go for cakes baked in a can for New Years Eve.


Caaaaaaake, caaaaaaaaaake

These ones are with butternut squash, almonds, raisins and orange peel. I slightly upscaled the recipe because I only had medium eggs. Often recipes call for large eggs and if you only use medium eggs the cake gets dry. So I added an extra egg and a bit more of everything else. that way I ended up with three cans and was I glad.

That’s two of them cut into slices.

I thought I’d save the third so it wouldn’t become dry… After a while our host asked if there was anything left. I cut the third. Suddenly our other host said: Shit, my parents aren’t here yet and look at what we left!

Not much…

The cake was delicious in taste and very moist. We could have kept eating, obviously.

Which is why I decided to make it for my birthday breakfast at work, that’s why my kitchen currently looks like I was planning to open a stall at fun fairs…


Three throws for a buck.

The Worst Horror of Hunger Games

I know I am very behind the curve here, but the phenomenon of Hunger Games has completely missed me, both the books and the movies. I learned about them through social osmosis, probably in comments and articles around FtB, but I never paid it much attention and I never knew what it is about, except a vague feeling that it should be good and that there is some girl shooting a bow.

So because I needed a pause from listening to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series over and over again, and I also needed a rest, I bought an audio book of the first in the trilogy and listened to it these last few days, whilst trying to get rid of some damn virus trying to cook me in my skin.

The book is an excellent piece of storytelling, there is no doubt about it, I will not be able to resist and I will buy the rest of the trilogy as well. But had I known in advance what it is about, I probably would not have bought it, definitively not now. It shook me to the core. I was, and I still am, absolutely horrified.

That might seem odd, because I have read my share of books of all genres, from horrors to comedies, but I do not remember being moved this much by a book for quite a long time. It was not the deaths what has got to me. It was not the quite excellently portrayed psychology of an individual caught in a string of apparently lose-lose situations. It was not the story, that was pretty straightforward and to someone well read slightly predictable at times. It was the believability of it all what really got me.

There are simply too many parallels to societies like that one portrayed in the book throughout human history and even today.

Of people living in distinct caste-system that is impossible to escape from.

Of entire populations being worked to death and held on the brink of starvation for the benefit of an elite few.

Of totalitarian regimes where everyone is a subject to the whims of the powers that be.

Of people jeering and laughing at the suffering of those they perceive as lesser, as other, as subservient.

And we still are not in the clear. We might be heading towards societies just like that, again. The book might very well be an accurate prediction of a future mere hundred years from now. And that there was no suspense of disbelief needed makes everything in it much worse than it would be in an ordinary horror with magical or inhuman monsters. People can be the worst monsters, it seems to me.


Word Wednesday.



1: Clothed with worn or seeding garments.

2a: Threadbare and faced from wear. b: ill-kept: Dilapidated.

3a: Mean, Despicable, Contemptible <must feel shabby…because of his compromises – Nat Hentoff>
b: Ungenerous, unfair. c: Inferior in quality.

-shabbily, adverb.

-shabbiness, noun.

[Origin: obsolete English shab a low fellow.]


“She stole a glance round the office – the office of the senior partner of the firm. It suited Walter Fane, she decided. It was definitely old-fashioned, the furniture was shabby, but was made of good solid Victorian material.” – Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie.

Word Wednesday.



1: a mark or shallow hole made by a pointed instrument.

2a: a pointed instrument or weapon b: a sharp projecting organ or part.

3: an instance of pricking or the sensation of being pricked: as a: a nagging or sharp feeling of remorse, regret, or sorrow b: a slight sharply localized discomfort <the prick of a needle>.

4: usually vulgar: penis.

5: usually vulgar: a spiteful or contemptible man often having some authority.

[Origin: Middle English prikke, from Old English prica; akin to Middle Dutch pric prick.]

(before 12th Century).

“Stone shook his head. “Rapid’s not going to be the Wild West for too much longer, girls.” I could tell Madame was included in that “girls,” and it put my back up. She had years and miles on Dyer Stone, and brains to boot. But he had a prick, and inherited money, and a prick. I guess that gave him the right to lord it over her. – Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear.

Word Wednesday.


Adjective: affectedly pious or righteous <a canting moralist> [Origin: 5Cant.]



Adjective dialectal, England: Lively, Lusty. [Origin: Middle English, probably from Middle Low German kant.]

(14th Century)


Transitive verb.

1: to give a cant or oblique edge to: bevel.

2: to set at an angle: Tilt.

3: Chiefly British: to throw with a lurch.

Intransitive verb.

1: to pitch to one side: lean.

2: slope.

[Origin: ³Cant]

(Circa 1543)



1: Obsolete: corner, niche.

2: an external angle (as of a building).

3: a log with one or more squared sides.

4a: an oblique or slanting surface b: inclination, slope.

[Origin: Middle English cant side, probably from Middle Dutch or Middle French dialect; Middle Dutch, edge, corner, from Middle French dialectal (Picard), from Latin canthus, cantus iron tire, perhaps of Celtic origin; akin to Welsh cant rim; perhaps akin to Greek kanthos corner of the eye.]




1: having canted corners or sides.

2: inclined.



Intransitive verb.

1: to talk or beg in a whining or singsong manner.

2: to speak in cant or jargon.

3: to talk hypocritically.

[Origin: perhaps from Middle French dialect (Norman-Picard) canter to tell, literally, to sing from Latin cantare.]




1: affected singsong or whining speech.

2a: the private language of the underworld. b: obsolete: the phraseology peculiar to a religious class or sect. c: jargon.

3: a set or stock phrase.

4: the expression or repetition of conventional or trite opinions or sentiments; especially: the insincere use of pious words.


“You could certainly call it that,” said Cornish. “Pompous, canting old hypocrite!” he went on. “Everybody’s got it in for him. Throws his weight about, ultra sanctimonious, and neck deep in graft for years past!” – The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, Agatha Christie.

Song Ci: The Washing Away of All Wrongs.

Nomenclature of human bones in Sòng Cí: Xǐ-yuān lù jí-zhèng, edited by Ruǎn Qíxīn (1843).

Nomenclature of human bones in Sòng Cí: Xǐ-yuān lù jí-zhèng, edited by Ruǎn Qíxīn (1843).

Song Ci (Sung Tz’u) is considered to be the founder of forensic science. In 1247, Song Ci wrote Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified or The Washing Away of Wrongs.

Different versions of the book exist, but the earliest existing version was published during the Yuan Dynasty, containing fifty-three chapters in five volumes. The first volume describes the imperial decree issued by Song Dynasty on the inspection of bodies and injuries. The second volume contains notes and methods on post-mortem examinations. The third, fourth, and fifth volumes detail the appearances of corpses from various causes of death and methods of treatments to certain injuries of a wounded person.

Song Ci ruled regulation about autopsy report for court, how to protect the evidence in the examining process, the reason why workers must show examination to public impartiality;how to wash dead body for examining the different reasons of death. At that time, the book had given methods to distinguish suicide or pretending suicide.

The particulars of each case must be recorded in the doctor’s own handwriting. No one else is allowed to write his autopsy report. A coroner must not avoid performing an autopsy just because he detests the stench of corpses. A coroner must refrain from sitting comfortably behind a curtain of incense that masks the stench, letting his subordinates do the autopsy unsupervised, or allowing a petty official to write his autopsy report, otherwise any potential inaccuracy is unchecked and uncorrected.”

He also said:

“Should there be any inaccuracy in an autopsy report, injustice would remain with the deceased as well as the living. A wrongful death sentence without justice may claim one or more additional lives, which would in turn result in feuds and revenges, prolonging the tragedy. In order to avoid any miscarriage of justice, the coroner must immediately examine the case personally.” [Source]

Medievalists has a list of ten observations Song Ci made when it came to discerning murder, and different types of murder.

Last year, photographer Robert Shults did a photographic series called The Washing Away of Wrongs, all taken at a forensic research facility in Texas.

Robert Shults, photograph from The Washing Away of Wrongs, with flowers from a nearby tree fallen across a donor’s body (courtesy the artist).

Robert Shults, photograph from The Washing Away of Wrongs, with flowers from a nearby tree fallen across a donor’s body (courtesy the artist).

You can read all about that, and see more too, at Hyperallergic. There are some graphic photos, so have a care.

Rock, Paper…Plant.

Last week, a colourful bucket full of hand painted stones was on the reception desk in 7 (infusion). The stones were painted by a 3rd grade class for all the people undergoing chemo. We chose our rocks, they are lovely little tokens, like carrying good wishes with you. We also brought home books, and a lovely plant. I will probably be snoozing most of today, having been up all night with the big, bad butt pain again. It’s a right pain in the arse, literally. As usual, click for full size. As for the books, I finished Bird Box, reading it on 7, and the ride home. It was interesting. The concept was certainly intriguing, but fell a bit short on execution. There were questions which never get answered, leaving me with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Notwithstanding, it was still a good tale, and it was a quick read. It’s a debut novel by the lead singer of the band The High Strung, Josh Malerman. A movie has been made, and will be released by Netflix this December.

© C. Ford.

Word Wednesday.



1: secrecy

2: confusion, muddle

[Origin: one of a number of similar-sounding reduplicated words in use around this time and meaning much the same thing, including hucker-mucker, which may be the original of the bunch if the root is, as some think, Middle English mukre “to hoard up, conceal.”]



1: secret

2: of a confused or disorderly nature: jumbled.

-hugger-mugger adverb.

“No, her book would hold a dark mirror to such conceits. Since Mother Eve’s day, women had whispered of herb lore and crafty potions, the wise woman’s weapons against the injustices of life; a life of ill treatment, the life of a dog. If women were to be kicked into the kitchen they might play it to their advantage, for what was a kitchen but a witch’s brewhouse? Men had no notion of what women whispered to each other, hugger-mugger by the chimney corner; of treaclish syrups and bitter pods, of fat black berries and bulbous roots.  – A Taste for Nightshade, Martine Bailey.

Word Wednesday.



1: serving to alleviate pain.

2: not likely to offend or arouse tensions: innocuous.

[Origin: Latin anodynos, from Greek anōdynos, from a- + odynē pain.]



1: something that soothes, calms, or comforts.

2: a drug that allays pain.


“Well,” I said, “look at this way. Some collectors are only interested in things that are like new, factory fresh, mint in the box. If something looks like it’s had a life before they got their hands on it, it loses its value. But then, other people believe that an object’s worth more if it’s been used for whatever it was designed for, so a stamp should have been stuck to an envelope and posted to somewhere a long way away, and a comic book is meant to be read and enjoyed, not sealed in a protective case and never opened, and an old racing car should be scuffed and grimy and—” with no particular emphasis “—scarred. And it’s the same with people. How much time do you think you’d want to spend with Barbie and Ken? Anodyne, by definition, is not entertaining.” – Normal, Graeme Cameron.

Book Note: This was one of the weirdest books I’ve read, a slice of life story, with the main character being a serial killer. You never know his name, and he’s never described. The book is filled with black humour, but the casual cruelty of the character is never disguised in any way. This is also a story of how everything starts to go wrong in his life, in a very big way. The book is written in such a way that the main character is often amusing, and finds himself in a situation you can sympathise with, which makes the reading a bit uncomfortable. Altogether, it’s an engaging and entertaining read. There are a number of different cops involved in the story too, and the second book is just fresh out, centering on Detective Sergeant Ali Green, who was very present in Normal. That one is called Dead Girls. I haven’t finished it yet, but there’s considerably more tension in the second book.

Medieval Sex Tips.

A brand new translation of Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies is now available, and it sounds most intriguing. I’ll be ordering.

First published in 1503 in Lyons, Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies helped launch the French Renaissance version of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature and status of women. The three books included in this edition include arguments for gender equality, and a catalogue of virtuous women modeled on Boccaccio’s Famous Women and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend. Titled “The Book of True Love,” book 4 is especially important in gender history, importing and transforming the male-centered Neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino for pro-woman ends.

Medievalists has a look at some sex tips from the volumes.

1. The Right Age

Following Plato, Champier declares that the perfect age for women to marry is 16-20, and for men, 30-35. Any younger, and you might marry a girl who will be sick forever – “So instead of being served by them, [you] must serve them”, Champier warns. The only exception is if the young woman is tall. If she is short, you should definitely wait until she’s 21. And if both man and woman are over twenty-one, you’re in the clear: “the children will be attractive and have good temperaments, with well-proportioned members and will have good minds.” Be sure to wait, if at all possible, because if you have children earlier, “they will be imperfect and short.”

2. The Right Time

People should not have sex at just any old time of the year, Champier says. If you want to conceive, make sure you have sex in the spring, because it’s “warm and moist”, which is the best kind of humour. “Next after spring,” if you can’t manage it then, “winter is the season most conducive to conception, while summer is bad and autumn is the worst of all.” As for time of day, it can’t be right after eating. As we’ve always been told about swimming right after a meal, the consequences would be dire:

If a man, when he is full and has eaten, enters the world of the carnal, he weakens his body and his nerves and causes pain for himself in his legs and knees. He also causes obstructions all throughout his body and causes thick humors in his body; and if he does this regularly, his body parts retain too much water, he has great difficulty breathing, and his limbs start to shake.

If you thought it was safe to have sex before eating, think again:

If he acts carnally when he is hungry or thirsty or when he has an empty body or when his body has been bled … he damages his body and dries it out, and its natural heat dissipates, negatively affecting his sight, and sometimes he becomes paralyzed.

(Same goes for if you’re just been bled, bathed, worked, fasted, or been sad.)  You’ve been warned. Best to play it safe and just have sex first thing in the morning, “after a [good] night’s sleep.”

You can read the rest of the tips at Medievalists.net.

Word Wednesday.

Lurid / Roué



1a: causing horror or revulsion: gruesome; b: melodramatic, sensational, also: shocking.

2a: wan and ghastly pale in appearance. b: of any of several light or medium grayish colours ranging in hue from yellow to orange.

3: shining with the red glow of fire seen through smoke or cloud.

-luridly, adverb.

-luridness, noun.

[Origin: Latin luridus pale yellow, sallow.]


Note: I have to say, this held surprises for me. I have never considered lurid to be light, let alone pale yellow! Lurid has always come across as very bold to me; daring and/or scandalous simply doesn’t scream pale or pastel to my mind. I never pictured it as a person being wan or ghastly pale, either. “His face was lurid.” Nope, that doesn’t sound right at all.

Are my expectations possibly getting a little lurid? she wondered. Not really. After all, there is someone out to get me.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.



A man devoted to a life of sensual pleasure: Rake.

[Origin: French, literally, broken on the wheel, from Medieval Latin rotare, from Latin, to rotate; from the feeling that such a person deserves this punishment.]


Note: I found the origin of this fascinating.

“Don’t be,” Vale said, his tone as caustic as he could make it. “I hardly enjoy the experience. Your are one of the most notorious roués in London.” – The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman.

Fairy Tale Art.

A wonderful site, full of enough fairy tale art to keep a person quite busy, sent along by rq: Art Passions. Fairy Tale art and artists encompass so very many styles, and the illustrations are crucial to the stories, they inflame the imagination, and illuminate the stories from within. In this particular case, serendipity strikes, as I brought home a book of short tales by Leigh Bardugo yesterday:

The first story, Ayama and the Thorn Wood, is a grand story which I enjoyed very much. I do have one noisy complaint however, and it has to do with the fairy tale art. In the story, Ayama is described thusly:

“Ayama was clumsy and apt to drop things. Her body was solid and flat-footed, short and round as a beer jug.”

Given this description, why in the fuckety fuck is Ayama drawn like this?:

This never should have gotten a pass from anyone, let alone the author. It is not a crime to depict characters correctly, and all girls do not need to be tall and thin with a teeny waist. FFS, seeing this sort of thing is infuriating, and it went a long way to souring a very good story. In the story, Ayama is strong, courageous, imaginative, and thoughtful. In the drawing, she’s just another generic pretty, skinny girl. That’s not doing anyone any favours. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and that’s a message all kids need. What they don’t need is yet another cookie cutter shape to try and stuff themselves into, regardless of fit.

May Is Mental Health Month: What To Read.

For a list of good reading having to do with mental and emotional health, head over to Rumpus. I’m not big on special days or months, they rarely penetrate most people’s skulls, but this is a timely reminder to be more mindful to others. In that vein, I’ll leave you with this video by The Amity Affliction. It’s harsh, but it’s a damn good reminder to make every effort not to be an oblivious ass. (Added the follow up song.)

The Amity Affliction -All Fucked Up.

The Amity Affliction – I Bring the Weather With Me. (Lyrics below the fold.)

[Read more…]