31 January 2013

A Taste of Greece - Foodie Penpals January 2012

I asked my Penpal, Ioanna to send me the items that meant Home/Greece to her, and was blown away by what I recieved.

I love Foodie Penpals. 


And boy, oh boy have I got plans for these...


The mastic Ioanna says can be used in baking (puddings, deserts etc) which I'm really looking forward to, but I really can't wait to properly try the Saffron out - I have a few savoury and sweet (!) recipes bookmarked, including Saffron Fruit Loaf. I'm very lucky that Ioanna included this in my Foodie Parcel, and I can't wait to explore it with the true attention it deserves... I feel a blog post in my near future...


Freshly picked Mountain Tea - apparently is enormously popular in Greece, and used most often in winter when levels of physical activity decrease and colds, aches, and pains increase. It is said to have a positive effect on almost anything that ails but, most notably, it is used for colds, respiratory problems, digestion, the immune system, mild anxiety, and as an anti-oxidant. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce fever. We have been enjoying it in the morning and it's a very very nice herbal tea.



These Pasteli are so very good, a beguiling mix of Honey, Sesame and Crunch. They didn't last very long, about 5 minutes!


The photo of these lovely Olives I took before we opened them - I had to as hubby and I are huge Olive fans, so I knew they wouldn't last very long, and I was right! We had them with friends, serving them with Feta and Pita Bread. Heavenly. It almost felt like a Grecian summer, even though there was still snow on the outside pavements.


These have a really interesting texture, kind of like a cross between a Mintie Sweet and and an antacid tablet, but are really good for you - see the pic below;




Thank you Ioanna, such a lovely pacakge, it was just so lovely! I sent my parcel to Milou a lovely blogger from The Netherlands.

30 January 2013

Glass Houses - Rachel Caine: Book Review

I came to this series late. In some ways it's a shame, in others it means I don't have to wait to read the subsequent books...
 
"Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Just don't stay out after dark."
 
They are seriously addictive of the Vampire persuasion. Clare, is a young brainiac starting University early as a transfer student in the town of Morgansville. On campus everything is fairly normal, there are the perfect groups and the off-centre groups, normal stuff, until is bullied into living off campus, and then the real fun begins.
 

Glass Houses - Rachel Caine

This genre of books are my secret vice. I like to try the Classics, I like to read a real variety of stuff, but these are my addiction. Vampires (I can actually hear hubby rolling his eyes as he says it disparagingly) are huge with authors getting on the Twilight bandwagon, but it takes real skill to create a parrallel Universe such as this so well.

With a butt-kicking cast - Claire, her roommates Shane, Eve and Michael and a host of Baddies, Good Guys and a few you aren't entirely sure of, I found these well written, light, interesting and full of action. The books are light entertainment, and it's nice to not have the pg-18 actions some authors feel the need to insert into the genre.

Claire is a very naive 16 at the start of the series, and it's refreshing to follow her as she grows up, and gets to know who she is. My favourite aspect of the book is the repartee between her and her house mates, I laughed out loud a few times at the typical, inane stuff they find amusing. It's spot on.

 
There are complex backstories to all of the characters and how they react, and a few twists and turns you won't be expecting. It's a different vein (hahaha) to A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter, but just as enjoyable.

And it involves down the track a pair of Fanged Bunny Slippers, just like mine! Amazingly, my fanged bunny slippers are a Monty Python reference - the Knight-Eating Rabbit (maybe I was always destined to live in England, with a sense of humour like I have?)

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links and it adds nothing to the price of your book. This helps support my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the top link)

29 January 2013

Dick Whittington: London Living

It strikes me that even though this folktale might be a bit hazy in truth, it does make the point that seemingly insignificant actions, reactions and decisions can take you places you never thought you would end up.

Tales abound of Dick Whittington and his cat, but seem to basically follow the below pattern;

Fortnum & Mason's Christmas Windows 2012
He was a poor orphan boy, seeking his fortune in London town, whose streets were reputedly paved with gold. Disappointed once arriving, he falls asleep in from of the Fitzwarren family home, who take him in as a scullery boy. As a good luck measure, all the servants used to send items on the Merchant ships owned by the family to garner luck and maybe their fortune. As he owned almost nothing, Dick sends his cat. Running away from the nasty cook who was cruel to him, Dick turns back after hearing the Bow bells ring "Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor of London."


Meanwhile, the Sultan of a far off country is besieged by Rats. The Captain of the Merchant ships sells the Cat to the very grateful Sultan, making a very tidy sum for Dick. Retracing his steps after hearing the Bow Bells, he eventually invests his tidy sum, falls in love and marries the daughter of Fitzwarren, and becomes the Mayor of London. 

 
Isn't that a fab folktale? It's not quite true historians don't think, but it is true that there was a Gloucester lad called Richard Whittington who made a fortune in London very young, marrying a local London girl, becoming Mayor of London.

Completely random post, I know, but interesting nonetheless! We definitely have plans to check out the Whittington Stone pub in North London soon.

28 January 2013

"I'm sure I don't know" says the great bell of Bow: Oranges and Lemons

To be a real, knees-up Cockney London Geezer, you have to be born within the sound of Bow Bells. Surprisingly, when the tradition was decided, the small (soon to be be encapsulated in the sprawling mess of London) village of Bow was not the site of Bow Bells, but a Church in London's Cheapside, called St Mary-le-Bow.


In the 14th Century, the St Mary-le-Bow Bells rang out at 9am to warn the locals of their imminent bed-time. Surprising facts: They were silenced for two years in 1856 by an eccentric local woman who believed that the noise of their clanging might otherwise kill her, and used at the Start of BBC broadcasts in WWII. (Research Credit)

27 January 2013

Baked Eggs: Brunch Recipe Share

The last few days, only one breakfast item has occupied my mind. Everyone that knows me in 'real life' knows that I adore eggs, and when I saw on quite a few blogs that you can bake eggs as a tasty brunch dish, I knew my next recipe exploration was sealed. Diving off from G-Ma's recipe, I honestly didn't make much of a splash in terms of changing things up as this was my first try, but I can certainly see several variations.

They are really really easy. Chop most of the ingredients, brown an onion, add all ingredients & bake for 15-20 minutes whilst cooking some toast for dipping (this is essential, no arguments please unless you are wheat intolerant, in which case, fair enough. Brown/Wholegrain bread is good)

My hubby even loved them, and said he'd eaten eggs as good as these in Restaurants who charge mega-bucks. I was pink with chuffed-ness.

Baked Eggs
 
 

My version of G-Ma's recipe:

Per serving;
1/4 of an onion
A leaf of Chard or small handful of Spinach
A Cherry Tomato or a quarter of a normal size Tomato
An Egg or Two depending on your appetite
A tablespoon of Milk or Cream
A tablespoon of Grated or very thinly sliced Cheese
  1. Brown the onion
  2. Chop most of the ingredients,
  3. Layer all ingredients in a ramekin bar the egg, Milk & Cheese
  4. Crack in the Egg, pour the milk over the Egg (like you are gently glazing it) & pop the Cheese on top
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the whites are just set but yolks are still runny
  6. Cook some toast for dipping
  7. Serve & Enjoy, seasoning to taste - we added a sprinking of Italian Herb mix.
These would be amazing with Ham, Pepper, Tomato Chutney, Feta, Bacon, Salami, Grated Courgette, Mushroom, Pre-Cooked Broccoli Pumpkin or Kumara... basically anything you have in the fridge, just ensure it's all cooked through.

Our Baked Eggs this morning were served with Olive Bread & Fish Fingers, just because they were on hand, and we love them!

Did you notice the Sunshine in the photo? Double score today.

26 January 2013

Sometimes, you just have to spoil yourself...

With this in mind, off I trotted to a local foodstore with the aim to try something new. Something decadent, something fun and overall something delicious!


My Menu for the evening ended up being;


Samurai Brown Rice Crackers, Raw Beetroot Hummus & Coulommiers Mon.
The Raw Beetroot Hummus was delicious - normal Hummus doesn't last long in our house, and this was no exception. Much softer than normal Hummus, this is definately going onto my 'to make' list - I bet it's easy & I have beetroot on hand. Stay tuned! The Coulommiers Mon was delicious too; a sort of Camembert that's left to mature longer & comes out with a stronger flavour. The nice cheeseman looked a little frightened after he recommended it and I snatched it out of his hand... The Brown Rice Crackers? A bit tough to be honest, but then they are Samurai crackers!
 


Beef & Guinness Shortcrust Pie, Apple Chutney, (Ketchup for variety) and Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The planned vegetables didn't quite make it.
McDonalds who?

 
 
Dark Chocolate Sea Dog with Lime and Sea Salt.
And then the piece de resistance. Oh me oh my, this was incredible. Opening the pack you get a smart whiff of freshly squeezed Lime, the satisfying snap of of Dark Chocolate, then the bitter delicious dry taste of good quality chocolate, and an aftertaste of Lime and Salt. One happy girl! It went down surprisingly well with the Sauvignon Blanc.
 
Back with proper blog posts in the coming days, I'm sorry it's been a bit patchy - the weather has just been so bleurgh it's hard to find things to get excited about, and the light has been atrocious.
 
Did you know the origin of the phrase piece de resistance is "What one is able to resist by eating the big dish—pangs of hunger". I'll leave that with you to mull over.

25 January 2013

(Mostly) Wordless Fridays

It's been a quiet week on the fun front, a busy week on the work front which is fantastic, but I'm yearning for that Friday 5'o'clock feeling. I do love Fridays' though. I wish the weeks could be filled with Fridays and Saturdays, with the odd Wednesday to mix things up a little.

This was the week I;

...rediscovered Lemon Curd. I think I could write a sonnet about it. Is it just me, or do they look like they're smiling?



...uncovered some delicious Gourment Sausages


...traipsed through a lota lot of Snow




and defrosted with a good book or two.




What's your Favourite day?

24 January 2013

How Foodie Are You? (Updated)

I've just found this website/challenge "How Foodie Are You?" and it's really fascinating. I got 63% as a 'Taste Bud Adventurer' but really enjoyed the list and kinds of foods that they noted. It seems to have a fairly American slant to it, but nevertheless is really interesting.

I think I'm going to add improving my score to my 101 in 1001 list. I would like to bring it up at least 15 foods  - I definitely want to try a Po'boy, Purple Ketchup, Biscuits and Gravy, a Philly Cheesecake, Dandelion Wine & Pistachio Ice Cream...

(Edit: Jan 2014, they've updated it, so I've re-taken the test, and scored 74%. Booya! That means I only need to try another 4!!)
(Edit: 15 new foods all done, woohoo! There are still a few I fancy trying though..)

Eggs Benedict, Nom.

The only things I'm not so sure about include the Phaal Curry - through the long years living in the UK I've developed a taste for Curry, but hubby thought the heat might make me cry - the Fugu, the Snake, Turtle Soup and the Kangaroo. Maybe a step too far?

My sweet tooth definitely came to the fore - I definitely think each sweet item on the list was tried...oops!

Have you tried...?

1. Abalone 
2. Absinthe 
3. Alligator   
4. Baba Ghanoush   
5. Bagel and Lox   
6. Baklava   
7. Barbecue Ribs 
8. Bellini   
9. Bird's Nest Soup   
10. Biscuits and Gravy 10/06/2013  
11. Black Pudding   
12. Black Truffle 
13. Borscht 
14. Bread Pudding 
15. Calamari 
16. Carp 
17. Caviar 
18. Cheese Fondue 
19. Chicken and Waffles 
20. Chicken Tikka Masala 
21. (Chile Relleno Never gonna happen in the UK)  
22. (Chitlins Never gonna happen)  
23. Churros 
24. Clam Chowder 
25. Cognac 
26. Crab Cakes 
27. (Crickets Never gonna happen in the UK) Crème Brulee  
28. Currywurst 
29. Dandelion Wine 
30. Dulce De Leche 
31. Durian 
32. Eel 
33. Eggs Benedict (Ever so slightly) 
34. Fish Tacos 
35. Fresh Spring Rolls 
36. Fried Catfish 
37. Fried Green Tomatoes 
38. Fried Plantain 
39. Frito Pie (Nachos!)
40. Frogs’ Legs 
41. Fugu 
42. Funnel Cake 
43. Gazpacho 
44. Goat 
45. Goat’s Milk 
46. Goulash 
47. Gumbo 
48. Haggis 
49. (Head Cheese Never gonna happen) How about Saffron 31/01/13
50. Heirloom Tomatoes

Time for a wee tea break perhaps?

51. Honeycomb 
52. Hostess Fruit Pie (UK equivalent: McDs Apple Pie) 
53. Huevos Rancheros 
54. Jerk Chicken 
55. Kangaroo 
56. Key Lime Pie 
57. Kobe Beef 
58. Lassi 
59. Lobster 
60. Mimosa 
61. MoonPie 
62. Morel Mushrooms 
63. Nettle Tea 
64. Octopus
65. Okra 
66. Oxtail Soup 
67. Paella 
68. Paneer 
69. Pastrami on Rye 
70. Pavlova (Kiwi Represent!) 
71. Phaal 15/03/2013
72. Philly Cheese Steak (On my must-do list!) 
73. Pho
74. Pineapple and Cottage Cheese 
75. Pistachio Ice Cream 
76. Po’ Boy (On my must-do list!)  
77. Pocky 
78. Polenta 
79. Prickly Pear (And bore the effects for several days after. Stupid.) 
80. Rabbit Stew 
81. Raw Oysters 
82. Root Beer Float 
83. S’mores 
84. Sauerkraut
85. Sea Urchin (aka Kina) 
86. Snail 
87. Snake 
88. Soft Shell Crab 
89. Som Tam 
90. Spaetzle 
91. Spam
92. Squirrel 
93. Steak Tartare 
94. Sweet Potato Fries 
95. Sweetbreads 
96. Tom Yum 
97. Umeboshi 
98. Venison 
99. Wasabi Peas 
100. Zucchini Flowers
 
What is your score? What do you think is missing from their List?

23 January 2013

The Snow Child: Book Review

Sweet, slow, gentle, gorgeous. I found the Snow Child to be an intriguing read, it's definately not an action book, but is based around a Husband and Wife in Alaska in the 1920s, a stark unforgiving landscape on which their relationship and need for a child is laid bare.


Jack and Mabel struggle, Jack with the weigh of responsibility and sheer volume of work nessecary to coax a living out of the harsh wilderness, and Mabel with the loneliness and depression of being so self-contained. In a moment of rare fun they make a snowgirl. The next morning the snowgirl and all her acoutrements are gone, but a young blonde girl with a red fox at her side, is running through the deserted woods.

Taking inspiration from a Russian Fairytale, this is a beautiful read, as they explore a relationship with this almost fey creature, and the journey it takes them on. The characterisations and relationships in the novel are lovely; Jack and Mabel make friends who seem almost ruddy with their family and offer of friendship.

I did feel a disconnect near the end of the book as did friends of mine that recommended it, but I guess the author needed to tie it up in someway it feels almost enivitable what happens, but makes sense for them.

Another slow burner, this very weather topical book sucks you in slowly, before you've realised it you are half way through, much like "The Little Stranger". In some ways, I'm not sure that I would have read this or stuck with it without doing these reviews - it makes you really consider what you are reading 'Do I like this?' 'What would I do in this situation'?

(Please note any links to Amazon are through my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%) from any purchases made after clicking through these links and it adds nothing to the price of your book. This helps support my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click through the top link)

22 January 2013

Home is...

Home
/hōm/

Noun
The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.

Adjective
Of or relating to the place where one lives: "your home address".

Adverb
To the place where one lives: "what time did he get home last night?".

Verb
(of an animal) Return by instinct to its territory after leaving it: "geese homing to their summer nesting grounds".


Is that it though? Can your heart and your head have different homes too? As an expat this is a question that comes up a lot - "Where do you call home?" Is it where your clothes and bed are, or is it where you grew up?


“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye


Synonyms
noun.
house - residence - dwelling - abode - habitation

adjective.
domestic - native

adverb.
homewards - at home - indoors


“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

  
“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest” 
Robert Montgomery
 
I guess that's still a question I'm yet to answer...

21 January 2013

Taste Testing Sweets: The Gobstopper

I felt a little like one of the kids in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. You know, the cool, crazy Gene Wilder movie (not the more recent Johnny Depp one, those Oompa Loompas were just creepy). A plethora of sweets to choose from, how does one pick?

Disclaimer: In this instance I was a given samples to try by The Gobstopper, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own.


In the end from their extensive online list I picked a couple of items that took my fancy - their Gobstopper (I've never tried one and couldn't resist) and Coal Dust Powder, then asked them to surprise me and pick a couple of items from their Retro Packs.

They really didn't disappoint.

Arriving to my work, the box was immense, and filled with a real variety of sweets that my colleagues and I took great pleasure in trying out. One of my colleagues nicked the Dib Dabs (Flavoured Sherbert and a Lollipop you dip in) and got a little (unexpectedly) misty eyed at the childhood recollections - she used to buy them with her Brother. The packing was really sweet as well, from the stamped box to the sweet bags tied with ribbon, it would make a really sweet gift.


Everything else was tried over the morning, starting a fantastic sugar rush also meaning that we got loads of work done which is a nice bonus (and a lot of giggling).
 
We enjoyed the Fudge (Chocolate and Vanilla) with a lovely brew (props for the great sized mug) before I was dared to try the gobstopper. I refrained until I got home - it's half the size of an adults closed fist!


Completely new to me were the Coal Dust Crystals. Essentially Sherbert, they taste subtly of Aniseed and Liquorice. Oh my.

 
 
Favourite item? It has to be the Fudge. Rich and creamy it was delicious.
 
We really liked the packaging as well - the sweet bags tied with ribbon decorated with the store logo, the retro stamped cardboard box and the plethora of straw packaging keeping everything safe.
 
Hubby and I didn't fancy sugar coated almonds for our Wedding favours as is traditional, so we opted for a more personalised mixture of our favourites; Chocolate Limes (UK), Minties (NZ) and a small personalised chocolate with our names and the date. I'm just sad we didn't know about these guys - I spent HOURS scouring the net for Chocolate Limes!
 
Their website is very cute - when their Sweet Tobacco comes back in stock, I'll be there!
 
What is your favourite childhood sweet?

20 January 2013

Dessert Porridges

I love porridge. Quick, easy, cheap and filling, it's perfect for winters mornings, especially those that are going to be spent trekking through the snow.

It can be a little beige on it's own though, lacking interest and at times tasting of wallpaper paste. You know it! We add Brown Sugar, Berry Coulis and Honey in order to mix it up, but I thought I'd take it one step farther after reading about Carrot Cake Oatmeal (Porridge) at Chef in Disguise. My scaled down version (due to lack of specialty ingredients and 5inches of snow, is at the end of the blog post).

All of these recipes were made from ingredients I already had in the cupboard, but then I keep a lot of frozen fruit as I'm nuts about Smoothies...

I roped hubby into taste testing these with me, and whilst I couldn't decide on my absolute favourite, for hubby it was the Black Forest Porridge.


(I don't normally calorie count my recipes, but though it would be interesting to see just how much the additions add to their totals, and they really aren't too bad).

Each recipe is super simple;
  1. Boil 1 cup of the water
  2. Add the dry ingredients & fruit
  3. Turn the heat down to a simmer, stirring regularly
  4. Let simmer for a couple of minutes then stir through the remaining water
  5. Simmer, stirring regularly for another 3-4 minutes
  6. Remove from the heat, add any toppings/sweeteners, let cool 1-2minutes
  7. Enjoy.
We didn't feel the need for additional milk, except maybe to cool it down. You can make several servings and refrigerate until needed. I would only probably keep them  in the fridge for a couple of days though.

I can't really see why these couldn't be made in the microwave as well, I just find that the stove top method makes it uber-creamy.

 Black Forest Porridge

278kcal per serving, 1/2 serving of an adults daily Fruit & Vege
One Serving

1.5c Boiling Water
1/2c Porridge Oats
1 TBSP Dessicated Coconut
Small handful frozen Cherries
1 tsp Cocoa (more to taste)

Once off heat stir through 1 TBSP Light Agave syrup.

Tutti-Frutti Porridge

284kcal per serving, 1.5 serving of an adults daily Fruit & Vege
One Serving

1.5c Boiling Water
1/2c Porridge Oats
4 frozen (1.5cm) cubes Mango (about 1/4 of a fresh one)
1 Chopped Kiwifruit
1/2 small pear cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

** This is in pole position for my favourite though, the ginger and the citrus made for a deliciously zingy breakfast, so refreshing. And how often can you say that about porridge?

Nectarine Pie Porridge
(Please excuse the terrible photo...)


335kcal, 1.5 serving of an adults daily Fruit & Vege
One Serving

1.5c Boiling Water
1/2c Porridge Oats
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 diced Nectarine
1.5 crushed Walnuts

Once off heat stir through 1 TBSP Light Agave syrup and 1 TBSP Light Cream Cheese

Carrot Cake Porridge

365kcal per serving, 1 serving of an adults daily Fruit & Vege
One Serving

1/2c Porridge Oats
1c Finely Grated (or Grated normally then finely chopped) Carrot
1 TBSP Sultanas
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1.5 crushed Walnuts

Once off heat stir through 1 TBSP Light Agave and 3 tsps Dessicated Coconut.

This actually tastes like Carrot Cake Batter (except without the sugar and butter). Absolutely luscious.

Yummo!! Decadent, and not too bad for the waistline at all. They also happen to fall in with the Breakfast Club and Farmersgirl Kitchen's breakfast linkup, themed Cooked or Baked Breakfast.

Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting
than tea & toast or coffee & cereal!

I've got a few more flavours brewing in my head - any suggestions? If only I could do a Sticky Toffee Porridge without blowing the calorie bank.

19 January 2013

Snow Survival Kit

I am a wuss when it comes to Ice. Snow I love - Snowmen, Snow Angels, Snowball fights, Sledding; I'm in. Ice? Not a chance.

The Highways Agency have said anyone travelling in icy conditions should take a shovel, blankets, sleeping bag, extra clothing, including a scarf, hat, gloves, 24 hour supply of food and drink, de-icer, rock salt, torch, safety triangle, tow rope, petrol can, first aid kit and jump leads.

 
I propose an alternative. You will need:

- A local home (your own or a family/friends is preferrable, strangers may not take it the same way)
- Warm clothes
- Thick Winter Coat & Waterproof shoes for Snowman, Snowball and Snow Angel Making
- Mittens and Marigolds for the Snowman and Snowballs
- Heating
- Pyjamas
- Movies/DVD sets you have been meaning to watch, that unfinished craft project lurking in the back of the cupboard or that book you've been meaning to finish
- Soup, Stew or a nice Roast
- A few naughty nibbles (perhaps Lolly Cake or Ginger Crunch)
- Water, Juice and your favourite winter-time beverage
- Carrot and decorations (for the aforementioned Snowman)
- First Aid Kit (always be prepared, Crafts can be surprisingly vicious)
- Moggy or Dog (optional)

Do not be tempted to video call your antipodean family and friends. Their gorgeous weather will only make you jealous.

Anything I've missed?

18 January 2013

(Mostly) Wordless Fridays

This weekend with a ridiculous amount of snow forecasted, I'm hoarding fellow bloggers recipes, hunting down a load of baking supplies and hunkering down in the house. I have no intention of going anywhere.




"Snow? What snow?"






Oh, and PS. Breakfast rocks according to the BBC Good Food 'Olive' Magazine, it's going to be 'big' this year in Foodie circles. (Check the link out for a few healthily decadent ideas).

What are your plans?

17 January 2013

The Language of Flowers: Book Review

There are so many layers to the world around us, and as I grow older discovery seems to be ever more fascinating. This novel is based around the Romatic Victorian language of flowers; the symbolic meanings they placed on specific flowers to convey emotion to lovers and loved ones.


The story is a about a girl in care, whose Mother gave her up as an orphan, and the profound difference a foster mother made to her life. The story is told in alternating chapters of present life at the beginning of her Twenties and the parallel of ten years past. Her foster Mother teaches her the Victorian flower symbologies as a way of conveying the locked up emotion she holds inside; which she researches and begins to create her own dialect. Once emancipated at 18, this  becomes a way for her to communicate with the world and create a livelihood learning to cope in a complex world.

"Anyone can grow into something beautiful"

This book has haunted me for days, and I kind of cried my way through the last 20% of it. The lead character Victoria really feels real and is an incredibly character. You empathise with her, hurt with her, want to shake her in annoyance, want to shout at her and want to feed her. She is complex and surprising, and makes you appreciate your family and loved ones.