Saturday, 16 February 2013

Photo: Honey orange and almond cake
This is a really delicious, moist, no-fat, no-flour cake, which is a Weight Watcher's recipe, which I have altered slightly, and thought I should share with you.


- half tsp low fat spread for greasing. You could use any butter or margarine if you don't need the low fat.
- 6 eggs, separated in two different bowls
- 100 g brown caster sugar, or soft brown sugar.
- Grated zest of 2 oranges, and juice of half orange.
- 150 g ground almonds

To decorate
Juice of one and a half oranges, or 20mls orange juice
2 tbl sp  clear honey
1 orange, pealed and cut into thin rounds.


- Preheat oven to gas mark 180C or 160C in a fan oven.
- Line a 20 cm springform cake tin with baking paper, and grease with low fat spread.
- In a bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and juice of half orange, and almonds
- Whisk egg whites in a separate, clean grease-free bowl for about 2 mins, or until it is stiff and forms peaks.
- Using a metal spoon, spoon in one table spoon of egg white into mixture to loosen it.
- Fold in the remaining egg whites into cake mixture.
- Pour mixture into cake tin, and bake for 35 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in tin for 20 mins.

To make Topping
- Put the orange juice and honey in a small pan and bring to boil. 
- Stir once, and then without stirring, lower the heat, and leave to simmer for about 6-8 mins, or until reduced and syrupy. 
- Remove cake from tin and use a fork to prick the top all over.
- Spoon three quarter of the syrup of the top of the cake.
- Arrange the oranges on cake and spoon over the remaining syrup.
- Let the syrup soak into the cake for a few minutes, then serve in 10 slices. 

Serve on it's own, or with fromage frais, or clotted cream, or double cream. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A thought about Editing when it gets tedious

Just a Thought .... about the novel I finished last March - 2012

February 2013 - I have returned to editing my book - The Last Year of Childhood, which I would like to get published soon, preferably by traditional means, or self publishing. I realise that it might take some time, as it might need more editing than I thought. But it took longer to write, and I practically did some of that writing in my own blood.

Why did I leave it for so long? 

I got bored.

I got complacent. I'd done the first draft.

It got tedious.

I got defocussed.

I thought I might like to try something else ...


A short story! Yes, I did get shortlisted by Choc Lit Publishing Competition. So that was worth it.

Social Networking - Face Book, Twitter, Linked in, Authonomy

Socialising for real, and concentrating on other parts of my life.

Editing became too hard to return.

And harder ...the longer I left it.

I felt I was stuck with it ... which way to turn?

How to structure?

Did I have a good first chapter?

Did I have all the right ingredients?

Did I have a compelling characters, especially a Main Character, POV,etc, etc.

Was there a good enough hook?

What about the first 3 chapters ... that I would need them spick and span before sending to an agent? Were they good enough?

Oh dear! I can't remember what I wrote in the middle chapters... ?

I bought some publishing and editing books - two of them.

I read them and marked them up.

I had lots of new ideas, and started editing again.

I stopped editing, and reread the whole 120,000 words (400+ pgs) of my novel.

I got a new notebook and wrote notes on each chapter in different colours as I went along. (colours denoting type of changes to make)

Still it was hard to re-start editing again.

Feb 2013 - I have started to edit again - The Last Year of Childhood.

I have realised that my book was not complete last March, nor will it be complete ....







Bye for now,
Marilyn xx

Monday, 11 February 2013

Home made Burgers

- Can be made with any kind of mince meat - beef, lamb, turkey, pork....

....and so, you will be sure of what kind of meat it contains, and what you are consuming. These are also more  nutritious than supermarket ones, and do not contain chemicals and additives that you are not aware of.
And, they are much tastier and meatier.  

The ingredients below will serve at least 4 adults, or 8 children. 

400g mince meat (either beef, lamb, turkey, or pork)
1 large or medium egg
1 onion, grated
2 cloves crushed garlic (optional)
2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (or 1 teaspoon dry parsley)
half teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons bread crumbs (also optional)

- Place mince meat in a bowl.
- Grate onion into the bowl
- Add breadcrumbs
- Break egg into the bowl
- Add the rest of ingredients.

Mix thoroughly using one hand. You can use a wooden spoon instead to mix ingredients together thoroughly, but please make sure it is thorough. You can do the final mix with your hand. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, add a bit of milk. If you want to use 500g of meat, see the tip below. 

When you are ready to cook, divide the meat mixture into four, five, six or eight, depending on what size of burgers you want, and how many you are serving.

- Take each amount and roll it in between your palms to make into a round ball.
- Flatten it between your palm as flat as you wish. (unless they are to put into a bread roll, they don't need to be too flat. They will cook nicely rounded.)
- Heat a non stick frying pan with a a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and spread the oil in the pan.
- When oil is hot, place the burgers into the pan.
- Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until each side is lightly browned.
- If you over cook, it will become drier in the middle.

NB. If you are using turkey or pork, please ensure that there are no pink juices running out when it is cooked. 

To increase the volume to make more burgers with the same amount of meat, add more bread crumbs. Just use a hand grater and grate the bread directly into the bowl with the meat. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a small amount of milk or another small egg.

Freezing is easy.
- Make up extra, and put each uncooked burger in a piece of Cling Film and wrap.
- Place in the freezer and leave till you are ready to use.
- Thaw out before cooking.
- If you are doing a whole batch, place each burger on a tray that will fit in the freezer.
- Freeze
- Put in a freezer bag and label.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Writing Fiction - WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

Write what you know .... I have asked myself many times, what does this really mean?

It seems obvious ... If I know about sport, my character could be in training for the Commonwealth Games.   If I am a computer programmer, I could set my novel in a technical environment. But that could be boring. I might well want to escape into a different world.

In any case, why write what I already know and get bored, when I could imagine and research what I want to write about, when I need to. I don't have to know it before hand.

Also, how can I write what I know about, when I really want to create something from the imagination?

How can I write fiction from fact?


Fiction is not all imaginary. If it was, the reader would not be able to identify with it at all ... and maybe we wouldn't be able to write it either. I am not sure it is at all possible to write absolutely everything from the imagination.

It must be a combination of both reality as well as imagination, in order to create fiction. Different genres require different amounts and levels of reality, fact, and imagination. For instance, Literary Fiction requires much more reality than Fantasy.

Therefore, some aspects of fiction has got to be from our own experience...something everyday...something we recognise, something we see as real. That "something", could be about love, or eating, or revenge, or struggling.

If we put the REAL, with something IMAGINARY, it becomes our work of fiction, that is more likely to keep the reader's interest.

Something imaginary, could be a character, or a place, a situation.

So if I create an imaginary character - like a woman with 5 arms and one very large eye, and call her SuperEye, and set her world on a different planet, and she absorbed metal, instead of eating food, sooner or later, I would have to make her do something that I know about, in order to write a whole story or novel that would be understandable  - to me, as well as my readers. It is also vital that this story keeps the reader's interest too.

So in order to create a story worth reading, my weird character Super Eye, would have to do things that were completely normal in the world of the reader. Super Eye might have human emotions like anger, fear, love. She would have some kind of flaw, like the inability to smell. Or the need to control her environment. And/or have something that satisfies her just as if she were human. That way, the reader has something to identify with, and become interested in the character and the plot, and continue reading, hopefully to the end.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, has the advantage of not having to research too many things before starting to write, as well as the writer having an in depth knowledge, maybe from personal experience, which would be an advantage in writing convincing fiction.