Photo Friday: Reading, Writing, Playing

After last year's realisation I had only read two novels (I'd read about twenty non-fiction books and had started several books...), I've concentrated on finding new novels to read this year. This week I've scored a few novels from Australian and independent authors. The blurbs sounded intriguing. These are now in my growing reading pile. Will I make it to the bottom?

   

But I still can't resist the non-fiction...

 

And then there's writing. I'm currently working on an Absent Sherlock Holmes short story for an Australian anthology. Submissions open soon. Wish me luck!

It wasn't all written word this week; we started a new game, introducing some of our friends to D&D. Huzzah!

Photos © 2017 Karen J Carlisle

My London Cheat Sheet (Research List)

Australian speculative fiction writer, Narrelle Harris, recently wrote a blog post on A Cheat Sheet to London, with useful information links to aide in writing stories set in London. I've now added a few more books and websites to my 'go-to' research list. Fortunately I have visited once, albeit a flying visit. Still, writing steampunk stories based in London is a challenge for me - being a non-Londoner myself.

A big thank you to Narrelle for sharing her lists used to write her most recent Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy. Here's my list (concentrating on 19th century London) in return.

Where am I?

Though I write alternate history and fiddle with London's layout, I base my stories on maps of nineteenth century London. I use a combination of webpages and books to research the architecture and walk the streets of my London.

booth-map

House and Home and Social London

Victoria and the Royal Court

Murder & Mayhem - history and technology of Crime

Share your cheat sheet/research list

Now it's your turn. What resources (books, webpages) do you recommend for the non-Londoner writing stories set in London?

Narrelle Harris is the author of Walking in the Shadows, The Opposite of Life and, more recently penned a Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy published by Improbable Press.

 Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.

Chocolatey Strawberry Goodness

It's been a long month and I'm in need of some chocolatey goodness - and the caffeine and Tryptophan and Phenylethylalanine* to pick me up. So I went searching for some new recipes and found this on Hugs and Cookies XOXO. I've adapted it to metric and for Aussie cooking.

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies.

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup margarine (I'm lactose intolerant. You can use butter if you prefer)
  • 225g dark cooking chocolate for brownies.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (we used fresh from mum's chook run)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 225g strawberries (just under a punnet )
  • 250g of 70% dark chocolate for the topping.
1-ingredientswm
How to make it:
Brownie base: Melt the cooking chocolate and margarine, until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and self-raising flour. Pour into pre-greased or non-stick 20 x 20 cm baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 175 deg C. Allow to cool. Topping: Slice strawberries and place on top of brown base. Melt dark chocolate and pour over the strawberries. Chill for one hour (minimum) and cut into slices. Yum! finish
Changes I made to the original recipe:

Self raising flour has flour+baking powder. In Australia we don't have salt in our self-raising flour, as they do in the US. I removed the salt in the original recipe to make this healthier. I'm also using 70% dark chocolate which is not as sweet (and less milk - see lactose intolerant comment above). I also increased the amount of chocolate for the topping to ensure the strawberries would be covered.

Changes I'll make next time:

The extra thickness made it harder to cut and made them very, very rich. Next time I'll try my 85% dark chocolate to reduce sweetness. I may also decrease the amount of chocolate to 200-225g for the topping so it is not as thick.

Suggestion: The brownies were soft and gooey (which I love). If you prefer your brownies more 'cake-like', then you will need to cook the brownie base for longer.

And for those who like video:

[embed]https://youtu.be/OMnuSp4MO3U[/embed]
Sciencey Stuff:

*Tryptophan: amino acid found in small amounts in chocolate and is used by the brain to make serotonin (neurotransmitter producing feelings of happiness). Phenylethylalanine: has been found in chocolate. It promotes feelings associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It also acts as an anti-depressant, combining with dopamine in the brain.

Bibliography:
  1. A natural compound in red wine and chocolate may halt Alzheimer’s, study finds http://www.sciencealert.com/a-natural-compound-in-red-wine-and-chocolate-may-halt-alzheimer-s-study-finds
  2. Can chocolate give me a happy high? http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/chocolate-high1.htm
  3. Compounds in dark chocolate can make you feel calmer... http://www.sciencealert.com/compounds-in-dark-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-calmer-and-more-content-study-finds
  4. Why does chocolate make us happy: http://www.sciencefocus.com/blog/why-does-chocolate-make-us-happy

Photos and Video:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.