Dreamer’s Pool – Juliet Marillier

19 Jan

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Today I’m writing about another book, also by Juliet Marillier, but this time it’s a book from the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy.

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From Goodreads:

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier “weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland…

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help. 

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

My Review:
I loved the cover the first moment I saw it. It made me think about the possibility of a world full of fantasy and mystery.
I was hook from the moment I started reading. I fell in love for Blackthorn and Grim, and I love the interactions between them. They are two complex characters, full of experiences that we read about along the book (and book… yes, because I’m currently reading the last book of the triology).
We also have prince Oran and his beloved Flidais. Initially I couldn’t figure how this story was going to connect with the other two characters, but Juliet added mystery and magic to it.
The writting took me to those places. Sometimes I could almost feel I was inside that forest. The descriptions made me imagine the place, but it’s not exhausting.
I have to admit I was very impressed. I had the book in my had several times, and, even if I thought the cover was beautiful, I always chose another book to take home. If you like books full of fantasy and magic, this is a good book for you.
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Cacao Chips and Peanut Butter Pancakes

15 Jan

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This recipe was inspired from here, with a vegan adaptation. Simply delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/4  cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cacao chips (I didn’t have any, so I used the chocolat you see in the pictures, also vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (egg substitute)

For the topping I used more peanut butter and some more cacao chips.

Intructions:

  1. To prepare the chia seeds, mix 1 tablespoon of crushed chia seed with 3 tablespoons of water and you let it sit for 5 minutes. This equals an egg.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a different mixing bowl, whisk together chia seeds, milk, peanut butter, cacao chips, agave and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the second mixture to the flour and mix until the ingredients are well combined.
  5. Heat a saute pan over medium-low heat.  When hot, melt a little bit of margerine.  Scoop a portion of pancake batter into the pan for each pancake.  Cook until the pancakes start to bubble and the edges begin to set, in my case it took around 2 minutes.  Flip the pancakes over and cook the second side until golden, around the same amoung of time.  Transfer cooked pancakes to a separate plate.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

The Seer of Sevenwater – Juliet Marrilier

8 Jan

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To start this new year I bring you a review of the first book I’ve read.

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Get swept away in the romantic fantasy of this national bestselling author’s world of Sevenwaters 
The young seer Sibeal is visiting an island of elite warriors, prior to making her final pledge as a druid. It’s there she finds Felix, a survivor of a Viking shipwreck, who’s lost his memory. The scholarly Felix and Sibeal form a natural bond. He could even be her soul mate, but Sibeal’s vocation is her true calling, and her heart must answer. 
As Felix fully regains his memory, Sibeal has a runic divination showing her that Felix must go on a perilous mission-and that she will join him. The rough waters and the sea creatures they will face are no match for Sibeal’s own inner turmoil. She must choose between the two things that tug at her soul-her spirituality and a chance at love…

This was the third book I read from this author, but I didn’t read the previous books of this series. People told me I didn’t have to, and I don’t feel like I’m missing any part of the story. I was a fan already, and now I like Juliet’s books even more.

I admit that in the beginning it was a little hard for me to feel the book, to live the story. It wasn’t one of those books that make you fall in love with it right from the first pages. I was reading it really slowly, but I knew that something was going to happen, that’s why I didn’t give up.

I’ll try not to write a lot about the story itself, I don’t like spoilers. I can tell you that it’s a good book for those who like romance and fantasy.

We can see Sibeal growing up, evolving, and I had the same feeling about Ardal, the two main characters. There is mystery, some details started to make me wonder what it meant, what was happening next, what happened before the characters met. There is a twist almost at the end of the book, when the visit another island for their quest, that I wasn’t expecting at all, and it is always good when a book has a little bit of surprise.

I enjoyed the writing, including the description of Inis Eala. It wasn’t the best book I’ve reas from this author (I’m currently reading another one, from a different saga), but it wasn’t a bad reading. I could feel I was on those islands and on the boat, feel the environment around the characters, which is a good sign when I’m reading a book.

I didn’t feel a particular connection with any characters, except, maybe, Sibeal, although I enjoyed reading about Sibeal and Ardal and I wanted to know how the story would end for both of them.

I consider that this is a light reading for those who like this type of fiction.

Cacao and Orange Cake

29 Nov

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After being away for a few days, I bring you a new recipe of a delicious cake that you can even make for Christmas this year. The idea came when I thought about this chocolate orange I found when I went to England, but that I can’t find in Portugal. I can tell you the cake is really, really, really good. And, yes, it’s vegan.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups muscovado sugar
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 2/3 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 4 tablespoons zested orange peel
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar

Frosting:

  • 1 cup vegan margarine, softened and at room temperature
  • 4 cups muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • Pintch of salt

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Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Mix in a bowl the flour, the sugar, the cacao, the yeast and the salt. After that, add the water, the oil, the orange juice, the ginger and the orange peel. Mix it very well.
  3. Add the vinegar. At first the batter will be lighter, and after you keep stirring it will turn darker again. When it turns dark again, it means the vinager is well incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter in a lined with parchment paper and bake it for around 20 minutes, or until you insert an toothpick and it comes out clean.

You can make the frosting meanwhile:

  1. Whip the margarine until it’s creamy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Gradually whip in the soy milk, the orange juice, and the salt and mix until lightened and creamy.

Let the cake cool down before you frost it. I added a thin layer all over the cake, and a little bit more around it and used a fork to make the effects you see. You can also add orange on the top, like I did.

Vegan Carbonara

23 Nov

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Some days all we want is a delicious and creamy carbonara, right? When we speak about certain dishes, some people still ask how can it be vegan. Today I bring an example of one of those dishes, that I love. There are many other ingredients you can use, but I love this version.

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Ingredients

  • 300 g  spaghetti
  • Half  (100g) of a spicy vegan sausage, chopped in small pieces (I used the one from Veg In)
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • 1 pack (200ml) of soy cream (I used the one form Shoyce)
  • 150 g of white mushrooms, laminated
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1 + 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • Vegan cheese to taste (I used one with chickpea that I make)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil the spaghetti as usual, in a pot with salt and water. Drain the water when it’s done.
  2. At the same time, in a frying pan with olive oil, add the onion and the garlic.
  3. When the onion starts to turn golden, add the sausage and the mushrooms. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peas, and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach to the pan and mix all the ingredients. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes and turn off the heat.
  5. In a bowl, mix the soy cream and the chesse, and mix it until it’s smooth. My cheese was kind of creamy so I didn’t have to grate it, but if it’s harder it’s better if you do.
  6. Add the mixture from the frying pan to the pot with the spaghetti, and after thar add the mixture of cream and cheese. Mix it well and let it cook on low heat while you are mixing.
  7. Add the salt and pepper, and let it simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, and it’s ready.