Sunday, December 11, 2011

Books, and a chocolate-banana-spinach-cherry-smoothie-pudding

I realised that it's been a little while since I've mentioned books in a post. So long, in fact, that I can't quite recall when it last was. Thus, I thought I'd give a brief mention to those that I've read in the past 2 months;

  • The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam, by LaureLiebenberg (Is this not one of the best book titles you can imagine? Sadly the book didn't quite match the name, but it was still a worthwhile read.)
  • Cage of Stars, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
  • My Childhood, by Maxim Gorky
  • The Coroner, by M. R. Hall
  • Disappeared, by M. R. Hall

Details can be found here for those interested, but I wanted to pause on The Coroner for a moment. I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if left to my own devices (Mr Bite's Mum lent it to me), given that I don't usually gravitate towards crime-detective fiction, but it was wonderful. This was partially due to the writing and story (more detective than crime) and partially due to the considerable psychology component in the tale. Consider the following:

"Shutting the door at the end of the day was something she'd worked on with Dr Travis. He'd told her that, in common with so many women, she was a perfectionist who couldn't rest until everything around her was in order. When work was a daily round of chaos, loose ends and uncertainties, it was only a matter of time before a personality like hers would collapse under the pressure." (p. 49, The Coroner).

I love this quote. In part because the attention to anxiety and panic and personality served to enhance the story, in a way I hadn't been expecting, and in part because this quote could describe me. And, I'm sure, many other women (and no doubt men).

You see, I have a terrible tendency to feel overwhelmingly overwhelmed when my To Do list gets too long or seems unmanageable. The 'terrible' part of this is that it very rarely is too long - I get through it. I can't count the number of anxious Sunday nights I've had, waking up frequently to worry about what I have to do on the Monday, and then invariably I get through all the urgent tasks by lunchtime. 3pm at the latest. To my amusement, though, it's never occurred to me to metaphorically "shut the door" on this To Do list, rather than think about how I'm going to tackle it and make sure things are tidied up and ticked off.

So consider this my philosophical contribution to your week: shut the door on work when at home (if you don't already do so). Easier said than done but I shall certainly be giving it a go tonight.

Putting serious things aside, I also have a smoothie recipe today. Recipe is slightly grandiose as it is hardly a novel combination of ingredients, but I found the thickness to be almost pudding like. I very much like that it could go in both straw-drinking and spoon-eating categories.

Chocolate Banana Spinach Cherry Smoothie Pudding

Serves 1 (this is more of a pudding-sized serve - see notes below to make it a larger smoothie)

1 medium frozen banana
1 generous handful baby spinach leaves
~100ml non-dairy chocolate milk, or plain milk + 1tsp cocoa
(I used chocolate hazelnut milk and didn't actually measure - approximately 100ml)
8 frozen cherries + 4 to garnish

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor

Add extra milk if you would like it more smoothie-like, or protein powder or chia seeds if you would like it thicker

Serve with 4 extra frozen cherries on top

Cold chocolatey, banana-y, cherried deliciousness. The hidden spinach is a bonus!

How do you like your smoothies - spoon or straw?
And what are you like at "shutting the door" on work?


  1. I've got two new books just waiting by my bedside waiting for an early night and a whole lot of reading- can't wait. I don't know any of the books that you listed there, I'll have to keep my eye out for them.

    Closing the door, I used to have to make a real effort at the end of the day otherwise it would all just carry over to the next day creating a ridiculous amount of anxiety before they day had even sprung. The mental imagery of physically closing a door helped.

  2. I just mentioned M R Hall to E who googled and found a quote by one of his fave writers about these books so they might well appeal! I love crime detective fiction - though I love ones where there is a lot of dense writing and character development.

    My to list is ridiculously long - I just never keep track of it these days and just wipe my brain each night and only realise when I find I haven't done stuff but I am more accepting of to do items that don't get done and pleased when they do. (Though I do try and keep track of bills lest my lights or internet suddenly go down so I guess I manage with the important stuff like that)

    The smoothie would be great for me but I just lose interest when it is presented as pudding - and I also don't add chocolate/cocoa to smoothies - which is odd as I love chocolate

  3. I just picked up a book at the thrift store... it's SO nice to read for fun!

  4. I am HOPELESS at 'shutting the door'. I am aware of it though - so trying to get better :)

  5. I work for my family so shutting the door is not easy. Work creeps into family events, innocent phone calls turn business like etc. But I do my best. On the weekend or out of hours if I think of something, I quickly send myself an email and then stop thinking about it. I find the act of writing something down stops my brain mulling over it so much. My Dad also taught me to prioritise and to speak up and ask for help when needed. I think both of these things help make my time manageable so that I can shut the door.

    Your smoothie looks like a much naughtier chocolate soup with morello cherries that I once had and have since considered making on many an occassion.

  6. Yum! Loving everything about this recipe. Though I think I'd eat the frozen cherries before they found their way to the blender.

  7. Early nights are definitely under-rated - and too few and far between at times! I hope yours come soon.

    I like the idea of imaging the closed door, that is a lovely idea. Anxiety before the day starts is such a challenge, and definitely worth practicing to avoid!

  8. I've been pleasantly surprised at just how much dense writing and character development comes into crime detective novels - I had no idea how good the genre was! These books certainly worked for me, I hope you enjoy them if you or E do end up reading them.

    I chuckled at the idea of wiping the To Do list; it seems like such a free way to go about things and clearly the bills do still get paid and life continues on :)

    Interestingly, I rarely add chocolate to smoothies either (I think it was the chocolate hazlenut milk needing to be used that triggered this). If you use normal milk and more of it, this would turn into a non-chocolate smoothie in no time!

  9. Oh indeed - I imagine in your context it's a rare novelty right now!! I hope you get more time for it soon :)

  10. Glad I'm not alone with that!! I think being aware of it is a nice first step. Not sure how easy the subsequent ones will be but I'll see how I go ;)

  11. Ooh, that would make it hard. Your Dad's lessons sound extremely valuable though...useful skills regardless of specific job (and regardless of context for that matter). I wish life skills like this were taught at school.

    Chocolate soup with morello cherries sounds far fancier than this but incredibly good!

  12. Well, some may have been lost that way ;)

  13. Spoon and bowl, but you know that already ;) I'm definitely struggling to "shut the door" at work, as things have gotten worse since I last mentioned it to you. Just have to keep breathing.

    P.S. I've been meaning to do a book post since.... forever. Thanks for doing yours! :)

  14. Oh :( There I was hoping that maybe things were on the upwards. Definitely breathe. That is always good start. Perhaps also daydream of travel? xox

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