Rapid Reviews: October 2015

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It’s been in and out weather over September – so there’s been time for reading and writing in between “yardwork” aka gardening, pruning and clearing up. The weather has been so bad on occasions that ARTbop meetings have lingered longer to avoid returning to the cold and the wet. One afternoon we both agreed if we hadn’t been able to park directly in front in the cafe the pouring rain would have sent us back home. It was another month when those rib-sticking concoctions of September’s “an artist’s gotta eat” were still being made and tucked into while outside the wind smashed the herbs to the ground. So busy was September that the usual load of “murder mysteries” has not been read. We’ve written a poem or two and perused one or two “do it better-live better books” but you’ll have to look elsewhere this month for comments on “whodunits” from the Tauranga City Library.

You shouldn’t miss reading Clinton Kelly Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget or The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter. Read on below!

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WALK IN THE WORLD: a Pedestrian in Paris  JOHN BAXTER Harper Perennial USA 2011

The front page of the book says “John Baxter, who gives literary walking tours through Paris, is an acclaimed memoirist, film critic, and biographer. He has lived in Paris for twenty years….:” This is a book about John Baxter, his family, his extended family, Paris, food, tourists, artists all interwoven. It’s incredibly readable and if like me you still keep the marble you found in the gutter in Paris in a little box you’ll loved reading this paperback.

MILLER’S 20TH CENTURY DESIGN: The Definitive Illustrated Sourcebook JUDITH MILLER Millers a division of Mitchell Beazley UK 2009

A big book with clear pictures of the objects. Readable explanations of significant style movements and creatives. If you’re interested in design, collecting even “modern” (and I mean now) furniture styles this is a very informative read and look. Some of the content could be taken for a contemporary homewares catalogue – yes there is nothing new in this world. A great book to have on the table to read (and reread).

FREAKIN’ FABULOUS on a BUDGET: How to dress, entertain, and decorate in the style you so richly deserve. CLINTON KELLY Gallery Books, New York, 2013

Another “aspirational and how to have” text. What’s so good about this one? It’s the frankness, the street talk language of a young man and (would you believe it) the final pages of old-fashioned schoolmarm – “there’s no such word as I’s” Who would have thought Mr Flash and Fabulous would be concerned about words, apostrophes and grammar “another grammar mistake that gets my old knickers in a twist…” and believe me this isn’t someone who is old and I doubt old knickers have ever been near his body!

If there is one thing I think that prevents revolution, it’s aspiration. This book is a revolution preventer and aspirational pathway. Kelly instructs everyone to spend time looking, touching and feeling what they presently cannot afford and to budget-replicate and to “aspire”. Ironically it’s also about avoiding “the easy way out” Kelly’s fundamental philosophy is being the absolute best at all times irrespective of what is available to you. “I honestly believe that each of us, at our core, wants to be a splendid version of ourselves. But modern society is constantly urging us to take the easy way out! Think about how simple it would be right now to grab a triple cheeseburger at the drive-through, go home and pull on a pair of sweatpants, and spend the rest of the day watching a Hoarders marathon from your couch…You know you’d be much happier if you ran to the supermarket in a cute pair of jeans, came home, whipped up a cassoulet, and made a terrarium for your windowsill!”

For those of you thinking “barf”, don’t, this book is written for the young and in their language (prepositions in place). It’s based on the same values of sustainability, thrift, good food, asset maximization, cleanliness and personal effort that previous generations lived by its just that Kelly has polished them up (literally) and packaged them with shine.

Here’s Kelly’s comment re entertaining .. “ I love having people over to my place, and I know that I can’t successfully entertain without serving great food. I also know that I can do it at a great price. This is the thing: A lot of fancy foods aren’t really that fancy or expensive to prepare. In fact, many high-end foods have very lowbrow origins. You might pay ten bucks for a side of polenta at a fancy Italian restaurant, but it’s still the same stuff poor farmers ate for centuries. And the next time you see a review for a sushi house charging hundreds of dollars, realize that those seaweed rolls began as cheap Japanese street food.

No I won’t be making any of his craft suggestions – I’m downsizing! But, the terrarium lesson creates a better result than I’m doing now, so yes I’ll be taking notice of that. It’s the language that makes the message. Kelly sets out steps to affordable style: “When you spend money willy-nilly, you’re going to have a much more difficult time looking fabulous, because you will end up with a closet of mismatched pieces..” He goes through fabric quality, cut, price and cost per garment in relation to the number of times you will wear it or use it. There are before and after images – a hoodie wearing slouch transformed into the Bachelor of the Century.

The introduction to the “decor” section says it all. “The men in my family are good at fixing motorcycles and welding I-beams together and building extensions on their houses. I like glitter. My Dad can dissect a broken air conditioner and find fascination in repairing it, whereas I enjoy examining objects d’art and figuring out to make similar ones at home” Turn over the page and its all about being clean, how to clean the house, how to position furniture. Under the glitz language is old-fashioned practical.

Just who is this bizarre amalgamation of glamour-style and retro values. I leave reading the inside back jacket cover till last: “Clinton Kelly is the co-host of The Chew on ABC Daytime and TLC’s What Not to Wear. Originally from Long Island, he lives in New York City.”

MAKE, MEND, BAKE, SAVE & SHINE: Household hints to help save money and make things last as long as they can so you don’t have….with tips from Oxfam’s Green Granny Jo Godfrey Wood with tips from Oxfam’s Green Granny Barbara Walmsley

Not as interesting to read as Freakin’ Fabulous but the same theme. Text and line drawings. Practical hints in a more pedestrian presentation. Highlight of this little tome – the background information about the Green Granny Barbara Walmsley. Dedicated to thrift and sustainability she has raised thousands of pounds for Oxfam with her “I’m fasting for Oxfam” and Oxfam specialist bridal boutiques. Started in the backbedroom of her family home; there are now more than 12 Oxfam bridal boutiques around the UK. Worth reading to find out about the boutique business and their instigator.

Bicarbonate of Soda: A VERY VERSATILE NATURAL SUBSTANCE  MARGARET BRIGGS Abbeydale Press – Bookmart Limited, UK 2007

The writer was a teacher (and it sort of shows) – “Do you ever lie awake at night, wondering about the difference between bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, baking powder and sodium carbonate? If so this is the book for you; after of course, you have consulted a specialist in sleeping disorders!” This is English humour (I think and I’m English).

It’s almost hilarious but really useful.. “ removing plastic wrappers from hot surfaces” ..”battery acid spill and cleaner”. It’s all set out like a textbook in clear and simple language. And from someone who uses baking soda “for everything” and white vinegar “for everything else” this is a great little read. And if you want lots of baking soda – the Bin Inn shop on Cameron Road, Tauranga sells it in big bags and little bags (and bags in between).

FRIENDS OF THE TAURANGA LIBRARIES

Friends of the Tauranga Libraries are a group of people of all ages and from all walks of life who share an interest in books, libraries, life and literacy. We hold four meetings, most months of the year to explore these interests. We support the Summer Reading programmes both by securing grant money and also by helping with the setup and finales of the programmes. Money raised through our regular activities goes back into our libraries. A strong aspect of our work is advocating on behalf of the community with both the Library and the Tauranga City Council.

When you join the Friends of the Tauranga Libraries you are able to attend any of our meetings and will also receive our newsletters, Bookline, which comes out every second month. You will have opportunities to volunteer for the reading programmes and assisting with advocacy work.

Interested? Contact Friends of the Tauranga Libraries Secretary, Jenny Cook at cookhouse@clear.net.nz

TAURANGA CITY LIBRARIES BOOK CLUBS:

Tauranga City Library meets: 3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at the Tauranga City Library
10.30am to 11.30am and 5.30pm to 6.30pm

Papamoa Library Book Club meets: 3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at Papamoa Library
10.00am
Discover new parts of the Tauranga Library with monthly themes and enjoy the company of a friendly group.”

October 21st Heroes + Heroines

November 18th Villians/Crims

December 16th Best of 2015

and get one of the wonderful promotional Book Club bookmarks from the Library counter.

An Artist’s gotta eat!

ARTbop believes the definition of creativity includes the creation of food.

WordsOctober2015 002One of the ARTbop contributors asked me to organise a “Christmas Party” for ARTbop. Christmas, it’s not even Summer. But the mind has turned to the canape, the hors d’oeuvre, the finger food, the paper napkin, the number of drinks per bottle (one startling normal soul just told me “there are only three glasses of wine in a bottle” – I hope his bottles are significantly smaller than mine or that he isn’t drinking out of a glass the size of a bucket. I’ve been cruising the enormous “food” section of the Tauranga City Library for ideas for contemporary little bits and pieces. Cubes of cheddar cheese and pineapple on toothpicks stuck into half an up-turned grapefruit off the tree in the backgarden aren’t going to cut it – although they might as retro delights. Enough of this!

CANAPES Over 200 recipes crostini tartlets skewers wraps VICTORIA BLASHFORD-SNELL and ERIC TREULLE Dorling Kindersley Limited Great Britain 2012

And laugh out loud, open this book and there’s a beautiful image of cheese on a stick – this time it looks like marinated seed feta, a wedge of cucumber, topped with a black olive and herb leaf …… I could do that! Beautiful images throughout the book and step by step instructions to make really yummy stuff like Parmesan shortbread … I could do that! Same with the oatcakes. I’ll be avoiding the clams with ginger and lime butter and the gratinated mussels with parsley and Parmesan crumbs only because I’m not keen on shellfish – sorry team. If you’ve got Christmas drinks at your place, take a look at the image and instruction rich book – it’s a good one!

FENNEL-MARINATED FETA AND OLIVE SKEWERS

As this recipe tastes so fresh and clean, it will work well with richer dishes. It makes a delicious vegetarian option. Makes 20.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 200grams (7oz) feta cheese, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, 15 grams (½ oz) mint, finely chopped, ½ cucumber, peeled and seeded, 20 mint leaves, 10 pitted black olives, halved. Essential equipment 20 wooden skewers (5cm/2in – the bamboo ones with the little knot at the end).

Method:

Toast the seeds in a dry pan over low heat until nutty and golden, 3 minutes. Cool

Gently rinse the feta in cold water. Drain on paper towels.

Cut feta into 2cm (¾ in) cubs. Toss feta together with the fennel, toasted seeds, lemon zest and juice, oil, and pepper to coat each cube well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to allow the flavours to combine.

Sprinkle the feta with chopped mint and toss to coat each cube well.

Cut the cucumber into 20 cubes (1cm/ ½ in).

Thread 1 mint leaf, 1 olive half, 1 cucumber cube, and 1 feta cube onto each skewer. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

GET AHEAD Marinate the feta up to 3 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Skewer feta up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.

CLINTON KELLY

Gallery Books, New York, 2013

FREAKIN’ FABULOUS on a BUDGET: How to dress, entertain, and decorate in the style you so richly deserve. CLINTON KELLY Gallery Books, New York, 2013

Wouldn’t you know Clinton Kelly (reviewed in Words, From the Tauranga City Library, October 2015) includes a selection of affordable and amazing nibbles. Presented with the same irreverent text quips as the rest of his book – “Everybody likes cheese, unless you’re lactose intolerant. And if you are, then my heart goes out to you. I wake up every morning and I thank the baby Jesus that I’m not lactose intolerant. Because I lo-o-ove cheese…” He’s got a “recipe” for cheese platters, the perfect antipasto platter and a freaking fabulous fondue. Reading the recipe for cheese twists takes me straight back to Sage Road and Imelda the culinary queen of a large family of my acquaintance. Here’s Clinton Kelly’s take introductory comments included.

HOT AND SPICY CHEESE TWISTS

Makes 36 Twists

Like dark-wash denim, cheese twists are incredibly versatile. Not a fan of cheddar? I think you’re a loon, but use Parmesan cheese instead. Just about any savory or sweet (I think: cinnamon, sugar and butter) combination will fancy up this frozen puff pastry. Serve them piping hot right out of the oven and people will go ape shit. Twists can be made one day ahead, covered tightly in foil, and left at room temperature.

Ingredients (measurements are American)

2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheeseburger, 1 teaspoon chopped, dried rosemary, ¼ teaspoon dried, crushed red pepper flakes, Salt and Pepper to taste, 1 sheet (or half a 17.3 ounce packaged) frozen puff pastry thawed, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of water.

Method

Preheat oven to 425degreesF. Place one rack in top third of oven, other in lower third. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine cheese, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Set aside.

Working on a floured surface, cut one piece of the pastry dough in half crosswise. Brush both rectangles with the egg wash. Distribute the cheese mixture evenly onto the pastry, pressing down lightly so it adheres to the dough. Cut each half of the dough lengthwise in ½ inch strips. Take two strips at a time and twist. Repeat with remaining strips. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and serve.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

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