Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

There’s been a lot recently about Young Adult fiction and how adults should be “embarrassed” about being seen reading it. I’ve read stuff agreeing and disagreeing.

Now, ultimately, I don’t really care what people read, and I’ve never really understood the concept of “guilty pleasures” (if you like it, don’t feel guilty about it; it’s just what you like), but what I really don’t understand is, why books have age limits?

Granted that some books are unsuitable for the young and some you can probably only get away with reading if you’re reading it to a child, but for all the other books? If you enjoy it, read it.

I mean, I know publishers like to categorise things and pick an age group to market books at, but they can’t control who actually buys the book.

So, don’t feel guilty about your reading choices. And don’t care what other people think. We aren’t all the same and we have different tastes. Read what you enjoy.

And speaking of books, I found a new recipe book this week. Home Baked Gifts with Love. Not because I want to make gifts at the moment, but because I like tray-bake kind of recipes. Fudges, cookies, muffins, etc.

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I thought I’d start with fudge. It’s a simple sort of recipe (my favourite kind!), that doesn’t involve a sugar thermometer, which is just as well because I have no idea where I put mine. And I made a change or two. Like sprinkling marshmallows across the top.

So. You’ll need:

100g dark chocolate

55g butter

2tbsp cream

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp honey

225g icing sugar

Melt together the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat, adding the cream, vanilla and honey. Stir, and then add the sugar bit by bit. When it’s all mixed (you might need to use your hands) roll it out on a lined baking tray and pop it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. Cut into squares and, um, try not to eat it all at once?

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The Duchess of Malfi

I’ve taken a little break from Shakespeare for the last couple of weeks for various reasons. The main reason, though, was the production of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi that was televised on the BBC about ten days ago.

My previous experience of Webster’s tragedy is limited. My sister used a quotation on an art project, and Agatha Christie referred to it in Sleeping Murder. I haven’t yet finished reading the play – it feels denser than Shakespeare and I keep being distracted. But, obviously, I have seen it.

The Duchess of Malfi tells of a rich young widow and her secret marriage to her steward – her brothers, one a Cardinal and the other her twin Ferdinand, do not want her to remarry. Probably a money-thing and them wanting it. It is said to be based on the story of an Italian Duchess from about a century before Webster’s play was published in 1623. The play is about the brothers’ reaction when they discover the Duchess’ marriage.

The Globe’s production, which starred Gemma Arterton as the Duchess, was staged in a reproduction Jacobean indoor theatre, lit only by candles. I have no doubt that eventually the filming of this will make its way onto DVD. If you get the chance, buy it and help them recoup the cost of the beeswax candles.

Even though this is a tragedy – and it is tragic – there were moments which I found amusing. I don’t know if they were meant to be, but they were. Not big things. A look. The Cardinal especially had some wonderful expressions.

I tend to think of theatre work as the hardest kind of acting. Recreating the same emotion night after night, and remembering all those lines, can’t be easy. I was very impressed by the level of the emotions between the actors, and by Ferdinand’s descent into insanity.

What Stays in Vegas, by Beth Labonte

What Stays in Vegas is something that I’ve had on my Kindle for a while, and I’ve read it several times. I dip in and out of it when I want to pass the time, but don’t really want to challenge my brain. It’s what might be termed “chick lit” in that, there’s a splash of romance and a dollop of happy ending. And the closest we get to violence is a single punch.

It’s a story about a girl (Tessa) who has to move to Vegas from Massachusetts for three months. She’s an admin assistant in an engineering firm, but really, she’s an artist. In her spare time (while she’s on hold to whomever) she makes sculptures out of office supplies. Paper clips, bulldog clips, staples. Yeah, I can’t think of any other office supplies.

Anyway. She likes someone (Nick) in the Massachusetts office, but he’s married. So her trip to Vegas should be good for getting him out of her mind. Except that Nick drops hints of all not being well in his marriage. And then Tessa meets a cute engineer in Vegas. Oh, and her boss, the founder’s daughter, isn’t happy being an engineer. And also is really an artist at heart. But she’s the founder’s daughter, so an engineer it is.

Cue complications.

I’ll give you that it’s not Great Literature. But Tessa is believable. It’s a nice story about someone stuck doing a job she hates because she hasn’t figured out how to make a living doing what she loves, figuring it out. Because obviously it all ends happily.

I think that’s why I like it. Hope. Hope that all will be well.