Monday, September 12, 2011

A cup of tea and a bit of book chat - September with The Conductor and Yoghurt Banana Muffins

Every quite often it seems a New Zealand author writes a book that I love so much that I can't stop talking about it. In the last few years there was Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs, then Mr Pip, and this time it is.....The Conductor by Sarah Quigley.

The Conductor by Sarah Quigley

It's cold, it's spare and it's very stark, but Sarah Quigley has created something powerfully beautiful in this book that follows the story of the composition and first performance of Shostakovich's 7th symphony amidst the seige on Leningrad by the Nazi's in 1941.

Based around the story of Shostakovich’s single-minded endeavour to write his 7th Symphony, and see it performed, the book shows the lengths that an artist will go to to express himself. While most people are fleeing the city, and others starving and dying, Shostakovich determinedly writes his piece of music, and it falls upon conductor Karl Eliasberg to rise above his own starvation and grief to bring together those who remain of his second-rate Radio Orchestra to perform it.

It's a book to be taken slowly, appreciating the flaws and weaknesses of human nature, absorbing the vivid, steely imagery, feeling the pervasive cold and hunger, and hearing the layers of story in the music.

And if, after all that, you need a bit of comfort food here is my current favourite; a healthy, wholesome muffin recipe. Hope you like them.

Banana Yoghurt Muffins

Wholesome Banana Yoghurt Muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 oatmeal (or just make this amount up with flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
200g yoghurt
1/2 cup milk

Sift all the dry ingredients together, and in a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring lightly till just combined. Spoon into muffin tins, and bake at 200 C for 12-15 minutes.

So yum, and no butter in sight!


  1. Oh my goodness, I LOVE your new blog header!!! Rosa sure is a star! Lucky you :)
    Great giveaway too, thanks for the opportunity, I can't get enough of the brilliant Frank & Dean goodies :)
    I am reading an abysmal book called "Tea & Tiramisu" by Karen Nelson. I admit to being sucked in by the mention of Tiramisu in the title. I am paying for it, but am determined to read to the end. I am looking forward to enjoying the deliciously crafty "everything Alice" and "Chic on a shoestring" gifted and borrowed from an equally delicious friend though.
    That is all for my essay tonight - sorry for the long comment - haha :)

  2. Righto. I'm all for a good giveaway especially when it is related to books and stationary (heart = flutter flutter). At the moment I am reading The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly. It is written about the March girls (Little Women) extended family, four generations later and includes letters from Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. So far it is delightfully relatable.
    Fingers crossed i'm a winner.

  3. Wooowooo! It may not be a challenging read but I am reading Ali Williams Unreliable Guide to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Ali is pretty awesome and the book is actually quite interesting going through each of the world cups past. I'm enjoying it!

  4. Funny, I've just popped a banana cake in the oven, our house is filling with its delicious aroma as I type this...
    I love your new header, it's very cute. That squishy, granny blanket draped chair is calling my name...ha-ha!
    At the moment I am reading E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News. Have you read it? It's a good read (and I should know, it's not the first time I've read it nor will it be the last) It's funny and sad, beautifully descriptive and hopeful. Better than the movie which I also liked too btw.

  5. Ooh! How exciting, only just found your blog, it's very lovely and how gorgeous is your header.

    I have many books that have been collecting dust on my shelves for years, so I'm trying to make my way through them. I recently picked up the first in Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, The Crystal Cave. It's not something I normally read but I am enjoying it.

  6. I love Shostakovich’s music, and haven't read in far too long, so I reckon I need to look this book up, thanks for the recommendation!
    The last book that I read was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I really must make some time to read some quality literature! I do so love books.

  7. What a nice blog you have and what a wonderful giveaway! :)

    I'm always reading multiple books at the same time. At the moment I'm reading The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. The Spanish bride is ok but not as good as some other Heyer's books. Chesterton's book is simply wonderful.

  8. just found your lovely blog via the golden adventures. ... currently I'm reading the books by Jo Nesbo, lots of Charlie and Lola to my small people and reading and making tunics from PipLancolme's Sew La Tea Do

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  10. What a great blog and a give away as well!
    Iam currently reading The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse. Not too far in yet but it is intriguing. Set in the 1920s in France it is an unusual ghost story.

  11. The Wisdom of Crocodiles - very strange and not quite what I needed after The Shadow of the Wind - still, must ... finish ... book...

  12. I am reading a tiny old-fashioned booklet about Worry by Corrie Ten Boom (does that count) and I've just started Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Inglls Wilder because it has been many moons since I enjoyed these gorgeous books. It's so nice to get some good recommendations though. And a lovely chance for an awesome giveaway too. Please if it's not too much trouble could you flick me an email if you get this, blogger seems to eat all my comments and they don't appear in the comments. Thanks! Miriam makeitgiveit(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. Have done a little bloggy post for you too lovely :) x

  14. Do parenting books count!??? Reading Politically Incorrect Parenting by Nigel Latta. Great tips - needed reminding that I'm not the only one that goes a bit mad sometimes...

  15. I've just finished reading "Sex and Stravinsky" by Barbara Trapido - witty, rollicking pseudo highbrow fun. Think modern day Shakespeare comedy - mistaken identities, missed moments and mess ups, oh and funny. Am following along too.

  16. I'm loving your blog header, very sweet :) Actually the whole design looks lovely together. I'm currently reading The Big Fat Duck cookbook by Heston Blumenthal, also re-reading the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

    kate1485 at

  17. What a fun blog! I've only read pregnancy and parent books this year (little girl is now 7 weeks old!) So now that they are being [slowly] put back on the shelf I really want to read diary of ann frank. An old must read I think, and I've wanted to read it for so long!

  18. Well, a big hello just found your blog via Green Valley Crafts. Love your blog header to ribbons. I love the map best of all. I' reading 'Love in the time of Cholera' by Gabriel García Márquez. I have read this book at least five times, I just love it!. I'm also reading the French version Barbar books to my grandson, he looks at me very strangely indeed! Sook our for me following your blog.

  19. Ooh please include me in giveaway! Great to discover your blog. I'm currently flicking through mags, mollie makes being favourite. Will def check out your recommendation though, love her books. thanks

  20. I am currently 'reading' the audio book of Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER!

    I am also thinking about reading the GAME OF THRONES SERIES after watching it!

  21. I found your blog via Rowantree Designs. I am currently reading The Sisters Brothers for bookgroup

  22. I posted your giveaway on my blog today. Looks like my lovely friend Lucy has also started following you. Looks's like you are having so much fun!

  23. Hi there, I'm a new follower and hopefully I just got in on time for the giveaway deadline(?)... I love reading but have to confess haven't done much for me recently - just the Cat and the Hat every night to my toddler. Looking forward to getting my nose stuck in a book just as soon as I can tear myself away from my sewing machine! Jenny (P.S. for some reason it wont let me comment under my google account)


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