On my nightstand: The Happiness Project

I started a reading a new book on Saturday as part of the healthysELF challenge that I signed up for last week.

The happiness project

Basically it’s a continuation of the Elf for Health Holiday Challenge that took place over Christmas. And even though it’s an American based challenge with mostly American bloggers taking part, I realised there was nothing stopping me from jumping on the band wagon.

How it works, is that every Monday, Thursday and Saturday you get a challenge that focuses on one aspect of health and wellness. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to completing the challenge from last Thursday which was, “Do 100 burpees throughout the day“. I did manage to fit in a 1km swim though so hopefully that’ll count for something?

Saturday’s challenge, as I mentioned was, “Start reading a new book” and after seeing many reviews on The Happiness Project, I decided it needed further investigation. So far (I’m only on the 3rd chapter), I’ve found it to be rather thought-provoking and I really enjoy the light-hearted and relaxed style in which Gretchen Rubin writes. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it but this week is turning out to be a busy one so leisure-time reading may be at a slight minimum. Oh well!

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Not for me

The White Pearl

I’m reading this book for a review and I’m 3/4 of the way through but it’s just dragging and dragging and feels like I’m wading through a thick, heavy swamp each time I turn a page. I feel nothing for the characters. There’s not enough drama and I’m just plain bored.

Being a fan of historical fiction, I thought I’d like it. (Ok, I’ll admit I  judged a book by the cover and guess it backfired. Meh!)

How do you get through books you aren’t enjoying?

Help, I need tips!

xxx


Socca

I have just finished reading a novel by Nicky Pellegrino called Delicious.

The book is set (mainly) in a small region of Italy quite close to the town of Naples. You would be right in guessing, from the title, that this book focuses heavily on food. Italian food!

It is a compelling story of how a young girl from a poor family, runs away from home in search of a better life, only to be confronted with many challenges and decisions that inevitably steer her future in an unexpected and uncertain direction.

Family bonds (and lack thereof) play a major theme throughout the novel but one thing that remains constant and ultimately brings all the characters together in the end, is food.

“I have some of today’s fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and some home-baked bread.”

“tender young broad beans with warm goat’s cheese”

“they also plucked shiny red peppers from the vines and fried them in olive oil with a little onion, then simmered them in tomatoes.”

I love reading these kinds of books because it inspires me to cook “minimally” – in other words, simple recipes, with few ingredients, that, when ‘thrown’ together- produce nothing but pure mouth-watering magic.

It was to my excitement then, the other day, that I discovered ‘socca’. And although this appetising morsel is not native to Italy (although I’m more than sure it’s eaten in some regions!), it comes from Nice in the south of France.

Simply put, socca is an unleavened sort of pancake or flatbread that is eaten as street food, and as any well-travelled person will know, this is the type of cuisine you want to try if you hope to truly experience the culture of a new and exotic place.

Socca is traditionally cooked in a wood-fire oven and comes out hot and crispy. With just a shy sprinkle of salt and some pepper- the bread is then savoured with a glass of rose’  in the blazing European heat.

I don’t know about you but I can totally imagine myself enjoying this while wandering the busy streets of Nice, after a day of lolling in the waves and browning my body on a French beach. Sigh…

Now what makes the socca so delicious, I think, is that it’s made using chickpea flour which gives it a real nutty rich flavour. (This also makes it gluten-free) and although the classic recipe only includes the flour, some salt, water and olive oil- one can really jazz it up to one’s liking. I added a touch of cumin to mine but really, you could even make a  sweet ‘breakfast’ socca  by adding some sugar and perhaps some cinnamon.  The options are endless!

For now though- here is the recipe for the socca I made today. Trust me, this is one snack that I will be making again…and again. Simple, quick and completely Delicious!

Directions:

Combine water and olive oil and add to chickpea flour. Add salt. Whisk batter ensuring there are no lumps . It should be the consistency of thick cream. Allow to stand for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 250 deg C. To cook socca, heat a cast iron frying pan and pour enough batter to cover the surface of the pan. Once socca starts to bubble,  place in the oven until crisp and nicely browned. Cut into shards and sprinkle over some salt and pepper.

xxx