Literary crushes, characters to fall in love with, soda breads with cornmeal - creativity has no boundaries

My first literary crush was Sherlock Holmes. It's unsurprising, really, I was nine when I first read Conan Doyle's stories, and the obsessive detective really made an impression n my childish mind. His love for science, which I actually abhorr must be the root for my having fallen in love and married a physics teacher! But Holmes was my dream man alright, back then, until he was surpassed. I mean, we grow and meet new characters and then we end up falling for a new bloke, right? Right??

It was Mr. Rochester. I had this huge thing for Mr. Rochester, right from the go. When my grandfather handed me down Jane Eyre to read, I had been devouring stuff like Stefan Zweig and Sir Walter Scott along with the Countess of Ségur and Berthe Bernage - don't ask, to this day I cannot stand Brigitte she is my fave character to hate!! - but I wasn't being moved by the characters the way I wanted to. Sherlock Holmes ruled still, he was king of my proverbial literary castle. Enter Mr. Rochester, and his sarcasm, and his secrets, and his apparently dangerous self. He was dark and broody and moody and... well. It was crush at first read, to be sure.

Of course it would be expected that my next book heartthrob would be Heathcliff, but the truth is I only came across him much later on. When I was twelve it was Luke Skywalker because I bought the Star Wars book only to be able to have a literary Luke to read. Afterthat it was a character in Psion, a Joan D. Vinge scyfi book. But not much of a huge crush, not like the one that followed. Athos. Ah, yes, I was not D'artagnan centered, I did not swoon for Aramis, I was all Athos. The mysterious, elusive Comte de la Fére was all I wanted! Broody, heartbroken, sad, a broken man. He was the stuff romantic school girls dreams are made of! He made me dislike Heathcliff at first read! I mean, I still dislike Heathcliff, but I love the book, it is my most favourite book in the whole world. But I was all for Athos. Only Count Dracula came close to obscure him, at that time.

And because there were these characters that made such an impression upon me, to the point I had huge crushes on them, I wanted very much to write characters that others would fall in love or hate with. I have no idea if I have achieved this - I swear I detest Sebastian White from my first novel with all my forces!! - but I did try. Have I a place in my author's heart for any of my characters? Yes, I actually do, there's a couple of them in particular that I am quite fond of, they come across as really good people. But I was always one for the crush on the bad boys - though I never saw them as "husband material" as the saying goes, they were good for a bit of a laugh and to have fun with. So my fave characters are always the bad boys. Some are even the really bad boys, as in: gross! I won't give away any spoilers but there is a soft spot in my author's heart for one such character in my latest set of novels... And I hope against hope readers will actually feel something like that for some of my characters. I tried to make them realistic enough, but there's always a romanticized personality when it comes to writing a character.

Much like I have romanticized this soda bread, by adding cornflour to it. So not Irish at all, but I had this idea in my head that wouldn't let go, and I had to try it! Here's what I did:
  • 150 gr strong bread flour
  • 50 gr bran
  • 100 gr cornflour
  • 50 gr oatmeal
  • 50 mixed oats, nuts and dry fruits
  • 2 natural yogurts + 50 ml milk + juice of half a lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda bicarbonate
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Turn on the oven at 180º. Prepare the 'buttermilk' by mixing the yogurts, milk and lemon juice and allowing to set for at least fifteen minutes. On a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran and oats. Add the salt, the baking powder and the soda bicarbonate. Beat the egg into the buttermilk and slowly start adding the liquid to the dry ingredients, using a knife or a fork to mix them together. When the batter starts to come together, pour onto a floured surface and with the help of your floured hands, pat it into a rounded ball. Do not knead!! Adjust the flour if you feel it's too liquid - it may happen, depending on the size of the eggs, mine was a big one and I did need to add a bit more cornflour to the batter so it thickened up some. Transfer into a baking tray that's lined with parchement paper and covered in flour, score the top of the bread with a knife forming a cross or a star pattern and bake for 35, 45 minutes in the oven. Let it cool over a rack and serve warm, with generous amounts of good, fresh butter. Your cozy needs will all be met!