Making up for lost time

I could list a dozen reasons for not blogging for 10 months, but I won’t bother boring anyone with lame excuses.  Instead here are some photos of where I have been losing time lately.  I think this sums it up.

Click on a tile for the full image.

benchesize

 

2nd place!

While all has been quiet on the blogging front, it’s been far from quiet in real life.  Moving house, expecting my first baby, meeting my new born niece- stuff has been happening.  Good stuff.  Just not blog appropriate stuff.

After a few terrible years, 2012 seems to be looking up.  Long may it last.

Right now I am sitting in remotest Sutherland on a day that would not go amiss in the depth of winter, at a hotel which combines the charm and warmth of the hotel from The Shining, cross with a bit of Faulty Towers. However, there is minimal wifi connection, which has given me the chance to jot a few overdue words.  I should chose these word wisely- if our initial impression of our hotel is anything to go by, they may be my last.

….I am not feeling full of wisdom today, so instead I will just have a wee gloat- that photography competition, the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year at The Mall Galleries in London….

Woo Hoo!

And here’s the picture:

And here it is, hanging on the wall of the Mall Galleries and me, trying to look cool calm and collected after the winners were announced:

Sweet!

Feeling pretty chuffed.  And, it’s available to buy!  Here: http://www.pinkladyfoodphotographeroftheyear.com/gallery  

Next stop, National Portrait Galleries!

Food Photographer of the Year finalist- Moi?

I have been neglectful of WordPress lately.  Not through any deliberate intent.  I did not win the lottery, therefore leading a wonderful new life and have no time for blogging, but I am in the throws of moving house.  Once settled I will endeavour to remedy this situation but in the mean time I hope my absence is justified.

However, I have taken some time out from wrapping, boxing, packing and painting to share some exciting news.  I am a finalist in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year!   This was unexpected but I am thrilled and humbled to be selected for this. On 24th April I will be scooting down to London for the winners reception at the Mall Galleries. I have no expectations but I am so looking forward to seeing all the other entries and perhaps enjoying a cheeky glass of bubbles.

So far 2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year! Whatever next? :)

Anyway, back to the box unpacking…..

Greetings from Applecross

Oh broth-er, where art thou?

BROTH.

Winter in Scotland. Long, dark, cold, wet, windy.  Four season in one day, except the two best ones. Harsh.

Yet, there is something splendid that happens every winter that makes us, even at the height of summer, long for these days of  wind stung faces, nippy ears and numb noses.  Scotch broth. A big steaming bowl, so thick you could serve it in slices and stand your spoon upright.

It’s with a smirk on my face I announce that it is officially broth season.

Traditionalists would probably insist it is made with lamb or mutton.  I love lamb, but for some reason I’m not a huge fan of it in a soup, so I prefer mine with chicken and all the lovely cold fighting goodness this brings with it.

The hero of the broth is a Scottish speciality, imaginatively named, Scotch Broth Mix….

You can buy this everywhere in Scotland.  I’m not sure about how readily available it is elsewhere, but if struggling the magic ingredients are dried red lentils, pearl barley,yellow split peas, green split peas and marrowfat peas.

Now there are probably a thousand different recipes and the truth is that I have probably never made the same pot twice.  But, that’s the beauty of it.  Many winter veg lend themselves easily to this soup.  Leek, turnip (swede to those outside Scotland), carrot, parsnip, kale.  All would live very happily with their pulsey brothers in broth, so I use what I happen to have.  Simples. My most recent batch also included butterbeans and extra marrowfat peas.  I love these peas in a soup.  These are the gems I dig for at the bottom of the bowl, like little tasty emeralds of joy.

So, there you the secret to surviving Scottish winter.  Enjoy!

Chicken broth.

Chicken Stock

Scotch broth mix

dried butterbeans

dried marrowfat peas

onion

leek

carrot

parsnip

chicken meat

parsley

water

salt and pepper

Soak a couple of handfuls of the broth mix with a handful of butter bean and a handful of marrowfat peas for 6-8 hours. Rinse then add to a large pot and just cover with chicken stock.  I’m not precious. Use ‘real’ chicken stock if you have it because it’s awesome, but i won’t beat you for using stock cubes.  Life is hectic- if you have time to make fresh chicken stock all the time, you need to get out more.

Simmer for 2o minutes.  While this is bubbling away dice your onion, carrot and parsnip.  Add this to the pan and top up with some water.  Not too much- Remember, you want your spoon to stay almost upright in the soup once it’s ready.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes giving it a stir every now and again to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Towards the end check the butter beans and peas are cooked.  I find the best method it to simply put some in your mouth and chew. Easy.

If you’re happy they are cooked through throw in some shredded chicken, ideally brown meat for the best flavour along with some chopped parsley.  Stir and check the seasoning.  If needed add a bit more salt and pepper or extra stock.

Now the hard part.  Allow to cool and transfer to the fridge overnight in an appropriate fridgeable container.  The second day soup rule is an essential part of amazing broth.  It’s worth the wait.

Slice a wedge of soup from the container and heat making sure the butter beans and peas are toasty hot right through then transfer a mountainous lump to a bowl and eat with a big spoon and a bigger grin.  This will make you wish winter could last forever.

 

 

 

 

2011- A Food Odyssey

It’s been a good year….for my belly.  I feel I should pay homage to the last 12 months of eating and the 12 lbs gained as a result.

 

        

Some I made. Some I had made for me. All delicious and memorable and so more-ish.

2012 has a lot to live up to.

 

 

Auch aye the noo- it’s St Andrew’s day!

Well, burl ma kilt, toss ma caber, shoot ma haggis and gee us a dram o whisky!  If’ it’s no St Andrew’s day.

Being the 30th November, it is suitably wild outside.  80mph gusts of winds and flood waters creeping towards my doorstep, but I’m snuggled up, fire roaring with a wee cheeky nip to keep me all roasty on the inside.

Since there is very little particularly photogenic outside right now, I will mark the occasion with a wee picture that makes me want to dress head to toe in tartan and head for the braes singing Rabbie Burns….

Happy St Andrew’s Day!

Happy little bike gang- two wheeled adventures in Applecross

This is our happy little bike gang…

So happy!

What do happy little bike gangs adventuring in Scotland have for breakfast?

Porridge with banana and honey of course!  Yum!  You may not believe it, but trust me- YUUUUMMM!

So, what do happy little bike gangs see pottering round the beautiful Applecross peninsula on Scotland’s west coast, after a belly full of porridge ?

Well, they see this…

and this…

and go here

and here…

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Hazy shades of Autumn

I’m back, here, in my favourite place, Applecross, Wester Ross.

I’ve seen lots on my way here.  I’ve done lots, I’ve eaten lots… I should be keen to share it all, in great detail, but right now all I want to do is lay here in front of the wood burning stove, supping whisky and re-living a few special moments from the past 48 hours…

The drive North… heading into Glencoe…

Guy Fawkes night, on the shores of Lochcarron (Wicker Man comes to mind)…

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Freshly Pressed pressure!

I always looked at the Freshly Pressed page and wondered what it took to feature there.

Then, with a post of some Spanish holiday observations, there I was….Freshly Pressed *picks jaw up off the floor*.

I still have no idea what the secret was but I was most chuffed, especially with all the response I received and the lovely comments, likes and follows.  Thanks again to those who took part in the massaging of my ego.  It was rather nice and not at all what I am accustomed to.

However, now I find myself pondering “how do I follow that?”

Hmmm, I wish my life was so exciting I had another new adventure to report on, but I am afraid I have not done much else since returning from Spain other than hanging out with my cat.  So, do I post pictures of him (and risk alienating the dog people)?  Or, do I play it safe and add a few more pictures from Spain?…

 

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