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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

 

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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The hunt for Johnny Depp

Many weeks ago I heard Johnny Depp was visiting Scotland.  I made it my mission to find him.

Just to clarify, this was the subject of my search.

Note the hat, the camouflage jacket, the beardwork, the specs…not these particular specs, these one’s here…

Many doubted.

I did not give up…….

Still need convincing?

Mission accomplished.

Highland photo journal part 8- Glendale, Skye

Some places you go just have that magical feel that make you want to stay forever.  Glendale was one of those places.

 

It may have been the charming b&b we stayed in, the Byre, where the views were spectacular, or the food cooked by the landlady Diane, especially her gooseberry crumble, which the most lovely comforting home cooking….

…or the charming people like Craig, one half of Craig and Ellie who we met at the Red Roof  Cafe and Gallery where they own and run a lovely place full of was gorgeous looking home baking, food made from local produce, art and often music, or the stunning walks, like the one to Neist Point where the sheep have to have a head for heights and a good sense of balance…

 

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Highland photo journal part 7- The Three Chimneys (a foodporn installation)

Oh Glendale, how lovely it was to see you and your rolling hills speckled with white dot houses, like a sprawling metropolis compared to Glasnakille.

We had just enough time to find our feet, our lunch, and our first toasty hot bubbly bath in days before the evenings activities commenced….Dinner at The Three Chimneys!  We, of course, had to warm up first and this is where our Applecross squat lobsters once more came to the rescue.

After a lazy afternoon watching the remains of the rain stream down The Byre window (our b&b, more on that later) it was time for the main event.  Dinner.  There is so much to cover after our visit to Glendale, I am dedicating this post purely to ‘the feast’ and will complete coverage of Glendale once this is fully digested.

Now, these may look insignificant, but these tasty little dumpings of cheesy joy represent the start of our culinary adventure.

So without further ado….  

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Highland photo journal, part 5- Isle Ornsey, Skye

Our journey from Applecross to Isle Ornsey seemed relatively short compared to other journeys we have done recently.  We arrived nice and early.  It’s easy to see why the Sleat peninsula it is called the garden of Skye.  It is so green and lush compared to the moorland that covers much of Skye.

We arrived early which allowed us to take a long, long walk around a remote and unknown coastal area.  Stopping only to get lost and to have to backtrack over clifftops, rocks and boulders, and through ferns and nettles and grasses.  It was pretty though.

 

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