A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Month: August 2021

Scribbles for the Weekend #3

Meringue

 

It’s that time of year in Edinburgh, waking up most days to mist or is it rain or perhaps somewhere in between.  I don’t think it’s quite dreich either.  By mid after the sun burns it off and we are left with a glorious warmth.

Start of the week we all got up grumpy, trying to get our heads round the new routine.  The first Monday morning back to school.   We are silently clashing heads, no arguments are required we are all struggling with the fact it was Monday morning.

I vowed to start the new exercises the physio gave me for my hip.  The ones that have been sat on my computer for a week or so now.  As I write this though I can claim to have 3 days in the bag and although I’m sat here drinking coffee, feeling guilty for not doing them this morning I can pat myself on the back for starting them.

With the back to school routine kicking in, I’m going to choose a few cookery books to work through for the next 12 weeks.  I thought about having 5 on the go, but as I type up my selection I’m reminded about spreading myself to thinly and not achieving.  Why not dig deep and really learn from these books.

 

Dishoom – From Bombay with love (a 2019 Christmas present!)

Home Cookery Year – In order to scratch my seasonal cooking itch

Nigella – Cook Eat Repeat, for inspiration both in my writing and cooking

 

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, with a variation on the lentil soup I posted using a small squash from the garden and a sweet potato rather than carrots.   Made a Hazelnut meringue and after a few minutes of presentation it felt like it had been visited by locusts, gone in one sitting.  A classic Beef and Ale stew, doctored with Kidney Beans and Aubergines.  Dabbled with anchovy’s and spinach as well as tackling the bag of polenta that I’d brought back from Italy a good 18 months ago.

I’m left thinking about this weekend…and only a couple left before the big man heads to Uni to find that my thinking around menu’s (I use the word loosely) is blown out the water.  In part the kids routine a last minute I’m going wild camping with my pals from son number one who’s trying to stay clear of folk so doesn’t miss his prom next week!  Also some self sabotage in that I’m going to meet a colleague from work for dinner tonight, a last minute impromptu, it’s been too long kind of decision.  In fact it’s been 18 months too long.   I’ve declared Sunday evening as a family tea and banned any other line of thinking.   It’s the only way I’m going to tackle the small frozen shoulder of lamb that’s been sitting in the freezer for some time.

At the back of my mind I’m thinking how do I squeeze in Gary’s Blackbean stew (a regular poster to the coffeeshare).  I’ve not been able to source the key ingredient from the local supermarket I frequent….so need to source/track them down at some point.  I’ve also got a book to pick up….and I’m ashamed to say it’s another cookery book.  My excuse is that it comes with the tickets that we bought as the authors are doing a promotional tour.

Nearly forgot to tell you that I kicked off the weekly veg box delivery and already feeling the pressure around what to do with some of the items……….rest assured it will all get eaten one way or another.

 


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Versatilenti Soup …. Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup
I’m a big fan of a hearty soup and this one I come back to time and time again.  It’s very versatile and great for tweaking in relation to any vegetables that might be left over in the fridge. Initially it started off as bacon and lentil and then I found a chilli languishing with the carrots.   Mainly because the supermarkets don’t sell single chillies and so with a little ginger and some mixed spice it became a spiced lentil soup.  Then with a little leftover chicken from the BBQ I added another tweak to make bbq’d chicken soup.  Mainly keep to the core and then add your own touches and enjoy playing with it.

The Core: Swaps/Optional:
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 chili red or green, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp bouillon powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice (ras el hanout or garam masala)
  • 100g red lentils
  • 100g puy lentils
  • 50g dried pearl barley
  • 1.5 litres of water from the kettle

 

  • Cooked chicken (add a couple of extra thighs to the BBQ!)  to add in at the end of this recipe
  • 180g bacon diced,  ditch the chicken and fry before adding the onions
  • Sweet potato, swap out a carrot or two
  • 1 tbsp mixed of mixed herbs, ditch the chili, ginger and spice
  • Just use red lentils, or brown, ditch the puy and barley.  Just keep to the rough dried weight of 250g
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, soften the onion, celery and carrots with the chili and ginger if using – roughly 10-15 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, mixed spice or herbs, the bouillon and cook for a minute or so turning over so everything is coated.
  3. Add the lentils, pearl barley and 1.5 litres of water from the kettle
  4. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the lentils and barley are soft.
  5. Remove a 2 or 3 ladlefuls of the soup and blend on the side, before returning to the pan which add that lovely soup texture.
  6. Add the cooked, chopped chicken if using.

Scribbles for the Weekend #2

What a week,  the implementation went to plan but a BAU issue hit the ropes.   Confusion reigned, the support rota kicked in as it was felt it was weekend related and caused me to get called out.   Then ensued a roller coaster of tiredness.  I was on high alert for the next few nights causing me quite a bit of angst.  Cancelled a camping trip, too tired and depressed to contemplate hitting the hills.  Add to this the eldest who was in self isolation because he happened to sit next to a pal at the cinema who’s just been confirmed COVID positive.

Fortunately I’ve still taken the days off we were going to take and we decided to play tourist in our own town.  Caught up on a bit of shopping and found a new book shop Topping & Co, which was just an amazing find and wish I’d known about it sooner.

We had lunch out just the two of us for a change.  The Olive Branch Bistro Edinburgh and couldn’t resist trying the:

  • Crispy shredded duck leg, watermelon, pomegranate, orange salad with dukkah and passion fruit
  • Roast aubergine, pepper and spinach katsu curry, coconut rice and dukkah flatbread
  • Cheese cake of the day, Dark Chocolate and Baileys

Today as I write this the sun is shining through the window (it was supposed to be raining) and my sons PCR test has come back negative.   A sense of normality is resuming in my mind as I take it easy and think about the day.

With the rollercoaster of the working week my excuses for not tackling any of Grannies box of recipes seem valid.   I’ve not really got myself in the frame of mind for writing full stop although amazingly I did finish the header for a soup recipe that has been keeping me sustained for the last couple of weeks.  Definitely a keeper and a recipe for life.

Lentil SoupI’m a big fan of a hearty soup and this one I come back to time and time again.  It’s very versatile and great for tweaking in relation to any vegetables that might be left over in the fridge. Initially it started off as bacon and lentil and then I found a chilli languishing with the carrots.   Mainly because the supermarkets don’t sell single chillies and so with a little ginger and some mixed spice it became a spiced lentil soup.  Then with a little leftover chicken from the BBQ I added another tweak to make bbq’d chicken soup.  Mainly keep to the core and then add your own touches and enjoy playing with it.

As we meet over coffee we are heading into the last week of August, which means autumn is definitely approaching for us in the northern hemisphere.  I’ve been thinking about what I might like to achieve as the new academic year starts.  It feels like a good time to knuckle down to something.  I managed to pick up a couple of music books for some fresh inspiration on the piano.  There are a few new cook books taking my eye, but I need to really hit the ones I’ve already got and promised to study.  I’m going to try choose 3-5 and really get the most of them rather than just turning the pages and looking for the next!

 


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribbles for the Weekend #1

There is a slight nip to the air in the mornings, definitely going back to school weather. As the world keeps spinning a slight change for us this year in that only one of the boys is heading back to school and the other moves on to university. The ebb flow of the house changing again, the longing for a routine to resume to normality at the same time a realisation that we will be one down in a months time. There are a little errands that are appearing here and there, sort a budget out, choose a laptop and pay the deposit on accommodation that bring it home to the mind.

The organisation of a suit for the leaving school dance really played with the memory cells taking me back 30 years to the time I bought my own, with the photograph that my mum took at the side of the house.

The week has flown by and I’ve had a mixed bag of success with the goals I’d set myself.

  • Refreshed the number on the door using a gold paint. My hat goes off to the old school sign painter.
  • We’d bought a drive away awning for the camper a few years ago, barely used and with guys growing it was time to move it on.
  • Present for nephew, xbox one game
  • Updated my about page, only a week or so after the rebrand
  • Added in my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/scribbleandscran
  • Made my first your tube video (more an experiment and an adventure!)
  • The obvious putting in a solid weeks work, last weeks wobble and the challenge came to pass, I survived, and now I have a weekends implementation ahead of me.

Alongside that though we have some scran on the agenda:

For the weekend – the main event. The BBQ is being rolled out for a vegan meal! Might sound like an oxymoron (if I knew what one was). Ok one vegan, and 7 flexitarians of which 2 teenagers ours will eat anything and 2 teenagers who might not eat anything. The BBQ is a great way of trying to cater for all. Starting off with grilled aubergine, courgettes and peppers before sullying the grill with meat. It’s very likely the last of our summer gatherings. We’ll be trying to stay outside making use of the new shelter. Albeit we are are free to have folk into the house now that Scotland has moved out of level zero.

Other meals:

  • Smoked salmon that I brought back from Ullapool will make an appearance
  • Apple and Rhubarb crumble, the Bramleys have started appearing like bowling balls and I couldn’t resist
  • BBQ’d chicken and Lentil Soup

I thought I’d end this share with a walk round the garden, there feels like so many things are going on at the moment.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Courage to Continue

Cup, Whisk & Keyboard

I made the mistake of checking my mail before going to bed last night and one email haunted me through the night. It wasn’t personal, at the same time it rocked my sense of purpose and integrity. Just one thing after another yesterday and this frustratingly broke the camel’s back in terms of me thinking why is everything so hard, like being asked to move a truck by the same person who is sat in the front seat pulling the handbrake on saying go faster. I’m there at the front of the truck ropes around my shoulders straining with the weight like the world’s strongest man putting one foot in front of another. Then someone throws a couple of logs in front of me like a bunch of Ewoks trying to take down a Scout Walker.

It’s all in my mind I know, and I can choose where to go with this. I’m sat upright in bed looking out the window with my coffee, the rainclouds drifting over the top of Arthur’s seat. At the same time as staring out the window I’m checking in with the writing community and I come across the words ‘Sometimes the courage is to continue. To choose to wake up again and face the process of leaning into life and love’. It’s a southing balm for my thoughts as is the quote that dropped into my mailbox from the James Clear bulletin:

Writer Jeanette Winterson on the connection between art and an open mind:
“Most of us spend a lot of time censoring everything that we see and hear. Does it fit with our world picture? And if it doesn’t, how can we shut it out, how can we ignore it, how can we challenge it? We are continually threatened in life, it’s true. But once you are alone with a book, and it’s also true with a picture or with music, all those defenses drop and you can enter into a quite different space where you will learn to think differently about yourself.”
Source: Women at Work Vol II: Interviews from the Paris Review​

It’s rained through the night, a much needed down pour for the garden and a sense of a new day shapes in my mind. I’m inclined to post my thoughts with courage and with my imperfections.

 

 


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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