A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

a Map or Instructions

Come on in and grab a coffee, I hope you don’t mind I’m on my second cup. We’ve just recently bought a filter coffee maker which is great for that second helping but not good for the caffeine intake!

It’s been a quick week, posted a recipe on Beetroot and Chocolate brownies (there’s still a piece left if you don’t mind it being defrosted from the freezer). I received all manner of feed back from the writing community I’m part of which fuelled my second post on the matter.

In an effort to use some of my holiday entitlement up we took Monday off to shoot the breeze, which coincided with Nigella Lawson being in town.  Thought provoking and fuel for the procrastinating wannabe writer of a cookbook.  She talked about her book, released a good year a go now.   This the start of her shortened tour to promote it, catching up due to the world events we all know about.  Aside from the first five minutes of reading from the front pages of the book she talked from the heart about food.  Taking questions from the audience via a mediator who sat at the side.

What is a recipe?  A good section in her book…..but my thinking and I’d love your thoughts on my metaphor:

Broadly and I know this is a huge simplification.  I think there are two kinds of recipe or lets call them journeys that we can go on.  There are those journeys, that follow a set timetable.  Must leave the house at 9am, to catch the 9:15 bus at the end of my street that will get me to the train station for the 10:04 to London in order for me to get there for a 3pm meeting.   This is very prescriptive set in stone, you know the specific outcome you need, miss that first bus or a connection and the plan is ruined.  Typically this is a baking recipe which has a science to it.  You can make the odd substitution a bit like several busses going from the end of my street to the train station so it doesn’t matter which bus I get on.  Take the wrong train and use a different flour and you know you might end up elsewhere.  These are the recipes you need to stick to the rules.

Then there are the journeys that are about exploring, you’ve made it to Edinburgh for the day and you ask me how to get to the castle.  I present you with a street map, more as a guide.  There are many things I don’t know about like if you’ve been here before, your energy levels or the weather on the day.  Do you want to go the scenic route, via a bookshop or pick up a coffee on the way.  I can guide you to the destination, but do you want to go to the gardens on the other side of the castle or straight up the royal mile.   The map or the recipe is really a guide or the inspiration for the destination and you don’t have to follow it by rote.  If you deviate from the path you will have a different day out, a different adventure and a different learning of your choice.  Don’t have an onion or the street is blocked you can pick up a leek and go round another way.  Bramley apples look tiny  today but the pears look special you can easily make a swap. 

Learning to cook is a journey, its about being able to read maps with a view of getting from A to B.  A recipe is essentially a vessel of knowledge, a memory of how someone took that journey before.  Although some recipes are infallible like the Swiss transport, they probably haven’t accounted for your pans, the oven you use and most of all your experience in the kitchen.  

The rest of the week, was spent ducking in and out of meetings and searching for some daylight when I could. Really starting to feel the dark come in during the day. I can be in one call and suddenly the monitors switch off as an energy saver, I’ll still be on a call and it’s at that point my face is plunged into darkness and I realise I need to switch a light on.

The weekend has been dry weather wise, and with a long time friend up for the weekend welcome as we ramble about town and visit the Ray Harryhausen exhibition. Really something in a time when CGI wasn’t even a twinkle in someone’s eye. Town is more than busy as Scotland take on South Africa at the rugby. Edinburgh feeling like it’s old self in the hustle and bustle. Although I’m keen the world moves on and I with it….I’m nervous.

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.


  1. trentpmcd

    Assuming the Athens’ owl and gorgon were part of the Ray Harryhausen exhibit?

    • akeerie

      Yeah that’s right, I kind of ran out of time and wanted to write more about the exhibit. I loved the owl as a child.

    • Steven

      Bubo! I saw the Harryhausen exhibit when it was at the film museum in London back in 2012. Such a delight!

      • akeerie

        Thanks Steven, it’s great that it’s here in Edinburgh and really enjoyed what they have put into the exhibition

  2. Susanne

    It’s a very interesting metaphor recipes vs journeys. I totally see where you’re coming from with baking… if you replace something you’ll end up somewhere else. I like recipes that are more flexible than that! I’m coeliac and need to do a lot of baking to get something nice (although I’ve been lazy lately but I’m fortunate that our supermarket has their own gluten free brand that is very good) and I used to fail a lot, and didn’t know what I did wrong. I looked for books on the internet to learn the actual science behind baking, so that I would get a better understanding of it. I found one by a Finnish author and her recipes are very flexible, you can replace or add a bit more flour and it will still be a nice bread. I like that because sometimes i want a lighter bread, other times i might want to add some seeds.

    Edinburgh is such a lovely city! I found the area around the castle very crowded and touristy and didn’t like it much, but there is a special atmosphere there and lots of lovely little shops and places.

    • akeerie

      Thanks Susanne, I’d not thought about a recipe from the point of view of someone who really needs to change the ingredients. Thanks for that perspective. The castle area can get crowded, it was definitely feeling that way as we crossed the royal mile yesterday to get home.

  3. Thistles and Kiwis

    Really love the travel metaphor used in cooking. I was shocked how ‘touristy’ Edinburgh has become on my last visit. I am old enough to remember when it was free to get into the castle and you could just wander in….

    • akeerie

      Wow!…costs a small fortune now.

  4. Gary A Wilson

    Hiya EC. I like your metaphor but my favorite is that of art with targeted audiences.

    When our kids were much younger, they were in scouts and I loved going camping with them.

    In this troop, the adults did their own meals while the scouts were expected to do their own thing with certain restrictions and guidelines. Whoever was in charge of the meals was the grub-master – a role I loved to fill and my best memory was one time when I again was experimenting on my peers. this time I made up a tapenade to use with our grilled sandwiches. These guys would not recognize the name and so would be fearful of what they were being fed – which for me was part of the fun.

    I recall soothing their fears by telling them it was “tapenade” which was mostly olives of different colors, garlic, olive oil and some spices. When I put the mix together, I decided this gang likes predictable food so I had to take some kind of risk to expand their experience and entertain their taste buds some. So before turning on the food processor, I threw in some pepperoncini slices and blended away.

    On the day of serving my new art form to them, I got all kinds of fearful pre-comments about tasting my work – but as the sandwiches came off the grill and I layered on the tapenade, they went silent and I started handing them out.

    Once tasted, I was promoted to the hero of the lunch sandwich kingdom and all was well until one good friend who was standing next to another, both munching down their sandwiches, asked the guy next to him, “This stuff of Gary’s is pretty good. What did he call it?”

    The guy paused his chewing, swallowed and answered more from muscle memory, than from what I’d just said a few minutes ago. “He called it “Tampax”.

    Everyone within hearing range, immediately exploded with hysterical laughter, snorts with some who were mid-swallow almost aborting and spitting up their bite. I happened to be facing the man who misspoke and could see that he immediately recognized his mistake, but it was too late. the word was already in the air and off into the wild. There was no recalling it and we laughed for hours that day. Of course, we’ve never let him forgot that whopper of a mistake.

    I don’t know if his error damaged the reputation of my tapenade but everyone told me that despite the hysterics that came with the taste test, they really liked it.

    – = – = – = – = – = –

    Okay, in closing, if you are a Sci-Fi fan at all, consider yourself invited to spend an hour with my new story, ‘Defending Canopy Station’,

    I spent my weekend finishing it and it’s a David v Goliath, space battle, speed of light based nerd fest.


    Have a great week

    • akeerie

      Laughed out loud with this Gary, not sure I’ll be able to look at tapenade in the same light now 😁!! I’ll head over to have a read of canopy station….my head is full of Dune at the moment.

  5. Kirstin

    I’ve always loved recipes. I have always struggled a bit with straying from the “instructions”…I usually follow instructions exactly the first time, then try and stray from them if I feel like it when I make it again. I’m always afraid of ruining something. Lol.

    • akeerie

      I know that feeling, especially if it’s very new and you only have one shot to get it right. I think that might be another angle on my metaphor. Thanks

    • akeerie

      Just had a wander around your site….wow what an amazing bunch of recipes you have. Is the secret recipe club still going?

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