A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Author: akeerie (Page 1 of 10)

Dates, Dates, Dates

Aonach Beag
Aonach Beag

Up early this morning, coffee and straight to a notepad.  My head buzzing, a consolidation of all the things that have been whirling around my head.  The project I’ve found myself in, it’s not moving forward due to too many people asking what we need to do, why aren’t we progressing, maybe we need another project manager to manage the discussion around what needs to be project managed.  I want to scream out…..the project manager doesn’t actually do the work you know.  Dates, Dates, Dates….raggghhh. Deep down, I’m making a difference there is movement and we are starting to gain traction.

Welcome, lets do coffee!   It’s Friday and Natalie does a fantastic job of hosting the weekend coffee share.  I dropped off the rails for a while now.  I’d made a good fist of it from the start of the year and then bam….return to office, the new project, the bathroom and the kids exams kind of hit us big time.  The space in my head albeit filled to bursting.  Then to  escape, rather than write  a dose of sunshine comes along, a change in the season so time to get out in the garden and out into the mountains.

Last Saturday I made a solo trip to Dalwhinnie and covered four Munro’s (roughly 18k) plus a 16km cycle in and a 16km back.  There was an option of taking in two more which some people do. Some people walk the 16k, camp do the 4, sleep, do the 2 and then walk out. For me staring up at that 5th mountain with a cycle back still to do, and not to mention the 2 hour drive home….it was enough.

The Aonach Beag Four, Cairn Dearg, Geal Chàrn, Aonach Beag, Beinn Èibhinn. In old money a round trip of 32 miles.  Which doesn’t feel too bad written down…but Saturday eve and Sunday I was sore.  

…..it’s Saturday afternoon now, and a feeling of calm starting to come over me for a couple of days. Rather than heading out into the hills, we are spending the time at home. A few jobs to catch up the house in restoring a state of calm about the place. The downstairs loo completed on Tuesday, a disruption of a good six-seven weeks. It’s nearly over (the radiator still to go in).

Farmers Market, Beach

A cycle about town doing the messages, the butchers the farmers market and a coffee down by the beach.

Menu looking a little something like this:

Saturday: Sweet Potato Gratin, a little Salmon, and Samphire as a main for dinner

Sunday: A quiche of squash, and ham for lunch. Then Beetroot and mince patties for dinner.

Thanks for popping by and reading the rambles of a cook and a wannabe munroist, hoping to the tame the resistance of writing!


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.

220521 – 15 (20)

Stormzy In Glasgow

Stormzy

This week we’ve had music pounding in our heads and our hearts.  We finally got to a concert that I think I’d booked tickets for back in December 2019 at the launch of his album Heavy is the Head.  It’s not music for the faint hearted and not the kind of thing I normally go for.  However with two teenage boys in tow who like to challenge my music tastes!  At the time of booking he was hot off the heals of his Glastonbury show and Brit awards, it made for a great Christmas present.

The concert got moved twice, and eventually he made it to Scotland!   The boys two years older.  One at uni and the youngest now older than the eldest when I bought the tickets.  Feels a little crazy saying that!  It was a great night and nice to see them bonding, fist pumping and generally soaking up something that had been a long time coming.

One of my highlights had to be the whole audience singing together. Bob Marley’s, don’t worry about a thing in the pre show warm up. Made me think of my dad who was a big Bob fan and can picture him looking down on us.

Has to be said the concert made me feel old given the demographic in the audience!  And on that note It’s now 40 weeks until the big birthday that feels like a real marker in the sand life wise.  I’m thinking of breaking the 10 weeks into 4 pseudo sprints.  Using a little bit of Agile methodology.  A way to focus on some pre big 5 ’O’ goals.  One of them being to remove the winter/Covid pouch that’s appeared of late. 

Trying to eat more of a Mediterranean diet, no pasta, no rice if I can help it. With uni boy back for the Easter break though, these things make good plate fillers and every time I look in the fridge it’s like the locusts have been! So it’s a battle around cooking for a family vs cooking for me. Add to that, I like cooking!


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.

220408 – 13 (14) of 52

Gorse

Getting to that time of year where I’m conflicted time wise.  The outdoors are calling, the garden starts needing attention.  My free time starts being diverted to different things.  Those that were important in the dark months no longer feels relevant.  

I’ve also been asked to look at something new at work, parts of the tech world that have been moving on whether I was paying attention or not.  Data and the move to the cloud.  Now I find myself hitting the books again.  Listening to new podcasts, new ideas and new technologies that I’m finding invigorating.  The more I dip my toe in the more I want to learn.  As a consequence I know my writing is going to take a hit…..it really doesn’t take much.  I might be more sporadic!

I missed last week’s share, my excuse a long overdue visit to my mum who lives a good few hours away.  Time to stop the fear of COVID getting in the way for us.   So I carved the time out and made the journey.  Cut the grass, did a couple of things and mainly I was there.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the dust and the toilet refurb.  It’s progressed, but at a snail’s pace.  The plaster is finished and the floor is up.  It’s a crying shame the floor tiles from 1890 are in desperate state, concrete and glue, several years of occupancy taking its toll.  I’m grateful our hall that leads onto the room is still in good shape, albeit cold in the winter.  It would have been nice to have a flow, continuity.  We will, cover and screed placing our own mark.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for better progress this week.  A small room with tradesmen making an impact on my schedule that is compounding  my conflicts time wise.

With the brighter days, I’ve been out on the bike, a circuit around Arthurs seat that really gets the heart going.  The hill becomes a beacon of yellow, a welcome sight as the town really steps out of the doldrums and embraces the change to British summer time.

I also upgraded my phone this week and have been checking the camera out. Snow Thursday, which didn’t stick around too long, the garden is awakening and the apple trees are waking up and the Gorse I’ve mentioned!


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.

2204030 – 12 (13) of 52

Dust & Pesto

Everywhere we look there is a thin layer of dust, barely visible in the air but I can feel it.  I lift the coffee pot off the ceramic hob, its been sat there patiently since breakfast to be included in the evenings washing up.  There is a ring, a nice clean circle surrounded by dust.  It confirms what we are feeling and seeing.  My wife has that habit of running a finger along something to call out how dusty things are.  I just nod, it’s annoying me just as much.  I’m in that place of acceptance that this is what comes with having a bathroom re-fitted and trades in the house.

We mop and sweep at the end of each night just in an effort to create a sense of normality.  To be able to walk through the hall without kicking up more dust and transporting it to the rest of the house.  However, I know it’s made it up the stairs, into the study, where I’ve been hiding whilst the drilling, bashing, crashing has been going on.  The tell tale signs are there when the monitors go dark, the dust staring at me, taunting me.  I swear this is the last big thing we are going to do in this big old house!

Wild garlic and fresh oregano appeared in the veg box this week.  I feel a pesto and some sort of tomato sauce coming on in my head.

The pesto was easy to make, and now I’m left thinking what to serve it with.  A Brie and Bacon style toastie or perhaps a nice slice of Cod with a drizzle of the pesto.  I feel I now need to do some shopping!

Another Celeriac, big and gnarly is also there.  A small red cabbage, sweet potatoes and a cauliflower….the mind teasers for the weekend of what to do ever present, forcing me to think out the box.  It’s a nice problem to have.

Made a trip to the Osteo this week, which gave me the final push to track down the MRI scan on my hip from last year.  No back cracking until I produce the paperwork.  Still it was another step into trying to stop the decay on this aching desk constrained IT manager.

The weekend looks bright and sunny, but still a nip in the air….the mountains are calling but we aren’t quite there yet, it’s coming and I’ve already got my sights on the first Munro’s of the season.  Ben Wyvis and Gael Charn for when the time comes.

Time is short this week, I’m determined to make the rounds though to check in with the other shares and apologies for missing you last week.


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.

220318 – 11 of 52

Wild Garlic Leaf Pesto

Pesto

An experiment on my part, the veggie box came with a bag of leaves and I think they were wild garlic. Probably could have picked a smaller jar or froze into ice cubes.

Really quick and simple to make:

Ingredients:

  • 30g Walnuts, briefly toasted in a frying pan
  • 80g Wild garlic leaves, washed, any strays removed
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 50ml – 80ml olive oil, plus extra to cover
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

I started this off by trying to do this by hand using the pestle and mortar to find I’d overestimated the size of the mortar required.  Room to move is the key so I ended up with mini chopper.

In a mini blender, pulse the ingredients until you get the consistency you require.

Use as a filling on a brie and bacon toastie, or as a pasta sauce.

Yo Yo

The broadband has been up and down like a yo-yo today, lots of frustration and context switching working from home trying to rapidly respond to instant messages and email in the small window that seems to appear where normality resumes.  It felt like there was a pattern, and I was able to navigate my productivity in four minute chunks before swearing profusely at the ceiling.  Waiting for the next cycle to appear, the Cytrix countdown clock becoming my friend for the day.

It’s been a strange week weather wise, extremely cold from a wind chill point of view but full of light and sunshine like a corner has turned.  The sunrise, is welcome in the mornings casting strange light across the house. I’m desperately trying to become active again.  Cycling and Walking into work for the odd day and as a consequence my hip and back remind me of all the time I’ve spent sat down.  I just can’t jump to it like I used to.  I’m trying to form a daily habit of 15 mins of yoga which I genuinely think helps.

Despite the cold, I’ve had the BBQ on with a view to quickly cooking Aubergine, Courgette and Peppers rapidly for the week ahead.  An attempt at getting a more Mediterranean diet on the go.   Soft and velvety aubergine mixed through a bag of salad is the way to go and very comforting.

I’m late again to the share, consequence of the yo yo on Friday and trying to pack so much in.  I’d tell you about the Batman, but if like me you don’t want to  hear or see a thing until you’ve seen it then I’ll stay stum and just tell you I had an enjoyable day across in Glasgow with both my sons.  We went to the cinema and saw a very long, dark, film, which we all enjoyed.  Followed by a coffee and a chat in Starbucks.

The Batman Trailer

Today has seen us clear the hall down so the bathroom fitters can get through without catching something.  Amazing how books on a bookshelf can catch dust, so they have also had a light touch with the hoover.   The boy has gone up to the dry ski slope with some pals meantime.  It will be a relief to know he’s done ok as I think he’s got a shock coming about the difference from real snow.   Meanwhile we are in the garden, trying to remove the signs of winter, sweeping and weeding.


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.

220313 – 10 of 52

Achievability

Coffee and a Scone

Sunday already and I’m wondering how the weekend is flying by so quickly.  So we are going to take the post in reverse order whilst we have our coffee.

Nice little piece in the paper this morning about Delia (the queen of cookery books here in the UK).  She is obviously promoting a book and it’s not a cookery one, going all philosophical on why we matter and I can’t wait to read it.  I mention this not about the book, more because of one of the journalists shares on the interview and what Delia said to her.

Cooking isn’t about perfection, she tells me; it’s about achievability. “I once went to a Women’s Institute thing, and I remember thinking: I’m not at all sure my jam would pass muster here.”.  Delia/Rachel Cooke – the guardian

Essentially the ethos of why I love cooking, it helps me achieve and create.  I’ve been watching the great cookery book challenge in association with Jamie Oliver and Penguin.  I’ve found it fascinating and depressing in equal measure.  As folks recipe books get rejected or accepted in a highlander style there can be only one.  It’s a tried and tested TV formula and I’ve fallen for this series.  It’s not as brutal as some.  These cooks/chefs are good, their ideas great and it can make one wonder what is the point about my side project.

That said my side project is for me not and not TV, it’s maybe something I’ll pass on at some point.  I’ve set myself a challenge of ten transcriptions from the black box with two in the bag this week. At some point I will get around to cooking them!

For the rest of the day, got an experimental soup to have a go with.  The bag of kale that came in the veg box is calling and I thought I’d have a go with the pressure cooker.  I forgot to soak any beans last night and there are enough odds and ends in the fridge to cobble something together.

The hoover has started making strange noise, some kind of blockage.  Will disassemble and try and rescue it.  The toaster has a fault, so will try take a look at that and generally keep myself out of mischief!

Saturday (I know confusing, I wanted to lead with Delia!) morning and I was greeted with the words that will strike fear into a mans heart.  ’We need to take a trip to the bathroom showroom!’ The time has come where the arrival of the plumber/bathroom fitter that we booked six months ago is looming on the horizon.  I’ve been in denial, it’s functioned well since we moved in a good five years ago.  Deep down I agree it needs to change and long over due on the projects.  A cycle and a coffee out as part of the process, making our way back along the canal armed with a phone full of photo’s of toilets and sinks for a post match reflection.

In amongst the usual I’m now watching Reacher on Prime.  It’s very good and for those in the know, nothing like watching a side shoot of a Mission Impossible film.  I’ve also spotted Picard is back, every Friday.  I’m not sure I can take another weekly series as we sit patiently for ‘This is Us’ to appear every Thursday.  However it seems hit and miss on whether it’s going to appear.  So Picard needs to build up for now, before temptation takes over!


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.

220306 – 9 of 52

Machine

Post the week in the mountains, I hit Sunday with a bit of a bang. I was hoping to spring board into a new refreshed me mentally and physically. I came down with some kind of stinking cold. The first one in a couple of years so it hit me with a vengeance. Three lateral flow tests throughout the space of the week, all negative…so I can only assume it was some kind of French cold, obviously more painful than a British one and more brutal than man flu!

So I nursed myself at home, and plugged back into the machine.  The email mountain, the projects that have Easter deadlines only a stones throw away causing a jostle for resource, thinking and brain capacity that was controlling the convulsive sneezing.

The week went by in a bit of a fog, and then some excitement of normality returning.  The bus was busy, town was busy and aside from masks and empty desks in the office.  It all felt ok.

Made it to Friday and it had lifted. Time to head into the office for the first time this year. The belly of the machine, under the guise of my new, old company (its complicated). Three office moves in two + years even when we haven’t been going to the office. More a consolidation due to a company merger. Before it all happened I’m now back in the office where it all started for me some 20+ years ago. So an orientation day for me, the circle beginning again. An odd sense of a time warp. New cabinets, new layout, new carpets, modern working……same floors and same toilets! My muscle memory kicked in using the stairs and I had to remind myself I’m on floor 3 not 4 where I used to sit. Definitely not institutionalised!

So the weekend; after all it is the weekend coffee share. We’ve already bagged the Power of the Dog….which I’m in two minds about. Felt a half hour too long, beautifully filmed and a story to reflect on. Oscar worthy I’m sure in some way.

Power of the Dog Trailer

Son number one made it home from Uni, so I came home to a blueberry and coconut dream cake. Definitely up there in my top 5 list of cakes and amazingly we have some left for dinner this evening. We’ve had pancakes for breakfast mainly to cover the fact he wont be here for Shrove Tuesday. It’s been nice to have the extra smiley face at the table, a tweak to the conversation with a different set of topics.

We’ve been into town and back covering the Library, Post Office and the farmers market. The French are in situ for the Rugby six nations this afternoon. Nice to see the red white and blue colours, the berets and the town feeling touristy once more. I might turn the game on the background given the razzmatazz feel to it. I know colleagues from work are going. It’s bitterly cold still so I hope it’s a good game. I’ve just checked kick off time, it’s on now….3-12 to France. oh dear.

It was good to see the Market up and running also under the watchful eye of the castle, a few bits gathered and I splashed out on some organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Some great chat from the guy selling on where he sources the products from Greece and Italy respectively. Took our lunch today to another level.

The evening meal;  the veggie box came with so much ginger and a red chilli that it’s got to be a curry for tea tonight which the boys will be happy about.  There was a small squash and the guardian gave the recipe for a pumpkin and sweet potato tray bake with Gorgonzola.  Link to share won’t be up till during the week.

On the other coffee shares, it’s been great to see what’s on the bookshelf links. I’ve just finished Ready Player II , Ernest Cline. I enjoyed the second filling of an 80s nostalgia romp wrapped up in a futuristic virtual world. More of the same, not quite as good as the first. I’ve sent to it to my pal from university, he’s really into his sci fi so I’m looking forward to comparing notes.

I’ve moved onto step by step by Simon Reeve, an autobiography of a travel presenter.  Eighty pages in and feels written well, fast moving.

Despite the rugby looking appealing, now 10-12 to France…..I’ve now got to go help my son with a little Python programming. Time to get the grey matter going. Thanks for coffee and see you next week.


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.

220226 – 8 of 52

Ski 22

It’s been a week since I’ve sat in the chair, taping away on the iPad keyboard and a coffee the way I like it.  Fresh from the stove top rather than a conference style flask that we’ve been having at breakfast. 

I’ve been away for a week, blowing away the cobwebs skiing in the French Alps.  I’d have told you in the run up to the trip but I really didn’t want to tempt fate.  Petrified of catching Covid and not being allowed to go.   The run up to a fit to fly test was nerve racking, even more so when we were waiting for the result. 

One of those things that I shouldn’t have worried about.  We were squeaky clean and fit to fly.  An early 3am Saturday start to make one of the first flights out of the airport.  We got into resort around 4pm, where we needed to pinch ourselves.  Couldn’t quite believe we’d manage to travel, to escape into the mountains of a different country.  Tignes and Val d’Isere, our home for the next seven nights with six days of skiing ahead of us.

Sunday morning we rose to blue skies, we couldn’t believe our luck.  My youngest son, kicking off where he’d left off a good three years ago.  Think of Sonic the Hedgehog on skis at every turn he collected gold coins.  My wife and I a little more cautious, however we were caught up in the beauty and the thrill of gliding down the mountains.  We forgot our fears, and grown up worries and our crazy computer led lives and soaked up the awe.

Tuesday morning, the alarm set for a 7am start in order to hit breakfast at 7.30am hoping for more of the same.  It’s a different story, my body aches, muscles that haven’t been used in a long time, shaken and full on fresh air they are wondering what’s happened.   I pull back the curtain in the room.  It looks brutal outside, a metaphor for my muscles.  I can just see the lifts in the distance.  No movement as yet.  My son, ba-bing…up and ready!  The dull clouds aren’t going to rain on his parade there is a day of skiing to be had with no homework in sight.

Wednesday….there is more snow, it’s hard to see.  The disorientation is too much for me.  My muscles are not in a fit state of defensive skiing and I ask myself why I’m doing this.  I agree with the boss we’ll do a couple more runs but I need to call time.  Today it isn’t for me.  The boy needs this though,  this is a salve,  his happy place a way from the pressure to learn and to do well.  Here he is king of the mountain.  Fuelled on Chocolat chaud and another protein bar he’s keen to convince his  mum they’ve got this and stay out together.  I say goodbye at the chair lift and take my rest. I get back to the hotel.  I’m not the only one taking a breather.  Later my wife joins me and we walk to the next village along,  amazingly the walking helps the body.   We walk over a frozen lake, we see huskies and dream of buying new skis and boots.  Our last purchase was before the boys were born a good twenty years ago so they have had their money’s worth.

Thursday…. the forecast indicates some blue skies in the afternoon.  So it was a case of a leisurely breakfast (which was a real shame!). The boy went off to put some time in on the slopes, myself some reading that I’d promised myself.    As the morning went on the clouds started to lift and low and behold we could see again.  An afternoon of skiing ensued and through our enthusiasm we missed one of the last lifts back to resort and ended up on the local ski bus back to the resort.

Friday and our last day.  The mountain range decided to put on its charm.  The warmest day of the week was about to happen.  We were practically on the first lift up at 8:50am….straight up onto the empty slopes that yesterday had been busy.  These slopes were hard, and worn, pisted into grooves that are brutal on the body.  Amazingly empty due to the time of day.  We broke ourselves in and enjoyed the peace before taking a Funicular even higher and close to the glacier.  Here the snow was soft and reminded us why we were here.  We ended up doing the run about eleven or so times.  Plus we found the best restaurant of the holiday right at the top of the Grand Motte.

Eventually all good things to come to an end though.  We needed to get back down the mountain and across the range.  We were glad we’d stayed so high, the lower slopes were showing temperatures of 12°c/53°f, the snow forming sticky clumps that really wasn’t nice to ski on.  My wife calls it bone breaking snow.  Taking a few moments as we drifted back to town….in all an amazing week and a break from the norm.

Sunday, and back to it.  My brain though is thinking differently at least for  a while, before I log into work and check for any damage whilst I’ve been away.  I already know though as I’ve been peeping as the days went along the temptation to great to know if there are any gotchas waiting for me!


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.

220220 – 7 of 52

Edit

Blackbox

Black Recipe Box

For the weekend coffee share this week I thought I would share a picture of our magic black box and my long standing project.

Ten plus years since her passing and she is affectionately known as Grannie. Not the box, the lady who gifted this to us.  Often spoken about as we go about our lives.  We wonder what she would think of us now, and how she would have enriched our lives if she were still here.    My wife’s mother and the first of our parents to go.   Sorely missed for many spoken reasons and many unspoken.  A bond between mother and daughter that had it’s moments.  Mostly though something that was rich and full of love.  A piece of music or a mother daughter scene in a film will take my wife right back to the sorrow and longing of hoping for another conversation or a moment together. 

I’m not sure she saw herself as a cook, but in my eyes definitely so.  Coming from a humble background with a missionary for a father who took his family and his teachings to China.  Circumstance and timing led to the family being interned as prisoners of war.  My thinking is that from these beginnings my mother in-law grew to appreciate simple food and simple cooking as a way of life. 

She left us a black box, full of recipes, index cards that had grown over time.  Not sure many go back past the 80’s, and some might not even have been used at all.  Just a recipe passed on from a friend at the church, these are the ones in the hand writing my wife doesn’t recognise.  The scrawl of Grannie very distinct on hers and at times very un-readable!  Some of the cards have my wife’s writing on, a period of her life when calligraphy was the rage.  These are the ones that bring her memories back as a child and has also made with our boys.

My hope when we first received the box was that it would hold the secrets to an alchemy that had been passed on from generation to generation.  That the hidden texts would be revealed to the person who believed in the sacred box, only the worthy would truly become a great cook.

Having now scanned the great works using my printer I plan to work through them.   Deciphering the sacred text without a Rosetta stone, typing them up, tweaking as I go, modernising the measurements and the ingredients.  An interpretation for the way we cook and food shop as a family now.

…..it’s a work in progress, with more to follow


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.

220211 – 6 of 52

« Older posts

© 2022 Scribble & Scran

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑