A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Category: Scribbles (Page 1 of 5)

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.

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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

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

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

Honey and Gardening

It’s one of those moments, my mind goes blank,  where I sit down to write and pause for a moment and wonder what I’m going to say about this week.  What can I tell you about a week where I swear only 5 seconds ago it was last Sunday!  I’m determined to stick at a Weekend Coffee share as a constant in my writing routine.

The temperature has been erratic, one minute we have blasts of warmth the sun cutting through the grey clouds, lifting the mind and the soul.   The next a blast of hail and snow that cuts through to the bone.  It’s porridge on the menu this morning and I’m grateful for a teaspoon of honey that I drizzle over the top of the blueberries. Creating a lovely sweet and comforting start to the day as the rain bashes against the glass.

We made it to the Garden center last weekend which seems to have a knack of making you come out with more than what you went in for.  Was amazed to see some plug plants in full flow, so I needed some of them.  There was some primroses on the go, so I needed some of them.  I actually went in for some seeds. To my surprise they were half price so obviously I bought more of those than I intended.  Despite having a vast array of pots in the shed I thought I would also top up and make use of the 20% off all gardening equipment…..so yes I NEEDED some of them as well.  My wife also had some success with a wonderful range of plants call Hellebores which are known for giving at this time of year when nothing much does.

So yesterday I moved the plug plants on and then in the wind and the rain, we got the Hellebores into the ground, shuffling a couple of things around here and there along with a bit of a tidy up.  Needless to say I’ve found a couple of new muscles that a radox bath soak might help with.   Really though its another sign that sitting at my desk all day isn’t doing me any good and I really need to double down on that yoga practice.

Work has been really crazy we are heading into that weekend release that we’ve been planning since before Christmas.   It was a million miles away back then.  People are suddenly waking up with last minute issues and requests for changes, things that were urgent are suddenly not so urgent as they don’t have time to test. My development team are feeling the pain as code is being removed from the release build.  One thing is for sure with a strong head and air of keeping ones cool.  The weekend will come and go and what will be, will be. 

My tune of the week is Keep it Up by Rex Orange County.  Which feels a little apt given the demands.  It’s a nice little upbeat ditty and featured this week on the Jo Whiley Radio 2 show

Food,  I’ve been consolidating notes across my various digital attempts of documenting Grannies black box.  They are all in one place.  I get to the point they are 90% ready to put up on the blog, and then bottle it for some reason.  I’m struggling to take photo’s as I plate them up for the meal itself.

The menu this weekend, is pan fried salmon severed on a bed of green vegetables (Cavolo Nero, Fennel, Purple sprouting broccoli and some baby sprouts).  I plan to make up for the lack of carbs by following with a bowl of warm rice pudding in front of the book of boba with my son.

From Grannies box I’m going to tackle the Pork and Mushroom Sauté.  It calls for pork fillet, a lovely piece of meat that I hope I do justice and don’t dry out.

As my random recipe, I’ve picked up a new flap jack that I want to try out which uses agave nectar.  Similar in consistency to honey with a lower glycemic index than conventional sugar.

It’s possible I might make it into the office this week.  There is a big push to get folk back in and I’m contemplating facing the fear of the change into another routine.


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.

220206 – 5 of 52

Dancing on the wind

The leaves are dancing on the wind this morning as I pull up the zip on my coat.  One minute the road is empty the wind orchestrating a kind of dance, like starlings in synchronisation.  The next the wind cuts off the oxygen and the road is strewn with leaves.  Blink and they are on their way again.

I’ve been dropped off as part of the taxi service for the boys soccer game this morning.  The streets are empty like everyone in the town has taken the extra time to prepare themselves for stepping out the door and strength they will need to walk in a straight line.  I’ll be amazed if the boy manages to kick the ball in this wind.

I’m so early there is no queue at the fish van and I don’t feel pressured to stop and choose for a change.  I notice the van’s slight wobble in the wind and make a general comment about the day.

The supermarket is as quiet as I’d hoped but still there is no wait at the butchers counter nor the till for when I make my escape.  I’m armed with a few extra veggies, some free range chicken thighs and oranges.  I’m going to tackle that recipe of Grannies that’s been on my to do list for a while.

The walk home is in the general direction of the wind, and I’m sure a personal best of forty minutes is down to the fact I myself was carried like the leaves.

Coffee is served with homemade scones, gently warmed in the oven so you’d have no idea they were made the day before.  A touch of raspberry jam and some spread, a luxury I take today.  My normal preference to just take them as they come.

The boy returns home early, the other team didn’t show.  The wind too much and it seems so was the communication.  However he’s happy the team got to play against each other and days exercise has been had despite the weather.

I’m well and truly caught up in the world created by James Islington and cruising through a mighty 693 page monster of a book, The Shadow of What Was Lost.  As destiny calls, a journey begins an epic fantasy page turner.   The next instalment waiting for me in the book shop already

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22878967-the-shadow-of-what-was-lost

It’s Sunday morning as I finish up this post and enjoying a new find on Spotify.  Some gentle atmospheric piano that is soothing to the soul. 

The Wind has died and it’s a bright day.  There is another soccer match on this afternoon, close by to the garden centre so the plan is to take a look, bring the idea of growth and renewal into the home. 


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.

220123 – 4 of 52

Best Seat in Town

It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year. It’s a new year of sorts, the sky the moon and a marker in the sand for another year of my life.

6:30am… Today I jump out of bed as I’m keen to make the sunrise from the top of Arthurs seat.  No sign of rain, so it’s on.  I briefly scan the local barbers for appointments as a reward, a random act of kindness to myself as another year turns over.  I’ve a rough timeline in my head and want to make use of a day off work.  A hot towel shave and a fresh haircut.  Let’s start this 49th year as I mean to go on.

Leaving the house around 7.40.  It took me longer than I thought to get ready, but make it to the top in ample time.  I download some upbeat music, something new.  Nothing to generate memories, or reflect on as today I’m moving forward and taking charge.  I make it to the top in time for the official rise time.  A few folk doing the same, the odd runner.  It’s cold to take my gloves off for the camara and the odd picture.  There’s a bit too much cloud though, Tuesday would have been better the sky was on fire.

9am…down the other side, a Bacon roll and Haggis, it was chopped all wrong and fell apart, collapsed in my hands.  No matter a fork and some good coffee I’m ready to take the barbers on

Hot towel shave, a new me and the face of baby!  Then  some lunch in one of the best seats in town.  The bookshop café overlooking the castle.  I’ve gone nowhere near the cookbook section and I know how good it is.    I’m staying clear.

I’m not sure what I’m in for apart from the warmth of the sun and the proximity of all those words, knowledge facts and stories.  The possibilities are endless, so I make a few mental notes. I’d be in big trouble if I bought something on my wish list and found later to be in amongst the gifts.

My wife did get me some great presents including a new apron, a guide to herbs and a beautiful chopping board.  I’m now dreaming of warmer days where I can get a few seeds going.

Going to cut this post short, so I can pop round the other shares.  Hope everyone has a great 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.

220123 – 3 of 52

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