A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Category: Scribbles (Page 2 of 4)

Lagom, One Pot, a week in the Peak District

It’s been a week of tumbling leaves caught on the wind, dancing on the change in season. The air not quite in Winters grasp as the feeling of Autumn try’s to hold tight to it’s the colours in the trees. There are moments of bitter cold that cut through to the bone. Another layer of clothing is required to make the best of the day.

A week away from the four walls has been a welcome a break from living at work. The change of routine has been great for the mind and despite the cold and the wet we’ve explored the area with our bikes. The old railway tracks now used for recreation and wonder. Cutting through the hills and a great way to get the heart going. There are tunnels that take you from one valley to the next and a reminder of the industrial age in which they were built. Still coloured by coal and although it’s been a long time since a train passed through I swear I could hear the clatter of the pistons and the noise of the steam engine chuffing along, the ghosts of yesterday playing with my mind.

There are walkers too, making the most of the footpaths. The odd one sat by the side, annoyed as another cyclist flies by and doesn’t ring their bell. Some stare like a bike is a new invention, I want to shout out the train will be a long in a minute just to try and add a little humour to the day. I keep it to myself. This trail is amazing and I’m out the office exploring the land and that’s enough. Pheasants roam the fields and I’m reminded that the game season will be upon us soon.

The kitchen at the place we are staying is small and a little disappointing for the cook in my soul. Only one saucepan, a wok and an oven to table roasting dish that isn’t hob friendly. I know I’m spoiled and it’s given me a bit of a challenge as I fry and decant to the roaster. The thing I missed the most was a set of oven gloves. That oven to table pot gets mighty hot! The kitchen a minor niggle, otherwise the place has been great. Minutes away from Bakewell, an old marketing town a short distance away from Sheffield and famous for it’s Bakewell pudding although I prefer the tart.

Chatsworth house is a stone throw away.   We tried to cycle to it via safe traffic free roads but we were foiled by the rather impressive gates!  The estate farm shop is a beauty and a real treat for the foodie.  A butchers, a fish counter, a cheese counter and all things in between.  I couldn’t resist the various sausages they had on the go,  Venison from the estate along with an Old Spot (heritage pork breed) sausage.

When we go away and space isn’t a problem I like to bring a big plastic box with us.  Easily holds a couple of cooking books, a few pens, a couple of notebooks (my current bullet journal and my writing journal), the iPad along with cables and a set of headphones.  If I’m lucky and sometimes by design I manage to carve some time out and land myself in another world.  I read the introduction of the new book and allow the premise to flow into my thinking.  I’m a bit of an intro junkie.  There are some cookbooks, that just leave it there, the usual sections ensue.  Typically follow a set standard, glossy photo and then a recipe. Page turners for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  These definitely have a place in my heart and they are great when I don’t need to think and all I can do is skim read. 

Then there are those books written and carved by time and toil by a cook who cares enough to share their world, to take someone on a journey themselves to impart wisdom and wizardry.   I love these books and I want to give them time and attention.  Skim reading is so easy but wrong! So I try and find time and carve out a moment where I can give the book my whole attention.

A bit like when a new album is released or a new film. Time is specifically given to listen for the first time, to watch for the first time and in my case read for the first time. Bringing the books on holiday is my way of trying to take my mind on a journey a quest for knowledge whilst I dive into something that will transport me to another kitchen, give me a new way of thinking and the chance to embrace new ideas.

This week I’ve brought One Pot, Pan and Planet (a greener way to cook for you. Your family and the planet) by Anna Jones and Lagom (The Swedish art of eating harmoniously) by Steffi Knowles-Dellner which was recommended by another weekend coffeeshare, Thistles and Kiwis

Needless to say the week has flown by and I want to give a special thank you to Natalie this week. With moving my host provider for the blog have I’d had trouble with comments section, along with the followers. I thought I’d nailed it with a Jetpack re-install to find they were still not working. The re-install tweaked the settings I’d been playing with! Natalie has been really patient and helpful with regarding testing my comments. I don’t know if they are fixed yet and without being back at base I haven’t had the chance to get stuck in with my desktop. I may need to go nuclear and do a complete re-install. Hopefully though, I’ve fixed it. If you did attempt to leave a comment and I didn’t get back to you, please accept my apologies and thank you for stopping by!


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.

Rajma with a friend

If we were having coffee I would tell you about the highlight of my week.  Which was cooking over zoom with a friend.  We’d agreed a new approach of cooking together online, having found out that our local adult education programme wasn’t running its courses in its traditional style of ten weeks on premise in the school.  Instead lessons were being run online, a mix of 5 weeks watching a demo and 5 weeks of online conversation.  It just didn’t appeal.  So we hatched a plan to catch up ourselves, picking a recipe each to concentrate on with the premise of it being tomorrow night’s tea.  We’ve managed twice so far in the space of six weeks.  Home and work interruptions making it impossible to do  more.

This week we took on Rajma, a really simple recipe of spiced onions and Kidney beans.  A recipe I’d been meaning to try since I got the Dishoom cookery book in 2020!  Perfect for the Vegan family at the other end of the screen and a great way for me to exercise the flexitarian in me.   I also couldn’t help myself and added an aubergine and a pepper.   Slow cooked in the oven after the call ended and left overnight.  A warm and velvety affair perfect for the dark nights that have crept in.   A delight to be able to have tea ready in the time it takes to cook rice. 

Really noticing the dark mornings.  So much so I’ve mixed up my schedule to start my writing first in the dark, before taking in some daylight.  It’s a real struggle to get out of bed now,  but the watch buzzing at more than an arms length away and sometimes in the next room really pulls me out of bed like an invisible chord.  The snooze button on the bedside clock is redundant.

The other exciting news is that exercise bike has arrived, which I started to assemble last night.  It shouldn’t have been so tricky to assemble and no mention of the tools I would need when I bought the bike.  My wife popping in at those perfect moments where a bead of sweat is about to appear.  Helpful comments like, don’t do it now if it’s going to take this long.   Just as I’m threading a hexadecimal locking nut whilst balancing on my head holding a torque wrench.  Amazingly I managed to walk away half way (at a good point), not my style as I’m a compulsive completer when it comes to things that need building.   Just need to install the little computer and it should be good to go.  

I’ll finish up with a few pictures from my walk this morning,  the low sun a tonic for the day ahead, the trees shedding their leaves and bedding in for the winter.   The rhododendrons hanging on in there, the cycle of autumn kicks in.


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.

Curry and a Movie

No Time to Die – Bike from the Film in the Foyer

Aside from the first four hours of the night my sleep was broken, more from excitement….today we finally get to see the new James Bond film. It’s been a long long wait! It’s a full family affair, the first son coming home for the weekend, with seats booked at a local independent cinema, it’s going to be a real treat.

The Saturday Guardian is covering fish and I’ve made a note to follow up on Rachel Roddy’s Cod with tomatoes and capers.  I’ve recently been struggling to write up some thinking on fish after my son asked how he could get more into his eating.  Will try and scale this recipe down for him.

On the menu this weekend is a couple of curries, and a dahl.  Youngest son has a couple of friends over to stay and stipulation from the boss was that tea needed to be easy post the film.  A reheat so to speak.  So I made the lamb rogan josh last night.  A slow cook affair with aubergines.  The chicken korma I made this morning along with the dahl.  Followed by an apple and summer berry crumble.

Time for blogging this weekend has been short, that and the fact I switched web host providers this week.   A renewal was going to be a bit like daylight robbery which would give leading insurances providers a run for their money.   Any glitches please let me know,  I’ve had a few gotchas as the new provider installed various annoying freebies rather than a vanilla WordPress install.  The archive and historic categories appearing and disappearing with no rhyme or reason. Images have disappeared on some, so there was some sort of glitch on the migration. A little autumn clean-up is ongoing!

It’s Sunday as I finish this post, the film has been watched and I promise no spoilers in case there are any JB fans out there. The eldest is being given the curry left overs to take back to university, a couple of re-heat meals to keep the wolf from the door with a portion for us and the prospect of using the remains of the veg box up.


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.

October 21

Muesli

Scribbles for the weekend #8

Wow, here we are in October.  Sunrise at 07:16 and Sunset at 18:48!

The blueberries are local,  from Fife just across the water.  They are rugged not conforming to the military pea size shape that I’m used to, with a taste to the bite that bursts in the mouth. This always seems to wane with air miles and I wish they could be like this all year round.   I’m also finishing off the Greek yoghurt which feels decadent for breakfast and I remind myself it’s been a tough week with back to back teams calls, be kind to yourself!

This week’s morning routines have been effected by rain, the most we’ve had in a long time marked by the fact I had to do a school run, which happens once in a blue moon, or in this case Monday morning where the skies just opened up.    Everything feels fresher for it, but with a cold that starts to bite if you’re not moving.  The Tuesday morning run is certainly a lot colder and a mental note needs to  be taken, I really need to get the gloves out for the next time.

This is the month of pumpkins and apples, with the leaves turning, gathering in piles as the wind swirls them into position.   The veg boxes are typically a little heavier loaded with a squash, a Savoy cabbage and a Cauliflower in this weeks one. 

I’m hoping to cover a couple of recipes this weekend, but still haven’t got myself organised as to what they might be.  Although I’m definitely inspired by this parsnip and ginger loaf that popped up in my Instagram feed.  I’ve currently got my head in the same book that the recipe comes from which is a bonus.

On the writing front, this six months of ‘Writing in Community’ has come to an end and I’ve decided to enrol straight into the next starting on the 11th which means I’m feeling a little in limbo, at the same time as excited.  Every day now I try to write a few words and as a consequence I’m on my longest streak with the weekend coffee share!  It’s all about the practice.


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.

The Watched Apple

Chopped Apple

Scribbles for the weekend #7

I’ve been pleasure delaying for weeks, could almost say months.  In direct view of the kitchen, down at the bottom of the garden is one of our apple trees.   It’s only produced about six apples this year so I’ve had my eye on one particular one and then to my horror yesterday morning just before breakfast I saw it there lying on the grass.  I didn’t have time to go get it there and then and made a mental note to go get it and then completely forgot!  The trip over to Glasgow and meet my son after his first two weeks away was more important.

As I walked down the garden, I wondered if I’d beaten the wood lice. They take really well to the other tree’s windfalls and I’ve lost out to them a couple of times.   Thankfully as I turned the apple over I found only a mild skirmish and internally shouted yes to the skies.  It’s the little things!

This morning the apple sustains me, a post run fuel boost and a pre late breakfast as I take my other son to his Sunday game of soccer.  I so enjoyed it,  more in a Cookie Monster way than in a mindful way.  I tell myself I have five others to do that with, which I’ve plucked from the tree so as to not lose out.

My son was so pleased to see us that it brought so much to the weekend.  I’d made a beef cheek stew and batched it up for him, along with some brownie (man I can’t believe how much butter and sugar goes into a brownie).

Took him to the supermarket and set him up again for the weeks ahead where he asked me about cooking fish and potatoes.  I’m no expert, and it’s one of those moments where your adult-child has lowered his guard for help that you just want to treasure the moment.  Without getting too technical we looked at what was on offer from the counter, salmon, haddock and mackerel.  We went for a piece of mackerel.   Later when we got home a picture came through.  Pure gold for the day.

On the writing front I wrote a little about September as a month which has more morphed into Mid September……I’d been playing around with it for weeks and with last weeks coffee share as the inspiration I’ve managed to pull something together that I’m happy with.

The week has flown by in general, I try and capture my creative side, an use my will power to do some exercise first thing otherwise my day will be filled with back to back teams calls and no energy to do anything after that.  By Friday my head is fried so the late autumn sun is a tonic for the soul not to mention the apple that I got to take a big bite from. 

I hope you all had a good week and finding those moments to take good bites from and thank you for the coffeeshare.


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.

Coffee and the Forth Rail Bridge

Scribbles for the weekend #6

Today our coffee is by bike, the sun is shining, one of the nicer days of the week.  It’s a T-shirt kind of day. The last of the years sun, the warm September days that should be bottled in order to carry them through into winter.  There are people swimming in the sea, the usual noises of children playing on the periphery.  The tide is in and the sound of the waves crashing over the sand is a tonic for the soul.

Portobello beach front meets a number of demands, a clash of cultural differences.  Kim Wilde the ‘Kids in a America‘ blasts out the small arcade which feels like a small part of the 80’s wrapped in a bubble, outside an upmarket coffee van tapping into the coffee culture.  Further down the promenade next to the boat huts is the beach house café serving great food, great cakes and where we pick up our scone to go with our flasks.

From here we cycle along the promenade towards the old port area of Leith and the north Edinburgh cycle route which is just a brilliant network of disused repurposed railway routes.  Our ultimate destination is iconic Forth Railway bridge taking in the village of Cramond along the coast and through the country grounds of Dalmeny House.  A 30 mile or so round trip which my wife called out as one of her best ever days cycling.

We make it back in time to catch the last of the days sun in the garden, a small beer and a gin and tonic.  So if you prefer that to your coffee, your welcome to an aperitif.

Dinner this evening…. Sea Bass, picked up from the high street in Portobello (a wonderful little fish shop) served with samphire, warm mixed grains and z’atarr roasted squash.

The apples are starting to fall from the tree in the garden, a clear sign they are ready for the taking and with my son having a pal staying over a perfect opportunity for a crumble without feeling too guilty or eating too much as there is an extra teenager needing the fuel!   Apple and Rhubarb.  An excuse to use the spoils in the garden.


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.

Staring into the muesli

Muesli

Monday and I want to press the reset button, start the week as I mean to go on. Managed to remember to put my watch alarm a good few meters away from the bed so I would have to get out to turn it off.

Reset, means doing that exercise that I said I would, that 10 mins of yoga before doing a 3k run round the park and writing a few things as I have my coffee and start what feels like a new term. This weekend we hit the milestone of depositing child number one at University and even though number two been back at school a couple of weeks. It definitely feels like we can now crack on as a three.

Started my week with a bit of James Clear and the 2 minute rule. I listen more than watch in the morning as I do my exercises and this I think encapsulates showing up.

 

Scribbles for the Weekend #5

tomatillos

The veg box brought us a little bag of tomatillos,  amazing tomato like balls of green wrapped in delicate little green paper lanterns. I’d never seen these before and fortunately the bag came with a recipe, a green chilli and a bulb of garlic to make a salsa.  Using the lime and a little sugar to dampen the acidity of a diced onion and then blitzing in a food processor.  Very refreshing, zingy flavour.

 

Piano started again and although I’m not thrilled at having to do scales I feel alive and excited about the fresh start.  The teacher has made me feel better than I thought I was and given me a renewed confidence that as an adult learner my efforts will be rewarded.

We’ve had a mixed bag of weather, a mini little heat wave and the wasps nest that I can see from my study window has been going crazy with activity.  Sometimes makes my stomach turn and then there are moments where I have to marvel at the runway to the entrance and how they just get on with it.

The main activity of the house has been revolving around the boy and his imminent departure to University.  As some folks read this we will be no doubt have dropped him off with his PC, a new wok (with a lid), a supply of staples on the food front and I mustn’t forget the lasagne in the freezer!  There will no doubt be a tearful goodbye as he starts a new adventure and I mustn’t forget a good podcast for the drive home to take our minds elsewhere.!

I’ve put my thoughts on playlists down into another post and if you’ve ever wondered how to create a spotify QR code, export the playlist itself the links are there.

It’s going to be odd just the three of us in the house and the signals have already been given that I need to cook less!  That fourth portion eater that we count on to hoover up the calories is going to be missed.  Menu wise we haven’t got much planned, I think we’ll all be in shock.

Hope you have a good weekend, and thanks for Coffee.


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.

Playlists and how to export the list, create a code

Scribble & Scran: The Old Mix Tape

‘To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again, and I wanted it to be a good one’ – Nick Hornby – High Fidelity

My dad would spend ages making a holiday tape, vinyl to tape, balancing the left and right signal, putting the needle in the right groove, not creating too much of a gap, taking the tape out, using a pinkie to just nudge it back a few seconds.  A complete distraction to packing or getting organised for the trip!

Some 40 years have passed and I can remember some of dads holiday tapes, a mix of Peter Frampton, Bob Marley, Olivia Newton John,  Charlie Dore and the haunting Pilot of the Airwaves brings back so many memories.  Especially of an old Ford transit parcel van that my dad converted one summer.   We camped on the beach and I’d sit in the front and watch the ships go by on the horizon, no phone or tablet to keep me entertained.

For some reason, that craziness before a trip and I can’t fathom out why was passed onto me.  Perhaps it’s those memories that spur me on and I usually have to create some kind of play list for a big holiday or a life event.  The odd tape still survives merely labelled ‘Mix Tape’, no inlay card so definitely mine.  The Honeymoon mix is amazingly labelled so easy to scan through.  There’s a stack of minidiscs that I can’t bring myself to throw out and a few silver disks in the CD drawer with only a couple of words to give the listener a clue as to the event they were recorded for (Germany 2006, France 2004 and York).

In one way I’m thankful it’s a lot easier today to make a playlist, who has time for putting needles on the record, turning it over and finding the right circular grove and queuing it up.   Although because it’s so quick it’s easier to break the unwritten rules.  The art of making a great playlist is lost in the mists of time.  That or I am over romanticising the whole thing and it’s just a bunch of songs to express a feeling.  I’m thinking about the rules of never repeating the artist, sticking to the right amount of songs that will fit onto the media you are using.  Can you imagine being constrained to 30 mins each side and adding a new song in at the start means re-recording the whole thing.  A play list can be however long you want it to be now, it self-documents and tells you how long it lasts for.  You’ll even get suggestions of what to add based on the list itself although these sometimes can be a little dubious!

The latest life event that called for a great playlist was for my son going off to university.  Spotify our family choice and a simple gift that wouldn’t load him down too much, doesn’t need a tape,  minidisk or cd.  He’d have nothing to play them on anyway….which just blows my mind!   My plan then was to create a track list of 10-15 songs or so.  Give a node to Guardians of the galaxy and call it Awesome Mix 1.   It still felt impersonal and too easy, so decided I wanted to make a flyer and include with it some thoughts and best wishes on a good luck card.

Creating the physical playlist was easy but the end to end process of sticking to 15 songs hard.  I’d keep remembering songs and it was way too easy, to find them, add them, and take them away.   I found myself going down memory rabbit holes, and had to ask myself what was I trying to do here.  I just wanted him to hear some good tunes that his dad liked, back in the day and one or two were from his childhood at the time.  In the end I settled on about 22 tracks and then it came to trying to export the text.

Turns out it’s quite hard using Spotify itself to export the text of a playlist in a way that you can use for editing despite all the drag and drop stuff I came across .  Thankfully I came across SpotListr which enabled me to create a comma separated file in seconds.  Which I then brought into excel and then formatted as a table.  I then transferred this to PowerPoint, on a page that was sized for my printer paper.  I then added a few photos, and a little text.

You can also create an album type cover for the playlist at Spotlistr Cover.  This will work as cover art for any playlist provider.

Over the lockdown period we tried a couple of restaurant boxes, one of them provided us with a specific Spotify QR playlist code.  Just click on search, use the camera and bish bash bosh…..the playlist is there.   It wasn’t quite the ambiance of the restaurant but a wonderful touch in providing some music where the choice had been made and you just had to listen.  This gave me the idea of creating the code, and you can do this here Spotify Codes.  This creates another little image file that can be added to the powerpoint slide.

 

Create an Export: SpotListr

Create the Cover: SpotListr 

Create the Code: Spotify Codes

 

 

Scribbles for the Weekend #4

Apricot Pie

September crept up on us this week, and it’s starting to feel dark when the alarm goes off.

Prom night came and went and I’m left reflecting where the time has gone.  It felt like yesterday when I put on a black tie and went hunting for adventure.  Amazed at the young man who stood before me and was more than happy to help with his tie.  It took me a couple of goes since it’s been a while living at work.

Success in the kitchen included an open apricot pie made with wholemeal flour.  The vultures came and went and even a request for it being made at their birthday a good eight months away.   To say it was a keeper is an understatement.

The small roast shoulder of lamb from organic Combe Farm worked well in a one pot of potatoes, carrot, parsnip and  fennel.  Slow cooked for a three hours, the fennel wasn’t in a good state towards the end so while the meat was resting it got blitzed into a gravy…or the word velouté feels more appropriate.

The polenta/corn meal eat downtown continues and I found a new technique of roasting from Anna del Conte.  It went well, so much left over though, which got fried and used for lunch with salad.

This weekend has a bit of a BBQ instore, the boy has got his pals round, another fair well with friends (I do not remember this build up!).  The usual burger and grilled veggies, a peanut butter cheesecake and I’m planning to get the pancake balls machine that we brought back from Denmark out.  Hopefully there will be leftovers!  Definitely planning to get a slice of that cheesecake!

Younger brother is quietly getting on with things in the background, trying his best not to rock the boat.  The house is emotional as we work through our last 8 or so days together before university starts.

Hope you have a good weekend, and thanks for Coffee.


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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