A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Category: Scribbles (Page 3 of 4)

Scribbles for the Weekend #3

Meringue

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 


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

Scribbles for the Weekend #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribbles for the Weekend #1

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

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

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

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

Alongside that though we have some scran on the agenda:

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

Other meals:

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

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


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

Courage to Continue

Cup, Whisk & Keyboard

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

The Front Door

Front Door and Coffee

Last time we had coffee I wrote about the porch door and the small repairs I was making along with a fresh lick of paint.  What I didn’t mention at the time was that this was all prompted by having the front door replaced.  Which in some ways broke my heart.   The door I’m sure had been the original I’m sure from 1890.  A beast of a thing, in two halves.  Unfortunately, it really had bowed.  Let in all manor of the elements and didn’t really close properly and therefore didn’t lock properly.  This was back in November and we’ve had nothing but trouble with it since it being painted, and it started to warm up.   Being made of wood it started to have a mind of its own trying to burst free.

The good news is that it got it’s final lick of paint on Friday after several calls and emails.  Only took a couple of hours.  So infuriating.  As time goes by we will forget this drama in our lives.

Again the gap between us having coffee has been too long and I can’t believe Natalie has hosted 22 of them, which is amazing!  April was the last time I contributed, so I feel I need to bring you up to speed.

I’ve cheated on you!  I’ve be writing elsewhere which I’m sorry about and I hope you forgive me!  The cookery book that I wanted to write just wasn’t happening.  I was disappointed with myself and the realisation that lockdown hadn’t afforded me the miracle of more time and the power of magic.  Miraculously I felt the weight was going to drop off and I’d be able to play all those piano pieces I’ve always wanted to play!  I’d wanted to come out of it hoping to have achieved something more.  Instead I probably worked more and dreamt more.

So since that last blog post in April I’ve signed up for a writing in community project.   Six months to write a book which in reality is more like 6 months to show up daily and write something and we’ll see what happens.   Some days it’s a sentence, some days it’s page of the things running through my head and it’s been really good.  I also found myself a piano teacher who is willing to take on an adult and 3 lessons in it’s been so liberating to feel I’m back at the keys with a goal each fortnight.  Let’s not mention the piano scales, however with the more conventional set there has been a slight improvement.  A minor lifestyle change of trying to live a more Mediterranean diet with less carbs has seen the loss of a kilogram (a 2lb bag of sugar) which has given me more energy.

On reflection though lockdown did achieve these things by allowing me, mentally to go on a journey.  I listened to many podcasts in the self help space.  I succumbed to an audible subscription and everyday I try to put something into play from the learnings.  Start small, show up and do the essentials.   It’s a theme that gets repeated over and over again.

Back to the coffee…a lovely weekend here in Edinburgh.  A treat to get a scone in with a takeaway coffee, sit on the links and watch the bustle of the city come back to life.

 


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.

Inside Porch

The Castle, Arthurs Seat

I’m on my 2nd coffee of the day, which is standing between me and a duel with the 2nd coat of paint and finishing touches to some of the doors in the house that we’ve been in for 5 years now. I’ve finally gotten around to painting the porch door.  It’s a beast of a thing so I know why I’ve been putting it off.  I replaced the draught excluder a couple of weeks ago and I was telling myself that needed to bed in before I went any further.  Now the handles need to go back, being replaced with shiny new ones that we purchased from our favourite Iron mongers.  I have no idea if the screw holes match and it looks like I’m not the first owner to replace the handles.  I’m wondering how many years this door has seen, how far it goes back and how many faces have been welcomed in.   The question of when we will welcome folk back in unanswered.

Scotland has eased some of the measures and we are back to being able to have folk come round as long as it’s outside.  We had our first guests round since last November in the back garden Friday evening, co-incidentally the same folk who were here last.  With the reverse spring we are having just as bitterly cold.

I’ve been trying to get my mountain legs back, Scotland is opening up with movement between regions starting again  and I’m ready for adventure in the hills.  My son and I have a roll over trip from last May.  The Isle of Skye in our sights and to bag a couple of Cuillins with a guide.  There’s an element of scramble and a ridge to traverse, which comes with an element of intrepidation and excitement at the same time.

I’ve already bagged my first Munro of the season the same day the green light was given so I know I have some level of fitness but the legs are still recovering a week on.  Keen to stretch the legs, yesterday I headed up Arthurs Seat.  Great views of the city with the gorse bushes in full throttle, the hill covered in a sea of yellow, against a blue backdrop of sea and sky bringing great hope into the heart.

Perseverance

Snowdrops

If we were having coffee I’d tell you  how exciting it was to watch the live stream of the Mars Perseverance landing this week.  Purely by luck I stumbled upon the details about 30 minutes before it was due to land and even joined by the young adult in the house.

How great it was to see it at as the main first news item on the News at 10 rather than another story about politics. The decisions that the bureaucrats are making for the greater good of everyone and everything.  It just struck a chord with me in relation to the feats of human kind.

I then saw the cost this morning, roughly $2.7 billion and thought….yikes that is a lot of money and then I saw another article about the prospect of a tunnel between Scotland and Ireland (about 31 miles/50km) and wondered how much that would cost.  As it’s merely thoughts at the moment….I thought I’d take a look at the channel tunnel costs and came across the wonders of the world databank….a rabbit hole if ever there was one for the inquisitive mind.  The channel tunnel according to this site was $21 billion.

Back to Perseverance and the cost, I came across another site, putting the cost of perseverance in context and like the comparisons.  The same amount of money that Disney made in global box office revenue for avengers end game and the amount of money Google makes in 6 days (which is so it’s eye watering it’s unreal).  So the cost of perseverance, seems like a steal, spent over a long period of time, funding science and moving us on with wonder.

Obviously these figures and facts are from the internet…it’s got to be true! And I don’t have the budget to check whether the facts are indeed true, I’m just sharing the thoughts!

Managed to re-open the black box this week with an impromptu-start, it’s been nagging at me for some time, an exploration into grannies recipes .  When I first started a good while a go (I’m embarrassed to say when) I’d definitely entered into the challenge with rose tinted spectacles.  However a certain reality hit this week that the recipes.  They are definitely of a time and it’s not due to the units.  The ingredients are for items that just don’t feature in our house and I think have long gone out of fashion like corned beef and Campbells condensed soup.  Some of the recipes are (I want to use the word terrible) just not to our current tastes like liver creole, salmon pudding and chicken mousse.  Discussing this with the boss we then realised it was more about the memories than anything else.  I’m going to persevere though, ditching the ones that don’t appeal and writing up the ones that do.

Last weekend we were marching through a foot of snow, today though at 9°C we made a great loop round the citi on the bikes.  A few muddy trails…but lots of snow drops.  Have a great weekend and hopefully you can get out where you are!

 


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.

 

Valentines Coffee Share

Valentines Coffee
Coffee is served with chocolate and Charbonnel truffles, a gift waiting for me at breakfast this morning.  I’m a sucker for this kind of chocolate and thankfully in small boxes not to disastrous!  Fortunately I’d got my card ready, written with a few meaningful words and was able to reciprocate the thought.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the weekend coffee share.  My attention has just been elsewhere and I have to admit that I’ve been struggling to write.  I’ve started a couple of times and then events have conspired against me.  I’ve struggled with being at my PC all the time and not taking enough breaks.

The days are getting longer  and more than a welcome relief where I’m hoping for light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic but I know we still have a long way to go.  It’s been the half term break this week so no on-line lessons and a huge dump of snow at the start of the week has been a huge god send in terms of not having to twist their arms to get outside.  The lure of a sledge and the mention of hilly golf course the only nudge required.

For me though work is even more pressured, project milestones ever closer and although working from home is allowing me to consider self-learning and more reading.  There is an underlying feeling of being trapped.  The papers are constantly mentioning the subject of mental health relating to the reader.  The  shared feelings of angst helps on some level, that we are all going through this, but on another level there is a feeling that its adding weight to it.  The irony of my writing this isn’t lost on me.   At this point I put my head in my hands and wonder why am I even writing this.

I can’t help thinking we are eating more, even though we are trying to eat less.  It’s a coping mechanism and my constant need to feed us must be some underlying cave man thing going on my subconscious.  Food though is my way of sharing and getting through the dark nights and worrying times. Tonight’s meal is an attempt at making a cassoulet that will last a few meals followed by a cherry and apple crumble.

The last months reading included the really thought provoking ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear and Downsizing by Tom Watson.   If you are podcast listener I definitely recommend the following podcasts where the authors are interviewed.

How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones with James Clear
From Sugar in Tea, To Butter in Coffee: Tom Watson’s Weight Loss Story #542

 


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 Footprints of 2020

Footprints in the snow

The sun slowly sneaks and creeps around the corner of the house illuminating the back of the garden wall, the start of a new day, the start of a new year.  Even though the footprints of yesterday’s trip to the bottom of the garden are still there; they are slowly melting. At the same time though they have grown bigger somehow.

Perhaps a metaphor for the path that we walked last year….through the steps that we took we have all grown and although we are keen to embrace the new dawn hopefully with some reflection we can all take some inkling of the learnings we made even if it was just about being.

The footprints will disappear, either they will be replaced with fresh snow or melt and like the marking of a new year it’s a chance for renewal, mentally that is. Remember the world hasn’t suddenly changed, it’s still spinning in the same motion, the politics are the same and physically and mentally we are all just the same…..but as the sun rises and the new day dawns the path we set on yesterday will help us grow and if hasn’t then today of all days we have permission to change direction.

I’m looking forward to this year more than any other, despite the politics and the craziness that lies ahead, there has to be improved health for the world and it can’t come soon enough.

On a personal level, working from home has on reflection renewed my quest to keep learning. Even though I know that I’m in that honeymoon period where the office has closed for the holiday season and I’ve had time to reflect. That’s the thing though; I have had time to reflect and I know that the hour that I gave to myself first thing in the morning really helped me….the footprints of 2020.

So I’m ready to start the footprints of 2021…..let’s go!

 

 


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli 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.

O Christmas Tree

Chocolate Christmas Cake, Coffee Pot

Coffee is being made whilst I stew the fruit for a chocolate Christmas cake, the smell is intoxicating.   The zest from the orange mixed with brandy.  Deliberating making the coffee slow in order to stay at the hob longer, to linger, to enjoy this moment and breathe.

The recipe has been on my list since mid November and welcome on this cold, wet and bleak day.  The ground is covered in slushy kind of snow that soaks and bleeds you dry of warmth and energy.  The sky is dark and full without a thought for the folks who need to get out for a walk in order to the clear the mind.

The recipe turns out to be a winner looks wise and I’m very pleased with the result, no battling with having to cream the butter and the sugar.  Proof will be in the tasting a couple of days from now, should be weeks but don’t think we’ll be able to wait!

With full on water proofs I make it out and listen to a new podcast, very much out my comfort zone about London, urban community and rap music.  It peaked my interest from one of the top 10 lists I’ve seen this time of year and hoping in some way to help broaden my mind…..I’d recommend the podcast or musical poetry from George the Poet a London-born spoken word performer

The Christmas tree is going up today the first real one in five years or so.  I’d forgotten the weight of these things and the pine needles as they follow you round the house.  The artificial has gone up the kitchen at the back as a way of lighting up the back.  Joining our neighbors in what feels like an unspoken solidarity with regard brightening up our corner of the world….to push back the darkness in more ways than one.

 

 


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli 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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