More Dog Blogging

 This handsome fella is Winston, the shiniest, happiest dog I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  He and his owners were staying with me over the weekend and, wow, what a weekend it was!  Just wonderful…

Will let the pictures do the talking.  🙂






Omenakakku – Finnish Apple Cake

It’s been a long week.  A good week. But a long week.

The high points have included finally clearing my marking in-tray (hurrah!) and winning a pub quiz (joy!).  The low points have included the actual process of clearing my in-tray and a couple of crazed pupil outbursts in class: the first of which involved a boy getting in such a temper he actually tore his school shirt off a la The Incredible Hulk.  I’ll spare you the details of the second incident as it featured language which probably isn’t suitable for these pages!

What is suitable for these pages is telling you that tomorrow our school is taking part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.   The Geology classroom will once again be filled with homemade cakes, teas and coffees.  For this reason D and I have taken a break from marking and planning and have instead been battling each other for baking space in my teeny weeny kitchen. 

He’s made his ever popular Coffee Kisses and Mars Bar Munch-Cake, and I’ve knocked up some more of Holler’s Mum’s Fruit Loaf, a batch of apple muffins and a Finnish apple cake.  The latter is probably my favourite cake in the world.  It’s appley and moist and ever so slightly tangy. 

Amazingly good with a generous drizzle of vanilla scented cream.  🙂

 Omenakakku – Finnish Apple Cake

(The measurements are in cups because it was easier to convert decilitres to this measurement than to the normal UK grams)

100g  butter (soft)

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 & 2/3 cups plain flour

2 tspn baking powder

2/3 cup sour cream

2 dessert apples (not too tart, preferably)

  • Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and mix until a smooth batter is formed.
  • Combine the flour and sour cream into the batter.  Don’t over mix!
  • Peel, core and slice the apples. 
  • Pour the batter into a cake tin and submerge the apple slices.
  • Sprinkle with a little sugar and bake in a 170oC oven for 45 mins – 1 hour.

Update:  A request has been made to see D’s cakes so here they are!!  Coffee Kisses and Mars Bar Munch-Cake.  🙂

Stop Gap

Work has taken over my life these past weeks and there simply isn’t much time to dip into other people’s blogs very often.  I’m grabbing opportunities here and there but mostly I’m just looking forward to the October holidays when there will be lazy afternoons to read all the great posts I’ve been missing.

Also have less time to blog myself than I would ideally like.  To prevent a midweek silence I’ve decided to post a few links that I’ve enjoyed recently.  Hope you like them! 🙂

  1. I Can Has Cheezeburger? – Blog filled with random pictures of (mostly) cats with hillarious grammatically incorrect slogans.  Not a cat person but these kitties crack me up.
  2. Gorilla – A chocolate bar advert from the UK.  Seriously weird.  Absolutely brilliant.  Who thought of this???!!  Turn the volume up and watch.
  3. World Food – This was a link from Maryann from Finding La Dolce Vita.  A Time feature showing what families around the world eat in a week.  Fascinating.

Muffins for a Mountain Biking Me

 Saturday saw me rising early, picking up a bunch of pupils and heading out to Drumnadrochit on the banks of Loch Ness to take part in the 3G (Three Glens) mountain biking race.  Whereas super-sporty D was cycling the full 56 miles from Glen Affric (above) to Fort Augustus, we were more realistically starting half way down the route.  Ahead of us lay 26 miles of forest tracks, steep climbs, juddering downhills and muddy puddles. 

The kids were hugely excited.  So much so that on the starting whistle one toppled over onto another and both boys ended up in a tangled heap of chains and limbs and wheels and shorts as the other riders vanished over the hill.  I thought this was hillarious.  They didn’t and glowered at me furiously.  An opportunity for the two to have a giggle at me came later that day as I took a full hour longer than them all to complete the course!

Did I enjoy it?  Difficult to say.  During the actual race I was cursing myself for ever agreeing to take part.  At one point I remember mentally making a list of all the things I would rather be doing at that moment.  When I tell you that “going to the dentist” was on the list you might understand how much I was not enjoying myself.

And yet, half an hour after crossing the finish line; twenty five minutes after telling D that I had hated every minute was never biking again; twenty minutes after getting my breath back, I suddenly started feeling rather proud of myself.  Two days later I’m seriously considering taking part again next year! 

Mad?  Maybe.

 Sunday was a far more relaxed affair.  A friend, her daughters and puppy (Teal) came to visit.  We played in the park, read about Jamie’s stripey pet snake and ate apple muffins.  Muffins which were such a hit the girls asked to take some home with them and now I’m left with none!  Think another batch will have to be knocked up very, very soon.

 The recipe is from the fabulous 64ft Kitchen and I see absolutely no point in typing out the recipe as I followed Rose’s instructions (recipe here) almost to the word.  The only differences were:

  • I omitted the rosemary her recipe called for as some kids have an aversion to “green bits”.  Added extra cinnamon instead.
  • There was nothing so virtuous as buttermilk in my fridge so I used mixture of milk and Greek yogurt. 
  • Cleaning the blender is my most hated job (one of, anyway).  I combined by hand!

Apple Snow in September

My garden is slowing down.  I had hoped to grow some more rocket and spinach before winter hit but, despite autumn having hardly begun, we’ve already had our first frost and there’s a icing-sugar sprinkling of snow on the nearby mountains.  Imagine that my seeds won’t germinate in these temperatures but, truth be told, I have no idea.  Do you?

Other than my herbs and a few lazy blueberries, the only edible produce in my garden at the moment are leeks and apples.  The former are still wee toots and, though baby leeks are lovely, I know I’ll get more eating out of them if I leave them to mature for a few more weeks.  The apples are perfectly ripe and absolutely delicious but my recently planted saplings have produced very little fruit this season. 

Yet again, the grumpy neighbour comes to the rescue.  He has lots of beautiful, red fruit clustered tightly around his branches and, as per usual, he has no intention (that I can see) of picking them.  What’s an apple loving girl to do…

 The majority of these apples will find their way into my handbag for a breaktime snack.  Some others will be baked into a Finnish apple cake (recipe to come).  The rest will be made into apple sauce (recipe also to come) to be eaten with slices of roast pork or stirred into my porridge or made into apple snow.

I first ate apple snow in Finland five years ago.  How it’s usually made, I don’t know.  I tried making it this way once and thought it was pretty damned good.  🙂

 Apple Snow

(Serves 4)

4 egg whites

Pinch of salt

75g caster sugar

150ml apple sauce

Pinch of cinnamon

  • In a glass bowl whisk the eggs and salt until they form soft peaks. 
  • Add the sugar and whisk again until mixture is fluffy and peaked again.
  • Fold in the apple sauce and a little cinnamon.
  • Freeze for three hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serves dusted with cinnamon.


Typically pronouced with a resounding glottal stop at the end, “scunnered” is another great Scots word.  In the dialects I know (for there are many), this fiesty adjective can mean one of three things: to be totally confused, to be completely fed up of something, or to be pissed off.  A difficult crossword clue might have me scunnered one minute.  Half an hour later the same irritatingly incomplete crossword puzzle could have me scunnered again  And another thirty minutes later I could be scunnered at myself for not being able to finish it.   

Am I making myself clear? 

The pile of marking I worked through this evening had me scunnered in every way.  Marking Higher critical essays can be a mind-bogglingly confusing business (scunnered) and after three hours of doing just that one would be forgiven for feeling more than a little jaded (scunnered), as well as somewhat annoyed (scunnered) at being unable to do something fun instead.

Suspect all you growers will understand what kind of “scunnered” I mean when I tell you that, with every ounce of my being, I am scunnered of courgettes.  

Please, someone – make them stop growing.

I’ve stuffed, griddled, sautéed, puréed and baked them.  They have been included in soups, stews, salads, pastas and pizzas.  I’ve eaten them raw.  I’ve used them as a chew toy for Rosie.  I’ve tried to fertilise the garden with them.  I’ve given them to family, friends, neighbours and colleagues, and I’m certain all of these people are now avoiding me for fear of being lumped with yet another oblong, green, speckled vegetable. 

I am, believe me, scunnered of courgettes.

Thus, the following is the very last courgette recipe to feature on this blog.  Perhaps not ever for, much like Christmas turkey, I will probably have forgotten my aversion to this prolific vegetable by next summer.  🙂

 Courgette and Pesto Parcels

(serves 2 as a side or starter)

2 small courgettes, sliced thinly length ways

2 tblspn basil pesto

1 baby leek, leaves (?) peeled carefully

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

  • Layer three slices of courgette on top on each other with a generous spreading of pesto in between.
  • Tie together with a leek leaf (?) and brush with olive oil.  Season.
  • Cook in a pre-heated oven (220oC) for 12 minutes.

Dog Blogging

D:   You smell like dog.

Wendy:   (Smiles.)  I know.

D:   Um, that wasn’t a compliment.

Wendy just keeps on smiling…



Update:  It has been pointed out to me that I haven’t introduced the dogs.  How rude! 

As some of you know, the golden Cocker in the first four photos is my brother’s dog, Rosie.

The younger brown working cocker in the fifth and seventh photo is Gen’s puppy, Rufus.

The older working cocker(who I think looks very like Tina Turner) is Purdy and the lab puppy is Bonnie.  Both live with Gen’s brother’s family and their chickens (minus one since Purdy chomped down on a unlucky cockerel…).

Two Lives

 It’s been some time since a book has engrossed me so much I carry it everywhere with me in order to greedily snatch a few minutes read between classes or in the supermarket queue.  The last book that absorbed me so completely was We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver’s disturbing tale of the relationship between a mother and her murderous son, and that was a whole year ago.  Since then I’ve come across good books, great books even, but none which have had me reading open mouthed.  Until now.

Vikram Seth is my favourite author.  Upon finishing his novel A Suitable Boy I cried for hours purely because it had ended.  Simply couldn’t believe the characters he had created were no longer going to be a part of my life.  My solution was simply to start reading the book again!  Have thoroughly enjoyed his other works (which include a travelogue and a novel in verse) and so it is a complete mystery as to why, despite having bought it six months ago, it has taken me until the last few days to start reading his most recent work.

Spanning almost a hundred years and several continents, Two Lives is the true story of Seth’s German aunt and Indian uncle.  True to form, the author manages not only to paint remarkably vivid impressions of the central characters but also of the times they lived in.  I’m only, perhaps, a quarter of the way through the book but it’s already lodged itself into my all-time favourite list.  Would tell you more but I want to keep on reading!  Instead, in its honour, I give you a recipe for Indian spiced prawns.  It’s a Wendy-creation rather than an authentically Asian dish but it tastes damn good.

  Indian Spiced King Prawns

(Serves 4 as a starter)

16 peeled and deveined prawns

1/4 tsp cayenne

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

4 tblspn olive oil 

Lemon wedges and fresh coriander leaves to serve

  • Create a marinade using the spices and olive oil.
  • Add the prawns and coat well.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Cook on a medium-hot griddle pan for 2-3 minutes on each side.

  • Serve with lemon wedges and coriander.

Excuse my silence over the next four days.  Off to Aberdeenshire to see family, friends, my darling Rosie and a host of other canines.  Watch this space for dog photos! 🙂

Confession No. 1

Confession.  As much as I love to cook, preparing a meal for anyone other than my nearest and dearest freaks me out.  Think it’s because everyone knows that I spend the vast majority of my free time in the kitchen and I worry that the food I prepare will be thought mediocre.  Or undercooked.  Or overcooked.  Or just plain crap. 

Thankfully, in the same way my fear of flying does not deter me from travelling, my dinner party jitters do not stop me inviting people over for a meal.  I just make sure I am really really REALLY well prepared.  And I always cook a tried and tested recipe.  Last weekend, for example, D’s sister and brother-in-law came for dinner.  I laid on a tapas-esque spread for them: Spanish tortillaaubergine salad, roasted peppers, tapanade, paprika chicken, baby leeks in jamón and some crusty bread to mop the juices up.  Everything dish could be prepared in advance and each dish was something I was very confident tasted great.  Perfect, right? 


Then why do I feel like I copped out?  Would be interested to know what you guys cook when guests come to dinner.

The baby leeks recipe I mentioned is a winner.  Hugely simply, unbelievable tasty.  Works as a starter or a side or, as above, part of a tapas selection.

 Baby Leeks in Jamón

(serves 4 as a tapas)

12 baby leeks, washed well and trimmed

6 slices of jamón or other cured meat (Parma ham would be fine), cut in half length-ways


Olive oil

  • Simply wrap the leeks in half a slice of jamon and rub with a little olive oil and pepper.
  • Roast in a preheated oven (180oC) for 20 minutes until the leeks are soft and the ham is crispy.

Vegetarians – Baby leeks are delicious roasted without the ham too.  🙂

Bubble or Butterbean?

Rather hungover.  Short post.  Just for fun.  🙂

Whilst reading the paper online this morning I discovered that yesterday was International Literacy DayThe Guardian marked the event by inviting readers to share their favourite words.  Some of the responses interested me greatly and others made me laugh out loud.  They all put a smile on my face. 

Tomorrow I’m going to ask my pupils to think of their favourite words and create a fun display with them.  Realise this is asking for trouble in some cases (it’s amazing the amount of synonyms some body parts have) but my room needs a new display and it’ll be fun to hear the kids’ ideas. 

Today, however, I’d like to ask you guys what your favourite word is.  Food related or not.  Semantic reasons or just how it feels rolling off your tongue. I’d like to know.  🙂

Personally, I can’t choose between bubble and butterbean…