Not Lost

Still here.  Just a bit snowed under at the moment.  Back soon!





As a life long ignorer of all sports, I can barely believe that I am about to write the following sentence, but here it is: I miss the Olympics. 

It only finished yesterday but already I miss getting up in the morning and dotting through BBC Interactive to watch gymnastics or diving or basketball or sprinting.  I don’t even understand any of these sports, for goodness’ sake.  How can Girl A score higher than Girl B when Girl A fell off the thingymigig?  How is it possible to judge a dive accurately when it’s over in two seconds?  Why do basketball games last for so long?  And what does that guy eat to be able to run that fast?  

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions and many, many, many more but I don’t care.  The passion and strength and dedication that I have watched on TV over the last few weeks has had me utterly hooked.  These people are fantastic! 

Inspired by the games, I have decided to take on my own sporting challenge and run the Baxters 10k next month. Having only ever run one 5k before and having pretty much collapsed after that, this is going to be a challenge and a half. 

I have a training schedule and I have my own personal motivator (that would be D).  I have also been reading up on what to eat and it appears that pasta is a good choice for a budding runner.  Fabulous.  I now have an excuse to eat more of my favourite carb.

Between work and Marco and training, I’m a little short on kitchen time at the moment and so I have made and frozen several portions of the following pasta sauce.  Call it ragu or call it Bolognaise, it’s basically the Italian equivalent of mince and tatties and is certainly none the worse for that.  🙂 


(serves 6)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 large carrot, diced

1 celery stick, diced

400g minced beef

Glass of red wine

50ml milk

400g tinned tomatoes

1/2 tspn oregano

  • Fry the onion and garlic in a little butter until translucent.  Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add the beef and cook until just browned. 
  • Add the wine and increase the heat to burn off the alcohol.
  • Reduce the heat and add the milk.  Simmer for five minutes or until milk is absorbed.
  • Add the tomatoes, oregano and seasoning.  Stir well and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Serve tossed through pasta and sprinkled with parmesan.

PS I’m off on an activities holiday with the first years for the rest of the week.   See you when I get back.  🙂

Beans for the Undeserving

I have an admission to make.  Despite having had seven weeks off this summer and despite having spent much of that time pottering about at home, my vegetable garden has been severely neglected these past few months and, as a result, has turned into a jungle.  Look at it!

If life were fair, I would have no crops to harvest at all within this tangled mess and my green-fingered, dilligent colleague would have lots growing in neat, weeded rows.  But life is not fair and, whilst my work-mate stamps the ground in produce-less frustration, I have more courgettes, chard, berries, salad leaves, spring onions and rhubarb than I can eat.

And then today when I attempted to tame the smothering french bean stalks (now I get the fairy tale) I discovered that I also have lots of broad beans protruding up from their stalks like upside down bananas. 

Don’t they look cosy?

Broad beans (fava beans to you North Americans) picked straight from the stalk are much sweeter and far more tender than those bought fresh or frozen in supermarkets.  Though most cookbooks recommend slipping the beans out of their skins after blanching, really fresh beans don’t need this treatment as the casings haven’t turned papery yet.  That said, I did skin the broadbeans for this salad.  Just ’cause it makes them a prettier colour though.

There’s no recipe here.  The salad consisted of halved cherry tomatoes (funny orange ones from a farmshop on the Black Isle) and blanched broad beans tossed in a peppery lemon-oil dressing (one part lemon, two parts extra virgin olive oil and plenty of pepper).  Very simple but very good.  🙂


This is my entry to Susan’s My Legume Love Affair event.

Photography Blog

After a long, lazy summer of dog walking and faffing about, I went back to work today.  The first week of term is always extremely hectic so I don’t see many posts being written in the coming days.  I’ll leave you with a link which may interest those of you who enjoy my own pictures of Scotland.

Our friend and D’s hill-walking buddy has a blog where he shares his beautiful pictures of Scotland’s moors and mountains.  If you like the above picture, you’ll love his site here.

Chanterelle and Cauliflower Pie

Though the patch in Kintore woods wasn’t quite as prolific as last year, there were still far more chanterelles growing in damp little clumps than I could have shaken a stick at (had I felt the need to wobble some wood at fungi).  In the end I settled for a mere basketful for I did, after all, have to painstakingly clean each one of the dirty little buggers when I got home. 

Much brushing and trimming and wine later I was faced with a large pile of bug/mud free mushrooms and immediately began to fantasize about a creamy chicken and chanterelle pie.  A rather wintery dish for August but it was raining hard outside so stodge didn’t seem too unreasonable.  Alas, there was no chicken in my fridge and the thought of a driech drive to the shops was not at all appealling.  Instead, I started to think about alternatives and remembered a cauliflower and mushroom pie I’d read about in Veganomicon.

A tweak here (different herbs, different mushrooms), a substitution there (cow’s milk rather than soya; puff pastry rather than biscuity crust) and I had an absolutely delicious pie.  So good, in fact, I don’t see me making the chicken version for some time.  🙂 

Cauliflower and Chanterelle Pie

(serves 2)

600ml bechamel sauce (butter, flour, milk, bay and nutmeg – recipe/instructions here)

1/2 tspn dried oregano

1/2 tspn dried thyme

1 tspn Dijon mustard

1 tblspn oil

1 leek, chopped

2 handfuls of chanterelles

1 tspn white wine vinegar

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

Puff pastry (I used ready-made & rolled)

  • Firstly, make your bechamel sauce and add the dried herbs and mustard to it.  Simmer for 10 minutes to let flavours combine, season and set aside.
  • In a different pan, fry the leek gently for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the chanterelles and vinegar cook for another 5 minutes until the juices have been released.
  • Add the cauliflower florets and stir well.  Cover and let cook for 15 minutes until the cauliflower has just softened (you may need to add a teeny bit of water to stop the veg from sticking to the pan).
  • Mix the herby sauce with the vegetables and pour into an oven proof dish.
  • Cover with puff pastry and brush with beaten egg.
  • Bake in a 190oC oven until the pastry is golden and puffy.
  • Dig in.

Seals and Freedom

I have a pie to tell you about.   It’s a fabulous pie.  It’s creamy and crispy and chocablock full of veg.  But it’s not quite as fab as my day was today.

My gorgeous pup got his collar off.  We skipped along a sparkling Dornoch beach in celebration.  And, to top it all off, the Cromarty seals came out to applaud the sunshine.


Noodley Goodness

I’m still munching my way through the beautiful rainbow chard growing in my vegetable plot.  Remember Dennis Potter’s suggestion of leaving a clump of stalks to grow indefinitely creating a brightly coloured, monster-sized chard to decorate the garden.  Nice idea but I can’t see it happening.  

The most recent dish this leafy green has ventured into is a creamy, spicy, noodly bowl of goodness; a meal that I eat frequently.   Don’t have chard?  No matter.  Any combination of green vegetables would work just as well in this nutritious dish.

Green Curry Noodles with Chard and Prawns

(serves 2)

1 onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tspn vegetable oil

1 heaped tablespoon thai green curry paste (more or less to taste)

250ml coconut milk

250ml vegetable or chicken stock

4 large stalks of chard or 8 small, stems chopped & leaves sliced

Big handful of french beans

2 blocks of noodles (I used udon)

200g prawns

1 lime

Coriander leaves

  • Heat the oil over a medium heat.  Add the onion, chard stalks and garlic and cook for a few minutes until onion begins to soften.
  • Add the curry paste, stir and cook for a minute longer.
  • Add the coconut milk and stock. 
  • Bring to the boil, add the green beans and noodles and cook until noodles are almost soft (3 mins for udon).
  • Add the chard and prawns.  Cook for 2 minutes longer until prawns are pink and chard is wilted.
  • Serve in large bowls with lime juice squeezed over the top and a liberal sprinkling of coriander.