Fortnite

IMG_3879If we were having coffee it would be served with a huge slab of Chocolate birthday cake, a side of fresh Scottish strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

The weekend is a busy one and I took Friday off work (which means trying not to log in, to not peak at the emails and to not worry about the issues that you know are building up).  Mainly to enjoy some family time as we celebrate a couple of anniversaries, ar year wiser for the boy and to acknowledge another year of marriage.  It all flies by so quickly.

As ever food has been a big feature.  At the request of the boy, there was breakfast pancakes and a Chinese take away for tea followed by a Fast and Furious film, I think it was number 8, they are very much blending into one!

The cake already mentioned baked and iced with a secret ingredient…..Condensed milk.  Which you wouldn’t believe how hard was to get in this current climate.   I turned it into a labor of love by drawing a Fortnite character on top using white chocolate.  Let’s just say there was room for improvement.  Fortunately though it didn’t stop it being eaten….and at time of writing there is only one slice left….which you are more than welcome to.

For some I’m sure your wondering if I’ve spelt Fortnite correctly.  It’s the name of an online shoot em-up, last man standing kind of thing.  You can play solo or in teams of up to 4 players.  Either Duos or Squads.  As a boy who’s games console was Astro Wars, and moved onto a second hand Spectrum 48k.   This is mind blowing with headsets to boot in order to talk to pals just round the corner, or around the world in New Zealand.  It’s been a god send during lockdown as the boys stay in touch with their pals over the power of broadband.

The best part is that I’ve been allowed to join in….I’m carried every step of the way, and they don’t seem to mind.  It just adds to being in the game for the boy and his pals.  It’s one of those if you can’t beat em join em moments and I’m really lucky to have this extra time with a teenage boy.

Saturday evening, In an effort to get sophisticated and have a more adult meal with the boss, I tried a new recipe where I discovered Freekeh.  Served with roasted butternut squash, a fillet of sea bream and a green salad.   Freekeh is an amazing grain, nutty, chewy and soft at the same time.

After the big cookbook sort out…..(Yes, I finally finished).  I bought a couple of new ones  (Don’t groan :)). Honestly, more went out than have come in!

  • Aran by Flora Sheddon,

Based around the startup of a village bakery cafe In Dunkeld, along with the ebb and flow of the daily life in a Scottish day.  I managed to grab 30 mins with a coffee, and I don’t know if was just peace for the self reflection, or the writing.  It took me back to my childhood, staying with my Gran at weekends, cricket teas and warmth of people.  This is a beautiful heart warming book about a bakery café.

  • 26 Grains by Alex Hell-Hutchinson

This I bought really for my wife, I’ve not had the time to delve deep yet.  It’s part of my journey into healthier eating.  It’s got the London vibe of another start up café.  Where the previous book is about old fashioned warmth…lets say Scottish Hygge.   This book is more akin to the new wave of modern eating, professing to be on trend and on message, the author having spent a year in Copenhagen as part of a degree, enjoying the scene and food so much that it translated into a new start-up café in London based around grains and good living.  This is where I plucked up the courage to tackle Freekeh from.

The battle bus is calling……I hope you have a great week.

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.

 

Fog

IMG_3836If we were having coffee we’d talk about the fog that seems to have enveloped the city.  The Meadows shrouded in an eerie cover of damp that sucks the warmth out of your bones.  Don’t hang around….who knows what’s lurking.

This morning’s walk took in the Saturday errands a good 8k including the local health foods store, the butcher, the fishmonger and a Boulanger I’ve been meaning to pop into for a while.  Greeted with a bonjour and thanked with a Merci.  It was a little bit disorientating but added to the experience.  Walking away with two sourdough loaves, a fig and a seeded.

LaBarantine_Bruntsfield

A smoked haddock risotto for tea with more of a nod to kedgeree than an authentic Italian dish.  Followed by a fruit salad, strawberries being in full swing at this time of the year.

Exercise wise, I’ve managed 4 runs.  Monday was really tough.  Thursday was a record breaker sub 30min for my 5k  route.  The last part is up hill, and at the end of it I barely had enough energy to stop the clock.

The cookbook sort out that started last weekend is thankfully coming to an end.  A good selection up for the charity book shop when it opens, some to go in a staging area (a cooling off period) essentially  hidden from being a distraction, some on my shelf next to me in my study, the diary and reference type idea.  The rest in the main hub, the kitchen for easy access…..and it opens a couple of spaces 🙂

Hopefully the week ahead sees the fog lifting with further restrictions from lock down eased.  Thank you for popping by and I hope that if you are surrounded by a fog in any form it lifts soon.

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.

 

 

 

Monday

Monday

Monday again, and all those thoughts come flooding in. The wheel starts turning again and I’m berating myself for the food choices I made over the weekend.

I weighed myself, and I’m further away from my target than when I set my target. Internally I’m groaning, and my whole demeanour is one of a depressed 47 year old wondering how to put this right. I’m fighting so many demons in my head right now.

I weighed myself as a kick up the backside, on the whole it’s my science barometer, it tells me what I already know….without allowing me to lie to myself.

By this time it’s 6:30, I’m awake, I’ve done a little bit of yoga/stretching in order to keep the back pain in check, and despite knowing that the run is going to be hard work I push through my negative thoughts and don the kit. It’s back to being cold again, the mini heat wave gone and I’m double layered, also back to wearing light weight joggers.

My pace is slow but persistent, initially laboured, a tune comes on and then another and I find myself half way without realising and then the hill approaches, which I manage half way. I decide to take the scenic route round the pond rather than the road and it makes for a much more pleasant experience passing folk who I saw on the other side doing a similar circuit but in reverse.

The final quarter is painful with a couple of uphills, really tests my ability to push through. Although door to door this particular route is 6k. I usually walk from 5 as part of the warm down (or so I tell myself)

Today I managed to do some post run stretching, despite this I still feel like I’ve stiffened up after breakfast.

My head though and the woes of 6:15 are slowly melting away……time to get on with the day ahead…the PC is calling…….Monday

Cookbook Sort

img_5059-1024x768If we were having coffee we’d be having it with a slice of Torta Caprese, a flour-less chocolate and almond cake. Served with a good dollop of Crème Fraiche and some fresh strawberries (it is the season so it would be rude not to).

Staying local, has forced us to appreciate what we have, cycling round Arthur’s seat more times in 10 weeks than in 20 years. So the search for a bit of variety has kicked in, sticking to our 5 mile radius this weekend has seen more exploration of our local cycle-ways, disused railways turned into cycle paths. Amazing bunch of inter connecting routes that are hidden away and have the ability to disorientate even though I know the city well. They are on the other side of the town to us, the side we typically drive through on the way to somewhere else. We incorporated it into a trip to the bakery we found last week with the addition of a couple of essentials that we didn’t manage to get in our click and collect shop.

 

Covered a good 10 miles in all, via a fairly circular route. Made a couple of mistakes as we popped up our heads which is a good learning for when we come out of this lockdown. More educated about the space we live in, which will also help me get about town in future as part of my weekend exercise and weekend shopping… ‘messages’ as they are affectionally known as in Scotland.

I’ve decided that the cookbook collection has got too big and it’s time, it’s out of hand and needs to be sorted. Which is easier said than done. The criteria for both discard or a keeper both fraught with nuances, was it a gift, how many recipes will we use again, will I need it in the future, as I flick through memories are evoked on the decisions on why I bought it in the first place. The books I’ve picked up at charity shops are easy to sift through and let go with my reasoning being that the charity made good money on my spend. It’s the new books that that coveted my attention at the time, I didn’t buy then lightly. Then there’s my favourite author from back in the day, his newer books not hitting the mark, or touching my needs of now. Do I really need to complete the range, they don’t match anyway.

What I do know though is that having too many on the go has caused me a bit of paralysis, too much choice and I’m finding that the books I want to enjoy and learn from can easily be deviated from. So the sort out is really a goal of trying to simplify and focus. Will let you know how I’m getting on next week….need to stay focused!

 

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.

A Portobello Breakfast

IMG_3745

Coffee today is served outside, a thought that was put into motion Friday morning by suggesting that we cycle to the beach.  It’s rare that we get such a long dry spell here in Edinburgh, enabling us to plan, and the beauty of a sunny morning at the weekend is not to be missed.

Portobello is a short distance away, within our allowable 5 mile radius and easily cyclable.  We soaked our muesli overnight, loaded up our flasks and headed down for 9.  It was hot already with folk swimming in the sea, mainly the hard core open water swimmers armed with wet suits.

The sea and the sand a tonic for the mind after sitting at my PC all week, and a real treat to be eating our breakfast outside in the warmth.  We know this place will be busy come the afternoon, so we didn’t hang around.

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#breakfast down the beach this morning.

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The local high street, with both a traditional butcher and fishmonger was not to be missed, small queues at each and a new bakery Twelve Triangles we’d not see before selling the most amazing sourdough loaves….lunch sorted along with a couple of items for a BBQ later.

Another week flies by and Scotland is beginning to release itself out of lock-down.  We’ve entered Phase 1 and we are allowed to meet people again, in gardens and open spaces, but to keep 2m apart.  Not to enter the abode let alone use the facilities.  So meet ups will be short and sweet.  I don’t see these rules being followed as we see how our teenage boys friends are reacting, a never ending opportunity to meet up and flaunt the spirit of the new freedom.   I can’t help worrying that they bring something back into the house, un-controllable and inevitable.  Then again it might be me, who brings it into the house, due to the small errands that I run at the weekend in an effort to keep our meals interesting and feed my cooking habit.  To say we are anxious is an understatement.

As an aside I managed to post a couple of recipes this week:

Thanks for popping by, hope you have a great week and the sun shines for you.

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.

Porridge – Magic in a bowl

Magic in a bowlIn amongst the discussions about back bling, axes, seasons and battle passes, there is shared pan of porridge between a father and his son.  Over 8 weeks it’s become our little ritual on workdays.    He’s up around 30 mins after the house wakes and the timing is just right before I log in.

There are so many variations on this simple dish and I think it really comes down to taste, over the years though I’ve come round to the overnight soak method.  I’m not sure I could tell the difference between those oats soaked overnight and those that were just added to the pan on whim, so if you forget to soak…don’t let it put you off.

In my case as I put a serving together for the 2 early birds I also put the ingredients for 1 into a microwave dish for the teenager of the house, as he makes his own in the microwave when he’s ready.   Something he’s been doing since year one at secondary school.  Keeps the cereal and cost of milk down as one bowl of porridge easily out ways the double bowl habit he has.


  Serve 1 Serves 2
Scottish porridge oats

Milk

Water

60g

300g

60g

120g

600g

120g

The liquid is weighed just so that I don’t create washing up with the jug

Topping Ideas

  • Banana and blueberries
  • Strawberries and Raspberries
  • A Teaspoon of honey
  • Raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Chopped nuts
  • Nutella my sons favourite

Overnight Soak Approach

  1. Add all the ingredients into the pan, put the lid on, just before you go to bed and leave in a cool place.   We have a cool kitchen so on the hob for us.
  2. In the morning bring to simmer on a gentle heat stirring as you go, 5 mins or so.
  3. Will get to the point where it starts puttering to itself.  Turn the heat down, stir a couple of times to stop it sticking to the bottom.

The nuke it approach

  1. Lid off,
  2. 1 minute on full heat, stir
  3. 1 minute on full heat, stir
  4. 1 minute on full heat
  5. Leave for a minute or so.

Do it enough times and you’ll find your rhythm,  I’m sure 2 mins on a low heat and then another 2 mins on low heat would work as well.  The one thing you don’t need is specially branded microwave sachets.  Although I do understand the convenience.


 

This morning for some reason I’m taken back to the days of ready break and the advertising campaign of getting the glow!  Just did a quick check and you can still get it!  Also did a price comparison.  85p per 100g for a sachet approach and 12p per 100g for the supermarket brand of standard Scottish rolled oats.

Water not milk….I know the true traditionalists out there will use just water, and a bit of salt, splash of cream.  I can’t make that leap and it’s a case of finding your own balance.   The recipe is mainly for those folk who don’t have porridge in their lives.

And finally, porridge really is magic in a bowl……I once went to India from the UK, flew out on the Sunday and was back for the Friday.  In between travelled to Mumbai, Pune and then Chennai.  The food was amazing, but my stomach had been so bashed and battered, turned up on its head again…..the thing I craved when I got home was a bowl of porridge, soothing, comforting and something that added a sense of balance back into my world.

Hummus

Flattered to be asked by one of my co-weekend coffee sharers Gary Wilson.  I’m posting our recipe for Hummus. A weekend staple for pre dinner drinks with crudite. A way of getting a round of raw veg such as carrots, celery and pepper into the boys…​.sadly the crisps always go first!

You’ll need a food processor and a pressure cooker for this recipe.  The pressure cooker, removes the need for an overnight soak and reduces the cooking time from a good couple of hours and then some to 30 minutes.

 

Ingredients

  • 200g dried chickpeas
  • 750ml water
  • 160ml tahini
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

method

  1. Give the chickpeas a quick rince and a once over, taking out any dodgy looking ones.
  2. Place the chickpeas and water into the pressure cooking bowl.
  3. Pressure cook for 30 minutes (ours is set at 80kPa – suggest you experiment).
  4. When cooking has completed, release the pressure, drain the chickpeas, reserving 125ml cooking water, and let cool slightly.
  5. In a seperate bowl whisk together the tahini and olive oil.
  6. Process the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne and reserved cooking water in a food processor until fully ground, should take roughly a minute depending on how smooth you like your hummus.
  7. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the bowl and give it another wazz.
  8. With the machine running, add the oil-tahini mixture in a steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy and the oil has been mixed in, about 15-30 seconds
  9. Transfer hummus to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

We have frozen this and used another time, I couldn’t tell the difference although the boss could. Need to arrange a blind taste test!

UnProductive

IMG_3579Coffee this week is served with a peanut butter brownie, crisp and chewy around the edges, gooey in the middle.  Definitely not for the health conscious and I almost regret making it having seen how much sugar goes in.

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#peanutbutter #brownie ….one of the boys will be happy!

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The baking experiments seem to be the things that are pulling me through this whole lock down experience.  I’m very lucky in being able to remote work, this week though has seen no let up, no extra time to myself.  A full on project gaining senior management attention as the number of issues starts to escalate and a milestone date that was promised a year ago is merely a few weeks away.  Many folk with lots of opinions staring at a hole that needs digging but funny enough they don’t have any shovels with them.

Another week has flown by and we mark this weekend by not doing some of the Cuillins in Skye.  A long weekend my youngest and I were going to take; to get him out the house and away whilst big brother did his exams….so sadly neither has happened.  We’ve climbed a few Munro’s (and have a lot more to go), but the Cuillins are probably the ones that scare me the most so we’d booked a guide.  They’ve been brilliant though and just to let them know when we’d like to re-arrange.

As a family we are all trying to keep the daily exercise going and I’m now back to running a 5k loop, which my Garmin seems happy about most days.  Although I did log in one day to be told my exercise was unproductive!  Oblivious to my mental state, which is on a roller coaster as we work through the quirks of the house through lock down.

So I’m choosing to ignore that piece of data and focus on the fact that 8 weeks ago I could barely walk around the house without numerous aches and pains.   Not saying the aches and pains have gone….they take constant monitoring and attention in order that I can be productive…..I’ve come a long way.

If your able to stay for lunch we have a nice homemade loaf in the oven, the dough enriched with a little sour cream that gives the crumb an amazing tenderness with a quick rise……in the meantime I’m away to do some yoga before I seize up!

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Lunch for 4, sour cream #sandwich #loaf

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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.

Fast and Slow

IMG_3625Just topped my coffee up with some hot water, you’re welcome to do so as well.  Perhaps you like your coffee strong, like rocket fuel.  I’m topping it up mainly to add some heat.  I’ve been bobbing around doing the breakfast.  Getting a loaf on the go, so the coffee had gone slightly below that enjoyment heat level for me.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how excited I am.  After doing various bits of research on the slow cooker scene we’ve gone for a a combined fast and slow cooker.

It arrived roughly around the same time as the prime ministers baby, absolutely not related but at the time I know what I was more excited about.  A replacement for a 10 year old steamer which had been holding onto life for some time, and a slow cooker which loves to spit all over the work surface when it’s doing its thing.  I convinced the boss that we could swap 2 things with one, up our cooking game and learn something new in this lock down period.  Placed the order on Sunday and it arrived by the Wednesday.

We had a pressure cooker back in the 80s, a monster of a thing that we used a fork to pull the valve off.  Today it comes like a robot just off the set of Star Wars or as my wife described it the head of a Cyberman.  I know I’m really late to this party of a modern one pot that both sears and slow cooks…or fast cooks depending on your mood.  But I’m looking forward to the journey.

Since our veg order came from the wholesaler there’s been a bit of queue on the machine, almost thinking we could have 2 on the go.  Monster beetroot reduced to tears in minutes.  Not quite like roasted, but still sweet and soft within about 15 mins.  Hummus from dry chickpea in 30.  Slow cooked a ham hock and then pressure cooked the bone afterwards.  Stock was amazing.  Not convinced with the Rissotto…but will give it another go.

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New #fastandslow cooker in action. #bolognese

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Where ever you are I hope this brief coffee share finds you safe and well.

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.

A Packet Mix

IMG_3579Morning and welcome, today’s coffee is served with piece of chocolate cake. For the first time ever I succumbed to a Cadbury’s packet mix.   In my defence it was purchased to encourage my youngest to make something, get him away from the xBox and join me in the kitchen. Add to that zero flour on the shelves and it was on offer!

I can’t believe they get away with such things at the price, almost day light robbery, still had to add eggs, oil, milk and your own icing to boot. It did bring a sense of achievement, pulled the boy away from the machine and gave us something to look forward to, served with strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

It’s been a funny week, a game of two halves. First part on holiday at home and the second part working from home. The thing that’s really coming to bear is the notion of time. I’d hoped to be tackling my dream list and that being in lockdown would open up so much more available me time, and that I would be achieving so much more. Bit of an obvious statement…when I’m at work….I’m at work. It’s still a full on day, calls, excel and more calls. I come out my cave just as frazzled as being in the office.   Without a commute to break the thoughts through a natural transition of getting from physical space A to physical space B.

So even more so, I’ve tried to become more organised and keep to a routine. I have managed 6 straight days of a 10 minute Yoga routine in an effort to combat the occupational hazard of sitting at a desk all day. I think it’s working. Alongside this I have some semblance of a bullet journal system going on…..and if there is one thing I want to take away from this whole lockdown is a working time management system for the ebb and flow of all my stuff!

We’re trying a couple of different food delivery options that have popped up in a way to avoid the supermarket. An awesome array of fruit and veg appeared on Friday. Which resulted in a root vegetable curry (will see us through for a few days!). I discovered the ease in which one can make flat breads as an accompaniment.

I can definitely recommend Charles Stamper, although the website has room for improvement.

Enjoyed watching some of the One World broadcast in conjunction with the Global Citizen, with a highlights to be shown on TV this evening.

Where ever you are I hope you are staying safe and in good health.

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.