Tales from the Table #15

Just been out on my bike and it is cold and crisp, I’m wrapping my hands round my cup of coffee to warm up. My fingers throbbing.

I’ve come back from the butchers with an overwhelming, I love our butchers kind of feeling. I’d picked my recipe and new what I was going to go get to find I’ve come away with something completely different in terms of a cut. I’d asked for a shoulder steak, to find I was being given steaks of pork (obviously taken from the shoulder). I was bold though and exclaimed that I was looking for something with the bone in. To find I was then talking to man brandishing a cleaver as long as his arm. He promptly brought forward this huge hunk of a shoulder along with an education session on the bone, we moved onto other cuts and agreed on a loin of pork with the bone left in. I asked about fat and we talked about the top end of the loin. This was all done with the love and care of a man who wanted to help his customer and knew his trade. I came away very happy and now I’m thinking will this cook in the same way.

The worst time of year for a cookbook hoarder…..the Christmas releases are out in full force. The best roundup that I have come across is from eat your books website. How they manage to get all these books into one review is amazing…think tardis for cookbook reviews.

French cooking this week was really stressful, a mix of turning up harassed and head fried (post work, mad rush to have tea and get to the school). A caramel disaster for creme caramel and a pastry so short it was more like builders sand for a tarte au chocolate. On my third attempt at re constitution of the sugar crystals I managed to get something that could be poured into a ramekin. And a drop of water whilst the teacher wasn’t looking remedied the sand. My friend and I were last out as the the final school bell went, just in time to pick up my son who was having his Halloween disco.

Classes have been broken into 5 week chunks this term, so that’s it for the French cooking. All in all it’s been good, a couple of learning’s and some things I’ve never cooked before. Biggest disaster was my roux for the goats cheese soufflé. Cream goes in at the end, otherwise you get a disgusting ball of fatty goo.

Week 1, Coq au Vin demo…a little cheated
Week 2, Boeuf Bourguignon, Dauphinoise Potatoes
Week 3, Onion Soup, Goat Cheese Soufflé
Week 4, Fish Casserole, and definitely something return to. Sole Meuniere…no point as you need to eat immediately
Week 5, tarte au chocolate and crème caramel

Came across Never Panic Buy a House this week where my favourite quote of the week sticks the house owns you not the other way round….never more true when the shower blew mid way through washing out the black die my son used for his Halloween hair. It was messy.

Hope everyone had a good week and Halloween went well. It’s bonfire night here in the uk and we are well and truly heading into slow cook and comfort food eating territory. My goal has been set and I’ve to start decorating the front room…so my cooking exploits are likely to be curtailed!

Weekend Coffeeshare

The weekend coffee share hosted by Eclectic Alli, nice to see you,  I’m a wannabe cook, semi part time blogger!  Please subscribe at the top right.  

Tales from the Table #14

Coffee today is served with a huge slab of carrot cake and a dark roast, it’s more a memory from last week as I scan my photo’s.

This time last week we were packing up the van and leaving a week behind of full on fresh air and bike trails through ancient forests.  This week though tails of waking up in the dark and barely seeing the day as I returned to work.

I did comeback enthused and determined to beat the office blues, and a minor agenda around some weight loss……the bullet journal as my guide, a habit tracker in tow.  Despite the strong winds I managed three runs pre work in the dark.  Email defeated me big time!

Food wise my highlight has to be the fish casserole I made at my french cookery class.  Not authentic as there was no fish carcass in sight….two hours in an evening is just not long enough.  Despite that though very tasty and a keeper.

And although I’m not longer buying cookbooks (honest!) I found the Borough Market Cookbook, Recipes and stories from a year at the market at a steal from Amazon for £7, at present it’s at £8.99.  Written by Ed Kyber who has a great inspiration food blog Rocket and Squash.  As I’m no longer buying cook books I gave it to my wife for my Christmas stocking, so potentially I’ve started my Christmas shopping!

I’ve been dabbling, with my own self hosted site, trying to tweak here, nip and tuck there.  My greatest breakthrough getting the Instagram feed up within seconds.  My undoing to find that as I marked the old house private my pictures are no longer visible on the archive……I’ve downloaded the history (call it the van) and I now feel a bit of unpacking and re-org required for the new house.

Music wise my top tip new release is the soundtrack from Bohemian Rhapsody, I’m more of an Eighties Queen fan so not every song floats my boat….the 20th century fox fanfare really put a smile on my face, that and Trent’s weekly smile returning.

Bohemian Rhapsody (The Original Soundtrack)

So back to the coffee, a day of DIY awaits, and I’ve forgotten to soak the beans overnight that I had planned to slow cook during that time spent hammering and bashing, so I need to find something else.   I do have a sourdough slowly proving in the fridge.

Thanks for joining me, I hope you have a great weekend.

The weekend coffee share hosted by Eclectic Alli, nice to see you,  I’m a wannabe cook, semi part time blogger and this is my new home with my own url as well!  Please subscribe at the top right.  

September18 – Weekend Coffee Share

IMG_5614Welcome to September, probably my favourite month food wise. Mentally there is transition to comfort foods, root veg, squash and plums all start to become abundant as we run into apple season. The plants that have taken their time to grow and produce finally letting go and saying I’m ready.

I love all these ingredients that lend themselves to slow cooking. With a big old house to slowly renovate a slow one pot dish allows you to get on with the list that the boss has at the same time as ensuring a good wholesome meal hits the table.

Of late though people have been muscling in on my cooking slots, the boys actually agreeing to make a meal, or the boss cottoning on to the fact I might be stalling by cooking.

If we were having coffee, we’d agree that this was only being said in jest. We’d talk about how we’ve been in the house three years now, how the kitchen, the electrics and the bathroom were all big jobs. However now it’s time to push on with the other things.

We have furniture that we’ve carried from 4 moves, wire boxes and components that I’ve not touched in a good 15 years when I dabbled with self-build PCs. The speakers from my teenage hi-fi that are just too hard to let go. The idea that you could Bluetooth your phone to a speaker and connect to a myriad of tunes a twinkle in someone’s eye compared to a black and red wire trailing around a bedroom hidden behind things so you didn’t know. The sounds of my teenage youth not the same now and the speakers of today although crisp, bright and compact never seem to live up to the sounds of yester year.

This weekend really is time to have a good sort out, I’m taping into the energy of the 1st day of the month falling on a Saturday and just a general feeling of it’s time to get organised and control some of things that I can unlike at work which is another tale.

Obviously there will be time to enjoy a few cups of coffee. I’ll be serving a few slices of freshly baked Brioche that’s in the fridge just now slowly proving.

Thanks for joining me at the weekend coffee share hosted by Eclectic Alli, nice to see you if this is the first time you’ve read through, I’m a wannabe cook, semi part time blogger. And if you read last weeks post….the iPad still isn’t fixed… though this time I’ve made an appointment with the Apple doctor for this week, rather than arriving on spec.

iPad Screen Problems – the weekend coffee share

img_5059Saturday and I’m first up, The sun breaking through the curtains in the front room. There is a silence about the place, the roads free from the daily grind of commuters. There’s a feeling that summer is erasing its way into winter with the chill in the air. The Sun is low for 6.40, it’s just gone past the stage of a sun rise. The coffee isn’t on yet. I want the peace to continue for a few more minutes. To revel in the luxury of thinking Space where I can put my mind at ease. No one asking questions, or a fight over breakfast…. just quiet.

It doesn’t last long….welcome and thanks for joining me for the weekend coffee share. The sun has come up and it’s going to a be a bright day, nothing on the agenda, perhaps a trip into town a little long overdue clothes shopping for work, a trip to the butchers for inspiration and the Apple store.

The trick here will be to get in and out before the tourists get out and about. The last full on weekend of the Fringe and the Festival. It’s great for the city but for the locals it adds on another dimension of chaos to the ebb and flow of getting about the jobs and the messages.

I’ve got a weird thing going on with my iPad and pencil where one particular part of the screen stops working along with issues with the same letters when I type. The standard response from the chatbot was to reinstall and rebuild…but the scientist in me knows it’s a hardware fault. I can’t get an appointment until 13.25….Tuesday online, it’s like going to the doctors, going to try my luck at just appearing at the store………

Stood at the bus stop, the warmth of the sun cuts through the chill in the air. There is no one here but me, so I’m able to stand here without embarrassment charging myself like a rechargeable battery. Its 8:30 and it dawns on me that it’s a bank holiday weekend and maybe that’s the reason for the quietness to the air……..

There’s a queue outside the Apple store with 2 mins to go until opening time, time to breathe and really take a good look at the Balmoral, the apple store doesn’t need another picture.

The doors open and there is a frenzy….. Tech support or Genius Bar, make your way up the stairs. A mad dash to make an appointment. Relief from a guy who came yesterday and couldn’t see anyone. He’s in the club. A text on my phone to let me know that I’ll be seen soon and to let someone know I’m here, it’s been 2 mins since I last spoke to the same guy.

……..Diagnostics and a reinstall later I’m sent on my way, but this time with the re-assurance that they will take me back in store with open arms. I shake the guys hand and re-assure him I will be back, he doesn’t know what to say. I smile and say thanks.

…..back home now and the tea is poured, I’ll keep you posted on the iPad saga….thanks for popping by.

 

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Alli

Table #15 – Post Holiday Blues and the Coffee Share

Rain

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at Eclectic Alli

Saturday and it’s raining. Definitely a welcome relief the garden so desperately needs it and the air needs to feel fresher.

The coffee is poured and a chicken is on the hob gently poaching in order to both create a stock along with chicken for tonight’s pie.

I was asked to take care of the potatoes from the veg box as part of my weekend cook.  My mind automatically jumped to a hot pot, sliced potatoes on the top more like a winter comfort food though.  Then when I looked at the box, they were nice new scrapers rather than fluffy so they will be scrubbed, slightly boiled and then roasted with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt.

I’ve had a roller coaster week mentally.  Straight back into work Monday after our return on the Sunday.  An expected shock to the system, but never the less draining mentally to get back into projects and the vernacular of the working world.  Swapping shorts and t-shirt for a shirt and tie!

Couldn’t help question myself over many things to the point of procrastination and even to the point of something so radical as deleting the whole blog to either pack it in completely or to rip it up and start again. To do so to admit failure and wouldn’t create any more time or stop me coming back.

Life has a habit of creeping in and taking over, reality kicks in and takes over the dreams that formed whilst camping in the French mountains.

So this morning with a little head-space I caught up on my feedly feeds and had a word with myself.  A trip to the butchers the paint supply shop for a primer, a 2nd coffee and the kitchen table…. I’m back…. again!

Trotting in Manchester and Blackpool – the coffee share

Today’s weekend coffee view comes from a premier inn overlooking the canal in Manchester.  The coffee is not special, purely a instant made from a sachet and the kettle in the room  to help with the wake up.

The view, unusual for us in a premier inn, normally a car park with the sound of rushing cars, somewhere to pop our heads for the night.  We lucked out this time, top corner on the 5th floor.  Blue sky and the canal,  I can see rowers, a mix of 2’s and 4’s.  There fast and it’s inspiring seeing them out on the water.  Great to see that redevelopment of these areas are being put to good use.

We are in Manchester to see the Harlem Globetrotters, and for someone who doesn’t really bother with sport this is different for us.  I remember seeing them on the tv passing a ball to wacky music and performing tricks as a child.

The youngest plays basketball weekly and so so excited,    Including a trip to Wagamama, the merchandise stall and pretty much front row seats (I booked this a year ago).  The show really was for kids very akin to a circus act with basketball mixed in.  Just feel good fun and then autograph signing at the end.

Back to today and what to do with a sunny Sunday.  With Blackpool an hour away and somewhere I’ve been as a child but not as a family I felt it was worth carrying on the different theme.

They’ve do so much to improve the sea front.  The tide just going out, the sun with it’s charm shining made for a lovely walk.  The tram and the road making a good separation between the amusements, the B&Bs, the  bars, hen and stag nights that the town is known for.  We were just able to ignore it all and focus on the piers, and the tower.  The boys both accepting that we’d spent enough this weekend.

There was obviously room for an ice cream though and we came across an artisan ice cream stall as part of Silcocks Leisure and Funland.  There is something about ice cream that can take you back in time, and Blackpool is full of memories for me.  A day trip on the train with my grand parents….I don’t remember the Ice Cream but I do remember the pick and mix stall in Woolworths which is long gone.

A good family weekend and hopefully one the boys will remember.

 

Weekend coffee share is hosted by Eclectic Alli 

Table #13 – Galloway Forest

2018-05-05 08.10.00

The coffee has been poured and I’m struggling.  I have a bit of stiff neck and a few aching muscles this morning.  The effects of a 36 mile big country loop on the mountain bikes and a solid 9 hours sleep in the camper van afterwards.

We camped at the Glentrool campsite which was just under a mile away from the Glentrool trails and all part of the plan to be in situe for the big loop.

Managed to get to the visitor centre for 10.10, to find it didn’t open until 10:30.  Plan was to have a coffee and hopefully sample some local produce.  Those precious minutes were going to be costly, it was too cold to hang around and we had a plan B in the pannier.

By 11, we were ready for our stonking chunks of choc banana loaf that I’d baked at Christmas.

2018-05-05 13.18.47

Lunch half way at the 18 mile mark, nice to see…Old Edinburgh Road.  I was certainly starting to feel broken.  The trouble with forestry routes like this, is that you start to feel like you in some large construction site.  Mile after mile trees have been felled for timber use, to make room for the new.  On reflection a tree graveyard.

Post lunch the boys miraculously switched personas, energy levels transposed, the youngest up front with zero moans starting to sing Disney songs and the eldest now at the back.

The 2nd half felt the best part of the loop in terms of scenery and lack of forestry work, a mixture of lochs and hills.  We also came across one of the seven stanes.

Can’t beat a campsite that plays radio in the shower block, but annoying to hear tales of blue skies and BBQs when we had dreich mist and fog for most the day.

In terms of a rewind (which sadly I’ve just found out will not be continuing, all good things come to an end!)….living off the wall was playing in the shower block and couldn’t help tapping my feet whilst waiting for my boys to free up the showers.

I’m grateful for the head-space that the countryside and fresh air gives you, even through the moans there are moments of tranquillity where you get to put your troubles into perspective.  The office is miles and away and the DIY is parked for those precious few moments.

On the table was a broken sausage and pasta dish….so easy to get on the table when your on two hobs.

Two pans….Pasta in one pan cooked to packet directions.  In the other, soften a diced onion, throw in  5 de-skinned herby sausages which you can break up into bits. Stirring until colour changes, add sliced mushrooms, a glass of white wine if the bottle is open! Add half tub of crème fraiche.  Stir through.  Drain the pasta and add the sausage mix

Back to the coffee at the weekendcoffeeshare, the aroma fills the camper van and a day of adventure awaits. The stirring of the boys up top and the promise of a real mountain bike trail. We move camp today as well….a visit to Port Patrick and the Mull of Galloway….most southerly part of Scotland apparently.

 

Table #11 – Black Ice

DSC_0140

Coffee is ready and we’ve cracked open a Christmas cake from the Bourke Street Bakery cookery book….come on in it’s snowing again!

The streets here in Edinburgh have been in a bad way, sheet ice on the paths and the side roads fairing no better. The weeks exercise constrained to walking and the bus. To say we were going a little stir crazy is an exaggeration.

Fortunately the weekend saw a blue sky day and we were determined to get out. I love Braid hill, close to home at the same time a feeling of escaping and a way of looking at the world in a different light.

Inspired and in protest at the world I’ve signed my self up for a triathlon sprint in August. Apparently great for the beginner. 20km cycle, 5k run and 750m open water swimming. Cycle, not a problem and running I’ve finely got that distance in the bag without too much of an issue. The swimming….fills me with dread. I’ve not covered that distance since I swam for badges back in the 80’s.   Then add them together in succession…..I’m starting to realise I’m going to have to get a training plan in place…..fortunately it’s 7 months away and that’s the point right.

Retro movie re-wind time and what did I torture my boys with today?  The Last Starfighter!

Music playing on the kitchen stereo….a little bit of INXS.

I’m grateful for root vegetables and soup, just the ticket for these cold days and trying to be a bit more healthy.

Thanks for popping by, A nod to the #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, thanks for hosting.

Table #10 – The dark week

img_3800

Come on in we have a chicken and bacon pie on the menu…(still to find the recipe/make it up) a fresh pot of coffee just made and a slice of flapjack.

Its been a long hard week, Tuesday saw a real back to routine kick in with the house coming back to life in the early morning.   The once still house at 6:30, is now back to having familiar noises, the shower, the clunk of bedroom drawers. The bleary eyed pleasantries of two boys ready to catch up with there pals again. Still in shock of having to jump out of a cosy duvet.

The 2 days of ice that had built up on the car windscreens has gone, my signal to say that it might be safe to cycle. It may have been safe ice wise, however wind chill wise sharp to the bone on the fingers despite the thick gloves.

So we made it through a tough week in January, the back to reality week where the January blues kick in. I started reading the Human’s by Matt Haig as a way of relax before bed….I’m mightily impressed by the new year challenges that folk are doing to read 50+ books this year. I was hoping cookery books counted…..alas…..maybe I need to start my own challenge!!

Granny’s recipes are challenge enough, now roughly categorised into 150 sweet things (desserts and bakes) with 140 mains and savouries.

I’ve also been Indexing The Mountain Book Café cookbook for the Eat Your Books website that I often use.

Introduced the boys to Ferris Buellers day off, there were even chuckles from the eldest which was nice to share. So this week in amongst the toing and throwing of work I’m grateful for the laughter. Thanks for stopping by and have a good weekend.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Official Trailer – Matthew Broderick Movie

A nod to the #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, thanks for hosting.

Table #9 – The New 2018 Year

2018-01-07 16.26.35Come on in, coffee is ready and there is a chilli on the hob. First week of 2018 in the bag, with a mix of renewal, some of the same and a bit of the old. A short working week, unpredictably cold wet and windy, I’ve managed to get into work dry, but the home slog wet and cold.

It’s that time of year the annual re-org of my head in relation to the cook books that have entered my life, the recipes that I’ve cut out collecting dust in my in-tray. The screen grabs from my iPAD taking up valuable iCloud space and the un-touched recipes from Granny’s black box…….you get the picture….something needs to happen!

So despite my no more cookbooks ever and then the one in one out rule it never seems to happen!……what can I say, I can’t help myself.

The four that entered my life over the last couple of months:

Christmas Chronicles – Nigel Slater (A cook who writes)

In the end I couldn’t resist. From the man who really brought me on and inspired me into the world of cooking a homage to the winter season, a diary, a bunch of winter facts and seasonal recipes.   This will be now be parked and put to bed for next winter.   Not quite into the decorations box as it starts in November.

The Mountain Café – Kirsten Gilmour (A Kiwi in the Mountains)

An early Christmas present, due to the fact I drive the boss bonkers, I was about to take it out of the library (to be fair I’d had it on the reserve list since August). Getting it early was a welcome godsend meaning I could do some cooking in the lead up to the big day rather than being given a book that I don’t have the ingredients for or can’t get because the shops are closed.   This has definitely got some miles in it.   In the lead up to Christmas I did both chowders, the veggie burgers, the pancakes a couple of times. A chunky sweet potato salad. This is before I get anywhere near the cake section that the café produces.

The Art of the Larder – Claire Thomson (The 5 O’Clock Apron)

A self bought Christmas Present (any excuse). I’m hoping to get some tips on store cupboard recipes. Used the Cavalo Nero recipe for New Years eve which worked a treat with the Stroganoff recipe from One Knife, One Pot, One Dish.

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish – Stéphane Reynaud (Villa 9 Trois in Montreuil)

Great inspiration for some cooking that cooks itself whilst you get on with life, the jobs, the garden etc. This will be my slow cook side companion and I’m pretty sure will be used throughout the year.

Typically at this time I choose 5 books for the year….from experience this doesn’t work….I get distracted, the season, a new discovery, a twitter link, instagram feed, the paper and the best browsing in a bookshop … so this year I’m going to work monthly and not kid myself.   The three above are in and then decisions, decisions…

Family Superfoods – Jamie Oliver

The cheeky chap from essex, who really grew on me when he started his philanthropy….cookery books for the masses the leading uk author. Can’t really avoid him or get away from his enthusiasm for food.   I’d love his new book….but really did I do his last one justice….no. So this is the one!

Two Kitchens – Rachel Roddy

A resident in the food section of the guardian. An expat who spends her time in Italy and the UK. I just love her language with food. The memories she evokes in her writing. Not just recipes…discoveries and life stories.

I expect I’ll carry them through the year, my thoughts here though are just to focus and concentrate on these books, use them to stay focussed and learn.

I’m also going to get back to my pet project of organising granny’s recipes from the black box. I managed to scan them all off the index cards and I struggle to read some of them. Others have been passed on and some are in the teenage writing of my wife. There recipes of a time, some are recognised and some are just aspirational hand me-ons from a friends perhaps post a dinner invite.   I hate the idea of them collecting dust and somehow I can bring them back into our time and our lives.  They bring granny and grandparents into the conversation at the dinner table and that has got to mean something

Thanks for joining me for #weekendcoffeeshare and a #DSFWeeklyrewind, in the background I’ve been playing a little bit of Pete Tong and I’m grateful for the warmth in my home. The cold spell that’s being shown on the tv across the northern hemisphere makes my heart sink.