Cairngorm Gold the Coffee Share

Cairngorm Gold

Got to that time of the day where it’s a bit late for coffee, you’re welcome to one, although we have a Cairngorm Gold on offer from the local brewery. Stumbled across it yesterday as we walked to the grocery store for milk. We are away for the week a few hours north of Edinburgh and always like to taste something locally made.

The weather has been terrible in the UK the past few days so although the sky was grey when we woke, it was a welcome relief to see it wasn’t raining, a coffee and a pancake later, the bikes loaded off the van and pumped up we were good to hit the Speyside way.

Cycling the route from Aviemore to Boat of Garten is one of those dream cycle rides, the landscape, the air, the colours just make you feel alive. Both boys smiles on their faces as the first few minutes were down hill with twists and turns, bridges, tunnels and loops. We were out in the open in a matter of minutes helped by staying at one of the last houses in the village.

Cycle rides mark the passage of time, where previously we’d had to coax the boys along, they are now setting the pace and before we knew it we were at Boat of Garten looking to extend our route and perhaps find lunch. The next section, to Nethy Bridge very similar in terrain once your out of Boat of Garten. Head towards the RSPB Osprey centre but then keep to the Speyside way, red route.

Lunch at the Nethy House café, where the boys were rewarded with Cairngorm hotdogs kilted in bacon….I was nearly envious with my haggis, sausage and cranberry meatloaf salad plater.

The route back, the same way we came this time rewarded with the sun in our faces.

Back to the beer…..just what I needed as I type away, a product of Scotland, a golden coloured light bodied continental style ale.

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 the post before the last post iPad Troubles….the iPad was replaced, finally mr Apple agreed it was a hard ware issue.…I’m happy and what a difference.

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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

Lentil and Aubergine Ratatouille

My head is fried, one of the boys is bashing out tunes on the piano, jumping from ditty to ditty. The other is battling against a shrinking storm with all manner of explosions on the xBox. I’ve been painting doors and skirtings for most the day and despite it being water based I think the smell has got to me. Add to that and I expect no sympathy on this point, day 2 of a possible hangover from the annual Whisky Fringe that takes place here in Edinburgh.

I’ve been given the Sunday tea slot and asked to take care of the Courgette and the Aubergine, whilst I wasn’t the looking the potatoes as well. I was thinking a slow cooked ragu/ratatouille to serve with Pasta and Basil from the plant slowly wilting in the corner and then the potatoes arrived so just decided to go for a one pot….which I think was a little too small in hindsight.

Lentil and Aubergine ratatouille

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple one pot dish that’s great for using up the veg box left overs when all you want to do is chill.

Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe file

Prep: A hob and oven proof lidded casserole dish. Oven at 180°

Ingredients

  • 200g mixed lentils (100g puy, 100g Brown)
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 2 Cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 Courgette chopped to bite size pieces
  • 1 Aubergine, quartered length wise and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 500g potatoes chopped into bite sized pieces (These were newish, so I scrubbed and kept the skins on)
  • Tablespoon dry herbs of your choice
  • Heaped teaspoon of bouillon
  • Teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • Glug of olive oil

Directions

  1. In an oven proof dish, slowly soften the onion in the oil
  2. Add the garlic and stir through
  3. Add the Aubergine and turn over as they start to soak up the oil
  4. Add the courgette, stir through, the herbs and the salt
  5. The tomatoes, and then fill the can up with water and pour that in as well
  6. Add the potatoes and lentils and stir through (if you can….I couldn’t’)
  7. Use your judgement and add more water (only a drop) to cover the lentils
  8. Bring to simmer and then cover and place in the oven,
  9. Check at 30 mins and stir over, top up with water if needed (again only a drop)
  10. Check at the 1hr and the do the….should be cooked at this point, but repeat the last step, I like the extra 30 mins as I feel something magical happens to the aubergine as it softens, sweetens and adds to the pot of warming magic

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

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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.

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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.