Tales from the table – October Challenge

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Welcome into the kitchen, it’s Friday at last and I’ve poured us a glass of Beaujolais. A light and fruity wine made from the Gamay grape (I’ve just discovered). I left work early (around 4) and made it to the fish shop on the way home where they were clearing up for the day. Eddies fish market is always welcoming and they were very quick to ask me how my cookery course had gone on Tuesday (I’d bought fish then last thing!). I shouldn’t have been surprised this lady is the warmest lady you could ever wish to buy fish from and been tracking my boys progress through school like a long lost ant. She gives you feeling that your there only customer and always willing to find what you are looking for.

When it comes to fish, I’m not very knowledgeable or confident to experiment, the choice is immense. Things come with bones, eyes and with all manner of textures and methods and a broad range of costs depending on the fish. Then you need to think about the whole supply and demand thing. What was caught yesterday, what was in the net so to speak. So the whole confidence thing comes into play when you walk up to the counter with a specific cut that’s in a recipe. I usually look at the window and pick something very similar to what I had last time and it’s easy to point. This is what I did with the fish for my cookery course. I’d had Coley before and knew it would fit the bill.

For the Saturday night tea though I didn’t want to scrimp on price and I wanted to stay true to the recipe. So bold as brass I asked for a nice piece of white fish for roasting…..there was a pause and a look at the window….it was half empty or half full depending on your inclination….it was close to closing so I’m going the empty route. I was about to use the I can come back in the morning card….when she leaned over and fished(!) out 2 long fillets. Silver Hake….and then we went into a conversation about eating the skin and chicken feet!

The Nigel Challenge……well he’s got a new book coming out in a few days and I’ve almost got a full bookshelf dedicated to the guy….he was the one….the cook who turned my endeavours around in the kitchen and gave me hope!  So the new book called Christmas Chronicles I believe covers the winter period with the run up to the main event in his foodie writing diary style. I already have Kitchen Diaries 1 through 3, with untried recipes, so how could I justify the next might tome, to add to bookshelf already creaking. So I’ve got myself a list of all the recipes in each diary for October through to December and I’m going to pick them off. A good 150 or so in all. There are some…that I’m just not going to attempt, most likely the game birds (see fear of fish shops and apply to butchers!) and a couple of repeats from KD1 and KD2 (pear chocolate crumble and ham with butter beans). I never really got into KD3, just felt different.

This weekend sees me tackling, Roast Haddock….(Except using Silver Hake) with bacon, Fennel, Watercress and Pear Salad (With addition of Kale!), English Apple Cake and then Orzo with Courgettes (Something the boys can take on for Sunday night tea)!

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We were having coffee – Autumn Scones

If we were having coffee it would be served with a fresh batch of buttermilk scones. You might have just come in from the rain, you may have done a 3 mile run and have the runners glow about you despite what the elements have thrown against you.

I’ve had the luxury of time to throw the scones together, random flours in the cupboard, amid of wholemeal and some 00 pasta flour just past it’s sell by and the buttermilk crying out from the fridge.

The week has seen us move well into autumn, the early morning starts are now in the dark and the idea of getting out and running before work is a real struggle. I left it a week and I noticed that I was starting to feel dark with my mood dipping. Friday I broke the mould and got out after watching a programme the night before on body age versus birth age.

I love autumn because of the hunkering down, the comfort food and the harvesting spoils. I’m determined though to keep the exercise up and face the blues that winter brings by being in the right place mentally.

Back to School – Indian Cookery

Back to school for me this evening, adult cookery class

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Back to School for me this evening for an Indian Cookery class.  Mainly to chum a pal who spotted this under adult education for Edinburgh.   This evening mainly a demo and orientation session.   The teacher covered a Chilli Dip, Yogurt Mango and Lime Relish,
Poppadum’s, Chicken Chaat and Vegetable Pakoras.

Throughout there was good chat on a few topics:

Spices – left in the cupboard

  • If you don’t recognise them, can’t tell what they are, throw them away
  • If they are past their sell by date, throw them away
  • Smell them, if they don’t give off an aroma, probably have passed their best, throw them away
  • Buying big bags although cheaper by weight is usually a false economy as you won’t use that amount overall.  Use your judgement.  Turmeric and Paprika might be an exception to this rule for me.  Although I prefer using fresher ingredients so it’s a good consideration.

Garlic

Apparently Garlic is easier to crush if fresher and the teacher attributed an upset stomach to using garlic that doesn’t have the green stalk removed.  I looked this up further as I know Anna Del Conte recommended that you remove the stalk as it’s bitter.  My view,  about the sprout.  It’s called the germ and when garlic is young, the germ is pale, small and tender and you don’t need to worry about it.  Likewise if you are slow cooking you don’t need to worry.   For an older garlic clove where the germ is green and you are using fresh, or quick frying you may wish to remove the green using your thumb or pairing knife.

Chillies

Smaller varieties usually have more kick/heat.  Not everyone likes a seed, can impart unwanted heat in a mouthful!  You can use whole chillies and take them out later as a way of adding fragrance.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – The Routine is Back

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And breathe….If we were having coffee I’d tell you we’ve got the routine back, the schools went back on Wednesday and a sense of normality has been restored!

Porridge has been established as the breakfast of champions as the boys now have ownership for making it themselves  (My recipe and version of events).  Not sure you can class it as a recipe as such but a definite alchemy as heat turns two ingredients into a wonderfully creamy bowl of comfort to start the day.  I once went to India for the week with work. In the space of 4 days covered 3 cities with two companies providing various amazing meals. To say my constitution was turned upside down is an understatement…. all I craved was a bowl of porridge to put me right! Marvellous stuff.

As an end of holiday treat, bagged the movie Valerian a Luc Besson, a CGI fest.  It was good, probably not deserved of the bad reviews.  Just something missing… the boys loved it.  Cinema and blockbusters just seem so ever present and accessible now I don’t think the boys realise how big a deal going to cinema was for me as a boy.  The 4 year wait for something to come out on video….getting to the cinema to see a blockbuster was important!

How’s the organisation challenge going I hear you ask!  So week three has arrived and nearly gone.  Monday Tuesday, I covered the last days of the school holiday.   Wednesday I was in the office, then Thursday out on a course and then back in the Friday.  So despite the routine of school being back, establishing my daily journal has been difficult… it’s only really going to kick in again this Monday.

Despite this though I did manage to take a look at a concept called “Don’t break the chain”, google will provide you with all manner of links, Lifehacker has a good one.

I’ve set a rudimental version in my journal and now have a habit tracker up and running. No pun intended!

  • I managed a run 3 times this week with stretches Not enough for my physio, however a big change for me and my mental state.
  • I’ve sat down at the ivories for 10 minutes a day as an adult piano learner it’s a biggie.
  • Finally got my head round a system for a dedicated tackling of 5 chosen cookery books.  I hope to write more about the adventures in the kitchen later. 5BooksSep17
  • I started reading…how to have a good day from Caroline Webb.  So far the three As are key:
    • Aim: What matters most today, what should be the priority
    • Attitude: Get your head right
    • Attention: Given your real aim…what you going to give your focus

So the push for me to really stop procrastinating is finally on…although I’m feeling a bit fraught!  Please don’t read this as man who’s really got his stuff together.  It’s a man trying to balance his aspirations and sharing the approach hoping that this might help someone else.  If you take one thing from our coffee chat today…..I think breaking the chain is a real biggie!

Thanks for stopping in and sharing coffee.

The Weekend Cofee Share is hosted by the Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share – Week 2 of the challenge

Saturday and we woke to the sound of rain on the cupola.  Peeking through the curtains confirmed it and essentially made our decision on a stay at home day……homemade scones were in the offing and this just tipped the decision in their favour.

Come on in, you have arrived just in the time….the smell from the oven is lingering in the hall.  The scones have just come out the oven, the coffee freshly made.

We had a late night last night, I’ve lived in Edinburgh 20 years now and never seen the Tattoo and finely scratched it off the list.  The cost had always put me off and I never seemed to be in the right place when the tickets go on sale.  This year the stars were obviously in alignment and I put the money thoughts aside.  We all had a great time, such a great setting up on the castle esplanade and the bands were just pure brilliantly rehearsed.

#edinburghtattoo great show @edinburghtattoo

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So where I am at with my thirteen week get organised challenge!…..well I’m back here having coffee, haven’t managed to get a recipe up and my daily journal has had some sporadic entries.  I have sat down and thought about things though.  Resulted in biting the bullet on a few things rather than procrastinating.

  • Had a knotted hamstring for some time and went to see the physio….crumbs to say I’m a bit in a mess when it comes to stretching is an understatement.  I’ve been given 20mins exercises a day for 6 days a week…..not sure how I’m going to fit those in!
  • I signed up for a beginners cookery course – vegetarian India, mainly to catch up with a pal once a week.
  • Time to start the DIY season again….open for business with such an old house the list is mounting.  This morning, I took out the dead water tank……..grim
  • I’m starting to sort out my recipe system……….I know the new cookery books are going to start appearing on the shop shelves….I don’t need any-more honest, except they are a guilty secret, except they are not being used and I need to do something!
  • My daily photo has been kept going, think my favourite from this week is the Olympic torch that was hung on the wall of the Physio

At physio this morning, olympic torch on the wall. 13/365 #olympics #365 #365project #olympictorch

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Thank you so much for popping around, I’ve given you too much of my chat!….Hope your doing OK and your keeping your chin up.  I’m going back to looking at a few more recipes and the boy and I are going to harvest the miracle basil that grew in the summer before it turns black….too late for some of it…..Pesto for the freezer.

The Weekend Cofee Share is hosted by the Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share – Week 1 Challenge

Coffee and toasted coconut bread, nice breakfast number 2 option @leosbeanery 8/365 #365 #365project

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If we were having coffee, we’d talk about the weather in Edinburgh the last few days and how the tourists are getting a rough deal. One minute it’s sunny, the next torrential down pours and then hours of dreich sticky mist that hangs in the air and just clings to you.

I’ve woken up early for a Saturday, normal time for a weekday, I’ve snuck out of bed, so you were passing just at the right time.  The house is quiet for a few minutes and I can tell you about my week.

I started a 13 week challenge for myself, mainly taken the ideas from the self journal approach, and I’ve high jacked it to work with a bullet journal.  The self journal would create waste for me in a journal, I just don’t think I could be that fanatical about my day (yet), whereas the bullet journal is more random and suits the nature of the beast that is my working week and my random head.

My main goal is to get myself organised, you could say it’s the prequel to being able to take the self journal approach.  And the 2nd goal was to really give my a blog a stretch of its legs.

I started writing a piece for the weekend coffee share whilst on holiday but then something got in the way….probably a child.

The thing about holidays…you start to think differently, the daily demands of the mind start to unravel at the edges.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the constant demands of the boys and I’ll be going back to work for a rest on that front.   It’s the moments where your mind gets to drift, the first coffee in the morning (if your left in peace) or the moments when we are all on our bikes in harmony.

I’ve been trying to hang onto that feeling of holidays, freedom, harmony and mindfulness.  The boys are still off school and I’m 2 weeks back in.  There have been a few ups and downs, hence the challenge and the daily focus has helped both keep my work and life priorities on track.

So here I am two weeks in a row now enjoying your company!  I’ve been looking forward to it wondering what I’d tell you.

  • I’d set myself a goal of getting at least one recipe up this week and I managed it.  Bolognese EdinburghCook Style
  • Loving Rachel Roddy, if you are into podcasts, great intro to the book from Honey and Co Food Talks   With the Honey and Co Podcasts here
  • The eldest had seen SpiderMan, and I’d promised I’d take the youngest one night.  A school night for me, the timings sucked in terms of lateness but I went for it.  Pleased I did he was so grateful and it was great.  I’ve started to become tired of the adventure hero genre and really didn’t need to see another reboot of SpiderMan.  Marvel have done a good job, and so much better than I thought it would be.
  • Discovered this great playlist on Spotify Music for concentration 
  • Really inspired by the I Am Bolt documentary
  • Despite the weather, manged to cycle to work every day plus a Monday run
  • As well as the 13 week challenge.  I’ve started a  365 photo challenge…for no other reason to try and capture a moment in each day.  Something that made me smile, react or think about my place in the world, a wannabe cook and his iPhone!  @EdinburghCook Instagram


Thank you for sharing coffee and saying hello,  The weekend coffee share is hosted by the PartTimeMonster

 

 

 

#weekendcoffeeshare – Swiss Memories

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If we were having coffee it would be outside in the morning sun, served with breakfast.

The cares of the working world left behind, the list of chores around the house slowly fading, there is nothing I can do about them, so they slowly dissipate.

I have access to the world on my phone, work email is a thumb press away.  It takes huge resolve on my part not to just take a peek. A habit, a need to know everything is ok or give something a nudge if it’s not.  The intermittent Wi-Fi locations and the need to be in a vicinity of a Wi-Fi antenna at the campsites we stay at has helped me break a habit.  The only thing I crave is an Instagram hit, or a Facebook check.

The thing about holidays…you start to think differently, the daily demands of the mind start to unravel at the edges.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the constant demands of the boys and camping comes with its own heartbeat of chores.  I’ll be going back to work for a rest on that front.   It’s the moments where your mind gets to drift, the first coffee in the morning if your left in peace and those moments when you’re first up.

The campsite is at peace and the sun is just stretching it’s legs, different shadows and a freshness about the air.  TCS Bönigen – Interlaken is just on the corner of lake Brienzersee with the magical colour of turquoise on the door step of awe inspiring mountains………and breathe.

This was a few weeks ago and I’ve been desperately trying to get back into the rhythm of work this week at the same time as keeping my mind free.  The garden is helping and I came back to glorious sun flowers in the garden……

Came home to sunflowers in the garden #monday #backtowork #sunflower

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I’ve been working through a few resolutions that are putting my brain into overload and wrenching my time management skills into action…….I’ll leave you with one thought that is sticking in my head.   What you do, gets done!

Thank you for sharing coffee and saying hello,  The weekend coffee share is hosted by the PartTimeMonster