Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Scents and sensibility...

Fitting, really, that this jpeg should come courtesy of the Jewish Malt Whisky Society (.com) who were clearly trying to describe an aspect of the taste and smell of a particular single malt (turned out to be a Sazerac Rye, 18year old) - pencil shavings, cinammon and vanilla. Jings, sounds bloody marvellous. Anyway, I googled - as one tends to do these days - images for pencil shavings and this was my favourite (on page 1 of about 14squillion).

Why did I google pencil shavings? I'd just been helping the wee man with his homework and he needed the sharpener unjammed. He was having a multi-media experience, researching homework - polar bears - online then writing up his findings in his jotter and I was thinking as I stoked the fire that it was great for him to be able to do this, to have the world's information at his fingertips; when all of a sudden it struck me - though the web has given us many things it has also - so some people lament - led to the demise of some key skills: handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

What's more, if we keep digitising at the rate we're going, someday, perhaps sooner than I'd like to think, we'll have no need of pencils and their associated shavings and sharpener jammings will be lost forever...

What then for the Kosher quaffers? "Hints of I-phone 4 with top notes of polycarbonate?" "Oy vey! No! I'm getting cinammon bagel and a hint of kevlar..."

Monday, 15 November 2010

Breakfast of champions...

So. For no good reason I was singing away to myself in the shower this morning, it was "Honey Be Good" by The Bible, erstwhile home to singer-songwriter genius, Boo Hewerdine.

It's a fantastic song but I've not heard it in an age so I've no idea why it popped into my head. However, there's always a however, it got me thinking...

Never a good idea.

Inspired by "Get It On" on BBC Radio Scotland, I decided that Honey Be Good would be ideal in a "breakfast" themed show. What else, I wondered to myself, might make it onto the playlist? The shower's never the best place to start writing lists so I had to wait until I came out to write them all down.

Obviously I'd start with Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner just to set the scene, then maybe Breakfast by Eugenius. I could stick Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something in there too. Obviously no good breakfast is complete without Orange Juice, so maybe Rip it Up followed by You're So Vain by Carly Simon, for the "clouds in my coffee" - appropriately enough featuring Sir Mick of Jagger on backing vocals, so we're alright for a little Brown Sugar with our caffeine rush. Oh, and not forgetting The Milkman of Human Kindness from Billy Bragg to pour in too.

At this point the seasoned breakfaster is looking to move up to something a little more substantial. Perhaps a Sally Cinammon-danish courtesy of The Stone Roses or even something from Pastry Cline. Apologies. Maybe anything by Muesli Elliot? Again, sorry.

A lighter option, of course is to head towards the Beastie Boys' Yo-gurt! Bum Rush The Show topped off with something from Lemon Jelly. Tori Amos' Cornflake Girl or perhaps something from Oat-is Redding or Po-rage Argainst the Machine could help pile on the carbs.

If you're still hungry, of course, there's always Sugar Puff Daddy or Damien Rice Krispies, whilst those of you looking for a cooked breakfast could do worse than Smokey Bacon Robinson & The Miracles or something from the Eagles, maybe one of Glen Frey-up's compositions

Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins or Paul Young and his Little Bit of Toast might go well with anything by the Jam or Marmalade...washed down with a mug of Hot Chocolate.

You might want to finish off by paying compliments to the chef on the way out...Sam Cooke.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments...

I've just been outside to collect some wood for the fire...cold day here in the Wild West...the old garden's looking a bit sorry for itself. It's suffering at the moment from what might be called seasonal neglect: i.e. it's cold, damp and dark outside most of the time so I can't be arsed going out and tidying the beds and what not.

Ho hum. This is not the work ethic one requires if one is to, as Jake & Elwood put it "live, thrive and survive..." or even keep up with Giles & Sue as the do the Good Life. Nevertheless, it was lovely the other night to be able to nip out to the onion bed the other night when I realised I'd none in for chilli. The onion sets weren't particularly successful this year - I think the bed needs some manure or something - but I still got a couple of wee ones for the dinner.

The great success that was our greenhouse/polytunnel thing, however, is no more. The stormy weather of the last few days has ripped the plastic and snapped the support poles beyond repair. I'm a tad miffed to say the least - we had loads of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and wee leaves from there this year, to say nothing of a couple of lovely squashes, green peppers and this magnificent micro melon!

The other point of the tunnel was as a wood store - living in one of the wettest parts of the UK, it can be a bit of a trial keeping the fuel dry: tarpaulins don't cut it as they don't allow air circulation and a well engineered woodshed is outwith my capabilities and free-time at the moment. We'll need to investigate an alternative solution for next year, both for produce and wood storage. In the meantime, the dry wood we do have can come into the house and the glut of green tomatoes will be enjoyed as chutney over the festive season. Farewell polytunnel, you've done us proud...

Thursday, 4 November 2010



Well, with the madness of Hallowe'en behind us, the pumpkin festering gently in the porch needed to be put to some use. A wee visit to the Torlundy Farm shop at the weekend saw the kids tucking into a winter-warmer type bowl of spiced pumpkin soup. The Christmassy smells sold that one to me so a wee Google brought up this gem from Valentine Warner

Assistance from the youngest child in the chopping department (supervised, honest!) helped get from this...

to this...

in little over an hour and a half. We didn't go for the serving it in the pumpkin idea, seeing as we'd already chopped it up and roasted it with cinammon, cloved and nutmeg before even finding the recipe!

It was really, really lovely...and we've got tons left to freeze. The addition of home-made bread added an extra wee warm glow.