Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Mum Files, pt 1

     Quite a while ago, I talked about writing about my mum here, as a way to remember her. I find I forget little things as the years go on. I've just had one of those long, tangenty thinks with lots of wee bits about her, and I'd like to record these more often. It might be a bit rambly...

My mum was a person made of love and kindness. She always had scones or a roll or dinner for friends of Hazel and I when we came home from school (whether they were going home for dinner or not. My best friend often happily had two dinners!). She liked to get little gifts for people. We lived in a three bedroom house with my nana, and when I was fourteen, she shared a room with my sister so that I could have space. When we were little, she ran a mother and toddler's group, and was always feeding the kids. I only later realised it was because things were tight for a lot of the other mums. She made me summer fruit pudding for my birthday cake three years in a row because I loved it. I've not tasted one to match hers since. Our cousins used to take turns to stay with us at the weekend, and we'd bake and watch films and listen to Queen - my cousins, all in their 20s now, still talk about those Friday nights.

My mum could be stubborn. My aunt says I inherited that quality, and I can't deny it. She was clever as well, book smart, but also parent smart. She used to do this thing where if I wanted to do something she didn't approve of, she's say 'it's up to you what you do, but I'd rather you didn't. It drove me mad, because I had a choice but she knew I wouldn't want to upset her. I'm thankful for it now, because she stopped me doing a lot of stupid stuff.

Whenever people talk about my mum, they talk about how kind she was, how funny she was, how welcoming. She was all of those things. :)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

...a fan of a spice marinade and BBQ weather!

On Tuedsay, some post arrived for me from Sainbury's*. The post was swiftly snaffled by Oscar, who likes nothing more than tearing a letter apart. I'm really glad that the actual contents were intact, as Sainsbury's has sent me some of there new range of herb and spice pastes, and I'd rather not have to deal with a dog who'd eaten a tube of chilli paste.


I'd orginally planned to cook some sort of spiced meatball with the harissa paste, but we've been having some pretty glorious weather lately, and Dave wanted to barbeque stuff, so I went with it.


We made Harrisa and Ginger chicken wings and Chilli, ginger honey and soy marinated pork. Both were lovely and tended and full of flavour, recipes are below! This amount served two people plus one dog. Oscar loves chicken.

Harissa and Ginger Chicken Wings

You'll need:

1tbsp harissa paste
1tsp ginger paste
4tbsp olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks


  • Ideally, marinate the meat the night before you want to cook it, if you can, give it at least 3 hours for the flavours to infuse.
  • Mix the pastes with the olive oil well, until it is smooth
  • place in a tub with a lid big enough to hold the chicken
  • add the chicken, making sure to coat all the sides of each drumstick
  • add the lid to the tub and give it a god shake to disperse spare paste
  • leave in the fridg overnight or for as long as possible on the day
  • cook for 20 minutes over white hot coals in the middle of the barbeque, turning occasionally.
  • equally, you could cook these in the oven at 180 for 30 mins, again turning occasionally,


Chilli, ginger and honey glazed pork chops



You'll need:
1tsp chilli paste
1tsp ginger paste
1tsp honey
50mls soy sauce
50mls olive oil
2 pork chops

  • as before, the longer this can be marinated the better!
  • mix the chilli, ginger and honey in a sealable container till smooth
  • add the soil and olive oil, add the lid and shake hard (the honey tends to clump together)
  • add the pork chops, add the lid and shake again
  • cook pork chops as with the chicken, bear in mind that they are coated with soy, so the edges will blacken.
  • if baking, wrap in tinfoil and bake for half an hour at 180.

We ate these with barbequed vegetable kebabs, beetroot and avocado salad, and pittas, and they were lovely. The meat was really tender. Oscar seemed to very much enjoy his also!

I really like the spice pastes. Much though I love cooking, I will happily cut a corner if it means chopping/grating less stuff, and these are great for that. Just as flavourful as fresh herbs, and they are kept in the fridge. I still have the Thai ones and the basil to try, so they'll be next on the list!


*I am part of Sainsbury's blogger community, and as such am sent products to try. All opinions and recipes are my own!








Saturday, 10 May 2014

Blogging Every Day in May - Day 10

Today is World Fair Trade Day. For the last 10 years or so, I've been buying fair trade products where possible. As we live in a large town,  one that is also a Fair Trade Town, It's getting easier and easier. Supermarkets stock a much better range than 10 years ago, and Paisley has it's own fairtrade shop. For those who live in smaller places, I'd definitely suggest the Tradecraft website - they have food, cleaning products, clothes, homewares and more. My most recent fairtrade purchases have been some heather honey, some Divine chocolate, hot chocolate bars,some loose leaf Earl Grey, and the lovely turquoise tray in the photo, all from our fairtrade shop.

...Blogging Every Day in May -Day 9

Can we just ignore my lack of day 8 post? If I'm going to write about local history,  I'd like to do it properly, so I'll do a belated day 8.

So, to today's subject - Motivation.

I had to think a lot about what motivates me. Like most other people, I have to admit that I am partially motivated by money. And stuff. I don't think I'm particularly materialistic, but I like nice things.

Further than that though, I'm motivated by a need to help people, to put good into the world. I achieve this somewhat through my work, which is tough sometimes,  but often rewarding.

I'm motivated by knowledge - but learning and adding to it, and by using it - books, college, films, debates, articles, music, art. It's all motivation.

I'm motivated by role models, and by my relationships with family and friends, and again within work, by the trusts placed in me and the responsibility given to me.

Sometimes I'm motivated by things that anger me, things I am morally against, things that I feel are wrong. Then I am motivated to fight them.

I'd love to hear what motivates others!

...Blogging Every Day in May - Day 7.

Today's prompt is gadgets. I am not really one for kitchen gadgets etc - we have a stove top kettle and only just got a toaster after two years without one. What I do like are media gadgets.
My phone - a Galaxy S2, soon to be upgraded. My Tablet - a Nexus 7, an excellent present from Dave - lightweight and ace for travelling,  blogging, listening to music, reading, and Netflix. My Sony headphones, for excellent sound and pain free ears (ear buds make my ears hurt). And our Smart TV. It is connected to the internet, and uses apps for Netflix, iPlayer and much more. I love it. And it's beautiful.

Monday, 5 May 2014

...Blogging Ever Day in May - Day 6

Today's prompt really stumped me. Passion Project - something I love doing that I'd like to make money from. The truth is, I like doing lots of things, but most of them I do to a basic standard. I thought about writing about my job - which I both love and am paid for, but that doesn't quite fit.

I do love cooking though, as can be seen from my recipes list. I love local food, and good ingredients. I love talking about food and eating it, and I love how certain foods evoke certain memories.

So what I'd like to do is write a cook book, of modern Scottish recipes, with the odd traditional, family recipe and a sprinkling of stories. So, maybe that's my passion project.

The first recipe I'd choose would be my mum's scone recipe....

...Blogging Every Day in May - Day 5

Today's #BEDM prompt is 'Cinqo de Mayo - Let's be Mexican'. Now I'll be honest here, I had planned to share a recipe (for three bean and chorizo chilli, which is first had in nachos and the leftovers into soup) but I deleted the photos, so I'm winging it. Things I think about when people mention Mexico - food, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, sugar skulls, and Frida Kahlo.

So, I'm going with Frida. I have had the great fortune to see one of her brilliant self-portraits in person, when I was at MoMA in New York. 
Kahlo is often spoken of as a surrealist, but her work also has a clear traditional/folk style, through which her past and culture are represented.

The main body of her work is self portraits, and as as woman she is highly regarded for painting many facets and experiences, both good and bad in a woman's life (her own). As as feminist, but also just as human being, I find the depth of courage and honesty in her work incredible.

The self-portrait below is the one that hangs in MoMA. I hope you check more of her work out.