Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tagliatelle

butternut squash pastaThis simple pasta, black bean and butternut squash dish is something that I have been making off and on for over 25 years. I’m not sure where I first got the idea, but as it has stood the test of time I thought I might share it. There is little skill involved, just a willingness to chop a few things, roast one or two and toss them together. No sauces, no tricky timings – it is pretty easy. And really rather nice, as things involving pasta tend to be. Continue reading

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Winter Vegetable Gratin with Truffle ‘Cream’

vegan winter vegetable gratinWeek in and week out during the winter months some of us find a curious addition to our delivered or CSA  vegetable box. Nestled in amongst the common-as-muck dirty potatoes and carrots, under a canopy of cabbage and kale, lurks a mystery vegetable. Knobbly or smooth, these baseball-sized ghostly green or imperiously purple orbs offer a dilemma to many: what are these things, and what the heck do I do with them. Most likely they are kohlrabi. And they are delicious.  Continue reading

Festive Food – Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks

stuffed-butternut-squash-stacksAll day long I have been under the misapprehension that Thanksgiving is this Thursday. With a wee panic I have been peeling, chopping, mixing, roasting…burning my hand. But, I have literally just popped ‘Thanksgiving Day 2013′ (with my good hand) into a well-known search engine and see with relief that it is the 28th. The 28th, *sigh*. And, glory be, I’m not working. Woo hoo!

It’s a proper, audible woo hoo because the chocolate-walnut pumpkin pie – sitting Siren-like on the countertop – can now be demolished; its burnished, gooey top soon to be breached by a trio of greedy spoons. Bliss. But first we will tuck into these kale stuffing-stuffed butternut squash stacks – trying saying that three times quickly :D. We’ll have them with steamed Brussels sprouts, braised celery and some homemade za’atar bread. I know the latter doesn’t strictly ‘go,’ but you know me and za’atar…

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Japanese-style Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos + Highlights from FBC2012

japanese butternut squash tacos
“Food: the unifying language of the world”

quote from Sumayya Jamil, speaking at Food Blogger Connect, London 2012

Last Friday saw me quite literally stumbling onto the 7.15 Edinburgh-London train. I am not the most co-ordinated of people (I can fall off a pair of flipflops), but my flawed proprioception couldn’t be blamed on this occasion. As I attempted to board the train a sudden shift in the ever-present wind blew hair into my eyes, and I had a heart-pounding, and nearly electrifying, experience as my foot slipped between the step up and the clearly marked walkway. Still clutching my bags and cup of tea I just managed to lurch forward into the carriage, my body tingling with adrenalin that you get from a proper near-miss. Yowz.

The reason I mention this seemingly random incident is that I also experienced the same all-body tingle later that day. But not due to clumsiness or wind-whipped hair. When I pushed through the imposing blue doors  into a sea of people at Food Blogger Connect I had that overwhelming ‘new girl’ feeling. You know,  the heart-pumping  anxiety you get when you walk into a room where everyone seems to know each other and you only have one shot at making a decent impression? I was that girl, but with fictional spots, greasy hair and a selection of slide rules and leaky pens poking out of my pocket. Yup, that nervous. Continue reading

Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry Laksa

Edinburgh Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres turned 15 this past week. Born from one woman’s idea of supporting those affected by cancer in a beautiful space, and with cancer support specialists, the Edinburgh centre was the first of 15 such centres around the UK. More are being built around the world as I write. Maggie herself, who died before the landmark Edinburgh centre was completed, would be truly stunned at her legacy. It is a remarkable place that means a lot to so many.

As for myself, every time I step through the elegant, transparent front door I am suffused with a sense of calm. Even when I am running late and the rain is lashing down while I’m bringing in nutrition workshop bits and bobs, my breathing slows and my shoulders drop. The natural light, the colourful handmade cushions, the burbling of the ever-on kettle, and of course the wonderful volunteers and staff, make this building so welcoming. Like a beautiful friend who also happens to have a PhD in something useful, the Maggies’ Centres combine form and function to great effect.

The occasion/achievement of turning 15 was marked with a day-long open-house event attended by I don’t know how many hundreds of people: a teensy bit like some fifteen-year olds’ Facebook -advertised birthday parties – minus the smuggled in alcohol and broken furniture. But unlike the parties our teens get asked to this one served soup (I made soup for 300), fresh bread and tables of delicious-looking home-baking. I say ‘looking’ because I didn’t get a chance to sample any. I was too busy getting a ‘soup sauna’, as wit and colleague Issy dubbed it, ladling out this and this.  Volunteer Margaret did a fab job with the mental maths and money collecting while I ladled and chatted over my two 37-litre soup pots. It was a terrific atmosphere with lots of laughter, cake eating, and surreptitious ogling of Maggie’s Scotland rugby team calendar. And lots of ‘friends reunited’.   Continue reading

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Ginger and Cinnamon

sweet-potato-and-apple-soupWhat a dismal, dispiriting day here in Scotland’s capital city. All I can hear is the constant sloppy smack of raindrops dripping from our oak tree onto our conservatory roof. Other than a paid-for ticket to somewhere equatorial the only thing for it is a big colourful bowl of soup. The brighter the better. Continue reading