Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Parmesan Cheese: mouthful of a title, mouthful of a meal. Continue reading
Yes, I have looked at the calendar. Yes I do realise that it is November. I even suspect that some of you will have had to plough your driveway to get to work, or at least switch from shorts to long trousers. In fact today here in Edinburgh we awoke to our first bright and frosty morning – all sparkly sidewalks and retina-searing but ineffective sun. And, here I am blogging about salad. Not a little – possibly acceptable – side salad, but a proper, in your face, entire meal kind of salad. With protein, fat, carbohydrates – the lot. Continue reading
Can you believe I am asking you to grill lettuce? Isn’t that the one vegetable that we can just leave the heck alone? I know it sounds bonkers, but it really is quite something. As different to raw lettuce as microwaved egg is to scrambled in butter. Another level. Continue reading
Welcome to our new favourite summer salad. Why is this our favourite? Well, it is at once creamy, crunchy, savoury, tangy, slightly bitter and ever so slightly sweet (from the corn). We love what I call ‘dimensional salads’: ones that not only have complementing textures, but also complementing flavours – and this is definitely one of those. There is even a little pop from the quinoa, which I liken – if cooked less than the packet instructs – to those crackly pop rocks candies we used to get as kids. Minus the sweetness and weird science-experiment ingredients, of course. I was inspired to make this health-giving bowl of goodness from a recipe I saw in Yotam Ottolenghi’s second book, Plenty (avocado, quinoa and broad bean salad). I have made many versions of this textural salad in the past couple of years, but this is probably my favourite. I tend to add so many vegetables that it is always bigger than the bowl I have for it. That’s a good thing, right? We ate it in last week’s long anticipated sunshine, but with a new ingredient. One of which I believe Mr Ottolenghi would approve. Continue reading
Until yesterday this post was going to be the usual recipe with some nutrition facts thrown in. But today’s BBC headline story, “Processed Meat Early Death Link,” has rather shifted my focus. I won’t dwell too long on this issue (by my definition at least), but as many of you – including myself – eat some meat, the most recent large-scale research findings may prick up your ears. Continue reading
We are having a cracking day in Edinburgh. Actually the past week has been about as perfect as autumn days get around here. Leaves are bursting into crimson, burnt umbre and magenta flames before falling under foot; the sun is beautifully low and soft in the sky, while the breeze is almost non-existent. And of course there is the frost. Not quite nipping at our noses, but necessitating digging out hidden away gloves and scarves. Being from Florida I still get a wee thrill when cool temperatures combine with clear, crisp air. Just now my Miss R (a keen sunset watcher) dragged my away from my computer to stand in awe at yet another heather-pink sunset, all molten and oozing across the horizon. You can take your summer with its ice cream cones and flirty skirts. I’ll happily slip on an over-sized woollen sweater and pad about in my dog-eared moccasins, thank you very much. Continue reading
If any salad that I do epitomises summer I would say this is it. Sure, you can make this salad at any time of the year, especially if you want to feel summery while curled up in a warm duvet and hail ricochets down your chimney. But, it just won’t be the same, not without local grown-for-flavour corn and tomatoes. Out of season tomatoes can be pretty. But pretty insipid. And corn, well if you get out of season corn that tastes of anything other than the little cardboard tray it often comes in, that’s a result.
No, this salad, and any salads that major on sun-ripened vegetables, should really only be eaten in the summer and early autumn. I wouldn’t pass a law or anything but common sense tells us that food grown locally and in the right season tastes better, is better for us, is cheaper and of course is better for the environment. Continue reading
It’s 5 a.m. and I’m sitting at a computer, bare footed with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at my elbow. Mr A and I have annoyingly been up for quite a while, surfing futiley through a gazillion TV channels, knowing that come 3 p.m. all we – and Miss R- will want to do is flop under a ceiling fan and have a wee siesta. But we will be too busy alligator spotting at the local nature preserve or burning up the plastic in a meat locker-cold mall for such simple pleasures. Yup, we are not at home in Edinburgh, but in fact visiting my family in Florida. And, despite the decided lack of zzzs, it is worth all of the crummy jet lag in the world. Continue reading
There is nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday knowing that you are going to go mattress hunting. At Ikea. That maddening enforced maze. Those cute little scenarios that you can never recreate. And those blasted tempting meatballs. Unlike many families, we do not enjoy shopping. I detest the lighting in most stores and the claustrophobic feeling in all but the most unaffordable of shops; Mr A, well he is a guy; and Miss R likes shopping well enough when given a wad of money and a cheerio-goodbye from her parental benefactors (slightly unfair, she actually doesn’t mind hanging with me).
I know we are atypical in this respect. One only has to go to Tesco or up into town on a weekend and one can see two- and three-generations of family strolling together, carrier bags swinging in unison – little Johnny and Jessica with an ice cream, and Ma and Pa with takeaway lattes or some such. How I envy their calm mien. With us it is more like Mr A hovering on a double yellow line and Miss R and me dashing about like demented wasps trying to get whatever vital item it is that we lack. Stressed and sweating we then pile into the car, like thieves making a getaway.
I used to adore shopping, both proper and window. I can’t quite put my finger on why I would now rather stick pins in my eyes than schlep uptown to spend money I don’t have on something I don’t need. Perhaps it’s the largely indifferent service, or the feeling one is being manipulated (Ikea, I am talking about you). Or that I don’t care for what passes for fashion these days. Despite loathing it more than I loathe watching Gran Prix (which is saying something) sometimes you just gotta do it. And today was the day. To be far it wasn’t too hideous. Mr A sat in the car listening to rugby while Miss R and I flopped on beds. Quite an odd experience rolling onto one’s side and looking straight into the eyes of a stranger doing the same thing two feet away. Anyway, Miss R found a mattress. But little did we realise until we read the fine print that their mattresses are “European sizes”. Miss R’s bed frame is good ol’ John Lewis, some 10 cm shorter. Much sighing in silence on the way home. And we didn’t even get any meatballs for our troubles. Continue reading
This morning I realised we are experiencing an inexorable slide to ‘porridge weather’. All summer I have been vacillating between starting the day with berries and yogurt, poached egg with asparagus, and a breakfast bruschetta of chopped cherry tomatoes, olive oil & basil on sourdough. All very delicious and light. But this morning – without any thought behind it – I reached into the cupboard and pulled out a forlorn packet of Scottish porridge oats. Using a half and half mixture of soya milk and water, I simmered this companionable pairing before adding dried goji berries and a grating of apple. And it was heavenly. If that doesn’t say ‘autumn’ I’m not sure what does.
But it wasn’t just the instinctively pre-hibernation breakfast that signaled summer’s end. Although it doesn’t yet feel too chilly, the other omens are abundantly clear: more than the odd brown leaf on the lawn, mystery mushrooms colonising under the oak tree, a lower, moodier sky. But my most accurate harbinger is the two extra bodies on the bed. Today Mr A and I awoke to find our cats nestled and immovable among the folds of the the duvet.
Over the years we have realised that as soon as Max and Mimi pad up from the cool and serene downstairs to warm and cosy upstairs, summer is well and truly behind us. So, barring a freak heat wave (highly unlikely) it won’t be long until we fire up the central heating and start moaning about the cost of it. Until then it is an extra layer and the comfort of cat-warmed feet. Continue reading