Monday, 26 September 2011

I'll be knitting my own yogurt next

The weekend was lovely in a bittersweet sort of way. My brother and his wife and children are home on a visit from Australia (we still think of the UK as "home" for them, even though they have been Aussie residents for 2 years now). They all came down to the Corbies on Saturday and although Brother and Sister-inLaw had to scoot off early to go socialising with friends in Glasgow, my niece and nephew stayed the night with us along with my parents.

This meant the 4 cousins could run as a feral pack for a few hours. My nephew in particular idolises First Born (they are very alike, both on the same wavelength that few other mortals can tune into) and FB for his part does not object to a little bit of hero worship coming his way. And who wouldn't enjoy a session of chucking boomerangs across the fields of the Borders?

The bittersweet part was that on Sunday morning, the cousins had to leave and my nephew had to be more or less peeled away from FB, such was his resistance to leaving. They will be back off to Sydney in a few days and we have no idea when we will see them again in the flesh. Skype is a wonderful invention, but it is no substitute for actually having your family around your dinner table, choking on their food from laughing so much. Also, Skype does not quite convey the extent to which my eight-year old niece sounds like Danni Minogue now.

We cheered ourselves up by collecting a huge bag of elderberries from the trees around our garden. Then, back in Edinburgh, Second Born, Husband and I spent quite a wee while in our garden teasing the berries off the stalks (getting very crimson fingers in the process). We ended up with quite a haul
which I then turned into this

Tastes pretty good mixed with lemonade and, according to Husband, even better with the addition of crushed ice and a dash of rum! Next step is an attempt at making apple chutney of some sort as I am in possession of a big bag of apples from a friend's trees. I have never made chutney before but am willing to have a go. Anyone have any good recipes they would like to share?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Bah humbug!

Okay, Sainsbury's, we need to have a little chat. It's bad enough that you irritate me by putting up signs like THIS

(particularly when I am not carrying a convenient red marker pen for correction purposes). (Although luckily I do have my camera phone on me for blogging purposes.)

But Christmas crackers and selection boxes in September??? Really?? That's just cruel.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Very belated roundup

I think I am affected by the low-level writer's block that seems to be affecting some other bloggers out there. Every time I sit down to write, I end up concluding that I have nothing interesting to say and playing Scrabble on Facebook instead. Which is fine, but not really a constructive way to spend the evening (especially when I am being roundly beaten by my mother. Again.) I started blogging partly as a way to record the mundane events of daily life for future reference because I thought it would be nice to be able to look back on a record of what we were doing, what the children were saying and what was going on in my head at any given time. Of course, the children are less cute than they once were - a sad by-product of the ageing process - but we still do stuff that is worth recording for me, even if it will bore the pants off anyone out there unwise enough to read it.

So, on that basis, I am going to go back to basics: record what Clan Loth has been up to and moan about stuff that bugs me. Sorry in advance.

First up: had to show you the mutant carrot we dug up at the weekend. Second Born has developed a deep fondness for scrubbing carrots (I am, needless to say, pleased about this) and demanded that I take a photo of this beauty for posterity. We actually had quite a lot of similar carrots-entwined-with-other-carrots. I put it down to the fact that my sister-in-law sneezed whenn planting the carrot seeds resulting in a rather denser planting pattern than we had planned. If they have insufficient room to spread, carrots will cuddle, it would appear.

We had a school friend of Husband's (I'll call him S) staying with us at the Corbies over the weekend, together with his Russian girlfriend. A great time was had by all. S is rather a good, if eclectic, cook and he recruited the boys as his sous-chefs on Sunday morning to produce a quite spectacular breakfast which included oatmeal puddings (heavenly!), haggis, Northumbrian sausages, french toast, courgettes, carrots, eggs and potato cakes made from leftover mash from the night before. We should have been embarassed to head out later to the local pub for Sunday lunch after that. But we weren't.

S had also spent part of Saturday making rowan jelly from rowan berries we found on our walk (to eat with our game pie for dinner) and elderberry cordial from elderberries he found at the bottom of our garden. The elderberry cordial was lovely. It was (a) drunk with lemonade by the boys, and (b) turned into a quite lethal cocktail along with some Pimms, coriander from the garden and a bottle of whisky and ginger liqueur we bought at a recent food fair. It sounds awful, it should have been revolting but it wasn't. Apart from having to sieve the bits of coriander leaf out with your teeth, it was lovely.

We had taken S and girlfriend down to the nearest village for some supplies, the nearest village being over the border in England. I have always found this sign on the outskirts of the village amusing. I love the fact that the whole country is signed, but below Ladykirk and Swinton (total combined populations of both places probably about 200)
We went for a walk up to the bridge over the Tweed which forms the border between Scotland and England and the boys amused themselves by jumping back and forward over the mid-line chanting "Tea! Irn-Bru! Tea! Irn-Bru".

We ended up having such a good time that we stayed at the Corbies on Sunday night as well. The boys had a school holiday on Monday anyway, Husband had taken the day off already and I .......played hookey. Or "dogged it" as we used to say at school. (Not that I ever playing truant at school of course. I was far too scared.) Thanks to "Work-Life Balance" (or flexi-time as it used to be known) I can get away with this by working longer hours Tuesday to Friday to make up. Which is not great fun when I have to be in the office for longer, but it was totally worth it. I'm just wondering how to break it to S that the boys would like to come and live with him, please.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I need more recipe ideas

The first summer of vegetable-growing at the Corbies has been pretty good, all things considered. Okay, we have no cauliflowers because the rabbits ate them all. Ditto pretty much all of the peas. But the courgettes have been lovely, carrots delicious and potatoes prolific and tasty. However, what I really need is a recipe for braised sunflower.
This, as you may recall, is the mystery plant that showed up uninvited and unannounced in our veggie patch. We decided to let it be, see what it grew into and it turned into The Sunflower That Took Over the World. It is by far the biggest success story of the summer (the moral of the story apparently being "The less we do to plants, the more they thrive". I must confess I am encouraged by this.) Now if only we could figure out how to eat it.