Thursday, 29 September 2011


It has been quite awhile since I baked for MrD's workmates.
Used to be an almost weekly affair and they have grown accustomed to getting some handmade treats from my kitchen.
Although I'm well-known among his colleagues, I've yet to meet any of them bar one.

Since I'm up to my neck with cookies - left from the eid celebration - what would be better than to make a recipe using those less popular cookies.

 To begin with, I'm using my really short shortbread cookies as the base, all 8oz of them.
To the crumbly cookies add 4 oz melted butter, 2 tablespoons sugar (less if your cookies are already quite sweet),  2 tablespoons golden syrup, 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, raisins (optional)

Pour mixture into a swiss roll size tin and press down.
Melt about 8oz cooking chocolate and pour over the mixture in the tin.
Pop the tin into the fridge and leave for about 1 hour to set. 

 I'm sure those guys will enjoy this!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Indian Summer

It was the most glorious way to start the autumn season - the sun split the skies, making it the hottest September in decades, in fact,  it was indeed one of the hottest day of this year!

It was reported that the temperature reached 24C in some part of this region.
This unseasonably warm spell is said to be caused by an area of high pressure across much of central Europe, drawing up warm air from the south.

Whatever the reason may be, you can expect me to be in the garden, enjoying this fabulous abnormality albeit a short-lived one...

I decided to fill-up the gaps between the boulders that make up the steps at the small pond with pebbles.


 All done!! Good job, Muna!!


Mushrooms found under the big tree.
I haven't figured out the species of this big tree (or the mushrooms) at the end of my garden. My guess it could be an old Ash tree, but I could be wrong.

Oh, how I wish I could go foraging with an expert forager.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Natural Helpers

Last week, for three days, a bunch of selected high schoolers, including Elsa were chosen by their classmates and teachers, to take part in the Natural Helpers program, set in the beautiful village of Ballater, about one and a half hours away from Aberdeen.

Natural Helpers is a peer-assistance program used across the United States and in several other countries.
The program helps high school students strengthen their communication and helping skills, while equipping them to provide support to others and service to their schools and community.

The Natural Helpers program is based on a simple premise: Within every school, an informal "helping network" exists. Students with problems naturally seek out other students, in addition to teachers and other school staff, whom they trust. They seek them out for advice, for assistance, or just for a sympathetic ear.
The Natural Helpers program uses this existing helping network by providing peer-counseling training to students and adults who are already identified as "natural" helpers. The students selected for the program are seen by their peers as trustworthy and helpful.

There's still vacancies in the position of Natural (or otherwise...  I'm not fussy) Helper in my kitchen.
Any takers? Anyone??

Monday, 26 September 2011

Autumn Colours

"In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfies
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
the grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all,
Flowers in the summer
Fires in the fall!

-   Robert Louis Stevenson, Autumn Fires


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Blackberry Jam


This is your last chance to pick your blackberries. The Scots refer to the fruit and plant interchangeably as “brambles”.
At the end of September, which coincidentally is the start of autumn,  folklore has it, the Devil spits on the blackberries, curses them or puts his cloven hoof on them (depending which part of the country you are from) rendering them inedible.

There is a lot of tannin in brambles and perhaps after September, at the end of their season and when they start to wither, they become too bitter.

Blackberry Jam

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

Pick over the blackberries for bits of leaf, insects and other detritus, and give them a wash if you’re dubious about car fumes, dogs, etc.
Put them in a non-reactive pan with the sugar, lemon juice and rind from 1 lemon and water and bring to the boil, simmering for 2-3 minutes until the fruit has started to release its juice. Allow to cool; remove lemon rind and then liquidise in a blender or food processor (or just push through a sieve). Strain to remove the seeds and debris.

Add sugar to the sieved pulp.
Put sieved pulp, sugar and lemon rind (optional) into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the jam to the boil and continue to boil very rapidly for about 8-10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point.
When the jam has set, carefully pour into warm, sterilised jars, using a ladle or small jug
Cover the jars with tight fitting screw-top lids.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dinner with the Reubens

Marie and Reuben invited us for a fabulous Indian dinner at their home here in Aberdeen, where we met Gulfara, Peter, and Aibar.



For starter we had
Masala Dosa

Main course consisted of
Pilaf Rice
South Indian Mutton Curry
Murg Makhani (Butter Chicken)
Aubergine Curry
Mixed Salad

And for dessert;
Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice cream
Summer fruits platter



Elsa with Maria, Remo and Aibar.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Arc of the Sun

Today is the autumn equinox, which means that we have exactly the same amount of day and night.
And from tomorrow onwards, things will start to tip slowly to winter - the time will get shorter and there's a slight sense that we got to get on with things...





Soto Ayam Madura

Soto Ayam Madura
Indonesian-styled Clear Chicken Soup
2 skinless chicken breast
1 liter water
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, crushed
6 to 8 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp salt

Spice Paste
1 1/2 tsp white peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 candlenuts, optional
1 small knob turmeric, peeled and chopped ( I used 1 1/2 tsps ground turmeric)
1 small piece of galangal
1 small knob of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp oil
Cellophane noodles, soaked in boiling water for ten minutes or so until softened; drained and cut in half.
1 tbsp lime juice

finely sliced round cabbage
bean sprouts
boiled eggs
fresh coriander, removed stalks and chopped
sambal oelek
thick sweet soy sauce
fried shallots
belinjau crisps

Prepare the broth by covering the chicken with the water. Add the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower to a moderate simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, skimming foam from the surface every ten minutes or so as needed to get a clear broth.
Remove chicken from broth and allow to cool. Tear into shreds and set aside.

Processed all the ingredients for the spice paste in a blender.

Heat the oil in a two quart saucepan and fry the spice paste over medium-low heat for about five minutes, until the paste begins to separate from the oil. Ladle a little of the broth into the pan with the spice paste. Stir and add this back to the pot of broth, along with the shredded chicken and lime juice.

To serve, put cellophane noodles into individual bowls along with the garnishes. Ladle in hot soup in the bowls.
You may serve the soup with rice cake or lontong. 


Thursday, 22 September 2011

As Lilies Among Brambles


 Come what may, we decided that today we shall go on a blackberry-picking and rambling around my little village of Banchory-Devenick.

The weather had been quite erratic as usual and we don't really put a lot of hope for a sun shiny day but we were pleasantly surprise when today turned out to be quite mild (for Scotland) albeit a little windy - so much so that someone's new hat got blown into a neighbouring field and we had to do a bit of trespassing rescue mission to retrieve it.



 We managed to rustle up quite a bit of berries amidst some notoriously annoying sticky weed seeds and painful episodes with the stinging nettle.

 Stopover for some photo-op at a nearby farm.


 Some friendly faces along the way...


View of Aberdeen city



Slow walk home...
10 km and bags full of berries.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Siamese Dream

Today was a good day. The sun's out and I managed  to grab a few hours of yard work - raking leaves and debris all sorts, left after days of torrential rain and high winds.

And, to top it all up, I'm back in the kitchen, much to the delight of MrD.
It seemed forever since we had a proper meal.


Pineapple Fried Rice 

2 cups cooked rice

6 large prawns

1 cup pineapple, sliced into whatever size you desire

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp palm sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp oil

fresh coriander

Wash, peel and devein the prawns. Discard the heads; leave the tail fins attached.

Heat oil in a pan.

Fry the shallot in the oil over medium heat until softened.

Add the pineapple and prawns. Fry until they are cooked.

Add the rice, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar.

Add the chopped fresh coriander and remove from heat.

Serve hot.


 Salmond in Tamarind Sauce

4  pcs salmon fillets

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

 black pepper

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 small garlic, minced

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp sugar palm

1 fresh red chilli, sliced

¼  cup tamarind juice

Place salmon fillets in a in a medium bowl, add sesame oil, soy sauce and black pepper and combine all the ingredients together. 

Marinate the salmon fillets for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Grill the salmon for 5 minutes on a medium hot grill and set aside.

To make the sauce, Heat a pot over low heat, add the tamarind juice, fish sauce, and sugar palm.

Stir until the sauce thickened.

Then add chilli, shallot and garlic.

Once the sauce is boiling and slightly reduced, remove from heat.

Pour the tamarind sauce over the grilled salmon.


Sunday, 18 September 2011