Sunday, 27 February 2011

Finzean Out in the Country


We're having the best of sunshine!

As usual, weekends for us are rarely spent indoor especially on such a beautiful day.
So, we decided to venture further into the country, seeking somewhere new for me to hone my photography skills.
As we were driving along one of those smallish country B-roads, we came across a farm shop and tea-room signage. Since it's nearing lunchtime anyway, we decided to make a pit-stop.
We were not disappointed....




Finzean Estate is located in the heart of Royal Deeside. The Estate has been in the ownership of the Farquharson family for sixteen generations, including the renowned Victorian landscape painter, Joseph Farquharson.

The Estate is situated in the Feugh valley with its scenery of rich woodlands and heather hills and its abundance of wildlife

Finzean Estate extends over several thousand acres, encompassing farmland, moorland and forestry. The land is managed by the Farquharsons as an integrated family business, with an interest in conservation and the preservation of a viable community.














While we were there, we met a kindly man who turned out to have been living in Malaysia since before the Japanese Occupation until the 1970s. 

He regaled us with some stories of his times in then Malaya and was still able to remember some malay words.








Saturday, 26 February 2011

Brand Spanking New Ride



MrD got a new toy... and it's not even his birthday!

After sending our rental car, we proceeded to the local car dealership to pick-up his gift....




We're looking forward to the open road and great holidays with our new ride.


Friday, 25 February 2011

The Grey Lady



O, what joy! Is it spring already?!
The weather was an uncharacteristically balmy 16C with the sun beaming at her fullest.

A day spent walking about in the city seemed like a really good idea....
























Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wellwood


Our temporary accomodation....





Situated between Pitfodels and Cults, Wellwood Mansions and apartments are close to the River Dee and just 10 minutes walk away from the International school.
With its mature gardens it is easy to forget that we are only minutes from the city centre.
Cults shopping area is only a 5 minute walk where you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants and the beautiful Deeside Trail can be followed all the way to Banchory.







Check-out that sleek black Aston Martin.... no, it's not ours, thank you very much!
It belongs to one of the resident here and his gorgeous girlfriend??... err, wife?? I need to get a life... help?!










Banana Cake





Banana Cake


7 oz butter, softened
7 oz dark brown soft sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, broken into chunks
3 oz walnuts, chopped
7 oz self-raising flour (I'm using gluten free flour)
1/4 tsp salt





Pre-heat oven 180C. Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Gradually, beat in eggs and whisk in the bananas until smooth.

Using a large metal spoon, fold in the walnuts, salt and flour.

Spoon into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kapitan Chicken Curry





Kapitan Chicken Curry

6 chicken thighs
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
250ml thick coconut milk
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice




For the spice paste

6 shallots, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 small ginger flower, chopped (optional)
1 tsp chopped galangal (optional)
1 tsp turmeric powder
4-6 macadamia nuts
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp belachan (shrimp paste), lightly fried until fragrant


Place the chicken pieces into a shallow dish and sprinkle over the turmeric and salt. Cover and chill in the fridge for a few hours, to marinate.

Meanwhile, for the spice paste, blend all of the spice paste ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

To cook the chicken, heat a large frying pan over a high heat, add oil and, when it is smoking, add the chicken. Fry the chicken for 4-6 minutes, or until golden-brown on all sides.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.



Heat a wok over a medium heat, then add oil, the onion and spice paste and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime leaves and sugar. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Add the lime juice and stir well.

To serve, spoon the curry into a serving dish. Sprinkle with the crispy shallots and mint leaves. Serve the steamed rice alongside.







Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Skool Daze



The school's out for winter break this week. I have Elsa keeping me company while MrD's away at work.

Speaking of schools, Elsa had to go through three different schools in one school year; Copenhagen International School, International School of Florence and currently, International School of Aberdeen.
It had been pretty tough year for her - having to adjust to new environment every time, being the new girl, starting high school and whatnot... but hopefully, everything will work out for the better in the end.

A bit about the International School of Aberdeen....



The American School in Aberdeen was established in 1972.
The original campus was located on Craigton Road in Cults and was a former convalescent hospital, built in 1910 and situated on 9.5 acres of green lawns and woodlands overlooking the picturesque village of Cults.
In August 2010 the International School of Aberdeen moved into its current, purpose-built campus at Pitfodels House.










Monday, 21 February 2011

Chocolate Chip Walnut and Toffee Cookies






Chocolate Chip Walnut and Toffee Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups unrefined granulated cane sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups semisweet dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped soft toffee fudge
1 cup chopped walnuts





Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Add baking soda and buttermilk into batter along with salt.
Stir in flour, chocolate chips, fudge and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.








Sunday, 20 February 2011

Fifteen






Dearest Elsa,

Its your Birthday!!!
Happy 15th birthday, Poppy!!

We have been through a lot, as a family
but the thing that has not change is
how very proud we are of you
and how happy we are that
you have grown to be
a confident, intelligent,
warm and caring person
with a good heart!

Lots of love,
Mama & Papa







Saturday, 19 February 2011

Introducing....



....Hilldown Tree House.





A cottage set in a beautiful country surroundings, blessed with panoramic views over the surrounding Deeside landscape.

Although a relatively modern property, it was originally constructed from reclaimed materials and so maintain a country house character that is normally associated with older properties.




A well maintained cottage gardens, complete with its own ruin...






Front entrance





Formal sitting room and dining area





Upstairs....
Checkout those carpets in the bathroom and those bathroom suites...
In every house we viewed, there was always something that does my head in... and this house is not without its peculiarity, but the landlord had agreed to replace the carpets with something more appropriate... phew!





The informal open plan living area with Norwegian wood stove with dining kitchen.
The blue carpet will be replaced with wood laminate flooring.





The kitchen with a choice of an AGA cast-iron cooker and a halogen hobs.
I've never used an AGA before.... this could be an adventure!!



These photos were taken few weeks ago when we were viewing it for the first time.
I really love the layout of the house and the decoration was done neutrally (mostly) thus making it easier for me to put our stamp into this house.
Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done to the house before we could move in.

We're so looking forward to that day