Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Short Getaway

While Elsa's away, MrD and I decided to head down south - well, not really that far down south, just a little distance across the border - to the Lake District!!

The weather forecast promised some sunny spells and clear days albeit a little cold, which is fine 'cos that's quite normal for this time of year anyways; so long as it's not pouring down I'm okay.

After a quick goodbye to the cat, we made our getaway 5 hours due south.

The first body of water we encountered was Lake Ullswater.
The lake is the second largest in the National Park at seven miles long, but it is less than a mile across. It is a typical narrow "ribbon lake" formed after the ice age when a glacier scooped out the valley floor and when the glacier retreated, the deepened section filled with meltwater which became a lake.

Lake District didn't disappoint us at all... it does what it says on the tin - we're basically surrounded by lakes!! Beautiful lakes, no doubt!!

Lastly, a couple of snapshots of my chariot driver and long-suffering companion but ever-willing model....

As we we headed towards surrounding mountains, the scenery changed dramatically....

Monday, 30 January 2012

Cullen Skink

A rich and hearty traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock and potatoes.
Sometimes known as Smoked Haddock Chowder, it is the perfect cold weather comfort food.

      Cullen Skink

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 small leeks, white only, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, crushed then finely chopped
4 medium sized waxy potatoes, boiled until tender then peeled
2 smoked haddock (Arbroath smokies), skin and bones removed
100ml whole milk
100ml double cream
freshly ground black pepper
For the garnish:
Smoked haddock flakes
chopped chives
Pour the milk into a saucepan large enough to take the haddock. Add in the smoked haddock.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from direct heat and set aside to infuse for a further 5 minutes.
Remove the haddock, strain the poaching liquid and reserve.
Flake the poached haddock, removing any skin and bones.
Heat the butter in a separate non-stick saucepan. Add the shallots, leek and garlic. Cover and sweat for 5-10 minutes, but don't allow the vegetables to colour.  
Add the cooked potatoes and add the smoked haddock to the pan. Cover and sweat for a further two minutes, then add the poaching liquid and season with freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Remove about a third of the fish and potatoes, and tranfer the rest into a blender and blend for a few seconds; then gradually add the milk and cream.

Return the creamy soup to the saucepan and add in the smoked haddock and the potatoes that had been set aside and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes. Season with plenty of black pepper and salt, if needed.
To serve,  ladle in the soup and garnish with chopped chives top with some  the smoked haddock flakes.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Adieu Aberdeen

French language trip.

Elsa and some of her classmates were off to spent a week in Antibes with her host family.
Each host family will take in 2 students from the ISA to stay with them. I do hope Elsa and her mate won't be driving the family up the wall.
While in Antibes, Elsa will be going to a local French school; immersing herself in the French culture while learning the language.

Bye baby girl... see you in one week!!!

Note from Elsa

Sunday, January 29, 2012 10:27 PM

I'm in Antibes right now, the plane trip was not too bad, but while we were up in the air, my nose was super blocked, so that sucked a little bit. Still, when we landed, my nose was like, "BAM" and then it cleared and I'm happy now. Our host mom is SO sweet! She's really relaxed too and she keeps telling Jan and I that we're really sweet and calm, and that there aren't any rules in the house apart from not taking a shower after 8 at night, since the lady below is really grumpy and constantly complains about the noise. Haha, but other than that, we're settling in really well. ;)

We're gonna be going to the french school tomorrow, so that'll definitely be an experience. I couldn't really take many photos today 'cause we were in the airport the entire time, though I did take some at Wagamamas during lunch. ;) I tried to take photos on the plane but the view outside sucked SO badly since it was really foggy. However, it's not too bad.

I'm currently just chilling in the room with Jan, and there's Wi-Fi, it's free, and I'm over the moon! I tagged Jan and I in the group photo of Antibes 'cause she wanted to and I liked how I looked there ;) Uhmm, there's not too much to update at the moment because nothing much really happened, but tomorrow, I'll make sure to take a billion photos, and I'll show you some that I take on my phone. Hope Aberdeen's lovely, the weather's hopefully improving tomorrow!

Love, Elsa xx
Antibes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.

PS. There are palm trees here, how odd is that? I mean, I know Antibes is close to the Mediterranean, but France just isn't known for its palm trees. That's all I'm saying.
PPS. <3

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fashion Parade

 It's the annual International School of Aberdeen Prom Fashion Show.

The annual charity fund-raising fashion show was held on Friday the 27th of January, in the school theatre.

I must confess... I was stupefied when Elsa first told me that she was interested in becoming one of the model for her school's upcoming Prom fashion show.
Needless to say, I am very proud that she made that decision as it took great courage and confidence to be able to do what she did that evening. Good job, Elsa!!


Dresses were from Kemunto boutique and kilts from McCalls of Aberdeen.

The C Factor competition.

Each model was asked to buy a complete outfit from a local charity shop - up to the value of £20.

The teachers with their charity shop finds....

So, on one very wet and gloomy weekend, we both decided to walk around town in order to find the perfect outfit and this is what we finally agreed on (after quite a few tense moments and awkward silences)

Note to Elsa: FYI, the outfit you're wearing was chosen by ME. Now that we've settled that,we can finally move on.

Elsa's black dress cost her just £7.00 from the Cat Protection charity shop and the £2.00  pair of silver shoes with the killer heels were a Salvation Army's find.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Borneo Experience

It's been awhile since I last had Laksa Sarawak.

So, when my friend Gaye invited me for a Laksa Sarawak lunch, it would be pretty foolish for me to decline the invite even though the needle on my weighing scale was showing an undesirable effect of having too much of a good time!!
Well, let's just leave the guilt for a moment and concentrate on having the best time with friends....

Gaye's collections of various artefacts from her many travels....

Astrid's Pavlova, Cecilia's cheesecake, Christine's Chocolate Beetroot cake and Sarah's Banana cake.

My contribution to the table... Bubur Pulut Hitam!