Monthly Archives: February 2012

Things that made me smile this week

Too much fun and too little sleep at the weekend makes Sunday’s ‘Things that made me smile’ post drag on to almost Tuesday!  Last week I spent quite a lot of time trying to sort out my house before everyone turned up on Friday, and getting as much work done as feasibly possible so I wouldn’t have to worry about it.  The former was significantly more successful than the latter.

Well, Jeff Mills was fabulous.  The whole evening was fabulous.  Never could a better night out have been planned and executed.    I certainly could not have asked for a more amazing group of people on a night out.  There were a few old friends from waaay back who made it from as far as London and Freuchie, the lovely Mr Cat, M, his brother B, Ginger B, Mr A Pants, his fabulous girlfriend who we now all adore (he has now been ordered to bring her over for the next dinner), R, G, my friend S from uni…and of course, the guy I like and his lovely friends.

Started off the evening with some haggis, a couple excessive beer runs and introducing my friend S to everyone.  I don’t think she’ll ever remember all their names!  We didn’t make it to the club until quite late, but ended up in a monstrous queue as the doors didn’t quite open until midnight.  Make your own fun in the queue, you say?  Oh yes.  I believe there was a wee hip flask being passed around…I don’t usually drink much, but every now and again there’s an occasion…

Seeing as everyone on a certain island off the west coast of Scotland have seemingly heard all about the weekend on the grapevine, as well as most of the staff in a certain pub I happen to frequent with alarming regularity, I’ll refrain from going on too much about my personal life in this space. So without much further ado, here we go…things that made me smile this week.

1. The epic night out, may go down in history as one the best nights out I have ever been on.  The music was amazing, the company was fabulous and the chat was superb.  I’d like to thank everyone who made this night what it was, starting of course with the lovely M, who came up with the idea in the first place.

2. Hats!  I have no idea why the hats came out, but they did.  Cycling helmets, fedoras, top hats, woolly bobble hats…I found them all in my hallway this morning and though I am slightly confused how they got there, I’m sure I had a good reason…

3. Showing folk the samurai sword.  It’s a genuine Japanese wakizashi from the 16th century, and my pride and joy. 

4. Seeing everyone, catching up, and of course, HUGS!

5. Going to bed when the sun was up, returning to the land of the living in darkness.  Kinda like my student days…

6. Having the most random chats about the most random things at an indecent hour of the morning

7. Mr Cat’s rum smoothie

8. That last whiskey of the night.  ALWAYS a bad idea, but fun nonetheless.

9. Looking at my photos from the weekend

10. Thinking I was actually going to make it out on my weekly cycle with my friend JD – didn’t happen this week, but getting mocked in the process was pretty funny

11. Having to break into my own house after the club, as Mr Cat had disappeared with my keys.  Then finding out that he was actually standing across the street watching us climb through the window.

12. S having a great time in the club, this being her first ever techno night AND her first night out with my friends…

13. Hanging out with the random kid we sold the spare ticket to, and inviting him and his friends back for a party. 

14. Ginger B hugging folk at distinctly inappropriate times.

15. Corsets!  I may have fallen asleep wearing mine (possibly a mistake as I now have slightly sore ribs), but it was comfy all night and man, did I get some comments!

16. Someone sleeping in the cat’s bed.

17. Phoning my sitting room to ask the boys to feed the animals, and finding out they already had.

18. Hanging out with A, Mr Pants’s girlfriend.  She such a sweet girl, and he has been told on no uncertain terms she is to be invited to all dinners from now on!

19. The guy I like offering to help out with Mr Cat’s birthday dinner, which is really rather lovely as he has only met Mr Cat twice…

20. Making some new friends.

21. Wearing comfy shoes.

22. Realising what I want to write my dissertation on.  Yes, it’s food.  And yes, I can find some way to relate it to the degree I am studying for!

23. M’s pie, made from leftover neeps, tatties and cheese.

24. Saturday.

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The Good Samaritan

I had to write about this, it’s put a big old smile on my sleepy wee face!

I was at the lovely new drinks shop in Bruntsfield, Drinkmonger…stockpiling beer for tomorrow night’s festivities!  I’m sleep deprived as it is, weakened by the relentless report-writing and endless facebook-checking (or other procrastination more imaginative).  So after asking the guys in the shop to load me up in a box, I thought it might be a good idea to trek the 200 or so metres home with: 2 wine-sized bottles of Fraoch heather ale, a couple bottles of Birds and bees pale ale, a bottle of single malt, a bottle of dark rum, and 13 bottles of Peroni.

I think I made it about 50 metres before I had to lean against a fence, staggering.  Which is where the lovely lady found me, slumped against a box of beer, maybe looking a little like a hobo.  Instead of laughing at my predicament and driving off in a cloud of dust, she asked me where I was headed…and offered me a lift.  Now I only stay another 150 metres away, so she drove me 30 seconds up the road and dropped me off outside my door.

Now you would have to be a pretty good samaritan to help a sleepy looking student-type schelp beer across the Links!  I may not have made it otherwise.  I would probably still be there, leaning against that fence, snoring away with my head rested on my box of beer.

I’m so classy…

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Pies, pies, pies…my 5 favourite pies (Part 1 of potentially many)

I didn’t make this, I just stuck it in the oven.  But oh my god, this may be one of my favourite things to eat ever.  This a Findlaters crunchy carrot and Dunsyre pie.   I don’t know who thought up the combination of Dunsyre blue cheese, red onion and carrot, but I want to give them a hug.

This got me thinking about pies. I do love pies, sweet, savoury, savoury with a bit of sweet.  So I thought, just for kicks, I’d do a post about my favourite pies.  Pies I have known and loved.

Pusateri’s apple crumble pie.  Oh my god I think this may have been a major contributor to my love of pies!  My dad would buy one of these every week from Pusateri’s in Toronto, we would split it into three not-so-equal slices and devour it like wolves.  Not as a dessert, mind you, oh no.  Not in my family.  We had this as a meal on its own.  Perfect sweet apple filling, crunchy buttery crumble topping.  I think this is why I remember my dad’s love of apple pies, and why to this day I still buy him a freshly made apple pie whenever they come to visit.  Even if we’ve not been getting along, he still gets an apple pie.  Tis tradition. www.pusateris.com

My dad’s tarte aux pommes.  I don’t know how he does it, because this is the man who cannot cook instant noodles.  When my mum was ill, I told him to make her chicken soup.  This involved using ready made chicken broth from the freezer, ready cooked chicken from the deli, chopping a couple carrots and noodles.   I lost him at ‘noodles’.  Somehow he makes a damned fine tarte aux pommes though, by some random miracle.  Sure, it’s with ready-made puff pastry, but it’s what he does with the apples and the glaze that defies logic.  Unfortunately, he has only done this a couple times and has yet to attemt a third.  Incidentally, my dad makes a mean steak, a fabulous fruit salad, and some really really good grilled lobster.  But boiling noodles?  No.  I could totally add a link here, and you could email him yourself requesting his famous apple pie (famous because it is so rare, like an exotic bird).

Simple Simon’s Breakfast Pie.  I have tried almost all of his pies, and though they are all tasty (particularly the beef and mushroom), this one is AMAZING.  It’s and egg, sausage, bacon, tomato and baked beans…all baked into a pie! To hell with all-day breakfast sandwiches, I’ll never look at one of those pallid and paltry offerings again.  Bring me breakfast, and bring it in pie form!!

My own chicken, mushroom and marmalade pie.  I know this is cheating slightly, as it’s one of my own concoctions.  I made it by happy accident for the first time about 5 years ago, when I first discovered my love of marmalade (not just as a spread and a preserve, but as a flavouring for all sorts of dishes – some worked, some…did not).   I’ll post the recipe up the next time I make it (with accompanying photo), but until then I just have a few things to say about my favourite self-made pie.  I use chicken thighs, not chicken breasts.  A whole bottle of cider finds its way in as well.  And finally, don’t be afraid of double cream.

And finally, the pie that inspired this post about pies!  Findlaters Crunchy carrot and Dunsyre pie.   Small and perfectly formed, gorgeous artisan blue cheese, sweet red onion, flaky pastry.   I know you are a veggie pie, but you know what?  I think I can look past that…

 

 

 

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Recipe: Couscous salad with peppered mackerel, orange and artichokes

Ah, Environmental Science, thou art my kryptonite!  I’ve been trying to get my head around it but it’s really just all gibberish to me…

In the meantime, I ‘borrowed’ this idea for a great summery salad from a friend.  She made it that one lovely, sunny day last week…I love it when the fresh fruit and veg come out to play in spring, and I wish I had waited to wolf this down and taken a photo.  Where she used tinned tuna, I threw in some great peppered and smoked mackerel from Creelers.  Oh, and there are no measurements; this is very much a ‘throw it all in the bowl and toss’ sort of recipe.

Ingredients

‘Israeli’ couscous (however, I made this the next day with regular couscous and it was just as nice)

Hot-smoked peppered mackerel fillets

Juice of 2 oranges

A splash of water

1 orange, roughly chopped

Fresh parsley

Artichoke hearts, halved (tinned is ok)

Black olives, sliced

Capers (the big ones with the tails)

Salt and pepper

1 avocado, cubed

In a pot, combine the couscous, orange juice and enough water.  Bring to the boil and cook as per the directions on the box.  Meanwhile combine the other ingredients.  Once the couscous is ready, toss.  Simples.

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Things that made me smile

A bit tardy this week…I was so knackered by the time I got home from my (admittedly not very long or terribly difficult) cycle with my friend JD last night I just went straight to bed!

I’d like to make a mention here of friends.  This week I spent a lot of time with my friends, and it makes me supremely happy.  Sometimes it’s not even the doing of anything, just sitting around enjoying each others company whilst doing nothing, that can just put a smile on my face.  When I was with my ex, a lot of my friends stayed away – a lot of his friends stayed away as well.  Sometimes it just strikes me how wonderful these people I have in my life that I am just so damned grateful. It is the company of these amazing folk that makes me smile, not just from week to week, but all the time.

So thanks to my lovely EB, Mr Cat, R, M, JD, KR, their fabulous parents and all the other amazing people I get to call my friends… xxx  And now the soppiness segment of this blog post can make way for our regularly scheduled programme!

1. Taking my wee dog on his inaugural run with the waist lead around the park.  Tired him out, tired me out, and makes running fun – win-win!

2. Knowing that epic night out is THIS WEEK!  Bring on the weekend, people!

3. My friend telling me he’s been thinking about my roast lamb all week!

4. Deciding to do a special haggis supper this weekend to feed the troops before our EPIC NIGHT OUT

5. Speaking to my friend B for the first time in ages

6. Running into a very old friend in Morningside and realising he’ll be moving to just around the corner with his lovely girlfriend (and fabulous cat) very very soon

7. Talking about food (what else) and pooches with the very pretty boy

8. Going for drinks on Friday night with a good friend from uni

9. Picking up my new corset from Miss Dixiebelle’s in Bruntsfield

10. Planning my outfit with (at?) my friend Mr Cat, for whom heterosexuality is wasted on apparently

11. My weekly cycle with my friend JD

12. Planning my new kitchen!  I have recruited the lovely Michaela Noelle to be my ‘ideas lady’ and am so excited to see what she comes up with!

13. The lovely thing my friend’s mum said

14. Cycling to uni all on my own today, and realising it wasn’t as difficult as I’d made it out to be

15. My friend HBR wearing the dress I got her years ago on her birthday night out

16. Maybe, possibly, potentially coming up with a dissertation topic

17. Cycling to the Mile ON THE ROAD last week, with no incident!

18. Discovering a newfound love of coffee

and of course, how can we forget,

19. PUPPY CUDDLES!!!

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Keratin blow dry booked

I’m not a huge fan of my hair.  Oh sure, once it’s been washed and blow-dried by a professional, or even after I’m attacked it with some hair straighteners, it can look kinda nice.  But on an average day, when I’ve woken up just in time to jump in the shower and run out to class, it looks a mess.  There’s a wee wave to it at the front that doesn’t look cute, as waves should be obliged by law to be.  The second there is a drop of moisture in the air it rears its ugly head.

I’ve finally booked myself in for a keratin blow-dry (aka Brazilian blow-dry), super-expensive but hopefully worth it!  I phoned 4 salons this morning and the girl I spoke to at Pride was the nicest; and they were also the most reasonable in price! 

Now this may be controversial, but I have had few good experiences with a chain hairdressers.  I’ve had my hair ruined at Vidal Sassoon in Glasgow by a man with an undercut and paes (the wee ringlets Orthodox Jewish men wear).  Cheynes staff in Bruntsfield have been horribly rude to me.  I am a fan of the independant salon; I’ve been a loyal customer at Emma Hall Hair for years and wouldn’t get my hair cut or coloured anywhere else.  So I was happy to find an independant salon who could offer the same treatment.

So on Tuesday afternoon, will I be leaving the salon looking like this?  Oh one can only dream…

Image

 

 

 

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Review: Caffe e Cucina, Morningside Road

I’m sitting in Caffe e Cucina on Morningside road, a new place that opened up in the spot where Loopy Lorna’s used to sit. I love this part of town.

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I live in Bruntsfield for the park, the convenience of school just a 30 minute walk away, the shops and cafes. If I lived in Morningside it would be for the lazy brunches, the wonderful atmosphere (very Alexander McCall Smith), the genteel Morningside ladies and the coffee.

I’ve just started drinking coffee again after a long hiatus. I think what put me off was two years working for the council and the communal tea runs that went with that job. It was dreadful. Seven women gossiping over instant coffee and tea strong enough to set your biscuit on. That was when I first started drinking herbal tea.

But can you really beat a beautifully made coffee?

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I ordered the Involtino di Pollo, chicken stuffed with savoy cabbage, bresaola, fontina and pine nuts. I love the fact they serve lunch foods before noon, because I’ve had a craving for something more exciting than a cooked breakfast at 11am.

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This was some seriously healthy portion! I loved the fact the roulade was less cheese-heavy, with the fresh tastes of the cabbage and crunch of the pine nuts coming through. The verdict is still out on the bean sauce, which may have been a bit superfluous. I did like the contrast with the simple potato, red onion and parsley salad tossed in olive oil.

The staff are lovely, the coffee is beautiful, the place is comfortingly continental. I think I can live with a few extra beans on my plate!

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Hair bands

I’m having a nostalgic moment here. Ah…hair bands! Reminds me of high school dances…

Mr Big

Build up your confidence
So you can be on top for once
Wake up. Who cares about little boys
That talk too much?
I’ve seen it all go down
The game of love was all rained out
Let me be the one to hold you

Skid Row

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