Pretty but… tasty?


This week I tried a few different dishes from the BBC Good Food site (it really does have so many good recipes…) .   Sometimes I follow the recipes directly, but I do have a horrible habit of adding my own touches or simply just trying to work around a lack of a particular ingredient (or over-abundance of another).  Take the first picture here – of sweet mustard salmon, with garlicky veg: I didn’t have many soft vegetables in the fridge (or, rather, I forgot I had peppers) and decided to go for a pile of the root veggies I had in the cupboard – not leaving enough cooking time for the tougher veg, we ended up with rather crunchy veggies with our salmon.  Admittedly, the salmon itself was pretty nice and the dressing was ok – though nothing special.

I do like wholegrain mustard with salmon – in is case some Arran mustard we bought a while ago for gorgeous mustard mash.


The second dish, here, looks rather plain and not very special; it’s spiced chicken with rice and crisp red onions. It was absolutely wonderful!  It was like a summer curry – spices, full of flavour but not stodgy and sauce laden.  The other great thing is that it was really simple to make:  the chicken was just coated in a mix of curry powders from the cupboard, thrown together with some finely sliced red onion and thrown in the oven.  I made the rice lazily, too – none of this boiling, for me: I made it as usual in the rice cooker, adding the ingredients when I would have had to add them to a pot of boiling rice.

I didn’t have any basmati rice, so it was just plain American long-grain, I also lacked saffron but, since it was mainly for colour, I just substituted turmeric – another nice curry-ish flavor which I like anyway.

The last substitution I made, which was partially planned, was swapping raisins for cranberries.  I’m not a huge fan of raisins and I didn’t want to buy a whole packet of them for one meal and figured cranberries would do – I’m glad I did!  The cranberries – very sweet ones – tasted wonderful cooked in with the rice and alongside both the curry and red onions.

The ‘dip’ was really easy too – and tasted pretty good even though I used no-fat plain yoghurt.


Although the salmon was a lot prettier, I much preferred the taste of the chicken, and would cook it again.

Note the same salad – a bag of watercress and spinach leaves is a nice, easy and lazy salad for me to throw with just about every meal to get some extra greens.  Looks nice, too.  Both of these recipes are relatively low-fat, too – grilled chicken, fish, rice, and only small amounts of oil to roast the veggies.


Gardener’s World & DigIn

Due to looking for more reading material on gardening and growing my own veg, I came across the Gardener’s World site.  It is your typical BBC site, but I noticed via the site that they had the episodes from this season up on BBC iPlayer – the BBC’s online episode streamer.  Since we’re on cable, I can grab that via the T.V. – I hadn’t realised Gardener’s World was available as it had been filed under lifestyle when I  usually only check factual (documentaries are win)!

This year, they have a heavy emphasis on the DigIn campaign – meaning lots of tips on growing veggies and what fares well with what and under what conditions.  Super-handy considering that I want to do my own when we move!

On the other channel…

Well, ok, freeview doesn’t really have other channels in the same way, but still… If you have the ability to get freeview through the tv or have a decent internet connection, then I recommend:

The Incredible Human Journey

A documentary on the human diaspora – whilst relatively basic and not really ground-breaking, it is very well presented and goes more into detail than some of the other documentaries from the BBC in the last few  years. It’s a little formulaic in the information it presents (an ‘aboriginal people’, mitochondrial dna analysis, looking at a created item from the time, looking at their living conditions), but since the locations and time-line differs, it doesn’t feel dull.

A must-watch if you’re interested in the global journey of our species!

south pacific

South Pacific

This was a magazine style documentary which I found breathtaking just for the imagery.  It’s the one I’ve honestly wanted an HD TV for – our tv is a decent size, but it’s not widescreen and getting a bit old now.  Even at that, I was still blown away by the beautiful filming done on this series.

The episodes are very varied, ranging from conservation, to geology, to anthropology and speciation – it sometimes feels a little oddly mixed, but that has the upshot of making each episode very self-contained.   The music was also very pretty and evocative which was good as there was quite a lot of scenery-and-music moments.

The one, tiny, downside to the series was, although they had a lot of wonderful shots, they reused some of them a little too much.  Still, definately a wonderful, chilled series to relax to of an evening or even stick on in the background whilst (in my case) drawing.

Now I need to go look up some recipes for next week!

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Drums and Family

An odd combination, you’d think: drums and family – but that’s pretty much been the essence of this past weekend.


On Saturday morning, Andy was playing at Grangemouth Children’s Day – he’s doing gigs every weekend at the moment with either Puff Uproar and the Shimmering Sound Affair or The Edinburgh Samba School.   The first part of the day was a parade – so knowing I would, in all likelihood,  barely see him I decided to go in later in the afternoon.

Although it was a bit overcast, it was really quite warm and the cloud cover was breaking up here and there to throw shafts of sunlight down on the poor, overheating performers.  As usual, though, the music was fun and I’m really starting to learn the songs because I’ve heard them so often!

Whilst there, we caught up with Andy’s Mum, his aunt and three cousins who’d come up from Australia and London to visit.  I’d met two of his cousins before, but not the others.  We had a quick chat after they played and then everyone headed to Andy’s parents home – us via our place so that Andy could shower down after such a hot performance.

Andy and Rachel

Puff Uproar at Grangemouth Children's Day

Click for much larger images!

At Andy’s his mum, as usual,  cooked a huge meal of tasty things.  We chilled, at and chatted until quite late before heading home – we had been going to stay except that I had gotten a text message…


The text had been from my Mum saying she was over in Scotland and could we meet up!  So, Sunday was Mother’s Day for me, not Father’s.  It was so good to see her again – though, despite taking my camera, I managed not to get a photo of us.  I had wanted a more recent one as the last one I have is from my graduation.  We wandered around Glasgow, had chinese buffet, went shopping and dropped into Oil & Vinegar – love that shop.  Mum also bought a huge pile of Scottish paraphernalia for her French friends.

She also gave me some tips on growing certain veggies – something I hope to do when we move to the new house!

One of the things we did get pictures of was Clanedonia – a group whom we’ve seen playing in Buchanan St. before.


Click for much larger images!


It was really nice to see Mum – I miss her a hell of lot and it’s been a particularly long time since I seen her last.  It seems or whole family is slowly spreading out further and further away from each other, which is kind of sad when I remember back 19-20 years or so when I was really wee – lots of us were in West Kilbride and there was always someone in the family a short walk away.

On Sunday evening, after Mum headed home, we ended up heading back to Bearsden to give Andy’s Dad his Father’s Day gift and, as usual, ended up staying for food.  After lunch I could barely eat anything but I picked and nibbled at all the tasty things.  Was really nice to meet more of Andy’s family – they live even further spread out than mine, so visits are even rarer for some of them.

Was utterly shattered by the time we got back home – I’m amazed Andy managed to drive all the way without falling asleep.

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First, to get the ‘feeling sorry for myself’ news out of the way – I’ve been having bad stomach aches for a while now and the docs have diagnosed everything from ‘bad indigestion’ to gallstones.  The latest one lasted a whole week, despite meds to kill my stomach acid levels, and I ended up going into the doc’s last Friday with pretty bad jaundice.  It’s cleared up again, for now, but they still don’t have a clue, and are sending me for a liver scan.  Joys.


The upshot of a fail-stomach is that I’m on a low-fat diet in an effort to keep things settled – no saturated fats and not too much sugar, plenty of fibre and veggies.  Boring.  Good for me, but not so super when I have to watch certain people eat pizza in front of me!

Being as I don’t like boring food, I’ve been scouring the interwebs for recipes for low-fat versions of things an doing ad-hoc versions within basic guidelines (using only olive oil, low fat versions of stuff and adding salad to everything).    I do love plain veggies, and salads etc. but it sort of sucks a little to eat them all the time.  Jelly as pudding is something I can happily live with, though!

One nice recipe I found this week on the BBC Good Food site was Lemon and Five-Spice Chicken with paprika potatoes inspired by this recipe.    With some slight modification – like using baby new-potatoes instead of slices of normal ones since that’s all we had and a little less sugar than the chicken recipe called for, it ended up being a pretty good, tasty, and healthy meal – especially with a big pile of salad – baby spinach, lettuce, cucumber, carrot and spring onion.

Talking of the baby spinach: I’ve really gotten into using it as a salad leaf – it’s so much more flavourful than lettuce and we always have extra since the Tesco bags are way too big to use, cooked, in a week unless you ate them with every other meal.  I’ve used baby spinach in everything from your basic salad, to sandwiches or even added to tuna and onion with baked potato as some extra crunch and greenery.  Yummy.


With Andy having so many gigs at the moment on Saturdays, he’s put his D&D game on hold for a little while. I’ve been really enjoying it – the Curse of the Crimson Throne Paizo adventure, using Paizo’s 3.5 D&D beta rules.  It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally beginning to be able to do all my own dice rolls and have a fair idea of what I’m doing – not always but enough that I don’t need a ‘minder’ just to play.  I think it’s because we’ve been playing D&D for a while and it’s been drilled into my mind long enough or that I’ve gained a better understanding of other rules, leaving me free to concentrate on the hard ‘numbers’ bit.  Luckily, in our group, people are pretty patient with me: but It’s amazing how much more impatient people are about people who can’t add up quickly compared to those who can’t read quickly. That’s a whole other post, right there.

Anyways, I’ve really enjoyed this game and the characters in it – we’ve gelled in a way that you don’t get every game and we’re all working well together.  With the slightly smaller group I think it’s easier for everyone to take a part in the group and we’re a mixed enough bunch that people aren’t stepping on others’ toes.

My character has been fun, if stereotypical – a chaotic neutral, half-elf rogue.  He’s a complete libertine, to put it mildly, and often does the dirty work which others would not do nor sanction – they’re all either lawful good or neutral good.  He’s not as effective, combat-wise, as most of the other characters… until he flanks someone and then he’s a whirling, blenderizing, sneak attacking rogue of dhoom.  Yes, doom with an h.  I have had the fun of creating ridiculous traps, setting off other peoples ridiculous traps and being reduced to negatives multiple times by scythes – which my character now has a healthy aversion to.

The other characters in the group were a lawful-good tiefling fighter with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mauna Kea, a lawful-good monk (now deceased) who was a childhood friend of my own character who went the good route rather than the bad, a lawful-good wizard-paladin with a penchant for anti-magic and a big glaive and, finally, a hippy-good elven druid (raised by gnomes) who has endeavoured to save everything furry or leafed in a city of depravity.

Looking forward to it starting up again, to be honest; until then, there’s the wiki to update!


I decided I wanted to update this blog a bit more – I miss writing about ‘stuff’ and recently I’ve just wanted somewhere to write about ‘what’s happening’ with me.  I like the wordpress style that I have at the moment but I’ve never liked using ‘default’ anything for long so I might spruce it up a bit with my own images or somesuch.  I also need to figure out a faster way to get images from our camera onto my laptop as, I think, mine is the only one in the house which doesn’t have an inbuilt card reader.  Then maybe I can get some shiny pictures on here.  A blog without pictures just isn’t my thing.

I’d think about using the other laptop but, really, I love the size and feel of the keyboard on this one – it’s like a favourite pencil which, whilst blunt and rather on the small side, you just don’t want to give up because it make writing or drawing more comfortable.

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