Wednesday 26 January 2011


Sometimes I leave writing a post a little too long and the words I thought of, the words in my head seem to get stuck. I know what I wanted to say but getting it out becomes... tricky. It's that moment when you see someone you recognise but their name hides at the back of your mind, the times when you're in the supermarket and know there is something else, something you really need but you go up and down every aisle mentally going through the contents of your cupboards and... no, still no memory of what that elusive thing could be, it's that song, you know the one, it has that bit in it, the bit that always gets stuck in your head, no I can't remember the name but you know it...

All of this to say that I wanted there to be preamble to this, a discussion of the different ways people prepare for having friends over for food, how far ahead you issue invitations, how many courses you prepare, how long you spend in the kitchen.

And the point of the lost preamble that I now realise was probably superfluous was just this. I love feeding my friends. I love to cook food that I know people will like. I love to sit at the table and eat and chat until late at night or, more often, the early hours of the morning but for me that means inviting people over, sometimes in advance, sometimes that day. It means planning a meal so that I can drink a glass of wine and chat before we sit down. It means that starters are more usually nibbles. It means a big pot on the table with instructions to all to help themselves.

Last Saturday it meant inviting Catherine over on a whim, it meant gin and tonic, it meant Nigella's moroccan roast lamb marinaded in ras-el-hanout, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil from Forever Summer, it meant green couscous from Plenty.

Friday 21 January 2011


Just a few things that I've been liking lately...

My pinterest, do you have one?

Trembling Bells who we're going to see in Glasgow tonight.

The Long Song by Andrea Levy.

Uniqlo's boyfriend fit chinos.

Before Sunrise, I haven't seen it for years and I want to.

Little knotted earrings.

Candles that smell of mint tea and pencil shavings.

Reese's Pieces eggs, they aren't sold in the UK, I want to try them.

The memory of a litre of jellified chicken stock leftover from our poached chicken. We heated it up, added some cold shredded chicken and poured in 200g of tiny alphabet pasta to cook in the stock for four minutes. A soft soothing tea perfect for a January Monday.

Thursday 20 January 2011


On Sunday we went for a walk. We grabbed the chance to be outside while the sky was blue. It was still cold and still, always, windy but it was light and after the last few months any bright days make me very happy. We walked to Holyrood Park and followed Queen's Drive up round the side of Salisbury Crags, down the steep hill to Duddingston Village and a small restorative half. Then back up the steps and up the hill to continue on our way, past the loch where the gulls were battling against the waves to stay in place as they bobbed on the water, and then down and home. Home to finally make a recipe that has been marked since the day I bought 'Kitchen'. Home to poach a chicken in water with wine, carrots, leeks, celery and herbs, to cook rice, to share a bottle of red wine, to sit at the table with the candles lit and finish the weekend.

Thursday 13 January 2011


If blogs got birthday presents I would ask for anything from Herriott Grace but instead I'll just blow out some imaginary candles and be quietly amazed that this little space has been mine for four whole years.

Thursday 6 January 2011


We were impatient to find this place.

We knew what we wanted. Space for all the books and records, a secure stairway, a kitchen where we could eat. But it just didn't seem to be out there. We looked every day, multiple times a day, and when this flat popped up on gumtree, and when it looked like the flat we had been imagining we tried to not pin all of our hopes on it, we tried not to jinx it.

We got the flat, you know that part, and it is, happily and clearly, the best of all our flats. We're on number seven. There are niggles, there always are, those jaggy nails in the floorboards that just keep catching our socks no matter how many times Chris hammers them back into place, the odd draughty spot in the wall by the kitchen table, the sink in its own little room off the kitchen. But we knew what we wanted to achieve with this flat, something we had missed in London, the time to make dinner and a space where we could sit and eat at a table together. There are nights when we just want to curl up on the sofa but now it is a choice and mostly we are at the table, we chat, we listen to the radio, we missed this.

Last night I halved a butternut squash, scooped out the seeds, and roasted it with some butter, garlic, salt and pepper. When it was soft I scooped out the flesh and mashed it in a bowl with some fried bacon, gruyere and spring onion. I dolloped the mixture back into the squash shells and baked them for another 15 minutes. We ate them with baby spinach and listened to Radcliffe and Maconie on BBC Radio 2.

This place feels like home.

Sunday 2 January 2011


I hope you enjoyed the end of 2010? We had a few days in Sussex with walks, family, and an incident with a ladleful of flaming brandy. A night in London with friends, drinks, pulled pork, and pizza. A New Year's Eve with chicken tagine, my first experiments with filo pastry, and the realisation that we could see two of Edinburgh's seven sets of fireworks from our sitting room windows.

Last week I talked about waking up on the 1st ready to get out for a walk to welcome in 2011. Instead I read, ate crumpets, watched Back to the Future, and finally got dressed sometime in the afternoon. But we did manage a walk. We walked down a very closed Leith Walk, we talked about how many 1st of Januaries we had spent together and spotted cafes and restaurants we need to eat in this year. Then we headed home to watch cookery programmes and to eat; scotch pies for him, a sausage sandwich for me. And once I had eaten I opened up my new diary and filled in birthdays and wrote that small list of resolutions that I can never resist making. This time though they are smaller goals, things that make me happy, things I have been meaning to learn. I want to sign up for a crochet class, paint my nails more, bake bread, travel. I want 2011 to be a positive year, a year where we do things we love, see friends, visit some new and some favourite places.

And here, for now, one small change. I had been using the old photo for far too long so new year, new photo.