"No love sincerer than the love of food"


Shamed Blogger Fails Own Challenge


Last year I issued the challenge to cook a new recipe from a different cookbook in each week of 2013.   It was a response to the realisation that I had more cookbooks than I could shake a stick at,  with many of them remaining pristine – never having fulfilled their destiny.

I was ever so chuffed when some fellow bloggers and friends agreed to join me in my quest,  and to be honest it seemed simple enough to achieve.  Sadly this was not the case and  today my head is hung in shame as I realise that I have cooked a total of 24 brand new recipes for my challenge,  and with the best will in the world I am not going to hastily cook up another 28  before the end of the year.  It is an epic fail for the Grumbling Tummy.

Why was it so bloody hard?  Well trite as it may sound,  life just got in the way.  There were family illnesses to contend with, sheer forgetfulness came into play and then there was the diet.  As part of the ongoing effort to achieve the body beautiful I tried a variety of weird and wonderful diets this year, all which got in the way of my creative cooking quest. Lets face it, sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to make time for doing things that we really enjoy.

I shall refrain from issuing any public challenges this year but do intend to spend a lot more time on the blog in 2014 and what’s more a shiny new format could be on the cards.

I am also pleased to report that after a long hiatus I have stepped down from my high horse regarding ‘too many damned recipe books’ and started to lust after some new titles.  Gino De Campo’s  ‘Italian Escape’ and  whatever book comes out to accompany the fabulous new Yotam Ottolenghi series top my list.

What the hell,  can you ever really have too many recipe books?


A Tale of Two (or three or four) Diets!


I have said for years that I don’t believe in diets.  I mainly say this to people who are doing diets which I personally think of as ludicrous, Slimfast springs to mind.  It is of course a load of  old tosh as I have actually been on every diet under the sun – cabbage soup diet, low GI diet,  detox, weight watchers, the Sonoma diet and the 5:2 diet – to name but a few.

Blame the parents!  Both of my parents have been on a diet for as long as I can remember.  Their stock phrase however (whilst tucking into  a quarter of sweets in front of Family Fortunes)  was “I’ll start again on Monday”.   To be fair to them they were consistent in the diet they abused – Scottish Slimmers –  and this diet did transform my mum from waistless wonder to the beautiful trim lady she is today.

I am not overweight but I could be very easily and the scales often tip beyond my happy place. My problems with food are as  follows:  firstly  I love indulgent, rich food  – cheese, cream, chocolate, cakes, wine.  Secondly and somewhat more damaging is the lack of control I have when faced with such delights.  I would think nothing of demolishing an entire tray bake, wouldn’t even feel sick!  I have no concept of moderation when it comes to lovely nosh.  So for me diets provide a nice little framework to control my gluttony.

I recently stopped the 5:2 diet which I now decry as ludicrous of course.  Any diet which tells me I can eat what I want on non fast days is going to spell disaster.  I spent the fast days being grumpy and cheating on tiny crumbs of chocolate and the feast days quite literally stuffing my face with all manner of lovely junk.  The diet claims that once you get into the swing of things you will adapt and your appetite will decrease – HA !medium_1354739463

From 5:2 I lurched onto controlling my calories to a silly piddly 1200 per day.  It’s not a lot folks!  This was pointed out in a rather forthright but loving manner by a good friend who was appalled that I planned to miss lunch after indulging in a piece of chocolate tiffin. She also likes her food but seems to have been losing weight steadily over the last 6 months or so.  Her tool has been Slimming World and she urged me to give it a go.

What the hell!  Another day another diet.  I have been on this one for about 3 or 4 weeks and so far so good.  You can actually eat ALOT, although what you can eat a lot of does not equate to indulgence.  Wine has been slashed and cakes are non-existent but I can’t say that I am hungry.  You can also have a Chinese takeaway on this wonder diet but just steer clear of the spring rolls and prawn crackers!  I like it, it’s just healthy eating.  It just gives me that framework to stop me going nuts (most of the time).

However like all diets,  high days and holidays are impossible,  I have opted to  gaily abandon the diet on these occasions and indulge to my heart’s content.  Makes life much more pleasant.   However my insides do not agree with my method.

On Sunday we were round at the PTs for lunch and they had gone to town with a food fest which would melt any dieters resolve.  To start there was fried black pudding served with caramelised apples and green leaves, next up was the most adorably fragrant and tender Beef Bourguignon served with lusciously creamy dauphenoise  and a daub of golden puff pastry.  We then partook in Cat’s home-made Bakewell tart with fresh berries and cream.  She is an avid Bake Off fan and I believe would give this years contestants a run for their money, hell she would give Mary Berry a run for her money.  We didn’t stop there however – there was still little biscuits, grapes and a selection of Spanish cheeses and quince to get through.  it was glorious and all washed down with several glasses of the red stuff.

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However it appears that my diet has ruined me!  My gloriously tasty meal decided it was happy at the top of my stomach and decided to stay there for the rest of the day and most of the night.  I felt like I had consumed three Christmas dinners.  And so it was at 10pm that I slunk to bed with nothing for supper but two chewy gaviscon.  It is a sad state of affairs when a dye in the wool foodie can’t indulge without such dire consequences.

I feel that there ought to be a moral to this story, but there isn’t.  It’s simply a rambling tale of one girl, many diets and lots of lovely food.

I would be really interested to hear your diet tales.  What works for you?  Have you found the holy grail – the diet that allows wine and cake?

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Amulree – Restoring Faith in Human Nature

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Let me tell you about a charming little place that has restored my faith in human nature.  The name of this place is the Amulree , located somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Fresh from our trip to Northumberland and desperate to maintain a holiday vibe we had taken a trip to Dunkeld to introduce the wee one to Peter Rabbit and friends.  The Beatrix Potter Exhibition & Garden  in Birnam tells the story Miss Potter and offers a fully interactive experience for children.  We visited Mrs Tiggy Winkle in her house, saw Jeremy fishing and Ns favourite – the Gentleman Fox.

To be honest food was the last thing on my mind.  Following our Northumberland curry quest (more on that at a later date) I felt like a foie gras duck and the scales were backing me up.  however B had been on Trip Advisor and had sourced a tea room nearby that got cracking reviews and never one to let a new foodie find slip through my fingers, I agreed that we should seek it out for lunch.

We drove out of Dunkeld into the hills and after about ten miles we reached the middle of nowhere – the Amulree .   This charming little whitewashed cafe,  complete with bunting floating in the breeze, was surprisingly busy considering the location.  I had that tinkly feeling that told me it was going to be good.

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The interior was spotless, tasteful and modern with local art (for sale) adorning every wall.  There were about five tables for customers and a little area with toys to keep children amused.  The menu was very small – soup, paninis and home-made cakes.  It may be small but let me assure you that it was absolutely perfectly formed.

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We were just about to place our order when we clocked the sign up on the wall ” we don’t accept cards, cash only”.  BUGGER! Like the Queen we had no actual real money with us.  We got up to leave whilst explaining our predicament to the waitress when she stopped us in our tracks with this ” Oh that should be fine just send a cheque in when you can”.  Once we collectively scraped our jaws up from the floor and tried to take in this astoundingly refreshing trust in ones fellow-man, we ordered …

We both chose the home-made mushroom soup.  This could be served with either soda bread, rice cakes or oatcake.  I opted for soda bread – good choice!  The beautifully “meaty” mushroom soup was beautifully flavoured and laced  with cream.  Comfort in a bowl – all was right with the world.  The soda bread was unlike any soda bread I have ever tasted before (in a good way).  It was light with a lovely sweetness which loved lashings of salty butter.

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It should have been enough but there was a cabinet of cakes that could not be ignored. B proclaiming his body a “template” did abstain – how disturbingly unusual!

I justified my cake consumption by announcing that I was actually having two of my five a day in choosing a moist and delicious looking frosted courgette and lemon cake –  don’t judge me!  This cake was to die for – so moist with such a beautiful lemony tang balancing the sweetness.  I am always surprised at how delicious cakes using vegetables are – a bit like the famous Peter Kay sketch – Garlic …. and Bread.  Courgette …. and cake!!!  But delicious it was.

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So if you fancy a trip to the middle of nowhere to take in stunning views, sample wonderful food and meet some lovely people with a refreshing attitude – you can’t get better than the Amulree.  (cheques in the post!)


My Highland Show


A week has gone by since I donned my wellies (just in case) and headed off to the Royal Highland Show, searching for a festoon of foodie delights.

Shamefully by-passing many of the wonderful things the show has to offer,  we headed straight for the food hall.  Only one stall  stopped me in my tracks en route and that was the Rocpool restaurant from Inverness, who were serving scallops and Mediterranean cous cous.  The aroma was divine and it was only the fear of peaking too early that stopped me from tucking in.

The Food Hall at the Highland show is busy, noisy and brilliant.  Lovely husband agreed to take the mini grumbling tummy on an adventure for an hour to give me time to try & buy to my heart’s content.  The timer was on and posh supermarket sweep began.

great glen game

First stop was Great Glen Game    Great Glen Game sustainably source wild venison from estates located in the Great Glen.   I have tasted their products before and admit to being a  bit of a fan.  After trying out their venison chorizo, venison salami and a venison & pork mix salami, I settled on a packet of the latter and the beginnings of my Highland Show tasting dinner was born.

essential sauces

Sharing space with Great Glen Game was Grantown and Spey based company Essential Sauces who were flogging their spectacularly wonderful range of tomato based sauces. These guys blend the freshest tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and make them into a variety of spicy sauces ideal for dipping or marinading.  Unable to choose I bought three bottles.  Spicy Ketchup which has a wicked Scotch Bonnet kick,  Special Ketchup which is similar but with a gingery warmth and finally the Saucy Chutney which is as it says a lovely date and apple chutney in a sauce form.   Its been a week since the show and I have used the spicy ketchup as a dip on quite a few occasions – it went very well with my lamb koftas.


it wasn’t long before I was accosted by the smell of freshly cooked  sausages.  Heck sausages are made by the Yorkshire based Keeble family and they are bloody tasty.  They have eight products including ‘chicken Italia’,  ‘Pork and Proud’ and ‘Smoky Chorizo Style’ and I had to try a few  …. really quite a few before settling on smoky Chorizo.  They are a  sausage to be reckoned with and were devoured back at base with a bowl of hot buttery cous cous which complimented them perfectly.  I am told that you can buy these in Tesco and even if you are not a Tesco shopper these sausages are worthy of a special trip.

best lunch

Time for a bite to eat.  This was easy!  I headed straight for the stall selling hand dived Islay scallops on a black pudding roll.  I don’t need to say anything about this.  Check out the picture, it says it all.


I have a bit of a thing for flavoured oils for drizzling and dipping and was delighted to come across two stands which ticked all of the oily boxes .  Mackintosh of Glendendaveny and Gusto who are based in Leith.

mackintosh ofglendevanay

Extra Virgin “cold pressed” rapeseed oil  from Mackintosh of Glendaveny is grown, pressed and bottled on their farm in Aberdeenshire.  There are lots of health benefits to rape seed oil which is great but to be honest I would buy it even if it had the health properties of a doughnut – it is very tasty stuff.  After spending far too long dipping wee bits of bread in a multitude of flavoured oils including chilli and ginger – I elected for a lemon infused oil.  I often use olive oil and lemon juice as a simple salad dressing and this seemed like a sensible short cut.  I used this oil a few days ago when hosting a girls lunch and it got the thumbs up all round – I do declare that it can bring any salad to life.

Gusto lovingly makes a selection of dressings, aromatic oils and specialist vinegars using local Scottish ingredients. I didn’t need another oil did I?  Probably not but I couldn’t resist their chilli oil which had a real kick.  So far I have drizzled it on hummus and dipped half a blooming loaf in it.  It really is yummy and has a multitude of uses.


My Highland Show tasting dinner had lost focus – oils, sauces,  venison salami – I needed bread to bring it back on track.  Mhor Bread based in Callander was my next stop.  Mhor  makes “artisan bread at affordable prices”,  I actually think they are a wee bit pricey but the bread is hand-made using flour milled from Scotland and besides that  it tastes pretty good.  There are so many varieties to choose from but I settled on a sour-dough which was used to dip into my various oily acquisitions later that evening.

Organic Blend

Last but not least, one the stars of my Highland Show …. drum roll!  The Organic Blending Company  Their product is just so damned clever.  The blends look like jars of dried herbs and spices which is pretty much what they are.  You can use these blended herbs and spices for marinading, cooking and the like  BUT that was not the clever part.  The stand displayed small pots of  mayonnaise which each had a teaspoon of blend mixed in to make a tasty dip.  So simple, so clever and honestly so tasty.  I ate my bodyweight in bread sticks dipped in a mix of mayo, yogurt and Italian Herbs and Spices Blend that night.  I love this concept of an instant and easy dip.

So with a full tummy and an empty wallet we emerged from the food hall of the Royal Highland show and made our weary way home.

We love you Royal Highland Show – see you next year

neave at show

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Hi Ho Hi Ho – to the Highland Show we go

Highland Coo

I am not a fan of tractors or coos and was never keen on the idea of going to the Royal Highland Show. For some inexplicable reason the sheer enormity of the show had entirely passed me by. That was until one sunny weekend (they can be a bit of a rarity at the Highland Show) a few years back, when I was kindly given a ticket and thought, ‘what the hell’.

Have you been to the Highland Show? If not then you really must go. Feel free to bypass the coos and the tractors and the impossibly cute little sheep, but please do not pass any of the amazing opportunities to stuff your face full of the most splendiferous of Scottish produce. It is definitely one of the best food shows in Scotland and I for one am very excited about going along this year.

I will be returning fresh from a week of eating my way round Northumberland and will probably be as fat as a pony, but that will not stop me taking full advantage of all the foodie treats the show has to offer.

A little birdie tells me that the Highlands & Islands region forms the central theme for the food area this year. So what does that mean for my grumbling tummy?

First  I plan to visit a whole host of fantastic artisan producers from the Highlands & Islands who are showcasing the luscious larder of their region. Particularly exciting is Great Glen Game ( fingers and toes crossed that they have some of their salami left for me to taste). Cheeses, pies and preserves are other weak spots for me as well as some beautiful smoked salmon. The trick is to enjoy the samples but leave enough room for part two.

This will involve sourcing lunch from one of the many  ‘Street Food’ stands dotted around the showground and choosing will be tough. Helping showcase this produce are a host of great chefs from the Highlands & Islands involved including Muji Rahman from the Michelin recognised Cafe India in Dingwall and Steven Devlin of the highly acclaimed Rocpool Restaurant in Inverness. Mmm.

If there is time then I will also try to catch some of the chefs cooking up a storm on the cookery stage – this is a particular favourite of the mini grumbling tummy, who will be in attendance. Hates food but loves watching people cook – odd child but we love her.

Finally I will hit the plethora of stands selling innumerably lovely products  and moon over lovely trinkets before heading home – full and happy.

So roll on the weekend of the 22nd June and everybody please please do a sun-dance for the day!

photo credit: <a href=””>Rainbirder</a> via <a href=””>photopin> <a href=””>cc</a>



festival pic

Festival season is upon us, but forget T in the Park, we are talking food here.

As soon as the sun puts his hat on (okay okay …  I am sure he will soon) it’s time to get out and about in the fresh air and sample the fabulous local produce Scotland has to offer.

Here is a list of just some of the fantastic foodie events going on this summer and beyond.  So grab your diary and get planning.

Apologies to my friends south of the border –  your events are too many to catalogue!!  Maybe these Scottish events will encourage you to pack your weekend bag and take a trip …

I will set up a special events page on the blog so that this information is easily accessible – if  you want me to include any festivals that I have missed then let me know and I will add them.


One day event giving you the opportunity to meet local producers and sample the food from Grampians larder.  Expect beautiful smoked salmon, creamy fudge, shortbread and much more.


This is free and takes place in locations across Scotland.  Farms open their doors or should I say gates to allow visitors to experience the smells of the farmyard and really get in touch with the land that feeds us. So come and feed your senses on Open Farm Sunday. At a farm near you.


This great two-day festival includes an indoor food market, music events, local producers and a lobster shack at the picturesque harbour PLUS wild food walks and foraging.  It’s a cracking one to go along to and this blogger has been part of their innovative 2013 blogging project this year (very proud!)

AFTERNOON TEA ON A STEAM TRAIN – throughout the summer

Ok so not a festival but a great thing to do and worthy of a mention on my summer food list.   Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea of freshly made sandwiches, cakes and homemade scones with clotted cream and Scottish jam served with a pot of coffee or tea aboard a lovingly restored steam train.


This festival in the charming village of Falkland includes a family picnic, street fair and tea dance amongst other family fun activities.


Its an institution!  I tend to bypass the tractors and the coos and head straight for the food hall where there are almost 100 companies featuring their quality products as well as a line-up of some of Scotland’s top chefs demonstrating their culinary skills.  The Highland Show is a fantastic day out (especially if the sun shines)


Calm down I know it’s not actually a food festival BUT it is one of my favourite festivals of the year (not only because it was where I grew up long before  there was a sniff of an arts scene).  In between seeing the art EAT some food.  There is a big tent selling top-notch grub down at the harbour and various fabulous places to hang out for cake and coffee too.  Finish your day off with fish and chips from Pittenweem’s chippy.  It was always known as the best in Scotland when I was young.  Just as good as the now famous Anstruther Fish Bar‘s suppers but without the queues and the price tag.


Not to be missed! This huge event held in Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park is into its seventh year now and it really is a stonking day out for any foodie.  As well as hundreds of stands showcasing fabulous local produce there is a cake and bake theatre, chefs theatre, a children’s cooking theatre,  pop up restaurants and so much  more.  I am hoping they have their little beach in situ again this year and mini grumbling tummy loved it.


I love a berry I do and where best to taste berries than smack in the middle of fruit farm country.  This one day event is held in Strathearn at the peak of growing season.  As well as a large selection of berry based produce you will find breads, chutneys, baking and more – it’s a good un’.


Dumfries & Galloway’s celebration of local food and drink returns on 31st August till 15th September 2013, giving you 16 days of delicious experiences to indulge in.  The full programme is not available just yet but keep an eye on the website.


This is one I definitely shall be attending!  This three-day (ticketed) event  is Tayside’s top lifestyle event.  The Festival offers the best in food, horticulture and live entertainment, with a packed weekend programme including free cookery and gardening demonstrations, children’s activities, a craft fair, live music and TV celebrities. Now what’s not to love about that.


This is the second non specifically food festival I have included. I briefly lived in Aberdour and really liked this festival and it does include food – honest.  There is a beach day where you can partake of the BBQ whilst watching the fabulous regatta, the great Aberdour Bake Off is a highlight this year and it is always nice to watch people struggle on the Donkey Brae Run whilst you sip on pimms and munch a puddledub burger (hope Puddledub are there this year – they normally are!)


This festival, now in its eighth year promises “tasty trials, sumptuous suppliers, festival fun and interesting information” .  20,000 folk flock to the area for this festival  – that in itself speaks volumes.  Definitely going into my diary.


A luscious fourteen days celebrating all that is fabulous about Scottish produce.  There are tastings and special events across the country so keep an eye out on the website for more details nearer the time.


The 20th annual World Porridge Making Championships will take place in the Scottish Highland village of Carrbridge. So good it has to go on the list.


Head over to this blinding event at the SECC. Its huge and you should get your elbows at the ready but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  It is one of the best places to try and buy the best of Scotland.  Gregg Wallace and John Torode are among the celebs there this year which to be honest is enough for me to buy a ticket!  I blogged about it last year – have a read.

photo credit: <a href=””>j l t</a> via <a href=””>photopin> <a href=””>cc</a>

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Currywurst – the way to my man’s heart

Whilst milling around our local branch of Aldi last Sunday B came upon a packet of Bratwurst.  I was not overly impressed by the look of the Photo 24-04-2013 20 56 28chunky shrink wrapped German sausages,  but the sight of them seemed to send B into a tail-spin of excitement.

B has developed a fondness for all things Germanic having visited both Cologne and Berlin in the last year or two and part of the appeal seems to centre round the popular street food – currywurst.

With pleading eyes B begged for a reprieve from our daily diet of rocket, parmesan shavings, puy lentils and black turtle beans.  He wanted Currywurst and more than that he wanted it with chips.  How bad could it be?  I agreed and his eyes twinkled – it was akin to telling a child they could have Happy Meals every day of the week.

So what is the big deal about Currywurst?

Well the Germans seem to like it, that’s for sure – over 800 million currywurst are sold every year in Germany.

It was invented in 1949 by Herta Heuwer in Berlin after she obtained  curry powder, Worcester sauce and ketchup from British soldiers. She mixed these ingredients with other spices and poured it over grilled pork sausage. She went on to sell her snack on a street stand in Berlin where it became popular with construction workers rebuilding the city.  It is now sold all Photo 24-04-2013 20 35 02over Germany but in Berlin you can pick one up on virtually every corner, served with chips of course.

My favourite currywurst fact proves beyond all doubt that Currywurst is indeed a German national treasure:  the Volkswagen plant at Wolfsberg has its own butchery producing 3.5 million Currywursts a year, serving 1.6m employees.  Wowzer!

So …. I had the sausage and I had the chips and a little browsing online furnished me with a recipe for the sauce.

Recipe for Currywurst sauce

460 ml of ketchup, generous tablespoon of medium curry powder, tablespoon of smoked paprika, scant tablespoon of sugar, medium onion minced, dash of oil

Bratwurst sausages (as many as you fancy eating)

Chips (you have to have the chips)


Cook the onion for a few minutes in the oil then add the ketchup,  curry powder, paprika and sugar, simmer for about 15 minutes whilst you cook your Bratwurst and chips.

Cut the bratwurst into chunks (very important apparently ) and smother with the saucePhoto 24-04-2013 20 33 32

Serve with chips and a good German beer


Well to be honest I am surprised that there was enough sauce to go onto the Bratwurst as I couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls of it during cooking .  Its hard to belive that a few simple cupboard staples can result in such a rich and utterly scrummy sauce.  I absolutely loved it and think  that everybody should try it at least once.

The Bratwurst was from ALDI who are of course German so not surprised that they lived up to expectations.  Don’t often shop in ALDI but will be dipping in for Bratwurst in the future.

We accompanied our traditional German fayre with a German bier called Bitburger (available in 500ml bottles from Sainsbury) for that authentic Berliner experience.

The whole meal was delish and could only have been improved perhaps by serving it in a little cardboard carton rather than a plate.  It is street food and it felt a little odd eating it from Denby (I never understand those who transfer their fish supper onto their best china!)

Guten Appetit!