Friday, November 02, 2007

Slipping up

I'm sorry that my blogging seems to be slipping. I'm just finding it hard to get round everybody I'd like to visit - real life keeps intruding, which is probably a good thing.

I'm feeling a little knackered at the moment. So today I had a long lie and feel the benefit of it, my arm is less sore. I've been getting some nerve and adhesion pains and my usual blasting on regardless behaviour has not helped the situation. But today I will slow down, now that the place looks clean and tidy for friends who are coming to stay. L is my oldest friend, we've known each other for 40 years and we were bridesmaids at each other weddings etc, etc. I love the shorthand we have between us, the long lost places and faces we share.

I'm heavily into making soup just now, the Tuscan bean soup I tasted in Pienza, with a thick slice of good bread in the bottom, and some of our lovely curly kale, and Cullen Skink, which I had up in the Boathouse in Stonehaven when I was up north and really enjoyed it. Here's the recipe, except I like to use leeks, sweated in butter, rather than the onions used here:

"Traditional Scottish Recipes
- Cullen Skink

The name of this rich, tasty soup comes from the fishing village of Cullen, in Morayshire. "Skink" is a soup made originally from a shin of beef. But in this case, the main ingredient is smoked haddock.

A large smoked haddock (weighing around 2 lb)
1 medium onion, finely chopped.
1½ pints (900ml) milk
2 tablespoons butter
8 oz mashed potato
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
Chopped parsley
Triangles of toast (as an accompaniment)

Cover the smoked haddock with water, in a shallow pan, skin side down. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4/5 minutes, turning once. Take the haddock from the pan and remove the skin and bones. Break up the fish into flakes, return to the stock and add the chopped onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Strain, remove the bay leaf but retain the stock and fish. Add the milk to the fish stock and bring back to the boil. Add enough mashed potato to create the consistency you prefer (don't be afraid to make it rich and thick!). Add the fish and reheat. Check for seasoning. Just before serving, add the butter in small pieces so that it runs through the soup.
Serve with chopped parsley on top, accompanied by triangles of toast."

Not for nothing do the family call me "the Soup Dragon"!

And I've opened the pecorino I brought home from Pienza and the smell is wafting me right back to the fantastic cheese shop I bought it it. It tastes wonderful on a good Scottish Oatcake.

BTW this is a favourite painting of mine in the Scottish National Gallery. It's called The Hind's Daughter, and it shows a young girl cutting cabbages in a "kail yard" - a farm kitchen garden. I like it so much I did a water colour copy of it. It is so typically Scottish, the low walled farm buildings and the pantiled roof. It was painted about 20 miles from my house.

Photo is of hawthorn berries, the birds have spared them so far.


Blogger f:lux said...

Now that the weather's turning colder I might try your soup recipes.

Have a good weekend!

9:48 pm  
Blogger savannah said...

good to read you again, missus! be well, take care and a bowl of soup please1 ;-)

12:18 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

That is serious soup! :) Must remember it for next winter (have to get through summer first though - what a bummer!)

7:22 am  
Blogger Jan said...

I love your comment about shorthand betwixt friends.
This shorthand is a very recious language, isn't it?
Have a lovely weekend with rest and relaxation and most of all FUN.

11:31 am  
Blogger Kim Ayres said...

Just finished a bowl of my wife's superb homemade lentil soup, accompanied by oatcakes. I'm a sucker for good soup.

And a quick thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog :)

1:29 pm  
Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I'm definitely going to make that Cullen Skink! I'm something of a soup fiend and if it can be "souped", I'll "soup" it!

3:54 pm  
Anonymous belle said...

that photo is lovely. relax and enjoy the weekend.
know what you mean about the shorthand - went out to dinner last night with 8 people, all had known each other 30 years or more!

12:27 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Cullen skink is one I'm fond of, I like the way the yellow of the smoked haddock runs into the creamy soup with the green of the leeks... but wait, you don't put leeks with yours! I'm pretty sure I do, I remember the colour combo. Haven't made it for a bit. Tonight's is chicken and vegetables, pes, carrots, mushrooms, with dumplings. Suet of any form being unavailable here I have improvised a recipe with margarine, semolina flour an an egg white. Not bad.
Hope the arm pains are better, and you have a lovely time with your friend. I've enjoyed all the posts since I was last here, and I'm just about to watch the monsters video.

6:14 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Nothing like a good home made soup and a nice bit of bread.
Do not worry - your faithful friends would far rather you posted when you feel like it and not over-tax yourself. We're not going any where.
Enjoy your visit.

4:44 pm  
Blogger Shameless said...

A nice break is important. A nice bowl of soup is also important. What a treat to have that recipe. I must try it! :-)

12:33 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks everyone. I'll catch up on you all soon I promise.

11:17 am  

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