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
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.