Monthly Archives: March 2015

Here Be Dragons

Great excitement last night. We (Abbeyview Day Centre) were invited to pitch to the Dragons’ Den at the Round Table, for the Dementia Garden we’ve been planning. I went along to lend moral support; the star pitchers were Kirsty and Paul. Kirsty, full of enthusiasm, had fired in an application and then thought I would be the one to face the dragons! No way. She and Paul did a sterling double-act – Kirsty the mad-but-passionate advocate for isolated older people, and Paul the deeply grounded organic gardener. The picture below is from Tatton Park Flower Show – a design not dissimilar to ours but alas I’m having camera problems again and can’t show my own photos of last night’s event here.Tatton%20001[1]

There were four other local charities pitching, and they were all really good: the ‘Talking Tandems‘, a cycling club where sighted ‘pilots’ ride in front of the tandem and visually impaired ‘stokers’ ride at the back and add the power – they’ve done some amazing rides, and were pitching for money for saddle-bags with logos. Then there were the Street Pastors, who do an amazing practical job on Saturday nights in Dunfermline Town Centre, helping young people take better care of themselves and sometimes saving lives. They also reckon they lower the crime rate dramatically, and save a lot of NHS expenditure. They wanted money to buy foil blankets, flip-flops, and little plastic tops which make it impossible for someone to spike your drink. Then it was us. Then there was a lady pitching on behalf of her niece who has contracted an extremely rare and debilitating stem cell disease, which can only be treated in America, and is completely unavailable in the UK, either on the NHS or privately. And finally, the Depute Manager from Furniture Plus, a social enterprise which recycles furniture donations to provide a cheap way of furnishing your home for the people of Fife (the desk on which I’m typing this right now was purchased from Furniture Plus two years ago, for the princely sum of £30). She specifically wanted funding for their project which runs up-cycling workshops for young carers, and which has been massively popular, providing practical skills as well as much-needed social support.

I would have given money to all these charities, if it was me with the purse-strings. Every one was a worthy, creative and dynamic cause. The Round Table chairperson told us they get most of their funds from an annual big event in the Glen (Pittencrieff Park) in Dunfermline – a beer festival. Last year they raised quarter of a million, all to be disbursed to local charities. It’s a magnificent effort.

We were all shooed off to partake of a nice buffet and this being Garvock House, the sausage rolls were most superior! This is, unusually, the only foodie bit of this post. They’d made mega sausage rolls which were then sliced across – loads of sausage with just a thin crisp circle of tasty pastry holding it in. The veggie ones were really savoury and I detected mushrooms and nuts in the mix.

Anyway, back came the Dragons to announce their decisions. And guess what? Every one of us came away with a fantastic contribution to our respective causes. Ours was the single biggest amount – we were awarded £2,000 towards our Dementia Garden funds, which is fantastic. We’ve already raised £2,800 by our own efforts and we reckon whoney and vinegar 001e need £10,000 to achieve our plan. We’ve approached various other charities and businesses so with any luck, those will now come good and we’ll be able to get started straight away. The Dragons liked our project, not only because of its obvious benefit to older people, but because of its longevity – it’ll be there for decades to come, brightening up the townscape in Duncan Crescent and brightening up the lives of our service users.

And, come October, there will be a cheery crowd from Abbeyview Day Centre supporting the Round Table’s next Beerfest in the Glen!

Nose to Tail

This is me just leaving the party last week – interfering with the chef‘s oxtail! It was a rare moment.

I haven’t cooked oxtail very often – maybe only onFullSizeRenderce or twice in my life. It’s delicious but you need to be willing to get in there with your hands and sook the bones. In that fancy West End apartment, in new company, with the cameras rolling? I didn’t have it in me. So I’ll need to make it myself some day soon, and invite all my loved ones so we can sit and sook together.

This weekend though the big cooking effort will be Hungarian Goulash and Linzertorte, for our Big Dinner challenge. Somehow this Austro-Hungarian theme has crept in. I might burst into song in the middle of the event (‘The hills are alive!’) or persuade someone to do a bit of yodelling. It’ll be fine fare for a winter’s night and hopefully send another few shillings into the fund that will get African amputees up and walking.


500 Mile Challenge

After yesterday’s excitement it’s back to the drawing board …

Big Dinner cheery

Three of us are organising a Big Dinner on Sat 14th March to raise funds for the above project, which is aiming to raise half a million pounds for aids to enable amputees in Africa to walk again. As the slogan goes, ‘as you sit down to dinner in Scotland, someone in Africa will be standing up to walk’. Our event is a week later than most of the dinners, which will be taking place tomorrow night, because the bottlewasher and I are working elsewhere. I’m hoping our little event will raise £150. I’ll be back with the full story of how it went, and some good pictures – and if anybody else reading this is hosting or attending a Big Dinner – then bon appetit! and have a good one.

And here’s one I made earlier …

Short post today, trailer for a longer one as soon as the photos come back …

I had an STV film crew here this morning, doing a story about ‘Lost Recipes’. The actress Jayd Johnson (‘Field of Blood‘; River City) was discussing her granny’s rice pudding with chef and restaurateur Neil  Forbes. The rice pudding is a significant memory for Jayd,  but nobody knows exactly how it was made, and Jayd’s granny can’t remember. By a string of fortuitous and random events, I was the lucky home cook chosen to host this part of the shoot, and offer a few rice puddings of my own to help Jayd and Neil figure out how her granny worked her magic. So last night I made three rice puddings and today I made two … one of the baked ones came close to Jayd’s memory of her granny’s own, and she and Neil were kind enough to go YUM YUM  with lots of lip-smacking. That was the first time they had to taste. But the scene had to be re-shot a few times so it was a fine tribute to their acting skills that they stayed enthusiastic throughout. Jayd got a BAFTA for Field of Blood so I guess liking my rice pudding, several times over, was a doddle.

Off to supper with the stars … more later!


Wee Moosie

Recently I went on a Food Hygiene course and the instructor showed us this … not nice, is it? I asked if it was a computer mock-up but apparently not. Some poor soul actually bought this loaf of bread, with hidden extras.

Free-gift-with-every-loaf-!And then it’s been Burns’ day recently and I’ve just come back from a weekend away with a group of friends, celebrating the bard’s anniversary in a small-scale but vigorously authentic (sangs an clatter) event. One of Burns’ most famous poems is of course ‘To a Mouse’ – it seems that he was out in the field ploughing one day, and inadvertently turned up a mouse’s nest. ‘Thy wee bit hoosie, noo in ruin / Its silly wa’s the winds are strewin / An naething noo tae bigg a new ane …’ etc. It’s probably the best known poem in Scotland because we were all made to learn it at primary school! In fact I think I won a prize in Primary 5 for reciting it at the annual Burns Federation competition.

I recently found a poem written in reply, by Liz Lochhead, entitled ‘From a Mouse’. She explains that she comes home one day to her ‘slattern’s kitchen’ and finds a cheeky wee mouse sitting up in her wok, washing its whiskers and boasting about its fame:

Plockton to Peebles, Dumfries to Dundee,

If a wean kens ony poem aff by hert, it’s Me!

Will greet ower ma plough-torn nest, no see

The bit o’ a gap

Atween the fause Warld o’ Poetry

An baited trap.

Lochhead is right. Sentimentality about mice? No thank you, Rabbie.