Cape Breton

We drove and drove and drove through mostly rainy weather from Alma, New Brunswick to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.   Around 8 hours.  I was so ready to get out of the car.  We walked laps at the rest stops to stretch.  When we could see through the fog the scenery was georgous.   However with the fog so thick it was impossible to see much farther than the roadside.  So in a lot of ways it was like driving into another world, or possibly the start of a Call of Cuthulu campaign.  

When we finally got out of the car it was like stepping into an Agatha Christy Murder Mystery set. The Keltic Lodge is beautiful.  It sits on a spit of land with oceans on both sides with steep cliffs and vistas that are sure to be amazing when the fog clears.  I took a short video of one of the beaches it’s so neat it sounds like thunder when the wave hit the cliffs just right. Then when the waves start to go back out they pull so hard on the rocky beach that you can hear to rocks crackle.  It sounds like someone jumping on a box of cornflakes.  It is the strangest thing.  There are a profusion of flowers here in bloom.  Foxgloves, peonies, water iris, daisies, roses, mountain laurels, and loads more.  I’m in picture heaven for flower photos.  Going to drive all y’all to boredom looking at the photos.  If you want to check it out you can see it here:

Dinner was good, there are several dining options. We choose the Atlanic Room is where we choose to go for dinner.  It has a fantastic overlook of the ocean.  We had the bruchetta to start, which was tasty.  I had the fish and chips,  Mike and Miklos had the chicken, mushroom, bacon Mac and cheese, which was as freakin awesome as it sounds.  Betty had the seafood chowder which was also terrific.  Then we had Ginger and Guinness spice cake with a butter rum sauce for desert.  It was magnificent.  

It has been raining pretty steadily this evening so mostly been lounging in the room with audio book and comfey clothes.  I hope it gets it out of its system befor tomorrow.  We are going on a long hike around the Coastal trail and a bog trail.  Cheers!

Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wolfe point and tide beaches

Today we slept in a bit then went in search of a local pottery studio, unfortunately it was closed.  We then went to find the bird sanctuary at Mary’s point, which really didn’t exist.  So most of our morning was spent looking at some beautiful but fogged in scenery from the car.  This afternoon however was awesome.  We drove back out to wolf point and hiked out to the beach during low tide.  It takes a good 8 hours for the tides to change because there is so much watt involved.  The hike was good only about 250 stairs from the time I remembered to actually count them.  It was broken up into smaller staircases with boardwalks inbetween it felt like walking in between tree houses at some points because of the steep hillsides on ether side of the trail had us looking into the tree tops. The view at the lookout points was fantastic.  The trail down to the beach was steep but manageable.  

We got down to the bottom and the fog just poured into the cove.  The beach is a mix of rocks, pebbles, sand, boulders, snails, and seaweed.  Ie. when it is wet it is slicker than ice.  I know I looked like a human pinwheel with my arms sometimes acting on their own volition to keep me from slipping.  There were so many rocks that I wanted to bring home.  We walked out to the edge of the gorge to see the waters edge and stopped at the the rock formation I’ve dubbed snuffalapagus. It was rough walking but worth the effort.  When the tide is out you would never know that it could fill the entire basin.  Mud flats appeared, turning into sandbars, then into fully connected outcroppings of land in minutes.  

There were also some really pretty little waterfalls along the forested sides of the gorge.  It was cool to see the moss tun into seaweed covering the rocks.  Loads of greens from a light sap color to a dark forest green were all mashed together it was just stickingly pretty. 

The walk back was all up hill and stairs, and more stairs and then uphill with some more abut we made it. Woot!  Took pictures in the red chairs that they have placed in the parks here at a beautiful and more important breezy overlook at the apex of the dirt/gravel trail down to the beach just before the boardwalk and stairs start.  I kid you not from those chairs to the trail head at Wolfe bridge ther are 125 stairs.  So having gone down and back we managed 250 stairs in one hike.  Not to mention walking out to the edge of the gorge.  Deserts are so happening tonight.  Miklos and I went and looked at the Wolfe bridge again at low tide the land around it looks so different.  We then jumped back in the car and drove back into Alma. Saw some deer and a marten ran across the road in front of us.  Cute little buggers.  

I got let loose unsupervised on the beach in Alma and tried to get out to the water but only made it 3/4 of the way before my family made it back to collect me.  It is a muddy mucky sandy sticky mess to get out there.  It would be easy to have your shoes sucked right off your feet.  So needles to say my boots are sleeping outside tonight.  It was just this massive expanse of sand and mud flats that go on for about half a mile or so maybe farther the people at the waters edge looked like specks from the shore.  

In the bay of Fundy low tide exposes over 620 square miles of ocean floor as mud flats.  Bay of Fundy. Has a time laps view of the tides changing you should check it out.  It says water can move as much as three miles away from the shoreline.  I believe it.  

We went back to the Tides for dinner.  We had the Lobster dip to start with again because it was damn fine last time and even better tonight.  If you come here and eat nothing else get the lobster dip at the Tides.  Miklos got the seafood pasta with muscles, salmon, shrimp, and scallops in a garlic butter sauce with tomatoes an d basil.  I had the sautéed local scallops with the sweet chili sauce.  Mike and Betty got the chicken stuffed with lobster.  Lemon cake, chocolate moose and caramel pie, and chocolate peanut butter cheesecake were shared among all of us.  It was all fabulous.   Early night in because we leave for Cape Britton.  

Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sea Kayaking! Was awesome,

This morning started drizzly and early (5:30 am).  We drove back to Hopewell rocks and joined a group of adventurers on kayaking around the flower pot stone outcrops that litter the bay.  I was able to walk around them yesterday.  Today with the tide in we we’re able to kayak by the same rocks as well as through some short tunnels and by some sea caves and over to a local estuary.  It was so much fun.  We were in the two man kayaks and a sorely missed my pungo (back support was non existent in the divorce kayaks). Miklos and I did very well working the boat together and stearing through some really tight turns through the rock formations.  I was very proud of us.  Mike and Betty walked the trail above us and Yohooed to us from all of the overlooks.  Mike got some great photos of us in the boats.  It was terrific fun so if you find yourself in Fundy bay go to Hopewell rocks and try the sea kayaking.

After the kayaking we headed to lunch in Alma.  We went to The Octopus’s Garden.  I had a magnificent panini with mushroom soup.  The panini was crisp and hot, had turkey, havardi cheese and pesto.  It was scrumptious.  Miklos reports that his Hungarian salami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard panini was exceptional. We then went into Fundy park,  drove up to Wolfe lake which was pretty but lots of people and bugs.  

We then found a boardwalk trail called Caribue plain that was very short but went through some beautiful forests and wetlands.  Bright yellow water lilies were just starting to bloom.  They were beautiful.  There were also some flowers that looked like callalilies.  The path was slippery in the forest but easy through the wetlands. 

The road then led us to an overlook of the town and the bay which was beautiful and striking with the tide out.  It really is apparent all the boats are up on blocks at the dock.  There were tiger lilies growing wild in a field full of grasses and other wild flowers.  Mist was rolling in over the mountains making the bay look silver and the horizon infinite. 

The park has a swimming pool which is right nest to the beach access.  We drove by to take a look but felt like the temps of 60’s was too cold to swim.  Although there were a bank of giant solar panels next to the pool area that made us wonder if the pool was heated.  

It still being early we drove up to the waterfall trail, I need to look up the name of the falls, and headed down the trail to see them.  OMG the stairs.  There were so many stairs but boy was it worth it.  The trail was either board walk or really easy but there were like 20 staircases, and not short 5-6 stairs but 15-25 stairs easy.  Up and down she wandered.  Up and down both ways so glad it wasn’t raining.  The falls were like those out of the world of the Fey.  Crowded with lush moss covered bolders that made for pools and rapids that terraced the mountainside.  The trees had grown so tall that there was only dappled sunlight.  The effect was like looking at the world through a brilliant emerald.  The main falls were beautiful and the staircases afforded a good view.  So many stairs, warm up your knees and eat your bananas cause your calves will be having some not nice things to say about your parentage when you get back to the top of the trail loop.  

Dinner was ok.  There was a general desire for low key burgers an chicken tenders kind of fair so we went to the Alma’s boat house and it was good but not great.  My fish cakes were mostly potatoes.  Miklos said his burger was good. Betty got the Lobser bisque which was awesome.  Mike got chicken tenders which he said were tasty.  The deserts were good, chocolate cake and bread pudding with rum sauce.  The bread pudding was my favorite.  Tomorrow looks like it will be laid back hanging around the park.  We plan to walk along the coast during low tide and take some pictures of the bay to compare high and low tides.  There are several trails we hope to go on as well.  Cheers!

Published in: on July 28, 2015 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Canada Trip Fundy Bay

This is one of the most strikingly beautiful places I’ve ever been.  The forests are every color of green and the wild flowers are prolific swaths of bright purples, blues, yellows and white.  The ocean and inlets are different one minute to the next as the tides come in and out.  At the Hopewell bay it is a 52 foot vertical chand of water level as the tide changes.  We were ther at low tide today and walked the nature trail and took lots of pictures of the wild flowers.  We went to the cove called the flower pots because of how they have eroded they have made fascinating formations.   We plan on going back tomorrow to kayak aroind the formations.  The walk was beautiful and the temps are in the upper 60s low 70s.  Just awesome.  

We drove a little ways and came to a covered bridge.  The landscape all around it for miles was grassy marshes.  It was a beautiful bridge.  Huge beams and a couple of windows  half way down each side.  It’s the first covered bridge I’ve seen.  It was neat.  

We drove a bit down the coast and found where an old ship yard used to be.  They have made a  monument to it with a long three masted ship on one side and a lighthouse on the other.  The river I’d dammed up and you can walk acros the sluse gates to see all the mechanisms.

We then went to Enraged bay to see the lighthouse and fossils.  The beach there is covered with them. It was a lot of stairs but so worth it.  I didn’t bing any rocks from there just lots of pictures.  

We then drove on into Alma and settled into the hotel.  No Air conditioning, but then it’s getting into the 50s at night so I don’t expect a problem.  Dinner was awesome.  We went to the Tides restaurant.  Had a lovely view of the ocean.  Got a lobster dip starter with homemade pitta and chips.  Miklos got chicken stuffed with lobster.  I got the special lobster and scallop pie topped with cheddar biscuits. (Yeah we suffer so).  Mike and Betty got the sautéed scallops with a sweet chili sauce.  Lemon cake and the chocolate turtle pie were awesome.  We walked around the harbour for a bit then drove up to Wolfe Point.  

There is another covered bridge there that is just cool.  We saw Salmon swimming in the stream.  Saw the remnants of a saw mill.  We drove up to an overlook of the bay that was georgous.  All in all fantastic day.

Tomorrow we start the day off at kayaking at like dawn.  Cheers!

Published in: on July 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oh Canada

We are off onto another adventure.  This time we are going to Canada.   My father grew up in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland.  He went to the University of New Brunswick and then got his Masters degree in Forestry from the University of Washington.  My Grandparents moved from Cornerbrook to Victoria British Columbia.  My grandfather also a forester was tasked with finding a location in the south for a new paper mill and so he and later my father moved to Tn to work for Bowater.  The last time I was here I was four years old and my family were packing up my Grandfather’s house to make the move to TN permanent.  I remember having a series of aweful accidents that led me to the emergency room twice in one week.  I was jumping on the bed and was told to stop, I didn’t, (duh). The lady looking after me during all the packing went to catch me and when she caught my arm my elbow got yanked out of socket.  My Dad made a fantastic sling. It was so fantastic that he and the doctor spent what seemed an eternity talking about the sheer magnificence of his sling making talents.  One the sling of Turin was removed my elbow easily popped right back in on its own…. I have residual hate issues involving slings now.  We then went to get lunch, when my Dad opened the door for us to the restaurant, I was right behind him and the door went right over my feet ripping out my big toe nail.  My Dad made a terrific bandage out of the former sling and we carried on.  That night my parents went out for dinner and my oldest sister was left in charge.  After giving me a bath she was helping me out of the tub when I slipped and cracked open my chin.  Face wounds bleed a lot.  My sister took me to the emergency room.  I was too small for anistetic so stitches were put in without any numbing agents.  My sister is still traumatized from that experience.  I also remember swimming in the ocean and riding trees floating in the bay like ponies.  Picking up tiny jellyfish (they didn’t sting, but I think given my track record on that trip it was only a matter of time.) freaked my Mom right out but at least I didn’t have scars from jellyfish stingers.  I also remember getting grape Popsicles on a really hot day and vague images of a White House with stairs with my Grandfather.  So overall momentary pain to imprint some very interesting memories and impressions of Canada.  I think I will come out ahead this time round.
Day 1

Flights.  It’s never good when the captain comes out and says well we can’t fly this plane we just finished boarding because of a technical problem.  However luck was so with us today.  There was another plane at the airport we were able to transfer everyone and thing over to the new plane and get underway only 30 min behind schedule.  We got to Philadelphia and they had new tickets for us if we missed our connection.  We ended up not needing the and made our connecting fight with a minute to spare. We were the last ones on the plane but we made it.  We had easy flights and the van we rented is awesome.  We’ve stocked up on snacks and lunch foods so we can go hiking and not worry about finding a place to eat till dinner.  Our hotel is comfortable and a few min from down town Moncton.  Dinner tonight was fantastic.  We decided on Italian and went to Pastalli.  We had a sampler starter of calamari, bruschetta and artichoke dip.  The artichoke dip was amazing and callimari was good and not over cooked.  Miklos had the local scallops with mushrooms, white wine, cheese sauce baked and bubbling it was magnificent.   I had the Fillet of Sole crusted with assigo cheese and a tomato sauce.  The starter was a Mellon salad with a wonderful light citrus vinegrette.  Dessert of lemon and white chocolate cheesecake was the winner with the triple chocolate cheesecake coming in a close second.  Betty said it was a good palette cleanser for the lemon.  We were so punchy tired by that time that we just sat and laughed and laughed. I’m so glad to be on this adventure but now I must to sleep.

Published in: on July 25, 2015 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

London Calling part 2

Day 5 – New Years Eve!
We started out at the Tower of London. Cruised in just as a Yeoman’s tour was starting. The tour was brilliant. The line for the Crown Jewels was alas longer than my patience and curiosity so we went into the White Tower instead, loads of arms and armor … Those who know me know that is so totally more my speed anyway. Once we got done exploring the tower we walked across Tower bridge and along the Thames. We had lunch at Cafe Rouge. We started with fried Camembert medallions with rocket and raspberry sauce. Miklos had the Duck confit with a cherry sauce and I had a grilled chicken with a garlic herb sauce. It was excellent! Thank you Joel K. for the recommendation.
We then made our way to the Globe Theatre for a tour before heading out of the cordoned off area. To stay down on the waterfront required tickets this year but they were sold out by the time we found out about them. Not to worry we headed back to our hotel to drop off our stuff.
We went out again that evening for a late dinner at The Swann. Good fish and chips and a cider to celebrate New Years in London. We ended up sharing a table with Maria and her mother from Rome. They were terrific dinner companions and we had a lovely time.
We came back to the hotel just before midnight and tuned into the nye concert and got the cameras ready. We had a terrific view of the fireworks from our window and could even hear and see fireworks from all over the city. We celebrated New Years meeting new friends and toasting old friends in a beautiful place full of fun and adventure. We hope that you all have a brilliant year in 2015.

Day 6 – New Years Day
Started off the New Year with a lovely walk in Hyde Park. The weather was a bit dreich but we throughly enjoyed ourselves. We saw the Ring-necked parakeets, which are bright green and are very vocal. Several Ravens and ducks, Coots, and Cha finches.
Then we headed back to the V&A. Oh holy cow there was an entire building we’d missed. We had brunch in the museum, which was wonderful. I had a marvelous current scone ( it was massive). Served with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and hot tea. Miklos had duck confit with roasted plums and a side of lentils. Both were exactly what we wanted. It has now become the duck trip food wise. The museum is phenomenal. We went through the Chinese and other Asian exhibits taking loads of photos. We hunted the elusive Blackwork embroidery. We discovered that all of the V&A’s textiles have been collected in a new location on Blithe street. So I took loads of pictures of all the embroidery I could find. We slipped into the museum bookstore with ten minutes to spare. Wheeee!
We then took the tube to Piccadilly station and found the restaurant Maria recommend at NYE. Fratelli la Bufala was wonderful. We had some of the best pizza ever. Margarita pizza was just fabulous! Good moscato wine and a chocolate melt cake with hazelnut gelato. The desert was one of the best that I’ve ever had, ever, really ever!
We then set out to hunt the mighty Dr. Marten’s boots. We wandered the streets of London. Pretty sure that we should not have gone down some of the back alleys we went through, but we eventually found the store. Only to find it was closed… Sigh! But we did figure out a much, much safer way to get there tomorrow. ;).

Published in: on January 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

London Calling

Day 1 – landed in London at 9am got through customs after a couple of hours. Decided to just take a taxi to the hotel. Was the right choice, it was simple to pick up our bags and go right out the door to the line of taxis where a really nice guy from the airport asked us where we needed to go and got us settled with a taxi driver. The ride to the hotel was uneventful and the driver pointed out areas of interests. Got to the hotel and settled into our room. Yay we will be able to see the fireworks from here if we choose too. It was only noon so we walked over several streets to Bella Italia. It was nice, not quit was good as the one we love in Edinburgh but still a welcomed meal after a really long flight.
We walked through Hyde Park and over to the Victoria and Albert Museum. All the things. The Europe floor was closed, but there was plenty to see. We didn’t get through it all and plan to go back later this week. My favorite thing were the illuminated manuscripts. SQUEeeeeee! Went back to the hotel with the intent of a quick nap before dinner…yeah right so woke up the next morning.

Day 2 – woke up and found that the hotel has a lovely breakfast. Went to the Underground station and got a couple of Oyster cards and then dove into the maze that is the Underground. We’re delighted to find that navigating the stops is actually pretty easy once you go a couple of places. Our first trip we didn’t venture off the central line but had no trouble getting to the British Museum. OMG. One day wasn’t enough. Got there when it opened, took a short break with a decent lunch in the museum, stayed till it closed. Not enough time and I ran through two fully charged camera batteries. Headed back to the hotel and had dinner at The Swan, a pub just down from the hotel. Decent Chicken pot pie with a Magners cider to make the day complete.

Day 3 – decided to venture to Portsmith, which means Trains!!! Yay! I love riding on trains. Navigated the Underground to the Waterloo station. Got there just in time to get tickets to Portsmith. The journey was quite nice, comfortable, warm… Miklos was asleep before the train left the station. It had a trolley with snacks ( ok, y’all in the UK are rolling your eyes going Duh), but it was very Harry Potter for me. Also Boots is a great place to pick up a couple of diet cokes for staying awake.
We got to Potsmith, The HMS Warriors was the first to greet us. The HMS Warrior, The HMS Victory, The HMS Dauntless and The Mary Rose are all magnificent. We were mostly interested in the Mary Rose and it didn’t disappoint. The enormity of the effort to raise the Mary Rose is just a staggering undertaking. Saw longbows and arrows, a whole archer kit. Miklos Squeed repeatedly. Took lots of pictures, no idea if any came out due to lighting. But I gave it a good try. It was so cool we didn’t really stop for lunch but had a quick tea and mincemeat tart then onto the HMS Victory. The tour guide was great, but it was cold, cold, and freezing. I mean it was cold enough for me to put on a hat. Which means that ice was promptly forming on the decks. The train ride home was warm and again Miklos was asleep before the train pulled out of the station.
We got back in time to dash out of the station and beat feet over to the London Eye. There was very little in the way of a que, so we got a ticket and into a car without any issues. It was Awesome! The view was spectacular and it was so worth every penny. At night was the best way to see the city. It was just beautiful. It is now on my “you must do this” list.
The lack of food caught up with us very soon after getting fine at the Eye and just happened to see a restaurant called The Slug and Lettuce.
For those who don’t know Miklos has been dubbed with the nickname Slug Boy through many nefarious adventures so when we saw the name we had to go. It was fabulous. Butternut squash, spinach, and goat cheese lasagna, it was excellent. Miklos had the Harissa chicken and chips because well chips. Don’t miss their chocolate cake/pudding with chocolate sauce and warm custard. Staggered back to the hotel and slept like the dead.

Day 4 – Had an interesting day navigating the Underground with a couple of the lines down for maintenance so alternate exchanges were an adventure. Spent a beautiful morning in St. Paul’s Cathedral, went up to the whispering gallery. It was an amazing place with some of the most breathtaking mosaics, woodwork and painted ceilings. Particularly liked the honorary plaques of William Blake and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. I really wish that they would allow photography. The light was perfect. Once we finished there we had lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, which was awesome. I had tomato soup and the Wiltshire ham and aged gruyere tartine and Richard had the prosciutto and mozzarella di bufala tartine. Then we walked across the Millennium bridge got some terrific photos, were too late to get into the globe but got a free ride on the water taxi down to the tower. We were really too late to tour the tower so retreated to the hotel for a few min before heading to Harrods.
Once at Harrods We had dinner at The Mango Tree in Harrods. Richard had some of the best Tom Yum soup ever and chicken dumplings with Szechwan sauce. I had their Ped Makham aka duck with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. It was crunchy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside and delicious. Jasmine bloom tea yummy and beautiful. Then shopping, wow Harrods is overwhelming in its enormity. However the chocolate and tea room was my favorite. Hey Mao, Becca and Gia there is a heaven, and it is in Harrods chocolate and tea room. Have now retired to the hotel for Steven Fry on the telly and dark chocolates filled with blackberry goodness.

Published in: on December 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Holly and Ivy 2013

I have had loads of requests for the recipes from Holly and Ivy this year.  It was a good feast and overall went really well.  Muirenn ingen Ui Dunchada did an absolutely outstanding job as Co-Kitchener.  Miklos baked and baked and baked some more so that we had two kinds of lovely bread for the feast.  We had loads of helpers in the Kitchen so BIG THANKS go to: Mao Roise Inghean Aibhne, who did an outstanding job especially when things got hot. She along with  Alex Joplin , and Kristina cut up figs, apples, and vegetables well into the night on Friday. Then they all came back on Saturday and helped though out the day.  To Becca Baker, Hank Chambers, Emilee Sawicki, Steve McManus, Elizabeth McKinnon, Megan Harrison, Astrid, Shamrock, new guy Jeff, Ginger Stevens, Lydia Weiso, Kenyon Patterson, Alexander Ravenscroft, and all the people who stopped in to check on us and offer help.  Zachary Carey for making trips to the trailer for us and facing the great table of foot felling and besting the furious foe. Fergus for hauling the trailer. Hruse, thank you for all of your great advice and for saving our bacon in the second remove, glad to have you as a brother. 🙂  Leon Jeronimo Suarez and Ellen Wolf for letting us test cook for you. If Leon will eat it then it must be good.  Mistress Eleanor Thank you for understanding when we had to miss rehearsal. Master William and THL Katherine for letting us use your cookbooks for reference and inspiration and for introducing us to the venerable Madge Lorwin, who is the bomb-diggity.  Really if you don’t have her cook book you should get it.  Right now. Here’s a link.  The rest of the blog will wait till you go order it.

First Course

Manchettes (a bread made of mixed flours from the recipe in “War Fare by Bonnie Fienberg and Marian Walke)
Sage Butter
Cabbage lightly sauteed in butter
Salad of mixed greens with a balsamic vinaigrette
Pork with an apricot, fig and walnut stuffing, covered in bacon, with an apricot glaze

Second Course

Medieval Chicken with Cinnamon and Ginger – From Forme of Curry  (  Clarissa Dickson Wright does a fantastic job of showing you how it’s done.  She’s making it with garlic blubs. We used chicken thighs, left out the garlic and used root vegetables instead.
Root Vegetables – Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, and Onions.
Buttered Onions – from Dining with William Shakespeare by Madge Lorwin – did you go buy it yet.  At least go put it onto your wishlist.
Wheat Bread with Thyme based on this recipe from The Historical Cookery Page
Honey Butter

Third Remove

Sugar Plums
Orange Suckets  –
Figgy Pudding
Mincemeat Pie (We made over 100 individual “coffins”  (mini tarts with a top crust) and then one large coffin for high table)

Requested Recipes –

Apricot Loin of Pork

  • 1 – pork loin (not tenderloin)
  • 1 Cup of dried apricots chopped
  • 2/3 Cup of dried figs copped
  • 2/3 Cup of walnuts diced (I used a food processor to do a quick chop of the nuts)
  • 1/2 package of bacon
  • twine
  • 1 jar of apricot preserves

Rinse and dry the pork loin.  Put it fat side down and butterfly it open.  Put on a layer of the chopped fruits and nuts.  Roll up and tie with the twine.  Cover with the bacon.  Then put into a roasting pan.  I didn’t raise it off of the bottom because I was going to be re-heating it and I didn’t want it to lose any of its juices.  We cooked all of the pork the night before the event at a temp of 350, covered, until it reached 160 degrees internal temp. Your cooking time will vary depending on how many loins you have in a pan and how much each loin weighs.  We then cooled and refrigerated them. (We only drained off enough of the juices to make them safe to transport without sloshing all over us after they had been refrigerated.)  At 30 min before the feast started we put the pork in a preheated, 450-500 degree oven, uncovered (to crisp the bacon). I wanted the bacon to crisp and the pork to heat through but not keep cooking, so I went with a really hot oven.  Once the bacon was crisp and the pork was hot all the way through we pulled them out of the oven. Just before serving we sliced and plated it. (An electric knife was awesome at this point. You also want to be sure to flip the pork over snip the twin and remove it before slicing. It will slip right out from under the bacon.)  On the stove top heat up the apricot preserves.  You can take a little of the pan juices or water  to thin out the apricot preserves just a little.  Drizzle the hot preserves over the pork and serve it forth.

Figgy Pudding


  • 250g pack butter, softened, plus extra for the bowls and paper
  • 750g dried figs
  • 150ml brandy
  • 700g mixed sultanas and raisins (we added currents)
  • 3 eating apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 175g light muscovado sugar (we used raw sugar)
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar (we used light brown sugar)
  • 200g breadcrumbs  (home made wheat bread toasted and then ground into crumbs)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp allspice (we used cinnamon and clove)


On the big day…

Steam the puds as above to reheat – they’ll take half the time they took to cook, to heat through.


  1. Butter a 500ml, a 1-litre and a 2-litre pudding bowl, then line the base of each with a circle of baking parchment. Butter 3 large sheets of greaseproof paper, lay each on a large sheet of foil butter side up, and fold a pleat in the middle of each.  (we didn’t do this, we buttered the bowls but served the puddings in the bowls instead of un-molding them onto plates.
  2. Roughly chop 250g of the figs and set aside. Put the remaining figs, butter and brandy into a food processor and whizz until smooth-ish, then scrape into your largest mixing bowl. Tip in the chopped figs, mixed vine fruits, grated apple, sugars, breadcrumbs, flour and allspice. Stir everything together, allowing as many helpers to give a stir and adding as many wishes as you like. Divide between the pudding bowls and smooth the surfaces.
  3. Cover the puds with the buttered paper-foil sheets, tie with string and trim. Lower the puds into separate saucepans with upturned saucers or scrunched up bits of foil in the bottom (so the puds don’t touch the bottom), then fill each pan with enough boiling water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Cover with a lid and simmer the small pud for 1-1½ hrs, medium for 2-2½ hrs and large for 3 hrs, topping up the water as needed. Remove and leave to cool. If giving as a gift, put a new piece of parchment on top. Will keep in a cool, dry cupboard for up to a year. (we didn’t cover the puddings but put them into nescos with boiling water half way up the sides.  Turned them up to steam and let them steam for ~3 hours.  Then turned the nescos off and kept the puddings warm until serving.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2010

Let me know if you want any of the others and I will post them up.

Happy Holidays!

Published in: on December 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  


The first time I was in Scotland my ex-husband and I rented a car.  We had just gotten there and were terribly jet lagged.  We were driving on little, curvy, one lane roads across the highlands late at night.   It became apparent that the road was a magnet for sheep because it was warm.  Thus every time we went full speed around a curve and discovered sheep on the other side I would yell *SHEEP* at the top of my lungs.  My ex-hubby would hit the brakes and swerve , and we would miss the sheep. I’m pretty sure he could have done this without me yelling *SHEEP* but I was too tired and wired at the same time to stop. The calls of *SHEEP* continued throughout that drive and it became a running gag throughout our visit. Thus now I can’t actually pass sheep standing on a road without going *sheep* out loud, but at least now it’s under my breath for which everyone in the car with me is grateful.

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Stairs in the Walls

Scotland day #10
Starting location: Ullapool
Ending location: Island of Lewis
Lunch: Toasties at the Library just on the Stornoway port.
Dinner: Hotel Doune Braes – Scampie and Beef Curry. Warm fudge cake and Cheesecake with berry sauce.
Spiffiest thing seen/done today: Dun Carloway Broch
General notes: The day started with us catching the ferry from Ullapool to the isle of Lewis. The ferry crossing was 2 hours and 45 min. I fell asleep… needless to say it was pretty quiet. Saw one diving of birds that might have also involved dolphins but I was just waking up and really have no idea other than “wow that’s a lot of birds.”
Lunch at the Library was good, not spectacular but good. Went into a bookstore which ended up being more of a touristy buy kitschy stuff than an actual bookstore. Then we began the drive to the Black Houses. This drive was on a road that crossed the moors. I kept expecting a sign that said Wuthering Heights next left. The moors are expanses of peat and heather on rolling hills as far as the eye can see with rivulets of water snaking through them.
The black houses were very interesting they have one that they have restored to what they think they were like. People actually lived in them as late as the 1960s. They had a peat fire going in the one that they have restored. There is nothing quite like walking into an enclosed space with a peat fire that has no outlet. It is overwhelming. Not even sure that the smell will ever come out of my hair. The house itself was very interesting. But man you would have to really like the folks you were living with plus all the animals. It would have been pretty dark and I would say smelly but your sense of smell would have left you, run down the street screaming and crying “why oh why” after living in the smoke for more than a day or two. Miklos said he rather liked the smell right before he got a nose bleed. (really, not joking, he walked around with a tissue crammed up his nose for a good twenty minutes.)
The next stop was the Dun Carloway Broch. This is a fortified house that would have looked rather like a gigantic stone thimble when it was completed. But it was soooo cool. Clearly this isn’t on the general tourist map of Lewis, because you can crawl all over this site. There is nothing stopping you from being stupid. It was great. We ducked inside the main door. Bent double to get into the walls and then climbed up staircases that were older than the USA and most of Europe. If you envision a large cup with a smaller cup inside it you get the general idea of the way that the structure is built. Now add spiral stair cases and hallways in the area between the two cups. The center of the inner cup is open with a fire pit in the middle. The hallways have openings so that you can see down into the central chamber. There were at least two if not three stories to this broch. Miklos and I went up the stairs until they ended. If you’ve ever ridden Space Mountain at Disney land and looked up while the rollercoaster is going and have seen how close you are to the tracks above your head you would get the idea of how tight these staircases are. You could look through the stairs and see the ones below and above you.
After Dun Carloway Broch we went to Callanish Standing Stones. They are older than Stone Henge but not quite as old as the Ring of Brodgar. They are beautiful. The energy there is very different from that at Brodgar. The stones are granite and swirled and warn in patterns. Part of the energy difference may be that it was built in stages. The first part of the circle was built in 2900 BC. Then it had a burial chamber added around 2600 BC. Around 2000 BC they put a chamber over the burial site. 1500 – 1000 BC farmers empty out the burial chamber and plough up the field. (leaving the stone circle but looting the burial chamber and plough it over.) At some point between 2900 and 2000 the off shooting stones were added, they weren’t sure when. It is clear that there is an entry way coming from the north and the offshoots go out to the east, west, and south. You can see two other stone circles from this one. They are Callanish II and III. They are out in cow and sheep pasture land. Wear shoes that you can get wet and be prepared to doge cow patties if you go to see those two circles.
After a fortifying scone with jam and a pot of tea we set out to see Callanish II and III standing stones. It was squishy going and laden with organic landmines. They were interesting but a little underwhelming after just having seen the Callanish stones.
The hotel had a good hot dinner and we are now reclining and pondering an early morning walk to maybe see the sun come up at the stones.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment