Practising Milking using Artificial Udders by Evelyn Dunbar

Cook Book Club* was last night on the theme of Preserving. Others went in for smoking fish, making pastrami from scratch (awesome pickles!) home made jam. I decided to make cheese as I’d never made any before.

Unlike my normal mode of operation (last minute panic) this time I experimented. I started with a simple recipe which took milk and then using cheapest blandest vinegar separated the curds from the whey. Then the curds were whisked out using a tea strainer to be washed and left to drain in muslin  / tea towel. This I made with both cow and goat’s milk and was simply delicious but on reading recipes more closely and with a bit of googling began to understand that a gallon of milk to make a decent amount was 8 pints of milk. I’ve now swapped to milk in glass returnable bottles and the thought of carrying that down Leith Walk was insupportable.

However I then tried a strained yoghurt cheese. The Turkish shop at the bottom of Leith Walk is selling plain yoghurt in glass jars cow, ewe and buffalo. I got two cow and one ewe (sadly no buffalo left). Using my muslin cloths bought from Lakeland I strained each for 28 hours in colanders/sieves over bowls with heavy mason jars with contents on top to press down. The cow turned out firmer I think the jar on top was heavier. To this I added sea salt, chopped chives and a clove of garlic finely chopped. To the ewe I just added salt.

Then I made butter. I have never made butter. Cream again from Mossageil Farm in a jar which I shook while listening to The Archers on iplayer. Top tips. Make sure jar does not leak. Only fill 1/3 as when the cream thickens it is more than you expect. Shake vigorously I was too languorous. Others use mixers and there are instructions online. I then rinsed the butter in a colander and then added a bit of sea salt.

Home made cheese crackers were a cheat. Short crust pre made pastry cut into oblongs and dusted with grated parmesan, and salt. Another lot with salt and pepper.

I had masses of cream over and made the mistake of putting two lots of cream in glass jars thinking it would be jolly to give to guests at Cook Book Club after dinner. When I was at the bus stop the bag feel off the seat… some of the cheese biscuits were ruined! and cream runneth everywhere. My first job at our hosts was to make a beeline for the sink. and repair the sticky damage.

*Motto: Everything’s Better With Butter – insginia two butter knives rampant.


Thou Shellest by Evelyn Dunbar  

I’ve been making pea and ham soup over the last few weeks. It’s incredibly comforting and tastes delicious. Finally I made it with ham hough over the weekend. I’m not a great fan of Tescos but I approached the butchery counter a few weeks ago and asked if they would wrap meats in paper not plastic. I’m getting more militant about avoiding it. They were quite happy to do so and I noticed slightly terrifying hough so I went back for one.

2 kg frozen peas

250g onion chopped frozen prepared (a delightful discovery)

1 ham hough

vegetable bouillon


Brown the hough in the largest pot  / casserole you own. Add the onion and boiling water to  fill pot to 3/4. Boil then let simmer for hour and a half. Fish out hough cut off the skin and turn into crackling. Cut of meat and return bone and meat to the pot. Add peas and bouillon teaspoon by teaspoon tasting until it seem to be strong enough for y your taste. Add peas. Simmer for another 30 mins. Fish out hough again, remove any remaining meat and put back in pot. Discard hough bone. When cool liquidise roughly. Serve with cream or creme fraiche.




Finally I went to Portobello to try the Boss Bagels which I’d heard so much about. My life has been simply a long desperate search for bagels as good as Kaufies Bagels in Highlands North Johannesburg which marked my 70’s childhood. When bagels appeared in shops here we got very excited but on eating we discovered a doughy bun with a hole in it. Brick Lane in London I did a taste test in the 1990’s and decided the bakery which was not open 24 hours had the edge. Some years ago I was overjoyed to meet someone from Joey’s who confirmed that I was right Kaufies Bagels are the best.

These did not come up to Kaufies… the crust not crusty enough… an ok bagel but not worth a bus trip. The photo walk I did with a friend was much more worth while! So my Yiddish group was right. We had a quick discussion at the end of our meeting on Wednesday, on this establishment, and the consensus was Brick Lane. Back to making my own using Claudia Roden’s recipe. If you want to go all instagrammy and make them rainbow before the second rise divide up the dough into 6 or 7 pieces. Add a scraping or two of gel colouring and kneed it in. You will have to wash and scrub hands between each colour being added. Then try and roll the colours into long rolls, cut them down and add a twist of colour together while shaping. This is enormous fun to take to a birthday celebration. I just eat with butter or a touch of marmite to add that British element.

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The day after the night before. I decided to post some real pictures of life online! Why is it that if you ever so see pictures of washing up the dishes look clean they are artfully placed in a bowl of sudsy water on their own – with the sunlight sparking off them? This is the day after I had 6 people to dinner as part of our Cook Book Club. We meet every two months roughly alternating venues. If you host you get to choose. I choose Georgian food (the place not the era). This website was a fund of fabulous recipes but be warned they seem to be sized for Village quantities.  We started doing this nearly two years ago and it has become a wonderful culinary adventure. A geekier member set up a wiki page so we don’t end up with 6 desserts. Food quantities are vast so the left overs are delicious!

(c) BRIDGEMAN; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The days between Christmas and New Year (Hogmanay) are called the ‘daft days’. Perhaps because the usual routines are out of action. We swim about in unstructured time. I have to say I’ve been enjoying it very much. I’ve been crocheting and making traditional Scottish Tablet.

If you are at a loose end or are looking for a present for someone here’s my mother’s recipe. It is incredibly sweet a little goes along way. Great with a large cup of coffee and a book.

2 lb Granulated Sugar 1 Tin Evaporated Milk
4 oz butter 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
1 tablespoon golden syrup (you can substitute honey if you like)
Using a heavy bottomed pan, combine all ingredients except the vanilla essence. Cook slowly until a boil or 245 degree Farenheit or makes a soft ball if tested in cold water. Stir continually. Once boiling reduce down the heat once it starts to darken. Remove from heat and add vanilla essence and beat until thick. Pour onto a tray which is lined with parchment paper and score into squares when the mixture is almost cold. If once its cold you don’t feel it is achieving a satisifying level of hardness return to the pot and reboil.

Postal Joy!

One of the things that brings me great pleasure at this time of year is the post – real post. Actual cards instead of everlasting junk mail and bills. If you want to extend that feeling of real mail I’m offering Postal Joy again this year. Postal Joy is a service I offer for real mail. There are three options 8, 12, or 18 items of mail. Mail starts in the first week of January and extends until Febuary (mid February for those who opt for 18 items of mail). Each will get a small packet of tablet, a mail surprise ! and a mix of postcards. All cards are handwritten.

Newsletter subscribers get 20% off subscribe HERE and I send you the code. Find out more at my Etsy shop. The cost by the way is the same where ever you live in the world! No extra postage charges.

The picture is by Anne Redpath Scottish Colourist painter. Over at my facebook page I’m posting one Scottish Colourist a day to chase away the winter gloom.

Picture from here – includes recipe on how to make Lemon curd

I’m just back from a trip south to London/Cambridge which was baking hot. I came off the train last Wednesday, put my backpack into the lockers at the British Library and wended my way through Bloomsbury. Eventually just sitting on a bench in Russell Square and thawing out after the very odd winter we have had. Thank goodness I didn’t travel down with my coat or I’d have had to haul that about the south of England as well.

I’d have loved to have had some Lemon Curd Ice Cream to keep me cool.


1 bottle of lemon curd

1 small carton of creme fraiche

1 small carton of double cream

(optional grated zest of 1 lemon)

Mix all the ingredients throughly add zest if using commercial curd. Place in shallow dish then into freezer compartment. About every 30-40 mins remove mixture and mix up so it freezes evenly. Makes a throughly refreshing ice cream for hot days.