Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dirty Pants

When class ended, my arms were too full to carry all of my stuff back to my locker, so I dressed in my regular clothes and headed back into the kitchen to grab the food I was bringing home.  When I entered one of the instructors commented how strange it was to see us out of our chefs uniforms.  Well, I was wearing a skirt today (feeling un-necessarily fancy) so I explained that I was in a skirt today since all of my pants are dirty.  She got a funny look on her face and started laughing. She couldn't stop. I was puzzled a bit, till I finally remembered that here in Scotland "pants" refer to "underwear." I had just told my teacher that all of my underwear were dirty, so I was wearing a SKIRT, of all things.  GROSS! I shouted "trousers! My Trousers are dirty!  I have plenty of fresh clean pants at home.  I'm wearing clean pants right now!" How awkward and embarrassing, for both of us!  We couldn't stop laughing. And of course, as I walked to the bus, I remembered that I had carried on a similar conversation with a fellow student this morning as we were walking up to a the changing rooms... a male student... in his mid twenties.  How awful!  For the record Tom, I washed a load of trousers tonight, and I plan on wearing them, along with some clean pants tomorrow.

Thai Fish Cakes for lunch. Yum!

I made the Pad Thai. Isn't it pretty?!

Sweet Corn Cakes.  Crispy and delicious.

Tasty Thai Soup.  We had a collaborative Thai themed lunch.  I love group lunches and they love me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food Photography

Finally, our food photography day arrived.  I plated up my dish, which didn't work nearly as well as it did when I tried it at home, but that's murphy's law of food photography. A pro came in with his lights, cameras and loads of experience.  Below you will find my picture of my dish where I usually take the pics... at my table, right before service.  The professional picture will Blow, Your. Mind. (stay tuned... I don't have the images yet.)  I was very pleased with the final results.

Stacked Salsa with pea shoots. Pretty.

Owen coloring. Love the tongue out in concentration.

Owen displaying a play0dough car that Calvin and him made. Pretty cool.

Annie Joy after school. I think her hair has gotten redder since moving to Scotland. Aye.

Simon doing homework.  Look at the enthusiasm.

Calvin working on a WWII paper. He wanted to write about Hitler, but Ryan convinced him to study Winston Churchill instead. 

Where is Preston?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Killing a Crab and Sampling Crazy Stuff

Today was nuts.  We killed crab, prepared squid, made spring rolls, and this afternoons demonstration was titled "Unusual and Tasty" and it totally was.  Today I sampled snails, spanish black pudding, caviar, cod's roe, eel salad, crocodile, wildebeest and kangaroo! What a feast! Most tasted decent, but like a friend in my class,  I left craving a nice slice of chocolate cake.

Killing my very first crab. Lift the apron on the crab. Place you knife steel on the soft spot, then whack it with the rolling pin.  Making that face helps.

The crab before being stabbed.

Still alive, with claws moving around.  I'm trying to figure out where the apron on a crab is located.

My squid. Actually very easy to prepare. Inside is this part that looks like a plastic feather.  It's totally cool.

Look at that tasty plate of calamari. 

Warm bread with snails in a butter garlic sauce. Not bad.

Venison with Golden Beetroot. Fine.

Smoked mussels on cream cheese and toasted baguette slices. Good.

Purple potato slices topped with spanish black pudding topped with soft set quail eggs.

Eel salad with bacon.  Liked the eel, loved the bacon.

Caviar on Blinis with a creme fraiche spread.
Popped in my mouth, gross at first, tolerable by the end of the bite.

Fresh salsa with crocodile.  Yes, it does taste a lot like chicken.

Kangaroo, cooked rare.  It was still jumping when we ate it.

My instructor Jess holding a cow's tongue.  You know it's done when the tongue starts to form blisters...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Vegetarian Streudel

Highlights of today: Making wonderful sauteed potatoes and crazy good leeks with peas and mint at school.  Getting home with enough daylight to send the kids out side to play on the pogo stick that our nanny bought for us.  Chocolates after dinner. FHE (family home evening) where each child got to choose a closing song.  My favorite was Simon's choice of "Pay Phone," which we all sang while Owen danced.  

What is this?! It's strudel pastry, stretched out crazy thin, topped with roasted veg (red pepper, purple onion, garlic, broccoli) and ricotta cheese.  I finished it by rolling it up, shaping it into a horseshoe and baking it for 40 min.  It was delightfully tasty, and I forgot to take the "after" picture, so you will just have to picture it... in your mind's eye. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wooden Knight Figure

Yesterday at the Linlithgow Palace Simon decided to buy this little wooden soldier statue set.  It is a pre-cut plywood figure that you piece together without glue.  The package said it would be great for kids 7 and older.  After Ryan completed this father/son art craft, he determined that the age requirement was really referring to the age at which a child is able to offer words of encouragement, and express how he thinks his Dad is doing a great job putting all of those tiny pieces together.  Regardless, my husband and son had a great afternoon, and Ryan got to re-live his studio days in architecture school.

Happy Simon and his Dad, with the wooden statue that was assembled today. 
Great patience and quality time spent. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Linlithgow and the Cookery Party

Action Packed Saturday alert! Clear day, so we headed into Linlithgow and checked out the Linlithgow Palace dating back to the 13th century and the local parish next door dating a century later.  Impressively sited next to a loch, the palace sits on a mound with sloping green hills surrounding that we took full advantage of with rolling contests.  When I said that I did not want to make the plunge, the kids taunted, "but Aunt Jeannette would do it".  Yes, my Aunt Jeannette would do it, so I did it also.  If I can grow up to be anything like my Aunt Jeannette, I will call my self lucky.  The highlight of Linlithgow had to be the farmers' market outside the palace quarter where we had some Scottish Highland beef and pork ground burgers.  It was hot and fresh and we were hungry and cold.  A combination for satisfaction.  The night ended with gals from my cookery school joining our family at home for a gourmet pot luck and talking until late at night.  What a day!  Can't wait to rest tomorrow on the Sabbath.

Calvin, Preston and I posing in front of the Palace.

Rolling down the hill because my Aunt Jeannette would do it.

Annie led the charge and was the fastest down the hill.

View from the palace garden onto the loch.

At the apse of St. Michael's Parish, Church of Scotland next to the palace.  Beautiful stain glass and wood carving on the benches and furniture.

Burgers at the farmers' market.

Me with some of my gal pals from cookery school at our house.  I am wearing my friends designer pumps with 7.5" lift for fun.  They look great with my Ernie sweater.  Otherwise, I would be the shortest of them all!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Loudon's Cafe

I had the privilege of doing my work experience day in the bakery at Loudon's Cafe. The location is stellar, just at the end of the canal.   I was up before the cock crows (4:30am) and reported for duty at 5.  Martin is the head bakery chef and we made tons of things today: lemon lime cake, sourdough bread, spelt bread, rolls, croissants, quiche, cookies, pizza, fig tarts and memories. He knew all of the recipes from memory and was entirely pleasant to work with.  I was also especially amiable today.  My favorite part of the day was arriving home in enough time to pick up Owen from nursery, something I haven't done in 7 weeks. Annie also got a gold medal at school today for doing her duty and filling in her sticker charts. Calvin had basketball practice today. Simon stayed home sick, and Preston won the semi-finals of his all school cookery contest, with a ... stacked salad... a secret family recipe...well played Preston.

A display fo the goodies sold at Loudon's, of which I helped make loads of.

FOr one recipe, I got to crack 40 eggs! I love cracking eggs. My kids also squabble over who gets to crack eggs when we are baking at home.

Sourdough bread. Spelt bread. Fresh out of the oven.

Some delicious quiches. I had some of the roasted bell peppers and brie for lunch. 

Martin whipping up some pizza, because he can.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


As of today, I am now able to say that I have my food handler's license in not just one, but TWO countries, and I received a perfect score on each exam.  Where are the Guinness Book of World Record people when I need them?! Some differences and similarities between the US and UK, with regards to food handling:  Both countries have a multiple choice test. The US uses Fahrenheit, the UK uses Celsius. The US exam requires you to pass the test and offers a booklet with info to help you study the content.  The UK requires that you take a 6 1/2 (six and a half!) hour class, before letting you take the test. The US shows now videos (since they don't have a class.) The UK shows several videos, with bad graphics, a silly script, and even a mouse baked into a loaf of bread.  What the what! That was gross. And I am now licensed to know gross when I see it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tig - You're It!

Simon came home today with some stories of his recess adventures, telling about his game of "Tig." Apparently after lunch they played Gang Nam Style Tig, and if you were caught you were supposed to sing part of the song.  I know that Gang nam style is all the rage, but Simon didn't want to sing or be tigged, so lucky for him, he never got caught... they call it "Tig." "Tag" is "Tig." My children were using the "tig" word, like it's the real name of a game they have played their whole lives.  What other words will they pick up at school?

Hot Cross Bun (back right) and Gateau St. Honore, which only requires making Pat Sucre for the crust and Creme Pat for the filling and Choux Pastry for the Cream Puffs and Caramel to top the cream puffs and Spun Sugar to go on top of it all.  A total pain to make, with a splash of danger because working with the hot sugar simply isn't safe.  Mighty tasty though.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Where's the Beef?

Many remember the ad campaign for Wendy's (a fast food burger joint).  An old lady gets her hamburger from another fast food chain, opens it up and sees the minuscule patty, and then in outrage shouts "Where's the Beef!?"  I found it today, at my cookery school, with two fabulous butchers showing us where various cuts of meat come from on lamb, pig and cow carcasses.  It. was. Awesome... except for the minor detail that cuts of meat and often the names of said cuts tend to be region specific, so I will return knowing a bit about UK cuts, and will still need to brush up on the U.S. specifics.  Either way, we all left salivating for bacon. At least I did, even though bacon always makes me thirsty... for more bacon!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kool Aid!

A couple weeks ago, our instructor was reviewing the techniques used for making sorbets and sherbets and ice creams.  We were discussing what stages flavorings could be added to the various recipes.  She queried "What flavors might go well in sorbets?"... and the only thing that came to my mind was "Kool Aid." Literally, Kool Aid, which is a powder that gets added to water, along with loads of sugar. It comes in several artificial flavors, is dirt cheap, and not surprisingly, didn't match any of the other suggestions that were being made by my classmates.  I was biting my lip, trying not to laugh at my simplistic, un-creative flavor option... My prayers were answered and I wasn't called on to share my thoughts.  Strangely enough, I almost never buy Kool Aid for my kids, and when I do, I usually cut the suggested sugar amount by 1/4. My mother, on the other hand, loves "Crystal Light" and her secret to making it taste so good is to throw in an extra cup of sugar.  I love my mum!

Today in cookery school we tested recipes created by our fellow classmates.
This is a milk chocolate chip Banana Cake, topped with White Chocolate Ganache, and Chocolate dipped cherries.  This was my friend, Courtney's, recipe.  I enjoyed making it, and it was very delicious.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

7 Months Left

We have already been here in Edinburgh Scotland for 4 months, and we have only 7 months left to go. Half a year left.  Why are we here? What have we done? What should we absolutely do before we head home to the states?  Will I ever learn the Scottish accent? Sometimes it feels like time is in fast forward, it zooms by and I don't know where it went.  Other times, it crawls like a sacrament meeting that has gone 5.3 minutes over. Today the closing speaker made sure that our meeting ended on time (Ryan was the closing speaker.)He had a great view of his family on the front row, and being a Dad, he understands that it is really difficult for anyone to appreciate anything that is said even 5 seconds after the meeting should have ended. 10 points for Ryan.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Whilst We Were Gone...

Whilst Ryan and I were on our romantic overnight trip, our kids were lucky enough to hang out with some friends from church/ Owen's nanny whilst I'm at cookery school/ and some all around great people.  The Stevensen's are a wonderful couple, and the kids had a great time, watching movies, hanging out, riding bikes, and even going to an animal exhibit with butterflies, snakes, and millipedes. Some of them even wanted to know when we were going to go away again, because they had such a fun time while we were gone.  Lucky ducks.

We know they had a good time because they go their faces painted.

Holding a snake while looking like a snake face. Simon is cool.

Owen the Tiger. Rrrour!

A Thank you to the Marriotts

Dear Marriott Family,
Thank you for having such a lovely golf resort so close to our home in Scotland.  My wonderful spouse and I thoroughly enjoyed the pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, restaurant, driving range, walking the grounds, and the towel warmer in the loo.  We love towel warmers.  The television selection left much to be desired, but you probably have very little control over that. The staff were friendly, the room was clean, and our robes and slippers were cozy.  Thank you for helping us celebrate Valentines Day/ the 15th anniversary of our engagement (which was actually Feb7th, as a proposal on Feb 14th would have been much too cheesy for my husband.) We hope to visit all of the Marriott resorts around the world before we die.

Lindsey Joy Smith

We stayed at the Dalmahoy Marriot in Edinburgh, about 20 minutes from our house.  It's located in the countryside, has 2 golf courses, and we saw loads of sheep on our drive there.

It looks like a castle.  There was this statue of a golfer, a natural location for a photo op.

Ryan wanted a picture of me sitting in this golf cart.  I worried that I would get in trouble, but wanted to please my man.

We took a walk along the golf course, dodging golf balls whilst trying to look deeply into each others eyes, and hold hands whilst singing love songs.  It's much more difficult than it sounds.