The Salt & Pepper Pots of Joy

I’ve spent most of my adult life searching for salt and pepper mills that work brilliantly as well as looking the part. There’s nothing more frustrating for a cook to have mills that need constant refills, or that clog frequently, or that just refuse to spit out anything more than an irritating trickle of condiment. 

I’ve tried electric mills, manual mills, Peugout mills, ceramic, stainless steel and just about every type going. They all work after a fashion, but not brilliantly, and none were anything to write home about in terms of looks. 

Now these beauties may just have broken the jinx. Made by an artist in Wales, and hand carved and painted, they certainly look the part. Sort of spiky and fifty shades of grey in a culinary way…😊. But would they deliver?

I’ve just filled them and used them to season a huge pot of vegetable soup that I’m making, and I’m delighted to report that they grind both sea salt crystals and peppercorns wonderfully well. This may well be it… 💕

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Flaked cod, chorizo, chickpea and rice 


I’m trying to eat more fish. It’s certainly easier to do this when you can source it locally, all sparklingly fresh and firm from the sea. The best I can manage in London (other than a four am raid on Billingsgate market which I’m just not brave enough to do) is the local supermarket, where it seems to sit rather uninspiringly filleted and wrapped in plastic.

Undeterred, I bought a couple of chunky cod loins and decided to pep them up a little. I love the chunky texture of cod, but the taste is a bit bland. 

A softly fried onion, garlic and chorizo served as a base, followed by a tin of chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, and a little salt and sugar. After about ten minutes of slow simmering and the flavours melding, I added the chunks of cod, covered the pan and simmered slowly for a further five minutes until the fish was just opaque. 

Served with rice it proved a surprisingly quick, punchy and delicious dinner. Another one for the fish files! 

Flaked cod, chorizo, chickpeas and rice 


I’m trying to eat more fish. It’s certainly easier to do this when you can source it locally, all sparklingly fresh and firm from the sea. The best I can manage in London (other than a four am raid on Billingsgate market which I’m just not brave enough to do) is the local supermarket, where it seems to sit rather uninspiringly filleted and wrapped in plastic.

Undeterred, I bought a couple of chunky cod loins and decided to pep them up a little. I love the chunky texture of cod, but the taste is a bit bland. 

A softly fried onion, garlic and chorizo served as a base, followed by a tin of chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, and a little salt and sugar. After about ten minutes of slow simmering and the flavours melding, I added the chunks of cod, covered the pan and simmered slowly for a further five minutes until the fish was just opaque. 

Served with rice it proved a surprisingly quick, punchy and delicious dinner. Another one for the fish files! 

The Knitting Novice


So, following a tutorial on YouTube,  I’ve worked out how to cast on, and learned the very basics of plain and purl. It’s coming gradually… although at first it feels totally alien. 

However…. I started with fifteen practice stitches, and I’ve now got over twenty…😝. They’re breeding! I’m not quite sure how that happened or how to stop it…aargh…

Enough to make me want to knit 

The recent visit to Skye culminated in a trip to Shilisdair, the yarn shop. 

Tucked down a narrowly winding, precipitous cart track ending in the sea, Shilisdair is based in a hut in the grounds of a crofters cottage on the shore of the  Waternish peninsula.

Inside it’s cozy and welcoming, with yarns of every hue lining the walls, and hand-knits hanging from the rafters ready for purchase. Everything is hand-dyed with plant based pigments such as madder, onions, meadowsweet and indigo. 

I couldn’t resist and bought several skeins. I guess the time has come to learn to knit, now! 

Luscious Lochbay langostine

Just back from a week on the Isle of Skye, and our old favourite restaurant, the Lochbay.

It’s just been awarded its first Michelin star, and although I’m thrilled for them, as it’s so well deserved, I know that this heralds the start of fame that may mean we need to book months in advance rather than just popping in…

It’s a tiny wee place, perhaps six tables at most. Cosy and low ceilinged, intimate and informal. The staff are all friendly and welcoming, and the food, mainly local seafood, is simply delicious.

This course was a piece of local hake from Mallaig, with a rich fish bisque sauce and langoustine from the bay. We also ate fresh oysters, oatmeal crumbled herring, and the most remarkable mixed fish soup, richly and heavily flavoured with aromatic dill.

Here’s hoping that this place doesn’t get so popular we’ll never get a table again!

Skye Pie Cafe

On the Isle of Skye there is a wonderful, unique and lovely place. It’s called the Skye Pie Cafe. Here, magic is made in the form of the most delicious pies I’ve ever tasted.

Eating at this place is unique. Gloriously vintage mismatched tables fill the old croft house rooms. The tables are set with chairs covered in hand-knitted seat cushions, and quirky art covers the walls. You’re surrounded by pots of knitting needles and half completed craft projects, embraced by the warm, creative and informal environment that Kirsty builds.

Coming in from the cold and rain, a warm, savoury, fragrant pie is just what the body and soul needs.

Today’s special was wild boar, apple and thyme. Served on old, flowery china plates, the whole experience is simply wonderful. Simon the pieman is a master baker: his pie crusts are delicious, and the fillings are generous, moist and beautifully crafted.

This is a special place. I’d move in if I could. 😊

Apple and blackberry pie with sweet almond crust pastry

Autumn is definitely apple pie time.

Crisp, sweet Scrumptious, Braeburn and Bramleys, peeled, chopped into chunks and dotted with fat, juicy blackberries. Maybe scattered with some nutmeg and brown sugar before being encased in sweet almond pastry, crumbly and fragrant.

All baked until golden brown and crispy.

It’s all I can do to not eat this straight from the pie tin. I eventually manage to allow it to cool for twenty minutes before slicing, and serve it still warm with a dollop of creme fraiche.

The whole kitchen smells of baked apples and nutmeg now. Gorgeous autumn smells!

Chicken rice for the soul

Sharing my life with a man from Istanbul has its unexpected culinary moments of pleasure. Most of these revolve around Hugh cooking up dishes that he remembers from his childhood. Chicken rice is just one of these.

Faced with the remains of the carcass of the roast chicken over the weekend, Hugh quietly took over. It was simmered slowly in a pan of water until every scrap of meat had left the bones, and the resulting stock was rich and flavoursome.

An onion was finely chopped and softened in olive oil. Basmati rice was added. Then a few handfuls of currants, salt, the shredded chicken and ladles of the stock until the rice had slowly absorbed all the liquid and was full and fluffy.

The thing that surprised and delighted me about this dish is that there are no complex or exotic seasonings, garlic or herbs – just very simple ingredients. And yet the taste is absolutely delicious- delicately savoury with the taste of chicken and onions with small pops of intense sweetness from the currants.

Chicken rice for the soul.

Salmon with lime & coriander noodles

A quick, healthy, one pot (or rather, one wok) dinner tonight – poached salmon with lime & coriander noodles.

It wasn’t what I’d planned. The fridge had a handful of green beans, half a red pepper, a lime, a few rather soft cherry tomatoes and a bunch of fresh coriander waiting to be consumed.

I hate food waste, and these things couldn’t be used easily for dinner tomorrow, so my initial plan of salmon teryaki and rice went out of the window. A swift forage in the pantry and a packet of straight to wok noodles later, and stir fry it was!

Husband is getting used to these last minute changes of menu when I have too many vegetable left-overs to feel that I’ve used the food that we have effectively.

Once I would have thrown these bits away. Now I’m more conscious of waste, and how lucky we are to have plenty, and I will flex our food plans to make the most of what we have.