A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle


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Eager anticipation!

You may think I’m talking about the upcoming birth of my first grandchild when you read the title of this blog, but you’d be wrong!

Yes, of course I’m very much looking forward to becoming a grandmother – but that is not happening until the end of August, and in the meantime, there are loads of other things to eagerly anticipate around here!

So what in the world can I be talking about? Our summer veg, of course, and in particular, our very first tomato!

All winter long, we’ve been using the tomatoes preserved last year. Puree, ketchup, canned tomatoes, salsa — we’ve enjoyed every last jar of it, and now the cupboard is bare. We planted more tomato plants than ever this year, as we need to do a whole lotta (sic) preserving this summer! I grow many different varieties, from heirloom black russians to Italian plums and the stylish rafs, and when combined, they make a rich, dark, naturally sweet product.

Right now, the tomato plants are looking pretty fine, too. They are big, bush and healthy, with loads of flowers and tiny, growing tomatoes. But it’s agony to wait for the first ripe one! We are dreaming already of that first ripe tomato, sliced and eaten on our breakfast toast, which has first been lightly slathered in Yunquera Gold olive oil and some minced Casa Tyr garlic. Heaven.

In the meantime? We’ll enjoy the fruit and veg that is already ripe, like lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, cherries and our wonderful, sweet raspberries. It’s a tough life!

Fresh-picked raspberries

 

 


Notes from a less ‘civilized’ world

I’ve been in the UK for the past week, attending the wedding of our daughter and her lovely new husband. It was a wonderful occasion, and she looks so obviously happy that it makes me happy, too!

We had just been in the UK in November, so travelling back so soon was a bit traumatic for us mountain folk, despite the joy of the occasion. And here’s why.

People, people everywhere

We were in the south of England, and the traffic there is appalling. We think it’s bad when we make a trip to the coast, but man, oh man, the traffic in the UK is awful!

No matter what time of day, you are stuck in traffic jams. Going into work? You have to leave the house at 7am, and stay in the office until 7pm or it will take you ages to get where you’re going. Going to the airport? We allowed 3 hours to drive 86 miles, and barely made it.

(Oh, and by the way, I was amused by the warning signs for the Olympics – they say “plan your journeys, leave plenty of time”. My advice? Stay home and watch it on TV people, you have no chance of getting there on time!)

Food

As might be expected, we ate while we were in the UK. We ate out, we ate in, we ate at cafes, we ate at restaurants. The conclusion? Expensive yet mediocre food. Not because people there can’t cook properly, because they can and do – it’s because much of the food you buy is tasteless.

No wonder kids don’t eat fruit and vegetables – they have no taste at all! And don’t get me started on the higher prices that supermarkets charge for supposedly ‘better’ food (e.g. Tesco Finest). It’s outrageous.

I put this down to transport. The further you are from the food source, the longer food has to travel, the more flavor (and nutrition) it loses. One meal cooked for us had fresh vegetables flown all the way from Thailand – how in the world can these truly be fresh?

Waste

Another thing that struck me was the incredible waste. I know I’m picking on the UK here, but it’s true everywhere. Households waste incredible amounts of perfectly good food. (Not everyone, of course, but enough to worry me.)

One example – ‘sell by’ and ‘eat by’ dates. I saw a grown woman go through her fridge, examining each item for its ‘eat by’ date. If they had reached that date, in the garbage they went. Including yogurt – don’t people know what yogurt is?

A semi-solid sourish food prepared from milk fermented by added bacteria, often sweetened and flavored

The words ‘fermented’ and ‘sourish’ should give you a clue – they don’t have sensitive eat by dates, people!

And leftovers – the great food left over when you cook a meal for your family. Remember them from your childhood? Well, obviously, loads of people don’t, because I literally saw a meal full of leftovers turfed in the garbage. I was speechless. We love leftovers here at Casa Tyr, because it means that you get a ‘free’, delicious meal with no extra effort on your part!

We were told by someone in the UK that as we’ve lived on our mountain for almost 9 years, we no longer know what ‘real life’ is like. Well, I disagree, guys – it’s you that don’t know what real life is, or at least what it should be!

See also:

Food waste in the UK