Hayley’s Comet (on my nails)

I love having extra time to cook a full dinner. Tonight’s menu included these Thai turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. The slaw was the best part, especially because I used all purple cabbage and it looked prettier! Last night was a Goan fish curry from a recipe torn out of Fabulous magazine. That was also a hit. Food period is a hit in this house, but I have to agree that the curry was pretty good.

My goal this year is to read 50 books. I only made this goal a few weeks ago but I am well on my way. I have to read 2 more books before the end of March to stay on track and I should probably try for 3 so I have some leeway when I get busier. Currently, I’m reading The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and I have the first two Hunger Games books waiting for me at the library.

It’s still been absolutely freezing here in Glasgow so instead of turning up the heat I just retreat to the bedroom with Fernando to read. Honestly, I think he’s just as cold so it works well for the both of us. He always cries to get into the bathroom so he can sleep on the mat in front of the heater.

Fernando

The highlight of my week was my new nail polish purchase. I know, I know, but I really like nail polish! I finally got with the program and bought the Seche Vite topcoat. Amazing. I usually have to sit waiting for my nails to dry for at least two hours but this seemed pretty good after about 30 minutes. I went in for the topcoat and a ridge filling base coat and since makeup was 3 for 2 in Boots I also got a fun colour. I had been eyeing the Beetlejuice range from Models Own since it came out and decided on the Hayley’s Comet colour.

It’s gorgeous on – sort of a shimmery pink champagne with an iridescent green sheen.

So excited for Nashville tonight. Never though I’d be a once a week series devotee but I have not missed an episode and I’m totally engrossed in the story line and characters.

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Chicken achari

Since we’re not going to be in Scotland FOREVER I’m taking this time to master a few Scottish recipes so I can easily replicate them in the States. I’m satisfied with my steak pie and my next dish is actually Indian. Glasgow has been named the Curry Capital of Britain four times and a local restaurant claims to have invented chicken tikka masala. I know you can get Indian food in the States and I’m not even going attempt to know about authentic Indian food in India, but nothing beats a proper British curry.

My favorite is chicken achari or achari murgh. It’s a curry cooked with typical Indian pickling spices and actually can be made with either lamb or chicken. I’ve had pickle as a condiment at Indian restaurants in States but over here you can get big containers in all flavours – from hot to mango to lime. I love it. I ate it out of the jar on Ryvita crackers until I discovered that our local Indian does a curry. Chicken achari is now my usual for a Saturday night in with a glass of wine and some garlic naan. Yesterday, I decided to try making it for myself as I had a package of chicken thighs that needed cooking and I obviously have the time! I used this recipe and it came out great.

acharichickencurry

I got all the spices at the local Asian shop around the corner. This place has everything. There’s a few Lebanese recipes I want to try that call for pomegranate molasses and this place has it! They have cheap spices, cheap cilantro and they get fresh Morton’s rolls delivered every morning. They only thing they’re missing is wine and cheese but fair enough I guess. I can make the 10 minute walk for wine.

To expand on the food theme I’m so excited for this weekend – we’re going to Viva Brazil for Sunday lunch. I went last summer and got WAY too full, so this time I’m going with a game plan. I’m not going to shun the salad bar but I’m going to take it easy on the carbs and not have any fruity sugary cocktails until after dinner (if I can manage).

Scottish Steak Pie

Had a lovely weekend. Met up with a fellow American for Sunday lunch at Citation and afterwards we found the rumoured bubble tea stall in the Savoy Centre. The Savoy Centre is exactly as it sounds. Totally 70’s and made up of tiny little storefronts selling DVDs, random household stuff and a wig shop. There’s also a growing Asian population so there’s now a Chinese medicinal herbs office and most importantly, a bubble tea stall!

bubbleteasavoycentre

I am addicted to sucking up those bubbles!

Our lunch at Citation was a brilliant two course and a glass of wine for a tenner deal. We both started with chicken liver parfait and I got the pork roast while my friend got the butternut squash risotto. The roast was amazing and such a big portion for the price. Even so, I woke up this morning craving even more comfort food. I don’t make a lot of traditional Scottish food but I do make – and absolutely love – Scottish steak pie.

Now, this isn’t a British steak and ale pie. There’s no ale or beer in it. No vegetables other than one large yellow onion. No herbs or spices other than salt and pepper. It’s not even pie shaped. This is the traditional Scottish New Year’s/Hogmanay dish that can be enjoyed year round and it is absolutely delicious.

Every New Year’s Day my mother-in-law has the family over for steak pie. Most people I know go over to their ‘wee maw’s’ for their New Year’s steak pie. It’s tradition, it’s yummy and it happens to be the perfect hangover food. A lot of people will pick up a pie at their local butcher’s but it’s so easy to make yourself. After my first time tasting it, I immediately asked for the recipe. My MIL rattled off a few ingredients to throw in the slow cooker – an onion, stewing beef, an Oxo cube (beef stock) and some water. Sometimes she’ll throw in some mini beef sausages toward the end but it really is that simple.

Scottish Steak Pie

Serves 3 to 4

500g stewing/casserole/slow cook beef
one medium yellow onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp and 1 tbsp black pepper
1 Oxo cube or any beef stock cube
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
200g puff pastry

1. Cut the onion into slices and drop into the slow cooker
2. Trim the beef and cut into bite sized pieces if not already pre-diced.
3. Mix the flour, salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl and then add the beef, coating each piece in the seasoned flour.
4. Heat the olive oil in a pan until very hot and then brown the beef in small batches. As always, don’t crowd the pan and allow each piece to get browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker once done.
6. Crumble the Oxo cube in, add the remaining 1 tbsp black pepper and enough water to barely cover the mixture. The top pieces should still be a bit above water.
6. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. An hour before done, mix 1 tsp cornflour with 2 tsp water and add to the mixture to thicken it up.

Now as for the puff pastry topping, I prefer to cook the pastry separately and then add it to the individual servings. I see from a quick perusal on the internet that this is sacrilege for some people, but this is how my Glaswegian MIL taught me so I’m sticking to it! Plus, I’m not a fan of ‘soggy bottom’ pastry.

I usually use store bought puff pastry but today I tried making my own and it turned out pretty well! I followed this recipe (to a freaking T by the way – I even watched the video) and used a little less than half for tonight’s dinner. I just rolled it out and cut long strips to bake. I love this way because you get little flaky batons to dip into the gravy.

scottishsteakpie

We usually eat ours over boiled potatoes but anything goes. My MIL serves hers with mashed potatoes and boiled carrots or green beans. I get chips with mine if I’m eating out at a pub or cafe. We had a big portion for dinner tonight and Danny proclaimed it the best steak pie I’ve made and that I’m to try and make mince and tatties next!

March!

I am so glad that March is here. February is the shortest month but a lot can go on in 28 days. I usually feel like March has snuck up on me but this year I feel like we are truly well and deep into 2013. 2012 seems far away and I am ready for spring and a new beginning.

Having said that, the day to day hasn’t been that busy. I tidy in the morning, job search in the afternoon and find (a lot of) time to cook and read for pleasure. I also have been sending Danny out for the groceries as it hasn’t gotten warm enough yet to want to wander around in this weather. Today was good though! I’m hopeful that spring is here.

feb13

1. My chicken curry from last Sunday. Even though I’m home all of the day I still use my slow cooker 2 or 3 times a week – it’s just too easy.

2. Went on a Forever 21 shopping spree while I was home and then three weeks later I found these earrings and about 6 empty earring holders in the pocket of a blazer I bought. Looks like someone used the blazer for some sneaky shoplifting! I guess this leftover pair weren’t worth it. I would have been mortified if the sales assistant had found them while he was ringing me up.

3. Fernando’s Saturday morning. I think he loves weekend mornings more than we do.

4. Finished Gone Girl this morning. I LOVED it. Read a lot of reviews with people hating on the ending but I thought it was absolutely perfect. I thought Nick and Amy were both amazing characters – some of my favorites from recent reads, up there with the characters from The Marriage Plot. The book itself was even better in some ways because the story was a lot more compelling than The Marriage Plot.

Valentine’s Week

Danny and I have been a bit naughty this week. Even though we just got back from holiday, we’ve been out for drinks or dinner three times. We need to buckle down and be good for the next few weeks – I need to find a job, for starters!

Tuesday night was the Celtic v Juventus game. Celtic sadly lost by 3 points so they have little chance of advancing to the next round in the Champions League. We went to O’Neills in Merchant City, which was packed of course. Absolutely no room to move around and a constant danger of getting a drink spilled on you. I had two vile glasses of red wine (when will I learn to not order wine at a pub?) and ended up with a headache the next day. It was good to see friends though and we ended the night with a Indian garlic chili chicken pizza. Cannae beat it!

On Valentine’s Day we hemmed and hawed about whether to go out or not but finally decided on dinner at Roma Mia – a cute family run Italian only 5 minutes from our flat. We’ve been there before, but I appreciate it so much now that we’ve been to Rome. It really does feel like you’re in Italy at this place. I got buffalo mozzarella with rocket and tomatoes to start and pasta puttanesca for my main. Danny got shrimp ravioli to start and some sort of special with sausage and tagliatelle for his main. Dessert was chocolate! A whole box to myself as Danny’s cutting out the bad stuff from his diet.

vday

Friday night we met some friends in town for a few drinks. We had originally planned to just meet at Wetherspoons and then head elsewhere after one, but we ended up there until closing time. I think it was mostly to do with the fact that we all had seats at ‘spoons and didn’t want to give them up and stand in another crowded bar. I had wine of course, but Wetherspoons serves drinkable wine so it was all good. We ended up having a great night – good conversation and a lot of laughs.

Soooo, this weekend has been a quiet one. Grocery shopping, Netflix, and some coconut chicken curry in the slow cooker for tonight.

 

I used the above recipe but added a lot more garam masala, more curry powder, ginger and more vegetables in the curry itself. To be honest, I think it’s going to turn out better than the original – I mean, who puts carrots in a curry?!

Goodbye 2012

2012 has been a great year. I started and ended 2012 without a job but this was also the year that I learned to not depend on work so much. I had a job that paid the bills, allowed me to enjoy time outside of work and I kept my friends from my previous role. The best of both worlds! Danny and I also had the chance to travel loads, book a trip back home, get new jobs and get really fit (Danny).

I started this blog in January but had sporadic posts during the first half of the year. Thought I would take a chance to focus on the (iPhone) highlights of 2012 and I look forward to continuing this in 2013 with more pictures and more posts!

January

1. Steak dinner at Grill on the Corner for Danny's birthday. 2. Birthday boy 3. Flowers from my colleagues after I got laid off 4. Did a lot of cooking in Jan, including cemitas

1. Steak dinner at Grill on the Corner for Danny’s birthday. 2. Birthday boy 3. Flowers from my colleagues after I got laid off 4. Homemade cemitas for dinner

February

1. Light dinner at The Bungo 2. A stop on our neighborhood pub crawl 3. Passed my Life in the UK test and sent away my ILR application 4. My local library

1. Light dinner at The Bungo 2. A stop on our neighborhood pub crawl 3. Passed my Life in the UK test and sent away my ILR application 4. My local library

March

1. 40th anniversary party for Danny's aunt and uncle 2. Mother's Day diner at Guidi's 3. Got Fernando a leash and he hated it 4. Day out at the races with some friends

1. 40th anniversary party for Danny’s aunt and uncle 2. Mother’s Day dinner at Guidi’s 3. Got Fernando a leash and he hated it 4. Day out at the races with some friends

April

1. Looked after Lucy 2. Easter dinner in Londonderry after a day of driving through N.Ireland 3. Night out at the Garage 4. Homemade burgers and chips

1. Looked after Lucy 2. Easter dinner in Londonderry after a day of driving through N.Ireland 3. Night out at the Garage 4. Homemade burgers and chips

May

 1. Spent the night at a castle for my 26th birthday 2. Tequila shot sampler for Cinco de Mayo 3. View from our castle room 4. Finally got my ILR 5. Sangria tour in town for my birthday 6. Beer garden for the amazing weather we had the last weekend in May

1. Spent the night at a castle for my 26th birthday 2. Tequila shot sampler for Cinco de Mayo 3. View from our castle room 4. Finally got my ILR 5. Sangria tour in town for my birthday 6. Beer garden for the amazing weather we had the last weekend in May

June

1. Rome 2. Ate Italian food for most of June 3. Sunset at 11 pm on the solstice 4. Had to evacuate the airport due to a fire drill

1. Rome 2. Ate Italian food for most of June 3. Sunset at 11 pm on the solstice 4. Had to evacuate the airport due to a fire drill

July

1. Orange walk 2. Olympic women's football match 3. Tried the new Brazilian steakhouse 4. Betting on the final game of the Euros

1. Orange walk 2. Olympic women’s football match 3. Tried the new Brazilian steakhouse 4. Betting on the final game of the Euros

August

1. Our B&B in Spain 2. Sangria in Seville 3. About to leave for Portugal 4. The beach in Nerja

1. Our B&B in Spain 2. Sangria in Seville 3. About to leave for Portugal 4. The beach in Nerja

September

1. Sunday roast 2. Drinks at T.G.I. Friday's 3. Library books 4. Homemade prosciutto and arugula pizza

1. Sunday roast 2. Drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s 3. Library books 4. Homemade prosciutto and arugula pizza

October

1. 3rd wedding anniversary flowers and cards 2. Beef bourguignon 3. Looked after Lucy again 4. Alumni reunion drinks

1. 3rd wedding anniversary flowers and cards 2. Beef bourguignon 3. Looked after Lucy again 4. Alumni reunion drinks

November

1. Thanksgiving dinner 2. Poppadoms and dipping sauces at Dakhin 3. First snowfall of the season 4. Lentil soup prep

1. Thanksgiving dinner 2. Poppadoms and dipping sauces at Dakhin 3. First snowfall of the season 4. Lentil soup prep

December

1. Christmas Eve 2. Family night out at the Christmas fair in Glasgow 3. Christmas day 4. NYE's curry

1. Christmas Eve 2. Family night out at Christmas fair in Glasgow 3. Christmas day 4. NYE’s curry

Thanksgiving in Glasgow

An expat Thanksgiving is a funny thing. The holiday is in the middle of a busy working week and the rest of the country is caught up in the impending Christmas season. But even if you’re busy on the actual day, there’s always that longing for the holiday back home and the desire to commemorate it in some way. This year I was lucky enough to be working the US shift, so I automatically got the day off. And with Danny not starting his new job until the beginning of December, we had the perfect day to make our own expat Thanksgiving.

This is my second time making Thanksgiving dinner in Scotland but my third holiday in the country. I was over here for Thanksgiving in 2006. We had a theatre class field trip to Edinburgh on the actual day so we all celebrated that Saturday. Our trip leaders provided the turkey, but we had to make do with turkey breasts as that’s the only thing that could fit into their flat’s tiny oven. Everyone was assigned a side dish and I’m ashamed to say I went to easy route and brought a veggie/dip tray. I definitely wasn’t into cooking back then!

I had to work in 2010 but I brought in mini pumpkin pies to introduce my colleagues to some traditional Thanksgiving food. That Saturday I hosted my first every Thanksgiving and managed to cook a turkey, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie for five adults and two kids! No pictures, I think that’s around the time my camera started to not work.

Spent last Thanksgiving in the States so that brings us to 2012. Even with my new camera I only have two iPhone pictures as the uploader’s not working right now (don’t worry, it’ll get fixed before our trip to the States).

My beautiful pumpkin cheesecake, before we cut into it and found it hadn’t set properly. Oh well, pumpkin chocolate chip mousse is just as good!

I made chicken instead of turkey this time, with my own special roast chicken marinade. I also made stuffing, scalloped potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and a very pudding-like pumpkin chocolate chip cheesecake. We invited Danny’s mom over and enjoyed some cheese and crackers and homemade pomegranate martinis before the big meal.

Hope everyone’s still enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend or just a good old regular weekend here in the UK.