Moose, Marmalade and other Musings….

Week 4 of #lockdown and where are we now? Some rushed off their feet through rapidly changing circumstances; others in impossible situations and trying to remain sane. We all have our different coping mechanisms: diving into activities or deep cleaning, gardening or baking…and of course many of you are home schooling too. Thankfully that is not on our personal list of pursuits. Above all else we need to look after our health and that of our families and the wider community. This virus is exhibiting some unpleasant characteristics and I believe one of our best defences is a healthy diet of fresh local food, supporting our producers and looking after ourselves.

We have a wonderful community here in Aberdour: local shops collaborating with a volunteer force of deliverers but it’s quite amusing when you read our shopping list over the phone: items you normally just pop out and buy without a thought – butter by the bagful and cream by the litre in particular seem to raise an eyebrow or two! Meats are not generally on our list so to be fair, these fabulous helpers don’t see the full picture. We generally buy sheep by the carcass, a box of beef or pork, and our fish van delivers so our two freezers have a way to go before we are eating the guga! 

Our farm shops, butchers and bakers have been making the headlines and so they should. Much hard work, dedication and flexibility is going on, helping local communities and reminding many of the importance of food security. I hope more folk continue to support them when this is all over. Chefs have been adapting to deliver local meals, act as hubs for local food networking and using their supplier databases for the benefit of their community. We find our ways: some that work in one place are not necessarily the way for others. We see great examples of our Scots’ humour and pragmatism seeing us through and thanks to the oft-slated social media we can reach out to our friends and family, in our case, Berlin and Sweden, Switzerland and Italy, Les Dames d’Escoffier International friends across the States, Ireland and even a couple of Scots living in Montevideo! We have a lot to be thankful for.

Paul Newman, Errichel

Our farmers are posting lambing videos, smallholders are planting, suburban dwellers are filming garden birds and many weans are arguably having a valuable education in many unforeseeable ways. Anyone in need of a calm zen moment can try slow TV online for free and follow the moose migration in rural central Sweden … https://www.svtplay.se/video/26396994/den-stora-algvandringen/den-stora-algvandringen-sasong-2-slow-tv-dag-7

Diving into our larder to see what we may find we came across an unopened marmalade from my aunt…delicious with Isle of Mull cheese… that prompted me to call her to ask for the recipe, it was sooo good. We chat regularly anyway and my admiration for her has no bounds: at 96 she still sews her clothes, cooks delicious meals, grows vegetables…and makes preserves!! An inspiration to us all and I am hoping I possess a few of her great genes! Anyway, not one for internet, we received a letter from her in the post today. Handwritten in fountain pen was her marmalade recipe. I shall treasure it and look forward to the next Seville orange season. 

We received a second surprise in the post – much more fun than brown envelopes – from our friend Martin Ragnar in Sweden who has just published his book on turnips. Yes you heard me right! It is fascinating, well written and an eye opener: from ancient history through to current day renaissance, chefs’ recipes and its place in Nordic food culture. Originating in Sweden, kålrötter quickly become popular in Scotland, where some varieties were even developed and returned to Sweden so some really interesting links.

He kindly asked me to contribute a couple of Scottish recipes and the lovely Tommy and Mary Isbister from Shetland also make an appearance. It is written in Swedish so unless that’s in your skills set you’ll just have to trust me but it was fun to be involved in such a prestigious book.

And so…to all you wonderful Scottish Food Guide Members…

I continue to post your latest updates here https://scottishfoodguide.com/latest-offers/ and welcome your news. Please call or e mail if there is anything I can do to assist. I have been following the Scottish Food Guide statistics and this section is really rocketing in viewing numbers. 

Demijohn’s Wild Garlic Pesto

The other particularly popular section at this time is Recipes so I am currently adding more, using your produce, and will be promoting these too. With this in mind I welcome and invite Member producers and chefs to send in a recipe to highlight their business. I shall credit you in the titles and include a link to your website in the text. If you can send a photo that’s brilliant, if not I shall use a shot I have on file for you. Please do send in a recipe…if you would like to of course.

Last but by no means least, Scotland Food & Drink is really interested in your feedback and views, collating information to hopefully enable some good positive outcomes from this current dire situation. If you would like to get in touch with them with any information, positive and negative, they have assured me that it will be treated in confidence and anonymized when being used. Message from SF&D below….

Scotland Food & Drink

Industry leadership organisation, Scotland Food & Drink, together with its partners and government, is at the forefront of the sector’s response to coronavirus. It has launched the Covid-19 information hub, which provides the definitive guide to the latest developments, advice and support available for the sector https://foodanddrink.scot/coronavirus-information-hub/

Businesses are encouraged to sign up for regular updates here plus, crucially, share any issues/problems they are experiencing, as a result of the outbreak, via info@foodanddrink.scot

Take care of yourselves, our very best wishes, Wendy, Scottish Food Guide

If you enjoyed this newsletter, my latest blog is also live here https://www.wendybarrie.co.uk/blog