Monday 27 June 2011

Shedding Inhibitions

Ethiopian Djimmah coffee this morning. It has a smoky aroma that my wife says reminds her of the smell of a tobacconist shop she visited with her grandad as a child. The sun has broken through the wall of rain cloud which prevailed all weekend. The grass is still saturated but the sunshine and stiff breeze should soon dry it off.

On the few decent days we have had I've been out working on the roof of my shed. I got sunburned and bashed up my hands but I enjoyed myself. It was good to get away from the desk and computer for a while. My shed is now strong and dry and I've started fitting the electrics. Who knows what mad-scientist-style adventures I'll get up to in there once it has the power. I might even saw some bits of wood in half.

I haven't been on Gastrobeach much the past few weeks. Oh, apart from to go swimming at around 4am, just as the sun was coming up. The temperature was only 8 or 9 degrees. The experience was, literally, breathtaking. I warmed myself afterwards (at least psychologically) with a wee drop of 'An Sgailc'.

The experience did remind me how much I love to swim in the sea. Cold-tolerance is the problem, though. It's possible to acclimatise yourself to cold water by swimming regularly in cold water and/or taking cold showers but the adaption only seems to last for a few months then you're back to a very painful square one.

The grey weather masks the effect of the very long days which now extend to about 19 hours. Perhaps that makes it a little easier for the body clock to adjust. I don't know but I'm trying to be optimistic. Sleep patterns do get severely disrupted at this time of year. We have blackout blinds in our bedroom to help us deal with it but you have to remember to leave them open a bit (or open them a little when you first awake) otherwise, without an alarm, you would just sleep right through.

The garden is really coming together as all my wife's hard work starts to pay off. Brilliant colours are now showing through the lush green of the flower bed. This morning the colours provide a vibrant underscore to the sparkling blue/grey sea and the hazy mountains beyond.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

You Shall Have a Fishy in a Dishywashy

I forgot to mention the salmon we had at the party! It was really moist and delicious, and hand-flaked to perfection. But, most interestingly of all, it was cooked in the dishwasher.

My wife had heard something about this technique so she looked it up online and insisted, in the face of some determined opposition, that it be cooked in the dishwasher. I didn't find any of this out until I was eating it at the party. And then it came across just as surreal and wonderful as the rest of the goings-on.

The dishwasher technique is a novel way of steaming the salmon. Don't forget to wrap it in foil before trying this. My wife said she had read several cautionary tales from people who had put the fish in the dishwasher unwrapped and found, to their initial puzzlement and horror, that it had dissolved into pink drain-sludge, leaving nothing but a floppy bone.

My wife prepped the salmon by stuffing it with a good bundle of fresh garden herbs and seasoning with some lemon juice, salt and pepper. She said that it didn't cook on the first cycle so she had to put it to the highest heat setting, around 70 degrees centigrade, on the top rack, to get the desired result. My friend then sat and gently flaked the whole thing, and it was a big salmon, even going to the trouble of saving the cheeks which he says are a delicacy. Before serving, they added more seasoning and a sprinkle of Garam masala.

I shouldn't really have to say this but, if you want to try this yourself, don't put any detergent in the dishwasher along with the salmon. I'm sure Finnish-style salmon is lovely but Finish-style maybe not so much.