Ginger and Dhal

Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

Just received a text message from my parents who are currently on a Mediterreanian cruise. My mother, concerned about seasickness, wasn’t too keen on the whole two-weeks-on-a-ship idea and for weeks, nay, months my father seemed to be fighting a losing battle trying to persuade her to go. But crystalised gingers saved the day. Mum is convinced they cure all ills.
“Headache, Wendy? Have a ginger.”
“Upset stomach? A ginger will sort that out.”
“Decapitated? Ginger.”
So long as Mum had her gingers she was willing to give the cruise a go. Yesterday, the ship docked in Gibraltar and my Mum was mugged by a large barbary monkey. The malicious creature knew what it was looking for.  It left her with her wallet, glasses and camera but vanished down the cliff face clutching her precious gingers.  Poor Mum!
Good luck Dad!

Dinner this evening was dhal and nann. Have tried many variations of this dish. They all seem to work! This was the concoction tonight.


1 tblspn olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tspn minced ginger
1 chilli (as hot as you fancy), finely chopped
1 tspn cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
100g red lentils
Fresh coriander to serve

  • Fry the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and spices in the oil until the onion has softened.
  •  Add the lentils. Fry for 1 more minute.
  • Add 300ml of boiling water and stir.
  • Simmer until lentils have absorbed the water and are soft. More water may be required.
  • Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander (more than the picture!).

Subject Co-ordinator

Had a very productive ASG meeting today.  The booklets, including all of our case studies, are being put together and distributed in schools next month, including a DVD with pupil/teacher interviews.  Going to ask my seniors if they are interested in being interviewed.  Imagine they’ll jump at the opportunity.  I’ll be very interested to hear how they reflect on their learning and my teaching in hindsight.

Something else that came up in conversation was the lack of an English subject co-ordinator for the Highland region.  It seems bizarre that schools across the region do not have a forum to share materials.  What this means is that teachers are spending vast amounts of time creating materials that have already been created in another school seven miles up the road.  A phenomenal amount of time is being wasted!  The position of co-ordinator is available at the moment but the time allowance is only one day per week.  A teacher would have to be crazy to take on the position on top of their normal teaching load.

So, myself and a teacher from Millburn Academy have decided to try and create some kind of website or wiki or blog (not sure what would be best and how they differ exactly) where Highland English teachers can submit materials and ask colleagues for professional help.  It wouldn’t solve the problem, but it might prevent us from continually reinventing the wheel.

Cherry Tomato, Rocket & Basil Spaghetti

tomato pasta
Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

Tomorrow I’m off to Charleston Academy to meet with the other members of the Highland AiFL Associated Schools Group. Six (?) English teachers from across the region are meeting up to discuss our individual AiFL projects. I’ve written a case study based on the self-assessment/modelling technique I blogged about earlier this year. I’m a little worried about my lack of evidence. The kids all kept their essays for revision and I wasn’t organised enough to copy them first… Have managed to scraped together something. Don’t feel it exemplifies the results very well though.

After a great Saturday night with some visiting Swedish friends I spent today in the garden working off a wee hangover. Amongst other things I have now attached the greenhouse to the garage. If it blows away again the garage is going with it! When lunch time came I was famished and wanted something fast.

Not even sure this qualifies as a recipe.

Cherry Tomato, Rocket & Basil Spaghetti
(for 1)

A handful of cherry tomatoes, seeds squeezed out and roughly chopped
A handful of rocket
6 or so basil leaves, torn up
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
100g wholewheat spaghetti

  • Combine the tomatoes, rocket, basil, garlic, and oil. Season to taste and leave to marinate.
  • Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water.
  • Drain spaghetti and add to tomato mixture. Mix gently.

Chickpea Cakes and Tomato Raita

Chickpea Cakes and Tomato Raita

Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

So much for my weekend in the garden. It’s still raining and very windy. Exposure to these conditions would undoubtably traumatise the lettuce who survived the flying greenhouse incident yesterday. Will give their little nerves another day to recover sitting on the garage window. Hmmmm.. There is a mouse in the garage. Mice probably like baby lettuce. I’m pretty much serving them a mouse sized salad, aren’t I?

Have now removed lettuce from the garage and am ready to share another recipe. More pulses!

Chickpea Cakes and Tomato Raita

2 X 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 spring onions, green part only (save the white for the raita)
1 tblspn cumin
1 tblspn coriander
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Plain flour
Olive oil

  • Put chickpeas in food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor mash them with a potato masher.
  • Add the garlic, spring onion and spices and process/mash again.
  • Add seasoning, chilli and fresh coriander. Mix gently.
  • Add a little of the egg and a pinch of flour. Stir to combine. Continue until the mixture just binds. (Be very careful not to add too much egg. If it gets to wet you’ll need a lot of flour. This can create a horrid gluey texture.)
  • Pop mixture into the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, make the raita – recipe below.
  • With floury hands, shape the chilled mixture into little balls and flatten gently to form little patties. Dust with flour.
  • Fry cakes in a little olive oil over a medium heat until golden – about 4 mins on each side.

Serve with –
Tomato Raita

200ml natural yogurt
3 spring onions (whites only) – chopped finely
2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Pinch of sugar

  • Mix everything together and add salt to taste.

Mixed Day

wedding 018
Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

A very mixed day, indeed.

The mountain bike ride was spectacularly good. Despite driving to work in pouring rain, the clouds dispersed by 10am and we had a beautifully sunny day for the cycle. The wind made the route harder going than it had been on Monday but we all managed to stay on our bikes (aside from one girl who ended up sprawled out in a river). We sped through muddy puddles; trundled up never-ending hills; juddered down forest trails; saw a mini whirlwind in the middle of the loch; were given points for the healthiness of our lunches as the judge munched on her second Twix bar of the day and, despite being the slowest members of the group, second year pupil Harriet and I took a wrong turn on the final leg and ended up ahead of the rest of the group! Great fun.

Once the ride was over and I was driving home the winds picked up and caused a big branch to fall on my car. No damage, other than to my nerves. Returned home just in time to see my plastic mini-greenhouse flying across my garden leaving lettuce carnage behind. Nooooooooo! My seedlings!

Bloody Highland weather…

Dinner had to be simple.  If you have never baked a sweet potato instead of a normal potato then try.  Rub a damp sweet potato with a little salt and bake in an oven at 190oC for an hour.  Great with sour cream and chives.

Have attached a photo from Faye and Shaggy’s wedding as I noticed someone had Googled it and got my blog. A superb night but this photo of all the ex-Aberdeen-Odeon staff is the only decent one I have.

Off for a glass of wine to calm my wind blown nerves.

Butter Bean, Butter Bean, Butter Bean

butter beans
Originally uploaded by wjharrison77.

Watching the skies with a worried face this evening. Tomorrow myself and 19 others (mixture of pupils and staff) are mountain-biking around Loch Moire. Did a trial run on Monday.  It was incredibly beautiful and very muddy. What we do not need this evening is rain. And if there’s anyone out there who can control the wind: less of that would be nice too!

I appear to be in pulsey place at the moment. Just can’t get enough of those peas, beans and lentils. Plus, I really like to say “butter bean”. Butter bean, butter bean, butter bean. Lovely.

Butter Bean Salad

2 tins of butter beans, drained & rinsed
2 tbspn chopped chives
1 bell pepper (not green), seeded and chopped
1 lemon, juice and zest
4 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbspn chopped fresh sage (I like the purple stuff)

  • Put everything in a bowl and mix it gently with your hands!
  • Leave for 30 mins for flavours to infuse.

Cawdor Castle & A Recipe

I’m pooped!  I and thirty second year pupils spent the day at Cawdor Castle.  I was slightly nervous about the trip as I didn’t know if the castle and beautiful grounds would entertain a large group of 14 year olds for a whole day.   My fears were unfounded – we had an amazing day!

Firstly we explored the castle itself.  Though the pupils were fairly impressed with the grandeur of the castle, the highlight of the tour was a security guard explaining what really happened to MacBeth.  For me too!  I had thought Shakespeare had made the entire story up.  It is VERY VERY loosely based on fact though.  Nice to know.

After a walk around the grounds and a chilly picnic we all warmed up by playing hide and seek in the grounds.  Cawdor’s gardens and woods are full of hidey holes.  One game turned into two games which turned into virtually the whole afternoon!  I was always the seeker meaning I spent the majority of the day running.  On top of that there were parachute games, human pyramids, daisy chains and treasure hunts.  Hence the pooped-ness.  🙂

Dinner was the following Bill Granger recipe.  Very easy to make.  Very tasty too. 

Spaghetti with Fish and Garlic 

  • 1 tblspn olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 2 fillets of firm white fish – I use cod – cut into chunks
  • 200g whole-wheat spaghetti
  • Handful of parsley
  • Salt and pepper 

Add spaghetti to large pan of boiling water.  Cook according to instructions.

Meanwhile, gently fry garlic and chilli in oil for 2 mins

Increase heat and add wine and butter.  Boil until harsh alcohol vapours disappear.  About 3 mins.

Add fish chunks and cook for 2 mins until just cooked.

Add cooked pasta, parsley and seasoning to fishy liquid and mix gently over a low heat.