North Carolina & My Scottish Cooking Course

Last week I was lucky enough to fly to the United States and be an instructor at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.  Where do I start to tell you what an amazing experience this was?  The area is stunning & the locals simply lovely.  The school itself is so inspiring and welcoming and well run; can’t recommend it enough.   Runny marmalade aside, my course went well and the dishes were delicious.  Loved having a great big kitchen as my office for the week and my four students were delightful learners and company.

I’ll post some of the recipes we made in the coming weeks and months.  Until then, here are some photos of the week.



First stop on our honeymoon was Hanoi, Vietnam.  I wish I could have captured the buzz and movement and erratic energy of the city in my photos but any shot that tried was just a flat, silent, odourless, cool blur.   And that’s  just not representative of the beeps and clatter and chatter, the countless motorbikes stacked precariously high with eggs or piled with family members, the smoking coals and the sweating cold beers, the heat and the humidity that is Hanoi.

It’s a place that couldn’t be more different to our home in airy, orderly Inverness and that’s why, rather than visiting museums and temples and other sites of interest, we spent our time just wandering the streets, stopping for a beer or some street food and just watching a very different world go by.




Bia Ha Noi


Amazing meal

Hanoi Food


Hanoi at Night

London and Lentil Soup

David and I are just back from a weekend in London.  The days were jam-packed full of the Olympics (David had basketball tickets), walking for miles, chatting with friends, wine-tasting, shopping and eating.  A LOT of eating.  It was fabulous.

We arrived home, tired and happy, at 2pm on Monday afternoon.  By 4pm I’d made a massive pot of my favourite soup to see us through the week.  It’s soothing and nourishing and might just help me atone for the vast amounts of calories consumed over the weekend.  🙂

Lentil Soup

(makes lots)

Splash of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tblspn ground cumin

1 tspn ground coriander

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 cups of red lentils

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly

2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)

Salt & pepper

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Lemon juice and coriander to serve

  • Gently fry the onion in olive oil until softened.  Add the garlic and  spices and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the tomatoes, lentils and carrots.  Stir well to combine and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for 30 mins until lentils have collapsed and carrots are tender.
  • Use a hand blender to puree the soup.  Season with salt and pepper and add Cayenne  to taste if using.
  • I like to stir through a squeeze of lemon juice and add a sprinkling of coriander to each bowl before serving.