It is a growing trend for the authors of seaweed publication to note that amateur seaweed foragers tend to damage marine and foreshore environments. Such books advocate that we 'buy dried' from professional harvesters and or use seaweed infused in tracklements.
I pop some well washed carrageen into a pan, cover it with water and simmer the pan over a low heat for about 20 minutes until a rich gel is released. I then sieve the gloop into a pot, cover, and refrigerate the resulting gel for up to ten days. I use it to thicken, add sheen to sauces, in marshmallows or as a setting agent in panna cottas and mousses.
Photograph Fi Bird On Christmas Eve at around 4 o'clock you'll find me making mince pies listening to Carols from Kings College
Cut thongweed well below the button to ensure its future growth, and don't be greedy. When cooked this seaweed turns runner bean green. Early in the season sea spaghetti cooks in noodle time. Novice seaweed eaters might try serving sea spaghetti 50:50 with wheat pasta. Fresh thong weed is out of season now but you'll find dried in delicatessens and specialist shops.
The countryside in spring brings to mind Hardy's story of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and the concern that the butter had a funny twang as a result of the cows having dined on the leaves of wild garlic - wild garlic has both wild scent and a pungent flavour.
Foragers can have a lean time of it over the cold winter months but as the days lengthen, and we hear the distinctive song of the skylark as it hoovers in flight, the forager can fill his or her basket with buds and wild spring greens. The March wind may blow but wild garlic works as well in a dumpling as a sushi style wrap.
The supermarket may waylay traditional cooking, but at the higher end of the market there is an eagerness to embrace traditional foods. There is a new pop up restaurant with a menu that sweeps the Highlands and Isles, scooping up delicious morsels and displaying them on a banquet table.
I'm of the opinion that a recipe is rarely originally and I remain indebted to Dorothy Hartley for inspiring me to add Sevilles to my seaweed repertoire.
The celebration of the last night of the year, Hogmanay, is the most important of Scottish traditions. My father had no recollection of joyful Scottish Christmases in the 1950s, when Scots worked over Christmas per se but he had fond memories of an Aberdeenshire end of year winter solstice feast. It is only within the last generation that Scotland has embraced Christmas.
Stir Up Sunday fell on a day when I was on the mainland in my Angus kitchen. As usual I'd left most of the pudding bowls across in the kitchen on the Isle, so in a waste not want not fashion, I packed the excess pudding mix into a container.