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Food blogging – this I now know to be true.

Brunstane Fields Greenbelt
Campaigned to save this from development – sadly we lost.
Hello, and sincerest apologies for being absent from Scrumptious Scran for a further protracted period of time. This in no way indicates I have lost my love of food and drink, nor my appetite for sharing this with you. I’ve had the most fantastic time as a food blogger, and hope that this may long continue.  Yet over the last few months – if not years – I have discovered the following to be true when it comes to committing thoughts and experiences to the blogosphere…
  • Trying to make a decent stab of writing about (and photographing) culinary experiences and thoughts, that people will actually want to share in, takes a fair bit of planning and effort. This isn’t a grouse, merely an observation that, if you are passionate about people connecting with your take on food and drink, you need to approach such things with care and attention to detail, as well as passion.
  • In common with many food bloggers, my dream occupation would be that of a full time food writer. However, until such fame and fortune beckons (oh, how we laughed!) it’s necessary to pay the mortgage through other forms of gainful employment (which are great, don’t get me wrong). And this accordingly means that the time that can be dedicated to exploring and writing about the “next big culinary thing” becomes a bit limited. And talking about paying the mortgage…
  • Moving into a new house that “requires a bit of minor renovation” which then transpires to need completely refitting from top to bottom, can also put the kibosh on having any spare time to actively maintain a blog, or even identify new and exciting things to cook, or places to eat.  Fear not however, as the renovations are nearly complete, bar building a new kitchen, which might have ramifications in terms of my ability to cook for a wee while, but it’s all for a greater good ultimately. And talking of building…
  • Moving into a new house to find that the fields/greenbelt opposite are set to be turned into a development the size of Haddington can naturally result in being drawn into a campaign to actively oppose such a loss of essential greenspace.  In combination with renovating said property, this leaves even less time for actively maintaining a blog.
However, dear reader, all is not doom and gloom. The battle to save the greenbelt may now be lost, but our house is smashing, and will be even more so when the kitchen is extended and refitted.  All of which means I – hopefully – now have much more time to devote to what I am passionate about: cooking, eating, drinking and writing about all of these things.
Watch this space – Scrumptious Scran is back…   
blogging/ growing food/ Vegetable plot

A “scrumptious” new beginning – here’s to growing, cooking and blogging (again)…

Land to be developed into vegetable plot
My plot for a veggie plot.

“And so you’re back, from outer space. I just walked in to find you here, with that same look upon your face…”. I think the words of Gloria Gaynor’s eponymous disco torch song are entirely appropriate for what many (formerly) regular readers of Scrumptious Scran must be thinking. After all, everything on the blog was chugging along quite nicely for nearly a year and half, with weekly updates on all things food-related. Then last July – puff! Posts came to an abrupt end, with not so much as a “I’m just popping down the petrol station for a pint of milk, back in five minutes”. And now, several months down the line, I just parachute myself back into your foodie lives, as if nothing had happened… I most certainly owe you an explanation.

Last July, JML and I decided that – after many happy years there – it was time to move on from Scrumptious Scran Towers. Our Edwardian tenement was a smashing home, and we had really worked hard to make it our own. But… Being that wee bit more “mature” these days, we realised we wanted somewhere with dedicated outside space, and located nearer – if not actually in the centre of – the “Riviera of Edinburgh” that is Portobello. Time to hoist the “for sale” sign and set course for pastures new. The flat looked great, so all that would be required was the odd lick of emulsion to freshen things up. A week’s work during our summer holidays, on the market by September, sat in front of the wood burner in the new place whilst the festive turkey was a-roasting, yes? Oh, the naivety!

As soon as the first drop of Farrow and Ball paint – well technically Leyland paint, but they match the former’s colours perfectly and it’s half the price – oozed off the roller, it was obvious that every wall and ceiling in the place was going to need to be refreshed. And that made some of the stripped floorboards look pretty tired, so in with the floor sander. Then the faff that is the photo-shoot for the marketing brochure; the alien concept of maintaining the place in a state of cryogenic spotlessness for viewings – a task that, to my horror, involved minimal cooking; the frantic running around trying to view places we wanted to buy, when people weren’t also round viewing our gaff. Oh, then completing all the legal gubbins that goes with the sale and subsequent purchase – a real “edge of the seat” experience under the Scottish system. The packing. The moving. The unpacking. You get the picture!

Basically, all of the above conspired to turn, what was, an anticipated month away from blogging into a more-than six month sabbatical. Something that was both unintentional and which I very much regret. However, clouds, silver linings, and the some such. I’m writing my first post of 2015 sat in Scrumptious Scran Villas – a smashing modern-ish town house a stone’s throw (albeit with the aid of a trebuchet) from Porty promenade. The place is going to need a fair bit of remodeling, to say the least – the kitchen currently resembles something that wouldn’t be out of place in Abigail’s Party. But JML and I have big plans, and redevelopment work is already in progress. But possibly the most exciting thing – as far as I am concerned – is that our new home has a garden big enough to accommodate an allotment-sized vegetable plot. This too will need a bit of work, and the house renovations mean that my plan for terraced raised beds will probably have to be put on hold until 2016.

Yet despite this, seeds are already germinating in trays festooning window sills, in anticipation of their ultimately adorning the stop-gap vegetable patch. And in my mind’s eye I can see myself skipping through the French doors of our new kitchen with a basket of organic, home grown produce in order to deliver a spontaneously concocted dish of unimageanable deliciousness. All of which will be scrupulously documented and imaginatively photographed, for subsequent publication. Nigel Slater had better watch out. You’ve got competition, mate!

But seriously, apologies for being away for so long and I hope you now understand why this was necessary. I’m currently working on a couple of new restaurant reviews and – when the new appliances arrive – some appealing recipes. And whilst updates on the blog might not be weekly whilst Scrumptious Scran Villas undergoes renovations, I promise not to “…walk out that door” for anywhere near as long again. From garden, to kitchen, to blog. I can’t wait to start sharing the next phase of Scrumptious Scran with you all.

blogging/ Feature/ food

Happy Birthday Scrumptious Scran, or what I have learned in my first year of food blogging

A birthday cake with candle
Happy foodie birthday.

Unbelievably, well for me at least, tomorrow will mark the first birthday of Scrumptious Scran. It is a cliché I know, but it simultaneously seems like five minutes since, and an age from when I decided to try my hand at food blogging. So, to mark this, personally sweet, anniversary I thought I would share a few things I have learned during my first year as a food blogger:

  • I am still learning. I’ve been reviewing restaurants, devising recipes (for print) and writing about food and drink stuff in general for 12 months. Yet I still feel like I am finding my feet – or my “voice” as it is often referred to. Being the columnist, sub, and editor combined can be tricky. But I think it’s going in the right direction. Blogging is brilliant, but sometimes it is challenging.
  • I’ve met some fantastic people; fellow food bloggers, writers, producers, chefs, campaigners, activists… It’s inspiring how many people share my passion for all things culinary, on every level. I simply didn’t have the confidence to interact with them in the same way, until I started writing about food on the blog.
  • Always be fair and honest in what you write. Enthusiasm and disappointment make for great copy in equal measure, but they are dishes that need to be served cold. Allow a couple of days of cooling off, or warming up, before you decide to publish that review or recipe. Oh, and if you have eaten somewhere for free – often at the behest of PR agencies – make sure you tell your audience. It should never influence opinion, of course, but always be up front about a freebie.
  • Food photography is hard work. Even with swish smart phones and digital SLRs, food pictures might not do justice to the dish. Food bloggers increasingly get sucked into what is described as “food porn”. I, too, like taking and sharing great pictures of what I eat. Sometimes in Scotland, in the middle of winter, these aren’t always as pretty as I would wish… 
  • If you are passionate about food, use social media to find likeminded folk. Used properly, it is the best blether about food and drink you could wish for. By way of example, a tweet from a fellow foodie last week led me to the most amazing coffee I have had in an age. Ideas fly and news spreads. And – this might sound a bit trite – sometimes you even get to have a chat with some true food heroes and heroines.
  • Thanks to everyone I have met, compared foodie thoughts with, and who have taught me so much over the last year. But above all, thank you to everyone who has taken time to read Scrumptious Scran. I am genuinely honoured.

 (Thanks to Ardfern for allowing the use of the lovely birthday cake photo).

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