Slightly silly and I hope funny whilst being endearing, feel free to laugh at my ignorance. I’ve tried this one out on a few friends from around the world (including from Poland). I’ve think I’ve got it all a bit wrong but everyone found it entertaining.
I am spring cleaning and have made a terrible mess.
Nine times today huge piles of things or shelves of ornaments have collapsed on to the already mentioned mess.
Here are some of the bits that survived…
Nine shelves! Does this mean anything?
Does my dream? I dreamed last night that I broke up a load of Jacobs crackers poured them on to a baking tray, covered them in blobs of butter then popped them in the oven with loads of grated cheese. I dreamed that this was very important. Is it? Would it be any good.
Thank God Iv’e got that off my chest.
I will soon be twenty two. Did I type that?! Sixty Two. I have just discovered the difference between its and it’s. I am a writer, or I thought I was. Its It’s simple really.
Oooops, ten (crashes that is).
I better get tidying.
But then again – Personal experience is a lie.
I am not going into details on that one, quote me when I am gone though.
I did once send a text to a guy who was also doing a spot at a festival on the same stage as me, I meant to say, ‘I am looking forward to your bit’ – I glanced as I pressed send, it said, ‘I am looking forward to your obit.’
Phone disaster; I went camping didn’t I. Off I went to join the Vanaheim Vikinglag at the National meet. I am honoured to be invited to be a part of the York University Medieval Society’s Viking team – Vanaheim. We have a beer named after us and everything.
I bought a hat (in the charity auction)
I also made a thousand pounds! Well, they were selling a mystery gift at the end so I threw in two mystery prizes which made a wonderful – £14! What were they? Two Kinder Joy eggs.
That fourteen pounds took the total up to a thousand quid. So I claimed all the credit.
I took the history test. I passed. With a lot of help. Three people stood over me giving me clues. But I made it. Perhaps I should keep quiet about the fact that the Spendlow’s York audio history of the Vikings is available at jelldragon.com ?
The hat. Very useful. It poured. The wind howled and shook tents. I put the hat on, pulled the sleeping bag up to meet it and slept like a storage jar.
I slept in.
I missed the Village Test.
I guess I would have passed.
Seeing as I have lived as a Viking for weeks at a time. Put up loads of Viking tents. And cooked for fifteen to twenty people a night for a week on an open fire. See Neanderthal cave bread.
But then again.
I failed the history test.
I was right about the Viking age starting in 500 AD and lasting till 1250 though I guarentee. I shouldn’t argue should I.
Perhaps I am horrible after all. I just shopped in Savers, bought a few things, like washing powder and stuff. As the counter person lifted them out one by one she said, ‘Can I interest you in razors or razor blades today at all sir?’ I didn’t speak. I leant into the basket, lifted up the packet of razors and pointed them at her face without speaking. Horrid. Thats what I am.
I have learned how to make string though.
And Viking-age buzzer games.
I look forward to Whitby when I shall be taking the acting test, the Skald test, and the appearance test; and then I will be able to tell stories.
And I might even have a go with the Hiberno-Norse sling workshop.
Truth is I am wanting to learn; shoe making, basket making and bone and leather carving.
And I want to buy an axe.
Back to the phone – actually that is the reason I started writing this blog – but I tend to digress.
I awoke – in the tent – after a hurricane.
My phone was in the corner – under a pool of water. It worked. It worked for three days. Then I was ringing my mum and I thought, ‘My hand is wet’. I looked; the back of the phone was soaking and so was my hand. It worked wet. It worked soaked. It dried out. It packed in!
I am not stupid though. I knew the way to do it was to leave it in a bag of rice over night. I didn’t have any.
Hah. You can’t get the better of me. I put it in a box of lasagne.
Oh. It didn’t work. Not to worry, I have a bag of mixed fruit, surely this will work….
I found my pig…
I learnt secret techniques…
Five minutes looking at art with Gramey Smith (gsmithmedia) and I learnt how to illustrate the latest Viking Graphic novel.
I have been publishing online live via video conferencing with the wonderful Aspire group.
I have been practising becoming Cyndi Lauper – no pic here!
Thank you Eric but I am king now…
Right back to the spring cleaning – ooops!
Give feedback or be placed up in the dungeon!
(oh yes dungeons were up not down btw)
I am also in this, and I definitely do not have a walk on part.BTW I dedicate this blog to wonderful work a friend has done in overcoming past obsticals and inspiring me to face my demons of long ago – thank you with my heart 🙂
‘Ooooo that’s not healthy’, ‘Don’t use salt,’ they say. I don’t agree. Not at all. I say using salt is required. It is others using salt which is bad for you. Them, They, Others.
It is all the salt they put in stuff.
If you keep away from processed foods I reckon you will be just fine sprinkling a little salt on your chips (chopped fried potatoes), adding a pinch to your vegetable water and keeping a tub of the stuff on hand in the cupboard.
You already have a tub, a big thing with a shaker hole in the top, admit it. Go and have a look at it. There is quite a lot in there but it lasts ages and ages and ages and… – that’s enough Adrian, calm down they’ve got the point.
I say you can use the stuff to your heart’s content (?) and it will still be better than all that processed stuff you are using. They hide salt in everything. Even sweet things – crikey there is even sugar in salty things.
Don’t use them, cook proper food – and put some salt on it!!
To quote a fact which has been derived from long festered upon opinionation; there is more salt in one tin of soup than there is in the whole of Siberia. Fact (of Adrian’s).
Try it, stop using that packeted crap someone else has cooked for you in a factory five million air miles away and start cooking – with real food – and sprinkle a bit of salt on it too.
OK this is just my opinion, I am just an ordinary person saying what he thinks, and they haven’t put a stop to that just yet, but tell you what, try it.
Do as I suggest for a few weeks and then go and give that pot of salt in the cupboard a shake – hardly any difference! It lasts for ages (except in the hands of crisp (sliced fried potatoes) and ready meal manufacturers). Tell you what, if you live by this for another, let’s say, twenty five years and if at the end of it you die of a heart attack – sue me.
And before you say it, yes I do know who ‘they’ are, and they are coming to get you (or me).
Please have a look at my recipes so far – one – two
This is one:-
So let me guide you through a marrow recipe. I used this:-
It isn’t a marrow.
I couldn’t find one anywhere. I had promised myself I would take one with me to Norway as a surprise.
There wasn’t one left in the whole of the allotments.
There was a marrow plant still growing there.
And I knew of one marrow plant in Norway. One. Just one. Big statement coming; the only marrow plant in the whole of Norway. Here I was, on my way over to visit it.
I am rushing ahead here however, because nobody knows what a marrow is or what to do with it. These two facts become true when you put them together. Well, not many know what to do with a marrow – the vegetable which has the potential to be the food of the gods – stay with me to find out how.
People might stuff one, but that is about it.
No one in Norway has heard of a marrow – extensive searches have been done by chief amateur researcher Tove.
Following the success of my recipe she just had to have some at home, but no. Norwegians (and possibly those of other nations) aren’t even that good at knowing what a squash is.
(I stole this pic)
There are squashes everywhere, (over here).
Squash is the generic name for these type of things, but if you ask for a courgette in Norway you get two in a bag labelled ‘Squash’. No. That’s not true, you would have to point, ‘There, those!’ ‘Those are them.’
So, no butternut, no harlequin, no patty pan, barely a pumpkin and nary a marrow.
The wonder of the marrow must be introduced to the world! I took some seeds over, with detailed instructions on how to grow such a delicate plant; start early in a warm protected place, plant a few at a time, so you aren’t putting them all out at the same time, and wait till they are robust before they have to brave the elements.
But no, they all got planted at once.
Rule number one – only ever leave them outside after the last chance of frost, (in Bergen that’s around early July, just before the rainy season properly kicks in). Out they went. A post frost plant is a sorry sorry sight.
There was one seed left.
I popped it covertly in a pot, (in a tub with the pepper root which is a plant which requires a future expose in Britain), it quietly secretly grew.
Now is the time to roll in the big cameras and for the lights to flash – “Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the only marrow plant in the whole of Norway…”
As much excitement as there was about this blooming monster plant I had a private worry. As the only one there it wouldn’t be pollinated. I had another secret, an illicit import. Two flowers donated by an allotmenter in a disposable coffee cup. Ooooo the excitement – I unpacked; I unpacked a cup fill of slop, brown slop. We fed it to the Bergenesque flower by droplet.
Despite the hope there might be a miracle and it stays sunny right through October most of our hopes are for the future.
The plan is to plant them in stages and introduce them to the veranda gradually. The home plan.
The rest of the plan is to fill the whole of Norway with big beautiful marrows.
We shall start with two magical places. Organic seeds will be donated to Otternes Farm and to organic garden centre Sogn Jord – og Hagebruksskule (www.sjh.no).
Let’s get cooking.
I have two recipes for you. The glorious (afore mentioned food of the gods) marrow pancakes. Plus my famed dish from Gudvangen Viking Valley, and from even further back in time, Neolithic Cave Bread.
Pancakes – Start with your squash – I couldn’t get a marrow.
So I got a harlequin squash.
I said I got a harlequin squash.
Yes, I said I got a harlequin.
I chopped it.
I saved the seeds.
Right: Littleish lumps, (the ones in the frying pan picture below are a touch too big), drop them in boiling (possibly salted) water. Make sure they are well cooked.
No, really well.
(That pic is actually marrow btw)
Now make the batter.
Here is the gung-ho method…
[Again this is actually marrow and just the right size btw btw]
Big bowl, bit of salt, bit of pepper, chuck in flour (my mum says self-raising flour is lighter but I say it is for wimps), bang in a bit more, a couple of eggs and a tiny bit of baking powder if you have it.
Mix with a splosh of water (mum says some people add a bit of milk too). It needs to be thick, creamy and able to run.
Alright, you want to add finely chopped onion? Well, OK, but not very much…
Right have you got your pan hot yet!
Just a little oil, well swirled.
Mix the cooked marrow with the batter and drop in small amounts. Remember to turn them!
Stop, you have cooked them at the wrong time. They are not a meal. They are a surprise. Sneak off, cook a batch. Pop them on little plates. Now then I strongly recommend; heavy on the salt.
No, a bit more than that.
Go through and stick a plate on each lap. They will look horrified.
Get in that kitchen and cook another batch.
Be assured, they will want them.
And will come back for even more.
We go hurtling back in time – for – Neolithic Cave Bread.
Here are ones I made at home (in Bergen).
Really they should be done on an open fire. On a hot stone or slate.
Whenever I start cooking them in Gudvangen I am dishing them up all night.
Once you have learnt farming techniques, harvested grain and milled it, (here’s my attempt), you will want to make this.
(or just pop to a shop)
Here’s the secret – Bang it all in; veg, berries, meats, dairy products and an ostrich egg.
Here is the Bergen kitchen version.
This is some of what I used.
(It would be better with Elk and Fenalår.)
Chop that veg n stuff (and any cooked meat).
Simmer the bacon and garlic in bits.
Mix the lot.
Get it in your batter (this time feel free to be heavy on the eggs and cream and experiment with flour types).
(At Gudvangen I used 44 different ingredients and people at around twenty tents tried a bit)
(Not sure who took this pic btw)
But before you go rushing off to cook by a cave…
Otternes Farm, Flåm Valley, Sognefjord, Aurland, Norway
When I sit here, I have sat here before. I am hobbit-like and living. In my sense of belonging, I know: I know this place.
Families are thin, thin on the ground, of the mountain. Long line of families in the mountains, dug in, right into its rock and earth and grass. There are long deep roots which hold us in place. Some say if you chop too many the whole mountainside will slide with us into the brakk below.
Yes here I belong, and feel I always have and if it is so and I have visited before it would have been in ancestral time a momentous occasion.
I still feel, when I stand there now, the haunting presence of one unallowed to love, ghostly appearance in the corner of story. Even with a broken heart one can still be of use up on the farm, never allowed to leave, no matter how the visitor requested. The corners of this history are cluttered with such figures. Then look upon the well. The well so deep and wide it speaks. Its dangers are voiced within its memory, “Do not throw yourself down here, as I did.” “As I did.” “As I did.” “As I did.”
For there is beauty here and love and light…
…and even in the dark-times-long there is the promise; the promise of moisture, the recollections of growth which knows it will return.
Others will come, for such is the way of a mountain farm. Love can be found in such a meeting. Small farm memories of seasons with only each other to survive and flourish for. Yet there will be gatherings and visitation where young hearts can view across the clans-collecting and see eyes; eyes which sparkle only for you.
This is why we bury the salmon. As a promise and a way of surviving. They will leap again, as will hearts.
We shall go down from our steep sides as will everyone among the wide spread hill families.
The leap. The leap will come. Nets will spread and one of us will leave one steep farm to join another. Here and there love will flourish among the catching.
The bounty is there in the grave. The grave of the fish, saving us throughout the winter.
So came the sheep. The flourishing is here too, with care. They also visit. New faces, growing adults, turning from teens, turn their flock this way.
The drove is long and this is a place where we can rest; to replenish. Fish is brought from grave, berry from jar, and water from the well is hung above the fire.
Some of these creatures have journeyed far, as have I. An instinct inside me sees the path. It twinkles elusively in my mind. I believe it is ancient. As the brown sheep belong here I am of a different wool.
Other drovers journeyed over the more flowing lands where I am from. Just as rugged, these moors were traversed to sea-going vessels which sailed up this very fjord I see flowing below to bring the trade.
As these pathways arrive here. I see them glittering as timeless memory moving in upon this land to spread and trade, spread and grow. My path stops here.
As soon as I sat upon this stoop, as my eyes twinkled, my long past had led me here and settled.
A part of me will always be here and always has. My path stops here.
For more on Otternes and Gudvangen including Adrian the Lamb and Johnny Chicken see here Farmer (Adrian) Giles
I did not plan to do a blog which was about recipes, not at all, and I have many aspects of my life and writing bubbling away ready to share as soon as I get them down. But, I am being asked for the recipe for my favourite dish so I must oblige.
It is hardly Viking or life at the festivals or such, but we all gotta eat…
And look at this!!!!
The first thing I’ve got to tell you is that I never cook the same thing the same way twice. There won’t be any measurements in here either. There will be love, and yumminess.
Ingredients; well you are going to need courgettes! (baby marrows for those of you who have heard of marrows, or don’t they call them zucchini in some places?), and cheese and eggs. The rest is mainly to do with what I have in, bear with me, it will work.
Saute onions and garlic, I like a mix of butter and olive oil. Steadily brown them. What else have you got? I’ve added mushrooms, herbs, and last time I thinly sliced parsnip and potato because they needed eating up. It worked great, as long as it is all well browned.
Then tip them into your oven dish leaving the oil to fry the chopped courgettes. I think last time I did the courgettes a little too slow because they are going to go in the oven too. They do need to be browned though. Then pop them on the onion mix.
Pour over something tomatoey, a pasta sauce you like, or chopped tinned toms, maybe add a little chilli and some herbs.
We are going to make the thing work. Crack three or four eggs into a bowl, add a small tub of cream (milk will do), salt and pepper, and loads of grated cheese (enough to make the mix fairly thick). Then fold that over the other stuff carefully.
Pop that in a moderate hot oven for twenty minutes or until it is golden brown.