Friday, May 25, 2012

Feta and Red Pepper Borek/ Boerekas


I found these in Marks and Spencers and then decided to make them myself at home, the next day, as they were so good and there is no Marks and Spencer on Orkney. Again my lack of measurements may become a nuiscence here but these are very much an "add too taste" thing... Plus I think recipies are very dumbed down these days, I think you lot are intuitive enough to play around and make things your own!

Set the oven at 200 degrees C/ Gas Mark 4

These would make a great starter as they take no time at-all and there is barely anything to them, you will need:

Some defrosted filo pastry, or make your own if you are that good.
Feta cheese - any brand will do as I am pretty sure I used one of Tesco's cheapest and they were still delicious!
Cream Cheese -  You can go crazy and use some of those infused versions with added spices/flavours.
Red Peppers - Chopped and diced and if you fancy you can roast them with some oil and paprika spice, but it's no biggie.

1. If you bought a block of feta, I would suggest mixing the whole block with about a tablespoon of cream cheese and add in some of the diced peppers, as much as you want. This should make you at least 10 Bourekas.

2. Roll the cheesy mix into sausages about 3cm long, not too long as they will explode out the end of the pastry and wrap and roll with the filo until you are about halfway along. It's probably best to load 4 sausages of mix onto a sheet of filo, ie. two sausages at each end and roll into the centre. Use a knife and seperate, filo pastry can be a bit of a bastard so watch out!
 - Alternatively make triangle parcels by cutting the filo into long strips about 6cm wide and adding a teaspoon of mix into one corner and folding into a triangle by folding the corner to the opposite side, like when you make a crisp packet into little triangles.
 - OR you can make then however you feel like really, make them in the shape of Turkey if you like it's up to you afterall!

3. Once the filling is within the pastry attempt to secure any loose ends using milk to mush them together so the fillling isn't going to ooze out onto the baking tray. Grease a baking tray and cover the pastries in milk/oil to give them some colour in the oven and put them in for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown.

4. Once out the over sprinkle with some smoked paprika, or sumac if you can get your hands on some but paprika works just fine, and enjoy either straight out the oven or later when they have cooled!



Spare a Thought.

Spare a thought for us up in Orkney while you whap on the Suncream this morning...


I went to Gleneagles, to play with some eagles!



Gleneagles was not named after eagles but there are sure a high number of Eagles found in this particular glen. Gleneagles is most famous for it's grand hotel, golf and spa resort but being a skint student I wasn't there to lap up    the luxury but to get to know some feathered friends thanks to an offer from  Groupon at  Phoenix Falconry.


The train from Dundee to Gleneagles is only about 30 minutes long and takes you through some of Scotland's classic rolling mountains you see in all the brochures. You barely notice rolling up to Gleneagles station as it appears from behind some trees, and for the train gateway to Scotland's most premier hotel it is pretty run down. However it has a rundown old fashioned charm and it so secluded it could be your own private station which I appreciated.

 I arranged a taxi to pick me up and expected your standard taxi to roll up with "Taxi" plastered over a Skoda but I was mistaken. I am in Gleneagles, the "town" where taxis are Mercedes and there are "shooting schools" on every corner. My driver took me into the Gleneagles complex as I had never been before and the building is huge let alone the golf course. There were numerous octogenarians wandering about in-between a sea of Range Rovers and Mercedes. Spreading out from the hotel were private residences and my driver pointed out one that had a huge aquarium running from the ground floor to the third.

As we rolled up to Easterton Farm I felt pretty terrible as the Mercedes dodged some massive potholes and collected some dirt, understandably I met the driver just off the main road on the way back. The Phoenix Falconry building looked nothing more than a bit of barn from the outside but when you walked into the reception you can to a front room any house would be proud of. Well, except that this one had to baby Peregrine Falcons sitting on the table.



After signing a consent form and being handed a falconry glove I sat and waited for the group to assemble. We were greeted by Adrian who was the main Falconer here and he was dressed like your typical Gleneagles huntsman; shirt and tie covered with a khaki huntsman waistcoat. He was very charismatic and knew his stuff as he gave us a briefing on the history of falconry and as a biology student I found no faults in anything he said. After the briefing we headed out and saw some of the birds in there larger-than-normal bird houses. As he explained aspects of avian anatomy and aerodynamics I realised falconry is potentially a perfect hobby for me as it combines two of my favourite interests; biology and aviation.

(I wasn't allowed to take my big camera out as apparently they attack handbags as they think they are full of food so I had to resort to my phone camera for most of it, so apologies for the poor photos from now on)

Although we were walking past impressive predators such as the Bald Eagle we started with something a lot less deadly, a Harris Hawk. The Harris Hawk is slow in the way of Birds of Prey but is very, very good at manoeuvring thanks to it's wing shape which was demonstrated by some close encounters with our heads. We each had our first attempt with the Harris hawk and I was pretty proud of my attempts as I did everything I was supposed to, plus it was the first time I had a bird of prey perched on the side of my arm, which felt pretty awesome.
Baby Peregrine Falcon

Following from the Harris hawk we were shown an baby Peregrine Falcon only a few days old but only briefly as a group of foreign onlookers could be as lethal to them as Avian flu is to us. We were then followed out by an Indian Eagle Owl, which looked like angry Johnny-5 from Short Circuit in bird form. He had only been flying for a few days so he couldn't go really far and seemed to prefer walking along the ground. Owls are also not very good birds for use in falconry as they tend to hunt close to the ground.
Indian Eagle Owl

The next bird was the extremely rare Striated Kara-Kara which is endemic to the Falkland Islands and considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world. This was demonstrated by the bird completing a toy that takes dogs weeks to figure out only a couple of minutes, and Adrian and co. wrote to the company and they send more toys for the bird, with the same result each time. 

Kara-kara
After the exotic Kara-Kara we were greeted by the more familiar, ant tiny in comparison to everything else, Kestrel. Here we observed two things, one at the hand of the falconer; which was the great art of luring which is used to exercise the birds by waving bait from the end of a long piece of string but without ever hitting them, and one at the hand (wing?) of the bird as it displayed it's impressive hovering capabilities.
The Kestrel 

The next bird was a hybrid of a Gyrfalcon and another bird, from hot climates, to produce a highly agile and fast bird.  The Gyrefalcon is popular in warmer climates such as the middle east and Africa but it cannot withstand these high temperatures as it is from Greenland so this hybrid has proved highly popular in these regions.

The Gyrfalcon Hybrid.
The birds were progressively getting bigger and this was evident when Adrian took out a Bateleur eagle who is a huge vulture-like creature with a Tina Turner haircut. It is called such as when it comes down to land it swings back and forth like an acrobat (bateleur is french for acrobat/tightrope or something similar). It has the ability to change the colour of it's beak and feet depending on the presence of food AND they have ceramic-like scaled on their feet to protect them from snake bites.


Bateleur Eagle


Just as the weather turned and an icy cold wind started to rage, we were given the option whether to go inside or to have a go with the pièce de résistance, the bald Eagle and we were given the option to go inside or stay out with the bird, only a fool would go inside. When Adrian came out empty handed he answered our vacant stares by pointing into the trees where we saw a huge bird shape soaring above the trees. We were given an extra falconer glove to protect us from the birds talons and then given a shot of calling him in. It's quite hard to describe how awesome you felt with one of the worlds top predators at the end of your arm.

Me and the Bald Eagle.

My day at Phoenix falconry was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone! Although I got my experience through Groupon I was told that Groupon kind of rips them off and they barely get anything from the offer whereas they have to pay Groupon to set up such an offer. They can no longer afford to open to the public and they will officially close their doors to the public come September so I would highly recommend everybody to go have a shot at falconry, it's something that is very rare  and unique in this day and age but it is unfortuneatly dying out rapidly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

...and breathe.

I thought I should update you on on my Whirlwind few days I had back in the real world that turned out to be pretty damn amazing:

Friday
I had an interview for a scholarship with the Air League which I applied for on a "what's the worst that could happen" whim. The Air League/Leading Edge is a charity set up to help encourage young people to develop a career in aviation by providing information, events, scholarships and bursaries. After applying I never thought I would hear from them again, so obviously didn't decide to save the personal statement I slaved over while applying, something I regretted the day I got an email notifying me of an interview a few months away.

Tayside Aviation which is about a 10 minute walk from my house in Dundee and where my flight training would be, if I got an offer. Upon arriving at reception I was immediately whisked away into the interview room by a very glamorous woman called Kate, who was the scholarship director at Tayside Aviation and another man (who I regret to say, I never actually caught his name but I want to say Jon, seems like a safe bet) who had the money to be divided up between the applicants. The interview itself was very informal actually and they were merely just there to find out about me rather than what I knew about planes, and more on what I would do after the scholarship training. I kept feeling like I have too many other interests and they would see that as a deterrent, let alone the fact I had no idea how to fund any further training.

My interview was over in half an hour, be that a good or bad omen, and I was pretty on the fence about it all, I thought they might drop me because of my vagueness but on their little score sheet they hadn't written much but all that I could see was "v.good." There isn't much more I could do until I found out the results sometime next week.


Saturday
My whole flat had finished exams for the summer so we all decided we should do something fun and in the end we realised this was mini-golf (since Dundee has neither a bowling alley or laser quest). We were also living the life of student kings with two cars at our dispense so we could head to Broughty Ferry, known as "Posh Dundee," with ice cream, fish and chips and a Beach to rival St. Andrews across the Tay.



Cars full and ready to go we headed north and ended up into a small town that I was more familiar with but none of us really had any clue where to go but instinct told us that if we aim for the sea, their will be parking spaces. By some Truman Show like coincidence the roads we went down were the exact ones to get us to the beach-side parking right next to mini golf.

The mini golf course took us back to feeling at home in Dundee, it was entirely made out of concrete and pretty rough round the edges, but as my first attempt at mini golf I wasn't too bad but the fact I held the club like a hockey stick might have something to do with it.

The sun stayed out as we took over a children's playpark, got ice cream, fish and chips and even had a paddle in the sea. It was a lovely end to my last proper day in Dundee.

Sunday

My case of the Post-Dundee Blues was soon erased by being in Edinburgh, I could escape the realms of boredom of Orkney for a few days yet. I was mainly in Edinburgh to go and see the wonderful Passenger live at The Caves. I rave on about Passenger a lot but if you haven't heard of him, shame on you! He is one of the most under-rated and special singer-songwriters out there at the moment but yet to be tarnished by the overplayed paint brush of mainstream radio.

After a date with a wonderful puppy in the sun to keep our serotonin levels up  as we headed off to see Passenger, who himself admits that Passenger gigs aren't always a cheery affair - but I think he is completely wrong, it's a rollercoaster.
Daaaw, the baaayyybeee!

For my review of the passenger gig, see here!

Monday

Today seemed like a breeze in comparison to the past few days, there wasn't really a plan. I was going to help my friend Amy set up her exhibition on the Royal Mile (ooh get her). After a while though I felt like I was getting in the way so I went a little walk to Morningside to see the puppy again...

Usually I got a crazy route to Morningside via the Grange just because it's the way I know but the sunshine made me more daring and I headed a different, and much more logical and direct route through Bruntsfield. After some puppy time my friend Craig mentioned that you can get on the roof of his house, with the sun shining and some beers in his fridge it was the best place to explore.


We were later joined on the roof by our friend Dan who lives no more than five minutes down the road, yet managed to still be half an hour later than he said. The plan was to go out for dinner but we ended up just going to a Chinese takeaway. Today was a comparatively quiet day but in a way that's why it is included in my amazing few days. It was lovely just to sit in the sun with friends with nothing we really had to do at all.

Tuesday

Today wasn't meant to be that exciting as I was heading home to Orkney for the Summer but just as I was passing over the Tay Bridge I got a phone call saying I had been awarded the Flying Scholarship at Tayside Aviation! The psychotic grin on my face must have made me look like a maniac but, well I was feeling a bit manic! I couldn't believe it, from thinking I would never hear from the Air League again I had actually won the most desirable thing they offer! Apologies for the cliché but this was a dream come true. However this wasn't going to hit me until August when I actually go carry out my training.

 Luckily for me the sun was shining in Aberdeen and after a stop at Marks and Spencers for some treat Boat food I headed to the upper deck and basked in the sunshine and recollected on the past few days looking like a massive tourist.



Friday, May 18, 2012

EUROVISION LOW DOWN!

I sifted through them so you don't have to...

For anyone outside Europe who doesn't know what Eurovision look it up, you will either love it or hate it...

I've watched Eurovision every year since I was tiny and I think it might have something to do with my obssession with Europe. Anyone knows me that this is my, not so secret, guilty pleasure so I thought I would share with you the best and worst of this years competition, whether you thank me or hate me for it at least these are pretty darn amusing!


The Good:


Lets start with something "nice", this years bookies favourite:
Sweden
Loreen - Euphoria.

Fun fact: Euphoria has already spent three weeks topping the Swedish charts quickly surpassing Platinum status. Neighbouring Norway and Finland were quick to discover this uplifting future anthem and are currently also reporting no.1 positions.

As you may know I listen to foreign radio a lot and this has already been played on Norwegian radio for ages so expect douze points from Norway if not the rest of Scandinavia, not that that is that  big a surprise anyway. I am enjoying the bizarre Kate Bush thing going on as well as the really bizarre dance moves, such as the crab-like shuffling.



The favourite's competition:
Italy
Nina Zilli - L'Amore é Femmina (Out of Love)

Fun Fact: Nina comes from a small town in Val Trebbia which she left early on for Ireland, the US, anywhere her dreams would take her.

This is essentially Italian Amy Whinehouse, but you know as similar as a Eurovision entry can be to Amy Winehouse. She also has a fantastic name. 



Rose's MARRY ME NOW entry:
Germany
Roman Lob - Standing Still

Fun Fact: Roman Lob became famous only months ago, when he won the German talent show Unser Star Für Baku (Our Star for Baku)

Ich habe gerade geschmolzen... 



Catchiest song:
Ireland
Jedward - Waterline

Fun Fact: Most of you will know these two are twins who were forced upon us thanks to X Factor but I bet you didn't know that since their entry last year Jedward returned to Ireland where they performed in front of an audience of 60,000 people at a concert to welcome US President Barack Obama to Ireland AND they came 3rd in the UK's Celebrity Big Brother; they released their second album, Bad Behaviour and completed a sell-out tour across Ireland, UK, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and Austria.

I hate Jedward as much as the rest of you, but this is annoyingly catchy, just like their entry last year...




Entries I don't actually mind that much:
Iceland
Greta Salóme &Jonsí - Never Forget

Fun Fact: This is Jónsi's second attempt at Eurovision after performing for Iceland with "Heaven" in Istanbul in 2004

These two have some pretty nice harmonies and it's got an alright arrangement with cellos, pianos and violins which is always a winner with me. Plus the woman sings and plays the violin which worked with Alexander Rybak...


and

Denmark
Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better

Fun Fact: Soluna Samay started singing in the streets at the age of 6, helping her father out, making a living as he performed in streets and alleys all over the world. Her father taught her how to play the drums, the double bass and the guitar, and before the age of 10 Soluna was writing her first songs. Since then she has played, both on her own and together with her father, earning a living every summer.

It might be because this isn't doesn't sound like standard Eurovision or it's the fact she is dressed up in fancy military clothes, but I like this one. Plus she has a nice back story :)


and 

Hungary
Compact Disco - Sound of Our Hearts

Fun Fact:Compact Disco won by popular vote the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 in “Best Local Act - Hungary” and received a nomination to the European selection for “Worldwide Act”.

These guys seem to be actually pretty good and are big in Hungary too, they are very much like the band Hurts from the UK. I like the video for this too, it's more than the usual Eurovision guff videos.



Entries I like even though I have no idea what they are saying:
Serbia
Željko Joksimović "Nije Ljubav Stvar"
Fun Fact:  Željko Joksimović was runner up in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest as a performer, took third and sixth places respectively as a composer in the 2006 and 2008 contests, as if that wasn't enough experience of Europe's Favourite TV Show, Željko Joksimović also co-hosted the 2008 contest in Belgrade

Serbia have gone for a different approach since Milan Stankovic( Worth looking at: http://youtu.be/DC7L6SDPL4A) and although the "hook" sounds just like "Paradise" by Coldplay this is pretty good for Eurovision standards even though I have no idea what he is raving on about. 


and

Estonia
Ott Lepland - Kuula

Fun Fact: Ott was already well known in Estonia when he was still a child. He released four albums of children's songs and performed in the theatre, but left the limelight when he became a teenager and focussed on his studies of music. The result is here: he is one of the most respected vocalists in Estonia, an excellent pianist, and the author of some of the biggest radio hits of recent years.

Classic Eurovision ballad and "Kuula" means "ball" so make that what you will. However, the translated lyrics make it "Listen", which makes much more sense (http://wiwibloggs.com/2012/02/16/kuula-lyrics-english-translation-ott-lepland-estonia-esc-2012/15453/)



An unconventional Eurovision entry:
Slovakia
Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes

Fun Fact:  Maz Jason Mai reveres all living beings, that’s why he’s vegetarian and he doesn’t wear clothes made from leather, as he wouldn’t want to be a handbag either

This actually sounds like something I'd listen to normally, I salute you Slovakia not only do you make great goats cheese Gnocci but you put decent songs in Eurovision!

The Bad & The Ugly:

The worst (Or best depending on how you look at it)...
San Marino
Valentina Monetta -The Social Network Song

Fun Fact: Valentina Monetta was singing on a Saturday night, and that same night, the SMtv director was there by chance. She listened to her, and really appreciated her. She was the perfect singer for the song they had already selected. On the Monday they organised an audition.

I just don't even know. It's just so weird. You must listen to the lyrics of this, it's what makes it so ridiculous; "Do you want to come to my house and click me with your mouse?" I mean it is a good idea writing something on social networks but they went so wrong on this! However it is perfect Eurovision, auto tune and everything...


Winner of the Cringeworthy category is...
Latvia
Anmary - Beautiful Song

Fun Fact: Listen to the lyrics, she goes on about herself.

The cringeworthy factor is mainly in the video with it's oscar winning acting but the song itself is special too... Oh god the shuddering...


For the "WTF mate!"-factor:
Russia
Buranovskiye Babushki - Party for Everybody
Fun Fact: The eldest member of the group is 76 years old, 77 in the autumn.
I don't know whether I feel sorry for them or what. I was so hoping they were going to stick with some traditional Russian folk music. I was wrong.


Somebody call the police...
Montenegro
Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro

Fun Fact: Six years ago Rambo Amadeus was declared for the first ambassador of UNICEF in Montenegro. Lately he used his creativity and fame the best way he could in order to give his contribution to UNICEF’s initiative to create an environment without violence in schools. 

This is just bizarre on many, many levels. A man parading on a donkey telling us to "stop the pollution to save the kids of evolution." Mmm hmm...


Call for back-up!
Georgia
Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Joker
Fun Fact:Anri Jokhadze is the first male Georgian singer ever to represent Georgia and he is famous and loved by the Georgian audience for his distinctive artistic talent and his powerful voice with a great range of no less than four octaves!

I feel violated.


For a classic example of a Eurovision entry:
Romania
Mandinga - Zaleilah

Fun fact: Mandinga consists of 7 members: Elena (lead vocals), Alex (trumpet), Chupi (drums), El Niño (congas), Omar (piano), Zach (saxophone) and Tony (trombone). Only six of them will sing on the stage in Baku, Tony being just their Green Room supporter.

Romania are definitely going with the boobs=points by using Romania's answer to Nicole Scherzinger writhing around in the sand skantily clad.


Some people should just never attempt rap...
Austria
Trackshittaz - Woki mit deim popo

Fun Fact: Trackshittaz are flagship examples of their unique genre - “tractor gangster party rap”. 

Not only does their name sound slightly rude but it sounds like they are shouting "Fuck him mit dem  popo" which sounds like some weird amalgamation of some bizaare English/German insult/innuendo.  Usually I love everything Austria does, but this is just weird, I would love to be able to make out what they are saying...


(All "Fun facts" taken from the Eurovision.tv website)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Best of the Gotye Covers/Remixes

Somebody That I Used to Know could easily be the most covered song of the year and there are hundreds of version out there but here is my pick of the best:

There are no words, this is just unbelievably impressive:


I love Ingrid Michaelson and this is a wonderful cover under the name of her side project Army of 3


I actually heard this remix on Nick Grimshaw's night time show before I heard the original version, and I think I almost prefer this one...


As you probably know; I love Norway and their people, and apparently I am also a big fan of their recycling. (admittedly this isn't their best mash up, I recommend you look at some as some are fantastic!)


I alsolutely love Orla's voice, plus she pulls some fantastic faces.


Because this is so different to the original it take away the "overplayed-ness" of the original, there is also a wee mash up with the Police song "King of Pain".


This woman has a beautiful voice.f


Oh my. Compare with the first.



I don't think I can ever listen to this song again...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Frakking toasters.


I have my last exam of second year tomorrow but instead of revising hard I have been engrossed in watching Battlestar Galactica. So if a question on Cylonian genetics comes up in my exam tomorrow I will be flying high, shame it's more likely to be Mendelian genetics.

 To feel cool I made myself this jumper and I get the feeling if I mass produced them I could make a bomb...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

Little Gems IX

Since I have been away for about 2 weeks, here is a bumper edition of Little Gems! Next week I will do a Eurovision special picking out the best, and more likely worst, of the great European TV event!

Now we can't deny we all wished we were at Coachella at some point the other week! It looked amazing and I got even more jealous when I saw this from Bon Iver playing my favourite song off their new album. It's potentially more haunting than the studio version.



I got sent this song by The Paper Kites by two separate people saying I would like it, and they were right! It pluckery guitar and gentle tones is right up my street and a perfect song for lying in the garden too :)



Erika Kelly actually sent me a message on facebook with a link to her facebook page and I was sold at "I am a self-taught harpist." She does covers and they more often than not sound more beautiful played on the harp than original and I still can't believe she does it all by ear. She's even producing an EP with some originals and she has just covered "The Key" by Kate Mcgill which I had on here a few weeks ago! Just wonderful!  For more info  check out her facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/erikakellymusic



Loving all things Scandinavian I started watching "The Bridge" which is a Swedish/Danish Crime drama about an investigation when a body is found in the middle of the Oresund Bridge which joins the two countries. Anyway, I fell in love with the opening theme and this is it by the Choir of Young Believers.




This song by Bat For Lashes is pretty old but my love for it was rekindled when it suddenly come on in a restaurant and rekindled my love for it.



I listen to German radio quite a bit to get some listening practice in but it also introduces me to some great songs, one of the best being this cover of 50 Cent's Ayo technology by Milow a Belgian singer songwriter. The video is pretty weird but I absolutely love this cover, better than the original in my opinion.



Lewis Watson is another singer who has become well known from YouTube and he will be a favourite with anyone who likes Ed Sheeran as he is definitely cut from the same cloth, be that a good thing or a bad thing.



This is Swedish Mads Langer (great name) with a cover of a song a bunch of us will recoginise from the 90's by Olive. This is another find from German radio, or maybe it was Norwegian I can't remember but the point is other European radio stations play lots of music from other countries unlike us who only seem to play American or British bands.


I am sure most of you know who We Are Scientists are or have at least head of them but I keep rediscovering this song and it always makes me want to go out and have a good time, unlike the typical "going out" songs, plus the video is pretty funny :)



I don't watch Greys Anatomy but I like pretty much every song off the soundtrack and one day I was looking at songs from it and there was a montage clip using this in the back ground. It's a gorgeous wee song by Andrew Belle and is actually used in the series as well.



Angus & Julia Stone as well known in the folky/acousticy world and here they have done a wonderful cover of "You're the one that I want" from Grease. It seems to totally change the song entirely giving it an almost different meaning altogether. Apparently this version is being used on an advert for Sky or something, but thanks to my friend Dian for passing on this one!



I thought I would finish on a song that pretty much explains how I feel about life most of the time but no more so than during exam time. I always want to fly away and leave, usually ending up in Vienna. Sometimes I genuinely think Billy Joel wrote this for me...

May The Forth.

If there is every a day to wear this bracelet, today is it.