I'm finally testing covid negative and starting to feel considerably less under the weather. My sense of smell has come back, I have more energy, and the dizziness has stopped - I think I'm probably going to feel somewhat grotty for a while, but am definitely on the mend. People, take the current varients of Covid seriously! It might be relatively mild but it's still utterly miserable.
Meanwhile, tonight is the official launch of 'Food Made in Shetland' by Marian Armitage, the second book from Misa Hay's 60 North Publishing company. At the moment it's only available through a few local retailers and Misa's Shetland Wool Adventures website.
I've corresponded a little with Marian in the past, mostly about rhubarb, she's both helpful and knowledgable and I'm very much a fan. I haven't got her earlier cookbook; Shetland Food and Cooking (available here from the Shetland Times bookshop) mostly because it's been stubbornly out of print whenever I've been home and thought about buying it. Now I've read through 'Food Made in Shetland' it's gone right back up to the top of my wish list.
Marian's whole professional life has been based around food, a lot of it teaching food and nutrition in schools. It's a background that makes her instructions admirably clear and that leaves me confident that even relatively complicated recipes (pastel de nata) will turn out as hoped for. More than that it reminds me of the excellent home economics teacher I had at junior high in Shetland, who more than anyone inspired my love of cooking and confidence I could do it. She taught me for a bare 2 years when I was 12/13 - good teachers really are the best.
For 'Food Made in Shetland' Marian has a series of chapters that focus on ingredients that are easily available in the islands - so fish, eggs, and dairy produced locally (milk, cream, buttermilk - nobody is currently making cheese), beef, lamb/mutton, and pork, vegetables and fruit that are increasingly being homegrown again, and home baking which is a big feature of Shetland life. Beyond that, the recipes aren't particularly traditional - which is also kind of traditional. Shetlanders travel, and bring back or send back all sorts of things, recipes and flavours included.
I was going to try and describe what 'Food Made in Shetland' was not, but got tied in knots, so I'll tell you what it is - a really good snapshot of the sort of food people are eating in Shetland, made from the really amazing ingredients that are available there. It might be light on the still popular mince and tatties kind of plain food, but it really celebrates what can be done despite the sometimes limited growing opportunities, and some of the more exciting projects happening - especially when it comes to growing more fruit and veg.
It's also a really beautifully produced book, so do check out the link to the Shetland Wool Adventures shop and consider ordering.