All posts by Shetland Life

Love Island

Summer’s a romantic time of year, isn’t it? Long walks on the beach, secluded picnics in the sun, and warm evenings that never seem to end. Romance is in the air, and this month Shetland Life is taking a look at love — celebrating it, reminiscing about it, and seeking it out in the first place. We’ve looked at love in Shetland from many different angles to make sure there’s something for everyone.

So whether you’re leafing through as you idly swipe away on Tinder, or you’re curled up with your sweetheart, read on and enjoy!

The girl in the photograph

Life story
If you don’t believe in fate; read on. Dale Smith recounts a real-life love story of chance that might just change your mind.

The large framed photograph, currently hanging in Isles­burgh Community Centre’s Room 9, had intrigued the staff for years. Not even the long-established employees knew who the two teenage girls pictured were. All that changed one day when Janice Drummond confirmed that one of the girls  was her auntie.

August’s issue: out now!

Hello Shetland,
It’s a privilege to be guest editor for this edition of Shetland Life.
I’ve written a lot of stuff for Shetland Life over the last couple of years, but not til right now did I fully appreciate how big a job it is to put it all together. I am genuinely in awe of our regular editor, Genevieve, and how she does this every month without breaking a sweat.

And this is the issue she left me with: Love and Relationships. Which is fairly apt, since ‘love and relationships’ is the only reason I’m in Shetland in the first place. If I hadn’t met a certain, beautiful Shetlander in a bar in Glasgow, and followed through on a promise to come and visit her for Hogmanay, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I’d probably not have set foot on Shetland at all, come to think of it.

I remember a close (Shetland) friend once asking me if people “really go on dates” down south. They explained that they had never been on a formal get-to-know-each-other date, as their relationships had been with people that they had already known on some level beforehand. In a place where you are quite probably familiar with 80 per cent of the people in your age group, that seems entirely possible.

I was told that often the way of winding up in a relationship was to ‘bag aff’ with someone, and once you had ‘bagged aff’ with that someone a number of times you would have seamlessly transitioned to being in a relationship.

It was a slightly mind boggling concept for me, like being told that all romantic matches are determined by the casting of sheep-bones under a waxing moon. To a Glaswegian such as myself, Shetland courtship seemed a strange and exotic thing.

This month, the Shetland Life writers have done a terrific job (as usual) of looking at love in the isles. Getting to grips with Shetland romance has been an absolutely fascinating experience; I hope it is as enjoyable to read as it has been to put together.

Alex Garrick-Wright
Editor

Couscous and Labneh (Strained yogurt)

COUSCOUS

By Susan Msalila

Ingredients:

  • 200g couscous
  • 250 ml stock
  • 25g butter
  • 25g dried apricots
  • 25g dried cranberries
  • selection of fresh vegetables, cut into small pieces – I used courgette, rainbow chard leaves and stalks

Method:

  1. Chop the apricots into cranberry-sized pieces, and soak together with the cranberries in enough orange juice to cover them. If you have time, leave them for several hours to plump up, if you haven’t then give them a short blast in the microwave to hurry them up.
  2. Put the stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the butter and the couscous, cover and turn off the heat. After about 10 minutes stir with a fork to break up any clumps, and add the vegetables, apricots and cranberries (drained of excess orange juice). Check the seasoning, add salt if required. Leave another 10 minutes, on a very low heat for part of the time if it seems to have cooled too much. Serve with the lamb.

LABNEH (STRAINED YOGURT)

This really needs to be made ahead of time, although if you only start it when you start cooking the lamb it will have thickened up somewhat.

Ingredients:

  • 500g of natural yoghurt (greek style is best)

Method:

  1. Put the yogurt in a cloth lined sieve (something like a j-cloth, or muslin square). Pull up the corners of the cloth so the yoghurt is enclosed, tie the top, and hang it from a cupboard door handle or other convenient place where it can drip into a bowl for a couple of hours. Once it is thick enough – you are looking to get about 200ml of liquid dripped out – take it out of the cloth, mix in some salt and 1 – 2 mashed garlic cloves, to taste. The flavours will develop as it stands, so better to start under seasoned and adjust. Serve really cold. This will keep in the fridge for days, and is great as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on all sorts of things.

Lamb and Orange Khoresh

Lamb and Orange Khoresh

by Diane Henry

Susan’s lamb and orange khoresh took home the prize at the Taste of Shetland Cooking Challenge last year. Now you can try this recipe for yourself. Go for some local Shetland lamb to really add something special. Serve with couscous, accompanied by strained yoghurt (see overleaf) and roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oranges
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • olive oil
  • 675g lamb from the leg, cut into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 275 ml orange juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 275 ml lamb stock or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • a good handful of mint leaves, torn
  • 2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)
  • 25g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish.

Method:

  1. Remove peel from the oranges, taking care to leave the pith behind, cut into fine strips about the size of a match. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cook for 2 min, then strain. Heat half the butter in a small pan and add the orange rind. Stir, then add the sugar and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the sugar has melted and the rind has lightly caramelized. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the lamb cubes over fairly high heat, so that they get a good browning on the outside. You should do this in batches to ensure that they get properly coloured. Remove and set the lamb aside.
  3. Add another 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan with the rest of the butter. Heat this and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for another minute. Add the juices, stock and water, and the lamb, with any juices that have run out of it. Season, and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until tender.
  4. Peel the carrots and cut them into batons about 6 cm long. Using a very sharp knife, remove the white pith from the oranges then, cutting close to the membrane, remove each segment. Add the carrots and caramelized orange peel (reserving a little for garnishing) to the lamb once it is tender. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 20 min, adding the orange segments in the last few min with half of the mint.
  5. Stir the orange flower water, if using, into the khoresh and serve, scattered with the remaining mint and orange peel and the pistachios.

What is a Shetlander?

What is a Shetlander?

As an incomer to these islands I’ve found that this question can result in heated debate. Some folk believe that a Shetlander can be anyone who lives here; others maintain that your family needs to have been in Shetland for at least two generations before you can go making any such claims for yourself. Then of course, there are all kinds of Shetlander definitions in between these two poles.

Genevieve White, Editor

Many strings to her bow

This year’s Shetland Young Fiddler, Emma Leask, talks competitions and staying calm under pressure with Genevieve White.

As many readers will know, the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year competition (held every April) is a major musical event in our calendar. Being pronounced the “Young Fiddler” seems to have the effect of catapulting the winner into Shetland musical royalty (a glance through the names of previous competition winners brings up household names such as Margaret Robertson, Maggie Adamson, Bryan Gear, Lois Nicol, Jenna Reid and Catriona Macdonald). Knowing that 14-year-old Emma Leask has won not only this prestigious prize but a host of other awards too, it is with a hint of trepidation I set off for our interview. Am I about to meet with a musical diva? Might she
disapprove of the fact I don’t know a reel from a jig?

July’s issue: out now!

As an incomer to these islands I’ve found that this question can result in heated debate. Some folk believe that a Shetlander can be anyone who lives here; others maintain that your family needs to have been in Shetland for at least two generations before you can go making any such claims for yourself. Then of course, there are all kinds of Shetlander definitions in between these two poles.

It’s unrealistic to expect that this magazine will be able to give the subject of Shetland identity the comprehensive treatment it deserves (if you’re interested in reading more on this topic, I’d recommend Mary Malcolm’s 2012 dissertation Shetland Identity Today: is there such a thing?) but we hope that you find this an enjoyable and thought-provoking issue nonetheless. As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the features within these pages, so please keep in touch.

I’ve always felt sympathy for foreign nationals wishing to acquire British citizenship as they struggle to cram for an exam full of facts about UK politics, history and tradition. Recently, I found myself wishing I’d done a bit more cramming, as I attempted Bryan Peterson’s Shetland Citizenship test. After just scraping a pass (with a disappointing 68 per cent) I’ve resolved to work a lot harder with my Shetland studies. John G Graham’s The Shetland Dictionary will be number one on my summer reading list, that’s for sure. Just as well for me that Bryan’s citizenship test focuses on theory: if it were to include practical elements such as casting peats, knitting and baking bannocks then I’d be in danger of being deported.

By the time this issue is on sale, I’ll be on holiday, leaving the August issue in the very capable hands of our regular contributor, Alex Garrick-Wright. See you in September – wishing all of our readers and contributors a wonderful summer.

Valhalla Beef Casserole

Valhalla Beef Casserole

by Marian Armitage

This is a warming aromatic Shetland variation of a good old beef in beer. It is best using a cheaper, tougher cut of beef with or without bones and a good selection of flavoursome root vegetables. It is an ideal “make the day before” dish. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef – skirt or shin cut into large pieces
  • 50g plain flour, seasoned with freshly ground pepper and a little salt
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions – sliced
  • 2 big cloves garlic – crushed and finely chopped;
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes – approx 400g
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger – peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • Level tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 500ml Simmer Dim Shetland beer

This is a Shetland combination that must be tried. The rhubarb really cuts through the richness of the mackerel. This is delicious hot with plain boiled taaties or cold with leafy salads.

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 150ºC
  2. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole and dip the meat into the seasoned flour
  3. Brown the meat (both sides) in batches and set aside
  4. Reduce the heat and cook the onion, garlic and ginger until softened
  5. Add all the other ingredients, bring to the boil and cook for five minutes
  6. Put the lid on and transfer to the oven. Cook for at least three hours, reducing the heat to 100ºC after the first hour
  7. If possible, eat the next day

Mackerel with rhubarb

Mackerel with rhubarb

by Marian Armitage

To coincide with the reprinting of Marian Armitage’s Shetland Food and Cooking this month we share some recipes from the book. As it is mackerel season we have selected a fish recipe and it seems timely to try the beef casserole using Simmer Dim ale.

Ingredients:

  • 4 mackerel fillets
  • 200g finely diced rhubarb
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 1 big clove garlic – crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – finely chopped
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs

This is a Shetland combination that must be tried. The rhubarb really cuts through the richness of the mackerel. This is delicious hot with plain boiled taaties or cold with leafy salads.

Method:

  1. Heat oven 180ºC
  2. Cook the onion, tomato and garlic in the oil without browning until soft – about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the diced rhubarb and a tablespoon of water and mix well until really hot.
  4. Add the fresh herbs and breadcrumbs and mix well. Set aside.
  5. Lace the fillets skin side down in an ovenproof dish and season with pepper and a little salt.
  6. Put spoonfuls of the stuffing on to the head end of the fillets and roll up – secure with a cocktail stick or skewer. Add two tablespoons of water to create a little steam and bake on the top shelf for 20 minutes.