The party season is upon us. Time to discard the layers of cosy wirsit and step into something a little more festive. The party starts here! With sparkling photography by May Graham.
Nothing says Christmas quite like a performance of Tchaikovsky’s well-loved ballet, The Nutcracker. A feast for the eyes and ears, it’s nonetheless an extremely challenging and time-consuming production to put on: with the story necessitating a large cast, opulent costumes and loads of on-stage action. Would Shetland Community School of Ballet manage to rise to the occasion? Read December’s magazine to find out. With photographs by Dale Smith.
Last month’s Wool Week saw the launch of a very special book, which gives voice to the shared memories of local knitters. Reflections apo hands is the fruit of a collaboration between Alzheimer Scotland, Shetland Arts, photographer John Coutts and playwright Jacqui Clark. Shetland Life met Ann Williamson and Laura Whittall to hear the story behind this inspirational and far-reaching project – don’t miss the full story in November’s magazine.
Shetland Library is about more than just books – it’s a real hub of community activity throughout the year.
For our special literary themed issue we visited the library with photographer Dale Smith in an attempt to capture some of the vitality of this special place.
Thank you to the winner of the 2017 Shetland Cooking Challenge, Susan Msalila, for kindly sharing her winning recipes with us.
Check out November’s Shetland Life to read Susan’s account of winning the competition (she also shares a recipe for beetroot and crab samosas).
Here’s a recipe which makes the most of delicious Shetland lamb.
Lamb and orange khoresh (Diane Henry)
40 g butter
2 tsp caster sugar
675 g lamb from the leg, cut into 2 cm cubes
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
275 ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
275 ml lamb stock or water
salt and pepper
good handful of mint leaves, torn
2 tsp orange flower water (optional)
25 g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish
1 Remove peel (no pith) from the oranges with a vegetable peeler, and cut into fine strips about the size of a match. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cook for 2 mins, 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. Fry 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. 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 10 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
200 g couscous
250 ml stock
25 g dried apricots
25g dried cranberries
Selection of fresh vegetables, cut into small pieces – I used courgette, rainbow chard leaves and stalks
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.
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.
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.
Put 500g of natural yoghurt (Greek style is best) 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.
If you can’t get the sweet soy sauce, you could substitute with ordinary soy sauce mixed with brown sugar.
400 g of tomatoes, either halved, quartered, or cut into 6 depending on how big they are. You want to end up with something about bite size.
2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce (also called Kecap Manis)
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Put the tomatoes cut side up in a shallow casserole dish, in a single layer. Sprinkle on the other ingredients. Cook at 180 C for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the sauce has amalgamated and thickened up a little. Serve at room temperature.
After last month’s hugely successful Taste of Shetland event, we have not one but two mouth-wateringly good food articles written by local chefs.
Akshay Borges writes about the motivation behind his pop-up seafood venture. He also shares a recipe for fresh plaice with cabbage slaw (pictured).
In another article, last year’s Shetland Food Festival winner Christopher Percival reports back on his prize: a fine dining experience at https://restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk/ Leith restaurant.
Forget blood-thirsty monsters howling at the moon: Shetland’s version of the werewolf is much gentler and more refined. Read our interview with Italian research student Chiara Passarini, whose quest to learn more about da Wulver took her to all the way to Unst.
And don’t miss Heyddir Johnson’s evocative dialect poem “Da Wulver”.
This month, photographer May Graham returns with some truly spell-binding Island Women. May says of her most recent photo shoot: “I love getting together with people to take their photos. We always have such a laugh and I am thankful I have people who are willing for me to photograph them”.
Continuing our supernatural theme, we have photography by John Coutts. Check out some archive footage of the Shetland Annual Zombiefest for some Halloween costume inspiration!
This month, we celebrate the lengthening nights with a tour of Shetland’s haunted houses in the company of local legend, Ivan Hawick. This fearless photographer visited three seriously spooky locations in the dead of night, and waited hours to get the perfect picture. Don’t miss our interview with Ivan and the chance to read the stories behind each shot.
We asked some well-known Shetlanders to share their school day memories with us. It was a delight to read tales of “low-level delinquency” and escaping budgies as well as stories of how inspirational teachers touched the lives of their students.
One of the best fun parts of putting the magazine together this month was having a chuckle at the old school photos you kindly contributed. Any guesses as to who this mysterious “lady” in red is?