Category: Featured

Hospitality special

Our September issue is a celebration of some of the best hospitality these islands have to offer. Featuring a visit to The String, a colourful account of Pigstock (Burra’s new festival), tour stories from The Revellers and much more.

Pull up a chair, make yourself at home and enjoy!



Winning recipe

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)


3 oranges
40 g butter
2 tsp caster sugar
olive oil
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
3 carrots
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
25g butter
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.

Roast Tomatoes

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.

Lisa Ward: Tracks of my life

Lisa Ward is a Shetland girl through and through. She went to primary school in Hamnavoe and formed an interest in music there. That passion to be a singer songwriter has stayed with her all her life. A horrendous injury whilst exercising resulted in a broken back and saw her laid up for sixteen weeks, with time to think and write songs. Her recently recorded album “27”, with her XYY band, was launched at a gig in the Legion on 1st April. She is back living in Hamnavoe now and Jeff Merrifield caught up with her in her new house.

People have asked about the title of the opening song on the new album 27 Slices of Pi. It actually came from a joke I made to Craig Birnie (my partner and bass player in the band) just after I broke my back. I was extremely lucky as the CT and X-ray showed that the break was stable and the spinal cord safe – no surgery required – but I was in a hospital bed for several days while they made me a back brace, then when the brace was fitted there were lots of limited yet painful movements to get the blood flowing and optimise the healing.

Basically, I was 27 at the time it happened and I wanted to make light of the situation a bit, so I said to Craig, “Well I’m clearly not rock and roll enough for the 27 Club, but the universe took a little swipe, so I must at least have a bit of rock and roll in me!” This was a reference to the famous ‘27 Club’ of rock stars who sadly died at that age. It got me thinking about the number 27. I’m a bit of a numbers person and a big believer in the idea that mathematics is the language used by the universe to tell us about itself. As I was recovering, I did a fair bit musing on the beauty of mathematical constants and got to thinking about Pi, then I started contemplating how people talk of ‘wanting their slice of the pie’, which led to a myriad of cultural meanings behind pies and thoughts of Pi as a good metaphor for the universe or life itself. So, in combination with the idea of getting your ‘slice of the pie’, my 27 slices of Pi is the 27 years I’d been lucky enough to get to so far. 27 Slices of Pi is kind of a celebration.

XYY band has been together a couple of years. We put an earlier EP out of my own songs, as I didn’t want to be defined by twenty seconds of a cover version in The Voice. The process of being on that programme was interesting. Some BBC agents came to Shetland to listen to a few singers. I was one of a small group of singer-songwriters. I was asked to go to Glasgow for others to hear me, but I said I couldn’t afford the fare. But soon after, one of my doggies had something wrong with her and had to go to a special hospital in Glasgow. I got in touch with The Voice people and they arranged an audition while I was there. Some further time later, I had to go to London for another audition, but that time expenses were met. So, it was a long-ish journey, but I made the programme. I picked Tom Jones to work with and he turned out to be a really nice, level-headed person, for someone who has worked in a crazy industry as long as he has. He was very helpful to me, very relaxed and chilled, balanced.

What tracks did Lisa choose? You’ll need to buy the magazine to find out!

Folk Festival Highlights 2017

This month we speak to Louise Johnson of the Shetland Folk Festival committee. If you’ve ever wondered how this small but dedicated group manage to pull off such a brilliant event every year, then make sure you read our interview with Louise!

Here’s a glimpse of three of the festival highlights Louse mentions:

Fiddlers Bid are one of Shetland’s best known exports and are internationally respected as world class fiddlers. This year they mark the 25th Anniversary of their debut festival appearance at the Hamnavoe Hall in 1992. Described as “a musical tornado”, the magnetic four fiddle frontline of Chris Stout, Kevin Henderson, Andrew Gifford and Maurice Henderson will be joined by Scotland’s dynamic harpist Catriona McKay, a powerhouse rhythm section of ace Irish musician and guitarist Sean O Graham, and top Newcastle bassist Neil Harland to create a display of stunning virtuosity.

Making their debut UK performance at the Shetland Folk Festival, The Lonely Heartstring Band is a Boston based acoustic quintet that creates a unique blend of old and new styles. Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. This was reflected in their achieving an IBMA Momentum Award in 2015. This classic bluegrass band combines soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies to create a dynamic, diverse and heartfelt performance.

Also making their UK debut at the Shetland Folk Festival are Trad.Attack! who deliver fresh folk music from Estonia — friendly, passionate, powerful, dynamic, cheerful and true to its roots. They have been described as a “21st century Nordic turbo folk band who thrill”. Within two years of starting out they had played in 26 countries and had bagged 14 Estonian Music Awards. Their punchy and rousing shows will be performed with a more acoustic approach in smaller festival venues.

A peek behind the scenes

You know that spring has well and truly sprung when it’s time for the Shetland County Drama Festival.
Drama groups have been working hard all over winter to provide us with four consecutive nights of excellent entertainment.

Debra Nicolson is in three plays at this year’s festival. Make sure you read her article in this month’s Shetland Life for an interesting insight into the rehearsal process.

And don’t forget to go along and enjoy the spectacle at the Garrison Theatre! This year’s drama festival runs from Monday the 6th to Thursday the 9th March.