Category: Food

The birds and the bees!

Welcome to this month’s issue of Shetland Life. May is a big month here, certainly a firm favourite of mine  – everything springs to life with vigour, and here at Shetland Life we want to capture an essence of that.

This month Shetland Life are telling you all about the birds and the bees. May is a month of activity; life is bursting forth in anticipation of summer. We are celebrating Shetland’s diverse nature this month with features on some of our smallest creatures who do one of the most important jobs – pollination. And we’re celebrating the return of our very welcome summer visitors – the seabirds. With almost 1,000,000 breeding pairs, there’s a lot to shout about, and Paul Harvey is on hand to tell us more.

Elsewhere, Alex Garrick-Wright travels to Australia (or, East Burra) to the Outpost where he meets some unusual spring arrivals… We also introduce some new members to the Shetland Life team. I’ll give you a clue, they all have four legs and love an adventure! All this and more in this month’s Shetland Life, OUT NOW!

With the year galloping along, it has got us thinking about summer holiday activities here in Shetland. What are your favourite places? Where do you take your children, friends or dogs on an adventure? We would love to hear from you with any suggestions so that we can produce a helpful summer holiday ‘must do’ checklist for all the family. Send your suggestions along with a photo we can use) to And, whatever you’re up to, we love to hear about it, use our hashtag for the chance to be featured online or in the magazine #myshetlandlife.

Even if you’re not in Shetland, you can still keep up-to-date with all the latest. Remember you can subscribe to Shetland life online at and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions at

As ever, have a great month and enjoy Shetland Life –  OUT NOW!

Gone fishing

Excuse us; we’ve gone fishing… but we’re taking you with us!

Join Shetland Life for this fishy March issue as we take to the high seas with a trip through Shetland’s pelagic past and present. Ryan Taylor explores the history of the Swan as she enters uncertain waters and we settle down and chat to Bobby Polson from the pelagic trawler, Serene, and find out what it’s really like to skipper one of these impressive mid-water trawlers.

Elsewhere in the issue, Ali Grundon Robertson, our environmental guru delves into the peat and explains the importance of peatland restoration, while Alex Garrick-Wright reports on the success of the Imposters’ first ‘away game’ in Edinburgh.

There’s so much to shout about in Shetland at the moment, and with spring just around the corner, we’re keen to keep in touch with you. Give us a shout with any comments or suggestions at and remember to use our hashtag for the chance to be featured online or in the magazine #myshetlandlife.

As ever, have a great month and enjoy Shetland Life!


Choose Shetland Life

Choose a Life, choose a career, choose Shetland as your base to enjoy what you do.

Our 450th edition of Shetland Life magazine is out on Friday 6th April 2018 and we are delighted to give everyone the opportunity to see our latest design and new content by giving it away FREE.

We’ve chosen to showcase Shetland in our main feature with a photography special and fantastic photos from around the islands. 50 top tips from well know local photographers are also included to help you take your best photos ever. 

An interactive music page, delicious recipes, film reviews, health and wellness, competitions, updated puzzle page and fast paced article sections are just some of our new items.

Choose Shetland Life monthly magazine to keep you up to date with everything we know you love about Shetland and its community life – we’d love you to join our growing readership.

Print and digital subscriptions are available at


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.

Taste of Shetland

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 Leith restaurant.

Baking with Marian Armitage

This month, as part of our special Bairns’ Takeover issue, Marian Armitage visited Sandwick School to teach Ella, Gracie, Willum and Kaden how to bake. They have shared the recipe for the delicious flatbreads they made below:

500g Strong Flour
7g Easy Bake Yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons of caster sugar (We didn’t add)
1 tablespoon of soft butter 300ml/1/2 a pint of hand–warm water

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl. Using your fingertips rub in the butter until only fine crumbs are left. Mix in the water with a cutlery knife.

Tip onto a lightly flour dusted surface, and knead for 10 minutes (or use the dough hook attachment on your mixer).

Lightly grease the mixing bowl with some oil. Put the dough back in, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until double in size (about 1 hour depending on how warm your kitchen is).

Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 5 times to get the air out. Mould into a smooth oval and lift into a lightly oiled 900g/2lb loaf tin.

Cover the dough again with a clean tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in the size again. Preheat the oven to 200C : 180C fan : gas mark 6.

Lift the tin onto the middle oven shelf and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you can lift the bread loaf from the tin and when you tap the base it sounds hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

All photographs by Leanne Macleod

Foodie of the month

Local artisan foodie David Polson of Thule Ventus produces air dried salt fish, continuing a long lasting Shetland culinary tradition.

This month David has kindly shared some delicious (and healthy) fish recipes. Find them in March’s Shetland Life, rustle up and tuck in….

Beer Brewing for beginners


Neil Riddell reports on the pleasure to be found in brewing your own beer with like-minded friends Kris Drever, Tim Matthew, Rory Tallack and Adam Guest.

When I was growing up the words “home brew” conjured up images of an unpleasantly acrid liquid or those amiable folkie guys who sang about trows.

But these things change. The craft beer movement has really gathered pace, with dozens of brilliant little breweries springing up all over the country in the past five years or so, and in most major cities you’ll find specialist outlets selling top-notch kits for those who want to have a go at making their own.

Last year a group of us – Rory Tallack, Kris Drever, Tim Matthew and myself – decided to give it a try, and the Amateur Fiddlers’ Association was born.

We’d all recently become dads for the first time and, while our days of late-night partying aren’t altogether finished, they’ve certainly become fewer. This was a way for everyone to get together socially at a time of the day more conducive to a lifestyle revolving around small children, to play some tunes and, eventually, sample our own wares and indulge in our shared love of beer.

After a bit of research, we invested in the necessary kit for extract brewing. The main things required were: a boiler to make the brew; a chiller to cool it down; and a large bucket in which the fermentation takes place prior to bottling. Various other implements and measuring devices were included to aid the process.

Being a scientific novice, I would direct those seeking a detailed technical explanation of said process towards a good brew-it-yourself book or one of the many how-to online videos.

On a bright, breezy Sunday afternoon in late April we gathered in Selivoe on the west side, where Tim lives with his wife Floortje and their (then one-month-old) beautiful baby daughter Tove.

Essentially, the basic method involves steeping some grains, boiling the liquid for an hour and adding different hops at different times, cooling it down and “pitching” some yeast.

Soon we had a plastic bucket full of pale brown liquid bubbling away while Shetland fiddle tunes rang out from the steam-filled porch. The brewing process resulted in a pleasing malty odour pervading the rest of the house for several hours – well, Floortje says days – afterwards.

By the afternoon’s end, the bucket was bound for a cupboard (it’s important to get the storage temperature right) to start a fortnight-long fermentation, while Tim’s beloved collie Belle lapped up the discarded malty juice with panache.

Midway through May it was back to Selivoe to prime (add sugar to) and bottle the mysterious liquid, followed by more days waiting for the finished product. Most brews are drinkable in a week or so, though carbonation can take a while to complete and the taste tends to improve over time.

No one really knew what to expect, but you can imagine our delight when – after weeks of suspense – the first batch, an American pale ale, turned out to be not just quaffable but downright delicious.

Each brew tends to yield around 22-23 litres of beer, enough for around a dozen bottles apiece costing a mere 40p per bottle.

We were so pleased with our debut brew AFAAPA (Amateur Fiddlers’ Association American Pale Ale, to give its full title) that it created a tension between the desire to drink it all down and the urge to dish out sample bottles to beer-loving pals.
AFAAPA even received an on-stage endorsement from The Unthanks when they played Mareel earlier this year.

Both Kris and Tim have extensive touring commitments with the weird and wonderful LAU, while there have been a whole bunch of baby birthday parties to attend, so beer-making get-togethers have been fairly ad-hoc this summer.

But we have managed to turn out four batches to date. Number two, Slippery Hammer, was a personal favourite – a highly refreshing German-style wheat beer.

It derived its name from the problems encountered in bottling. The capping device that came with our kit wasn’t really up to the job, so Tim improvised and created his own, vastly superior version. We’re fortunate to have one of the world’s more practical-minded people among our number.

The third brew, an amber/summer ale called Welcome Guest, was the first to feature the metaphorical fingerprints of our new fifth member – Yorkshireman and Shetland Times scribe Adam Guest, back from a short stint in Aberdeen.

Next up we’re planning to experiment with mashing our own grain and making a Belgian-style saison (a light, fruity ale). Other ideas include a Christmas ale and revisiting some of the earlier brews with a view to perfecting the taste. Who knows, we might even try selling it someday.

We’d all thoroughly recommend giving brewing your own a try. It’s a rewarding hobby socially, educationally and creatively, and once all is said and done you get to drink some really tasty beer for a budget price.