The Welsh’s go to Wales, a not so white Christmas and a very pheasant finale to the Scottish cookbook challenge!
It’s the last day of our UK adventure.
After leaving Scotland we made a mad dash through England and made a couple of stops along the way. We checked out the big smokes of Newcastle and Liverpool – strolled the docklands of Newcastle and explored the Beatles hangs around the town in Liverpool.
We got our aircraft geek on at the RAF Cosford museum, followed by Bath. It was my second visit to Bath, Shan’s first. I left him to view the Roman baths (once you’ve seen them once you’ve seen them enough), as I window shopped in the exceptionally stunning overpriced boutiques.
It was great to tick off these must see places, however these cities are not designed for campervanning! Parking itself was horrendous, both to find and the hourly price! We tried to avoid paying at all costs and would often found ourselves parking in questionable locations for the night!
Our next stop was Wales and was a welcome change of pace and extra parking space.
I was just as excited about finding Welsh paraphernalia as I was about exploring Wales itself. The Welsh countryside and coastal towns were practically perfect in every way with pastel washed coastal towns, quaint country high streets, proud Welsh pubs dotting from corner to corner, town to town. We may not have a real lot of Welsh in us, but we sure were proud to be Welsh’s in Wales!
Despite a glum and gloomy day we set off to hike up Snowdon the highest peak in Wales. They say the weather can turn in an instant in the winter as a warning to crazy hikers – they are not wrong! As we reached what we thought was the half way point, gusts of wind stronger than I were bellowing up the mountain and the rain began to pelt down so hard it hurt. We both agreed it was too dangerous to go on and we hurtled down the mountain, or rather the wind blow us back down!
We were both intrigued to try traditional Welsh tucker and made the most of every opportunity to sample their specialities. Some of the most unique dishes we tried were:
Faggots – a breadcrumb and liver meatloaf-like slice – you must like liver to enjoy it, which we did – haggis is still our preference though!
Laverbread – wet salty seaweed that you serve on toast or mix in with your breaky fry up. I liked the point of difference to the standard British fry up, but Shannon… not so much of a fan. I think I will give that one a miss for the B&B menu.
Welsh cakes – a cross between a scone and pikelet with currants through it – a winner treat and will make back home for sure!
Welsh whisky – we could not resist checking out the only distillery in Wales, Penderyn, and of course had to splurge on a bottle for ourselves! (I still think the Scots do it better)
Between sampling what the Welsh eat, I stayed true to cooking from the Scottish recipe book.
We have been cooking mainly soup recipes in our camper van, they have been the ultimate meal for us in this trip – particularly when the battery heater is flat! I have selected our favourite (and most Scottish) from the bunch:
1 neck of mutton – surprisingly hard to find in the UK – opted for a shank-like cut instead
100g dried peas
100g pearl barley
2L of water
Salt and pepper
1 large cup of diced carrot
1 large cup of diced turnip
1 white cabbage, shredded
1 tbsp of parsley
Soak peas overnight. Wash meat, put into a stockpot with water, peas, barley, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and skim. Add the diced carrot, turnip, chopped onion and leek, and simmer for 3 hours. Add shredded cabbage and simmer for another half an hour. Before serving, add parsley.
We stopped for a night at Abergavenny and woke to a quaint little village which to my delight had a fresh food market. I was even more excited to find a lady selling freshly shot pheasants! I have been hoping to find an opportunity to try pheasant and it was the perfect recipe to finish my challenge on!
I am always happy to leave the jointing to Dr Welsh (as of the 10th of Dec!), where he meticulously dissects and inspects his subject. I then took care of the bird from there:
60g plain flour
A splash of port
3 bacon rashers
Salt and pepper
Joint the bird and dip in the flour. Heat the butter in a pan and fry the pieces of pheasant until they are golden brown. Put into the casserole with stock, wine, chopped bacon, and the seasoning. Cook in a moderate oven for 1 hour or simmer over the stove top (as we did). Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with tatties and peas.
Of course pheasant tastes like chicken – but more intense, with a slight gaminess to it. It’s a shame they are not dime-a-dozen at home like they are here, as they put a scabby quail to shame!
We sadly handed back our campervan in Glasgow, yet gladly headed for the luxury of a toilet, shower and full sized bed in Leeds.
We spent Christmas Eve weaving through the last minute shoppers of cobble-stoned York, along with a catch up with cheeky RAF Crew Attendant – Christina (we met when she was on exchange from the UK at 34SQN). We had a fat old time sharing tales and catching up on the latest news.
And then came Christmas. It may not have been a white Christmas like we had hoped, but rather a mild 8 degrees instead! We shared it with my relos in Knaresborough (Yorkshire). It was the most perfect British Christmas lunch and would have put Nigella to shame! My highlight was a stuffing cake! Yes, a cake made of all the goodies you would stuff a turkey with, and when you don’t think it could get any better… it does – the cake is wrapped in bacon! I ensured I got the recipe for that one! Needless to say – we were literally stuffed by the end of lunch. It was so lovely to catch up with them again!!
We have had the time of our lives on this journey around the UK. Cooking along the way with my wee Scottish cookbook has made the trip that bit more special and entertaining too! I cooked every recipe that I could manage from the confines of our wee kitchen and van. Believe it or not we actually found the cookbook still for sale here in Scotland! Of course I bought it. It goes to show that it’s the simple hearty fare that always outlasts the fancy fads of today!
Thank you all for following my cooking journey! Cant wait to catch up with you all when we get home!!