By Bernie Bell

We haven’t had to miss much from our shopping during lock-down.  Stromness Co-op has been very good at supplying everything we need, and a lot of things which we just like to have, too!

One item which was not to be had, right from the start, was raisins.  At first we thought it might be because folk were ‘gannetting’ on all the ingredients for baking, but  – raisins?  Limited use in baking, when it comes down to it, unless you’re making fruit loaves.

It didn’t really matter, and we considered ourselves lucky to live somewhere where Mike could actually get the shopping without having to fight off ravening hoards.

There is one recipe that we would have liked to have raisins for – Almond and Raisin Pilaf –  which is a nice, light meal for this time of year, and it’s a good use for our stock made from left-overs… https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/04/30/waste-not-want-not/

In the absence of raisins, Mike used a store-cupboard stand-by – dried apricots – to add a bit of sweetness, and that worked fine.

Then, we received a letter from our friend who lives in Kirkwall, who has her shopping delivered from Tesco. She told me that she’d put a large packet of raisins on her shopping list, and what arrived was – the equivalent weight in tiny boxes of raisins!

She said she didn’t know they came in such small boxes – I think they must have been those ’snack-pack’ packets.  She also said that it provided  her with some occupational therapy, opening all those little boxes and decanting the raisins into one bag… an unusual form of lockdown exercise for the elderly!

I answered that at least she had some raisins, and told her of our raisin-less existence.  The things you focus on, when your world has closed in.

Then….today…. after four months without raisins…..Mike came home from the Co-op, beaming triumphantly, with ….a bag of raisins!

Mike Bell in kitchen with raisins

And, for those who are interested – here’s the recipe for Almond & Raisin Pilaf…….

Oil for frying

2 oz almonds ( or similar nuts)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

2 oz raisins

Mug of rice

2 oz mushrooms (chopped small)

3 pints of stock

1 bayleaf

Salt & Pepper

Put the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  When boiling, add rice and bayleaf, and leave to cook, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan, add garlic and mushrooms and fry ‘til soft.  Add nuts, raisins (apricots?) and seasoning.

When rice is cooked, add to frying pan and stir through.  Remove bayleaf and serve – I likes it with Mango Chutney.

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2 replies »

  1. I wrote ‘baking’ when I meant to write ‘bread-making’ – I should engage my brain, sometimes!

  2. Mmm, I will try this recipe. The lockdown proper was an interesting insight into the peculiarness of people. I couldn’t get many things but a weird one was honey. The hoarders nabbed it all. I bet those raisons seemed extra special.

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