March 2010 Archives

Lemming Pasta

Lemming pasta is a ring-shaped pasta similar to many kinds of meat filled tortellini found worldwide. However, unlike many Italian pastas, lemming pasta originated in Scandanavian tundra areas within the Arctic Circle. Latin name Tortellini Lemmini, an individual piece of lemming pasta traditionally weighs between 2-5g and usually 3-5cm in length, although weight and size can increase rapidly during cooking to as much as 8g and 8cm.

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Left - Lemming Pasta. Right - A Lemming


The behaviour of lemming pasta is similar to that of many other rodent-pasta varieties, including vole-pasta and muskrat-pasta, in that much of it's time is spent reproducing. Lemming pasta often suffers population explosions, owing to rapid growth of individual pasta pieces, and therefore some individuals instinctively disperse in all directions in order find more personal space. It is a common misconception that lemming pasta is suicidal and partakes in mass suicide from the tops of cookware including the common "Big Pan" and "Really-Big Pan" during cooking - although recent scientific studies have proven several populations of Tortellini Lemmini to indicate manic-depressive tendencies (requires citation).


Above - Lemming Pasta populations often experience overcrowding, and instinctively attempt to migrate in all directions. Note two individuals attempting to escape the crowded pan conditions (centre), the secondary pan used in attempt to prevent too many pasta-deaths (bottom right) and a deceased individual (bottom left, below pan base).


Many pieces that are forced over the edge of pans ultimately die. They may land underneath the pan and be burned by the gas hob, or, in the case of an electric hob, be left abandoned, in both cases rendered inedible. In some cases, lemming pasta can be saved by the quick use of a spoon and a secondary pan of boiling water. Transferring some individuals to a secondary pan by use of a cup is not advisable - by removing too many pasta individuals the pasta below often encounters a rebound action and further forces the pasta to surge over the edge of the pan to it's inevitable end. Ultimately, the only effective way to avoid lemming pasta related accidents is to use the "Really, REALLY Big Pan" and to keep an eye on the swelling pasta.


Lemming pasta is quite a delicacy once cooked, and is particularly tasty served with a tomato and mascarpone sauce and some grated cheese. Garlic bread with green bits is an optional accompaniment.

A Squirrel's Tale - Wedding Report - In the Beginning

Sometimes you meet people, and you immediately can't stand them. Sometimes, however, the opposite occurs and you meet a person and are so uncontrollably, inexplicably drawn to them, you can't help but let yourself go with the tide and enjoy the journey, even though you've no idea where it's going to go.


For me, the day I first came face to face with the shy and quiet young man known as Kevin, was one of these experiences. Kevin and his dad, along with some other gents from North of the Border, were down at the Wirral for a buggy racing event on June 21st 2003; living in Derby, my own family weren't too far for a day trip over and since my dad and I were really getting into this kite-flying malarkey we decided to make the pilgrimage to Hoylake to spectate. When I first saw Kev and one of his friends, Stu, walking over to us, I can honestly say that my mind was quiet - this is no mean feat, since normally my own voice in my head chatters away 100% of the time about this and that, but this young man had me totally lost for words. Here was a skinny lad, apparently consisting of little but arms and legs and those massive, warm but intelligent brown eyes of his, and he had me, serial talker, totally stunned. Even now, I have no idea why this should be so - nobody before had made me shut up so why should this veritable stranger?


Everyone at Hoylake, October 2003


Fast forward to October 2003 and we finally decide to become an "item" - and then on through one more year of school, 2 years of college, 2 years at uni and all the ups and downs life threw at us in between, to one of the happiest moments of my life so far.


At the end of August 2008, Kev and I went away for a week to the Isle of Harris, on the Outer Hebrides. Harris is somewhere I've always loved to go, and since my first visits as a child a part of my soul has stayed there on the bleak moonscapes and clean, empty beaches. We booked a B&B for the nights and breakfasts, as the forecast was appalling, and spent the rest of the time wandering around deserted coasts in the rain - although this didn't dampen my spirits as I've always been drawn to the sea, hence my degree choice of Coastal Geography. However, as it was Kev's first Hebridean visit, I would have loved for him to have seen it in the sunshine so he could see it truly at it's best as I knew he'd fall in love with it.


The third day we were there, August 27th, we took a drive up to Lewis and for the first time the sun shone and we had a lovely picnic on Dal Mor in a shelter I remember adding to 10 years previous (I was astonished it was still there!) and then stopped off at a little silversmiths on the drive back to Harris. There was the prettiest little ring, and I quickly tried it on my ring finger when I thought Kev wasn't looking and it fit! Anyway, he ushered me out of the shop and back into the car and I thought nothing of it. The rest of the day we spent snorkelling unsuccessfully at Seilbost (the bad weather the day before had made the viz so bad I couldn't see my hands on the ends of each arm) and then over to Luskentyre for another picnic.


As we set up the blanket and sat down I felt very happy and relaxed. Luskentyre is what I would consider one of the prettiest jewels in the crown of the Hebridean beaches, and I have spent many happy hours with my family and friends wandering around on the sand. Kev then announced he needed the toilet and, as men can so easily do, he disappeared into the dunes.


"Just you watch where you're going. That's a fragile ecosystem you're peeing all over!!" I shouted after him. Classy, me! I smiled - the sun was setting for at least one beautiful evening for Kev to see how glorious it can be up there.


He soon came trotting back with one of the happiest grins I've ever seen on his face - and fell to one knee before asking me the Eternal Question. Inside a very dainty carved wooden box, and surrounded by Luskentyre sand, was the little ring from the shop - obviously I hadn't been as subtle as I'd thought! The best I could croak out was a muted "yes!" and have a little cry, before enjoying our M&S bolognese-in-a-can and some (slightly overcooked) pasta.


And so, the sun actually set over the most beautiful day I've ever experienced in the Hebrides, and even though the rain truly poured the rest of the week, inside the sun is still shining for me.