Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

The Doyenne’s kitchen

July 28th, 2007

A”CARROT tail”, I read on a Westie website recently, is one of the characteristics of a singularly well-bred West Highland white terrier. Having just had his summer clip Macbeth's profile (for the time being!) is still pretty clean-cut, and as he trots on ahead of me on our walks it's surprising how like a well-formed carrot his tail appears.

In the past it was common for terriers like Westies to have their tails docked and, while docking is now generally banned in Scotland, we are thankful his breeder decided to leave his tail intact anyway. The complete item gives him a balance and urbanity which rounds off his good looks. And that's quite enough high praise for one small dog.

I've not seen white carrots on the plate, but I have heard about purple carrots. They are packed full of antioxidants and therefore doubly good for us. How many readers remember being told to eat up all the carrots on their plate because they helped you see better in the dark?

Last summer we bought purple cauliflowers from the Trinity Garden Centre, outside Brechin. Chopped into florets and served up raw with a dip they are delicious. We had friends in for a drink who didn't realise it was their natural colour and thought we must have dyed them!

I'm enjoying this season's brew of elderflower cordial, and now the Doyenne's evenings are taken up with jelly making. She's made the redcurrant jelly –  meat jam' we tell the grandchildren, when it's served up with a slice of roast lamb.

And that's not all. As the Doyenne was potting the blackcurrant jelly I came in with three pounds of freshly picked raspberries. They hardly touched the kitchen table before she had them in the pan and boiling away. Within an hour we had the first of the raspberry jam potted too.

The following morning that raspberry jam on buttered toast was an electrifying event. Apart from the fact that the fruit couldn't have been fresher, she follows her mother's advice to make her jams and jellies in several small amounts rather than one large boiling. There are moments in life when it is fruitless to question the wisdom of a Doyenne's mother.

Sitting in the sunshine outside the back door the peace was disrupted by Inka excitedly dashing across the drive and scenting around in the undergrowth. He had found a hedgehog which was none too pleased at being disturbed.

I called Inka off and went back to finish my mug of coffee. I looked again some five minutes later expecting to see Mrs Tiggiewinkle rolled up in a ball waiting for the excitement to die down. But with Inka out of the way she had wisely slipped away to a safer part of the woods, so discreetly and so quietly I hadn't noticed.




The new book of a collection of “Man with two dogs” with additional stories and reminiscences and a selection of the Doyenne’s recipes is available online  from the publishers    

Written on Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 8:40 am for Weekly.