All about salt: kosher, sea and Maldon

About to bake a paleo banana bread and needed to check up on salt. Like this.

Food Science Institute

sea salt Sea salt

Salt comes in a bewildering number of packages: table, kosher, Maldon, sea and even popcorn. What’s the difference and does it matter? And why use kosher salt?  In this article we’ll tell you how these salts are different and how you might use them.

Well, first of all, they are all basically sodium chloride (NaCl) and crystallized in various ways with various numbers of impurities. Salt naturally crystallizes in little cubes, but if you fool around as it is crystallizing you can get slightly differently shaped crystals.

Table salt products usually have anti-caking additives so they will flow smoothly. Morton’s and Diamond both add silicon dioxide (sand), tricalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, dextrose (glucose) and for iodized salt, potassium iodide.

Kosher salt is a larger crystal salt, and while it usually is actually kosher, it is really a salt used in the koshering process, to draw blood from the…

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So You Want to Wear a Safety Pin — What a Witch

Great. This is a necessary behavior in the face of the election of the most overtly racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti- gender and sexual minority candidate in the history of the modern United States. You know the rhetoric of his campaign was wrong. It was the very worst thing about America and you want to do […]

via So You Want to Wear a Safety Pin — What a Witch

How to Set Goals, Stick to them and Achieve Them!

The Zeit

Do you set goals with excitement and gung-ho attitude that you are going to “crush” your goals, have fantastic energy and momentum at the start, make some great progress, but maybe a few weeks later, you find yourself slowing down, or perhaps even unmotivated?

Why does this happen and more importantly, how can you make sure to see your goals through?

To understand how our brain works, picture an iceberg which will be representative of our brain. The tip of the iceberg that is visible symbolizes our conscious brain, which is only about 10% of our brain. This part of our brain stores both conscious and unconscious core beliefs. Core beliefs are the files we have that open up and have us react to situations in a certain way because of what we believe, which are formed unconsciously in childhood. These beliefs can serve us or not serve us today…

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21 Must-Have Travel Experiences in the Outer Hebrides

There’s more to the Outer Hebrides than the guidebooks would have you believe – but don’t just take my word for it.  Visit these islands for yourself, and take this list of essential travel experiences with you! See the sunset (or the Northern Lights) at the Callanish Stones. The Callanish Stones are older than Stonehenge, and…

Some days were running legs

Have always loved this poem. It sums up childhood memories of Lewis exactly.


sun over valley

Some days were running legs

Some days were running legs and joy
and old men telling tomorrow would be
a fine day surely: for sky was red
at setting of sun between the hills.

Some nights were parting at the gates
with day’s companions: and dew falling
on heads clear of ambition except light
returning and throwing stones at sticks.

Some days were rain flooding forever the green
pasture: and horses turning to the wind
bare smooth backs. The toothed rocks rising
sharp and grey out of the ancient sea.

Some nights were shawling mirrors lest the lightning
strike with eel’s speed out of the storm.
Black the roman rooks came from the left squawking
and the evening flowed back around their wings.

Iain Crichton Smith from ‘The Long River’ 1955

A Scottish poem I used to teach, and had almost forgotten about, resurfaced yesterday, and here it is, in…

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How to Use Frustration to Gain Happiness

The Zeit

Frustration is one of those things that none of us want to feel. It feels yucky, uncomfortable and miserable. No one ever wants to feel any of these emotions right? But did you know that frustration, although it may be associated with negative emotions, can lead to your true happiness?

Frustration is a good thing in the sense that it takes you out of your place of contentment and into a place where you try to understand where you need to be going in life. You would think that it is important to be content in life because when you are content you are happy with where you are in life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What you need is gratitude for what you have.

Contentment vs. Gratitude

Happy boys

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New territory

When I started blogging I wanted it to be about my travels while performing. I visit so many different countries and I think I wanted to have a way of documenting it and all the different bands and projects I work with. I feel very lucky to do this and am constantly learning through meeting new musicians, singers, performers and people. The problem with this is, being on the road can be exhausting. The most important part, the very reason you are there, is to work. You have to concentrate on the job. On a 4 week tour that can become more difficult.

Travelling nowadays is not necessarily as ‘exotic’ as it used to be. You are often stepping on a sky bus when you fly these days. Multiple airports in one day can be draining, especially now with intense security checks – the level of which vary from one airport to the next. I still love my job but I found I was not able to write about it all the time while travelling. I have to get my head down and rest, as my voice can be weakened with different climates and temperatures, lack of sleep and we still have to keep to schedule despite weather disruptions.

Then there are the different projects – there are so many – sometimes you just have to get the work done and there is no time for writing. When you get home the desire might be to rest and not recount all your wanderings for a while or you have to get on with the next gig. The problem/blessing of being self-employed! So, health on the road and at home is something that started to feature a lot in my musings.

I was then hit by a headline in the Guardian, UK, that took me totally by surprise.  It was about endometriosis. That ugly disease. Now that is something I feel I NEED to write about. It is maybe the biggest journey I have ever been on. Dealing with it is also a project that is ongoing and can take time. However, it doesn’t occupy my time as it used to, but I’m still working out if that is a good or a bad thing. You see, in some ways I have learned to live with it and don’t think about it all the time but before I used to have think about it constantly, what it meant each day, the next month – would that be another hospital visit? – what it meant for the future? Now I wonder, am I so relieved to be beyond the pain have I given up? Or is it just acceptance.

Adventures from home – ‘Homelands’

If you’re a jobbing musician and you aren’t jobbing, touring, then you are creating. Either creating the next gigs or creating the music sometimes both, at the same time. I imagine it’s the same for anyone who is self-employed; you become very good at ‘juggling’.

November 2013 saw the beginnings of my 3rd solo album ‘Homelands’ and August 2015 with be it’s release date.

alythcoverHomelands’ came about through my love of my home in Lewis, Scotland and my love of my new home in Ireland. I moved to Ireland seven years ago. I see myself as an Islander, and I always will, as I come from the Hebrides, but I also now love where I live in Ireland. It’s a common thread. We are all travellers, migrants, emigrants, immigrants. ‘Homelands’ touches on these themes; love and loss, home and emigration.” Alyth McCormack

Growing up in Lewis, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I would not live in Scotland all my life. I am a singer and the very reason I am a singer is because of where I grew up. Living on an island, you are very in touch with the land and the weather. These things go hand in hand. You cannot help but see how they are connected. This is where the music and the traditions come from. Had it not been for the traditions in Lewis, I don’t know that I would have been a singer. If I’d been born in the city would my life have turned out the same way?

In 2007 I moved to Ireland. Ireland and Scotland are similar in many ways, of course, but they are also different. Granted we share common language but it’s the little things.. All these things became very apparent to me when I moved to Dublin. I missed my family; my friends. I left a circle of people I had worked with for many years, had worked hard to become a strong part of, and now I was leaving for a city that had sessions and groups and myriads of musicians and singers, but they were not people I knew, really knew, that knowledge you only get with years of living and playing and singing together. Yes I am very lucky to tour and work with The Chieftains; it has been an amazing 8 years. I have travelled the globe, but we seldom work in Ireland, so when I would come home to my Husband I was alone, my friends still in Scotland.

Thankfully 7 years on I can say I am very happy in Ireland. It was moving back to the countryside that settled me. It also made me think. So many of us travel, so many of us have to, why is that difficult if it means a better life? Why? Where and what is home? This was the beginnings of ‘Homelands’ and the start of the next album too.”

Pre-release copies are available here.

There is even a taster track for you to listen to. I hope you might pop by for a listen.

There is quite a bit of work to be done before the released date – hence the adventures from ‘home’. I’ve a launch party to organise for the 17th of July at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which takes place in my hometown of Stornoway, and is one of the best festivals in the Celtic calendar. I say that without bias.There will be reviews (gulp!) and hopefully interviews.

It’s good to see things coming together. It’s good to know this CD I have had such fun working on, have been blessed to work with such beautiful musicians on, and have lived with for so long, will finally be released.