Yesterday I posted an extract from My Friends the Miss Boyds. Like most fans of the My Friend… series of books, I have a great fondness for the character Uncle George and admired his playfulness, his innate ability to read people and his understanding of the balanced path we need to tread through life. As he said in the extract, his illicit still was something employed for pleasure, in a quiet way, amongst cronies. They never got ambitious or made money from it, so although essentially illegal, not a crime that was ever likely to get him into bother.
Talking of illicit stills (and thus whisky), here is a recipe which I very much doubt would have ever appeared on the supper table at Reachfar, as Janet’s grandmother would never have allowed such a thing. I do suspect however, that this traditional Scottish dessert of oats, cream, honey, whisky and raspberries, might have appeared on the dining table at Poyntdale, the Big House. I made some recently for English friends who had come for dinner, as part of a Scottish themed menu, and very nice it was too.
3 oz oatmeal
1 pint double cream
7 tbsps whisky
3 tbsps runny honey
1 lb raspberries
Toast the oatmeal (different from porridge oats) in a frying pan, taking care none of it burns. Keep some back for decoration.
Lightly whip the cream until it reaches the peak stage then fold in the whisky, honey, oatmeal and raspberries. Again keep some raspberries back.
Serve in glasses garnished with a few raspberries, a sprig of mint (optional) and a sprinkling of the toasted oatmeal.
Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Serve and enjoy!
A few years ago I was in MacDonald’s Hardware in Dingwall (an excellent store for those of us who enjoy all things of an ironmongery nature) and spotted an old fashioned girdle, just like the one my granny used to have. Most mornings, especially during the long summer holidays when her grandchildren were around, she would mix together a few ingredients and make some pancakes or girdle scones. I absolutely had to buy one for myself, and soon found the perfect recipe, ironically on a website set up by a lady in Dunedin, New Zealand. Considering Dunedin (Dùn Èideann) is the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, and considering the fact that New Zealand is awash with the offspring of former Scottish immigrants, I thought it was quite fitting.
I know that in the kitchen at Reachfar, girdle scones would have been made daily. No doubt the young Janet would have helped out with the making of the dough. In case you want to try them out for yourself (a heavy pan can be substituted for a girdle), here is the recipe. Very easy indeed, and quick to make. I took some pictures last time I made some and you must admit, they do look tasty, especially if spread with some homemade strawberry jam.
1 cup plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
1/2 oz butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup milk
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the currants (or sultanas if you prefer) and then add just enough milk to make a soft dough. Don’t add all the milk at once though, in case you don’t need all of it. If your dough looks a little sticky don’t be afraid to add a little more flour.
Roll out to roughly 1/2 an inch thick and cut into six wedges.
Grease the girdle then place on a hob until hot. Carefully transfer the “snuggled up” wedges onto the girdle and wait until golden brown and cooked in the middle. Takes roughly 5 minutes on either side. When turning your wedges, be careful to place them gently on the hot surface, and try to turn them only once.
Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy!