The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky

In late November, I rather impulsively pre-ordered a limited batch release of The Sassenach, Sam Heughan’s new premium blended Scotch whisky. (Sam Heughan is the Scottish actor who plays Jamie Fraser on the mega-hit television series “Outlander.”) Reserve Bar was the only place from which to buy it here in the U.S. It’s a darn good thing I snagged it when I did because it is now completely sold out. It took a little over two months to ship and arrive from Scotland, but last week, arrive it did!

A bottle of The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky and two whisky glasses

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Ardverikie Estate – Home of “Monarch of the Glen”

A number of years ago, I discovered the British television show “Monarch of the Glen”. Have you seen it? The comedy/drama comprised seven seasons that aired from 2000-2005. I immediately fell in love with the premise and the quirkiness of the characters and storylines. If you’re not familiar with it, the first five seasons revolve around the story of Archie MacDonald, a young restauranteur in London, who reluctantly moves back to his family’s home in the Scottish Highlands (after being bamboozled by his mother), to assume his role as laird of the severely cash-strapped Glenbogle Estate. In his quest to save Glenbogle, Archie seems to constantly face a barrage of obstacles and disappointments, and his strained relationship with his eccentric father (played brilliantly by Richard Briers) makes things even more complicated. It is because of the teamwork and dedication of the family’s loyal and offbeat estate staff, that Glenbogle slowly begins to emerge from the ashes. Archie even finds love.

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Yule Log Cake and the History Behind This Christmas Tradition

Hello, my dears!

I can’t believe it is only five days until Christmas! Even less if you are reading this from the other side of the world. How are your Christmas preparations coming along? The holidays undoubtedly look very different for much of the world this year, but I would love to know what sorts of things you have planned. What are some of the traditions you and your family keep?

I hope that everyone who reached out about receiving a homemade Christmas card has received theirs. I mailed them on the last day of November, but as swamped as the postal service is this year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of them take a while to reach their destinations. Please do let me know if you don’t get yours. I love making cards and I love you – my awesome online community.

So. I had this great idea, that I would make a Yule log cake (also called a Bûche de Noël if you want to sound fancy), share the recipe with you today before the winter solstice, and tell you about the history behind the tradition. In my fantasy, my cake would taste better than Mary Berry’s and look more beautiful than Paul Hollywood! But, alas, after two disastrously failed attempts which resulted in the wasting of food, the wasting of my time, and a wound to my pride, I decided to just buy the damn thing. This situation reminds me of the line in the cute movie “Calendar Girls” when Chris (Helen Mirren) wins the baking contest and gives the following advice on how she achieved such a light sponge: “Line the bowl with butter. Always use a warm spoon. And if it’s a special event, get it at Marks & Spencer’s.” Well, we don’t have a Marks & Spencer’s here, but we do have The Fresh Market, and it turns out they make a bloody good cake!

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