Burns Night

Greetings Readers,

Today is a big day in Scotland and for those of Scottish descent around the world.  For today is January 25, the birthday of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns.

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Photo:  Public Domain

Also known as Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns (my personal favorite), The Ploughman Poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire, Burns is one of Scotland’s most celebrated sons.  You may know him best as the man who first penned the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne‘.  And I’m sure you have heard the poetic verse: “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June”.  Perhaps you are familiar with Burns’ narrative poem, ‘Tam O’ Shanter’.  Or, maybe you have a fondness for one of Rabbie’s other 713 works (possibly more?), which range in topic from death and war, anguish and greed, from religion and politics, to love and sex (and many other topics in between).  There is certainly no shortage to choose from.  *Although archived and no longer updated, I discovered a BBC page dedicated to Burns that lists 716 poems and songs.  It allows you to search for works by title, season, theme, and year written.  Well worth a look if you are at all interested in Rabbie’s poetry.

Every January 25, Robert Burns is celebrated with the annual Burns Night Supper.  I have never had the good fortune to take part, but oh how I would love to!

So, what does a Burns Supper involve? Fun, I would imagine!

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Prestonfield House

Hello Readers,

Hope everyone is well.  Today we are going to hang out in my favorite city – Edinburgh.  I booked us a champagne afternoon tea at luxurious Prestonfield House.  So touch up your lip gloss, Ladies.  Men, grab your wallets.  A warm welcome, fine dining, and hospitality awaits!

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When Mr. C and I travel to Scotland (or anywhere where we stay more than two or three nights, for that matter), we always prefer to rent a private residence rather than stay in a hotel.  It not only allows us the experience of living like locals, but it’s so much more pleasant and economical. A rental provides all the amenities of home – a laundry facility, plenty of room to spread out, and perhaps best of all – a fully equipped kitchen.

Oh, now don’t give me that look.  What, you don’t like to cook when you’re on vacation?  Haha -that’s okay.  Me either, actually.  But, luckily for me, Mr. C does!  And on top of that, his culinary skills are sublime.  He’s definitely a keeper.

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“Why, Here Comes My Hot Toddy”…(Recipe)

[Fred:] Here she comes, down the street

[Bing:] My, oh my, ain’t she sweet?

[Fred:] Why, here comes my hot toddy

[Bing:] Over my dead body

[Bing:] I’ll capture her heart singing

[Fred:] Just wait until she get a load of my dancing

When I hear the words hot toddy I am always reminded of these lines from the song “I’ll Capture Your Heart”, sung by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the 1942 classic movie “Holiday Inn” (and consequently, I can’t get the tune out of my head).  In the movie, Bing’s character Jim and Fred’s character Ted are both in love with Lila.  In the song, Jim sings of his plans to win Lila over with his singing and Ted is confident that his dancing will win her heart.  As the movie unfolds, Lila ends up declaring her love for Ted and a broken-hearted Jim leaves town.  Jim soon meets Linda, however, after he books her to perform at his holidays-only live entertainment venue at the inn.  They fall in love and, of course, a newly dumped Ted shows up and also sets his sights on the lovely Linda.  It’s a funny, sweet film, one that I enjoy watching year after year.  I adore those old musicals, don’t you?

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Several days ago I came across a recipe in Scotsman Food & Drink for a Scottish hot toddy.  It is one version of this widely varied drink.  There is no standard recipe, but it is consistently made with some type of liquor (generally Scotch or bourbon), a sweetener (such as sugar or honey), a warm base (like water, tea, or apple cider), and lemon.

Since we’re having our first snow of the season today, it seems like the perfect time to give this festive, Scottish version a try.

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Recipe: Scones

Welcome back friends,

I feel like I can genuinely say that now.  I have connected with some of the nicest folks on here.  I’m so enjoying getting to know you through our shared interests and through our writing.

So, feel like cooking today?  After a hearty Thanksgiving dinner followed by a hearty post-Thanksgiving dinner of leftovers, I’m surprised that I do.  But all you have to do is say the word scone and I’ll start digging for my sieve.

The recipe that I’m using today is from a wonderful site I discovered a couple of years ago,  Eating For England.

Even though technically eat for Scotland, you will find that scones are an important component of tea time no matter which side of the border you find yourself.

Pronounced to either rhyme with ‘tone’ or ‘gone’, depending on one’s country and region, British scones are a completely different affair than what we commonly find in coffee shops and bakeries here in the United States.  Whereas our scones are triangular and tend to be very sweet and somewhat cake-like, British scones more closely resemble in appearance what Americans call biscuits.  However, even those two things are quite different. Our biscuits are rich and buttery and are often enjoyed with breakfast.  British scones are lighter, flaky, and have a touch of sweetness.  Sometimes they include fruit such as raisins or currants.  And sometimes they are savory, such as those made with cheese.  Scones are a basic staple of afternoon tea in England and Scotland.  They are truly delicious and I promise that if you give this recipe a try, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Wendy Tackles the Sponge (Recipe)

Umm, the cake.  I’m talking about the cake.  Why? What did you think I was talking about?  (chuckle chuckle)

I have long wanted to try my hand at a Victoria Sponge.  First, because I brake for cake.  Second, it is just so quintessentially English (although it is common to find this cake at eateries in Scotland as well).  It’s strange, but in all the times I have dined in Scotland, I never once ordered a slice of Victoria Sponge.  We’re going to remedy that today.

I researched several different recipes and it seems that each are pretty consistent, with just some minor variations among them.  Equal parts butter, sugar, and flour seems to be the common thread.  For my cake today, I decided to try a recipe by BBC Good Food (I chose a different mixing method and also chose a different filling).

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1997/classic-victoria-sandwich

Let’s get baking!

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A Brief History of Whisky

The word ‘whisky’ is derived from the Gaelic term “uisge beatha” (“oosh-keh beh-ha), meaning “water of life”.

The Scottish Gaels called it “uisge beatha”.  In Latin, the phrase is “aqua vitae”.  Both translate to “water of life”.  What is this “water of life” to which they refer?  It’s whisky, my friends.

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Whisky’s beginning is not 100% definitive, but in my research I found there to be a pretty solid consensus as to how historians believe this rich and complex liquid came to be. (Do keep in mind, though, that there exists slightly differing opinions on the matter.  We are, after all, talking a very very very long time ago!)

The national drink of the Scots, whisky most likely originated over 1,000 years ago after traveling monks crossed into both Scotland and Ireland from mainland Europe, bringing their knowledge of distillation with them.  Whisky’s story begins long before that, however, a long way from Scotland in the world of the Mesopotamian ancients.

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