Happy Summer Solstice!

“Bed In Summer”

-Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

 

In winter I get up at night 
And dress by yellow candle-light. 
In summer, quite the other way, 
I have to go to bed by day. 

I have to go to bed and see 
The birds still hopping on the tree, 
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet 
Still going past me in the street. 

And does it not seem hard to you, 
When all the sky is clear and blue, 
And I should like so much to play, 
To have to go to bed by day?

-from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Recipe: Rob Roy

Hi guys! I hope you have had a great weekend. I have been nursing a crappy ear infection myself. But alas, it’s been a good excuse to catch some extra z’s, lay around the house in my bathrobe, binge some television, and sip a little whisk(e)y. Always look on the sunny side of life, my friends!

In keeping with said whisk(e)y, today we are going to make a Rob Roy. Mr. C and I happen to LOVE a Manhattan cocktail, as we have been on quite the bourbon kick lately (thus the reason I included the ‘e’ in the spelling of whiskey). Our newfound appreciation for bourbon began last fall when we visited Lexington, Kentucky and toured three different distilleries.

Named after the 17th century Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor, a Rob Roy cocktail is essentially a Manhattan. But instead of bourbon – or if you’re a purist, rye whiskey – it is made with a blended Scotch (whisky without the ‘e’). We initially wanted to make today’s recipe with Dimple Pinch, a smooth, non-peaty blend that is suited perfectly for mixed drinks. Unfortunately, Mr. C couldn’t find any and the liquor store he went to was thin on blends. So instead, he decided to try one we have never had. It’s called Monkey Shoulder. Great name, right? It describes itself as “blended in small batches of three fine Speyside single malts, then married to achieve a smoother, richer taste”.

Robert Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) was a marauder in the Highlands of Scotland.  After falling out with the Duke of Montrose, Roy ran a racket, whereby he earned a living stealing cattle and then extorting money from farmers to ‘protect’ them from thieves.  His name was made even more famous by writer Walter Scott when he published his novel Rob Roy in 1817.

Based on its description, I think Monkey Shoulder sounds promising. Let’s see if the taste is as inventive as that fun name!

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Scott Monument

Hi friends,

I have a case of the glooomies. I can think of no other reason except that it’s the end of February, which here in Virginia feels like the purgatory of months. It may be the shortest month but somehow it feels like the longest! We’re too far removed from the holidays now to bask in the nostalgia and still a few weeks away from the the warmth and beauty of a new season. We’re caught in that yucky in-between time where winter feels unrelenting. Hurry up spring!

Friends, today I want to take a look at an iconic feature of Edinburgh’s skyline. When you visit the city, you notice right away that the landscape is dotted with spires. Perhaps the most recognizable among them is the awesome, gothic tower that looks as if it could have come straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination.

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“O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair”: A Poem by Robert Burns (and one of my personal favorites)

“O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair”, by Scottish poet Robert Burns

O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.

O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa’;
And I myself a drap o’ dew,
Into her bonie breast to fa’!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I’d feast on beauty a’ the night;
Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley’d awa by Phoebus’ light!

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

XOXO


Burns Night Recipe: Cock-A-Leekie Soup


Hey friends!

Every year on January 25, Scots (and those who have plaid hearts), come together to celebrate the life and literary works of Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night as it is called, is a night for making merry. Though celebrations vary among its participants, generally it’s a night to gather with family and friends to eat traditional Scottish fare, to be entertained by all things Burns, and of course, to drink whisky! At more formal occasions, the evening commences with the joining of hands as everyone sings ‘Auld Lang Syne’. Mr. C and I celebrate our own version of Burns Night, but to celebrate this event IN Scotland is definitely one of my bucket list dreams.

*You may click on the links embedded above if you are interested in reading my previous posts about Robert Burns.*

The traditional fare on Burns Night is usually some sort of soup (such as cock-a-leekie), haggis, neeps, tatties, and something sweet (like cranachan or clootie dumpling). Today, I would like to share with you my recipe for cock-a-leekie soup. I know it’s a funny sounding name, but really it’s just chicken soup with leeks. 🙂 The addition of allspice really takes the taste up a notch. Enjoy it on Burns Night or on any other occasion. It’s utterly delicious!

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Pilrig House

Hello, my friends. A very happy new year to you. I hope your 2019 has gotten off to a jolly good start!

Today I would like to take you to a place in Scotland that is extra special to me. I know, I know…you think that I feel that way about every place in Scotland! Haha, you know me too well, dear reader. And ’tis true, I suppose. But this place really does put a skip in my plaid heart.

Isn’t is lovely? This is Pilrig House, a historic Scottish townhouse located in Edinburgh, next to the burgh of Leith. It is theorized that the name ‘Pilrig’ may have derived from the former ‘Peilrig’ and ‘Pellryge’ (rig=ridge), where a peel tower stood in the 15thcentury. According to pilrighouse.com, “stonework in the basement walls suggests the remains of a peel tower”. For a newby history geek like me, that is fascinating.

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“Autumn Fires”, by Robert Louis Stevenson

“Autumn Fires”

by Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

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Parks and Rec Made Me Cry So I Booked a Trip to Scotland

Hey there, Friends!  Good to see you again.

In typical fashion, Mr. C and I were late to the game.  A few weeks ago on a lazy vacation day in Kentucky, we discovered the comedy series “Parks and Recreation” produced by and starring Amy Poehler.  Never mind that the show ended like three and a half years ago, but hey.  We’re not big television watchers and it takes a lot in a show to impress me and hold my attention, but boy when I find a show that does both, I’m ALL in.  Smart, witty, hilarious, and occasionally quite poignant and touching, I think “Parks and Rec” knocked it out of said park.

The show’s characters are an extremely eclectic bunch and I get such a kick out of them all!  But it’s Ron Swanson – that deadpan, highly private, masculine, meat-eating, whisky-loving, mustache of a man who I adore the most.

RonSwanson.jpg
Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman

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Recipe: Prince Charlie’s Coffee

The year was 1746 and a young man by the name of…wait for it…Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was on the run.  We know him better as Bonnie Prince Charlie (and thank goodness because that was a mouthful).

Lost_Portrait_of_Charles_Edward_Stuart
Photo:  Public Domain

Following a crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden – the short, bloody battle in which Prince Charlie led his Jacobite supporters in an attempt to restore his family (the Stuarts) to the English and Scottish thrones – Charlie found himself fleeing for his life from an aggressive pursuit by the king’s men.  With assistance from loyal Scottish clansmen along the way, Charlie’s escape took him through the Highlands and into the western islands of Scotland, finally landing him on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides.

It was on Skye that John MacKinnon, the chief of Clan MacKinnon, helped Prince Charlie escape Scotland for France.  As a token of his gratitude, the Prince gave John the secret recipe to his personal liqueur that had been created for him when he was at the French court.

Many generations later, in 1873, that secret recipe passed into the hands of John Ross of the Broadford Hotel on Skye and John’s son James went on to register “an dram buidheach” (in Gaelic, “the drink that satisfies”) as a trademark.  In 1914, Malcolm MacKinnon obtained the recipe and trademark and established what we know today as the Drambuie Liqueur Company.

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