Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2017

Guest Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart to MLK. She writes about a Scottish-themed shop in Vermont, and though it's Saint Patrick's Day today, we won't hold it against her. She's giving us a recipe that is both easy and fun. Plus a giveaway!

Why would anyone wonder why I write not one, but TWO mystery series with a protagonist who either can’t or doesn’t like to cook? Isn’t it obvious?

Peggy Winn in the ScotShop series likes to eat the leftovers from her friend Karaline’s restaurant. Biscuit, the librarian in the Biscuit McKee series, cooks three things – soups, bread, and cookies. Anything else is the responsibility of Bob, her ever-patient husband.

Those two characters just about sum me up. I can’t imagine how much trouble I’d have writing a series if I had to come up with recipes for each book.

That said, I do have a recipe for you, but you’ll have to improvise a lot, since it’s based to a large extent on what was in my cupboard one particular day.

I loved the moment I discovered crockpots. I can throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there in the morning, let it simmer all day long, and have a number of meals to chomp on (like about five of them – supper this evening, lunch and supper for the next two days).

I can hear you asking – “What!!!! Eat the same thing three days in a row?!!!!”

Well, yes. Food is not a high priority for me (as I’m sure you already figured out). If you don’t want to duplicate menus, feel free to freeze meal-sized batches for later.

Now, I do admit that sometimes the crazy combinations I put together end up being, shall we say, less than satisfying. Since I hardly ever cook for company, though, I don’t have to worry about it. I’m someone who can make a complete meal out of fresh homemade bread and creamy butter, along with hunks of cheese and good strong tea. Throw in some soup (even if it tastes a little weird), and the meal is even better.

So, here’s the way my throw-together soup happens:
1. Crockpot, dribbled with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to keep things from sticking.

2. Layer the bottom with a cup of rice (preferably brown) uncooked.

3. Dump an entire undrained can of Italian-cut green beans on top of the rice.

4. Add an undrained can of light red kidney beans (You can use the dark red, but they turn the rice sort of muddy looking. Not too appetizing unless you’re eating by candlelight.) If you’d rather, you can soak dried kidney beans overnight and add them during this step.

5. Chop up a smallish dill pickle and add it on top of the kidney beans. Why, you ask? Why not?

6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of pepper. At this point, I usually throw in some sort of herb or spice. The last soup I put together had a couple of teaspoons of mustard seed. I’ve also been known to add a little cumin and a fair amount of ginger.

7. Chop up some chicken (cooked or uncooked) or fresh salmon and layer the pieces over the rice and such. If you don’t want to chop, four to six drumsticks work just fine.

8. Add another layer of rice – if you make it wild rice, it’ll add a nutty consistency that’s delicious – and one more can of green beans. You could use the French-cut beans, but they’re a little harder to eat without dribbling. Once I used a can of each, and it just looked messy, so now I stick to the stubby Italian-cut version.

8. Top with four or five pieces of pickled okra, sliced thinly.

9. Add enough water to make it sort of soupy.

Cook on high from 4 to 6 hours (or on low overnight). You may need to add more water halfway through.

I almost never add salt – but you might want to in step #6 if you’re a “salty” kind of person.

That’s it. Simple. Quick. Tasty (we hope).

Fran will be giving away one copy of her book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment!

About the book:

The annual Highland Festival in Hamelin, Vermont, means caber tossing, sword dancing, and just a spot of murder...

Hamelin is overflowing with tourists enjoying the Scottish-themed games—and most of them are donning tartans from Peggy Winn’s ScotShop. And her fourteenth-century ghostly companion, Dirk, has been indispensable, keeping an eye out for shoplifters and matching customer’s family names to their clan plaid.

Adding to the chaos is Big Willie, a longtime champion of the games, but not everyone is happy to have him in town. So when he misses the first event of the weekend, Peggy senses something is awry. After Willie is discovered dead in his hotel room, the victim of a bagpipe-related crime, Peggy decides it’s up to her and Dirk to suss out a murderer—because another death would really blow... 

Find A Wee Homicide in the Hotel at:

Books a Million
Books a Million

About Fran:

Hoping to be judged on her writing ability and not on her cooking ability, Fran is the national best-selling author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series (seven books so far) and the ScotShop mystery trilogy; as well as a standalone mystery A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT; and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers, written to help emerging writers use the English language more effectively. She lives and writes quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Atholl Brose

It seems that Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday was last week. You know, the one who wrote one of my favorite quotations:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

This is a date that is important to the people of Scotland, and some celebrate it each year with a Burns’ Night supper.

Atholl Brose

As it happens, I have a college friend who has lived in Scotland much of her life since college. We drifted apart for a while (decades!), then reconnected at a gathering a few years ago, and now we’re FB friends. We compare notes on the size of appliances in the UK and Ireland versus the U.S., and how to heat very old buildings and the like.

On Burns’ birthday, she mentioned that she was making haggis. You may relax, dear readers, for I do not plan to make anything that involves finding a sheep’s stomach and stuffing it with the sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. But she also mentioned making “athole brose” as a part of the celebration. Of course I had to ask, what the heck is that?

It’s a very Scottish alcoholic beverage that includes only four ingredients: oats, water, honey, and whisky. Easy to make. Think of it as Scotch eggnog.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve read that the “Atholl” part refers to whoever first popularized the drink, and “brose” is kind of a porridge involving oats. Anyway, I persuaded my friend to give me her recipe, and it’s very flexible.

Atholl Brose

First, in the morning or even night before, you soak a good 2 cups of oatmeal (rather than rolled oats, but they will work too) in about 4 cups of cold water; stir every now and then. You find the oats eventually exude a thick extract.

When you are ready to start making the brose, strain the liquid into a glass/measuring jug. 

Take about a pint of this oat water, add about a pint of thick cream, and about a cup of runny honey. Stir, and add more honey to taste if you wish. 

Then add about half a cup of whisky; that's just for the mild base. When you’re serving it, you can add more whisky to taste! 

I ended up with two quarters of atholl brose. Of course, I used Irish oats and Irish whiskey, and County Cork has plenty of cattle producing a lot of cream. I will say that the honey you choose, wherever it comes from, has a significant effect on the flavor of the drink, so pick a honey whose flavor you like, or pick one with a pleasant neutral flavor.

I’m not sure what the shelf-life for this stuff is (or maybe nobody expects it to last long!). I’d keep it in the refrigerator, to be safe, and you may need to shake it up a bit before you pour.

I’ll leave you with the Scottish toast to your health, slàinte, which looks a whole lot like the Irish version, sláinte. But what’s an accent between friends?

And may I add that this week saw St. Bridget's Day in Ireland? She doesn't get the attention that St. Patrick does, but she was a busy woman anyway: she was the patron saint of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen. Good person to have on your side! 

Tradition has it that the ewes in Ireland are about to produce spring lambs--would that I were there! But in Cruel Winter you can join Maura Donovan at Sullivan's Pub, where she and several other people--staff, friends and strangers--are snowed in for a long night--and they solve an old murder.

Cruel Winter, coming March 14th (before St. Patrick's Day!), and available for pre-order at Amazon (where it's on sale for 1/3 off at the moment, but I don't know for how long) and Barnes and Noble (for the same discounted price).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Scottish Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies @LucyBurdette #recipe

Mike, Lewis, Bob, John

LUCY BURDETTE: In October, my husband went on a dream trip —playing golf in Scotland with his three brothers and four other childhood friends. (Aren't they so cute?) They had an amazing time, and he came home with small packages of Walker’s shortbread cookies, which they found at every hotel and B and B.  
Naturally I became addicted to these cookies and decided I should try making some myself. Neither the brown sugar nor the almond extract are traditional, but they sounded like good additions to me.

    •    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    •    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    •    2 to 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    •    almond extract, 1 tsp

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the extract. Mix in the flour on low speed until it’s just combined. (If you work the dough too hard, the cookies will be tough.) 

Roll the dough out on a piece of floured parchment into a rough rectangle (no more than 1/2 inch deep), then move the whole thing to your baking pan. Score the dough into the size cookies you want. Bake at 325 until lightly browned. 

Once removed from the oven, prick the warm cookies with a fork and cut through the scored lines.

You might want to whip up a batch for National Shortbread Day on January 6!

Don't forget that mysteries make great stocking stuffers! (Here's my Pinterest board with tons of suggestions...)