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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Week 3

This week ended with Burns Night on Sunday. I'd love to tell you that I made my haggis from scratch, (love may be pushing it, but heigh ho), that I piped the pudding in and then recited (from memory) the Ode...

We did at least have haggis for supper (nae neeps though... never liked the indestructible stuff), though we did have tatties (of the baked variety), and we also had cranachan, because let's be honest here, we all know that's the best bit!!

Once, many years ago, I served cranachan for afters at a dinner party for some friends. I'd made it plenty of times before, but I was nervous and wanted it to be absolutely spot on, so I'd read the recipe from a book, and measured everything out precisely. Never, ever, again. The recommended amount of whisky nearly knocked us all out for starters, and I think the cream is better for adding vanilla paste. But that's just me. Add to taste!

Ingredients:

  • Pinhead oatmeal
  • double cream (500ml)
  • Clear/runny honey (Scottish Heather Honey for preference)
  • Vanilla paste (if you've a vanilla pod in, scrape the seeds in instead, but the paste is cheaper)
  • Whisky (don't use a cheap blend, be sparing, but use a good one)
  • raspberries or blackberries (aka brambles)
  • Icing sugar (optional)
  • chocolate (optional)
  • mint leaf (optional)
  • shortbread (optional)
  1. Toast the oatmeal in a dry frying pan
  2. While the the oatmeal cools, add the honey, vanilla paste and whisky (to taste) to the cream and whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
  3. Fold the oatmeal into the cream. If you like it very creamy, don't add loads of oatmeal, but I prefer mine to be almost at saturation point and bursting with oatmeal - it's personal choice. [If the oatmeal is too warm, it will melt the cream, so make sure it's sufficiently cooled)
  4. fold most of the raspberries into the mix. It's quite common to use brambles (blackberries) instead, and it is nice. I once ate a cranachan with no fruit in, which needs to go by another name, because it's not right (in my opinion).
  5. I often blitz a few raspberries with a little icing sugar to make a coulis to decorate the cranachan, and then sprinkle some grated chocolate over (I'll be honest, I hate washing the grater after use, so I tend to crumble a flake over it out of lazyness, but it seems to work ok) then add an ornamental whole raspberry and (if you are feeling very fancy) a mint leaf or piece of shortbread to decorate. (if using shortbread, don't add it until you are serving the cranachan or the shortbread goes soggy - learn from my experience).
  6. Leave the cranachan to chill for up to 2 hours & enjoy!
We also had a book club meeting, where we decided that our next book should be Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

Other than that, I decided to try and knit an ear-warmer for walking class. My knitting skills have deteriorated with lack of use, so after three failed attempts, I bought one. Sadly, the only ear-warmers the shop had, were embellished with tacky giant fake gemstones which are (sadly) rather securely attached. This must be punishment for not being competent enough to knit my own. I shall suffer wearing the tasteless tacky bling thing, until such time as I can knit myself a replacement.
The forest was it's usual, glorious self (with obligatory photo-stop at the Black Lake), and the tacky ear-warmer succeeded in keeping my ears warm, and ear-ache free, so regardless of it's lack of elegance, it serves it's purpose admirably, although it catches on my 'everyday' ear-rings, so I have to take them off for walking now. Never mind!

I did finish A Needle in the Right Hand of God, by R Howard Bloch... a book about the Bayeux Tapestry, which goes off on rather a lot of tangents (Robin Hood, anyone? took me two goes to realise how we'd got to Robin Hood). In fairness, the tangents themselves were interesting, alas, it was not, in my opinion, the most engaging read.

Until next week... a sneak preview of which includes a comprehensive discussion about the tradition of chippy teas, a trip to the cinema, a book review, eating out and girl child's first overnight school trip... I bet you can hardly wait!

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