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  • Jim
    Dec 18, 2005
      ------------ STONEHAVEN GENEALOGY ------------

      ----- WEEKLY UPDATE – DECEMBER 18, 2005 ------


      by Maria Hubert

      Many of the elements of the Christmases of the
      Celtic countries are the same. If you have
      already read through the other countries, you
      will know how this one is going to go, with books
      to put you in the right spirit, music to set the
      'tone'! (forgive the pun here!), decorating ideas
      and customs to follow.

      First the Decorations. Scotland tended to hang evergreens, the holly
      particularly. But My Scottish Tree is decorated with bows made from
      many different tartans. A strip of cloth is all you need. from 1" to
      8" widths and around 18" to 4' long. Then I select plain enamelled
      baubles in different sizes to compliment to colours of the tartans,
      from black (yes they do work!) to rich greens, reds, deep gold, and
      blues. For the tree top I put a teddy bear with a tartan beret! But
      you could use a large tartan bow, or a simple star.

      Next the music. The most traditional one is Hogmanay Party by Jimmy
      MacLeod and his band. Rousing and foot-tapping, you can sing , dance
      or just turn this one down for background music. A must for a
      Scottish Christmas party!

      A good all-rounder with carols like Taladh Chriosta, Scottish songs
      and music such as New Year's Day and Bottom of the Punch Bowl, well
      blended with some of the more popular carols such as God Rest ye
      Merry, Gentlemen. Many of which you can hear a sample of at the
      Amazon.com music site.

      To read I recommend Silver Bough vol.3. Calendar of Scottish National
      Festivals - Halloween to Yule. This one has all the customs for you
      to follow, many of which are very old. A must for anyone who is of
      Scottish ancestry and wishes to live the seasons as their forefathers
      did! This book is available through IBS Bookshop, from this site.
      Also, if you can find it, The Scottish Yule an American publication
      by Francis Thompson, who has written many other Scottish books. This
      does not appear on the pages of either IBS or Amazon, that I could
      find, but is the best book of Scottish Christmas and Hogmanay
      customs. Try Amazons out of print book service if you cannot find it
      on their pages. Published in 1987 by Scoters, Burton Mills, Virginia.
      26525. Please mention this site - they dont know us, but maybe they

      You must have a Scottish Shortbread on your table. You can make it,
      or buy the real McCoy. Black Bun, and a Venison Stew would set the
      right feel at the table.


      This cake in a crust is the traditional New Year cake in Scotland.
      Every housewife has her own variations. This one is from a family
      recipe book

      First make a 1lb weight of short crust pastry your usual method.
      Leave to chill.

      Take a springform (if possible) cake tin, and line with baking
      parchment. Set aside.

      Mix together 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground ginger, 1/4 fresh
      grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper.

      Weigh into large bowl 10oz plain flour and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate
      soda, mix well. Add 4oz Demerara sugar, then the spices, and weigh in
      1lb currants, 1lb raisins, 4oz broken or flaked almonds, 4oz mixed
      candied peel.

      Mix altogether well.

      Add two beaten eggs, 5 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk will do) & two
      or three tablespoons whisky. Mix to a stiff sticky dough.

      Roll out 2/3rds of the pastry and line the caketin with this. Press
      the fruit mixture into the pastry shell so that it is filled densely.
      Roll out the rest of the pastry to form a lid, and put on top in the
      usual way, moistening the edges with water to make then stick.

      Take a long skewer, and pierce several times, right through the cake
      till you feel the tip touch the tin bottom. Brush the lid with a
      mixture of egg and milk, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 325
      Fahrenheit; 170 Centigrade for about three hours. Test with skewer,
      when it is done, the skewer will not have any cake mix sticking to it.

      Serve with coffee, or as the Scots do, with a wee dram of whisky!


      This cake is popular throughout Britain as an alternative to
      Christmas Cake. It is less rich, and not so indigestible. But it is
      originally a Scottish Christmas cake from Dundee.

      Line an 8" cake tin with baking parchment. I prefer to use springform
      tins, as they are easier.. Set aside.

      Cream together 8oz butter & 8oz sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in
      4 eggs, one at a time, with a little flour taken from the total
      weight of 10oz. This stops the eggs curdling.. Stir in orange rind,
      finely grated.

      Sift together the rest of the flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a
      pinch of salt. Use plain flour and baking powder if you can, as it
      gives a better stability for the heavy fruit.

      Fold the flour mix into the creamed mixture and add 2 oz ground
      almonds, 1lb of mixed dried fruits and 4 oz candied peels.

      Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the surface, hollow it slightly
      in the middle so that when it rises it will not peak. Arrange whole
      blanched almonds around the top. Brush all over with beaten egg
      white. Bake in a pre-heated oven 325 Fahrenheit, 170Centigrade for
      about three hours. After the first hour, put a sheet of baking
      parchment on top, to prevent it going too dark and burning. Test with
      skewer, when it comes out clean the cake is ready.


      This biscuit type cake is a modern version of a very ancient cake or
      Bannock, which was baked in honour of the Sun. Nowadays, we make
      marks which divide the biscuit into slices or wedges, but these marks
      originally were symbolic of the rays of the sun. Bannock was the old
      name which was used to describe a mix baked in a large flat round
      shape, and generally hardish like biscuit rather than cake texture.

      For this recipe you need to line a baking tray with baking parchment.
      Cream together 4oz butter, 3oz caster sugar (very fine). Mix in 8 oz
      flour & a pinch of salt. This should be a stiff dough, pliable enough
      to roll our like pastry. If too crumbly, add a tiny drop at a tine of
      ice cold water (from the fridge).

      Roll out to 1/8 inch thick only. A tip here, I roll it out on a piece
      of baking parchment, and then lift it onto my baking tray complete
      with the parchment. It breaks very easily! Define a large circle by
      cutting around a dinner plate . Remove the bits. Then take a small
      circular cutter and cut away a centre hole, but not right through,
      just enough to get the indented shape of a circle (or a sun!). Make
      eight evenly spaced 'rays' or wedges around the cake. Pierce each
      wedge three times with a fork.. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350
      Fahrenheit, 180 Centigrade for about 20 minutes. It will be softish
      when you take it out, but will harden as it cools - like cookies.


      Ingredients: 1 lb.Self-Raising Flour
      2 cups of Sugar
      small packet Mixed Spice
      1 teaspoon Cinnamon
      1 teaspoon Ginger
      4 oz.Vegetable Suet (e.g."Atore" brand or similar)
      2 lbs.Seedless Raisins, Californian
      1 grated Apple
      1 grated Carrot

      Also, Linen Cloth to contain all ingredients while cooking. And a Pot
      big enough to take it all.

      Mix together all dry ingredients then add raisins, suet, grated apple
      and grated carrot. Mix with cold water to a stiff batter.
      Dust Cloth with flour, after rinsing the bottom of Cloth in boiling
      water. Tie Cloth tightly, but leave space to swell; tied halfway up
      is about right. Put in Pot.

      Fill Pot with boiling water. Keep boiling and simmering for at least
      three hours.

      At the stiff batter stage, we used to put silver threepenny pieces,
      wrapped in greaseproof paper, into the dumpling for the children to
      find. You might try the same with your decimal equivalent of the
      Silver "Thruppny".

      Here is a delightful letter I received:

      Dear Maria,

      As an afterthought, it struck me that your folks might like some
      Braes of Atholl Brose to go with their Dumpling. It is not all that
      popular in my own family since drinking it led to the ensnarement of
      a relative of ours, Iain-mhor Donald, Lord of the Isles. Since then,
      the Macinnes´s have been traditionally teetotallers as far as Atholl
      Brose is concerned (but oddly enough, the Macdonalds have never let
      it bother them. I suppose they got the taste for it...

      The Year was 1745 and Iain Macdonald was leading his clan in Bonnie
      Prince Charlie's Rising against the Protestant German Hanoverian that
      the scurrilous English had put on the throne of the Catholic Scottish
      Stuarts. In those days, people got uptight about that sort of thing
      and felt that the English should mind their own business. The English
      thought is was their business since they owned more than half the
      island and the intransigent Scots kept moving the goalposts where the
      Border should have been. Anyway, the word got around that our Iain
      (who was maybe originally a teetotaller himself?) always enjoyed
      drinking the water in a spring in Killicrankie in the Scottish
      Highlands. So that traitorous, treacherous scoundrel, the Duke of
      Atholl (you can see here how partisan feelings can arise, depending
      on your point of view) ordered that the well should be filled with a
      concoction of honey and whisky, bound in oatmeal. The noble Lord of
      the Isles (yes, you can definitely see a trace of residual
      partisanship creeping in again, even now), very taken with the brew,
      hung around for a few drams more than was wise and spent the rest of
      the Rising in the Duke´s dungeons. The Duke of Cumberland
      subsequently came up the M9 and arrived at Atholl with a permanent
      cure for Iain Macdonald´s alcoholism...

      So if you fancy capturing a Highlander for yourself, here is the
      recipe for Atholl Brose: First prepare the body from oatmeal. Pour
      half a pint of oatmeal into a basin (the traditional measure is four
      sherry glasses full of the stuff) and stir in cold water until you
      have a thick gooey paste about the same consistency as wallpaper
      paste. Leave the mix to firm up for half an hour or so then squeeze
      through a fine strainer, using your hands or a non-metallic implement
      like a wooden spoon. The idea is to get the creamy extract, to
      provide a bit of body for the brose. The oatmeal you can throw away,
      or keep for somebody´s morning porridge, depending on how long you
      have been hiding in the heather. You don´t need it any more. Pour the
      extract into a jug and add four dessert spoons of whichever pure
      honey you prefer Stir it well, using a silver spoon. (If you don´t
      have a silver spoon, anything that.s handy will do; they´re only
      being pretentious). Pour the lot into a quart (1 litre) bottle and
      fill the bottle with malt whisky to your own favourite taste. Shake
      well before serving at room temperature. The toast is Slainte Mhath!
      (pronounced Slanjey-va, meaning "Good Health"). The response is
      Slainte Mhor! (pronounced Slanjey-voe, meaning "Great Health").

      Slainte Mhath, a Mhari!


      Today, most Scots will have their Turkey like everyone else. But
      Venison Stew is a rich traditional Scottish dish which would grace
      any Christmas table. Popular on tables of gentlefolk at Christmastide
      and New Year in the 18th-19th century.

      Cut 1lb lean venison into strips. Cut off the rind from 1lb streaky
      bacon. Put 1oz butter into a non-stick pan, and brown the two meats
      briskly. Add salt & pepper to taste. Slice small 1lb carrots, a stick
      of celery, 1 large onion and grated peel of one orange. Add to meats.
      Then put in about 3/4 pint milk, just to cover meat, add a spray of
      thyme, and cover. Simmer for two hours until venison is tender.

      Remove meat & vegetables, thicken juices with a little flour, and
      then add 2 tablespoons whisky and 1/4 pint cream. Heat gently until
      thick and smooth. Pour over the meat and vegetables in the dish.
      Grate a little cheese over, and brown in the oven until it bubbles.

      Serve with buttered mashed potatoes and buttered mashed swedes or
      turnips - if you can get them

      THE END!



      Beneath the City Chambers in Edinburgh lies Mary King's Close, a
      street that was closed off and sealed up following the plague of 1645
      and has since been built over. Today, tours of the close are
      conducted for tourists, and a number of ghostly sightings have been

      CHEERS from your Stonehaven Genealogy Committee

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