Love Letters

Growing flowers in the desert

Friday Foodie 16 March, 2007

Filed under: Food,Music — Brighid Fraser @ 9:54 am

Despite not living in the Mother Country (aka Scotland) for nearly 15 years, I still love the ritual of afternoon tea. A nice cuppa and a scone or crumpet or a bit of cake makes me feel in touch with my roots and is a nice hold-me-over from lunch to dinner. It reminds me of my Granny MacLeod and of my childhood.

My Granny lived on the Isle of Skye, just outside of our ancestral village of Dunvegan. She had a wee croft, with a beautiful veg and herb garden, a few chickens, and three milk goats. She was almost self-sufficient on that plot and to me, as a child, it was heaven. My dearest memories of Scotland are of holidays at my Granny’s. She made the best breakfasts, luncheons, teas and suppers imaginable – most everything was fresh from her garden and so flavourful. When she died, I inherited her receipt book and discovered that many of my favourite things to eat are incredibly easy to make.

Yesterday afternoon, my son was with my mother-in-law at the mall, shopping for new summer clothes (it’s supposed to be in the low 90’s this week-end – that’s 33 to those of you on Celsius), so my daughter and I had the afternoon alone together. One of her favourite things to do is to cook, so I whipped out Granny MacLeod’s receipts and we made Blueberry Tea Cake together.

Blueberry Tea Cake

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen is fine, if defrosted beforehand)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, reserved
  1. Grease and lightly flour a 10×6-inch or 8-inch square baking dish (approx. 1 1/2 quarts). Heat oven to 350°.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat egg with wooden spoon; gradually beat in 2/3 cup sugar. Beat until well blended.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Beat well after each addition.
  5. Add butter and vanilla; beat thoroughly.
  6. Fold in blueberries.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched with finger.
  9. Serve warm with butter and a nice cup of tea. I suggest a nice Oolong or Irish Breakfast.

And in other news – the last half of my regular Friday content – MUSIC!The Friday Five:

  1. Desert Rose – Sting
  2. Marathon – Rush
  3. Lemon Parade – Tonic
  4. Into The Mystic – Van Morrison
  5. I Will Go – Celtic Soul

Click here to hear them, along with my commentary. Click each song title to read the lyrics.

 

Friday Foodie 2 March, 2007

Filed under: Food — Brighid Fraser @ 8:31 am

I had intended to do something musical on Fridays, but I can’t quite figure out this new programme for podcasting yet, so I’m sorry but the Friday Five will be postponed until a further date.  I know, I know.  It’s tragic and it may be hard for you to get past, but rest assured that I will persevere and you will be blessed with five random songs from my iPod.  Just not today.

Now onto the other regular subject of every Friday’s blog – food.  I’m a bit of a foodie, you see.  I love food.  I love cooking.  I love discovering new restaurants and new dishes.  There’s almost nothing I won’t eat – well, ok.  I won’t put a snail or a brain or an eyeball anywhere near my mouth, but other than that I’m game.  I was late to the sushi game, but now I really like it.  I’m also a big fan of Chinese, Mexican, Italian…  pretty much every ethnic food out there is a favourite of mine.  Except British food.  That stuff is vile!  I know this from first hand experience – I grew up in the UK and was subject to its weird food proclivities.

Take for example, the traditional full English breakfast, which consists of a slice of toasted, fried bread (toasted and fried, mind you), sausages (again, fried), tomatoes and mushroom (yep, fried), black pudding (which is a sausage made with animal blood and varying forms of “filler” – usually the meat of whatever animal also gave its blood, suet, bread, barley and oatmeal – and then…well, you know…fried), baked beans (NOT fried, although if the British could figure out how to fry a bean, you can rest assured, the beans would be fried and not baked), and some sort of potato – fried American-style hashbrowns or fried leftover mashed potatoes.  Sounds ghastly, doesn’t it?  But hey, in Scotland, the variation includes haggis (sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach).  Absolutely disgusting, isn’t it?  Juxtapose this culinary train-wreck with a traditional French breakfast – a light, flaky, buttery croissant, a cup of hot chocolate and some fresh fruit – and you perhaps see why some people’s version of Hell includes English chefs.

Speaking of breakfast, my family and I have a week-end tradition.  Every Sunday morning, we go to a near-by locally-owned restaurant called the Good Egg, and have freshly squeezed orange juice, Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes, frittatas with ham, green peppers, and onions, and sinful sticky buns, oozing with caramel and pralines.  And as we waddle out after thoroughly stuffing ourselves, I laugh silently at all those Brits who are forced to eat a full breakfast.  Poor sods.