Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scottish Lentil Soup; (CURRIED) just like mum made it.

A healthy choice, but no foo-foo, just a great recipe for traditional Scottish Lentil Soup.
(I came out of Dillons tonight, the snow was falling, and I went back inside to get a turnip (neep), saying "Ach, I hate this cold weather, I'm having soup!")

Ingredients; 1lb carrots, 1 lb Rutabaga (turnip/neeps), 1lb potatoes, 4oz RED lentils, 1 Onion, 4 chicken stock cubes (buy Pollo mexican, they're cheaper.... see, told you I was Scottish)
(For Tomato and Lentil soup, just add two tins chopped tomatoes at the start, and reduce water by 1 pint)

Method; Bring to boil 3 pints of water with the stock cubes. Chop Carrots, Rutabaga, and onion; add to the boiling stock, cover, and boil sharply for an hour. Turn down the heat, add chopped Potatoes and RED lentils, boil gently for an hour, stirring frequently.

That's the soup ready..... for wimps!
(Or traditionalists; The soup is actually ready to eat at this point, and totally traditional Scottish fare.)

Now for the 'special' ingredients;

You can add....... 2 tablespoons curry powder..... for Curried Lentil Soup.
You can add....... 5 tablespoons curry powder..... for REALLY Curried Lentil Soup
You can add....... a huge dollop of A1 sauce, Worcester sauce, (or any other stuff you might think appeals).
Parmesan cheese is good, ginger spice, turmeric, saffron, absinthe, ground mammoth tusks, whatever warms the cockles of your heart.

And whatever you do, DON'T listen to the idiots that think you can make this with any old lentils.... I'm a Manchester United Supporter.... THEY HAVE TO BE RED LENTILS!!!
(Please trust me on this... I don't have shares in the "Red Lentil Co.")

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Darien Chest.

Yup, now you've seen it; the Darien Chest.
The complex locking system repaired recently, now sitting in Edinburgh, where it originally sailed from.
If it sailed with gold, I would have understood the locks, but as far as I can see, the ships sailed with seeds, trade goods, and totally stupid cargo.
Mirrors, and trinkets for the Mosquito Indians.
Turnip and leek seed for the farmers... (they were obviously going to ignore the copious indigenous fruits and veg, and going for a 'kale' mixture)
Hundreds of pounds of wigs.... YES, you heard me; WIGS.
A gold smelter..... to melt all that traded or stolen Spanish gold.
And a coin maker.... oh boy.... if only they knew then what we know now....

They would have taken..... more Doctors, more nurses, more dysentry tablets, MUCH more laudnum and opiate derivatives.
They would have taken more guns, pistols, knives, bayonets, and all other killing devices.
OR, the best thing of all, someone could have took the keys to the ships..... it would have saved 3000 lives, and a linking-at-the-hip with England.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gorebridge; A Famous Historical Landmark.

Gorebridge; a sleepy village 10 miles south of Edinburgh?

NO! It was the epicenter of the Scottish Gunpowder industry at the turn of the nineteenth century.

At the actual Gore Bridge, in the dip between Gorebridge village and Birkenside, stood the only Scottish Gunpowder mill.
(Ever wondered why the hill was called Powdermill Brae?)

In 1794, a pair of investors, William Hitchener and John Hunter, leased the land from the Buccleuch Estates, and worked under the bridge (diverting the water through sluces and watermills) to produce the best quality gunpowder.

Initially, in a time of peace, the mill advertised as a sporting company. But soon, Britain was involved in a struggle against Napoleon Bonaparte, and many cartloads of their black powder product were sent north to Leith docks, (where the first Darien ships sailed from) then by sea to Grangemouth, then by canal to Greenock (where the second and last Darien ships sailed from), then to Liverpool, to be shipped to the army in Europe.

For the Gorebridge historians, the street name "Powdermill Brae" is a sure clue to this history. The houses (now long gone) under the bridge were called the "Black Raw". Basic, I know. But I once lived in "Tattie Raw", not far from the Gorebridge site.

It's in my blood.

It's wee bits like this that bring the history home. "Tattie Raw" (Victoria Street)... just ask the Wrights, the Halls, the Merchants, the Olivers and many, many more.
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