Friday, December 12, 2014

Scottish Oatcakes Recipe

 



Scotland is called the "Land of Cakes" due to Robert Burns describing it this way in one of his poems.  He called it that because the Scottrish love their oatcakes.  They are eaten for breakfast with butter and jam, or syrup, or in the afternoon with tea, accompanied by cold meat, cheese or fruit.  They are not light and fluffy like our pancakes, and I would describe them more as a large cookie.  


Ingredients
  • 250g / 8oz oatmeal
  • 25g / 1oz butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 150ml hot water
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Put the oatmeal in a large bowl
  3. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the salt
  4. Add the butter and hot water
  5. Stir well with a wooden spoon
  6. Finally use your hands to bring the soft paste together
  7. Sprinkle the work surface with oatmeal
  8. Roll out the dough – the thickness is up to you depending on whether you like thin or thick oat cakes
  9. Use a cutter to mark out the rounds
  10. Place on a baking tray
  11. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little
  13. Place on a wire rack to cool completely
  14. Keep in an air tight container to keep for a few days.


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Our Scotland Vacation, September 2012




My husband and I chose to travel to Scotland in late September, wishing to avoid the large crowds of tourists and go at a time when the weather would be mild.  We took a non-stop flight from Dallas to London Heathrow, and a connecting flight to Edinburgh.  My advice would be that if you can avoid Heathrow, do so.  It did not seem well organized.  After showing your passport and going through security, you would walk 15 or 20 feet and have to show it again at another checkpoint, and then show it again at a 3rd. It seemed very redundant in that there was no opportunity for anyone to enter or exit between the checkpoints and no reason for being checked three times.  However, we had a great dinner meal on the long flight, which was American Airlines, and a wonderful breakfast on the connecting flight, which was British Airways. We were served coffee or tea in an actual cup and saucer rather than a disposable styrofoam or paper cup.  Buy your tickets on Priceline.com, we have found them to give the best prices on airfare and hotel combos. 

We got our rental car and my husband proceeded to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road, whch i must say he did well at for his first time. Before starting out on this trip, he had spent hours looking at Scotland on Google Earth, and was already familiar with the main roads and highways.  We had calculated the cost and decided it would be cheaper to stay in a hotel outide Edinburg and rent a car to drive back and forth rather than stay in an hotel in downtown Edinburgh.  So we booked a room at this Holiday Inn Express in Glenrothes, Fife, in the lovely Scottish countryside.  I had some health challenges while on the trip and the staff was very helpful and always concerned about how I was doing.  However, be prepared that hotels in the UK do not offer free internet like the hotels in the U.S. do.  We paid £3 for an hour, £7 for a day and £24 for 3 days.  Also, make sure you log out, not just turn off your computer because if you turn it off and don't log out,  you are still using up your internet hours. You'll try to log in the next day and be out of hours even though the computer was not in use. 


I had plotted the journey from the airport to the hotel on my iPhone maps app, but just after we left the airport, my phone, which had been on for many hours without being charged, ran out of power.  Thankfully, my husband recognized the correct highways and we were able to find our way from Edinburg to Glenrothes without any trouble.

To get to Glenrothes,  you must cross the Firth Road Bridge which spans the Firth of Forth.  To the Left you will see the Forth Bridge which is a cantilevered railway bridge.  Later in our trip we will ride the train from Markinch to Edinburg Waverly Station and pass over the Forth Bridge. 




Scotland didn't seem to have many intersections with stop lights. Instead, they have these roundabouts which eliminate the need for stop lights.  It takes some getting used to.  You don't have to stop if there is no mtraffic around the circle. You just yield, look both ways and go. 

Many of the roundabouts have statues or beautiful flower gardens in the middle.

The Holiday Inn Express in Glenrothes is just after you pass what is called "Leslie Roundabout" which is the last one before you leave Glenrothes and enter Leslie.  The Holiday Inn is on the left just after passing the roundabout.  We had to stop at the Shell station in Glenrothes and ask directions.  It was interesting to go into what amounts to a 7-11 or Circle K convenience store back home.  I didn't notice any brands that I recognized until I got to the cooler and finally saw Diet Coke.  I bought Diet Coke and a Snickers bar because they were the only things I recognized!  

We checked into the Holiday Inn Express and found that our room was upstairs and there was no elevator!  Apparently there is no requirement in Scotland for public buildings to be handicapped-accessible.  Since I have some issues with degenerative disc disease and sciatica, and my leg muscles are not strong, I didn't enjoy the climb up the stairs.  But they moved us to a downstairs room the next day. 

Next door to the Holiday Inn was a pub, the Fettykill Fox.  We ate there three times during our stay and the food was delicious, the atmosphere even more wonderful.  We had:

The Chargrilled Gammon Steak served with a fried egg, fresh pineapple, chips and garden peas for £7.45.

The Cod and Chips, a thick cut cod loin in today’s beer batter with steak cut chips, mushy peas and tartar sauce for
£10.95.

We also had some kind of chicken pie which doesn't seem to be on the menu when I checked today, and a panko bread crumb chicken tender which also does not appear to be on the menu today, but is probably seasonal.

I'd also recommend the "Toad in a Hole" and the "Spotted Dick." 

One thing you should know is that when paying for your meal, American credit cards don't have a "chip" like UK credit cards, which means they have to slide your card and have you sign for it, which is what we are used to here but over there you just stick the card into the card reader and that's it in the UK, no signature required.  Everyone would try to do it the UK way with our card and finally when they learned it was an American card they would slide it and say, "Never had to do that before." However, one good thng is that they are not allowed to take your card out of your sight. They bring the card reader to the table and slide it in your presence and hand it right back to you.  Cuts down on credit card fraud. 

  To see the menus for the Fettykill Fox, click below:

The Fixed Price Menu
The Main Food Menu
The Children's Menu
The Sandwich Menu

It's a family-friendly pub, if you can conceive of a bar as being family-friendly, so bring the kids along.

And by the way I found it interesting that almost everything in Scotalnd is servied with green peas, either whole or mashed.  And the continental breakfast in the hotel always served beans with breakfast. And there's no Mexican food.  The closest we found was a bowl of chili served at a pub in Glenrothes called The Golden Acorn. 



If you need painkillers while in the UK, you won't be able to find Tylenol.  It's called paracetamol over there.  Tylenol and Ibuprofen are only available by prescription, and Naproxen (Aleve) is only available in preparations for "monthly pain" for women. So if you need painkillers while you are there, bring your own. 





A bit about Glenrothes....it is a competely modern town, unlike much of Scotland which is full of castles and old stone buildings and medievil things.  Glenrothes has a population of about 38,000 people.  When you include the areas of Leslie, Balgonie, Markinch and Thornton, which are part of the Glenrothes community, it rises to 47,000 or so.  The closest castle appears to be in Balgonie, which we shall see now.

Click Here for BalgonieCastle

Click Here for FalklandPalace and Garden

Click Here for St.Andrews

Click Here for RosslynChapel

Click Here for Edinburgh

Click here for RiversidePark, Glenrothes



This is what housing looks like in the area.  This picture is of housing across from the Markinch train station.  Here where I live, we would call these duplexes, a building with two living spaces that share an interior wall.  While a duplex is kind of a lower class housing here where I live, it certainly isn't in Scotland.  These might be considered to be more like a townhouse.  They are certainly beautiful. 




This is the Markinch Station, across the street from the housing above. A round trip ticket from Markinch/Glenrothes to Edinburg and back was £11.00 for one person.  It was quite a pleasant ride and we met and talked with many interesting people.  It was a beautiful way to see the coastline.  This train passes over the Forth Rail Bridge. 






Forth Rail Bridge. Take my advice, don't try to drive in downtown Edinburgh.  The streets are very narrow, there's a lot of traffic, limited parking, and my the map app on my iPhone kept taking us the wrong direction. 





  



Waverly Station in Edinburgh.  It is the second largest train station in Britain.  It is 25 acres in the city centre at Princes Street between the Waverly and North Bridges.   If you need to use the bathroom in Waverly Station, be prepared to pay to enter a bathroom stall.  Have coins available.

 



Waverly Station inside.  The little bench on the far right bottom is where we sat while waiting for our train. 




Scotland is called the "Land of Cakes" due to Robert Burns describing it this way in one of his poems.  He called it that because the Scottrish love their oatcakes.  They are eaten for breakfast with butter and jam, or syrup, or in the afternoon with tea, accompanied by cold meat, cheese or fruit.  They are not light and fluffy like our pancakes, and I would describe them more as a large cookie.  Scottish Oat Cake recipe






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Our Trip to Scotland - Riverside Park, Glenrothes

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Our Trip to Scotland - Edinburgh

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Our Trip to Scotland - Rosslyn Chapel

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Our Trip to Scotland - St. Andrews


Driving in the Scottish countryside, up the coast of the North Sea, was a lovely drive.

We drove up the coast to St. Andrews, where supposedly Golf was invented.  We passed by St. Andrews Castle.

Arrived in St. Andrews.  Didn't know where we were going so stopped to ask directions at this lovely Crystal Shop. Bought some scented soap and a rose quartz pendulum as souvenirs.


We wanted to visit the Aquarium, but couldn't get a very close parking space, so had to park downtown and walk over to the coast to where the Aquarium was.  Took these lovely pictures by the coast of the North Sea.

Beautiful flowers out in front of the Aquarium and the Seafood Restaurant.

Sitting in the Seafood Restaurant on the coast of the North Sea.  We went into this restaurant in jeans and soon saw that we were a little under dressed.  The waiter seated you, pushed in your chair, and then placed your napkin in your lap for you.  High Class.



\
My dinner at the Seafood Restaurant. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables plated with a little sauce very artistically.












Visiting the Aquarium.  This was the first day out for us after me spending three days flat on my back with sciatica, so I'm not looking all that happy.  But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.








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Our Trip to Scotland - Falkland Castle and Gardens






Set in the picturesque village of Falkland, this palace was the favorite retreat of the Stuart dynasty, especially Mary Queen of Scots who visited for the hunting, hawking and tennis. Picture taken while walking down the main street of Falkland toward the castle.












Front door of Faulklind Castle.

















Before going inside we walked the grounds and gardens behind the ruins of the palace. 



The gardens are beautiful and worth the visit in and of themselves.  











One of the things you need to be aware of when visiting ANY castle in Scotland is that you are not allowed to take ANY pictures inside the structures.  This is because each castle sells a guidebook with professionally taken  photos inside, and they want to sell you that guidebook.  So put your camera away when you go inside. 

When we arrived in Scotland, I began to have problems with pain from Sciatica, so walking and climbing stairs was difficult.  At Faulkland Palace, we went inside, paid to see the castle, and THEN learned that you had to climb up to the third floor to start the tour.  Apparently there is nothing in the UK that is similar to the Americans with Disabilities act which requires public buildings to have handicapped access.  They did not have an elevator or ramps of any kind, so don't plan on going to this attraction if you have mobility issues or are in a wheelchair.  

















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Our Trip to Scotland - Balgonie Castle



All in all, Scotland has over 3000 castles.  

The closest castle to where we were staying in Glenrothes was Balgonie Castle.  On the day we tried to visit Balgonie Castle, there was a sign on the door that it was closed for a wedding, so we had to come back later.  Here are the pictures we took from the outside. 






Here's me walking down the road from the castle. 











Here's the castle as you approach it from the highway.














Side view of the castle.

















The castle tower. 













The castle's stone wall which was falling down.  I was tempted to pick up a stone to bring home but didn't if I could get through customs with it, so I didn't. 













Balgonie's cows in the field across from the castle. 











Interior of the wedding chapel. 












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