I suppose you could say I am a true Canadian through and through. My ancestry is a bit of a mixed bag. My last name German, my grandmothers are French and British. I hear there is a Norwegian in there, and according to family gossip, the possibility of an affair with an aboriginal.
However, there is one background that I familiarize myself with more than any other – Scottish.
My now deceased Papa was 100% Scottish despite his upbringing in Montreal. He was fluent in French until the day he died. But get enough rye in him and he could eerily mimic the Scottish tongue spoken by his own father.
My Papa carried his Scottish traditions into his own family. I’ll never forget when my mother explained to me as a child that instead of French toast on Sundays, she ate blood pudding. I was horrified.
Of course, some of my mother’s traditions have trickled down into our family. Holiday meals are always paired with party crackers and paper crowns. We all drink Earl Grey and my mother insists we watch the Queen’s Message every Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, not one goes by without a mincemeat pie. My sisters and I even did highland dancing as children, complete with kilts, vests, and leather shoes.
I mean, just look at us. Our frizzy hair and pale complexions just scream “Scottish.”
When reading over the criteria for the second challenge of Project Food Blog I knew it was time to channel that inner Scot of mine. I can whip up a Lebanese meal no prob, but the food of “my people” has never quite tickled my culinary fancy.
Challenge Prompt: Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with… Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal…
Of course, what are Scots known for best? Haggis! I’ve never tried haggis before and was only further intrigued when my mother told me of my great-great-Nana Susan MacLeod (who I am named after) making haggis on the Isle of Skye.
Creates a lovely scene, no?
I thought so until I actually looked up the ingredients to haggis:
1 sheep’s lung (illegal in the U.S.; may be omitted if not available)
1 sheep’s stomach
1 sheep heart
1 sheep liver
1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)
I tried in vain to find a “healthier” version. I found a few using turkey hearts and necks. An off-base vegan version using lentils. But the more I looked the more grossed out I got by the whole thing. I mean, Scottish cooking isn’t necessarily known for being healthy or delicious. But I was convinced that I could make something without grossing myself, and my readers, out!
I skimmed through traditional Scottish recipes, determined to find something better than haggis, but could still challenge my vegetarian roots. I am still something of a “newbie” to all this meat-y cooking after all.
I ended up finding not one, but two dishes that got me licking my lips and excited to get in the kitchen!
First up: Scotch Eggs.
Boiled eggs wrapped in sausage. Protein + fat doesn’t get much better than this my friends.
Both of these recipes come from the same website, featuring dozens of traditional Scottish recipes. The way they were made hundreds of years ago. The recipe for scotch eggs can be found here.
I began by boiling five eggs, peeling, and dusting them in flour.
The flour is so the sausage sticks. I learned this immediately because I almost accidentally skipped this step!
I cheated a little bit on the sausage. You see, I live close to an amazing local butcher that carries a wide variety of organic sausage meats. In the name of finding a healthy balance, I asked for a pound of chicken sausage meat that he ground up for me on the spot.
The recipe calls for light seasoning, but the sausage meat was already seasoned. So I just started wrappin’!
Once wrapped, it’s time to bread them to hold them together. Just dip in an egg wash and coat in breadcrumbs.
My breadcrumbs were bought at a supermarket. Something I guess my great-great-Nana didn’t have.
Scotch eggs are typically deep-fried but that did not sound appealing to me. Instead, I just poured a whack of canola oil in a pan and turned them a few times.
They still got sufficiently greasy and crispy.
I patted them dry upon removal from the pan.
Then… the moment of truth. Time to slice one of these babies open!
A perfectly boiled egg wrapped in perfectly cooked and seasoned sausage. A Scottish culinary success!!
But wait. There is something Scots love even more than ground animal parts.
And what better way to make that than in a…
Traditional Scottish Oatcake.
This recipe can be found here and also goes by the name “bannocks.” I was drawn to the small ingredient list and simple method of preparation, however I learned there are several methods of making a “traditional oatcake.”
I started with some rolled oats, a pinch of salt and two pinches of baking soda. Yes, “pinch” is the proper measurement here.
The recipe calls for bacon fat, however I don’t casually keep that stuff on hand. Instead I subbed in 2 tsp melted butter. Mixed with several tablespoons of boiling water to get a sticky mix. Rolled into more dry oats and divided into four sections.
I picture Susan MacLeod making these in a cast-iron skillet over a hot wood stove.
I have a non-stick pan on an electric oven.
Cooked until just browned. These were incredibly easy to make.
Suddenly, I’m left with the perfect Sunday Scottish breakfast.
I have one more day of living at my mom’s house, where I’ve been living since moving away from my old university town one month ago.
One more day of living in my hometown, home province, and the Maritime region of Canada of which much of my identity comes from.
One more day until I begin the next chapter in my life, which includes eventually settling down in Toronto.
What better way to signify this than by making one of the most intimidating dishes I can think of.
Yes my friends, I am talking about poached eggs.
Ooohhh, how I love those little yolky pockets of goodness. I tried making them when I was around 12 years of age, but ended up with scrambled eggs. And not the good kind.
Since moving back to my mom’s, I go to bed every single night telling myself that tomorrow will be the day. But then I wake up, and in my morning grogginess, chicken out and go with a breakfast that is tried and true.
Not today. As of now, I’m all about grabbing life by the horns. Taking on a sense of adventure. Naturally, my first call of action was to poach those damn eggs.
I followed Jenna’s step-by-step tutorial for poaching eggs. She lived in France, so I immediately consider her an authority on the subject.
I brought my water to a low boil, added my teaspoon of vinegar, and lightly slid each egg into the pot. After two minutes, my water started to break the surface with a boil, and I got nervous. I held the pot ever-just-so over the burner for the last minute, terrified my precious eggs were going to get mangled.
Lo and behold, they came out okay!
There were a few egg-white casualties, but much of the egg was still retained. Better yet, the yolks were perfectly runny.
Don’t let these photos fool you. I do not eat my poached eggs on top of toast. Ohno.
When poached eggs are involved, the bread must be dipped into the runny yolk. Brownie points if the bread is homemade Irish soda bread ;)
By the bye, I had a blast reading through everyone’s favourite kind of bread! Sourdough, french/crusty and naan were probably the fan favourites. Although, Madeline mentioned her favourite is Irish brown bread. This is most certainly next on my bread-baking list. I think soda breads are a good transition to yeast breads. Sister Sara – I hope you’re up for some bread baking when I get to Ottawa!! ;)
Okay, back to the topic at hand.
After my poaching success, I began to get a little drunk with courage. I reeeeally wanted to run today, but rain was in the forecast, and the skies were most definitely reflecting that. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a bit of a running Goldilocks. I typically don’t run outdoors unless the conditions are just so. But today I strapped on my running shoes and camelbak and took to the soggy trail!!
The first 15 minutes were great. The temperature was perfect, and the cloudy skies made for good visibility.
Then it started to rain. And it was actually really fun!! It was only a light rain, just enough to soak through my shirt a little. If anything, it was kind of refreshing! Ended up running for 50 minutes in total, finishing with a strong 5-minutes sprint. Felt gooood.
I was positively starving by the time I got home. It called for more soda bread.
Topped with tuna salad and cheese.
Then toasted to melty perfection. This may have been the best tuna melt of my life. Homemade bread makes a world of difference.
Veggies to round out the meal!
I put the rest of the tuna salad on top of sliced cucumber. I’ve been snacking on this combo in the evenings as well. It’s awesome.
Afternoon snack featured my last Homemade Wholegrain Maple Oatmeal Scone. *tear*
Toasted, then topped with blueberries and vanilla yogurt.
Ohmygosh. I love the combination of a baked good with fruit and yogurt. Maybe I will need to make scones when I go to Ottawa as well?? :P
We had some extra buffalo meat in the fridge, so I offered to make meat balls with it for dinner.
First, I soaked 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs with 1/2 cup water for a few minutes until it was absorbed.
Then I added:
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp hot sauce
Frank’s for the win.
After all that, I rolled up my sleeves and mixed in 1 lb lean ground buffalo meat.
I really love mixing up meat with my hands. I swear I used to be a vegetarian.
Rolled the mix into little balls (I got 31 balls) and browned in a frying pan. It took two rounds of frying, then I transferred to a baking sheet, drizzled with more Frank’s, and baked at 350F for 17 minutes (I’m all about the uneven numbers apparently).
While that was going down, I prepared a garden salad.
And a dressing of laughing cow cheese + buttermilk + Frank’s + herb seasoning blend.
A feast for three:
The step-siblings are only here every other week. Although, I think they totally would have dug this meal. Please note that is not my red wine. I despise the taste of wine. But alas, my new place in Toronto is above a home wine-making shop, so these things could change.
Or bowl, rather. I opted to eat my meatballs on top of a big salad.
These were really, really good. Much better than my last attempt! Not only did they get another “gold star,” but Mark confirms they are great for dipping in ketchup, barbecue and plum sauce. He would know, he tried them all ;)
Mom said the meal was so good it required a coffee afterward.
At least it’s not a cigarette :P
And then I took pictures of Archie just because.
Even though his wet nose wakes me up at 7am everyday, I still love the furball.
If there is anyone out there experienced in Grand Theft Poodle, please let me know.
Well that’s all she wrote!! I will be back tomorrow with a short update of sorts. I say short, because I have to be up at 4am to fly out on Wednesday. I also have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be so excited I won’t be able to put together a cohesive sentence.
I will have you know though, I am so far doing good on my Goal for June.
With a lot more smiles to come :)
Question of the Day: What is one thing that has made you smile recently? I’m watching How I Met Your Mother – the one where they all take up smoking. Barney said “Yeah and the coughing really works my abs.” I laughed. Hard.
This is what I look like right now as I type this post, listening to a Lou Reed concert on TV.
Mom grabbed the camera from me as I started writing up this post. See that? That right there?? That’s my blogging game face y’all. Just keepin’ it real.
I’m glad you all enjoyed my most embarrassing post ever. And thank you for sharing your most ludicrous hair styles as well. Made me feel much better about my own style faux-pas :)
Breakfast this morning was a no-brainer. I had homemade Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Scones to eat!
Toasted with a little buttah for good measure. For my fat/protein I boiled a couple eggs.
Who needs orange juice when you can have a juicy orange?? ;)
This was a spectacular breakfast. Another combination I used to have all the time when I was younger. I need more biscuits and scones in my life!!
However, my mother and I both agree there is a smidge too much baking soda in the scones, and next time I will decrease it to 1/2 tsp from 3/4 tsp.
Only thing that could have made this breakfast better? Freshly ground Haitian coffee with the Saturday paper. *Insert giant “aahhhh” here*
Hit up the co-ed gym today for a weightlifting session because they have better equipment there (don’t get me started on the dinky stuff they carry at women’s-only gyms). I specifically planned to do this on a Saturday so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Like I said before, there’s a method to my madness! Muhaha.
Started off with 15 minutes on the adaptive motion trainer. Got my stride a little better on it today and ended up with a tough and sweaty warm-up! Unfortunately, the real work had barely started ;) Did the usual full-body workout alternating between upper-body and lower-body so I could blast through it without having to rest too much. Plus, well, it’s more fun this way!
|Front squat push press||3||10||30 lbs||Quads, Glutes, Shoulders|
|Barbell bench press||3||10||45 lbs||Chest, Front Shoulder|
|Sumo squat||3||10||65 lbs||Quadriceps, Glutes|
|One-arm dumbbell row||3||10||25 lbs||Whole back|
|Good morning||3||10||55 lbs||Hamstrings, Glutes|
|Dumbbell one arm lateral raise||3||10||8 lbs||Top/Front Shoulder, Top of back|
|Bulgarian split squat||3||10||15 lbs||Quadriceps, Glutes|
|Cable hip adduction||3||10||15 lbs||Inner thigh|
|Incline curl||3||10||10 lbs||Biceps|
|Seated calf raise||3||10||50 lbs||Calves|
|Cable horizontal woodchop||3||10||25 lbs||Obliques|
Phew! Whole thing took me 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a stellar workout though, and every muscle in my body was worked! You can cut the warm-up in half, or cut out some of the isolation moves at the end to make it shorter (triceps, biceps, adductor, calf and abs). Of course, I’m unemployed, so I have nothing better to do than waste my morning at the gym ;)
I tend to crave melty cheese on pita bread after weight lifting. Today’s melty pita featured swiss, pepperoni and mustard, with red pepper, onion and romaine.
Late morning workouts are the greatest, because I get to come home and refuel with a wonderful lunch :)
And, erm, a wonderful dessert.
I only had three, but it took me almost five minutes to eat while I let the chocolate melt in my mouth. Mmmmm…
I took over dinner prep tonight. We all agreed we wanted hamburger of some sort, and after throwing around a few ideas, the thought of Meatloaf Pizza popped into my head. Perfection!!
- 3 tbsp pizza sauce (I use the Eden Organic pizza/pasta stuff)
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tbsp basil
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- a pinch each of salt and pepper
Then comes the fun part, add one pound of lean ground meat and mix it up with your hands.
Tonight I used buffalo meat, but last time I used turkey and both tasted just as well!
Flatten onto a sprayed pizza pan and cover with more pizza sauce.
Add any toppings you like!
We kept it classic tonight with bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. The original recipe calls for one cup of shredded cheese, I used about 3/4 cup and it was still lots. Mozzarella of course!
Then bake in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes on the bottom rack.
It was ready after about 19 minutes in my mom’s oven. Just as the veggies were getting tender in the steamer!
Why have crust when you can just have more meat and vegetables?
Mark gave it another one of his famous “gold stars.” However, I was informed the best rating is in fact a “platinum star” and that is reserved for chocolate goods only.
I overheard my mom and Mark planning on ways to get me to skip over Toronto and come back here to be their live-in homemaker. I cut a deal with my mom that I’d go hone my culinary skills in Toronto, then come back and accept the position ;)
The poodle however, is still coming with me.
How am I going to leave this face!? Even more, how does he sleep like that??
Remember this photo?
Okee dokie, I am outta here. Time to take this blogging game face and go stick it in a book. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about what the experts are saying about pre-workout nutrition. See ya then!
Question of the Day: What is your favourite kind of pizza? Since it’s my own question I’m going to cheat and say cheesy garlic fingers dipped in donair sauce ;)