Category Archives: Scotland

Food, Glorying in Food

This blog is about trying new things, right? And while we may say No to certain things because we have all we can deal with at the moment, we want to make sure to say Yes when it is only fear holding us back. Case in point:

Fancy Foods Show, DCI got an email from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a… you get the point. The note was hoping for some cheap labor to help staff the booth of a vendor at the Fancy Food Show at the Washington DC Convention Center (2 blocks from my door). It would be near me, it would be about food, and I could do the weekend shifts: I gave an enthusiastic YAWP– I mean, YES, and excitedly arrived at the show on a  Saturday morning in June.

I was at a wholesalers’ booth where they featured other companies, and so got to meet several vendors even as I was working, shoving ‘all-natural’ mini-bottles of energy in front of people’s noses. I worked on my sales pitch, I tried some networking (#fail), and I learned a good deal about product marketing, candy manufacture in Denmark, and two types of chai from their producers, one stationed on either side of me.

PLUS, I got to spend a few breaks and an extra hour after my shift trotting around the show, sampling, asking questions of artisan producers- I mean, heaven, right? Well, not exactly. America is after all the land of manufactured demand… but there were also international booths as well. It was a feast for the explorative soul as well as the hungry mouth. The few that made a real, positive impression I pass on to you here. I wish I was an affiliate for these folks! :-)

Mackie’s of Scotland

Oy, you knew there’d be a Scottish company here when I said international vendors, didn’t you? Well, after not deigning to try the Haggis potato crisps when I was in the Culloden museum cafeteria, I did try them here. They were fantastic.

Wheeler Sugarworks, Inc.

I had an extensive conversation with the proprietors of “Jed’s Maple” and they were a delightful family operation from an area of Vermont near where I visited on my road trip last year. They exuded local knowledge and craftsman’s pride, and I would love to visit their farm if I get a chance to drive up there this fall.

Big Picture Farm

What an interesting idea- goat milk caramels! The caramels themselves were something special, but the intensity of care this outfit shows for their goats (all their names were listed on the table card) was evident too.


This local ice cream outfit not only specializes in outrageous flavor combinations, but keeps its ingredients as whole and natural as possible, inevitably leading to a very high-fat product. Don’t be deterred. Personally, I’ve thought of organizing a group to tour the facility in Silver Spring to see how they do it- wouldn’t that be awesome??? Shoot me an email if you’re interested…

and of course let us know what YOU’ve been able to say YES to lately, too!

TLT Cooking School Now Open for Business!

Yes, you read that right.
As part of my Creative Endeavor Year of 2012, I am pursuing my passions for teaching, guiding, cooking and travel… by offering cooking courses!
I have been ever so excited about this since January, but managed to keep mum as I planned, prepared, and conducted two trial runs, one with friends, one with friends-of-friends whom I didn’t know (I hosted strangers!).

Both trial runs went very well, and my lovely guinea pigs gave me great feedback for how to tweak this or that aspect, which I have incorporated into my menu and planning process. I am SO READY.

The theme, and the way I incorporated the passion for travel into this activity, was Scotland. Ah yes, you do remember, I was a little obsessed with it last year? Well, it didn’t go away. Apparently I’m marked for life.
And it’s not just Scotland. While I had a marvelous time pouring over books of Scottish cultural history and traditional receipt-books, I am just as excited to do the same for other locales I have visited and have some connection with, such as Turkey, Ireland, France, and let’s not forget… Italy! (coming soon)
But for now, it’s Scotland. The menu reflected traditional peasant cuisine, with some shortcuts for practicality and taste.


Hors d’oeuvre: Oatcakes with Cheese, Preserves, & Honey 

Vegetable Accompaniments: ‘Neeps and Tatties,’ Fresh Green Salad

Main Course: Herring Sauteed in Oatmeal 

Dessert: Millionaire’s Shortbread

The shortcuts, you will observe, involve the toppings for the oatcakes, and the millionaire’s shortbread (a bit of an anachronism when considered in context with the other dishes, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining).
I was aiming for good, peasant food that used some different ingredients and techniques than the ones we are used to here in the U.S.
I searched out local, seasonal, organic ingredients, and got most of the way there on most of the dishes (let me know when the eastern U.S. gets back in the sugar business, though). All in all, it’s been a thrilling and rewarding experience to be able to pass on some knowledge learned about a place I love and a cuisine I am very much interested in. Win-Win, all the way.

And so, I am putting out the good vibes to all you who may stop to read here from time to time. Do you know people who live in D.C. that are interested in cooking and travel? Do you live in D.C? Are you looking for something to do on a weeknight other than go out to eat or get Thai take-out?

I would love to host you and your friends, or you and your soon-to-be friends, for an evening of cooking, baking, learning, and of course… EATING! Because let’s not forget the primacy of the eating experience, and that it is what brings us together so often, in so many ways. Mangia!

And to finish, the gallery of pictures of Millionaire’s Shortbread, the rich man’s Twix Bar (shortbread, caramel, and chocolate)… how can you NOT want to gobble it all up??
If you’re interested, email me at Margaret’s email or twitterpate me at @tastelifetwice where I like to pass on others’ great content on food, life, and travel as well.

See you here (subscribe by feed / email) & there (Twitter)!


Oatcakes and Orange Flower Water

Greetings, Friends.
The ship may no longer be going Full Steam Ahead, BUT it is not idling away in dry-dock, either.
For all you non-nautical types out there (including me), please refer to my disclaimer about overworked metaphors. While I do have a broken right arm, I’m planning on sneaking my way around that obstacle at least a few times over the course of the next 3-5 weeks. Probably with the help of my friends.
As for my two main goals for the beginning of 2012- training for the 10-miler and increased pace of writing- they will both be put on hold. Tuesday I get fitted for my cast, and I plan to pepper the orthopedic surgeon with questions about what I can do to promote healing and what I shouldn’t do to prevent further problems. I dunno, team, do we think I can ramp from nothing to 10 miles in 5 weeks?
Since I am right-handed, typing cack-handed severely slows down the flow of words. I suppose I could still invest the same amount of time and just get half the anticipated output, but I kind of don’t want to slog through that. Or am I really just scared that nothing will come if the spigot isn’t all the way open? Could be.
I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks!
But now to think back to a time when I had two working arms, when I could multitask like nobody’s business, when I could pump out three recipes a night… 
That’s right, more Scottish food! I actually made these the week before Christmas, as a balance to all the Cookie Swap sweetness. I found a link to the Leftover Queen’s recipe, and found that she was quite the blogging queen, coming much belatedly to that party. The dough was quick to come together, easy to manage, simple to scale. The oatcakes’ texture was nubbly, toast-y. The flavor was mild and wheat-y and heartland-y, if that makes sense. Pretty great! It made me think more on what a culture’s food says about its people… fascinating speculative exercise…
The same day, I thought I’d better get my mojo going on the cookie swap recipes I’d bookmarked. Two that I was closest to having all the ingredients for shot to the top of the list: HungrySquirrelCakes’ Chocolate Orange Chunk Cookies and Mrs. Galvan’s Dark Chocolate Cafenelas. Here I’ve got the first one, which got more oooh’s and ahhh’s from the officemates (even though they were both fab, I think this one was more unique).
Standard mix-and-drop cookie, with one out-of-the-ordinary ingredient (orange flower water, which can be found in Middle Eastern/ Lebanese groceries or near syrups and jams in a Whole Foods), and the need to keep a close eye on the oven exposure- you want to nab these guys before they’re fully cooked to avoid going to the Crispy Side.

**Helpful Note for Americans looking to convert this recipe from metric measurements: 225g = ~3/4c butter; 200g = 1 1/4c sugar; 175g = 5/6c sugar; 350g = 3c flour; 175g = ~5/6c dark chocolate; 170 deg C = ~338 deg F ** I think.
Yum. Next up: Cafenelas and what to do with Black Radishes!