Project Food Blog Round 2: Finding My Roots – A Taste of Scotland

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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I began by boiling five eggs, peeling, and dusting them in flour.

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The flour is so the sausage sticks. I learned this immediately because I almost accidentally skipped this step!

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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’!

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Once wrapped, it’s time to bread them to hold them together. Just dip in an egg wash and coat in breadcrumbs.

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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.

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They still got sufficiently greasy and crispy.

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I patted them dry upon removal from the pan.

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Then… the moment of truth. Time to slice one of these babies open!

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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.

Oatmeal.

And what better way to make that than in a…

Traditional Scottish Oatcake.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cooked until just browned. These were incredibly easy to make.

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Suddenly, I’m left with the perfect Sunday Scottish breakfast.

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Sure, it’s no blood pudding or haggis. That may be something best left to the experts in the Isle of Skye. Now if only I could count all those rye + waters as “finding my roots” as well.

** Voting for this challenge opens Monday, September 27. You’ll be able to vote for this post by clicking here and don’t forget to check out the other entries here!**

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Posted on September 26, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 64 Comments.

  1. I have a feeling I would totally groove on some bannocks. Great post!

  2. Great entry!!

    And I guess I never stopped to think you might be Scottish but it does make perfect sense! :)

    As for the eggs – I had no idea what Scotch Eggs were before today but I can totally see how they would be delicious. In fact, the boy (Scottish also) would love them!

    Then there are the oat cakes. I buy these imported ones they sell at Superstore. They’re quite good. Filling and wholesome at the same time.

    I really hope you keep advancing Susan! I’ll vote for you! :)

  3. perfect platter,..all the best for seond challenge

  4. Oh my word, I must have those eggs!

  5. THank goodness it’s bannocks and not bollocks.

    HOW YUMMY it all looks! I have never had a scottish egg, but I’ve always wanted to try one!

    Yeah, haggis is right up there with blood pudding. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.

    Loved this post!

  6. Haha, I live in northern England pretty close to the scottish boarder, scotch eggs are a frequent treat for my hubby, he would love those! I’ve never tried making oat cakes but as they look so simple I may give it ago!

    • The oatcakes were ridiculously easy to make on the stovetop. You could whip up a single serving in 5-10 minutes with some fun add-ins. The best part is that they’re not full of butter and sugar like the store bought varieties. These will definitely become a regular in my kitchen!

  7. Great post! I don’t blame you for not making haggis… I think the Scotch Eggs are a great choice! They look beautiful! And the oat cakes look yummy! Good luck in round 2 of the challenge!!!

  8. Gracious, the idea of haggis leaves me cold! Sheep LUNG?! I didn’t know that part.

    Scotch eggs however are something I can get into. We love those bad boys in England too. So effing good.

  9. Oh Susan – these look scrumptious! Yummers.

  10. Anne @ a daily slice

    These look really good!! What a tough deal :) I love your fair complexion and red hair… it reminds me of my heritage too!!

  11. I was talking to nana as I came to your blog…she and I are both so proud! And WHO KNEW oatcakes were so easy to make? Let the voting begin!

  12. We lived in England my sophomore year of high school and we spent a week in Scotland. We definitely ate oatcakes every morning while we were there!

  13. OMG those eggs must taste AMAZING. I love this 2nd challenge because I get to read about all kinds of new dishes I’ve never heard of :)

  14. I have a friend who moved here from Scotland, and he says “modern day haggis” is simply lamb, tossed in batter and either pan or deep fried.
    MUCH more appetizing than the traditional variety !

  15. Great post! Now this is a recipe I absolutely want to try, thanks!!

  16. Ooooooooo I love scotch eggs, my dad makes the best ones I’ve ever tasted! x x

  17. Those oatcakes look amazing and so easy to make.
    I voted for you in the first round but I will be gone for a week and a half for hiking so I will be unable to this round. This is such a good entry and I know you will do well, good luck!
    The last name McLeod really reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows, McLeod’s Daughters. It was a long running Australian TV show about a Outback ranch run by the women of the McLeod family. The first seasons were definitely the best but I watched them all on Netflix.
    I love that you have so many close relatives with stories of the countries they came from. Both sides of my family have lived in America for 9 and 10 generations so stories like that get a little lost. I have massive websites entirely devoted to both sides of the family though so it isn’t to bad. I still get to read stories about the past.

  18. When I started reading this post and saw “Haggis” I thought….Oh. No. She. Didn’t. And darling, I’m really thankful that in fact, you didn’t. I’m all for cultural differences in cuisine, but…..blech.

  19. Wow, you and I have very common backgrounds. I also have German, French and Scottish roots- with rumors of an aboriginal affair in there to boot- and that’s only on my Mother’s side.
    Love the oatcakes! Good luck on round 2!!

  20. I’m glad you went with those two options. I don’t know if I could have handled the other. ;)

    Good luck!!! I will of course put in a vote for you. :D

  21. wow, i love the eggs! you got a great choice for a classic. will definitely vote for you. congrats on making it to round 2 and here’s hoping we both advance to the third. cheers!

  22. I’m a bit disappointed abt the haggis, but scotch eggs cheered me right up! This is probably one of the only ways I’d eat a hard-boiled egg. :D

  23. YAY for Scots! My dad is Scottish and we have a flat there, so I consider it one of my many homes. I can’t bring myself to eat haggis either, but your scotch eggs look like they could be tasty! :)

  24. Such a great post Susan – I love that you went back to your roots! Although I have to say I’m really glad you didn’t make haggis – I don’t think I could have handled it! I may just have to try these oatcakes though. Never heard of them before, but anything with oats gets an A+ in my book:) Good luck! You’ve got my vote:)

  25. looks great. haggis next time?

  26. oatcakes = perfect and easy! actually ani phyo’s raw oatmeal cookies are pretty much just scottish oatcakes. cinnamon, oat, dates, blend. it’s amazing how the simple foods really have so much overlap.

    and you, not keeping any bacon fat, lungs, or stomachs on hand? maybe next month you can scrouge some of those up…kidding :)

    GREAT JOB Susan!!

  27. I’ve always wanted to try making oatcakes. They look great!

  28. Love it! My fiance loves scottish eggs and I never realized I could make them myself!
    You’ve got my vote!

  29. I love Scottish Oatmeal. It’s my favorite breakfast. But now I want to try those eggs!!

  30. Ok, I’m slightly obsessed with Scottish tradition (you can blame it on the Outlander series!) and this post is totally awesome!!! I love it! You SO have my vote!

  31. i’ve been reading this book set partly in scotland and it keeps mentioning Scotch Eggs…for the life of me, i couldn’t figure out exactly what they were, even with a description. i’m so glad i finally know!!

  32. so inventive…i like your choice of using Scottish food!

    p.s. are you going to the foodbuzz festival?!?!

  33. I voted for you Susan – good luck! :D

  34. I grew up eating Scotch Eggs and I’ve never had them fried… My mom bakes them in the oven! That’s right – no added oil. So they really become a tasty and “not so bad for you” treat.

    • Yes, if I make them again they are definitely going in the oven! I thought of it, but didn’t want to mess with “tradition” for my challenge submission ;)

  35. This looks like a great Sunday brunch! I’m part Scottish so this meal is definitely calling out to me, subliminally. You’ve earned my vote!

    • Thanks for the vote Jeanne!! Yes, there is something about our Scottish blood that’s just naturally drawn to this type of hearty food. If only it could help the Scottish frizzy hair ;)

  36. Great post! Those eggs look incredible. Will have to try them. You have one of my votes. Best of luck to you in the competition.

  37. Wow Susan, I am so impressed! I have never even tried to eat a scotch egg, much less cook one! I’ll have to show this to Matt…I know he’ll appreciate it! Good luck girlie!

  38. You made Scotch eggs look YUMMY! When I first started reading the post, and you were listing the ingredients for haggis, I though “God bless her for trying THAT!” It’s a great entry. Good luck moving forward in the competition! Here’s another vote for you!

  39. I had to vote for ya. Anyone brave enough to tackle the recipes of the Scots gets my votes. Plus I’ve got the pale skin and frizzy (red) hair too!

  40. Aww, no haggis. ;-)

    Still, so cool that you did Scotch eggs. And I love when people go into their family history for inspiration. Got my vote!

  41. As a born and bread East Coaster with pale skin & red hair, I can totally relate to your Scottish “roots”. My winters were filled with many a bowl of porridge. My Christmases were never without those paper crowns from the Christmas crackers and no Christmas dinner ended without EVERYONE having to have a slice Nannie’s mincemeat pie and a “jig” around the living room to Andy Stewart singing Donald Where’s Your Trousers (you’ve GOT to upload it for a good laugh) and then just imagine…

    Scottish cooking though? I don’t even think I’d know where to start. Even though my Nannie emmigrated from Scotland when she was 10, her cooking became decidedly Canadian and never ventured far past mincemeat and shortbread. Now you’ve inspired me to look back to my roots and make my Nannie proud.

  42. I was just introduced to Scotch eggs recently and then I saw your post! It was fate! Delicious, delicious fate :) You totally have my vote (especially because you contemplated making haggis) :)

  43. Great job channeling your inner roots! Good luck!

  44. I’ve never thought much of Scottish food but now am willing to give it a try. I love the fact that this challenge prompted you to learn about your roots. Well done :) You have my vote!

    Lick My Spoon

  45. Your scotch eggs look insanely delicious! And so do your oatcakes! I saw your post with all your oatmeal creations and they look amazing. PB and jelly is my personal favorite. I wish you the best of luck in this round!

  46. Eggs seem like the most wanted among the list here…I love them..So I would say Scotch eggs have stolen my heart…

  47. They look delicious. Every time I come to this site i find newer ways of eating good food. Slice ‘em up!

  48. I tried the recipe and they were great! Thanks again.

  49. Had to cook for my parents who came over:)

  50. thaks a lot for that post!

  51. Hi Susan, You have my Vote. Outstanding and healthy recipe. I will try this out.

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