Friday, July 1, 2011

British Baking, Part 1: Background- Why here?

British Baking
Part 1:  Background story- Why here?

Here we are in the Northern Highlands of Scotland, in a small village called Brora.  It is a wee place, with a mere population of about 1,550.  It is a remote place, to say the least.  To get here from Washington, DC requires a flight to Heathrow (London, England) followed by an hour taxi ride to Gatwick (which they claim is a suburb of London, but only is in the same way that Baltimore is a suburb of Washington, DC.  Which is to say it isn't really).  You then embark on another flight, duration 1hr., to Inverness, Scotland.  In Inverness you must rent a car and proceed to drive north another hour and a half.  And presto, you're there (!)  I know what you are thinking: why God why? Read on.

It is taxing, especially with a young child in tow, but it is rewarding nevertheless.  My husband and his family have been coming here, that's right, to Brora for some 13 years.  They have been to St. Andrew's, Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc. and they elect to return to Brora every time, every year.  I, myself, have been here 7 years (yes, I madly love my husband), and my son, all of two years old, has been here twice.  To say that this place is close to our hearts is an understatement.  And, to answer your question, no, they don't have family here.  Please, they come to golf.

 They discovered it by accident.  The hotels in the near-by town, Dornoch, with its famous golf course (ranked as one of the world's top 20) , were completely booked so they were forced to reluctantly stay in the northern village of Brora. That set off a chain of events that couldn't be reversed.  Hyperbole, I think not.  My husband wants his ashes scattered into the wind from the 17th tee.

I rest my case.

The place in which we stay used to be a Best Western (yikes!)  Years ago, it was razed and a row of five town-houses and a remarkably modern, two-story apartment building were erected in its stead. They are what we would call condos, but the locals call both the town-houses and the condos apartments.  My in-laws stay in a townhouse and we in a condo.  The two are situated atop a small hill, under which lies my husband's Paradise: Brora Golf Club, and the North Sea.

The day we arrived, I caught my husband gazing wistfully out of our living room window at the 17th green and I swear I saw his eyes well up.

My father-in-law and sweet little one are just as giddy to be here.  My son's first words to me this morning when I plucked him from his crib were "More golfing, please.  Mommy carry Nick downstairs."

There is reason to be excited to be here. First off, the weather, it's in the 60's and not a bug in sight 'til dusk.  The beach, golf course, putting green, 3 hole par 3 course (tiny: think 40-60 yard holes) are a two minute walk from our place, as is a pool, gym, and spa (Whoot! Mom's happy.  Put it this way, the spa owner, Kendra, is now a dear friend.  It's true.)

We have been here for only a few days and the young one has played his first "round" of golf on said Par 3 with his grandfather using only his iron, even on the greens, thrilled about being able to launch the ball into the air.  We have ventured to the toy store (twice), book store (twice), putting green (6 times!), to the beach, and to an open field in search of bunnies.  We have seen two rainbows already, three actually, if you count the double rainbow as two different ones.  The Little Prince dubbed them all "Nick's rainbows."

So, now you can clearly see why here.  Year after year, we return to the land of rainbows, tartans, fairies, argyle, gnomes, black pudding, castles, and GOLF. Where husbands and little boys are alive again and where little American bakers become very confused and angry at times: Why do mincemeat pies contain not a scrap of meat?  Are there really these many different types of sugar: caster, demerara, icing, fondant, muscovado, pickling, and a special kind for preserves, etc.?  Golden syrup and treacle?  Just different forms of sugar.  Don't get me started on milk, creams, and cheese and the very blurry line between them.  Sultanas vs. raisins, please explain the difference.  And,...Oh, I'd better stop for now... you know our history here.  We'll begin with the puddings soon.


  1. Sounds like you're having a great time and that the arduous trip is worth it, again! Good luck with your baking.

    Love, Dad.

    P.S. I like Treacle on my porridge.

  2. We are having fun. Wishing you and mom were here too though! I think of you and Nana lots while here. Just gotta figure out how to get some pictures up here though. Didn't bring the cord and I am not working on my own computer obviously. Ideas???

  3. favorite word from the post: treacle

    most compelling question: Is Brora pronounced with a silent B?

    We miss you here. So do the mosquitoes. I think all the ones who normally bite you are biting Cal and me.

  4. DAWHHN-
    We miss you all too, but not the 'skeeters'.

    Treacle. Aye, 'tis fun to say, but not as fun as "haggis".

    When you pronounce Brora, think: how would the Spanish say it? Seriously, they got some tongue-rolling action going on up here.


  5. sultanas from white grapes, raisins from red grapes, I think? Glad you're having fun in Scotland!!

  6. Debbie ( The Cake Maker )November 8, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Just a quick note Aimee,
    in old recipes mincemeat pies did have minced meat in them with the fruit and spices.

    Debbie (The Cake Maker )

  7. Debbie-
    I know, I know. You have to see the Mincemeat entry. I am just baffled why they don't change the name. I have to say though, honestly, Mincemeat Pie is awful. Do you like it?