Christmas books

This Christmas I got far fewer books than usual due to not being able to travel around and visit bookshops where in normal years from the autumn onwards I would just ask Jack to put any book purchases away and wrap them up for Christmas for me.

More Christmas Books

Christmas Books

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Completely Perfect by Felicity Cloake. She’s a cookery writer who features in The Guardian, I really like her as any recipes of hers that I’ve tried in the past have worked out well, and you can’t say that for all food writers. The blurb on the front says: ‘A gift for anyone who is learning to cook’. I’ve been cooking for over 45 years but I’m sure I can improve using these recipes which are all classics.

During a brief lifting of lockdown I visited a favourite rake-around upcyle shop near Perth, they’re always so much more interesting than ordinary shops as you just never know what might turn up. This time I bought three lovely wee Alison Uttley books to add to my own collection of children’s books. Squirrel Goes Skating, Moldy Warp the Mole and Little Grey Rabbit’s Party.

It’s lovely to think that they’ll be in use again at some point in the future. I hope my granddaughter will grow up liking books! They’re illustrated by Margaret Tempest and I think the endpapers are beautiful. These editions date from the early 1970s.

After reading my first book by the Scottish author Dorita Fairlie Bruce I decided I would have to resort to the internet to get some more. So I opted to begin the Dimsie series:

Dimsie Goes to School
Dimsie Moves Up
Dimsie Moves Up Again.

These books date from the 1930s. I’ve ony read one book by her before and that was from her Springdale series, set in Scotland, so I hope I enjoy these ones as much, although I believe the setting of the school is England. The very first page has endeared me already though:

The mail train from the north roared its way towards London down the long bleak incline of the Chap Fells, and Dimsie curled up in her corner seat, regarded the green rounded hills with a certain contempt; the Scottish mountains to which she belonged, were made of altogether sterner stuff, and already she was begining to feel a little bit lonely without them. Ben Lomond – the Cobbler and his Wife – they had all been as living friends to Dimsie through the ten short years of a life that had not known many human friends.

If you look at my header photo of Dumbarton, the town I grew up in, you can just make out Ben Lomond in the distance.

Did you get some lovely Christmas books this year?

Millionaire’s Shortbread – Felicity Cloake’s recipe

It’s a long time since I posted a recipe on Pining, but one day last week Jack said that there was a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard which was coming up to its use by date, he likes to keep track of things like that. Anyway it was a perfect excuse to use it either to make some highly calorific Scottish Tablet or Millionaire’s Shortbread. As I had made and scoffed tablet the week before I opted for the even more calorific recipe. The recipe I use is Felicity Cloake’s from The Guardian, you can see it here.

Millionaire's shortbread , Felicity Cloake

I used a good quality milk chocolate for the topping. This recipe makes a really weighty amount, in fact I weighed the whole thing and it came out at over 3.5 lbs including the tin which isn’t that heavy. I think the whole thing must add up to about 3,000 calories! We don’t have much left now, it’s just far too moreish!

Millionaire's shortbread

Vegetarian Haggis

It’s coming up to that time of the year again – Burns Night, and the maker of my favourite vegetarian haggis seems to have given up making them, I can only find their normal haggis in the supermarkets. I tried another maker and it was not a good experience, it had red kidney beans in it and they were really hard – a bit of a worry as they didn’t seem to have cooked.

I intended making up my own recipe but in today’s Guardian I spotted a recipe for vegetarian haggis and it’s more or less what I was going to do anyway, although I must admit that I wouldn’t have thought of putting black treacle into it.

Anyway, if you are also looking for a vegetarian haggis recipe, have a look here.

In the accompanying article Felicity Cloake says that the main flavour in haggis is offal, I don’t agree, in any haggis I have had the main flavour has been the pepper/spices. That’s why I decided long ago to stick to the veggie type as the flavour is very similar and you don’t feel squeamish at the thought of what is inside it!