Thursday, August 19, 2010

Believe or Not to Believe


While walking into a restaurant recently one of my companions made a comment about setting purses down on the floor. I've always hung my purse either off my knee under the table or on the back of my chair. My reasoning has always been dirty floors, but she told me of the superstition of setting purses on the floor and how you would always be broke. In fact, she said at one local Mexican restaurant they would bring a little stool to set your purse on--just to keep it off the floor.

I took a class in high school entitled "Ancient Beliefs Modern Man." Yes, I still remember it. We talked about myriad superstitions and myths and the logic and often illogic of them. Why do we knock on wood after we say something we don't want jinxed? Why do we say "God Bless You," after sneezing? Why should you not step on a crack? Or break a mirror?

I hadn't heard about the purse superstition until I came to Texas. I had two separate females talk about it. I tried to wrap my head around it and the only thing I can think of is if you set it on the ground, maybe it makes it easier for someone distract you while a companion steals your money?

Some people take this superstition so seriously they have made a product-a portable hook--that allows a woman to hang her purse practically wherever she goes.


I give them credit for seeing a need and selling a product. lol

Texas has many of its own superstitions--I'm learning as I go what many of them are and I have say they are a bit entertaining. One involved holding your breath while passing a cemetery. Apparently this was so you wouldn't breathe in the spirit of someone recently buried.

Most of the superstitions I don't believe in--some I do. I still say "God Bless You," to someone who sneezes and, yes, I still throw spilt salt over my left shoulder. You see, evil always lurks over your left shoulder so throwing spilled salt into its eyes distracts it from hurting me.

Hey, that's my belief and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scottish to the Bone


I'm a bit of this and a bit of that and quite proudly to say I'm part Scottish. During my ancestral research phase I learned about my European roots. I'm Scottish/Irish/German/English and a few percents of supposedly Native American (haven't proven it yet). Since I'm a foodie, part of my research has been the recipes of my foremothers.

I have a handful of cookbooks featuring the recipes old and new from the aforementioned countries. I have a recipe I'm going to try soon that looks so good I can't wait to taste it. It's a version of Scotch Broth for the crockpot. The crockpot will allow me to do the long-time cooking the recipe needs in my hectic, everyday life. I adore soups and this one should be delicious and a bit healthy.

I plan on tweaking the ingredients a bit. Instead of lamb, I'm going to use beef shanks. I will add some beef broth, water, pearl barley, carrots, onion, potatoes (instead of traditional turnip), celery and various seasonings.

I will throw it in the crockpot to cook all day and serve it with some buttered French bread. I might try the recipe with some lamb, if I can find some in the local store and it doesn't cost an arm and leg. lol

I've made many of the traditional Scottish recipes true to form--Cock-a-Leekie, Shortbread and Stovies. In fact, many of the recipes from my southern ancestors reflect the traces of their European roots. Stovies, for example, are merely fried taters with onions and meat.

Cock-a-Leekie is a chicken soup that is tummy filling. It's worth a try at least once in a lifetime. Give it a whirl. Good soup doesn't have to come from a can.

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

This traditional soup, with prunes included in the ingredients, is mentioned as early as the 16th century. It is often served at Burns Suppers or St Andrew's Night Dinner (30 November) as well as an every-day soup in winter. Some people omit the prunes though!


1 boiling fowl, about 4lb, including legs and wings
1lb leeks (about 12) cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 pints stock or water
1oz long grained rice
4oz cooked, stoned prunes
One teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme
Some recipes also have 3 chopped rashers of streaky bacon

Put the fowl and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the bird. Some thrifty chefs use the bird as another course, others cut the meat into small pieces and add them back to the soup (certainly it should have some pieces of chicken in it when served). Add the rice and drained prunes and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for flavor and serve with a little chopped parsley.

Serves 6/8 people.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Robert Burns
This Scottish dinner toast known as The Selkirk Grace is attributed to Burns. But the words were said to be in use long before his time.