Collops of Beef

Katrina sent me home with a cute little cookbook, Favorite Scottish Recipes Traditional Caledonian Fare. I have several pages marked that I want to make. Collops of Beef is the first one I’ve tried. I did make Cranachan after my first trip to Scotland, but Katrina sent me a link to a recipe for that on the BBC website. The same recipe is in this book. A delicious dessert! I’ll add that recipe at the end of this post, back to the beef…

Collops of Beef

1 1/2 lb. piece of braising steak, sliced into 4 pieces
1 onion, chopped
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
2 oz. butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bayleaf (optional)
3/4 pint beef stock

Set oven to 350* or Mark 4. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper. Coat the beef slices with seasoned flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Fry the collops for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Gently fry the onion and the mushrooms. Put the onion and mushrooms and a bayleaf (if desired) into a casserole. Lay the collops on top. Pour in the stock, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with buttered mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. Rowan or redcurrant jelly goes well with this dish. Serves 4.

FullSizeRender-4This is before I added the beef stock. I did use a bayleaf. I would cook it for a half hour more next time. Love the art work!

FullSizeRender-3Finished product. We didn’t have a green vegetable though, a rather bland looking plate but it was delicious! The flavor was fantastic, I could have licked my plate!


1 pint double cream
3 tablespoons clear honey (heather honey is best)
3 tablespoons whisky
4 tablespoons thick, plain youghurt
1 oz. fine oatmeal
6 oz. raspberries

Toast the oatmeal in a pan under a hot grill until golden. Set aside to cool. Put the cream, honey and whisky in a bowl and whip together until it forms peaks. Fold in the yoghurt. Spoon the mixture into a serving dish and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Before serving, sprinkle the oatmeal over the mixture and pile the raspberries in the centre. Serves 6.

Ideally Cranachan should be made with Crowd, a soft Scottish cheese but yoghurt makes a good substitute.

This wasn’t sweet enough for Bossman’s American tastebuds, but I loved it.


The Strange Intruder

By Arthur Catherall

A normal day in the life of those who live on the small, rocky island of Mykines in the Faroes Islands is demanding enough, but nothing will ever compare to the unforgettable one that comes to the island one blustery fall day, especially for young 16-year-old Sven Klakk. What begins as a quiet day of fishing, with Sven enviously watching the men using fleygs (fowling nets) on the cliffs high above him, ends in a tumult of suspense and terror. A force ten gale; a damaged ship and crew in danger of smash-up on the rocks of its own island home; a handful of women, old men, and one 16-year-old … 

This was a young adult book written in 1964. I picked it up at a used book store because of the mystery and the setting off the coast of Scotland. It was a decent read and pulled me in right off the get go. The ship Sven’s father is on is caught in a storm and receives heavy damage on the way in port. Can the coastguard get to them to help or the islanders keep them from being smashed on the rocks as they are blown inland? And what is that strange intruder that is washed ashore after falling from the ship? How many people will die before they catch it?  A real page turner!

Pack Horse Librarians

Image courtesy of the National Archives and New Deal Network

I came across an interesting article recently about Eastern Kentucky’s Pack Horse Librarians. After the depression President Roosevelt enacted the New Deal to help put people back to work. One of those projects was the Pack Horse Librarians. It started in 1936 and continued through 1943.  With many women on relief it was a way to put them to work along with the men.

Eastern Kentucky had been hit especially hard by the depression. Very rural and dependent on the now closed coal mines they were isolated from the rest of the world. Librarians from around the state were brought in to establish this unique service. Women were recruited to take books and magazines via horseback and mules into rural Kentucky. The terrain was rough, rocky and steep, through dangerous creeks and rivers, in all kinds of weather. They worked summer and winter, traveling as much as 500+ miles in a month! They were paid $28 a month. People were skeptical at first, but this project was a great success. The librarians took great pride in taking books to people who never had access before. They also became a lifeline of sorts, bringing news and comfort to these isolated people. They could carry messages between the isolated families, send for doctors, midwives and carry medicines. They looked in on shut-ins and read aloud to those who couldn’t read.

There was such a demand for books they asked organizations to help and a penny-fund was started to purchase new books. Some credit this program with raising the level of interest in education in Eastern Kentucky. By 1943 the WPA had been de-funded and the program came to an end. The program established 30 libraries in Eastern Kentucky serving over 100,000 people! I admire these women’s dedication!

There’s a book about these courageous women: Down Cut Shin Creek, The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathy Appealt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer

HERE is a link to look at some pictures from the project and HERE to read more about it

Had you ever heard of this before?


Flat Foot Dancing

IMG_20170610_144422_907Mountain Music was filling the air the second Saturday of June! Every year on that day the Madison County Arts Council holds their annual Bluff Mountain Music Festival in Hot Springs NC. It’s just a run over the mountain from our house and we’ve gone for the last two years. I LOVE it! It’s all day with lots of traditional mountain music and ballad singing and clogging. There’s a wooden floor laid in front of the stage for people to get up and dance if they want. Lots of vendors and food tents and a silent auction to raise money for the Arts Council.

This is the music of my heritage. My maternal grandparents grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee. Sadly I did not grow up with this heritage. My grandmother was deeply ashamed of being a ‘hillbilly’ and rejected everything about it. Such a loss. She only saw the poverty and the stigma of poor white trash attached to the word. But I see a rich culture of determined, strong-willed, tough, friendly, giving, joyous people who love to dance! Flat Foot Dancing is the dance of choice among these mountain people. ‘‘The music just goes in your ear, down through your soul, and comes out through your feet,’’  an old West Virginia flat foot dancer once said. It reminds me of step dancing a little and probably is derived from it as most of these mountain people have Irish and Scottish roots. I wish I was brave enough to try it! We bought a CD to come home and practice! Watch a little here and be sure to keep your eye on the gentleman in white! 

They love to waltz too! How I wish I had learned to do this when I was young. It looks heavenly! The Lover’s Waltz is just a gorgeous song. You can watch a video of the couple who wrote it playing HERE or you can watch Roger Howell play it here at the Bluff Mountain Festival. I shot this video…

There is a lovely group of cloggers who perform every year here too. You can check them out HERE. Ballads and storytelling are a big thing among the mountain people too. Sheila Kay Adams is a seventh generation ballad singer and storyteller and we were lucky to get to see her this year at the festival. You can hear her sing Barbary Allen HERE. That was a song my grandpa sang a lot. I love it! Her daughter did a really funny one, but I didn’t get it on video. I found it on Youtube by someone else though. You have to listen to this one!

Here’s some photos I took at the festival…





This is a gorgeous Magnolia Tree!     We sat under it.




Bathroom Remodel

The bathroom remodel isn’t completely done, but I thought I would share the changes now with you. It might be awhile before he does the finishing up. There is still some tile that needs to be put back on the wall and plumbing done on the bathtub, new faucets and shower fixtures. The old vanity was longer and went to the wall and the new one doesn’t. We got a cabinet at IKEA to put beside it and the tiles need put on beside the cabinet and the door put on the cabinet. Discovered the wall board the bath fixtures are on is crumbled at the bottom and that put the brakes on the fiIMG_2112nishing up as Bossman said he has to take off the tile and put up new drywall on that side. Big job, he’s lost heart 😦 Surely he doesn’t have to do that, there has to be an easier answer.




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Bossman working on the floor. He wasn’t ready to do this room remodel but we discovered a small leak on the toilet and the floor was spongy around it so before the plumbers could do their work he had to replace the floor and that meant pulling out the vanity and it just snowballed… Not the remodel I would have liked to have had but it will do!

He ended up putting new drywall where the sink was. I would love to have that old wall heater taken out, but he doesn’t want to redo all the tile. And the shelves next to the toilet are a little odd, they extend into the coat closet on the other side of the wall. I’d like those out too but that’s another big job and we need the space as the house has no linen closet. The little IKEA cabinet really is nice and gives us lots of extra space. That skinny wall between the toilet and the bathtub is where the waterlines for the bathtub come up, no access door. We had to rip off the tile there and cut out the drywall for the plumbers when they ran new waterlines in the house. Bossman will need to get in tFullSizeRender-3here to finish up the faucets and shower. So for now it has plastic taped on it. He will have to put in some kind of access door when he is done with the plumbing. The challenges of old houses! Not sure when this will get completely done. Patience is a virtue, my mother told me over and over when I was growing up! I’m happy with the changes though. MUCH improved from the original!



Today we are leaving for Alaska! First stop back home in Pennsylvania for a couple of days and then flying out of Pittsburgh on Sunday for a 12 day Alaskan cruise/land tour! Can’t believe it! This is Bossman’s big bucket list trip.

We fly into Seattle early Sunday morning and will have a whole day there. Bossman wants to go up the Space Needle and I’d like to check out Pike’s Place Market. We spend the night there and then Monday morning head out for Vancouver BC to catch the ship. The first day of cruising will be the Inside Passage, John Muir wrote the first time he sailed it, “Never before have I been embosomed in scenery so hopelessly beyond description tracing shining waves through fjord and sound, past forest and waterfall, islands and mountains.”! Exciting!

Then one day in Ketchikan, one day in Juneau, one day in Skagway. Then we cruise for two days through Glacier Bay National Park and then the Hubbard Glacier. Our cruising portion ends at Seward on day 9 and we travel up the Seward highway by motor coach to Anchorage stopping at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the way. Once in Anchorage we will get a sightseeing tour of the city and spend the night there. We leave the next day for Denali via Talkeetna and Wasilla. We get to visit the Iditarod Sled Dog Headquarters near Wasilla. We’ve opted for a train ride from Talkeenta to Denali aboard the Alaska Railroad. We will cross Hurricane Gulch the longest bridge on the railroad just over 914 ft. and 296 ft. above Hurricane Creek and then onto Broad Pass, at 2,363 ft., it is the highest point on the railroad. We will spend the night in Denali National Park and the next day take a bus tour of the park. That evening we travel back to Anchorage for the night. The next day, the 29th,  is the end of our tour but our flight out doesn’t leave until after midnight so we have lots of time to see Anchorage at our leisure. We’ve rented a car for the day and have several things lined up we want to do. Then the red-eye home, arriving back in Pittsburgh at 1:25 in the afternoon on the 30th. I will be a tired puppy! But I’ll have lots of adventures and pictures to share with you!

We won’t have wifi on the cruise so I have scheduled a few post for while we are gone. If I can from the hotel rooms I might post pictures! Talk to you later!