New Food – Scottish Tablet

img_6327Ok, I will confess. This is not a NEW, new food. I actually ate some of this in Scotland and wasn’t all THAT impressed, but it is like the national candy or something. (I thought it was too sugary, but then I wasn’t a big fan of their popular Ian Bru orange soda either – maybe they’re both acquired tastes.)

And then I was reading a list of 100 things to do in Scotland before you die. One of them was “make and eat Scottish tablet.”

I love (Scotland. My dad’s ancestors came from Scotland (we even have a castle, sort of) and so I decided to take the challenge of “making and eating Scottish tablet.”img_6329

If you look on the web, there are a lot of recipes for it, some difficult to decipher because they use Scottish terms (like for the super fine sugar you need to use), but if you look around enough, you’ll find one that is easy to comprehend.

Basically Scottish table is boiled sugar. Seriously. But to bake it exactly right, you need to boil to the exact right temperature img_6330and then stir for the exact amount of time. Tricky, so the recipes say. They also say that you’re first batch will probably not harden exactly right, so you’ll need to try a couple times. Not wanting to spend a lot of time boiling sugar, I decided I needed to follow the directions to a t and get it right the first time. They also say to boil in a deep pot because it foams up as it cooks. Timg_6331hat it does.

So with the boiling sugar, you also mix butter and sweet condensed milk. (Just in case it’s not sweet enough.) You can also add vanilla.

You stir it for 20-30 minutes straight – some while it is cooking, but most after you take it off the heat. You then pour it in a pan, img_6332let cool for just a few minutes and then cut into squares.


And yes – it did work on the first try. I decided it wasn’t because I’m a great Scottish cook, but rather all the practice I’ve gotten boiling sugar for the annual Christmas candy tradition.

So here are my thoughts.

This stuff is pure sugar (and butter and condensed milk). I put in vanilla (as many recipes say), but others say that true Scottish tablet does NOT have vanilla in it – so even that little bit of flavoring wasn’t authentic.

The other thing I say is – if I’m going to keep doing this I need to find a spot in the kitchen that doesn’t have cupboards hanging over the counter, making shadows in my pictures.

Will I make it again? Probably not. I can say I did it and it turned out like it was supposed to turn out.

Taste? I have decided it tastes like maple syrup candy, but someone forgot the maple syrup.

I give Scotland a 10. I give their candy a 4.


New food – Strozzapreti

img_6323I didn’t make this, but had it at a restaurant – wild mushroom strozzapreti which means (in Italian) priest-choker or priest strangler.

Why is it called priest-choker?

Some say it’s because the priests were so hungry that they ate the pasta until they choked themselves. And maybe even died. (Sounds morbid.)

Or some say it’s because the wives made the pasta for the church leaders as payment for rent. The husbands didn’t like their wives making food for the church leaders, so they’d get so angry they wished for the priests to choke.

Who knows?

Then some people say the pasta looks like a clerical collar (that sounds not-so-morbid.)

The pasta is made in large sheets and then cut into strips. The wild mushroom strozzapreti was mixed with mushrooms with a brown sauce.

Very good.


New Food – Jicama

When on a new food hunt this week, I saw a bin of jicama. (hee-ka-ma) When I got home, I looked it up and saw that it was a root vegetable and could be used in place of water chestnuts.


Perfect. I was thinking about making a pan of my favorite stew anyhow and one of the ingredients is water chestnuts – so I could substitute the jicama. Basically it’s kind of ugly, with blister like pox marks on the side and felt a little sticky (which the web informed me is fairly common because of some kind of wax that’s put on it.)

I learned that the best way to peel is to cut off the bottom so it sits flat on a cutting board and then cut down the sides (you can’t use a peeler.) So that’s what I did.


(Ok, so I’m not on Food Network and my knife cuts weren’t even – but they’ll do.)

So one website said the taste was between an apple and a potato. Another said a combination of a potato and a water chestnut. Confessing something here – anytime I boil potatoes to mash, I always take a chunk of raw potato, put salt on it and eat it – so I know what raw potatoes taste like. And I know what apples taste like too. I did not taste  apples or potatoes when I ate a piece of jicama. Nor was it a water chestnut/potato taste. I kind of thought it had it’s own unique taste and was more bitter than I was expecting.

Anyhow, I browned my onions and ground beef.


And put it in a baking dish with the jicama, tomatoes, beef broth, seasonings and lots of barley. (Barley is a must for me in any stew.) And I baked for a half hour.

After a half hour, I added a package of mixed vegetables and baked for another 30.

And I had my favorite barley/beef stew with the addition of jicama. I had already pretty much decided I was going back to water chestnuts next time around.

But actually, once it had been baked in the stew – the jicama really DID taste like water chestnuts and was just fine. A great substitute.

Not really sure how I would rate it. Maybe 5 out of 10?


A Good Book – For the Glory

51ue03zybml-_sx327_bo1204203200_My favorite type of book is a biography and I recently read a particularly good one.

For the Glory, Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton is (obviously) the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame. But he was so much more than an Olympic champion – in fact that is just one day in a fascinating life.

(This is a fairly new book so easy to find if you’re interested.)

By the way – the picture below is of West Sands Beach in St. Andrews, Scotland where the opening and closing shots of the movie were set. The beach is right next to St. Andrews Golf Course. I had the privilege of taking this picture while in Scotland (which was indeed a privilege – I loved  Scotland.)

Read below the picture to read about some interesting facts I learned.


  1. He was smart, graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in science.
  2. He was part of the Scottish National Rugby Team.
  3. He was not the stoic, serious athlete portrayed in Chariots of Fire, but had a great sense of humor and was liked by everyone.
  4. This was not the first Olympics where athletes refused to run on Sundays. In the previous Paris Olympics, several Americans dropped out because of it.
  5. Eric know about the Sunday race months before and the British Olympic Committee was supposedly going to do something about it, but didn’t get around to it.
  6. Eric was also not the only one who didn’t race on Sunday in the 1924 Olympics either (the one Chariots of Fire was based on).
  7. He was good friends with Eileen Soper who was a world-renown artist, illustrating children’s books. They carved their initials in a tree. Eileen painted a portrait of Eric which is in a gallery today.
  8. He could’ve continued running and easily won medals in the next Olympics, but he walked away from running glory to be a missionary in China. (His parents were missionaries in China.)
  9. He married Florence, a true partner in ministry and they had two daughters.
  10. When life got dangerous in China because of the Japanese aggression, he sent his wife and two daughters home – his wife was pregnant with daughter #3. He never saw his family again.
  11. He ended up in a Japanese prison camp where he became the camp leader, showing kindness to everyone, organizing games, teaching Bible studies.
  12. He died in camp of a brain tumor.


New Food – Chocolate Piñata

Though chocolate is definitely not a new food – chocolate in a piñata is definitely a new food.

Tonight the family headed for Uncle Julio’s where we celebrated a couple family birthdays – the two-days-before-he-turns- thirteen-years-old and Kelli.

The restaurant is known for its made from scratch food and in fact, they made guacamole for our chips right at the table. What I had was not too spicy (I’m not big on spicy) and was good.

The highlight of the night and what they’re known for is their chocolate pinatas. The lady told us that each piñata takes eight hours to make. The chocolate shell is filled with pineapples, blackberries, strawberries, churros …

Very cool – I’d give it an eight and also add that the chocolate piñata is a fun birthday treat.


New Food – pumello

img_6152Ahhh … remember my success with last week’s new food? Keep that in mind.

This week, I stopped at a different store on the way home from work and saw a display of pumellos. I hadn’t seen those before so I paused to look it up on my phone and while I did so, an attentive produce manager came over to chat with me.

“They’re like grapefruit, but mellower. They don’t have the acid of grapefruit and they have a much thicker skin. (Some researchers think that the grapefruit is a cross between the pumello and a wild orange.)

I’m ok with grapefruit – I decided to try a pumello. They were kind of expensive – but I was only buying one so it wasn’t too bad.

A lady and her two kids were standing behind me in the checkout lane. The kids were maybe 10 and eleven and were having a friendly chat with their mom. The mom turned to me,  “What does that taste like?”

I explained about the new food every week challenge and that I had never had a pumello before but I was assured it tasted like grapefruit, except mellower with no acid.

“Your new food idea is great,” she said. “Kids, isn’t that a great idea?”

“So can we get one of those, Mom? We like grapefruit.”

The mom said “sure” and sent the daughter off to get one of their own pumellos. “See what you started?” She smiled and I smiled back because at that point … well … at that point …

I brought it home and later in the evening decided to peel it and cut it up with some pineapple for a breakfast fruit salad.

I bet you never knew that there are countless youtube videos that teach you how to peel a pummelo or pomelo or pomello (no one seems to know the exact spelling). The one I watched had some weird not-fruit-preperation music behind it. Anyhow, you cut off the top (which I did).


And then you make a vertical cut and then a horizontal cut – my problem is I cut the entire way through the fruit, but you are supposed to not make a complete cut – that way you can make a flower out of the peel. Which if I had done it that way or known that I could make a pumello peel flower, I could show you. But I didn’t. However, I basically did it correctly (other than messing up the whole flower thing). You then put your thumb in that center hole (see above) and pull.


Now it would seen that since you have the unpeeling completed, you would be able to eat the fruit – but no. More work to do. There is a rather thick membrane between each segment, which you must peel off and oh yes, you also need to deseed it in the process. This whole getting the segment membrane off isn’t that easy.

I kind of felt like I was filleting fish. That is, if I actually ever filleted a fish.

By this time I had been listening to the weird youtube pumello-peeling music for a half hour and working on my pumello-peeling-project. I wondered how the mom from the check-out lane was doing and if she was ruing the fact that she had talked to me.img_6157

See that pile in front?  That’s the membrane. (Yes, it looks like fruit, but that’s just the shadow of the segment which it was membraning.) See the pile in back? That’s the fruit.

I mixed it with the pineapple as originally planned and it is definitely mellower and not as acidity as a grapefruit.

So let’s see. This fruit cost me $4.00. This fruit took a half hour to prepare. This fruit had more peel and membrane than it actually had fruit. Oh yeah, then I read that it can interfere with chlolesterol medication. Which I’m not on, but a lot of people are.

But it was good and yes, I might do it again and this time do the whole flower thing (not sure why), it’s basically compost, but why not?

Taste? 8 out of 10.

Everything else – 2 out of 10.






New Food – Figgy Seeded Bites

Looking for a new taste experience, I came across Figgy Seeded Bites. This was in My Baking with Mary Berry cookbook. In case you don’t know who Mary Berry is  – she is the grande Dame of British baking. (Think Great British Baking Show – truly a charming TV program.)

The reason why I chose these is because they were labeled a common treat in British coffee shops, so because of my British roots …

But the name does NOT have a ring to it. Neither did it sound that appetizing to me. I’m not a big fan of figs, but being that this experience is all about things I wouldn’t ordinarily eat, I decided to go for it.

And figgy seeded bites was a lot more “seeded” than it was “figgy” because there was a shopping cart full of ingredients – oatmeal, coconut, figs (of course), sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels, etc.


I mixed the dry ingredients together in one bowl.


And then cooked the liquid mixture on the stove. Then mixed them all together and baked.


The result? So delicious. I would give them a 10 out of 10. I took a picture of a finished bar in front of my very British relatives (however, they made the mistake of sailing on the Lusitania).

Yes, I delightfully recommend figgy seeded bites.(One of the people I shared them with begged me to make another batch – they are THAT good.)img_6136