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Erraid an island at the end of the world
Page 7 of my latest adventures: The Findhorn Community on the Isle of Erraid.
To Print out the original Celtic Cross Garden Design below, go to the next page
The beastie that modeled my red shawl seemed to remember the encounter! These cattle evolved in
the misty and cold Western Highlands of Scotland as largely free-range animals. They didnâ€™t have access to the byres (a cow
barn for you non-Scot speakers). Instead, they evolved a very thick coat and great big horns to fight off the wolves that were
common in Scotland well into the eighteenth century. (I remember reading that the Jacobites, who rose against the English crown,
probably would have seen a wolf, but they probably would never have seen a rabbit because European rabbits had not yet
colonized the Highlands.) Highland cattle are not entirely removed from the ancient Aurochs, the ancestral cattle of Eurasia.
However, this breed has also developed something akin to the bisonâ€™s coat. Like the bison, Highland cattle have very low fat
content to their flesh.
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Findhorn Page 7
The Red Shawl: retrieval and a tattie pie
My trusty smart car Passion and I pulled into the farmers' croft at Assapol Loch. The roadway was muddy and narrow and
numerous aged outbuildings leaned precariously on the steep slopes. Beasties and sheep were grazing on the sidelines as I pulled
into the'iodhlann' barnyard proper. The crofter's cottage was surrounded by a patch of land, protected by the inevitable drystone
walls. This area was distinct from the rest of the croft, in which the larger animals grazed, in that it was planted in plots which
produced the herbs and vegetables needed for the family. Interestingly, the entrance to the cottage proper was through a gate
which was an aged iron bedstead, handsomely transformed into a functional gate. The cottage was thatched, two storied and slated.
A bevy of geeze honked my arrival and an Australian Shepherd dog ambled over to check out Passion and its occupant. It was
a beautiful day of sun and warmth and I could hear glasses tinkling in the cottage, gaelic voices engaged in fierce altercation;
sounds which ceased with suspicious suddenness as I approached.
The farmer's wife shooed away the geese, introduced herself as Maisie and proceeded to give an impromptu tour of the
outbuildings.. She was rightly proud of the immaculately kept farmyard and the aged buildings were clean and fresh inside. I was
hospitably bid to "Come away In" and did so. After entering the cottage through a well used paneled door that had to be at least six
inches thick, I was invited to 'set' at a long trestle table in the cottage kitchen. The walls outside and in were white washed, the
windows sparkled, and a fresh bouquet of heathers and grasses graced the bord* alongside a neatly folded Red Shawl..
*old english for table
Maisie's Tattie Pie
Potato, Cheese And Bacon Pie
1kg of Rooster potatoes which have been peeled, thinly sliced and washed
15g of melted butter
200g of thinly sliced streaky bacon
100g of grated gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper for seasoning (optional ingredient)
Pre heat the oven to 425Â°F/220Â°C/Gas mark 7. Butter a 9 inch ovenproof non stick baking dish. Arrange the bacon slices into
the bottom and the sides of the greased pan. Make sure some of the strips of bacon overhang the edge of the dish slightly. Dry the
washed, peeled and sliced Rooster potatoes and dry with kitchen towel. Take about one third of the tatties and place these slices
over the bacon. Then sprinkle about a third of the grated gruyere cheese. Repeat this step so that two more layers of tattie and
cheese are in the dish. Now fold over the overhanging bacon onto the top layer of potatoes and cheese. Place the dish in the oven
and bake uncovered for 50 minutes.
Before removing the potato, cheese and bacon pie recipe from the oven ensure it is cooked throughout by testing the tatties by
piercing a knife through the pie. The potatoes should feel soft and the knife gently pass through the dish.
Other cheeses could be used for this potato, cheese and bacon pie recipe but the harder gruyere cheese melts at the right time
with the potatoes and blends well to give a mild nutty taste.
As colorful as stained glass, this original Celtic
Cross Garden Design and planting lists can be
found on the next page.....
An Gabh Thu Copan Tea?
Will you take a cup of tea?
The kettle was bubbling in ill-conceived
impatience and promised a speedy brew of tea.
The sun streaming through the sparkling windows
and the pungent scent of a tattie pie keeping
warm on the hob were testament to what would be
a comfortable repast.
The kitchen curtians, cushions and
tablecloth were obviously hand made with
great care and skill. I admired the old-fashioned
grate with its deep fire of glowing peat, the
gleaming brass fire-irons, and the clock which I
am sure had already ticked its way through a
century of time.
I settled down to good conversation and to do full justice to
Maisie's welcome. The delicious home brewed tea, cream that
was rich, thick and smooth, and a delicious tattie pie was tucked into
with obvious relish by me under Maisie's satisying smile.
I had a long journey before me and with the warmth and the
good food I was becoming sleepy. I promised Maisie that I would
stay in touch and packed a newly baked tattie pie into my canvas
bag. I thanked her for cleaning and ironing of the red shawl and
her generous hospitality. Accompanied by the dog and presented
with a chorus of honks by the geese, I pushed open the bedstead
gate and climbed into Passion.
Photo Credit: Outer Hebrides Pool by Andy Shader
Photo Credit: Photos From Haninge