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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 didnít 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 bisonís coat. Like the bison, Highland cattle have very low fat content to their flesh.
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     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 425įF/220įC/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
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