The Northern Gannett
My birthstone is the Garnet. I'm a January baby. There is a lovely little town south of here called "Garnett, Kansas." But up until today, I had never heard of the Gannett.
I learned of the Northern Gannett while watching a DirecTV recording I had made of a PBS NOVA program on the Vikings. it appears that the Vikings would scale a treacherous seaside cliff to collect baby Gannetts because they were "yum... good eats." Sorry about that, but really, beside an egg or two, the younger birds were considered the best thing to add to the Viking diet.
So this got me to wondering about the birds of Scotland. I did land upon a great website that included not just information about the Gannett, but other Scottish seaside birds, The Scottish Seabird Centre. The website even provide spectacular photos of the various seabirds. I wish I could share them with you, but copyright, such as it is, must be honored.
If you are curious about the Puffin (the "clown of the seas"), the Gannett, the Kittiwake, Cormorant, Shag (bird, not carpet or hairstyle), Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Gull, Elder, or Tern, then find your way to the Scottish Seabird Centre website above. Pretty interesting stuff!
As of the writing of this blog, it is official. I am now OLD. When I was in grade school in Florida, I remember listening to my parents talk excitedly about the National Geographic book they received with a 45 recording of various bird calls. I thought, boy are they OLD! So today, I can confess that I stare out our back sliding glass door to watch the red birds (cardinals) and other pretty birds devour the bird seed we painstakingly make available every day for our variety of birds. And now, I'm totally engrossed in the idea of learning more about the Gannett as well as the Puffin. Oh well. I realize it might seem silly to be excited about birds, but then, perhaps you are not quite as old as me.
For now, enjoy this free image I just found of the Northern Gannett, but don't feel too old if you do, in fact, enjoy the photo.
Oatmeal or Porridge
I can buy steel cut oats, instant oats, Quaker oats, Old Fashioned oats, Organic Oats, Oatmeal with extra protein, rolled oats, and I'm sure some I have not thought of. Per Wikipedia, oats are from "Groats," which are hulled oat grains (not to be confused with one of my favorite new movie characters, "Grute"). The description continues: the oats can be milled, steel-cut or rolled. Ground oats are considered "white oats." Steel-cut oats are considered "coarse oatmeal" or "Irish oatmeal" or "pinhead oats." Rolled oats are thin or thick and considered either "old fashioned" or "quick" or "instant." Whew! Thanks Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
If you are in Scotland, the oats are ground into a powder, and may be called various names too. "It may be ground fine, medium, or coarse, or rolled, or the groats may be chopped in two or three pieces to make what is described as pinhead oatmeal. Ground oatmeal, rolled oats, and pinhead oatmeal, are all used (throughout Britain); one Scots manufacturer describes varieties as "Scottish Porridge Oats" (rolled), "Scottish Oatmeal" (medium ground), and "Pinhead Oatmeal".https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
And... how are the oats used?
- Traditional porridge
- Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal (or medium oatmeal that has been dry toasted by stirring it around in a dry pot over heat until it turns a slightly darker shade and emits a sweet, nutty fragrance) and then adding butter or cream. Brose is eaten like porridge but is much more filling.
- Quick-cooking rolled oats (distinct from "instant" variations) are often used for this purpose nowadays, because they are quicker to prepare.
- Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water that is strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
- as an ingredient in baking
- in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
- as a stuffing for poultry
- as a coating for Caboc cheese
- as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
- mixed with sheep's blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding (marag dubh).
- mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make marag geal, Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast. A sweeter version with dried fruit is also known.
- as a major component of haggis.
- in sowans, not strictly made from the meal but as a porridge-like dish made from the fermented inner husks of oat
Again... thank you Wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatmeal.
And in Staffordshire. there are Staffordshire Oatcakes. These look like blintzes to me. Very thin and cooked on a griddle and then filled with the usual breakfast fare of eggs, sausage, mushrooms.
Now, I know that we eat oatmeal because it is hearty and healthy and a good source of fiber. But I suddenly had a flashback conversation with my Dad. He mentioned using oatmeal in the radiator of his car for a quick fix for a leak. So my question is this: if oatmeal can be used to patch a hole in a radiator, why is oatmeal considered great fiber for our system, and why doesn't it get stuck?
What's for Breakfast?
Steve normally makes our daily breakfast. He's a farm kid and grew up with the big breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast and juice and coffee. I'm the suburban girl who would have anything my mother found convenient to feed us in the morning. Sometimes that was a piece of cake or pie (after all, what's the difference between those choices and coffee cake or a donut) or eggs and toast, or toast with peanut butter spread upon it. To be honest, I prefer Steve's version. He's a great cook, and my blood sugar is better because of his cooking.
On our first visit to Scotland, I told Steve I thought the cooks were trying to "honor" us with American food. We gazed upon scrambeled eggs, cooked tomatos, baked beans and more. But with the passing of each day of our trip, it beame apparant to our ignorant selves that this was a routine breakfast in Scotland, at least at restaurants. That does beg the question: what is a typical Scottish breakfast?
Fodor's the travel group has a nice blog that has identified a list of foods that you will typically find for breakfast. One guest listed the following: "Almost always eggs x 2, bacon rashers x 2, sausages x 2, cold and/or hot cereal, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, fresh or canned fruit, toast, tea, coffee, juice --
and sometimes kippers, blood pudding, and yogurt."
Is there some place in Scotland with MacFarlane history where you can eat a breakfast? Yes! The Slanj at Loch Lomond, is a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a brunch. You can read more on their facebook page. Clan MacFarlane Worldwide has had the pleasure of holding the Annual Members' Meeting at the Slanj. The Slanj website offers more information and great photos. And, the Slanj is the old Ballyhennan Church so if you venture there, be sure to step around to the back to see the 12th century cemetery with MacFarlane headstones. The Slanj is located on MacFarlane lands, so well worth the trip!
But what about Scottish oatmeal or porridge? Let's talk about that tomorrow...