|A St. Andrew's Day Feast|
Last night, however, St. Andrew was honored in our house. As I had no idea what one did on a saint's day, except eat a special meal, I made it up as I went along. I didn't want to cook a huge, fancy meal, as I had already done that for Thanksgiving. I found a recipe for Cullen Skink (BBC Good Food, January 2001) and another for individual Steak, Potato and Leek Pies (Bon Appetit, May 2004). Essentially, I planned soup and sandwiches for dinner, with shortbread for dessert.
Planning, apparently, was the easy part. Smoked haddock is not available locally, so I had to special-order smoked whitefish. This worried me as I had no idea how a substitution would impact the soup. I envisioned cooking and dining to a playlist which included Andy Stewart (yes, I have mentioned that I a part of the ancestral diaspora and we like him), Travis, Eddi Reader, and Capercaille. The playlist did not got made.
At about 5:30, I went downstairs, a bit despondent about the music situation, to start cooking for the meal to be ready at 6:30. I ended up putting on Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman and tried to be happy. Then as soon as I started chopping, my dad announced that he had to LEAVE at 6:30 and wouldn't be back until about 7:15. My niece had stayed home from school that day and said she would "try" the soup, but asked if she could have salad instead of the pie. I took my irritated self into the kitchen to chop potatoes, leeks and onions and then the music stopped. Oh my, I was hating my plans and St. Andrew at that moment.
The music stopped because my mother quickly made a playlist of Andy Stewart and Kenneth McKellar. That cheered me up considerably. At 6:30, I had just finished chopping and had started to make the pies. Preparation and cooking always seem to take longer than anticipated. Of course, if I had noticed that the pie filling was supposed to cool completely before I put it in the pastry, I might have been better off. At 7:30, an hour later than I had planned, we sat down to dinner. The music got changed to something a little more suitable to dining and as we began to eat, my father finally got home.
The Cullen Skink was wonderful and everyone liked it better than they thought they would. I think they were frightened off by the name. And the pies were amazing, thanks in part to pie crust made by Mr. Pillsbury Doughboy. We were too full to eat any shortbread after dinner.
All in all, despite a couple of angst-ridden hours, our St. Andrew's Day celebration was a success. It also helped me realized why people invent traditions like this - it's fun. We tried new recipes, listened to music we don't normally listen to, thought about our ancestral homeland, participated in an event promoted in modern Scotland, and made an ordinary Wednesday into something special. I would do it again, and maybe invent some new things to add to our November 30th festivities. Any suggestions?