The mystery of the mealie bannocks

Another cracking little story and recipe from Janet Murray.

Mealie Bannocks

Memory holds the door, and again I am in an old-fashioned kitchen with a blue flagged floor and a girdle over a glowing peat fire. There is a bowl of creamy mixture and in expectation there stand three boys and two collies. Beside them is a wooden platter with a large pat of butter on it. In spite of all the ingredients there was never an end product.
The old recipe begins ‘Tak’ a nievefu’ o’ guid aitmeal, nae ower roch’  but I will put it in simpler terms. You need:
 2 handfuls of fine oatmeal soaked in cold water overnight; pinch of salt; 4 oz flour; 2 eggs; 1 teaspoonful baking powder; just enough milk to make a creamy mixture.
Put the oatmeal into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and just cover and no more with cold water. Mix well. Leave overnight. By the morning the meal should have absorbed most of the water.
With a fork beat in the flour, using a little milk to keep the mixture soft, then also with the fork beat in the well-beaten eggs. Lastly, mix in the baking powder. You should now have a creamy mixture, not too runny, and by this time the girdle should be so hot that it wil protest a little as it is greased.
Drop spoonfuls of mixture on the greased girdle and turn the bannocks over when they are bubbling all over their face. Eaten hot, with butter, they are most uneconomic – they simply vanish.

I love the descriptions – you can just imagine Janet’s Scottish kitchen with the expectant boys and dogs! I love her humour, the disappearing bannocks, the girdle (griddle) protesting when the fat touches it – I can just hear it spit and sizzle, and the bannocks bubbling all over their faces!

I don’t have a picture of an expectant collie, but I do have a picture of a dog who may have a collie ancestor way back in his family history!


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