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Spicy Pear Crumble

Hogmanay (from the French hoguinané), New Years Eve, is a special date in the Scottish calendar.  Traditionally the house was reddit-out in order to welcome the New Year and it was a time for family-gathering and the renewal of long-standing friendships.  In by-gone times it was, like Halloween, a time when children went out guising.  Going from door to door for New Year gifts (usually fruit or nuts) the children would sing -

"Rise up guid-wyfe an shak yir feathers,
 Dinna think that we ar beggers,
 We ar bit bairns cum ti play,
 Rise up an gie's our Hogmanay."

In some parts of Aberdeenshire they added the following lines to the rhyme -

"Our feets caul, our shoon's thin,
Gie's a piece an let's rin!"

Guising may no longer be carried out but the tradition of First Footing continues, however the 'hot beverage' described by E Picken in 'Dictionary of the Scottish Language' (1818) belongs to a former age.

"The first-fit generally carries with him a hot beverage, made of ale, spirits, eggs, cream, sugar, and biscuit, with some slices of curran bun to be eaten along with it, or perhaps some bread and cheese."

Whisky, Shortbead and Black Bun all add to the flavour of Hogmanay and the welcoming of the New Year.  For the desert to follow the traditional steak-pie on the first day of the year, we would suggest a recipe from 'The Anniversary Cook-Book of the Dumfriesshire Federation SWRI 1922 - 1992'.  The Cummertrees Institute supplied a treat which tastes as good as it sounds - Spicy Pear Crumble - a great way to start 2005.

Spicy Pear Crumble

Ingredients:  3 small ripe pears; 3oz cheddar cheese, grated; 1 level tablespoon brown sugar; 1 level teaspoon ground ginger; 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the crumble: 2oz plain flour; 1oz soft brown sugar; 1oz butter of margarine

Method: Cut the pears in half, peal and core.  Arrange cored side up in a buttered oven-proof dish.  Mix together the cheese, sugar, ginger and lemon juice, then use to fill the pear halves.  Make the crumble:  in a bowl mix the flour and sugar, then rub in butter until it resembles fine bread-crumbs.  Sprinle over each of the pear halves.  Bake above the centre of the oven 350 F, 180 C, or Gas Mark 4 for about 30 minutes.

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