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Stories and Stovies
Hamely Fair - Sweeties


Handy spandy, Jack-a-Dandy,
Loves plum cake and sugar candy;
He bought some at a grover’s shop,
And out he came, hop, hop, hop.

Edinburgh Rock

This is the most wonderful sugary melting candy. My mother would always buy me a box when we went to Edinburgh on our annual day trips to Princes Street, the Zoo, and down the Royal Mile from the Castle to Holyrood House. I loved these boxes of colored candy - light brown, pink, orange, yellow, green and white -- each one a different flavor. I’m quite sure that if there wasn’t any Edinburgh Rock in the picnic bag in this picture of my mother, brother and me at Edinburgh Zoo, there was certainly some there by the time we left on the train home.

Family Snap at Edinburgh Zoo I’m not sure if I haven’t already put this picture in this little book, but I remember this day so well. My mother asked a stranger to take the picture with a little box Brownie camera we had, and we had enough money to let me ride the elephant. What a thrill! And I read recently that Edinburgh Zoo is famous for its unique penguin colony, and I do remember seeing those creatures there, and I’m almost sure it was the same trip.

2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Flavors and colors to taste: few drops of peppermint, raspberry, orange, lemon or vanilla.

Heat the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. When just about to boil, add the cream of tartar and then boil without stirring until it reaches 250 degrees or until it forms a hard ball in cold water. Take from the heat and add the flavoring and coloring you wish.

Pour onto a buttered marble slab or a buttered platter. Cool slightly and turn the edges to the center with an oiled scraper, but do not stir. When cool enough to handle, dust it with confectioners sugar, and "pull" it evenly and quickly, taking care not to twist it, until it becomes opaque and dull.

This should be done in a warm room or near a heater or the candy becomes stiff too quickly. Draw out the candy into strips and cut with oiled scissors into 1" or 2" pieces. Leave in a warm room on oiled paper for at least 24 hours. The rock will become powdery and soft. It can be stored in an airtight tin. If the candy is still sticky, it hasn’t been pulled enough.

Swiss Milk Tablet

This is kind of like a milky, sugary fudge that some other people's mother's used to make when I was growing up in Scotland – my Granny never did make this, but always brought plenty home as tips from regular customers who bought their variety show tickets from her at the Palace, in the Nethergate. It was really good.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 lbs granulated sugar
4 oz cubed butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Melt butter slowly in pan. Add both milks, stir into butter. Add sugar, mix well, don't let mixture boil until sugar is thoroughly melted, then bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Take pan from heat, add vanilla extract, beat with a wooden spoon until creamy, usually about 5 minutes, and pour mixture into greased tray. Mark it for cutting before it gets cold.

And if you want chocolate flavoured fudge, use chocolate evaporated milk or blend in chocolate chips. Experiment. Mint chocolate chips are kind of tasty – but, remember, the chocolate makes this taste even sweeter – almost to the point you feel your teeth are going to fall out!

taken in front of the Victoria Arch

Speaking of trips to Edinburgh, I think the little girl in the red duffel coat in the front row there was probably about 12 when this was taken. This picture is taken in front of the Victoria Arch, down at the main bus terminus, on Dock Street. I know I was going to the Harris with these kids – see the blazer on the boy, second row, last on the left? But I was still a tomboy.

I was a marbles player, and I didn’t have anything to carry my marbles with me on this swimming team trip to Edinburgh, so I had two loads of marbles in my pockets. Can’t remember if I came home a winner or a loser, either swimming or playing marbles.

The man on the left is wearing his official coach blazer of the Young Swimmers Athletic Union – a Scottish organization, of course, with the rampant lion. I had many happy years with this, and am so grateful to Mr. Hosie – he’s the big grinning guy in the middle – for teaching me to swim.

My children and grandchildren have all gone to swimming lessons. But they haven’t learned how to swim like I learned. I remember the baths in Lochee weren’t nearly so big as the main baths at the Docks. Mr. Hosie wore waders over street clothes, and I don’t remember ever seeing him in the water.

I learned to swim by wearing a kind of canvas belt around my middle, attached to a rope, and Mr. Hosie, or some other adult, held me up and "reeled" me in. That rope contraption somehow or other encouraged trust and buoyancy, and before long I was swimming away breast stroke, crawl, and backstroke.

I still love swimming, and I’m convinced it was because there were dedicated adults in my life, volunteering, and teaching kids more lessons than how to stay afloat or move through water.

Of course, I didn’t know it then, but now I’ve grown up I understand. So, wherever you are, Mr. Hosie, God bless, and thank you.

By the way, Mr. Hosie, ran for election to the Dundee Town Council and we kids hung around the voting place supporting him. Our chant was "Don’t be easy-osie," (that means uninvolved, sitting on the fence, don’t care, etc.) "Come out and vote for Hosie."

My mind is running right now, since this is the "Sweetie" section to memories of the many, many little sweetie shops in Scotland when I grew up. I was given a video of modern Dundee from Tommy Taylor, my friend living in Canada that said there’s only one sweetie shop left in Lochee, in Dundee. What a shame that supermarkets have taken over the world. I remember getting a Saturday sixpence and running down the stairs to the shop below to have the man there bring out the "ha’penny tray" and the "penny tray" so that I could carefully pick out as many "bargains" as I could to take up to the house to savor. That man must have had the patience of a saint as I pored over dolly mixtures, gob stoppers, lollipops, horehounds, licorice allsorts to try to get as much as I possibly could in my little paper cone. And I remember my Granny and my mother so many times enjoying my pride in my display of goodies when I ran back up the stairs to tell them, "Look what I got." And sometimes, I even had a few Keillors’ butterscotch.

Butterscotch from the Taste of Scotland book

2lb brown sugar
1 cup butter, creamed
juice of 1 lemon, or 1 heaping tsp ginger

Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan, and when liquid add the butter and flavoring. Keep boiling, gently, stirring all the time for about 20 minutes or until it hardens when a little is dropped into ice-cold water. Then beat very well for about 5 minutes, pour on to a buttered slab or tin, and when cool mark into squares with a knife. When cold and set, remove, and tap the bottom with a heavy knife handle to break up.

This makes about 2 lbs of candy, but it's so easy to get Keillor's in this country, and that truly is the best butterscotch.

Keillor's had a bakery as well as a chocolate factory (where my Granny was a chocolate packer) and marmalade manufacturer in Dundee. I remember Keillor's Bakery as always having the best looking Dundee Cakes in their windows. The other bakers in Dundee were Kidd's and Wallace.

At the Top of the Hill where I grew up, we went to Grey's Bakery (even though I worked in the shop at Kidd's - Grey's was a small family owned operation as compared to the big family owned companies of Kidd's, Keillor's and Wallace's. I worked at Kidd's from the time I was 14 until I left school at 17. Grey's really had the best meat pies.

Wallace's was known as "The Old Dundee Pie Shop" and they had a restaurant, as opposed to a tea room, in Castle Street. I liked to go to Wallace's on the occasions my mother could afford it and order their steak pie because they really had the best puff paste pies, with lots of onions. For dessert I loved their apple crumble (American's call it Apple Crisp) with hot custard.

Just up the street a few doors from Wallace's there was Braithwaite's. This was a shop devoted entirely to selling tea and coffee. I remember seeing the big wooden tea chests in that store and smelling the coffee beans they were roasting. My, what a street of smells that was. There was another baker that came along later, I think their name was Fisher and Donaldson. They made shortbread that was different from the usual light brown large circles or petticoat tails - it was a real toasty brown in small circles and I abandoned Paterson's for a while and made that my favorite shortbread!


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