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American Brownies

Today (Friday 6 April 2007) there will be Saltires flying and commemoration events throughout Scotland to mark The Declaration of Scottish Independence made on 6 April 1320 at Arbroath Abbey in the presence of Robert I, King of Scots. In the past that was not the case but fortunately over the past few years an increasing number of events have been made to mark Freedom Day. One body which deserves great praise in keeping the Arbroath message alive has been the Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society. The Society founded in 1947 has staged a full pageant re-enactment every few years in August with a tribute on the anniversary of the 1320 letter to the Pope asking him to recognise Scottish Freedom each April. The next full Arbroath Pageant will be staged in August 2009 but you can catch their annual tribute today at 1pm at Arbroath Abbey. The message to celebrate this important date is growing and if you visit you will find a variety of events.

Much of this revival of interest is due to the decision of our cousins in America and Canada to centre Tartan Day on 6 April 1320 and the Declaration of Scottish Independence and the eternal verities which it contains, both in terms of nationhood and fledgling democracy. Indeed the Letter from Arbroath was an inspiration to the Americans in drawing up their own Declaration of Independence. The decision to hold Tartan Day has given thousands out-with Scotland the opportunity to remember their Scottish roots and to revel in the internationalist outlook of the Scots. Tartan Day events are already being held in America. Last Friday the Scottish Parliament’s outgoing Presiding Officer George Reid opened the Tartan Village in New York which will be visited by thousands. He has a full programme of events to attend over the next fortnight and will conclude by taking the position of Grand Marshal as thousands of pipers and drummers make their way down New York’s 6th Avenue on Saturday 14 April 2007. He is well worthy of the position of Grand Marshall for George Reid as Scotland’s Presiding Officer has brought a quiet dignity to the role and done much to enhance the national and international standing of the fledgling Scottish Parliament over his four year tenure. He told his American audience –

“Our programme of activities has a strong cultural theme this year. Scots have played an influential role in the development of society in North America – something the Scots in Quebec exhibition currently at Holyrood illustrates all too well.

The role of Grand Marshal for the parade is one I am pleased to accept. To experience the streets of New York lined with people from across North America who are so proud of their Scottish heritage will no doubt once again be an emotional experience.”

Visit www.tartanweek,com for more details.

In honour of the help from North America in reminding us of our rich heritage, especially the Freedom Day instituted at Arbroath, we have a very tasty Scottish recipe for American Brownies to delight your palate on this special day.

American Brownies

Ingredients: 12 oz (350 g) butter or margarine; 12 oz (350 g) soft brown sugar; 4 eggs, large; 4 oz (125 g) plain or wholemeal flour; 3 oz (75 g) cocoa powder; 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

7 x 11” (17-27 cm) Swiss roll tin, greased, or 2 x 9” (22 cm) round sandwich cake tins

Method: Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar together till light and creamy, beat in the eggs gradually. Add the vanilla. Mix in and then sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Mix in well but do not beat. It should have a fairly thick consistency. Spread into the tin and bake for ¾ - 1 hour or until risen and firm on top. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool for about five minutes then cut into squares and take out, cool on rack. Can be iced with chocolate icing and decorated with nuts. May be served with vanilla ice cream for pudding.

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