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Apple and Berry Compote

This week we resume our visits to various Scottish towns and visitor attractions with a look at, and around, the ancient Royal Burgh of Kinghorn in the Kingdom of Fife. Kinghorn was created as a Royal Burgh in 1285 by Alexander III, King of Scots, and ironically a year later he met his untimely death just outside the burgh. After a long council meeting in Maiden Castle, now known as Edinburgh castle, discussing problems with England, Alexander the Peaceable safely crossed the gurlie waters of the Forth and landed in Inverkeithing. Accompanied in the pit mirk night by two guides he set off for Kinghorn Castle to join his wife of six months, Yolande. Unfortunately this great Scottish King never reached his goal and fell to his death at Pettycur, within sight of his goal. His death resulted in the long Wars of Independence as King Edward I of England cast covetous eyes on the kingdom to his north. Alexander III had striven to build a secure, prosperous and united Scotland, and the sound foundation he laid ensured that Sir William Wallace and then Robert I, King of Scots, bore the gree and Scotland maintained her long held independence.  No visit to Kinghorn, or indeed neighbouring Burntisland, would be complete without a visit to the superb Alexander III Monument, which stands at Pettycur between the two burghs, with magnificent views over the Forth and miles of golden sand.

The Royal Burgh of Kinghorn has long had association with the Scottish monarchy, although all trace of the Royal Castle has long since gone, but the association is recorded in many of the street-names – David the First Street, Queen Margaret Street, Alexander the Third Street, Baliol Street, Macduff Crescent, Strathmore Street, Glamis Road, Bruce Street and Canmore Street. A wander up and down the town reveals many hidden delights and secrets. Cuinzie Neuk, for example, a fairly recent Tudor style building, just off the High Street, stands on the site of where a Royal Mint stood in days gone by. Down towards the sea from Cuinzie Neuk stands Kinghorn Parish Church, reconstructed in 1774, which contains remains of what is thought to be the church consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews in 1243. Near the church lies Kinghorn beach, on a sheltered bay, a major attraction to families seeking a good day out at the seaside.  On a more gruesome note you can visit Witches Hill in the local cemetery where local witches were burnt – the last witch to be burned in Kinghorn was Katherine Wallenge on 24 March 1644.

Kinghorn, like its nearby larger neighbour Kirkcaldy, once suffered from a well-known ‘smell’ – in the case of Kirkcaldy linoleum and in Kinghorn’s leather. These days are passed but near where the Kinghorn leatherworks once stood is the Craigencault Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch. At the Ecology Centre is the Earthship House, a unique building made entirely from recycled materials. Old car tyres, glass jars and drink cans are among the reclaimed material used in a house which is self-sufficient in electricity, water and sewage treatment. The Ecology Centre and Earthship House are among the many buildings open in Fife during Doors Open Days 2008. Sunday 14 September is the date for your diary to visit Kinghorn and the opening times, free entry, is from 10am to 4pm.

Fife, like Angus and Perthshire, is famous for strawberry and raspberry growing, and you have just time before the end of the present season to use either in this week’s recipe – Apple and Berry Compote.

Apple and Berry Compote

Ingredients: 4 medium eating apples, peeled, cored and bruises removed: 100ml orange or apple juice; handful of strawberries or raspberries; a pinch of cinnamon

Method: Put the apples, orange juice and cinnamon into a heavy based pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until just tender, stir in the berries and serve with dropped scones (see last week’s recipe).


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