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Death by Chocolate

With our skeilie webmaster, Alastair McIntyre, off to the USA (but The Flag will continue to fly) this column will be taking a 'well-earned' (!) break for the next two weeks. So this week we will look at two notable Scottish February dates - one just past earlier this week and one to come by the time Alastair is in The States.
The first date is Candlemas, the 2nd of February, the first of the Scottish Quarter Days, and the day when it was the tradition for pupils to give their schoolmasters a gift. There are several verses about Candlemas, here is one concerning weather lore -
"If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter's to come and mair;
If candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter's gane at Yule."
So hopefully, given the snowfall on Sunday which, to the disgust of The Flag's Jim Lynch, saw the Dundee/Hibs game abandoned with Dundee one up and playing well, we can look forward to the worst of winter being behind us.
And from the North-East of Scotland comes a Calendar rhyme which helps to set the lunar date of Easter Sunday -
"First comes Cannlemas and syne the new meen,
The neist Tyesday efter is Fester's Een;
That meen out and the neist meen's hicht,
And the neist Sunday efter that's aye Pace richt."
Easter Sunday for 2003 falls on 20th April.
The notable date to come is, of course, engraved on the hearts of romantics world-wide, St Valentine's Day, on 14th February. Scotland can claim a close affinity to the Saint as his remains lie in a Glasgow Church - the church of Blessed John Duns Scotia in the Gorbals. The notorious 'Glasgow Kiss' has nothing to do with the Saint or with romance, indeed quite the opposite!
Scotland's most famous romantic poet, Robert Burns, wrote of St Valentine's Day in his poem 'Tam Glen' -
"Yestreen at the valentines' dealing
My heart to my mou' gied a sten' ;
For thrice I drew ane without failing,
And thrice it was written - Tam Glen."
And our most famous novelist, Sir Walter Scott, wrote of St Valentine's Day in 'The Fair Maid of Perth' -
"Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day, when every bird chooses her mate. I will plague you no longer now, providing you will let me see you from your window tomorrow when the sun first peeps over the eastern hill, and give me right to be your Valentine for the year."
A romantic time of year requires a romantic recipe - love and chocolate traditionally go together so why not make for your Valentine the 'naughty treat' Death by Chocolate. But remember this is a calorie loaded traybake and that a little goes a long way!
Death by Chocolate
Ingredients : 1.5 oz (35 g) Ratafia Biscuits; 2.5 tablespoons liquid glucose; half pint (330 ml) double cream;  8 oz (225 g) plain chocolate; 2,5 tablespoons Rum.
Crush biscuits and sprinkle over base of seven inch square tin. Melt together chocolate, glucose and rum. Beat cream and fold in chocolate mixture. Pour in tin. Cover with cling film and set in refrigerator. Cut in VERY small pieces - remember calorie count.

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