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Simple Shortbread

In this week’s Scottish Quotations (see above) Sir Sean Connery remind us of the importance of reading – books upon a window to the world. It exercises your imagination as does my favourite media – the wireless. Like Sir Sean, I have been a life-long reader as well as being a radio addict, with a wireless in every room!  Television, in spite of being invented by a Scot (John Logie Baird) has never had the same attraction, until now. Since 19 September 2008 and the launch of the first-ever Gaelic television digital station – BBC Alba – I have finally found a television channel I can relate to. Scottish programmes made by Scots for Scots but encompassing a Scottish window on the wider-world with an excellent breadth of subjects. Sport, music and song, comedy, news, discussion programmes, cookery, crofting news are all to be found on BBC Alba, with English sub-titles for non-speakers of the language of the Gael.

For Scottish football fans there is the added bonus of seeing a full Scottish Premier League on a Saturday night only hours after the final whistle, but more importantly for those of us who follow the lower leagues is the new channel’s backing for the Challenge Cup. Not only is the channel sponsoring the Challenge Cup but the first live game shown on BBC Alba was the semi-final of the Alba Challenge Cup from Firhill as Partick Thistle did battle with Airdrie for a place in the final. Airdrie won through 1-0 and this Sunday (16 November 2008) face Dingwall side Ross County in the final which will be broadcast on television for the first time. The programme on BBC Alba starts at 2.45 pm with a 3 pm kick-off at Perth’s McDiarmid Park. It should be a close gnd exciting game and although strictly neutral, I did wish the Ross County players good wishes for the final when they played East Fife in a Reserve League Cup game earlier this week!

Although there are only some 60,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, a survey of the first week of the new channel’s viewing found that some 600,000 people tuned in to BBC Alba. As digital television spreads throughout Scotland, I am sure that many more Scots will find and enjoy this splendid channel.

This week’s recipe - Simple Shortbread – makes an ideal accompaniment to a cuppa whilst watching BBC Alba (or indeed listening to Radio Scotland). Do try and catch a programme or two on the new channel – you won’t be disappointed.

Simple Shortbread

Ingredients: 12oz (350g) plain flour; 4oz (110g) cornflour; 4oz (110g) caster sugar; 8oz (225g) butter

Method; Sift the flours together. Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly and then work in the flours. Knead until smooth and without cracks and shape into a round onto a baking sheet. Pinch the edges and prick with fork. Alternatively, press the mixture into a flat tin, or mould, and prick with fork. Bake in a slow oven, 325F/160C/Mark 3 Gas for about 45 minutes. Cut into wedges or fingers, and sprinkle with caster sugar.

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