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Green Tomato Chutney

This week and next we will look at commemorations being held to mark the important role in Scottish history played by two of the greatest ever Scots – Robert I, King of Scots, and Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland.

It is encouraging that such events are being held as our education system has ill-served Scots as far as their history is concerned. A sound grounding in our own history is surely something every young, and not so young, Scot deserves. The historian and author Chris Brown hit the nail on the head –

‘Scotland is the only country in Europe where there is absolutely no legal requirement for schoolchildren to be taught the history of their country. The fact that there is no adequate history textbook for Scottish schools compounds the problem, but in any case the teachers, mostly the product of Scottish education themselves, have little or no grasp of their country’s history: the problem is circular. Sadly, neither the Scottish government nor Scottish education authorities seem to have any interest in doing anything very practical toward improving the situation, so Scottish schoolchildren will continue to be denied proper access to the history of their country.’

(William Wallace – The True Story of Braveheart: Tempus Publishing Ltd £17.99 2005)

The circle must be broken and Scottish bairns properly taught their own history. It is far too important a subject to be left to chance, as that way misunderstanding arises and facts give way to myth. This is one aspect of Scottish life which will take time to turn around but, hopefully, an SNP controlled Scottish Executive from 2007 will start the wheel turning and ensure that future generations of Scots know their own country’s history.

Meantime we can encourage interest in Scottish history by supporting the various commemoration events. Dunfermline, the ancient capital of Scotland, this weekend plays host to The King Robert the Bruce Festival Weekend (18-20 August 2006) which celebrates the 700th anniversary of the crowning of Robert I. He was crowned by the Countess of Buchan on 25 March 1306 at Scone and went on to free Scotland from English domination. Good King Robert is buried in Dunfermline Abbey and his grave is well-worth a visit. History will come to life in Dunfermline as the life of Scotland’s greatest warrior King will be portrayed in plays performed in the grounds of Dunfermline Abbey on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 August with shows at 6.30pm; 7,30pm and 8.30pm. Booking is essential – telephone 01383 73226 and tickets cost – Adults £6; Bairns and Concessions £3. The Festival weekend also includes a Medieval Encampment in Pittencrieff Park on Saturday 19 August with re-enactment groups including Carrick 800.

Sir William Wallace commemorations commence tonight in Aberdeen at 7.30pm when wreath-laying and speeches will take place at the Wallace Statue, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, followed by an Awthegither. Tomorrow (Saturday 19 August 2006) the Stonehaven Wallace Day Rally will be held for the 26th successive year commencing at 2pm. The March and Rally will be followed by a Folk Night in the Stonehaven Town Hall featuring Scotland’s finest folk duo Gaberlunzie. Next week we will look at two further commemorations of Scotland’s National Hero at Elderslie (26 August) and Aberdeen (27 August).

Just as we should all really know our country’s ‘real’ history, it is advisable to know just what is in our food. One certain way is to grow and make your own – such as jams and chutneys. This week we go for a chutney recipe – Green Tomato Chutney – a rare treat with any meat and acts as a reminder on a cold winter day of summertime!

Green Tomato Chutney

Ingredients:  2 lbs green tomatoes, chopped roughly; ½ lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped; ½ lb red onions, peeled and chopped; 4 oz raisins; 1 tbsp salt; 1 tbsp pickling spice; ½ pint good malt vinegar; ½ lb Demerara sugar

Method:  Tie the pickling spice in a muslin bag. Mix all the ingredients, except the sugar, together and put into a large pan. Add half the vinegar and the pickling spice, and simmer for around 30 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Add the remaining sugar and vinegar, and simmer again for approximately 45 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened again. Remove the muslin bag containing spice, and allow the mixture to cool slightly, then spoon into prepared jars, seal and label.

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