Category Archives: Family History

Friends and Food

Ok so I have friends who seem to think I am really good at doing things, even though I think I am not. My good friend Mary Goby gave me her mom’s cook book to fix and what I got is an old ledger which her mother has been putting recipes into forever it seems. It is battered and bruised, as all good cook books should be, and it is stuffed full of such amazing things as Impossible tart, Choc truffles made with instant coffee, rum essence and a little bit of dark chocolate.

battered and bruised but full of amazing information and recipes

Mary’s folks met during the Second World war, with her dad being in the Royal Navy and her mom in the armed forces here in South Africa. They met when his ship came into harbour. They then went to the UK after the war but came back here to raise their family.

This really will be a labour of love fixing it up. But I am going to share a recipe which was sent as a snail mail letter back in 1987. The writing makes me think it may have come from my friend herself but it says

Dear Mom just a short note, to give you the recipe dad is looking for

Apple Preserves

5 pounds apples
5 pounds brown sugar
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 piece whole ginger root
3 1/3 cups water

pare core and cut apples into quarters. Combine sugar, lemon rind, ginger root and water. Heat to boiling and add apple quarters. Cook until fruit is tender. Remove apples from syrup and place into sterilised jars. Heat syrup to boiling and poor over apples to fill jars and seal. Makes 5 pints.

Sounds really good and no preservatives or E numbers. So healthy also.

This is not just a cook book but a family history as well. None of those glossy cook books we see in the shops can come close.

Watch out for more recipes.

Thanks for your friendship and love


An Amazing Black Friday

Today has been quite amazing. It started at 04:00 with a job delivering lunch packs for 50 people. Then back to my home in Benoni and then of to a protest rally with my good friend Mary Goby.

South Africans standing up against corruption

It felt really great to Continue reading

Mothers of the World

Having grown up children and grandchildren you tend to forget what hard work children are, until one comes to stay with you for a week. Don’t get me wrong, it is so nice to have a house full of people again but it can also be a bit hectic and a bit like having a typhoon sweep though.  Continue reading

The Egg & Spoon Race

I love this picture of the ladies racing with a egg and spoon. I remember the school sports days when we had the sack race, the three legged race and more. Our childhood was much more physical and even healthier I think cause we spent so much time outside in all kinds of weather, sun, rain, snow you name it we played outside.

I was very lucky as well because my fathers and uncles and brothers loved to go fishing. We would go to the beautiful lochs around parts of the central highlands mainly around Callander and Crieff. Continue reading

Linlithgow an Historical Town

I grew up in a small village called Bridgend in West Lothian. It was a small rural village mainly consisting of council houses and miners houses or rows. I was born in the 50’s in fact it was the year of the Queens Coronation and so I have only known her as the Monarch.

I would not say it was an idillic life but it was the one I knew. I had 3 step brothers and 3 step sisters all quite a bit older than me and I was the only child of Jim Sutherland and Jessie Allan. They married a few years after Continue reading


The humble spud, tattie or potato is a great favourite in Scotland and it can come in many different shapes forms etc, but one of my all time favourites is new potatoes with butter and oats. It  may sound strange but it is delicious. The oats add fibre and bulk it out. Actually just thinking a great favourite in Italy is spaghetti with potato so they obviously understand the need for cheep food to feed many people.

Rabbie Burns had 12 children from 4 women and many were illegitimate but the mouth and the belly don’t care about legitimacy just where is the food.

It is very simple to make as you take the baby potatoes and in Scotland Ayrshire Potatoes are favourite. They are the first new potatoes on the shelves as Ayrshire has a much warmer climate due to the Gulf Stream.  A soft, smooth, creamy flavour makes them irresistible and you never peel them as they just need a wash and then either boiled or as I prefer steamed until soft when stabbed with a fork or Sgian Dhu.

visit this web site for a lot more info

Then comes the magic bit. Take your potatoes and add plenty of butter and salt and pepper. Take a good handful of oats or enough to coat the potatoes but not to overpower them. Eat with whatever you want but of course this month it has to be with a good Haggis which has either been boiled or roasted. Just mind it does not burst and of course when cooked make an incision in the top preferably with a Sgian Dhu a traditional knife worn in the right stocking with a kilt if the man is right handed or in the left hand if left handed.  Here is my tartan and clan crest as I was born Sutherland and I am sure some of my ancestors were moved and replaced by sheep. Oh how the Highlands suffered.

The Sutherland Crest

Ancient Hunting Sutherland

Tatties, Neeps, Haggis and Rabbie Burns

This is Burns month with 25th January being the anniversary of this much celebrated and adored poets. Here I have posted the poem “For a’ That” which is also known as  “A Man’s A Man”. Written in broad Scots, not Gaelic, it is the tongue of the common Lowlander rather than Highlander. Written in 1795 after the Jacobites were crushed and Scotland put under the English yolk it really says no matter what medals, rank or potion you hold it does not make you a man, it is character rather that makes you.

Portrait by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodden grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Burns night shall soon be here and so I am going to post some traditional recipes over the next few days. Cloetie dumpling, Tattie Scones, Neeps, Cranachan, Cock-a-Leekie soup and a look at square sausage and deep fried mars bars. In fact in Scotland there is a great love of all things deep fried although that is changing but still the tradition goes on among too many.

Remember to come and check them out.

Life Along the Way

I always think it is funny how nothing really changes between generations. When I was a child – many moons ago – I would never have entertained the idea of your parents having sex or seeing your grandma naked. Yes I was brought up in Scotland and things like that were never spoken about or thought about.

This is a picture of my parents Jessie Allan Sutherland and James Russell Sutherland. He was born on 26th February 1915 and she on 17th October 1920. 

They both had children from previous relationships and I was the only child of there union. I have 4 step sisters and 3 step brothers.



My dad had Mary, Elizabeth, Jim (James), and Catherine whose mom died when she was tiny and a cousin adopted her on the proviso that she never know my father was her real dad.

My mom had Margaret, John and Hughie. Unfortunately due to moving and changing continents we are not as close as we once were. Margaret and Betty have died and my father died way back in 1971. Mom in 2003.

No sadness here though because my memories are fairly happy ones with memories of days out in the car my dad managed to buy. Camping holidays in the highlands of Scotland. There was not a lot of money and the dishwasher was the kids. The washing machine was a tub with a wash board for stubborn marks, a wringer above it and we bathed once a week on Sundays. Oh I can hear the shouts of horror but that was the norm in those days among working class families. I even the remember the old ‘back to back’ range where the food was cooked on a stove in the kitchen but in the living room there was a fireplace and a tank which heated water. the stove and fire were ‘back to back’ hence the name. We also had the luxury of an indoor toilet in our home. It was a council house and my parents never owned their home but they lived in the same village from about 1956 to 2002. My mom moved about a year before she died. That is another story though. ( Check this one out

When I was four my father had a terrible bus accident – he drove them for a living. it was February and there was blizzard but the buses still had to run between Edinburgh and Stirling. At Turnhouse Airport two buses collided head on. This was the Airforce base in the area and today it is Edinburgh Airport. Here is the link to information on the early years. (

My father was seriously injured and walked with a limp from then on but he was in hospital or of work for two years as he had a heart attack after he came out of hospital from the accident. when I went to see him after the accident he had about 56 stitches in his face alone and I famously thew up at the seise of the bed.

This meant that there were seven of us in the house with not many breadwinners. I only realised when I was married, with kids of my own that I ate dripping on toast as a child as it was cheap and fed us all. I never remember feeling hungry or deprived. In those days though we played in the streets and my sweeties were a poke of sugar with a stick of rhubarb. Early version of chip and dip? The kids went out in the morning and were only home again when it was getting dark. I remember going into the farmers fields and nicking a turnip and cleaning the earth of it and eating it raw. It was delicious.

No I don’t want to go back to those days but they are a sharp contrast to our life now. We wanted more for our kids than we had and we did it but I am concerned that we concentrate on material wealth rather than happiness. We seem to confuse the two a bit.