Dad’s Famous Tattie Scones

Other than beer, there were three things that my Dad cooked.  One was stovies, another soda scones and the third, tattie scones.  My mother claimed she couldn’t bake anything, let alone scones.  Realistically though, neither of these scones were never baked – baking happens in the oven, right?  Rather, they are cooked on a girdle (or as the other than Scottish call it, a griddle) and on the stove top.

Soda Scones on a girdle.

I wish I knew what had happened to our girdle.  I remember its arrival – some time in the early 1970s.  Somewhere between my leaving Grahamstown at the beginning of 1986, and my parents’ departure from this world, the girdle disappeared.  I never remember my mother using it.  Only my father did, and it was always and only scones.

My Dad at 42. Photo: Grocott’s Mail, 1970

He didn’t make them often and it was generally on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  Dad only ever used a recipe for the soda scones, but never for the potato scones, so until I consulted Google, I’d never seen one and I always make them by memory and from watching my Dad.  He always made them when there was left over mashed potato.  I am not a fan of mashed potatoes and even less of bubble and squeak but if they’re going to end up in scones, I’m in. That said, there are some dishes that work best with mash.

Like this leftover chicken dish – a winter favourite – that works best with mash. A couple of blog pals have suggested that I share how I plan meals – especially that I also plan for leftovers.  Technically, that means, in my head, that they’re not leftovers at all!  So, the idea’s on the ever-growing list and promises to keep.

Tattie Scones

Potato scones are really easy.  Really.


Left over mashed potato

I leave the skins on the potatoes, so my mash is always a little rustic. Of course, mash is best with milk (or even yoghurt), butter and salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

The other ingredients are cake flour – about 150 – 250 ml and then extra for dusting the working surface and for the dry fry.  Some recipes include baking powder.  My Dad never did.  I don’t.  Perhaps I should.

What to do

Turn the mashed potato on to a generously floured surface and break it up and sprinkle more flour over it.  Work the potato and flour to bring it all together to form a firm dough – add flour as you need (you see what I did… ) – until it comes together to form a light dough.

Then, roll it out to about a 1 cm thick on a floured surface.

Use a knife to cut the dough into triangles.

Heat a heavy pan and sprinkle with flour and dry fry the scones until they’re golden brown. Keep warm on paper towel while preparing the rest of the scones.

Serve warm with butter and toppings of choice. I prefer just butter and freshly ground black pepper.  I generally do them for lunch and depending on the quantity, sometimes there’s soup or something else to fill the gap.

As easy as pie, and as delicious.  A printable recipe is available here.

A last word or three

During last year’s hard lockdown, a friend started a Facebook group – What’s for dinner? I may have written about it in previous posts. The point is, I made these during that time and, as one did (because what else did we do?) I shared pics.  More than one person asked for a recipe.  I know I sent it to her.  I thought I’d blogged about it.  Clearly not.  So perhaps I dreamt it all – along with a whole lot of other things during that very weird time.

I started this post last Sunday – Fathers’ Day.  Kind of apt, I thought.  As I finish it, and prepare it to post, there’s a strong possibility that we’ll be returning to some sort of harsher lockdown.  I do hope that sanity prevails on the part of government and people.  We cannot afford a shut down. We cannot afford for people not to be sensible and take the appropriate steps to stop the spread of this awful virus and its variants.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script
If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised appplications.

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The big (beer) bang

I must have been seven or eight.  We had been away for the weekend.  I don’t recall the reason.  I suspect it was the annual trip to the agricultural show at Gonubie outside East London (South Africa).  For a number of years after we moved to Grahamstown, this was a regular thing.  Dad judged the horticultural ranges:  flower arrangements and produce.  I loved it.  From the beautiful flowers, the exquisitely decorated cakes to the gymkhana which was preceded by a convoy of cars.  Each bonnet draped by a beautiful woman.  I thought, anyway.  One outfit I remember:  granny boots and a purple hat…

I loved the stay on the farm:  gooseberry jam;  butter making.  Milk from the cow’s udder, into my mouth;  into the whining separator and the cream and milk out of two very long spouts into milk churns which went, variously to the house and to customers.


The dairy parlour was not mechanised:  the milkmen sat on their three-legged stools, cheeks against the cows’ flanks, milking.  I still remember the sound of the milk squirting against the side of the empty metal bucket and how the sound changed from a sharp, metallic zing to a soft pfft as the bucket filled with foamy milk.  I remember the sounds and smells as though it was yesterday.  Not nearly fifty years ago.

We always came home with at least one hen’s egg.  Well, only one that mattered to me:  the “prize egg”.  At the end of the show, the produce was sold to the highest bidder, and as all good dad’s do, mine made sure mine was highest.  Mum would fry it for my breakfast:  it was generally a double yolker and something I was always impatient to discover.

I still get a thrill when a clutch of eggs includes double yolks…It’s no secret that I have a thing about eggs.

I’ve digressed.  As usual.

The big bang

Our live-in housekeeper looked after the house and dog in the family’s absence.  When we got home, late on Sunday afternoon, on the large, round coffee table, and on the large, round ashtray, lay a note:

Dear Madam and Master

There were big bangs in the brewery.


There was consternation.

Oh hell.

Or words to that effect.

The bangs, actually explosions, probably in the dead of night, must have been many.  The Dad’s first ever batch of home brew had been bottled, capped and left to – brew.  The timing of the weekend away (or the brewing schedule) also managed temptation to check on the young beer ahead of time.  Not that checking would have helped.  Fermentation is an exciting and tricky thing.  Making beer, like “proper” sparkling wine, is a two-step process and similar to the methode champenoise, the final fermentation is in the bottle.  Get that miniscule quantity of sugar, essential to get that second fermentation going, wrong, and things get loud and messy.  To say the least.

Having been shut up for the best part of three days, the smell of stale beer was evident long before anyone saw the physical evidence: shards of brown glass (g)littered the backroom (aka the brewery) which was awash with beer.  Embedded in the ceiling were umpteen crown corks.  Over the years, some fell out.  Others remained – I’m told – for the next twenty-odd years, and long after we moved from that house.

Taking a hit

In the 1960s and into the 1980s and when I was a young adult, it was not unusual to have a drink at lunch time.  I remember business lunches with beer and wine flowing freely.  My dad’s job in the 1970s entailed much outside work and he used to come home for lunch.  Easy considering our back gate opened on to his “office.”

Dad’s office – or part of it. Also the pond that dented his dignity. He stepped into it once. No beer was involved.

He’d come home, as he’d say, spitting sawdust, gasping for a beer which would be downed in very short order.  As would another three or four at the end of the day.

Cold beer didn’t just beat the heat, it hit the pocket.  Abstinence wasn’t on the cards;  plan B was to brew his own.  So began a process of finding out more.  I’m not sure how long the process took – it must have been a few months given that it was the early 1970s:  we lived off the beaten track and the Internet was still in someone’s imagination.  Somehow, they tracked down a supplier, equipment and ingredients.  In Johannesburg. Replacement equipment as well as ingredients were ordered and delivered – by snail mail.

Not thwarted

My father was a stubborn, determined Scot.  He often told me:

If you don’t succeed the first time, try, try and try again.  Thus, began more than two decades – at least – of brewing.

So, explosions in the brewery notwithstanding, he drank his way through tested successive batches, so that he and my mother perfected their recipe.

The “perfected” recipe for Standard Beer in my mother’s recipe book*

Each batch, as I recall, made seventy two 340 ml dumpies.  I know because it was often my job to count, set out and sterilise the bottles ahead of the final phase.

Dad collected these and friends did, too. Once they were discontinued, they were very, very precious. Source

It took about 20 days from start to tankard.  Longer for a better result and less sediment in the bottle.  I learned, at the tender age of about ten, how to pour a crystal clear beer.

The economics

I remember the sums – on the back of cigarette boxes.  The upshot, when all was said and done, the early batches worked out at around 1½ cents a dumpy.  Less than half the price of commercial beer.  So…

The weekend job

Beer occupied at least two Saturday mornings a month.  Step one happened roughly once a month – in the kitchen.  This was Mum’s domain so she took responsibility for most of this step.  It involved boiling malt (which arrived in buckets), hops, sugar and water.  For far too long – the child Fiona hated it and often wished not to be at home.  Once the “baby beer” left the stove and the kitchen, Dad took over, monitoring and managing each of the steps:  barrel (if you can call plastic, a barrel) fermentation, adding the yeast and finings and, ultimately, the bottling.  That took a full Saturday morning of sterilising, sugaring and hand siphoning until finally, each bottle was filled and capped.  The machine looked like a one-armed bandit.

Bottle capper like Dad’s. His was green. Source

Then the little brown bottles were lined up on shelves until either the beer was ready or the last batch ran out.  Which ever happened first.

Then the brewing stopped

My dad loved beer, but once a heart condition and elevated blood sugar was diagnosed, the family doctor declared that beer didn’t like him.  If he had to, he should graduate to whisky.  What good Scot wouldn’t?  He did, however, continue to enjoy the odd beer until he literally could not.  The Husband and one of Dad’s mates would sneak a beer (or two) into his room at the frail care centre.  When he died, 20 years ago this month, we retrieved a goodly stash which was imbibed in his honour.

We do miss the old boy.

*Atholl Broase is a traditional Scottish drink that Mum made (as she did, haggis) for Burns’ Night each year.  Another story for another time.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

I am doing my best to post every day for November as part of @traciyork’s twice yearly #HiveBloPoMo challenge. This is my third attempt. All my posts are to the the Hive blockchain, but not all from WordPress.  Details about the challenge (on the blockchain) are here and on WordPress, here.

Looking for that gift for someone who has everything? Shop with Pearli in my evolving Redbubble shop

And then there’s more:

  • If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:
    • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I plan to add them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
    • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts because of this.
  • If you’re interested in a soft entry into the world of crypto currency and monetising WordPress blog, use the fantastic plugin to post directly to the Hive blockchain. Click on the image below to sign up –

Image: @traciyork

  • I also share my occasional instagram posts to the crypto blockchain using the new, and really nifty phone app, Dapplr. On your phone, click the icon below, and give it a go.

In yet another aspect of my life –

English writing, research and online tutoring services
writing – emails and reports, academic and white papers
formal grammar, spelling and punctuation
more information here

The Dad’s journey to Africa: the beginning

Last week, had he still been around, we’d have celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday.  This year, for some reason, his birthday was an emotional day for me.  Nineteen years ago, we celebrated his birthday with him.  It was the day The Husband met him.  They struck up a firm friendship.  Instantly.  Little did we imagine, then, that it would be his last birthday.

This is a little of his story.  I plan to write a second installment, but it’s taking a while.  Not sure why, but probably because I have to be in the right space.  In my head, heart and soul.

James Donaldson Cameron, known as Jim, was born at home, in Auldburn Road, Glasgow, the fifth of five children, in a house like the one below.  He told many stories of the things that happened in the kitchen, including having his tonsils taken out and, somewhere along the line, a gland was removed from his neck.  TB, he said, and that procedure was also performed in the kitchen, on the table.  It left him with a scar and a depression (we called it a hole) just below his ear that in adulthood would inevitably fill with shaving soap sometimes missed in the face-drying process.  Much to the delight of his children.

Back to Jim’s childhood and the allotment.  He worked there with his father and his brother, George:  tilling the land, growing  vegetables, getting frozen hands and fingers picking, among other things, Brussels Sprouts, peas and beans, pulling and eating fresh neeps* and carrots straight from the earth before hurling newly-dug tatties** into the coals of a fire they had built to make a billy can of tea.  The allotments must have given way to the green belt across the road, and were where the seeds of decisions he was to take as a young man were sown.

George, the first-born, of John and Mary Cameron, was followed by three girls, Ruby, May and Belle (not necessarily in that order).  The Dad would laughingly tell that he was lucky to have been born a boy:  the new bairn*** if another girl, was to have received the same treatment as unwanted kittens.  Drowning was averted:  James Donaldson arrived at 1.05pm on March 16th, 1929.

Ten years later, war broke out and, as I’ve mentioned before, the young Jim was evacuated to a poultry farm where they reared broilers.  A very unhappy time in his life:  he was a wee boy with small hands.  It was his job to draw the slaughtered chickens.  Although he ended up being sent home after about six months, it had an indelible impact on the youngster.  Roast chicken – actually chicken of any description – rarely featured on menus I remember from my childhood.  He only ever ate chicken when he had to, and to be polite.

After finishing school, Jim was conscripted and went to Egypt as a member of the Royal Airforce (signals).  Returning home, he didn’t know what he wanted to do and spent some time working in gardens or parks in Glasgow.  I’m not sure.  I wish I’d paid more attention, but I do remember his telling me that one of the men with whom he’d worked, encouraged him to study horticulture.  The Dad was concerned that he’d be much older than his fellow students.

Jim described himself as a late bloomer:  eventually, he was persuaded to follow his dream, and in 1951, at the ripe old age of 22, he headed to London to start his apprenticeship at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

By all accounts, he did well.

The writer of that reference goes on to describe The Dad as “a hard worker with a quiet personality”.  Jim’s own telling of his youthful antics belied this, evidenced by one of the few photographs I’ve managed to find of his time at Kew.  I another, which I’m still looking for, was of him in a pond in one of the hothouses, tending to giant water lilies with leaves that must have been a metre in diameter.

Who knows what was in that barrel.  Beer, I am sure is what they want us to think, forgetting about the bucket of something sure to be unsavoury, about to be dumped over the poor sod!  That said, The Dad was a good sport and game for anything and rarely shying away from a challenge.  I wish I’d been able to ask him about this picture.

To finish his apprenticeship, in late 1953, the 24-year old Jim headed north of London to the Essex city of Colchester where he worked in the municipal parks and gardens.  His favourite story of that time was of his local pub, also frequented by a shepherd and his dog.  The publican, with nary a prompting, would always draw a pint for the shepherd and a half pint for the working hound!

*  neeps – turnips
**  tatties – potatoes
*** bairn – baby
**** Wee Granny – Little Granny:  My paternal granny was always known as Wee Granny because she was short, and my maternal grandmother, Big Granny.

Next:  The Dad goes to Africa

© Fiona’s Favourites 2018



Waste not, want not – I

Both my parents grew up in the UK in the Second World War: Mum in Oxford, where her mother took in evacuees and then later also billeted soldiers. Dad grew up in Glasgow, and with his Broccoli 2sister, Belle, evacuated to a poultry farm . Consequently, we grew up constantly hearing, “waste not, want not”.  Little was thrown away.

So, last Friday, I was making quiches.  One of the fillings was broccoli and blue cheese. Having cut off the florets, I was left with this beautiful, thick broccoli stem.

Compostbucket2014Too good to put into the compost bucket, I thought; and it was a cold, cold day.

Soup is always a good lunch during winter, and a vegetable soup relatively quick to make. So, why not turn the stem into broccoli soup?

Here’s what I did: chopped an onion and sautéd it in a little butter, and then added about a table spoon of flour (you want the soup to have a bit of body). Covered the chopped stalk with vegetable stock and allowed it to boil. Simmer until the vegetables are soft; liquidise and then add some cheese (because I had some, I used Camembert) and liquidise again to ensure the cheese is well distributed. Re-heat and serve with sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.


  • I use Ina Paarman’s vegetable stock powder – it’s a useful standby, and is neither too salty, nor has too many preservatives
  • Save some of the broccoli florets – steam them and add them to the soup when you serve it.
  • Of course, you can also add a swirl of cream or a dollop of Greek yoghurt to serve…



21 Today!

Milestones tend to get one thinking and reflecting.  When I posted There’s a Mouse in the House, I was astounded when WordPress congratulated me on my 20th post! Today is a milestone: my 21st post.

It also got me thinking about how I celebrated turning 21.  I chose to have a garden party – at home.


And thinking about that, also makes me realise how early in one’s life, patterns are established:  for me, first prize for my own birthday, still is to be at home, in the garden…

And, just the other day, I was going through my sewing stuff, looking for something, and came across a box of sewing patterns.  Among them was the pattern for the dress that my mother made for me to wear for that birthday party.


My enjoyment and talent for cooking come from my mother.

My enjoyment of entertaining and a good party come from my father.

Together, they threw me a fabulous party – my Mother doing most of the cooking, and Dad making a punch which, as I recall, did pack a punch.


Memories of my first milestone party as an adult, seemed to be an appropriate way to mark this milestone.

© Fiona’s Favourites 2016