Great SCOT | April 2020

Features from the April 2020 edition of the Great SCOT Newsletter.


by Catherine McKinley

What do the 4th of July and the 6th of April have in common? Both are anniversaries of declarations of independence from England, occurring on opposite sides of “The Pond.” It was on April 6, 1320, that the Declaration of Arbroath formally declared Scotland as a sovereign nation.

Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Independence

456 years later, the 13 Colonies’ Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approximately 1/3 of whom were Scottish, signed their own version of the Arbroath document, the Declaration of Independence (above right) on July 4th, 1776.  An excerpt from the Declaration of Arbroath sums up their spirit: “For we fight not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, but for freedom alone which no good man gives up except for his life.” 

In the United States, Independence Day a.k.a. the Fourth of July was formally  designated a national holiday in 1870. It had been observed, on a regional basis, since 1777. Tartan Day’s recognition took another 128 years, so . . .  a little longer.”  On March 20, 1998, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 155 designating April 6th as a  day to “recognize Scottish Americans and their achievements and contributions to the United States.” It was another 10 years, however, before April 6th as “Tartan Day,” was, properly, proclaimed after the U.S. House passed  HR 41 and it was signed by President George W. Bush on April 4, 2008.

So, in addition to the origins of Tartan Day & Independence Day, the observances have much in common. There are parades and festivals, the former featuring bagpipe/drum bands, highland dancers, Scottish shortbread, Scotch Eggs, salmon dishes, ale,etc. On the West coast, observances include a “Kilt Krawl” during which participants wear required kilts and “work through” pre-designated bars and restaurants. South Carolinians may join in Lexington’s “Celtic Commotion Festival” featuring exhibits as well as music and dancing. New York City will hold its 22nd annual Tartan Day Parade sponsored by the American Scottish Foundation (est. 1956) on April 4, 2020. Happy Tartan Day!  

Tastes of Scotland: Mushroom Ketchup

by Carolyn McDonald Graf

Ketchup is perhaps the most recognizable American condiment.  But the word Ketchup goes back before the tomato version which is so popular today. Many sauces were created to “balance the bodily humors” and to correct the blandness or heat of a particular food.  In the 17th century, ‘India-Soy’ products from India and Asia were imported to Britain. The word ketchup may come from the name of the Indonesian sauce kecap or ke-tsiap, and may be spelled many different ways.  English and Scottish cooks imitated these fermented sauces and added their own ingredients.  A recipe from Eliza Smith’s The Complete Housewife (1729) for ‘English Ketchup’ gave instructions to boil vinegar and white wine with anchovies, mace, ginger, cloves, pepper and horseradish, then bottle it and age it for a week or more. Vinegar and spices were the ingredients that connected all these recipes.

The adaptability of these recipes, both in ingredients and uses, increased their popularity among cooks. Mushroom and walnut ketchups, with and without anchovies, were popular into the nineteenth century and recipes for them appear in old cookbooks and diaries.  The fermented ingredients made ketchups stable preparations which would travel well on ships during the age of exploration. In 1809 Nicolas Appert devised techniques for canning and preserving food. Now condiments could be mass produced instead of being made at home.

Homemade condiments were still widespread at the turn of the 20th century, but are now almost unheard of, having been taken over by commercial brands. Thick tomato ketchup did not become widely popular until the 20th century, when hotdogs, hamburgers, and French Fries came into favor. There is still a limited market for mushroom and walnut ketchups in Great Britain.

Source: Sauces a Global History, Maryann Tebben, Reaktion Books Ltd., London UK. Pp. 29-31.

If you are interested in mushroom ketchup, here is a recipe you can try. It is moderately easy.  Any assortment of mushrooms will work although more flavorful ones will work best. Alter this to suit your own tastes.

Mushroom Ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 8 oz. chestnut mushrooms
  • 8 oz. large flat mushrooms
  • 2 oz. dried wild mushrooms
  • ¼ cup of Malt vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper.

Place a large pan over medium heat.  Add oil. Add onions and cook until translucent.

Finely chop the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan. Cook until soft.

Pour ½ cup boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let rest for 5 minutes. Reserve the stock and add the softened mushrooms to the pan.

Add the nutmeg, mace, and garlic powder to the pan, stir for 30 seconds and then add the rest of the ingredients. Add the reserved soaking stock. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Return to pan.  Adjust the seasonings and reheat to thicken or add water (or wine) to thin to desired consistency.

It will store in the fridge for a month in an airtight container.


Here is an older recipe from 1827: Mushroom Catsup

“Mushroom catsup is the most esteemed of this class of preparation.  Let the mushrooms be wholesome. Without washing them, pick off whatever looks dirty, and breaking them into pieces, lay them in an earthen jar, strewing salt about them.  Throw a folded cloth over the jar and set it by the fire or in a very cool oven. Let it remain thus for 24 hours or more and then strain off the liquor into a clean saucepan.  To every quart of liquor put a half ounce of black peppercorns, a quarter ounce of allspice, a half ounce of fresh sliced ginger, two or three blades of mace, and a few cloves,  Boil the liquor on a quick fire for fifteen minutes.  Let it settle on the lees, and, pouring it carefully off, bottle what is clear by itself, and the sediment, after straining, in separate bottles as it will answer very well for hare soup, game soup etc.  Dip the cork of the bottles in bottle-rosin.  Cayenne and nutmeg may be added to the other spiceries if a very delicate relish is wanted.  The longer it boils, the better it will keep.  Sauces etc. ought to be kept with the bottle lying on its side, as the cork is best preserved in this manner. It is a general fault with bought catsup, that the bottles are not quite full.  A space is left, which, being filled with air, hastens the decay of the contents of the bottle. These things ought to be bottled in small quantities as a bottle once opened soon spoils. Anchovies, bay-leaves, and cayenne pepper, are all put to catsup.”

Source: The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Christian Isobel Johnstone, first published 1827. This digitally printed version 2013, Cambridge University Press NY.  pp. 260-261.

Cary Indoor Dancing and Piping Competition

The 19th Annual Cary Indoor Dancing and Piping Competitions were held March 7, 2020 at Cary Alliance Church in Apex.  The event was a great success and we were lucky to be able to host it the last weekend before limits were placed on gatherings.  We had dancers from Canada to Florida and many states in between.  It is impossible to mention all the workers who made this event possible.  Thanks to all of you for the hard work and dedication you show every year.  A few special mentions are in order.  The decorations provided by Carolyn and Doug Graf were beautiful as always.  We had an impressive array of Raffle Baskets and Silent Auction items collected by our wonderful SCOT members and dance parents.  Thanks to Stephanie Floyd and her crew who collected all these items.  And thanks to Catherine McKinley who provided a one of a kind play area for younger children.  As far as I know, this is the only Highland Dancing event with such an area.  John Donachie and Liz Brown made sure there were snacks and refreshments available for all to enjoy.  Without all of you, and many more who were not mentioned, this event would not be possible.  We look forward to 2021 and the 20th Anniversary of the Cary Indoor.  See you next year!

Solo Piping Report

The 15th Cary Indoor Solo Piping Competition was held on March 7 at the Cary Alliance Church in Apex.  Little did we know at the time that it would be one of the last piping competitions in the US for many months, as other contests have been canceled due to COVID-19.  Judges Jerry Finegan, Kenneth McKeveny and Peter Kent were kept busy all day with 38 pipers, in six grades and a total of fifteen piping events. 

Tea Time: SCOT Tea

Saturday, June 6 from 3 to 5

Fellowship Hall, West Raleigh Presbyterian Church

27 Horne Street in Raleigh

When life is stressful, relax with a cup of hot tea to soothe the mind and body.  Imagine the joy of sharing tea and delicious homemade baked goods with your favorite Scottish friends!  Mark your calendar for the annual SCOT Tea on June 6.  In addition, share your creative tea ideas with a planning group!  Emily will consolidate suggestions, divvy up tasks, and pull it all together.  As time gets closer, we may need to postpone if social distancing is still in effect.  If so, we will have a plan ready to go when the time is right!   To share ideas or help in any way, contact Emily Sprague at 919-828-1269 or esprague[at]  

SCOT Trip Raffle

More info to come!

Whisky Tasting 2020

SCOT holds Annual Whisky Tasting on Snow Day

Despite—or maybe because of—falling snow on Thursday 20 February, SCOT proceeded with its sold-out annual Whisky Tasting.  Situated in the Formal Bar at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, 35 attendees were treated to a selection of six Scotch whiskies, fine food from the Prestonwood dining room, and piping from Paul Davis.  The tasting was led by our own Dr. Craig Hill.

As is the custom, the evening started with the piping in of the whisky, a parade led by the aforementioned Mr. Davis.  Welcoming the guests, Dr. Hill noted that the first order of business was to “pay the piper”; to do so, he filled a quaich held by SCOT President Donald Ross with Bowmore whisky, who handed it over to Mr. Davis, who dutifully, and gratefully, drained its contents.  Thus kicked off an evening filled with whisky drinking, eating (several courses), and good craic.  Dr. Hill chose whiskies from both the Highlands and the Isle of Islay to help educate participants about the wonderful range and complexity of Scotch, talking (and showing videos) about the biology, chemistry, history, business, and etymology of whisky.  In all, participants downed a wee dram of Glendronach 12YO; Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10YO; Johnnie Walker Black Label; Bowmore The Darkest 15YO; Macallan Double Cask 12YO; and Laphraoig Quarter Cask.

Everyone managed to get home safely in the snow, even if slightly fortified by whisky—just in time to begin the self-quarantining process, due to covid19.  Once we are allowed out of our houses, we’ll begin planning for our next Whisky event. 

 ‘Til then, slainte!

 President’s Corner

Donald Ross

So much has changed since our last newsletter, … it is hard to comprehend how much all of our lives have been effected by the Corona virus, and of how many hardships there are for so many poor souls all around the World.

We keep talking about getting back to normal, but will we ever actually be normal again?

We did manage to have our annual Whisky Tasting in February, with a Great Turn Out, despite the weather that evening.  And, of course, Craig never fails to do a Wonderful Job!

As many of you know, The International Festival was cancelled because of the now Pandemic, as was The St Patrick’s Day Parade, but we were fortunate enough to be able to hold The Cary Indoor which was a Great Success!

We have no idea when we might have another SCOT event for us to attend, but you can be assured we will all be looking forward to getting together again.

Ceud mile failte –  One hundred thousand welcomes! – to our new members, Kiersten & Marcus Sledge and Hannah Shealy.  Please give them a warm welcome!

Keep an eye on your inbox for updates and other events which will take place as soon as we are able to arrange them. In the meantime, I Hope and Pray that you and your Families will all be Safe and Healthy during these trying times. 

I look forward to seeing many of you when we have our next event.

Stay Safe, God Bless, and enjoy each and every day that we are given!

Donald Ross