Scottish Cookery, Harry Potter, and Peppermint Humbugs

I have been super busy with a lot of unfun crap for the past month and a half that is really cutting into my reading time. I’ve been bummed that I haven’t had time to read or cook or sew or craft or enjoy the summer weather (as much as one can enjoy 99 degree temperatures…) or basically do anything that I used to do for pleasure. Thus, I attempted to get my weekend off to a good start by taking an early morning trip to the library to just wander around. I do this occasionally and I have stumbled upon some fantastic books this way, plus, I just think it’s fun (huge nerd, I know). On this particular trip, I discovered the cookbooks. I came home with 3, including The Home Book of Scottish Cookery by Aileen King and Fiona Dunnett. It’s from 1967 and says funny things like “The fashion for afternoon tea, introduced during the fifteenth century, spurred on the Scottish housewife to develop her skills with the girdle and oven,”  but I was intrigued by some of the recipes, and of course, one can never tire of Scottish references ;)  

Now, fast forward to Saturday night when I was exhausted from a day of intensely hot yard work (that included being simultaneously swarmed by mosquitos and chased by a cicada killer wasp while mowing the yard…) and I just wanted a light, quick, fun book to read before bed. I went through the old TBR stack and found nothing to satisfy me, so hubs suggested Harry Potter. (On the long drive home from Jessica’s wedding, we had a conversation about how I haven’t read any of his favorite novels, even though he’s read many of mine [excluding Outlander, however, which he still vows never to touch]. His list includes The Lord of the Rings series, The Game of Thrones series, and the Harry Potter series.)

I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. There was a particular description in Chapter 5 that caught my eye…“Hagrid’s coat seemed to be made of nothing but pockets – bunches of keys, slug pellets, balls of string, peppermint humbugs, teabags… ” PEPPERMINT HUMBUGS! I had just seen that recipe in The Home Book of Scottish Cookery! I took this as a sign that I had to make Humbugs that weekend.

My extreme enthusiasm did not last, however. Silly me thought that I could whip these puppies up in the hour I had between supper and “True Blood.” Long story short, they took FOREVER to make and they ultimately made me miss more than half of TB. (This is actually a really big deal because Eric has amnesia…I’ve been waiting over 3 long years to see amnesiac Eric…plus, he was drunk and naked in the lake…). They didn’t turn out as pretty as I would’ve liked, since I was running back and forth between rooms to catch as many Eric parts as I could, but they are pretty tasty and could be a very cool treat for a Harry Potter fan if you have the time to make them properly. Since we’re in the midst of HP mania again, I figured someone out there would enjoy the recipe…

Humbugs

  • 1 lb. demerara sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 tbsp) butter
  • 1 dsp. syrup (dsp. stands for “dessert spoon” and is equivalent to 2 tsp.)
  • 1 dsp. treacle
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 pint water (16 oz.)
  • 3 drops oil of peppermint

Put the water and sugar into a pan and dissolve slowly. Add the cream of tartar, syrup, and treacle and the butter in wafer-like slices. Stir till boiling and remove spoon. Brush down sides if necessary. Boil to the crack stage (i.e. 290 degrees). Remove from heat and allow bubbles to subside and a thin skin to form. Oil a marble slab or strong enamel tray thoroughly and pour the mixture onto it. Add oil of peppermint. Oil the hands well and when cool enough to handle, pull the toffee until smooth and light in color and beginning to stiffen. Pull to a long strip and cut in 1/2 inch pieces with oiled scissors. Store in jar with tight-fitting lid.

It takes a surprisingly long time for it to come up to 290 degrees.

Terrible picture, but rather tasty little treats :)

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10 comments on “Scottish Cookery, Harry Potter, and Peppermint Humbugs

  1. Carla says:

    What perfect treats for a holiday read of “A Christmas Carol”!

    Read only two of the Potterhead books and never warmed to them, but have seen all the films except the one just out in theaters and ADORE them. I even have Harry and Hermione dolls for library displays!

    ALWAYS enjoy your foodie experiment blogs with photos.

    • They would be a great holiday treat! I should take the time to make them a little prettier (come December) and perhaps include some with Christmas gifts…
      I’m really enjoying the first HP book and I can already tell I will want to read the entire series. I still can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to read it! I took my younger cousins to the theater to see the first movie waaaaaaay back when, and while I don’t remember much about the movie, I definitely remember the experience :/

  2. Julie L. says:

    Maybe I’ll try them, I have a ton of peppermint in my backyard growing wild, maybe I could put it to use, or make peppermint oil with it? No idea how, though.

    I still haven’t seen any of True Blood yet, but everyone is talking about it. I just discovered this very handsome werewolf guy in it – yumm. It has made me want to investigate further…

    I’ve read all the HP books, but I am by no means a potterhead. I read the earlier ones aloud to my son when he was little (I loved doing all the voices) and then read the last two on my own. I just saw Part 1 of the last movie the other day, I wasn’t impressed. Will see Part II soon, it has to be better. It HAS to be!

    • Hi Julie! I have only seen the first and fifth (I think?) movies and really don’t remember much from either…it’s pretty funny how I’ve managed to avoid them considering that my husband owns them all. I’m really enjoying the first book and can already tell I’m going to get into the series :) I love that you read them aloud with different voices to your son, what a great mom!
      I’m torn on what to tell you regarding True Blood…it’s really terrible but also really addicting. If you’ve read the Sookie series, then you should watch it. And yes, the werewolf Alcide is verra nice ;)

  3. She says:

    MMM… I love peppermint flavored things, so I might have to give this a try.

  4. Bridget says:

    mmm, why have these not made an appearance at work? are they too delicious to share ;-)? I’m glad you’re reading HP but I wish you would have started game of thrones first! Lol… i’m dying to have someone to talk to about them! (is this payback for me taking too long to read Outlander..? :))

    • I think hubs took them to work, I haven’t seen them since. I started HP first because I was in the mood for an easy read, so while it wasn’t done intentionally as payback for you refusing to read Outlander for 3 months and not letting me utter a peep about it (!), I suppose it’s a convenient side effect…mu ha ha ;)

  5. Nicole says:

    OK, between the Jamie’s bum pumpkin, the wandering around libraries for fun, the Harry Potter references AND the fact that you’re a particular fan of drunken, amnesiac (and naked!) Eric Northman, I highly suspect that one of my parents had an unknown affair with one of yours and that are you are my much cooler long-lost sister!

    I’ll have to check out more of your posts…and you’ve inspired me to finally, perhaps, get my blog off the ground. I’m currently in the midst of my own novel-writing and trying to read things to hold me over until Lord John and The Scottish Prisoner comes out in a couple of months!!!

    • Hi Nicole! You sound pretty cool yourself so I’m happy to be your illegitimate sister ;) I just love when blogging leads me to other people with the exact same interests as myself, it’s meetings like this that encourage me to keep it up. I will get back in the game soon – thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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