|My noble neep, the one that got away.|
Here he is, the one that got away. I purchased this rather fine neep, of which we've had many a hearty debate about before for its aesthetic charm and rather combley form. A neep, in Scotland, is a Swedish Turnip whilst feverently debated the whole swede/neep/turnip carbuncle, the kitchen table top taxomony outed the neep as a Swede (if you want to go through the finer points of this please do ask, its one of my favourite discussions). Neeps have such beautiful colours that I couldn't bear to hide it in the fridge, so I let it bask in sunshine in full purply view. I rather love a good neep, but we know that don't we? I think I caught the bug from LinneW. Neeps in my mind are second only to tatties, which I'd marry, if that was legal.
I had rather intended to turn it into a rather fine latern for 'guising', which for some odd reason the children now call 'trick or treating', we've gone all American it would seem with our pumpkin carving and our trick or treating. Sad really, the hours it takes to carve a neep is good for the soul, even if its knackering on the arms, (ever tried to carve a neep, its like carving, well a neep really, pretty tough and a long process, take a packed lunch and expect to age during this process.). Neep carving is very unlike carving a pumpkin which appears to come ready scooped out (cheating in my view). I mean, thats all fine and well to do a pumpkin, but its not as if, in Scotland at this time of year we've a shortage of a neep or two is it?
Anyhows careful choosing of the neep, meant I knew its fate and being a sap that I am, I figured give the thing a bonnie we life for a couple of days before the dreaded attempt at scooping it out. So I let it loll on the dresser a while and soak up the sunshine. It had a nice chat with the scotch bonnet chilli's and the home grown shallots. Completely unaware of its soon to be deboweling and subsequent death for my amusement. I felt a teensy bit sorry for it, so I left it loll in the sunshine for an extra day or two. Only seemed fair.
Rather curiously, being a bit of a neep enthusiast, I hadn't heard of a local tradition here in the village of Stromness of kids carving figures into neeps and going round the doors asking for 'A penny to burn me pop' - on bonfire night (November 5th). How curious, what artistic traditions we have here and what imaginations they have, some really grnarly looking neeps there!
Having read about this tradition, via, of all things 'facebook' - I was unsure of how to progress, a neep lantern or a gruesome face.........As luck would have it for my neep, being deeply unorganised I needed to whip up a batch of cakes for a local event. Having, I completely forgot its fate and with a kitchen resembling mother hubbard I did the only thing I could and decided to make some emergency 'neep buns'. Its an old family recipe I invented one rainy day when bored. I make the children taste things like this, perhaps thats why they leave home?
Whoops. My neep ended up as cupcakes, which I'm not sure is quite as noble as being a latern or a gnarly face, but perhaps if I'd shared the 'secret ingredient' with the kids who munched unknowingly on neep buns (I'd titled them 'autumn surprise cakes'), their faces might have gotten quite gnarled too!
Well if people will ask you to bake for their events, you have to improvise with what you've got close to hand, they kinda get what's in season and local. So today's cakes were neep and cinnamon, or if you like 'autumn surprise cakes' and whilst they have the fainest hint of something familiar, you'd be hard pressed to think of a neep when munching on a cake would'nt you? And, not something I'd recommend with the more traditional haggis accompaniment.
I mean serioulsy, who's heard of haggis, tatties and a bonnie neep cake. YUK.