The Time Travelling Cook

Ink, Paper and a Haggis recipe

Sep 03, 2021

The route to Innerpeffray Library is a mix of straight roads that take you gently through the countryside and winding roads that fling you to the left and right at a moments notice.

The straight sections are thanks to the Romans that left their mark throughout this part of Perthshire. The winding roads are all our fault, made up from old drover roads and sections of roads being moved by 18th and 19th Century landowners who didn't want people coming near their nice houses! However the mix and match of the roads is rewarded when you arrive at the Library and see this 300 year old Library building next to a 500 year old church ( the "new church" replacing an even older one!) with the start of the Scottish Highlands rising in front of you.

Innerpeffray Library is the oldest free public lending Library in Scotland founded in 1680.It was used by the local community from that time until 1968 and holds a vast collection of books ranging from 1476 to 2001 on all subjects from animals to cookery to witchcraft - and even 18th century dentistry!

We were lucky enough to have a guided tour by one of the lovely Volunteers Louise, and the Keeper of Books, Lara. We now think all librarians should be called Keeper of Books.

There is something about the smell of old books that is both mysterious and comforting and walking into a whole room of old printed books is quite a giddy experience. We were of course interested in the cookery books and having a copy of one of Innerpeffrays cookbooks from the 1700s, we were excited to see the real thing! Mrs MacIvers Cookery and Pastry book was printed in 1789 and contains what is believed to be the first printed recipe for Haggis as we know it. We have actually made the Haggis from this book, with a few adaptations, and it tastes just as haggis should. There is also a recipe for tablet but it is not the tablet that we know now , rather it is a sugar candy flavoured with cinnamon or ginger.

When Louise brought out Mrs MacIvers cook book We were happy to to just to be able to see it in the flesh, so to speak, but then Louise said " Would you like to hold it and have a wee look through?" Well that would be a yes! What a great experience to be able to hold this book and the other cookbooks that Louise kindly brought out but it didn't stop there!

Out came the Armour and war craft books for the bearded half of Time Travelling Cook, who was quickly lost in trying to read a book written in high German!

The Library, as we mentioned, holds many books and we could get lost just listing all the books that we saw, but probably some of the most interesting were the logbooks themselves. Not only do they show who borrowed the books and what books were borrowed, some of the records state the employment details so that you have an amazing social history too.

This blog could go on and on because Innerpeffray is fascinating and Lara, the Keeper of Books and the volunteers are so friendly and knowledgeable, we could wax lyrical for pages upon pages! So the best thing to do is to visit the website and if you can visit the Library, you will not be disappointed.

To find out more about Innerpeffray library, click HERE

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