Outlander Kitchen by Theresa Carle-Sanders
Do you know that a time travel portal exists right in your kitchen? So says Theresa Carle-Sanders, author of the Outlander Kitchen. Theresa is a huge fan of the Outlander time travel series by Diana Gabaldon, as am I!
She told me, “Cooking is one of the easiest ways to travel back in time. Taste, smell and texture combine in the kitchen to give us a much more complete picture of the past than we can glean from books in the library, or from the best researched articles on the Internet. As I stand at the stove, stirring my morning porridge, it’s easy to let my mind go and imagine what an 18th Century cook would do differently to produce the same breakfast.”
The novels’ characters have become close friends, like family, to Theresa. Just as we cook for our family and create dishes they would love, Theresa knows what Claire, Jamie or the rest of the clan would like, whether they are living in the 18th century, the 1940’s or 1960’s, as the characters travel through time.
Cooking was hard work, in less than ideal conditions for many, the cooks in the Fraser family, main characters in Outlander. “Instead of my stainless steel pot on my induction stove, ergonomically placed at waist height for my convenience, a crofter’s wife on Fraser lands would have prepared meals in a small, windowless, stone home furnished with little more than stools, and maybe a wooden table. She would have huddled over the small peat fire in the centre of the room (the croft’s only source of light), over which a cast iron kettle was hung from the ceiling.”
Today’s cooks can load the dishwasher, look forward to dinner at a local restaurant or go to supermarkets and buy most anything needed. The 18th century was quite a contrast. “Recipes evolve, as do our taste buds. I’ve done my best to balance to balance historical accuracy with modern tastes, ingredients, and time constraints…”
Ingredients, cooking utensils and methods have changed a great deal. Theresa takes into account all these factors, maintaining the essence of the dish, while using ingredients readily available in the grocery store. Theresa told me, “It’s the emotional connection that readers have to Outlander’s characters that keep them coming back, and if I am able to successfully tie in a dish with that same depth of connection, it’s always a popular recipe.”
Theresa created recipes for the novels’ foods; she includes the paragraph or so in which the food was mentioned. Diana Gabaldon was very supportive of this project, wrote the preface to the cookbook and gave Theresa the freedom to develop the cookbook on her own. The popularity of the Outlander novels have increased with the Starz movie series based on the books.
There are many fabulous recipes on the Outlander Kitchen web site. It was hard to pick just one! I loved the sound of Brianna’s Bridies or Cullen Skink but I settled on a perfect one for this season--Fiona’s Ginger Nut Biscuits. Easy to make and freezes well for parties or that midnight snack!