Central Pennsylvania Kilt Con!!


This is the Second year that I am sponsoring a KiltCon.  The folks at Life in A Kilt,  came up with this idea last year to celebrate Tartan Day, which is April 6th every year. There are large celebrations all over the country on that day, with the largest in New York City.

(Tartan Day is a remembrance of the Declaration of Arbroath.  The declaration was a sent to the Pope declaring the nation of Scotland’s indepence from England.)

Most people can’t take off and go to NYC to the big parade, So they planned a get together and then they started to promote the idea of a widespread event. Here are their instructions for hosting your own KiltCon!

I got on board and hosted an event at McCleary’s Public House last year.

This year I got my friend James Diener involved in helping me plan it

This is James.  He is awesome!

He suggested we approach William Wrede of the Meduseld Meadery.    William was excited about this and rapidly enlisted the Ogham Stones  to play for our event.

I was at the Rose and Shamrock Festival, and met Chris from American Highlander Kilt. I asked him if he would like to vend and he was immediately interested and is planning to be there with an array of Kilts and related gear for sale for those who would like to buy them.

This is going to be an outstanding event!  Make sure you put it on your calendar now!  It’s not to be missed!

The facebook event page is here! 

The Ogham Stones Event page is here!

Meduseld Meadery’s facebook page is here!


Two weeks ago, I bought a 13+ lb brisket and the ingredients for our annual Pastrami extravaganza.


Here is the recipe that we use.  It was on a website, but is no longer there.  The website is http://www.fullcircle.com/goodfoodlife . Even though I can’t find the recipe online, I wanted to give credit where it is due.

I found a reprint of it on this website–> http://healthyfoodcn.com/40687.html

“This recipe uses 2 cups of pureed celery, which is a natural source of nitrates.”

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups dark beer
  • 2 cups juiced celery (or 1 ½ Tbsp pink salt)
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pickling spice
  • 1 6-8lb brisket


  1. In a large, deep roasting pan, pour water, beer, and celery juice. Mix in kosher salt until dissolved. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Mix in pickling spices. Place brisket on a flat surface and pierce with a sharp pairing knife all over to aid in brine penetration. Add to brine and place a heavy platter on top to weigh it down. Cover and refrigerate 4 days.
  2. Remove brisket from brine. Stir liquid to blend. Flip brisket and return to brine, weight with platter and cover. Refrigerate for an additional 4 days.
  3. Rinse with cold running water. Wrap with plastic, then foil and refrigerate. Can be removed from brine and stored thusly 2 days ahead.


I did this with the Brisket that I bought and have rinsed it many times and put on a rub of Pickling spice and garlic, set up my grill to indirect and am smoking it.


Pastrami here we come!

Self Education

I have been concerned about my lack of understanding of how word press works.  So I have bought some Udemy Courses about web design and am working my way through them so that I can make this a better experience for those of you who log in.  Thank you for your patience as I educate myself.


Rose and Shamrock Festival


I am very excited about the Rose and Shamrock Festival.  I went to a previous Festival of the same name in 2016.  It was a great festival, but it was very expensive.  My wife was a vendor at that festival and as such we didn’t pay the $35.00 entrance fee.  There was free beer, but since I was suffering from vertigo at the time, I didn’t drink much that day. As I said, it was an incredible festival.  The best thing was that it was in the heart of Downtown Lancaster, Pa, which is a really cool little city.  There is a lot going on downtown in Lancaster.  This Festival is one of the cool things.  This year, it is FREE!  It is going to be a great day.  There will be great bands.  I will be giving an example of  a traditional Robert Burns Supper Address to the Haggis, and then having a Robert Burns/Scottish song sing along.  There will be demonstrations of Scottish Country Dancing, which is one of the ancestors of square dancing.  There will be all sorts of tutorials, from Bodhran playing to Beginning Irish Dancing.

This Festival has been put together by Esther Pujol of the Paloma School of Irish Dance and Paloma Irish Arts Foundation.  

Here are the Bands and musicians that will be there.  I am listing them in order of appearance.

I hope that you make the time to attend this festival.  Most people think of Lancaster County as the Land of the Pennsylvania Dutch.  What most don’t know is that there is a strong Scottish, Irish, and Welsh population here from before the Pennsylvania Dutch arrived, and it still is present in the culture and traditions in the county.  bb8ff1_db85d8bb1ce64c8eb2b56a924126afb2_mv2




Making Scottish Smoked Salmon for Our Burns Night

A lot of people have asked about my recipe for my Hot Smoked, Whisky Cured Salmon.

So I decided to put the recipe down so that you can try it!  Also this will help me next year to remember what I have done!

We have 58 people coming to our Burns Night.  The internet says that I should make enough for half again the number of guests.  We are doing an appetizer with this Salmon, so I did some simple arithmetic based on 2 oz portions and bought 12 lbs of salmon.

The process for Hot Smoked Salmon is as follows:

  1. Soak the salmon in Whisky.  Recipes vary on times for this.  I usually let mine go for about two hours
  2. Cure the salmon either in a brine or with a dry cure mixture.  I have had good success with a dry brine in the past.  This year I am going to try something that I saw online on Bart’s Fish Tales Youtube Channel.  He makes a dry cure and then adds some type of alcohol to make a paste and coats the fish with that.  I am going to reserve some of the whisky that I soak the fish in and use it for that.  How long you cure the fish determines it’s texture.  If it is a really thick filet, I would leave in the cure overnight.  If you go too long the cure dries the fish out too much.  I intend to go for about 4 hours.
  3. Clean off the cure and run under cold water.  Let the Fish sit out or in a refrigerator till the surface starts to get a little tacky.  This will help make the fish absorb the smoke flavor.  The fish is actually ready to eat at this point is actually a type of Gravlax.  I usually eat some of it at this time, because I am usually hungry by this time.
  4. Start your smoker on really low heat.  I use a weber kettle grill to smoke my salmon.  You want the temperature to be around 180
  5. When your salmon and the smoker is ready place the salmon on the grill or a presoaked cedar plank. ( I use some leftover cedar shakes from a repair on my house. You can also line the cedar plank with sliced orange or lemon slices and lay the salmon.)
  6. This doesn’t take long, so pay attention.  Let the salmon smoke and pulled between 110 and 120 degrees farenheit.
  7. **Bonus points.  You can also make a glaze and apply it when the salmon gets over 100 degrees.  I apply it one time while smoking and then right as I am taking it off and then again once it has had time to cool.

Here is the recipe that I have worked out.  You can find other recipes online.

  • 12 lbs of Salmon
  • 1 Bottle cheap Whisky.  ( There are so many flavor profiles in this recipe that expensive whisky should be saved for drinking with the Salmon)
  • Between 3 and 3 1/2 lbs of sugar of some kind.  I use Succanat, which is a dehydrated sugar cane juice
  • between 2 to 2 1/2 lbs of salt.  I use a raw salt.  It is a fine salt, so I go light.  If you use a coarse salt you will want to use more salt.
  • The zest of 6 lemons and 6 oranges.
  • 1/2 cup Star Anise.
  • 1/4 cup Sage.
  • 1/4 cup of Thyme.
  • 1 cup Pickling Spice.
  • 1/2 cup Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dill.
  • 1 tsp cayenne.
  • 1 tsp celery seed.
  • 1 tsp coriander.

Glaze recipe (Optional)

  • Whisky
  • Juice of 4 oranges or Lemons.
  • Zest of those lemons or oranges.
  • Honey

I start with Whisky and add Honey and Lemon and the Zest and then keep tasting till it tastes right to me.  I have never measured this.

Layer salmon in a container or place into Ziploc bags with enough Whisky to Cover.  Let stand for between 1 to 2 hours.

Put Sugar, Salt, and Zest into a large non reactive bowl.

Put all spices into a frying pan and heat them to wake up the spices.

Grind spices and add to Sugar, Salt, and zest. ( I like to mix this up and let it stand for a couple of hours so that the flavors can blend.

Remove Salmon from Whisky reserving some Whisky.  Rinse salmon and pat dry.

Take the reserved Whisky and add to the cure to make a paste.

Place about a 1/4 inch of cure in the bottom of a non-reactive container.   Lay Salmon on top of cure and cover with more cure.  Layer the Salmon till the container is full and then cover with plastic film.

Let sit till the Salmon reaches the desired texture.

Remove from cure and rinse and pat dry.  Lay on a rack till tacky layer (pelicule is the technical name for this layer)

Set up smoker for 180 degrees Farenheit. On a grill set up for low indirect heat.

Smoke the meat, glazing at 100 degrees.  Glaze again right before removing from heat and then again as it cools.

There are many recipes for sauces for this online.  I use a simple Sauce made of Sour Cream, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, Dill, and salt and pepper.  I Eyeball this and keep tasting till my proportions are right.  I would like to use mustard and horseradish in this, but my wife really doesn’t like those ingredients.

If you try this let me know how you like it.

The Piobaireachd Society of Central Pennsylvania

My friend, Thompson McConnell, is the organizer of The Piobaireachd Society of Central Pennsylvania.  They have some exciting events lined up here in Central Pennsylvania.

One that I am particularly excited about is the Rose and Shamrock Solo Piping Competition.  I was asked to help with bringing the Rose and Shamrock Festival together by Esther Pujol of the Paloma Irish Arts Foundation.  Esther has organized a great festival, Festival 17-19 in the Convention Center in Lancaster, PA.  I suggested that she contact Thompson to see if they could do a Piping competition and here we are a few weeks away from the competition itself.

If you would like to Listen to some really good Piping before the Superbowl, the society will be holding this Event, at Tellus 360.  I think that this might bring some good luck the Eagles, if that is important to you, so I encourage you to attend!



The Octorara Covenanter Church

The Octorara Covenanter Presbyterian Foundation is dedicated to preserving and restoring the first church built by Presbyterian Covenanter refugees from Scotland and Ulster.

Here are some articles about the Covenanters.

The local high school (Bart Township) met in the building for a number of years.

The Foundation owns great deal of historical material and a lot of artifacts about the history of Southern Lancaster County and the Presbyterian church in the early Colonies.  We would like to make a museum out of the old Church to display these things.

The old Church has some serious structural challenges that we are working to overcome.  The main one right now is the condition of the foundation.  In colonial times, no one gave a lot of thought to planning for storm water runoff.  Water has run under the foundation and undermined the foundation.  The structure has been stabilized with pylons and we are raising money with fundraisers to complete an new foundation and grading with landscaping to direct water around the foundation.  Here are some pictures of the old church.

The recent repairs to the cemetery wall!  An anonymous donor helped us with this

View from route 372 (Valley Rd.)

View from up the hill.  This is the wall that the water has undermined.

Sign in the front

Historic Marker

The Washington Memorial Pipe Band Playing during one of our Scottish Festivals

View from the side during a festival with pipers from WMPB.  Note the wall before the reconstruction

Another view of the WMPB performance.

The Bart Township High School room.


Here are two articles that I have found online about our history.




Robert Burns Suppers this year

Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759.  He died at age 37.  Despite living such a brief time, he is considered one of the most influential poets and songwriters of all time.  Shortly after he died his friends came together to celebrate his life.  They chose to do it on his birthday and quoted his poetry and sang his songs.  This tradition continues till today.

One of the highlights of a traditional Burns Supper is the Haggis, which, As, 

“Chieftain of the Puddin’ race,” is piped in with the pomp and ceremony attendant on that high title.  Here is the Poem that greets the Haggis upon it’s arrival!  

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s me arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ trissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind yer care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!

I will have the privilege of officiating at three Burns Suppers and one presentation about Burns in the next month.  I am really looking forward to that!

Here are the events that I will be involved with:

Here is a Robert Burns playlist from Kev Thompson a Youtube artist that I particularly like.