COORIE

Tak­ing a look at Scot­land's an­swer to the Danes' hygge

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

Com­fort can be de­rived in many ways, but how Scots go about find­ing it is spe­cial. We have learned to har­ness the power of our sur­round­ings to find hap­pi­ness over the cen­turies, hun­ker­ing down in a cosy place with a dog at our feet, sip­ping a sin­gle malt while the weather rages out­side.

We even have a word for it. If the Danes have hygge and the Swedes lagom, Scots have ‘coorie’. Once a word to de­scribe cud­dling into a loved one, it is now used to sum up a dis­tinctly Scot­tish way of liv­ing, where a loch swim be­fore break­fast fol­lowed by a steam­ing bowl of por­ridge to warm up evokes the per­fect coorie scene.

There isn’t a bet­ter time of year to think about how to build on coorie cre­den­tials than the fes­tive pe­riod. When it’s dark and cold out­side, and we’re short on time and money, there are plenty of small and sim­ple ways to amp up hap­pi­ness by us­ing what’s around us.

Here are ten ways to em­body coorie this Christ­mas.

1. Buy heir­loom pieces from Scot­tish mak­ers

This year, look in­side Scot­land for gifts. A raft of home­grown creative tal­ent has toiled away to come up with cov­etable fash­ion ac­ces­sories, home­ware and pieces of time­less de­sign – and I’d wa­ger it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­port them. Even bet­ter, many are keep­ing ar­chaic pro­duc­tion meth­ods alive with their slow-grown goods. On my 2018 Christ­mas wish-list is a soft al­paca cush­ion by the Leith-based weaver Aram­inta Camp­bell, which takes two days to make on her 100-year old loom. Or if I’m really lucky, a set of jolly hand-thrown ce­ram­ics from Fife’s Natalie J Wood.

2. Bleach pine cones to dec­o­rate presents

This wrap­ping tip comes from Jane Adams of Au­thor In­te­ri­ors, an An­gus-based in­te­rior de­signer. I like the idea of spend­ing De­cem­ber days walk­ing in the for­est and find­ing my cones, then hav­ing a craft­ing af­ter­noon to dis­tract from the Christ­mas chaos. Jane says, ‘Wear­ing gloves, bleach the cones, leav­ing them for less time if you pre­fer ashy grey or longer for white’. She also rec­om­mends bleach­ing leaves to make leaf skele­tons or spray paint­ing holly leaves and pine cones in metal­lic tones.

3. Swim in a loch to sharpen the senses

Yes, even in win­ter. I got into loch swim­ming a few years ago as form of self­care, de­spite the fact that it sounds like pun­ish­ment. A quick dip in a freez­ing loch is enough to send you rush­ing back to the car squeal­ing in pur­suit of your chit­tery piece (or shiv­ery bite, depend­ing on where in Scot­land you’re from). Sit­ting with the heat­ing on full blast munch­ing a jam sand­wich and warm­ing up slowly feels like heaven to me. Wild swim­ming also feels like a good an­ti­dote to screen time when the weather is mis­er­able and the temp­ta­tion to sit in front of the telly all day is strong.

4. Use pine nee­dles as flavour­ing for food and drink

Grand and Dou­glas Fir pine nee­dle oil or essence can be added to food and cock­tails to give an alpine sweet­ness, but go easy to avoid an over­whelm­ing taste of Domestos. There are a cou­ple of ways to in­cor­po­rate pine nee­dles into cook­ing. The eas­i­est is to dry the nee­dles com­pletely, whizz in a blender and sprin­kle as a pow­dered gar­nish onto pud­dings. Or you can add bruised nee­dles to salt or sugar and leave to in­fuse for two weeks be­fore us­ing this as the base for cur­ing meat and fish.

Add bruised nee­dles to salt or sugar and leave to in­fuse for two weeks be­fore us­ing

5. For­age green­ery to cre­ate fes­tive man­tle dis­plays

This is an­other way to force your­self up and out of the house on dark morn­ings. If you’re lucky enough to have a big gar­den with lots of trees it’s just a case of head­ing out armed with se­ca­teurs. If not, it’s an ex­cuse to head into the wild (or the park). Try to find arms of Dou­glas Fir in­ter­mixed with moss, ivy and holly ar­ranged on a man­tel­piece in a loose, or­ganic display.

6. Make a face scrub from por­ridge oats

A few years ago, a col­league told me a story about her beauty jour­nal­ist friend who es­chewed ex­pen­sive fa­cial scrubs for a home­made ver­sion that con­tained oats. Mind blown. One of the most tra­di­tional Scot­tish in­gre­di­ents, the sim­ple por­ridge oat is now be­ing adopted by ex­perts as a way to brighten the com­plex­ion. It’s es­pe­cially good at bring­ing dull skin back to life in the colder months when you’ve overindulged with rich food and drink. Just mix two ta­ble­spoons of ground rolled oats with one ta­ble­spoon of honey, add a ta­ble­spoon of warm wa­ter and mix so it be­comes a paste then ap­ply to the face.

7. Weave a Christ­mas wreath from for­est finds

Where the pinecone gath­er­ing for gift­ing started, this crafty pur­suit con­tin­ues. It in­volves col­lect­ing all sorts of trea­sures from the for­est, in­clud­ing your choice of fo­liage, plus other bits and pieces you’ll find in the shops such as cin­na­mon sticks, dried orange slices, and rib­bons. The re­sult is a fra­grant wreath you’ll smell be­fore you see ev­ery day. The mak­ing part is a lit­tle tricky but there are plenty of de­sign­ers run­ning work­shops at this time of year. East Loth­ian’s Laura Thomas is my best bet. Her Christ­mas wreath classes run through­out De­cem­ber at her HQ in North Ber­wick.

The sim­ple por­ridge oat is now be­ing adopted as a way to brighten the com­plex­ion

“You can hot-smoke meat and fish with an empty metal tin, tin foil, a metal grid and wood shav­ings

8. Pour a Hum­ble Doddy

End the night with this win­ter warmer, which is a twist on the clas­sic hot toddy. Its name comes from the Doric term for ‘mit­tens’, or ‘hum­mel dod­dies’. A berry re­duc­tion with cin­na­mon, sugar and lemon is added to 50ml of good whisky, 50ml of chamomile tea and cloves. The hard part is stop­ping at only one.

9. Make your own gin to use up ex­tra Christ­mas booze

Scot­land now ac­counts for 40% of the UK’s gin ex­port pro­duc­tion. Not bad for a spirit that was syn­ony­mous with Lon­don un­til fairly re­cently. DIY gin is def­i­nitely cheat­ing, but who’s go­ing to tell? It short-cuts weeks of wait­ing for a quicker al­ter­na­tive be­cause no one has space for a huge cop­per still in their laun­dry cup­board. In­stead of dis­till­ing botan­i­cals to re­lease their flavours, boot­leg gin steeps ju­niper berries, dried an­gel­ica root, car­damom pods and pep­per­corns in vodka (yes, really) for a cou­ple of days. Sim­ply strain, serve and en­joy.

10. Smoke food for a Christ­mas feast

Smok­ing is up there with the world’s most prim­i­tive cook­ing meth­ods. There’s no need to buy a pricey home smoker when you can make a rudi­men­tary one your­self. Hu­mans + fire + food = hap­pi­ness. It’s just ba­sic maths. You can hot-smoke meat and fish with an empty metal tin, tin foil, a metal grid and wood shav­ings. Teach your­self how with an on­line tu­to­rial or sign up to a course with Tast­ing Scot­land, the culi­nary tour spe­cial­ist.

Above: Hand-crafted Christ­mas wreath from Laura Thomas Co in North Ber­wick.

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Be­low: Leith-based weaver Aram­inta Camp­bell at the loom.

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