Monday, November 22, 2010


My paternal grandmother was Lillian MacBlain Wells.  A tiny, blonde, blue-eyed enchantress at the turn of the century (I have seen her pictures!), she was the spark who lit some fire in my taciturn Cornish grandfather, Herman Wells.  Grand-Dad said little of his family but Nana, like me, was a babbler.  That's how I learned her people came from Ireland but had first been transplanted from Scotland and were said to be descended from Druids.  Imagine my surprise years later when I learned MacBlain meant "son of the gentle folk."  The gentle folk, of course, being Druids.  It was my Nana who first said--when I was just a small child--that I had the Second Sight and would be fey.  She was the one to give me my first insight into the fact that I was 100% Celt on my father's side and that this was a good thing to be.  And it was Nana who said when my heart had been broken I would find it again in Ireland.  She was right on all counts.

She has been gone a long while now, leaving behind her stories and recipes--and the memories of a lot of very good parties!  No one knew how to party like my Nana.  In the quieter times, we had scones and teabreads washed down by so much tea I'm permanently immune to caffeine.  One of her favorite recipes and mine is this one for Scottish Bannocks.  You can also find this recipe and some other fabulous eats at Pat McDermott's


3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder.  Add butter, rub fine.  Mix in oatmeal and sugar.  Make a well.  Pour in milk, stir until it forms a soft, sticky surface.  Turn onto floured surface, knead lightly.  Roll out and shape into one or two 1/2" thick rounds.  Heat griddle, flour rounds lightly.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Turn once and cook other side.  Cool on a rack.  Slice thinly and serve with butter and jam.


  1. I had to visit to find out what a Scottish Bannock was! You have an interesting family history, Miriam. Almost makes me wish I had more than a speck of Scots-Irish in my DNA.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. My DNA is terribly confused, Adele, but it does make for some interesting stories.

  3. I loved this story. Thanks for sharing. Your Nana sounds like a great woman.

    Iam definately going to try the recipe!

  4. Thanks, Sarah. I think I am one of the luckiest women in the world to have had her and my Aunt Dorothy who took me into her home when my mother was very ill. I miss them at the holiday, but oh did we ever have fun!.

  5. It's all in the memories, Miriam. May they comfort you well!

  6. Thanks, Pat. Yes, Nana was a character. She loved canaries and always had one named Petey. I was in my teens before I realized that Petey wasn't always the same bird! She wouldn't want me to realize she had found the previous Petey feet-up in the bottom of the birdcage (canaries don't live long) and would run to Woolworth's to buy another one so I wouldn't be upset. I think we were up to like Petey the 19th when she died!