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Scottish Cooking, Butter Cookies

1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix in flour. Press dough evenly into a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan. Smooth top with a rolling pin. Bake until dough is pale but not browned, about 15-20 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool for about 5 minutes and cut into squares while still warm. Makes 4 dozen.

Corroboration of the use of different butter types comes from a manuscript study of the life and times of Mary Stewart (1767-1837), a native of Glen Tarken, in Perthshire, written by her great-grandson in conjunction with Mrs N Watt of Comrie: " Butter, on the farms, was used for cooking, but was not otherwise usually eaten; for the most part it was mixed with Archangel tar and smeared on sheep; the butter and the natural oil in the fleece gave resistance to wet, and the tar had an antiseptic quality. "

In his booklet Traditional Elements in the Diet of the Northern Isles of Scotland, Alexander Fenton sheds interesting light on the practices associated with butter in these islands. Up to the nineteenth century the farmers' rents were paid partly in butter, the Orcadians made a distinction between 'meat' and 'grease' butter. Meat butter was the best quality, and was kept for home consumption. The poorer quality grease butter was used to pay the rent. This was exported by the Iandlords, and was often used by low-land farmers for mixing with tar to smear their sheep.

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