A Vale Outlander fan said she has been blown away by the global popularity of a cookbook packed with Scottish classics.
Margaret MacKinnon, 67, who is originally from Renton but now lives in Alexandria, was inspired to pull together a collection of Scottish dishes in Streetch Yer Kite after posts on a Facebook group dedicated to the hit TV show proved popular with fans looking for an authentic taste of Scotland.
And with copies making their way into kitchens as far afield as Alaska and Australia, Margaret says that
she has been staggered by the success.
She told the Lennox Herald: “Sometimes on a Sunday when I was cooking dinner I’d put up a picture of a lovely roast dinner or the soup I was making.
“The Americans want to know everything about Scotland, so folk had started suggesting that I wrote a wee cookbook.
“I didn’t think that there was anything I could cook that anybody would want to know about.
“I had started on the cookbook in collaboration with a lady in America called Peggy Cox.
“Basically I didn’t think the cookbook would sell at all, selling a Scottish cookbook in Scotland would be like taking coals to Newcastle.
“Peggy produced lots of copies over in the United States and sold a load over there. One day she asked me if I’d like a few posted over to sell locally.
“I told her that the offer was really kind but that I didn’t see people in Scotland buying that sort of cookbook.
“She sent me over about 150 copies though just to see how they go.
“I’m originally from Renton so I put it up on the Renton Facebook, never thinking anyone would bite. We all know how to make a pot of soup and things like that.
“Within four hours though almost all the copies had sold.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
Margaret’s love for Outlander started when the show was recommended to her by late husband Tony, who worked as a health and safety advisor on the production.
That led to her starting a Facebook group to discuss the show with fellow fans. That now has more than 14,000 members.
However when Tony passed away suddenly last March, Margaret reconsidered if she was still going to continue with the publication – which helps raise money for Blood Cancer UK.
She explained: “I put it on hold at the time because I wasn’t in the mood to be writing cookbooks after that had happened.
“Deep down though I knew he’d want me to complete it. He loved working on Outlander and I knew he’d be telling me to go ahead with it.
“The Facebook group were very supportive to me when Tony died. I got loads and loads of lovely cards, a lovely letter from the Outlander studios saying how much they miss him.
“At the end of the series of Riviera, which he also worked on, there was a message that said ‘in loving memory of Tony MacKinnon’.
“That was nice and meant a lot.”
And Margaret’s work hasn’t just helped her recipes make it to all corners of the globe, they have also helped raise money for a good
She continued: “Sam Heughan is the patron of a charity called Bloodwise, through the site we’ve been auctioning off stuff for the charity – and in the four years to date I’ve raised £34,000 for them.
“I’ve got over 14,000 members on there and they come from all over. They donate stuff to me to auction off, they participate in fundraisers and things like that.
“I don’t think £34,000 is a bad total for a daft wee woman from the Vale!”
And Margaret revealed that her readers have been sharing their feedback on the Scots cuisine.
She added: “The Americans all want to eat haggis but when you tell them what’s in it they all say that it sounds horrible.
“I’m a vegetarian so I don’t eat anything like that, but I’d definitely say that haggis is an acquired taste.
“They’ve loved making the soups though. Potato and leek, lentil, tomato and basil. All the stuff that we make.
“There’s everything in there; scones, steak pie, mince and tatties. Just the stuff that we eat day in and day out.
“They love it overseas.
“I’ve had a lot of nice compliments from people saying that they love feeling part of the site.
“A lot of folk from America will never get to Scotland because they’re older or in ill health, and they just love everything about here.
“I just tell them everything. Pictures of the snow, castles or general chat about what’s going on.
“I can definitely feel a personal connection there. I’ve made very good friends who have come to the gatherings we’ve held over the years.
“It’s amazing to think that I wouldn’t have known they existed if it wasn’t for this show.
“If you’d told me that it would’ve turned out like this when I started the group then I wouldn’t have believed you.”
And with an additional print run of the book in Scotland set for March, Margaret has a plan for getting rid of copies if the demand dries up.
“If there’s no more interest then everyone will be getting a cookbook for their Christmas” she joked.
If you would like to order a copy of Streetch Yer Kite email [email protected]