After the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends, family, feasting and presents, January can seem anti-climactic. Last year my husband and I discovered
an antidote to the winter doldrums when we discovered Bobbie Burns Night. The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life: a night to celebrate the life and works of the national Bard, Robert Burns born January 25, 1759, which would make him 258 years old today.
My husband ‘s genealogy research on Ancestry.com revealed that his 22nd great- grandfather was John Bruce (1276), possibly brother of Robert the Bruce. His Scottish ties were enhanced when he donated to preserve an undeveloped landscape in Scotland and received title to one square foot of Scotland with its attendant title of Laird which simply means that he is a landowner in Scotland. So tonight Laird and Lady Schoonover celebrated Burns Night like all good Scots.
I set the table on the Mighty Man tartan plaid created by Ina Murison from South Africa. She is married to Piper James McGowan who has played at the Queen’s table and the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles before moving to South Africa to marry Ina. Laird Schoonover was their first customer from the United States which has led to a delightful interaction. On our birthdays we get a bagpipe rendition of Happy Birthday from Piper James on Facebook. My green depression glass settings with Ruby Cape Cod dishes, Grandma’s silver, candles and a blooming winter geranium complement the tartan plaid table cover with simple grace.
The menu traditionally includes haggis, Scotch whiskey and a rendition of Burns poetry. I modified the menu since haggis seemed a bit over the top. Originally, haggis was cooked during sheep butchering in the field. An impromptu working dinner was made by stuffing the sheep’s stomach with the liver, heart and lungs along with oats, onion and spices and then roasting this impromptu vessel with contents over an open fire.
We buy a lamb every Fall from a local 4-H producer, so I save the heart and liver for my Creole Dirty Rice Haggis on Bobbie Burn’s night.
4 slices of bacon fried crisply and set aside. Saute one medium onion and one cup celery in bacon drippings. Add chopped liver and heart. Season with salt and Tony Chechere’s Cajun seasoning. Cook until liver and heart are done and add 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Stir until well integrated and sprinkle crumbled bacon over top.
While I bring the haggis to the table, Laird Schoonover plays Scottish bagpipe music on his ipad. Then we say the Scottish Selkirk Grace
- Some hae meat an canna eat,
- And some wad eat that want it;
- But we hae meat, and we can eat,
- And sae let the Lord be thankit.
- After grace the Laird plays more bagpipe music as we toast the haggis with Scotch whiskey and enjoy our meal and Scottish shortbread cookies. The evening ends with my husband reading Burns’ love poetry to me and singing Auld Lang Syne. I do believe it’s as romantic as Valentine’s Day.
- Dennis at Celtic Celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming sporting a Mighty Man tartan tie, the first purchase in the United States.