My husband Dennis and I love creating special occasions. Lately his research into genealogy revealed he was 30% Irish and 26% English, Scottish and Welsh which was enough of an excuse to dip into Scottish heritage and celebrate the birthday of the most famous of Scottish poets, Robert Burns. His birthday falls on January 25th just one month after Christmas and in the midst of a snowy, white month that could use stirring bagpipe music and single-malt scotch to warm the landscape.
I was commissioned to address the menu which typically includes haggis while Dennis compiled the traditional order of ceremony for the celebration. Although the name “hagws” or “hagese” was first used in England c. 1430, the dish came to be considered traditionally Scottish, even the national dish, as a result of Burns’ poem “Address to a Haggis” of 1787. Haggis, a sausage-like creation of sheep heart, liver and grains is traditionally served with ruttabega and potatoes boiled and mashed separately, and a glass of Scotch whiskey.
After researching haggis recipes, I decided that we would have to modify the tradition to fit my time, palette, and pantry. My simplified version was to stir fry onion, carrots and jicama in olive oil; bread a sliced sheep heart and brown in the midst of the vegetables; then pour 1/3 cup of marsala cooking wine over meat and cover to simmer for another five minutes. I added some deviled eggs to the menu and peanut butter fat bombs for dessert, served the dish on green depression glass with Grandma’s sterling silver and Dad’s whiskey tumblers and viola, a celebration was born!
Dennis began the dinner by playing Highland Cathedral from his ipad to pipe in the guests (that would be me) and said the Selkirk Grace.
Some hae meat and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it, but we hae meat and we can eat, and sae the Lord be thankit.
After grace, Dennis piped in the bagpipe medley of Murray’s Fancy Waltz and Ass in the Graveyard while we toasted the dinner with Scotch and ate a peasant’s meal which was surprisingly good.
After dinner, my love of 47 years recited a Burn’s poem to me.
A Red, Red Rose
O my luve’s like a red, red rose
that’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
and I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.
Is it any wonder that after 47 years I love him still? We concluded with singing Auld Lang Syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o’ lang syne! For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet for auld lang syne!
Here’s to your own special celebration! Celebrate life. Leave no regrets!