“My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer –
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.” ~ Robert Burns
On January 25th, Scots, those of Scottish ancestry and poets all over the world celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns by celebrating Burns Night and hosting a Burns Supper.
I meant to post this yesterday, but since our -30 F weather hit, our connection has been sketchy at best. Now that we are past sub-zero temperatures, it seems to be waking up again! Hope it lasts!
January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish bard and poet. Traditionally on this day those that celebrate their Scottish ancestry prepare a dinner of haggis, a traditional Scottish dish with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), recite An Address To a Haggis , a Burns poem, toast with whiskey (single malt) and spend the evening with family and friends, reciting the poetry of Burns and having a grand old time.
I have always been fascinated with Scottish culture, myth and history. I have studied it quite a bit over the years and have always felt a deep connection to Scotland. When I had the good fortune to visit Scotland several years ago, I kept experiencing déjà vu. Due to my interest in all things Scottish, I even hosted a fabulous Burns Supper many years ago. I had connections to NYC at the time and was able to procure a traditional haggis and prepared it with all the traditional trimmings.
My dad’s ancestors come from Paisley, near Glasgow. Although that is pretty much all I know about them. His surname is Barr, of Irn-Bru fame, although I don’t think there is any relation.
This year, after finding my birth family I came to learn that I have quite a lot of genetic Scottish ancestry as well. My maternal great-grandparents came to the USA from Glasgow, and through this lineage I am proud part of the Boyd Clan. I also have some Scottish ancestors through my genetic paternal line.
With my new found Scottish heritage, I decided starting this year, I am going to celebrate Burns Night every year, by preparing a traditional Burns Supper. This year, to kick things off, we invited our friend Suzanne, a haggis-phobe to join us for our Burns Supper. I was able to order a haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA . It was shipped frozen, over night. The haggis comes pre-cooked so it just needs to be re-heated, and the vegetables need to be cooked. The ingredients are simple, lamb, oats, beef liver and spices. While I was boiling the tatties and roasting the neeps ( I used rutabaga and turnips mixed) I went about preparing the dessert: Cranachan.
Cranachan is layers of Drambuie infused whipped cream, toasted oats and raspberries. I had some homemade granola which I used in place of the toasted oats. It is a light, yet delicious dessert and so easy to make! I did not get a picture of my cranachan, because we ate it too fast! But this one from BBC Good Food should give you the basic idea, and a delicious recipe to boot. We used raspberries that we picked over the summer and canned. It was delicious.
We started off with oat cakes, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese and a very un-Scottish glass of Malbec.
We presented the haggis, and listened to this roaring raucous version of the address at the table.
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.”
Then we toasted with a dram of Glenlivet 12 year and dug into the food. It was delicious – and despite being a haggis-phobe and declaring emphatically many times that she does not like lamb, Suzanne really enjoyed the haggis. I wish her husband Bob had been able to join us (next year!), but he was away on business. But we got pictures to prove it!
We had an absolutely wonderful night talking about all our animals, crazy journeys in life, languages, cultures and many other assorted topics over several hours. We had a wonderful time and I can’t wait to do it again next year!