Tomorrow night we celebrate the birthday of our National Bard …. we have a lot of “celebrations” in Scotland at the dark time of the year. I guess there is something about gathering together and sharing food and drink when it is cold and dark and nothing is growing that makes sense this far north.
Within my lifetime Christmas Day was just another working day – but Hogmanay and the 1st ,of January were public holidays instead. The big party was always then .. even now Christmas is regarded as being “for the kids” and New Year is for “the big yins”
Burns Night is the night for gathering in our tartan splendour and reciting good poetry and eating well of haggis, neeps and tatties .. and whisky .. lots and lots of whisky
So tomorrow night I will cook for the boys and we will sit around our table and recite “The Selkirk Grace”
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
– Robert Burns
For lunch though we will eat of something simpler a big pan of Scots Broth ….. cooked tonight with little tubs run around to the Silver Saltires tomorrow morning. Plenty to go around and cheap as anything to make – especially as I’m throwing this all together in my Thermal Cooking Bag so using hardly any fuel.
You can use a slow cooker of course – or a pan on top of the hob … but my Thermal Cooking Bag is magic when it comes to cooking pulses … very long and gentle cooking swells and sweetens the grains without bursting them and making the soup too gloopy. Gloopy is a word isn’t it?
- 1 celery stick
- Half an onion
- 1 carrot
- Half a leek (the deep green part)
- A large handful of broth mix
- A beef stock pot or some leftover beef or lamb juices from a roast.
Clean and finely chop all of your veggies. Stir your broth mix .. because for some reason known only to the Kitchen Fairies the barley sinks to the bottom and the peas / lentils / split peas float to the top. You want a good mixture of all the bits. I pot roasted a piece of beef for one of the old dears yesterday – and sliced it up for her today to freeze for sandwiches. This is the juices left over – I strained off the fat and used the juices instead of a stock-pot or cube. Well waste not want not after all Everything in and a good stir. Good 1500ml of liquid needed …. but you know soups are fairly forgiving. Season well with salt and pepper. Up to a brisk boil for ten minutes .. to cook the pulses slightly and heat the pot thoroughly.
Then instead of a three hour simmer on the hob or in the slow cooker …. five hours tucked inside the thermal cooking bag meant perfectly cooked broth for tomorrows lunch for us all. I prefer making this the day before its needed as like a decent stew it always tastes better on day two
I will make some soda bread with some milk that is on the turn tomorrow and we will all be fed a warming lunch for pennies.
I’d love to have and Aga and have a permanent pot of soup on the go – gently blipping away and filling the house with the lovely smells of home cooking .. but you know our modern lives means that slow foods are more and more difficult to accomodate. I guess our love of slow cookers and thermal cooking bags kind of fills that gaps and gives us the tastes we remember but in a modern setting.
I know that when I lift a lid off a pot of well made broth I am instantly connected to generations of women who must have cooked variations of this filling food to feed generations of families ……… I feel my roots spreading back to the past.
What dishes do you cook that instantly connect you to “home an hearth” as we say here??