Sunday 25 January 2015

Of Home Grown Haggis and Mad Poems

Appropriate veg.
This household has always loved the haggis and has generally celebrated Burns Night despite not a one of us having any connection to Burns's countrymen save going there on holiday as a child. The college where I did my post-grad research used to do a superb feast and Liz and I even used to seek out a good Burns Night supper in a favourite pub in Kent where the hosts would "pipe the beast in" properly. We had our tame authentic Scot (Rest in Peace, Joe Cosgrove of the sea-dog leathery skin, gruff Merchant Mariner accents and salty sailorman grey beard; we will never forget your renditions of Address to the Haggis) do the poem.

Bud break in quince.
Now that we are doing the small-holder thing and have our own lambs, we can make our own haggis, of course, and this Liz does every year. Haggis tends to use the more 'gribbly' bits of lamb, heart, lungs and what are euphemistically called 'trimmings' - the bits of edge and end which the butcher will not sell when he is cleaning up a nice joint for the shop display. We now arrange with our own slaughterman/butcher to give us back the 'offal' on the day after slaughter, and then keep all the trimmings a week later when we go down to see the carcasses butchered up.

'Steak Lady's daffs looking promising.
This gap of a week makes assembling the ingredients a bit more complicated, but Liz gets round that by using this years heart and lungs 'fresh' but saving some frozen trimmings from last year to go in with them. Our other peculiarity is that we found that you do not need to stuff the ingredients into a bit of gut, a mad made "cover" or a sheep's stomach (the latter would be huge anyway!), but can make a 'tray-bake' version in the oven.

The surviving half dozen young Buffs
3 hens and 3 roosters.
I don't often do recipes on this blog but here, for the sake of it, is the recipe Liz uses from the BBC website but adapted for home use after point 4.


This is an authentic recipe from Scotland and the ingredients and methods of cooking may be unfamiliar but we hope you enjoy the results.


Heart and lungs of one lamb
450g/1lb beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
2 onions, finely chopped
225g/8oz oatmeal
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground dried coriander
1 tsp mace
1 tsp nutmeg
water, enough to cook the haggis
stock from lungs and trimmings

Preparation method

  1. Wash the lungs, heart and liver (if using). Place in large pan of cold water with the meat trimmings and bring to the boil. Cook for about 2 hours.
  2. When cooked, strain off the stock and set the stock aside.
  3. Mince the lungs, heart and trimmings.
  4. Put the minced mixture in a bowl and add the finely chopped onions, oatmeal and seasoning. Mix well and add enough stock to moisten the mixture. It should have a soft crumbly consistency.
  5. (Liz's edit) Brush a lidded casserole with melted lamb fat and put the mixture in. Press either a butter wrapper or a greased piece of tin foil down on top of the mixture, cover with the lid. Bake for one and a half hours at 180ºC.
These seed heads can go onto the
compost now the birds are done with them
So there you go. We will be enjoying ours with home grown mashed spuds and 'bashit neeps' even though the accompanying 'dram' will be Irish Jameson whiskey (with an E) or possibly poitín as we don't have any Scotch in the house.

Meanwhile, I have resisted temptation to paste in a chunk of the famous (Fair fa' etc) poem but this is because we have our own semi-homegrown madness to publish. I don't have a great deal to do with the social media system 'Twitter'. I have an account and it can be diverting but I think it only works if you have a smart phone and the time to be always on it. People post up what ever they are thinking at the time and then move on, so it is by definition ephemeral. When I go onto a computer twice a day or there-abouts, morning and evening, I would have to scroll back through hundreds of these little quips just to catch up; there would be no point. 

Goose, duck and chicken eggs.
Occasionally, though, one of these people with, probably, too much time on their hands does have a moment of inspiration and creates or shares something which catches the attention with its sheer lunacy or amusement value. Liz spotted one of these last night; an "app" which creates a poem out of the 'tweets' you have posted ('tweeted'). You can choose from a choice of three poetry styles; Liz went with 'Rondel' and sent the app off beavering away to find my (thin and far between) tweets which are mainly about farming and small-holdering. 

We can now bring you, by the magic of Twitter, the following masterpiece which may one day make it to the English canon and your grand-children's school-book anthology. Or not.

On goats

by Matt Care

Probably not that impressed by the poem, but happy
not to be in the haggis. Feste the lamb is getting very
big now. 
We have control over the spend?
Place or I'll be in the dog 'ouse.
Through to Ivy at the December end.
You need an excuse?

Damn! Puts down Visa-debit card.
Smaller ones so now I have 2 pairs.
You'll be grand. Welcome aboard!
Westie dogs barking from upstairs!

Cracking image!
Old names, though, don't you agree?
The onion'. One in every village?
Was caught munching on the fig tree
Can't beat a topp sausage.

..... Follow that Rabbie Burns :-) !!!

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