A Celebratory Burns Night

rabbie burns

It’s Friday afternoon, the vegetarian Haggis is cooking in the oven, and I’m mildly tipsy from the spoonfuls of cream infused with whisky that I ate as I prepared the cranachan for tonight. It feels like the end of a crazy week, with many things happening in my life and all of them good. Rather than my usual political diatribes, this post is more of a reflection, so if you’re not into that, just scroll down to find my cranachan recipe with a Portuguese flair.

Having said that, it’s not been an easy few days for the pro-Indy movement. Stay strong. A man is a man is a man, but our cause stands above any one individual. Don’t squabble, don’t play into the hands of our political adversaries, and don’t undermine our judiciary. Uphold the presumed innocence of the accused, but respect the right of any accusers to come forward, no matter how interesting the timing appears. Our moral principles come first, and the truth will reveal itself – eventually.

Being published in The National

On Monday morning, I went through the masochistic process of applying for my pre-settled status as an EU citizen living in the UK. Having witnessed the shenanigans that the Home Office can get up to as part of its hostile environment policy, I did so with a lot of trepidation.

Somehow, though, thanks to the magic of social media, I was contacted by Callum Baird, editor of Scotland’s largest (and best) pro-Independence newspaper, The National. He asked me if I could write about my experience of going through the settled status application, which I did, and it was published in their website as well as in their physical newspaper on Tuesday. I was very proud when I saw it that morning, and so happy to receive so much lovely feedback from it.

Then, on Tuesday night, I happened to re-publish my love letter to Scotland on Twitter (the blog post I wrote back in December and that was the spark behind creating Brawblether.com). It had enjoyed some traction back in December, but because it was the holiday season many people weren’t as active on Twitter. This time around, however, it spread even wider, and on Wednesday morning I was approached by Wings Over Scotland, who wanted to have it published over on their website.

This put me in front of Wings’ very big audience and brought me hundreds (literally, hundreds) of messages, tweets, comments, emails, you name it – all filled with kind, supportive, welcoming words for me and my partner. I gained around 400 new followers just this week, and Brawblether also saw a spike in visits. On top of that, emails were exchanged, stories heard and told, and there was even an invitation to speak at a YES group in the future.

Overall, it felt like many pieces coming into place, and I’m very grateful for my luck and living among such fine folk. I am truly humbled.

Celebrating Scotland, the Scots, and Scots language with Burns Night

Tonight is meant to celebrate oor Rabbie and his poetry. Me and my partner have done it since our first 25th of January in Scotland, only two months after first moving here, back in November 2015. And although we also like to observe St. Andrews day, and celebrate Scotland then, I think tonight is the evening when I really feel like we celebrate some of the things I love the most about Scotland: its people, its food, and the poetry and music of its spirit.

As I said, the Haggis is cooking, the neeps n’ tatties are ready to be peeled and cooked too, and the cranachan is in the fridge, whipped up and ready to enjoy. As it will only be the two of us (and our two cats) at home, we don’t read poetry or anything during dinner, but we acknowledge Burns and do something related to him during the day, like reading in bed a biography or some of his work.

We would also love to be wearing kilts and all of that, but we just haven’t been able to afford them yet. We want to have some really good ones, that would last us a lifetime, and so we’re saving up for that (it’s also the only thing stopping us of getting married right now, as we want to do it in full Scottish clothing).

So, at the end of a week that felt really good and for which I am thankful of living in oor wee country, accompanied by such braw folk, and experiencing it all with the love of my life at my side, I shall be dining very happily tonight, and enjoying a wee dram in your honour. SlΓ inte mhath.

Thank you for all the love. Scots are the best cunts in the world, and I mean this as the highest compliment I can come up with!

‘Cranachan alla Saraband’ Recipe

Now, cranachan has to be one of the simplest and most delicious desserts in the world. My take on it is that I infuse the cream with the whisky, and the oats with just a hint of Port, letting the sweetness come through the honey. Also, I think I use a bit more raspberries than other recipes, but that’s because I love their flavour and colour.

As with any recipe, take it and make it your own!

Cranachan homemade

Ingredients:

  • 20g rolled oats
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 150g crowdie cheese (quark or cottage cheese will do too if needed)
  • 300g raspberries (250g to be mashed, 50g aside to decorate)
  • 4 tablespoons of honey (try to use some good heather honey, it’s worth it)
  • 2 tablespoons of red Port
  • 130ml of whisky (this will be strong – reduce if you like it less intense)

Preparation:

  • Toast the oats in a frying pan (no fat! just the oats!) over medium heat for 5 mins (7 mins if using electrical stove), shaking them regularly until they’re slightly brown and smelling nutty / popcornish. Set aside and leave them to cool down (I usually get this step done 1 hour before doing the cranachan);
  • Mash the 250g of raspberries with a fork, no need to be too fussy, until you get a puree-like substance. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and the 2 tablespoons of red Port, mix and set aside;
  • In a large bowl, add the double cream, the crowdie cheese, 3 tablespoons of honey (be more / less generous depending on how sweet you like your cranachan to be), and the whisky. Whip it until you get a soft peaks – no need to go for the very hard consistency, as the oats will suck some of the moisture and make your cranachan more solid when it is all assembled and refrigerated;
  • Now, simply assemble! I usually do a generous layer of cream, topped with the raspberry puree, followed by the oats. You can repeat until you fill up the glass (this recipe usually allows you to do two layers of each on 4 tumblers). Top the final layer with a couple of raspberries and a mint leaf, and just a thin drizzle of honey;
  • Enjoy!

9 thoughts on “A Celebratory Burns Night

  1. I make cranachan not with rolled oats (which I feel is a modern version) but with toasted pinhead oatmeal – but you need a good oatmeal for this – one that isn’t like sawdust but is quite chunky. It gives a lovely nutty flavour. and goes wonderfully with raspberries. You might want to try this instead next time you make it. As you say, caranachan is one of those recipes you can vary according to the fruit and booze available.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been enjoying your posts immensely. You are a great addition to Scotland.

    If getting your kipyd is all that’s holding up the wedding, start a crowdfunding appeal on GoFundMe. Your fans will help out. Trust me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I hadn’t thought about it until someone else mentioned that, but I feel slightly conflicted about the idea – in the end, it’s just a luxury fancy of ours, and there are much nobler causes to make use of a GoFundMe. I’ll think about it πŸ˜‰

      Like

  3. Just noticed a wee typo in the recipe. You have recipient instead of receptacle.
    I like cranachan, but prefer atholl brose, which is similar to cranachan but without the raspberries. I make it for our St Andrews club pot-luck ceilidh and it is always popular.
    I missed your piece in the National, I’ll go and read it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that Dawn – it’s one of those instances where I translate the Portuguese word in my head, which is very similar, without noticing that it has a slightly different meaning in English πŸ˜‰ Oh I’d never heard of atholl brose, but the thing I love the most about cranachan is precisely the mix of the raspberries with the cream & whisky. Would like to give it a try though – I’m yet to find a dessert I can’t enjoy πŸ˜‰

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