I’m delighted to welcome Paige Shelton to my blog as she celebrates her new release, THE BURNING PAGES! Paige has graciously written a piece explaining the premise for her new cozy mystery: Burns Night Dinner celebrating the venerable poet, Robert Burns! Plus she’s giving away a copy of her book and I’m sharing the recipe for a super easy Burns Night dessert: Scottish Cranachan.
Robert Burns Day
Every January 25, all around the world, but mostly in Scotland, people gather to celebrate one of Scotland’s most beloved bards – Robert Burns, also known fondly as Rabbie Burns.
Robert Burns Day dinner or supper, or Burns Night, is quite an event, particularly if done right with long-standing and cherished traditions as well as a table full of delicious food. For the sake of keeping in the spirit, I’ll pretend I actually like haggis, but just this one time.
The poet Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in Alloway, Scotland. The eldest of seven children of William Burnes (spelling later changed), a self-educated tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun. Their house is still there, now serving as a Burns Museum, set up as it was all those centuries ago.
To say it was an austere beginning for Burns is putting it lightly. Even after the family moved away from Alloway, when young Rabbie was seven, their lives of poverty and hardship continued. Despite his success, when he died at the age of thirty-seven, he still wasn’t living high on the hog. Though he wrote what has become some of the world’s most recognizable poetry, including the words to Auld Lang Syne, his life was always a challenge, and was cut way too short.
It is said that the first Burns supper was held five years after his death on July 21, 1801, at Burns Cottage in Ayrshire. The idea of it spread, and it has now become a worldwide yearly event – every anniversary of his birthday, January 25.
Burns and his words may always be celebrated, but if you want to serve up a real dinner event, there are some traditions and classic menu items you must incorporate:
First of all, and this shouldn’t be a surprise, a bagpiper usually greets the guests. But don’t put those pipes away after everyone arrives. You’ll need them again.
The host then says a few words of welcome and reminds everyone why they are there, to celebrate Burns. Grace is said. It’s the Selkirk Grace which is spoken in the Scots language and is a poem of Thanksgiving. Though it’s in Scots, I love it, and it’s pretty easy to translate:
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 the thankit.
After the prayer, the haggis is brought in. Everyone stands and the bagpipes play again. Bard Burns loved his haggis. Once star of the show (haggis) is set down in front of the host, Burns’s Address to a Haggis is read. It’s much longer than the Selkirk prayer, a real love letter to the food, and much more difficult to translate, but delightful just the same. At the end of the poem, a whisky (of course!) toast is proposed to the haggis, and everyone sits down and digs in.
Also served are the traditional neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), usually a fish soup, some cheeses and desserts, as more whisky is consumed and used for toasting throughout and after the meal, and as Burns’s works are recited.
In closing, a resounding version (I’m guessing here, but considering all the whisky . . .) of Auld Lang Syne is sung to bring the evening to an end.
Though I’ve never been to one of the dinners, I plan to host one someday, except maybe I’ll use a fake haggis, you know something that resembles a steak, or maybe even pizza. I included a traditional dinner event in The Burning Pages, though there’s a good chance that one is ruined by an untimely murder.
Thanks for letting me stop by today, Kim – Sláinte, friends!
A special thanks to Paige Shelton for providing a hardcover copy of THE BURNING PAGES. Contest ends April 10, 2022 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents only. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
In our family, dessert is the most anticipated course of a meal. As I browsed through images of traditional Burns Day suppers, I was captivated by several desserts featuring raspberries and whipped cream and found out it’s called Scottish Cranachan. Once I tracked down several recipes on Pinterest, I couldn’t believe how simple it was so decided to Americanize it and feature it with Paige’s post. I’ll be honest, Americans have a huge sweet tooth compared to other countries so I added some confectioners’ sugar to the whipped cream for a bit of sweetness and to help stabilize it, then added some granulated sugar to the raspberries to enhance their natural sweetness. It still wasn’t as sweet as most desserts but ended up being a refreshing change to heavy cakes, pies, and cookies. While traditional Cranachan calls for pinhead oats, I used the readily available rolled oats found in the U.S. If you’re serving the dessert to minors or don’t care for whiskey, by all means omit it. Once I assembled the Cranachan and took the requisite photos, I dived in and enjoyed every single spoonful as I relished the fresh, fruity raspberries and the whiskey imbued whipped cream!
This Americanized version of Cranachan features layers of sweet red raspberries, whiskey imbued whipped cream and toasted oats making it a popular Burns Day dinner dessert!
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 8 ounces fresh raspberries
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons Scotch whiskey
- 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling over dessert just before serving
Heat a large skillet until hot. Add the oats and toast until they begin to turn light brown. Stir the entire time they are cooking because they can quickly burn. Immediately remove oats and place on a plate to cool completely. Reserve a tablespoon of the cooled oats for garnish if desired.
Reserve several raspberries for garnish, and place the remainder in medium-size bowl. Using a fork coarsley crush the berries several times until broken apart and chunky. You don't want to turn them into puree. Stir in the granulated sugar.
In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the Scotch whiskey and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the tablespoon of honey and the cooled oats.
Starting with a layer of whipped cream, layer the dessert into either a large glass trifle bowl or individual serving glasses, alternating with the raspberries and whipped cream. Finish with a layer of the cream.
Cover the bowl or glasses with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Leftover dessert does not keep well, so plan on consuming the day it is made.
To serve the cranachan, drizzle extra honey over the top and garnish with the reserved whole raspberries and toasted oats.
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THE BURNING PAGES, by Paige Shelton, is the seventh book in the charming Scottish Bookshop Mysteries. I’ve so enjoyed this series and delight in each book’s theme. In this newest release the poet Robert Burns is showcased. I loved the peek into the historical aspect of his life and the ways he’s been celebrated since 1848 with Burns Night dinners. While I’m not very familiar with the majority of his works, I was much surprised to find out that Robert Burns is the author of Auld Lang Syne! Lest you think this isn’t a cozy mystery, it is… Ms. Shelton skillfully weaves the famous poet into a modern-day crime along with a colorful cast of characters. The protagonist, Delaney Nichols, and Hamlet, her young coworker at The Cracked Spine Bookshop in Edinburgh, are invited to attend a Burns Night dinner. This sets the stage for long ago grievances to be brought to the foreground and a deadly retribution to occur. When Hamlet becomes a suspect and then disappears, Delaney knows she needs to get to the bottom of the crimes, past and present, and prove her friend’s innocence. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she begins to find pieces of Hamlet’s tragic past. I truly loved getting to know Hamlet better and the author does an admirable job weaving in his heartbreaking backstory into the present-day mystery. The pace of the mystery was spot-on and there were enough suspects to keep me guessing as I turned the pages faster and faster.
Delaney is a delightful character, full of care for those she meets. I’m also quite intrigued with her gift for hearing “bookish voices”, i.e., quotes from various books she comes across, which provide enigmatic clues that don’t always make sense right away. An American transplant to Scotland, Delaney is married to a Scottish pub owner. Rounding out the core cast of charming characters is her mysterious boss, Edwin, bookshop employee Rosie and her adorable dog, Hector, and her former landlords, Elias and Aggie. I thoroughly enjoy the attention to detail and the authenticity of the country, the brogue language, and food (haggis anyone?!) that the author brings to the story through these characters. It’s like taking an armchair vacation while playing armchair detective all at the same time and has me impatiently waiting until the next book becomes available!
One winter’s night, bookseller Delaney Nichols and her coworker Hamlet are invited to a Burns Night dinner, a traditional Scottish celebration of the poet Robert Burns. She’s perplexed by the invitation, but intrigued. The dinner takes place at Burns House itself, a tiny cottage not far from the Cracked Spine bookshop but well hidden. There, it becomes clear that Delaney and Hamlet were summoned in an attempt to make amends between Edwin, Delaney’s boss, and one of the other invitees, who suspected Edwin for burning down his own bookshop twenty years ago after a professional disagreement.
But after the dinner, there’s another fire. The Burns House itself is burned to the ground, and this time there’s a body among the ruins. When Hamlet is accused of the crime, Delaney rushes to prove his innocence, only to discover that he might actually have a plausible motive…
I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.