"How do we make it special?" This inquiry, from my soon to be 15-year-old regarding her birthday celebration, has been bouncing around my head for a while now. How do you make things special when winter has set in and well, most adventures involving travel or gathering are off the table? Here at the shop, we've been encouraging the cultivation of small rituals. Why shouldn't we be carving out time each day to create special moments? Why should we wait for the big birthdays or holidays? In her book, Every Day is Saturday, Sarah Copeland laments about the carefree relaxed feelings which seem so accessible on holiday or the weekends, yet elusive as hell every other moment of our days. Why should we settle for this?
This year, we endeavor to make birthdays and holidays as special as possible, to add in daily rituals that fill our tanks, but also to seek out the addition of even more reasons to celebrate. To that end, shall we begin with a Burns Night Supper?
Most of us, unknowingly or not, are familiar with poet Robert Burns' work, Auld Lang Syne. Lovers of literature and poetry will know Burns as arguably the greatest Scottish Poet ever. Fans of the show Parks and Rec will know him as the writer of "O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair" recited by Ron Swanson on a Scottish cliff in the series finale. If you are neither of the latter two, it is neither here nor there - do you love good food, a wee dram, and loathe Mondays? Then you are in luck, Mr. Burns' birthday is Monday, January 25th and it is the perfect excuse to dive into all things Scottish and celebrate for no particular reason (ok, technically, the reason is his birthday, but you get the point).
Burns Night Suppers began as a way for his friends to commemorate his life several years after his passing and have continued each year since. This popular celebration is traditionally centered around haggis, but other rich stews are a good substitute. If spending this weekend trying to stomach making haggis (bad food pun, apologies) doesn't sound exciting, you can still enjoy the pomp and circumstance and bring the "special" to your festivities. First, you'll need to locate a bagpiper (funny story, we actually recruited a bag-piper for our father's funeral after hearing him practicing in Bryan Park). Considering, however, that you probably don't want a stranger blowing air into an instrument in your home, maybe search a playlist on Spotify. Bagpipes, check. Now, prepare a feast. Admittedly, most of us are not going to prepare haggis, but we can manage to read Burns' famous Address to Haggis just after presenting the meal as the Spotify playlist serenades us in our walk from the kitchen to the dining room. It is tradition to read aloud other poems by Rabbie in a boisterous manner, drink inordinate amounts of whiskey or other Scottish spirits, laugh, and dance. We will also add in a viewing of the Parks and Rec finale.
As for that other special event? We will be presenting the traditional hot dogs with handmade parmesan garlic french fries and making a Max and Ruby cake - the special request of the kid that I will fully admit makes life worth living despite the fact that she knows her father and I hated that cartoon and we think she's messing with us.
Below we share some additional inspiration for a celebration. We spent all week unloading freight and resetting the shop. Most things are now back in stock, save for garlic rockers and Microplanes which remain elusive, go figure. We are plotting with Edible Indy to bring you some fun virtual events this year as well, keep an eye out for upcoming announcements. Do you have a celebration centered around food you think we should know about? Drop us an email!
Purists will want to make haggis, but hearty stews and broths, along with "neeps and tatties" (rutabaga or turnips mashed with potatoes) may feel more accessible for a Burns Night dinner that falls on a Monday.
We love baking and include a shortbread recipe below, but sometimes you need a little effortless treat. Snag a couple of these Strathspery fruit cakes from Walkers (on sale now) to enjoy after a meal or during your afternoon break.
Hints of Scotland
Pull together a subtle Scottish vibe for your celebration through texture and colors. We took a look around the shop and were inspired by knit potholders, plaid towels, and traditional colors of blue and green tartans in this anything but ordinary Pakka wood spoon.
A Wee Dram
Whether you'll be part of a Rabbie-loving rabble or sipping at a poetry reading, here's a guide to grabbing a native tipple. And if you desire something a little less intoxicating? Not to worry, apparently, the Scots are big fans of rich hot chocolate.
Combine the old and new with this Art-Deco inspired decanter from Viski Craft. It sits atop a vintage aluminum tray alongside the original Glencairn Whiskey Glass begging to be filled.
Adorn your at-home bar and never have to remember what's what with these decanter tags.
Look closely: Authentic Glencairn glasses are etched at the base.
Granny Joan's Shortbread
There may be nothing more simple or divine as a piece of good shortbread. Each Christmas, my mother-in-law's neighbor would make giant rounds of shortbreads that measured 6-inches across and nearly a half-inch thick. Covered in castor sugar they would literally melt in your mouth. On those holiday visits, Nancy would usher me into the kitchen and split her stash with me, packing them up gently for our trip home. It has been years since the shortbreads stopped coming, but that lovely food memory remains. Here, Flora Shedden shares Granny Joan's shortbread recipe from her book Aran: Recipes And Stories From A Bakery In The Heart Of Scotland. Aran is an inspiration (we still have a copy in the shop) and we wholeheartedly recommend you give Flora or her bakery a follow.
Shortbreads can be cut simply as above or pressed into a decorative shortcake pan. Add a little character with Nordic Ware's shortbread pan. We love the unique design in each square accented with a fluted edge.
We believe anyone can cook.
We believe in welcoming everyone to the table.
We believe some tools are timeless.
We believe high quality isn't always expensive.
We believe in making things from scratch when possible.
We believe in gathering & connecting with one another.