Classic Recipes from the British Isles: Rumbledethumps, Colcannon, and Bubble-and-Squeak; Yorkshire Pudding, Toad-in-the-Hole, and Onion Gravy

Scottish Rumbledethumps

Traditional Scottish Rumbledethumps

Image result for robert burns
Robert “Rabbie” Burns, the Bard of Scotland

With tonight being Burns Night, I thought I’d start with the wonderfully-named Rumbledethumps: a traditional dish of the Scots Borders, from whence he hailed – and from which a good chunk of my father’s family likewise hailed! Indeed, we shared a town – Selkirk – with the Ploughman Poet, and had our own subtly distinct version of the well-known “Selkirk Grace”:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some have nae that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit!

Now for two close cousins of Rumbledethumps: Irish Colcannon, and English Bubble-and-Squeak:

Colcannon recipe

Traditional Irish Colcannon

“Colcannon is a favorite Irish recipe, especially on St Patrick‘s Day. Seriously, what is not to like? Creamy mashed potatoes, fresh, crunchy curly kale, a bit of spring onions, and pats of butter.”

Delicious, and not just for St. Padraig’s! The spring onions and kale give it both a fresh flavor and a health boost. I don’t pulse or chop them mechanically, just give the kale a thin chiffonade, and slice the green onion into 1/8 to 1/4″ rounds. Be sure to include the green tops!

Bubble and Squeak

Traditional Bubble and Squeak

The first specifically British dish I ever made, many years ago (many, many years, now…), Bubble and Squeak is the lovely, quirky, evocative name for what is mostly fried leftover vegetables, usually from Sunday’s roast dinner (sometimes leftover meat, or bacon, is incorporated). The name comes from the sound it makes as it’s frying! It can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, or supper, as circumstances may dictate.

Yorkshire Pudding

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding

In Yorkshire itself, these puffy pastries, baked in oil (yes, you heard that right…), are often served as a starter; in rest of Britain, they’re the classic accompaniment to a Sunday roast (see here for more on the Sunday roast or “Sunday lunch”). In either case, plenty of gravy is an essential accompaniment – see below!

Toad in the Hole

Family-sized Toad in the Hole

Another evocatively-named dish, Toad-in-the-Hole combines “bangers” (sausages) with a Yorkshire-pudding-like pastry batter (in fact, the Yorkshire pudding recipe could be used for this dish, although the one given here is a wee bit different). A classic supper dish, but could also be the centerpiece for a (slightly less traditional) Sunday lunch. The bangers are rather jumbled in the illustration; I like mine arranged a bit more neatly!

Onion Gravy

Rich Onion Gravy

Several – arguably all! – of the above could deliciously benefit from being served with onion gravy, and Yorkshire pudding and Toad-in-the-Hole practically demand it. As the linked recipe notes,

“The ultimate in comfort food must be any meat dish, or meat and creamy mashed potatoes, smothered in a rich onion gravy. The bringing together of sweet onions and a dark rich sauce—which is both sweet and savory—is a classic of both the British and Irish kitchens.”

And darned tasty on this side of “the Pond,” I must say.

Enjoy!

 

How to lay a hedge | Gardens Illustrated

Learn how to lay a hedge using traditional craftsmanship and hedge laying skills.

“Interested in the centuries-old skill of hedge laying? Follow our guide on how to lay a hedge and learn about the traditional ways to lay a hedge.”

Source: How to lay a hedge – Gardens Illustrated

“Hedge laying is a seasonal job carried out between October and March when trees and shrubs are dormant, and birds have finished nesting in the hedges…”

Ever wondered how to “lay a hedge” in classic English style (or even what that term meant)? Here’s an excellent starting point! No reason it couldn’t be done here in the U.S., for those with the land and resources to do so! I’ve often wished I could have a place where I could recreate an English cottage garden, including / incorporating a traditional hedge.

 

Tributes paid to ‘unusually rich legacy’ of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton | Ludlow Advertiser

Investitures at Buckingham Palace

Tributes have been paid to the “unusually rich legacy” of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, lauded as “the greatest conservative of our age,” who died at age 75 after a six-month battle with cancer.

Source: Tributes paid to ‘unusually rich legacy’ of philosopher Sir Roger Scruton | Ludlow Advertiser

A small selection, from among many:

The journalist and author Peter Hitchens wrote on social media,

“RIP Sir Roger Scruton, a man of immense courage, intellect and fortitude, whose loss we can ill afford in these narrow, conformist times.”

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan said on Twitter,

“Professor Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest conservative of our age, has died. The country has lost a towering intellect. I have lost a wonderful friend.

“There was no subject he could not light up with his effulgent prose: architecture, theology, music, fox-hunting, painting, wine, philosophy. I honestly can’t think of a wiser or more complete contemporary writer.”

And this – from author and historian Anne Applebaum,

“In the 1980s, Roger Scruton organised money and books for dissidents in Eastern Europe.

“I was one of the student couriers who helped smuggle them ‘across the iron curtain.’ I am still grateful for what Roger did for them, and for me.”

I encourage you to read this compilation of heartfelt and heart-warming tributes, memories, and reflections on the life and legacy of a truly great man!

 

How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham | The Federalist

How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham

“As Prince Harry’s recent behavior proves, composure and class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty are not due to bloodline or money.”

Source: How Prince Harry Turned Into Lena Dunham | The Federalist

The above statement is all too sadly true, although traditionally those belong to the Royal bloodline were expected to display all of the above (composure, class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty).

The greatest living exemplar of this is Her Majesty herself, Queen Elizabeth II, forged in the crucible of World War Two, who – while still Princess Elizabeth, on the occasion of her 21st birthday, in 1947 – promised,

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service, and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,”

and who has spent the rest of her life living up to that promise.

Alas, as the linked article by Sumantra Maitra points out,

“Unfortunately, Harry has too much of Princess Diana in him, from compulsively breaking orthodoxy and tradition, to extreme and fatalistic narcissism. As Emma Freire recently wrote, with him it is all noblesse, with zero oblige. Meghan can be forgiven, as she’s American, and not used to royal protocols. But Harry was born and brought up in that discipline. There’s no excuse.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Prince Harry’s physical courage, as demonstrated by his military service, which by all accounts was exemplary. Fighting in Afghanistan, he earned the respect of the U.S. Marines, which is no small accomplishment for anyone.

But that does not make this article’s assessment any less accurate. Courage under fire does not always or necessarily translate to wisdom in civilian life. To quote Maitra again,

“The reason for Harry and Meghan’s departure is pure liberal-individualist narcissism. And both are equally responsible for that. Due to its symbolic and apolitical nature, British aristocracy are not supposed to publicly espouse political opinions, much less actively lecture people about mental health, toxic masculinity, or climate change. They are supposed to go to war, open hospitals, and silently take part in charitable causes. Duty, stoicism, propriety, and patriotism are supposed to be the four cornerstones of nobility.”

However, this has not occurred where the Sussexes are concerned. As noted above, Meghan is an American actress, and can be afforded a certain amount of slack. Prince Harry should know better. Prince Harry does know better; he just chooses not to act accordingly:

“You can either be a Hollywood hypocrite, or an aloof, true-blue aristocrat above daily politics. You cannot simultaneously enjoy the perks of both… Aristocratic life brings its own burden, of class, polish, fortitude, and propriety. Not every Tom, Dick, or Harry can chin up, keep calm, and carry on. If you behave like a petulant celebrity, you’ll be treated with as much respect as a petulant celebrity deserves.”

To quote in full the line with which this opened,

“this incident reinforces that composure and class, stoic fortitude, and a sense of duty and propriety are not due to either bloodline or money. Some people possess them, and most do not.”

Sadly, it seems that HRH Harry, Duke of Sussex, does not. And The Anglophilic Anglican is more than a little disappointed – not shocked, not even really surprised, as the signs were there, but disappointed – to see this made so publicly and dramatically clear.

 

Plough Monday, 2020

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Today is Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night and Epiphany, and what used to be an important date in the agricultural calendar. Traditionally it was the day on which farm workers returned to their duties after the Christmas and New Year break. On this day,

“A plough would be taken to the local church to be blessed in order to ‘speed the plough’ and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year. It was a difficult time of year for ploughman, as the ground was hard and difficult to work on, so the ploughmen would decorate their ploughs and take them around the local villages where they would ask for money from the wealthy landowners.”

This money was formerly used to pay for “plough lights”: candles lit in the church, to pray God’s blessing upon the agricultural work. And if a donation was not forthcoming, the miserly one might find that his yard would be plowed!

Today would be the perfect day for a classic English “ploughman’s lunch,” which at its most basic consists of rustic country bread, one or more varieties of (originally local, now any British) cheese, pickled onions, chutney and/or some other sort of “pickle,” and ale or (generally “hard,” but sweet would be a perfectly fine substitute) cider.

Some would add an apple, others some type of greenstuff (watercress would seem a traditional choice, as it might have been picked fresh from the stream running at the bottom of the field), or perhaps a boiled egg; but though one occasionally sees them with smoked meats, pork pies, or even Scotch eggs, there seems little need to go too far beyond the basics, to me.

Plough Monday, Cottage Loaf and a Ploughman's Lunch (Recipes)

This one includes spring onions and a (somewhat anachronistic, in my view) tomato, but otherwise sticks pretty close to the basic plan!

In conclusion:

Let the wealthy and great
Roll in splendor and state:
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own lamb,
My own chickens and ham;
I shear my own fleece, and I wear it.
I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers;
The lark is my morning alarmer.
So, jolly boys, now,
Here’s God speed the plough!
Long life and success to the farmer!

(I am almost positive that this verse is on the other side of the mug seen in the picture, above!)

The competing ethics of duty -v- self-interest misread by Harry and Meghan | Gavin Ashenden

Source: The competing ethics of duty -v- self-interest misread by Harry and Meghan | Gavin Ashenden

As reported by the BBC and posted on their Instagram page,

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex” – the above-mentioned Harry and Meghan – “have announced they will step back as ‘senior’ royals and work to become financially independent.

“In a statement, Prince Harry and Meghan also said they plan to split their time between the UK and North America…

“In their unexpected statement on Wednesday, also posted on their Instagram page, the couple said they made the decision ‘after many months of reflection and internal discussions.'”

Here’s an excerpt of that Instagam post:

After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.

“It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.

To which Gavin Ashenden, the former Queen’s Chaplain who became a Continuing Anglican Bishop, and more recently “swam the Tiber” to Rome, responds (accurately, in my opinion):

“The announcement from Harry and Meghan will cause a variety of responses from the public. One of them will be sadness. There is a tragic element to the blinkeredness and immaturity that mistakes a bid for independence as ‘carving a progressive role.’

“It isn’t that at all of course. In reality it is choosing between two competing philosophies or ethics.

“One, which the monarchy is founded on and depends on, is a Christian one in which doing one’s duty on behalf of others takes priority over self-interest. The other is a concentration on self-interest and self expression (however it is justified) at the expense of self-sacrifice and duty.”

Indeed. There could hardly be more difference between their proclamation and that of Harry’s grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, in 1947, when she promised her people,

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

That is the very definition of self-sacrifice and duty, and Her Majesty has lived it, as she promised, all her life long. Her devotion to her people, her realms, and the Commonwealth is unquestionable, as is her sense of duty. A shame it has not run true, through the generations.

Thankfully, HRH Prince William and Katherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William being second in line to the Throne following his father, HRH Charles Prince of Wales), seem rather more solid than the Sussexes. I hope and pray that proves to be the case!


N.B. – Also from the BBC article:

“Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter suggested the decision showed Prince Harry’s ‘heart ruling his head.'”

I would say that is a pretty good condensation of the saga of Harry and Meghan, in general.

Edwardian Farm: Wassail and Heavy Horses

Edwardian Farm: Episode 5

I have not, alas, been either too Anglophilic or too Anglican on here, of late! So in partial recompense, here is a link to a lovely episode (#5) of “Edwardian Farm.” The Edwardian age is, in some respects, my favorite period in Britain. America, too, though it wasn’t necessarily called by that name; later generations would call it the closing years of the “Gilded Age.”

In some ways the ultimate “Blighty Boys” era, it was the beginning of the modern period, with airplanes, motorcars, and tractors all putting in an appearance; yet, at the same time, there were more draft horses being used for agriculture than at any other time in history, and in Britain, farmers still wassailed their apple orchards as they had since time immemorial!

A most interesting survey of agricultural (and related) activities during this time in history.