Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Rabbie

Today is Burn's Night (Burns Nicht) when Scottish folks hold a supper to celebrate the life of Robert Burns the famous Scottish poet. He was a struggling farmer who caused scandal with his lecherous ways and loved a good drink of whisky. His work is bold, dramatic and often funny. I remember singing The Diel's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman to the whole school when I was twelve years old. It's a lovely, wee poem about the devil running off with the man who collects the excise tax, enabling the town to make their malt, brew their drink "laugh, sing and rejoice, man,".
And speaking of struggling farmers. Why isn't everyone making a beeline for our farmer's market in Hastings town centre on Thursdays? I came home with a huge bunch of kale, an unusual variety of potato, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and a big bag of local apples all for £6. The farmer's face was as rosy as his apples, but I think that was more to do with standing in the cold, rather than sneaking a wee nip of whisky now and then (which I think he'd be perfectly entitled to). He told me he keeps his apples stored in a controlled environment to keep them fresh. Stocks are running low and once they're gone they're gone. Then we will have to wait until autumn to savour his delicious apples again. It was lovely to speak directly to the people who had produced the fruit and veg they were selling.
I have been eating the kale all week and I love it. The older leaves, like this magnificent plant, need cooking a bit longer or it'll be as tough as auld leather. Younger stems can be lightly steamed then smothered in salt, pepper and butter.
Kale: the verdant plumed dandy of the cabbages; fit for any feast.

For dessert: a naughty treat from Maw Broon's cookbook.


  1. I love my local farmers market. It's only every fortnight but we fill up with organic fruit and veg and organic meat for the same price as non organic stuff from the supermarkets. We've got some of that kale on the allotment. It is still going strong and I have been picking since July. Although I am a little sick of it now.!! I'm going to send this under the anonymous profile in the hope this allows me to comment. Wellywoman.

  2. I wish we had a local farmers market. They did one in the local school as a one off last year, but there were only a few stalls and very limited produce. Enjoy your Burns supper tonight. Will you be having haggis?

  3. I'm starting a farmers market stall at the end of next month - soap, seedlings and crafts rather than full grown veggies though. But I hope that I'll be able to swap some of my own goods for some of the other stallholders produce.

  4. Its such a shame when these events arent well supported.We have started buying our meat from our local butchers and would love to be able to buy from a farmers market but unfortunately there arent any round here to my knowledge.I would like to rely less on the supermarket giants and support our local tradespeople.

  5. We have TWO farmer's markets! One started several years ago in the playground of a local secondary school, the other is only a few months old, sited on the steps of a gastro-pub on a Saturday morning. It's amazing what they sell although (as a baker) I'm stunned at the prices charged for cake and slices thereof! Had to chuckle at your choice of dessert - a school friend's Scottish grandmother always used to send parcels of tablet that she'd made and quickly became known as Granny McFudge! Enjoy!

  6. Glad you found a way to comment Wellywoman! I sowed kale but I don't know what happened to it. I could see how you would go off it if you've been picking it since July!! Haw.

    Our farmers market survives because the stall holders have decided to take responsibility for it themselves without help from the council. Which means bringing their own market stall covers and tables. It's a lot of work and I appreciate that they do it.

    Jo - we cheated and had a burns supper with friends on Saturday, overestimated the quantity of haggis so I've been eating leftovers all week.

    That's such a good idea Tanya. Your products are so lovely and you put so much care and attention into everything you do.

    I agree Anne. Also it's a nicer way to shop. I love going and having a chat with the stall holders because they remember me and are so lovely.

    We're lucky Caro the prices are really reasonable. There's a baker, the 1066 Cakestand, who makes gluten free and vegan cakes and savouries, not expensive at all. She always has new things to try, usually gives me a deal and usually I decide she's being too generous and insist she takes more. Truthfully I've never liked tablet as it's so sweet but recently my husband had a wheel made for his bicycle by a guy in Scotland. When he sent it he included some tablet in the package. Me and my son polished off the lot.

  7. He must have been some guy! We had to learn Burns poems off by heart when I was in school. Still remember a few lines here and there.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  8. That seems quite expensive to me but then farmers markets usually are. I don't use mine as the grocers is cheaper and better. More produce for less money.

  9. I was happy to pay it because it was so fresh and unsprayed and a bit more unusual than the stuff I can buy even at my grocers, although they're great too. I do have the most fun and the best conversations at the market. x

  10. BTW we live on a shoestring and that veg shop lasted a whole week. I tend to make soups, curries, stews so everything goes a long way.


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