Adventures in Ethics and Science

Robert Burns‘s birthday, which was January 25, is an important day for Scottish celebration and food.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Give it a chance.

So, back at ScienceOnline’09, I was talking with AcmeGirl about marking the 25th with some lovely Scottish food. She was talking about haggis. In the Free-Ride house, seeing as how we don’t do meat, we don’t do canonical haggis either. (In 1997, in Scotland, I had a fabulous vegetarian haggis, but I doubt I could reproduce it in my own kitchen, at least on the first try.) So I was thinking maybe tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips).

But on the eve of January 25th, things were kind of wet and cold in our neck of the woods. And, our garden had just yielded …


some nice carrots and parsnips. Thus, I shifted my Burns Day plan and decided to make a vegetable soup and some oat bread.

(The garden also yielded …


some kohlrabi, which the children munched on raw while I was working on the soup and the bread.)

We augmented the carrots and parnips from the garden with some leeks, onions, celery, potatoes, and turnips. We chopped up the vegetables and sauteed them in some butter and olive oil. Then we added a bunch of water and a bit of salt and set the stockpot to boiling:


This went on for some time — we were aiming not just to soften the vegetables, but to cook off a lot of the liquid. (All that cooking-down time gave me a chance to make the dough for the oat bread, though.)

When things seemed to have cooked down enough, we put it through a food mill.


Then we cooked the puree for a while longer, so the flavors had a chance to canoodle.


When it came time to sit down and eat, we ladled out bowls of soup and stirred in cream at the table.


Alongside the soup, we had open-faced tea sandwiches (cucumber and watercress) on lightly toasted slices of the oat bread.


We also had some unadorned slices of toasted oat bread to dunk in the soup. The judgment of the diners was “NOM NOM NOM!” All of which would seem to indicate that Scottish cuisine can be quite delectable.


  1. #1 jc
    January 31, 2009

    That looks lovely! I have never cooked anything with parsnips – it’s now on my list.

    And I totally forgot how I want to make TOFFEE! I ate toffee everywhere in Scotland.

  2. #2 Comrade PhysioProf
    January 31, 2009

    Holy fucknoly!!!!! Like I said, when civilization collapses, I’m coming to your house!

  3. #3 acmegirl
    February 1, 2009

    Wow! That sounds really delicious!

    We ended up having the traditional haggis with mashed neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and mashed potatoes), served with copious amounts of Scotch whiskey. We had a few guests, and, surprise, almost everyone ate the haggis and some even asked for seconds!

  4. #4 acmegirl
    February 1, 2009

    BTW, I went ahead and posted a description of our Burns Night celebration. Thanks for the nudge!

  5. #5 Donna B.
    February 1, 2009

    Root vegetables are unfairly rated. Neeps and tatties… yum.

  6. #6 PeggyL
    February 1, 2009

    So what else can you do with the kohlrabi? I keep getting them in my CSA and don’t know how to prepare them, other than grating or chopping into a salad.

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