Fourteen years ago this upcoming January, my Scottish friend Heather was three quarters of her way through her first year in Germany. I was just starting my second and living about an hour’s drive away from her (not that either of us had a car) and I thought that the poor wee homesick thing she was (or not, really), she needed a good Burns’ night supper. So my French friend Helene and I managed to rustle up the various bits of sheep required and to ruin my dishtowels (they smelled like stomach for weeks) making haggis for her (although the endeavor was nearly derailed in the dark of night in the barn of the farmer who had slaughtered a sheep just for us when he asked: which stomach? This stumped us and we ended up taking the biggest one, which, in retrospect, was almost certainly the wrong one to use.)
Anyway, unlike Helene and everybody else invited to this dinner, which involved reciting poetry to the haggis before it was stabbed then eaten), I was vegetarian, so I also made a veggie haggis facsimile using a recipe I dredged up from who knows where (the internet, probably). Heather, however, turned out never to have eaten haggis before in her life and to have no inclination to begin then. She didn’t even try my vegetarian kind. But I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all, nonetheless (we also had whiskey and drambuie around and I did my best to tell the tale of the Wee Bunnock in a Scottish accent, which was so bad, it had to be hilarious).
But I never made haggis again, of either sort.
Until today, Thanksgiving 2019.
Having always had plenty, the Thanks part of Thanksgiving never really clicked with me before. It’s hard to be grateful for normal when you don’t have the slightest clue what it feels like to need. While straits aren’t dire, it has been a shock to have to, for the first time in my life, get through the last ten days of the month with an unrefreshed larder and stocks of money so depleted that at this point there aren’t even enough coins left to scrounge out of the car to park it for two hours in town if we had to.
But today was Thanksgiving and mashed potatoes solo would not do, even if it was just Spouse and I. Was I ever grateful for the minuscule cauliflower I managed to find in the garden (apologies to the baby slug that got baked by mistake) and the slightly limp yellow bell pepper from the back of the fridge that were the last vegetables standing (aside from the kilos of potatoes we harvest earlier and of sunchokes and parsnips I dug out of the ground a few days ago and am already super freaking sick of). Between those two veggies, some potatoes, the extensive collection of beans, lentils, rolled oats, and oat groats, and one miracle jar of chunky peanut butter and a small bag of pulverized hazelnuts, I managed to knock out an incredibly reasonable, vegan except for the butter, Thanksgiving lunch. Two bites of roasted cauliflower and half a roasted bell pepper apiece plus all the vegan haggis, mashed potatoes, and gravy made from vegetable bouillon powder that a person could eat. Hurrah! If we hadn’t been so stuffed just from that, I could have pulled some not apple but pear sauce I made and froze back during the August/Sept glut of yes we’re all going to get ripe at the same time of pears.
And tomorrow next month’s money should land in the bank account and we can eat things like beer, cheese, salami, chocolate, diet Coke, tomatoes, lettuce, oranges, vegetables that are not potatoes, parsnips, or topinambur, and the hefty whole grain spelt and rye bread from the local organic bakery again. 🙂
Which is to say, even with the belt tightening we’re experiencing, we’re still able to live pretty well and not worry about how the bills will get paid. That time may yet come (or not), but for now I can honestly say I feel grateful that we are doing okay
Anyway, the vegan haggis was great! Not having the carrots and mushrooms called for in the recipe I had, I used parsnips instead and THAT WAS A WINNER! I also used leftover dal instead of unprepared lentils. All in all, it was much better than the original version as made fourteen years ago (there are reasons I never revisited it, namely, that I hadn’t liked it). So here is my version of the recipe, much improved. *pats self on back*
I may have to make it for myself for Christmas, too, when Spouse and the in-laws eat rabbit or goose.
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- 100 g chopped onion
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 big parsnip, something between finely and coarsely chopped
- 120 g dal (i.e. red or yellow lentils or even pigeon peas boiled to mush and seasoned)
- 50 g coarsely mashed cooked kidney beans
- 1 heaping Tbsp chunky peanut butter (the kind that contains ONLY peanuts and salt)
- 35 g pulverized hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of allspice
- 200 g uncooked oats (half as rolled oats, half as groats, if possible)
- Saute onion in oil 5 min. Add parsnip and cook 5 min more.
- Add dal, mashed kidney beans, stock, peanut butter, pulverized hazelnuts, soy sauce, lemon juice, herbs, and spices and cook 1-2 min. (If using uncooked lentils instead of dal, cook for a full 10-12 minutes).
- Add oats and cook gently for 15-20 min, adding water as need be.
- Turn into large, lightly oiled loaf pan and bake at 190C for 30 minutes.
This is NOT a nut loaf! So don’t expect it to be solid inside. Instead it will have instead a damp (I’d say moist, but people hate that word), structurally unsound yet chewy texture. Like haggis, vegetarian me can only presume, hence the name.