Advent 2017: Hogmanay: In the spirit of change

Happy New Year from the Alsum family.

Source: pixabay

We have some sort of sore throat and cough thing happening over here. Recently, it seems that whenever we have fun plans… or any plans at all actually… we end up with some kind of sickness.

Grandma and Grandpa Alsum braved our house of a thousand minor plagues, and came to our Hogmanay themed New Year’s eve dinner.

We had been attempting to get everything put together and put away in time for when they arrived. It was pretty overwhelming and we didn’t quite make it to immaculate. We have two toddlers and pregnancy has been a hard time for me historically, and presently is no different.

We served up a variety of dishes, which were our own take on traditional Scottish cuisine: stilton and fig tartlets, smoked haggis burgers, mashed smoked neeps (which are rutabaga or swede), and smoked mushroom and pork loin bacon bread pudding. The recipes will follow down below.

Let’s look at a little Hogmanay tradition, the first-footing. The first person to enter your home as a guest after midnight on the New Year is supposed to set the tone for the rest of the year. I don’t believe in luck. God is the one who gives and takes away, so I wanted to take a little look at some of the traditional gifts that the first-footer brings in light of who God is.


Some time later, Abram had a vision. The Lord said to him,

“Abram, do not be afraid. I am like a shield to you. I am your very great reward.”

Genesis 15:1 (NIRV)

Genesis 15 gives a story of covenant that God made with the Jewish nation through their forefather, Abraham. It shows God’s character as a protector.

God is aware that no regular person would be able to hold up in life as an example of perfection. That is why God takes it upon himself to keep the whole promise. Even in the smoking coals of our external circumstances, God stands for us as a light which darkness cannot overcome.

The sun set and it became dark. Then a burning torch and a pot filled with smoking coals appeared. They passed between the pieces of the animals that had been cut in two. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.

Genesis 15:17-18a (NIRV)


So go to the lake and throw out your fishing line. Take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth. There you will find the exact coin you need.

Matthew 17:27b (NIRV)

This story shows how God is our provider. Officials are demanding a tax from Jesus and His disciples. He explains that God does not require such a tax, but, in order to keep peace, a coin is miraculously provided for the purpose.


Put salt on all your grain offerings. Salt stands for the lasting covenant between you and your God. So do not leave it out of your grain offerings. Add salt to all your offerings.

Leviticus 2:13 (NIRV)

Salt preserves. God’s promises are lasting because of His integrity.


Jesus said to them, “What I’m about to tell you is true. It is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven. It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven. He gives life to the world.” John 6:32 (NIRV)

As our heavenly Father, God is our parent. He gave life through creation and He gives life again through His son.

Then Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry. And whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (NIRV)


You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies. You pour oil on my head. My cup runs over.

Psalm 23:5 (NIRV)

God is the shepherd pastor. He guides and He blesses His sheep. I pray that you will see how God overflows your cup this year. Even in the sight of difficult times, God is still blessing, He is still guiding, and He is still present with you.

I pray that you will know more this year than last about the God who is our protector, provider, preserver, parent and pastor.

Also, here are those recipes that I mentioned earlier.

Stilton and fig tartlets

This is an easy cheats way to classy hors d’oeuvres.

What you will need:

  • Stilton
  • Dried figs
  • Pre-made biscuit dough or pastry

How you can do it:

  1. Stretch the dough circles in petits fours/mini cupcake tray.
  2. Rough chop the cheese and figs.
  3. Fill the tarts with mixture.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 fahrenheit (or as instructed on packaging).

Smoked Haggis burgers

This recipe should make at least 20 burgers.

What you will need:

  • 1lb heart (Traditionally, the meat would be lamb, but I used chicken because they were more readily available.)
  • 1 lb liver
  • 8 oz oats
  • 1 lb lard, hardened in the fridge
  • 7 oz rosemary-paprika roasted hazelnuts (which are 7 oz of hazelnuts coated in 2 tbsp of walnut oil, sprinkled with 2 tbsp rosemary, 2 tbsp of smoked paprika, 2 tsp coarse sea salt, and roasted)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Cling wrap or cheese cloth or sheep stomach

For charcoal water smoking:

  • 25 ml Whiskey (I used Glenfiddich because that’s the one I remember my Grandad used to have for special occasions.)
  • White wine

How you can do it:

  1. Blend the organ meat into a paste in a food processor or using a food mincer.
  2. Process the oats, lard and nuts similarly.
  3. Stir all processed foods together and combine with the onions.
  4. Lay out your cling wrap or cheesecloth to fill with the meat mixture, before rolling it to form a sausage about 5 inches in diameter. Make multiple thick sausages if necessary. Alternatively, stuff the sheep’s stomach.
  5. Bring the sausage (or sausages) to a boil in a large pan filled with water.
  6. Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue to cook them for 3 hours, replenishing the water as required.
  7. After your haggis is cooked, cool before slicing into burgers.
  8. You can grill these straight on a bbq. Or, if you want to smoke, we poured 25 ml whiskey into the water pan and filled the rest with an inexpensive white wine. We smoked the burgers at 175 for a few hours until our guests arrived. We also smoked the rutabaga and mushrooms at the same time. A good guideline is 1/2 rutabaga per adult and 1/4 per child.

Smoked mushroom and pork loin bacon bread pudding

This makes a fairly large serving.

What you will need:

  • 1 lb mushroom (we used half shiitake
    and half oyster)
  • Water (or subtle fruit juice or white wine) for soaking
  • 1/2 lb stuffing mix or croutons
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups whole fat milk (Fat is flavor)
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1/2 lb thin sliced smoked pork loin (we had some left over from previously) or smoky bacon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil

How you can do it:

  1. Soak the mushrooms for at least an hour. This is important; otherwise, they will just become shriveled and yucky when you smoke them.
  2. Smoke mushrooms for at least a couple hours at 175 in a smoker unit.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.
  4. Combine stuffing mix or croutons with cream and milk in a suitably large mixing bowl.
  5. Rough chop the mushrooms, and add them along with the other vegetable to the mix.
  6. Stir in the eggs and bacon bits.
  7. Spoon into a 9 inch round oven-safe dish. Alternatively, you can do individual ramekins per guest.
  8. Bake for at least an hour (or 30 minutes for ramekins).

Once again, happy new year.

From mine to yours,

Mumma Alsum


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