Celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day

Tuesday 25th January sees us celebrate Burns night and then Wednesday 26th January Australia Day, we are really lucky in our family to celebrate both.  Why do we get both you may ask?  So, Stuart was born in Mt Isa in Queensland, Australia and our three children, Jasmin, Olivia, and Cameron were all born in Australia too.  Having returned to the UK over 7 years ago and now living in the Orkney Islands, situated off the north coast of Great Britain, we can also celebrate Burns night.


Burns night originated to celebrate Scotland’s most famous poet – Robert Burns.  In his lifetime he wrote over 550 poems and songs before his death in 1796, including ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (you have probably heard of that one!)  Robert Burns was born on 25th January 1759 and hence the traditional Burns supper is held on that night to celebrate his life and work.  Haggis is the main focus of Burns night and in our house, we love it!  Bought from a local butcher (all butchers seem to have their own unique recipe) haggis is a savoury pudding containing amongst other ingredients liver minced with onion, oatmeal, and suet.  Traditionally served with mashed turnip and mashed potatoes (they’re the neeps and tatties bit) and a wee nip of whisky.


Celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day
Celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day

I am not a fan of whisky although I think I may be persuaded when we craft our own (I have a few ideas up my sleeve…) but I’m always up for trying new things, so here goes…How about celebrating Burns night with a cocktail made of whisky AND gin?!

Courtesy of the Craft Gin Club I present you with:

‘The Modern’

30ml Scotch whisky
30ml sloe gin
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar (or 5ml sugar syrup)
Dash absinthe
Dash orange bitters

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. (I must admit I didn’t add the absinthe as we didn’t have any handy!)  And what about a….

Celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day
Celebrating Burns Night and Australia Day – Smoky Martini


Smoky Martini

70ml gin
7.5ml Scotch whisky

Add both ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Alternatively, turn this into a Burnt Martini by combining 60ml gin, 7.5ml Scotch whisky and 15ml dry vermouth.

So, what about Australia Day, what’s that all about and how will we be celebrating? Australia Day acknowledges and celebrates the contribution that all Australians make to the nation.  It is focused on the people and all the things that are loved about Australia, the land, sense of fair go and lifestyle. Back in the day when we lived in Australia we would celebrate with a party by the pool, (sounds corny but it’s true!) listening to the Australia Day countdown on the radio and enjoying the company of friends and family. This would be accompanied of course with beer and fantastic food.  One of our much-loved desserts is pavlova, any fruit on top accepted!  In Australia I would usually make a passionfruit version as its easy to buy tinned passionfruit pulp, as this is tricky in Orkney, I tend to fill the top with fabulous plump fresh berries.

When I lived in Australia the Women’s Weekly would always be where I looked first for any recipes, and this one is courtesy of www.womensweeklyfood.com.au and combines both passionfruit and strawberries and reminds me of my other ‘home’.


  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cup (330g) caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 300 millilitre thickened cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar mixture
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 250 gram strawberries, halved
  • 3 passionfruit


  1. Preheat oven to 120°C (100°C fan-forced). Mark a 20cm circle on baking paper; cover oven tray with paper.
  2. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating until dissolved after each addition (this should take 6 or 7 minutes). Gently fold in cornflour and vinegar.
  3. Spread meringue inside circle on prepared tray. Using palette knife or spatula, shape sides of meringue and level the top.
  4. Bake for about 1½ hours or until dry. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool in oven with door ajar.
  5. An hour before serving, beat cream, sugar and essence in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fill pavlova with cream mixture and decorate with fruit.

Our Australia Year this day will be celebrated with toast and vegemite for breakfast and we’ll finish with a slice of pavlova and a good G&T!

Enjoy your celebrations this January!


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