Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is a registered independent charity which was created in February 2013 to support the museum. Initially, the Friends group was set up in order to raise funds for the Burns Monument Restoration Appeal – this was a tremendous success, with the Friends donating £30,000 to the Burns Monument Fund in 2017, and a further £6000 donated in 2018. Since then, the Friends have continued to raise funds through a variety of means, and these are donated to the museum for use in other restoration and development projects.
The Friends fundraise in many different ways. Chief amongst them is the Garden Shop: in 2013, the Friends took over the old ticket kiosk in the Burns Monument Garden and set about converting it into a shop. Open during the summer season, the Garden Shop sells plants, bulbs and seeds, as well as Burns-related crafts, drinks and ice-creams to enjoy. Whilst the shop is closed throughout winter, the dedicated volunteers sell Christmas trees and wreaths during the festive season as well. Now in its seventh year, the Garden Shop is set to re-open in the very near future; it is opening later than usual due to work being done on the electronics within the shop.
A number of events also run throughout the year – for example, next month the Friends are putting on a Big Band Night at the museum, featuring the highly popular band That Swing Sensation. Further details can be found on the RBBM website. The Friends also hold an annual quiz night, as well as raffles and tombolas throughout the year.
Finally, it is thanks to the Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and in particular the Chair, Hugh Farrell, that the Burns Supper returned to the Burns Cottage. The first ever Burns Supper was held in July 1801, when nine friends of the late Robert Burns gathered in his childhood home to dine, read his poetry and deliver an ode to the Bard before raising a glass in his name. The suppers continued to be held in the Cottage until 1809, before moving to the King’s Arms Hotel in Ayr in 1810. After a gap of two hundred and seven years, on 25th January 2016, a Burns Supper was once again held in Burns Cottage. This event has become the Friends’ major fundraiser.
The Supper has been a regular event every year since and attracts guests from all over the world. The traditional order of a Burns Supper is delivered, complete with piper, fiddler, poetry recitals, songs, and, of course, haggis, neeps and tatties. The names of the nine gentlemen who attended that first supper are listed on the programme, as are the names of all performers and guests at the current supper; a copy of the programme is then placed in the museum archives to become part of the history of the cottage. Attendees at the Burns Cottage Supper are also lucky enough to interact with an object from RBBM’s own collection (with the curator watching closely nearby!). And each year, the Gregg Fiddle that Robert Burns learned to dance to is played: a magical moment.
The Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum are an integral part of RBBM, and the work they do to fundraise for our restoration and development projects is invaluable. We would like to thank them endlessly for the contributions they have made so far, and we look forward to many more years working successfully with them to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy the birthplace of the Bard.
More information on the Friends can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofrbbm/
This week, the 12th – 18th September, is Recycle Week Scotland, with this year’s focus being food waste reduction. As a lover of nature, Robert Burns would almost certainly have cared passionately about protecting our environment, and coming from a farming family would have found the concept of wasting food quite alien. This week, we asked our staff and volunteers to share their favourite ‘leftover’ recipes – ways to use up those bits and bobs still in the fridge at the end of the week. We’ve chosen our favourites below, including a guest recipe from our neighbours at Culzean Castle and Country Park! We hope you enjoy them – if you have any of your own ideas then let us know in the comments.
Use leftover boiled rice (if you need to make rice, cook it and let it cool down first)
Any vegetables in your fridge or freezer. Broccoli, carrots, peas, bell peppers etc work best. I like to add some pak choi or kai lan (Chinese broccoli) if I can.
Meat: I like to use left over chicken from a roast but any small pieces of meat will work. Otherwise fresh chicken breast or pork fillet cut into small pieces.
1 or 2 eggs, beaten
1 Onion, diced
Ginger or garlic
1 teaspoon of ground Szechuan pepper (if you have it)
Oyster sauce (if you have it)
Sesame oil (if you have it)
Using a wok on a high temperature, fry your ginger or garlic with a splash of oil. Add the diced onion and the Szechuan pepper and fry for a few minutes. Add any meat and cook if required (if the meat is already cooked then add it later) Move the ingredients from the wok to the side and add your egg, stirring to prevent it sticking so you have some scrambled egg. Add in any vegetables or cooked meat now along with roughly a tablespoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of oyster sauce. Cook for 30 seconds or so, stirring continuously. Now add the cold rice and stir it all together. The rice should have a coating of sauce on it, if it doesn’t add a little more soy sauce. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of sesame oil over the top.
The ingredients for this can be changed quite easily, as long as you have some rice and veg you can make a version of it. I like to use all the random bits in the fridge I haven’t managed to use in other meals. It’s also a great way to use left over rice if you are like me and always make way more than you need!
2. Pasta Asciutta – by Volunteer, Tricia Candlish
1 onion (chopped)
1 – 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped/minced)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Quantity of cooked pasta (macaroni or similar type)
Parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Sautee the chopped onion in a little oil (or simmer in a couple of tablespoons of water for a lighter version).
2. When the onion is soft, add the chopped garlic.
3. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes.
4. Salt and pepper, to taste.
5. Simmer for a few minutes.
6. Add the left-over mince and heat through.
7. Add the cooked pasta and mix till coated with sauce.
8. Serve sprinkled with some parmesan cheese.
Note: It is also nice to grate some cheddar cheese and mix into the sauce mixture after adding the cooked pasta.
3. Spanish Omelettes or frittata – by Volunteer, Rosie Mapplebeck
Ingredients (suggested for lunch for 4 people!)
150-200g boiled potatoes, cut in 2cm chunks
5 green-tails, chopped, or 2 sprouting onions. You can also use wild garlic leaves if you like.
1 handful leftover bits of veg like red pepper, frozen peas or green beans, beetroot (boiled or baked not pickled), even kale or young nettle tops are good.
1 handful feta cheese, cubed plus any cheese ends, grated.
1 dessert spoon olive oil and teaspoon sunflower oil
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning/ mixed herbs
Heat oils in a large seasoned or non-stick frying pan. Fry potatoes and turn over when golden.
Crack eggs into a bowl and add 100 ml tepid water, herbs, seasoning and beat till mixed
Pour eggs into pan over potatoes and immediately add the veg, green-tails and top with cheese cubes
Pop a lid over the pan and cook on medium heat till egg is set.
Cool slightly then turn out onto a large plate. Serve hot or cold with salad or steamed seasonal greens.
Note: To season a pan to make it non-stick, heat pan and wipe with kitchen roll dipped in oil and fine salt. Wipe pan thoroughly, heat and repeat several times. A patina will form which stops adhesion. After use re-season with another wipe and heating.
4. ‘Sellery sauce’ – a guest 18th century recipe from Culzean Castle and Country Park!
Ever wondered what to do with those leftover bits of celery in the fridge? Hannah Glasse, one of the most famous cookbook authors of the 18th Century, provides us with a delicious recipe to make a sauce in her The Art of Cookery, made plain and easy.
To make celery sauce either for roasted or boiled fowl, turkeys, partridges or any other game
Take a large bunch of celery, wash and clean it, cut it into little bits, and boil it softly in a little water till it is tender; then add a little beaten mace, some nutmeg, pepper and salt, thickened with a good piece of butter rolled in flour; then boil it up, and pour into your dish.
You may make it with cream thus: boil your celery as above, and add some mace, nutmeg, some butter as big as a walnut, rolled in flour and half a pint of cream: boil them all together, and you may add, if you will, a glass of white wine, and a spoonful of ketchup.