Recipe 40: Rumbledethumps

Growing up in a predominately Scottish/English household foods such as Bubble n’ Squeak were common but, at Christmas or New Years there was always the turkey and other specialties. To the Scots New Years is also known as Hogmanay and with it come many traditions and foods that go with ringing in the New Year such as Black Buns, a variation of plum pudding or mince meat, Scotch Broth Soup which is a common starter on New Year’s Day, Clootie Dumpling and Shortbread. Scots also like to eat traditional foods such as haggis, neeps and tatties or older recipes like clapshot and one of my favorites: rumbledethumps.

Historically, Hogmanay was the central celebration in a Scottish town as it was often the ONLY day that the local workforce enjoyed a day of rest during the winter months. The towns people gathered in a central location often the town square or hall or a church to enjoy a feast, music, dance and of course drink.

Hogmanay Guisin’ on the eve of the celebration was much like Hallowe’en. Children would go out guising around the neighbourhood knocking on doors to receive treats such as oatcakes, a piece of black bun, shortbread sweets or money.

On the day of Hogmanay the household would be busy cleaning so that the New Year could be welcomed into a tidy and neat house. Fireplaces would be swept out and polished and reading the ashes of the very last fire of the year was done to foretell what the New Year would hold. The act of cleaning the entire house was called “the redding” or getting ready for the New Year. Debts would also be paid by New Year’s Eve because it is considered bad luck to see in a new year with a debt.

Branches from a Rowan tree would be placed above an outside door to bring luck. In the house a piece of mistletoe was hung, not for kissing under like at Christmas, but to prevent illness to the householders. Pieces of holly were placed to keep out mischievous fairies and pieces of hazel and yew were thought to have magical powers and protect the house and the people who lived in it. Juniper was burnt throughout the house like an incense, then all the doors of the home opened to bring in fresh air.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


2 cups potatoes peeled and boiled
2 cups of cabbage, boiled
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Scottish Cheese (cheddar or other hard sharp cheese may be substituted)


Boil potato, and cabbage. I will often do this together. Drain and add butter, green onions, salt and pepper. Mix gently, you do not want mushy potatoes. Preheat oven to 400F. Add ingredients to baking dish and top with shredded cheese. Place in oven for 10 minutes or until top is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Yields 4 to 6 servings

FOOTNOTE: Left overs can be tossed into a frying pan with a little corned beef the next day for a delicious lunchtime nosh.

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