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Scotch Collops in the Pan

Today sees the 207th anniversary (25th July 1796) of the funeral of Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns, in the north-east corner of the cemetery, St Michael's Parish Church  Kirkyaird, Dumfries, chosen by the poet himself. He wrote of his choice - 'When I am laid in my grave I wish to be stretched to my full length, that I may occupy every inch of ground I have a right to.' 
Upon the evening of Sunday, 24th July 1796, his remains were conveyed from his house in Mill Vennel to the Town Hall in Dumfries. On the following day his body was borne in procession, with military honours, and the Volunteer's Band playing 'Dead March of Saul'  as they advanced to St Michael's Churchyard. The chief persons of the town and neighbourhood took part in the procession and the streets of Dumfries were lined by the Fencibles Infantry of Angus-shire and the Cavalry of the Cinque Ports, then quartered in the town. The funeral arranged by the poet's friend, John Syme, was attended according to Allan Cunningham by a multitude amounting to ten to twelve thousand. We can only but agree with Allan Cunningham when he wrote - "I could, indeed, have wished the military part of the procession away. The scarlet and gold in the banners displayed - the measured step, and the military array - with the sounds of martial music, had no share in increasing the solemnity of the burial scene; and had no connextion with the poet."
Over the grave a sharp volley of farewell shot cracked out, while at the house in Mill Vennel, his widow, Jean Armour, lay in labour with her ninth child, a son whom she named Maxwell, after the doctor whose unfortunate advice had hastened her husband's death.
There was an immediate talk of raising a subscription for a suitable monument, but as time dragged on Jean suspected that it naught but talk and covered the grave, at her own expense, with a plain tombstone, inscribed simply with the name and age of the poet. In 1813, however, a public meeting was held in Dumfries, with General Dunlop, son of Burns' friend and patroness, Mistress Frances Dunlop, in the chair; a subscription list was opened and contributions flowed in from all quarters. The present costly doric mausoleum was erected in the most elevated site of the cemetery, there was not enough room where the poet lay in the south-east, and there the remains of Robert Burns were solemnly transferred on 5th June 1815. Buried alongside the poet were his sons, Maxwell, who died in 1799 (aged 2 years 9 months) and Francis Wallace who died in 1803 (aged 14). His widow, Jean Armour, who died at Dumfries on 26th March 1834 was interred in the Mausoleum on 1st April 1834.
The Mausoleum still attracts thousands of visitors every year, and if you are visiting the churchyard, take the opportunity of seeing Burns' chosen burial spot and visiting the graves of many people associated with our National Bard. During the tourist season you can also take advantage of a conducted tour of St Michael's Parish Church carried out by members of the congregation. A Christian Church has stood on the spot for over 1300 years and amongst the many points of interest inside the present Church is a brass plaque marking the site of the pew occupied by Robert Burns. His widow, Jean Armour, continued to occupy the pew regularly for the next thirty-eight years until her death.
Robert Burns wrote that 'FREEDOM and Whisky gang thegither/ Tak aff your dram!' and this week's recipe, in honour of our National Bard, has Scotland's National Drink as one of the tasty ingredients. Our recipe for Scotch Collops in the pan serves four.
Scotch Collops in the Pan
Ingredients : 45g butter; 2 large onions; 250 g mushrooms, sliced; 4 thick Scotch fillet steaks (800 g total); 2 tablespoons whisky; 2 teaspoons plain flour; 1/2 cup chicken stock; salt and pepper
Heat butter in large frying pan; add sliced onions. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; add mushrooms. Stir over medium-heat for five minutes until lightly golden. Push to one side of pan.
Add steaks to pan. Cook over medium-heat 3 minutes each side. Spread onions and mushrooms around meat; add whisky, shake pan. Transfer steaks to serving plate; keep warm.
Add flour to pan; stir over medium-heat for 1 minute. Add stock gradually. Stir for 2 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. Season and spoon over steaks.

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