Bubble, bubble, Squeak and Trouble…

Well. That blew up rather quickly, didn’t it?

These are odd times.

Generally, I lead a somewhat isolated life during the week anyway, so having everyone home from school has felt like an endless fun party of conversation for me. Not too bad at all. Additionally, I now have extra help to put in the vegetable garden and help with the lambing and kidding in the next few weeks.

If this sort of nonsense ever quits:

It’s STILL snowing.

But whatever. This, too (like everything else), will pass.

I do have some really fascinating European and British plague quarantine stories I want to tell you about at some point, but I just don’t want to do that right now. Too much in our current world.

We all need a bit of cheering up. So let’s do a foodie and “fun family visits” post.

I woke up the other morning dreaming of something called Bubble and Squeak. It’s such a British thing.

I could even hear the noise it makes when you cook it, and I smelled the fragrance in my dream. As my daughter said this morning, it was a “4D dream”.

And since many of us are currently working on being careful stewards of our pantries, it might be a excellent recipe for those of us looking to use leftovers.

What IS “Bubble and Squeak”, for goodness sake?

Well, like many of my British memories, it’s just a thing I can’t remember not being there. One of those confusing terms that, on the other end of the Rabbit Hole, people raise their eyebrows at me and look at each other in a confused fashion.

When I was a kid, we would spend Christmas or Easter celebrations with family. I know, no big deal, you New World people do that too. But here’s the thing I recently realized.

To make Bubble and Squeak, you have to have visited for at least a good day or two.

Ok, so here’s the deal. When Scott and I got married, I was often shocked at the amount of time family would spend at the host’s house. My own parents drew the line at one meal, but you Midwesterners will stay a good week or two, unless someone puts their foot down.

I remember reading Gone with the Wind as a teenager, and wondering in amazement over Margaret Mitchell’s description of the expectations of southern hospitality.

Mitchell wrote:

“When a Southerner took the trouble to pack a trunk and travel twenty miles for a visit, the visit was seldom of shorter duration than a month, usually much longer. Southerners were as enthusiastic visitors as they were hosts, and there was nothing unusual in relatives coming to spend the Christmas holidays and remaining until July. Often when newly married couples went on the usual round of honeymoon visits, they lingered in some pleasant home until the birth of their second child. Frequently elderly aunts and uncles came to Sunday dinner and remained until they were buried years later.“

Here’s an interesting and very amusing analysis of southern hospitality, from a historical standpoint.

Southern Hospitality

I haven’t always been as gracious a host but at the very least, I now get it.

I mean, you pioneers were crossing a multitude of states in your travels. Give them a hunk of bread and some moonshine, for heavens sake.

Sleeping arrangements? Nah. They slept head to toe with perfect strangers. Can’t be fussy.

Anyway. I wasn’t very good at the “long” hospitality.

I was used to people either “stopping” or “not-stopping” for a cup of tea, which answered all questions about how long someone would hang out at one’s house.

But then, in the middle of my hospitality snootiness, I thought about Bubble and Squeak. Because of the dream.

At the very least, this dish takes a day or two to produce. So even in England, family is clearly hanging out for a good long visit.

I can’t quite figure out if when we visited relatives, we had the roast one day and then the Bubble and Squeak made from the leftovers the next day, which meant we probably stayed over. Or did we go back for the Bubble and Squeak? I can’t remember, but both the original roast and the Bubble and Squeak seem to go together in my memories.

So let’s talk about cooking this strange thing. So, say, on a given Sunday in England , you have your roast beef with roast potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, swede, (rutabaga), carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower etc. The British really load up on the veggies because beef is a little pricier than in America.

Sometimes we have Yorkshire pudding, which is a fried batter and so delicious.

Here’s a typical recipe for the Yorkshire Pud. They make a bowl shape so you fill them up with gravy. Yum.


So there’s not usually any leftover beef, but always lots of veggies, and that is where Bubble and Squeak began. The day after the roast, you’d cut up the leftover cooked veggies, (some people mash them up) and heat it all up in a skillet with some butter or oil.

Sometimes people eat it for breakfast, in my family it was more likely the next days lunch.

The earliest-known recipe was in Mrs Rundell‘s A New System of Domestic Cookeryin 1806.[2]

My mum made some the other day and kindly sent me a photo of her neatly cut up cooked veggies waiting to go in the skillet.

Now, it’s the cabbage that makes the dish “squeak” when you are stirring it round the pan. You really want to get it all cooked down and bubbly. My mum said when she and my Uncle John and Aunt Linda were kids she could remember fighting over whose turn it was to get the brown bits that stuck to the pan and got crispy.

And that’s all there is to it! Just use whatever leftovers you have, my mum added a little bacon too.

Once those veggies have mellowed in the fridge overnight, everything starts to taste like Brussels sprouts, so maybe forgo those if you’re not a fan.

My brother Russ has always maintained that Brussel Sprouts go against his “religion”.

Here’s another version:

That HP sauce in the first photo is a must though. It’s a delicious, slightly spicy, slightly fruity, slightly sweet sauce that you just pour all over. It’s sort of a mix of steak sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in one bottle, but better. Colonists can find it on Amazon.

HP Original Sauce – Squeezy (425g) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OMTQJ2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_.D4EEbYWDZW1F

It has a little picture of the Houses of Parliament on the front (hence the HP) and the Brits usually just call it Brown Sauce and we put it on everything.

And on that note, Amazon just delivered this:

All stocked up on that for now. Possibly hoarding even.

Stay safe, friends.

4 thoughts on “Bubble, bubble, Squeak and Trouble…

  1. Thanks, for a great story. My mother was a Scotch/Irish born in 1904. I remember many many Sunday meals just like you described. We would eat the leftovers on bread. Thanks for a memory.


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