Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Cottage Pie dreams

At the bottom of the circular driveway at Hesslewood House, sat an old grey Renault 4 rusting merrily in its own sweet time.

I would spend hours inside that car imaging the fabulous places I would one day visit, waving merrily at imaginary people as I drove past them with the wind in my hair and the ties of my scarf flapping gently against my cheek.

I did have imaginary friends... the four legged type.  It depended where in the world I was during that particular day dream.  It could be a beautiful French Poodle next to me as I explored the notion of a much read about Paris.  Some days, a rugged farm dog sat next to me as we searched for marsupials in the red sands of Australia (thanks Thorn Birds). Sometimes it was Toto from The Wizard of Oz and we were driving furiously away from the wicked witch of the west with her crazy monkeys is fast pursuit!

Libby, Benny big-balls, Polly and Gretel lay on the grass next to the car and occasionally looked up at me with heads cocked inquisitively. Sometimes if I was really lucky, Kitty our fat Siamese cat would climb in through the window and curl up on the passenger seat next to me.  I talked.  Kitty slept.  But I’m fairly certain we both got something out of it. 

I never once had a human imaginary friend.  You might think this a little lonely, but my imaginary and real life animal friends kept me the best of company. I took the dogs out for a walk every early morning and late in the afternoons.  I would step into big black wellington boots, grab a walking stick and head off to discover what lay outside the confines of the farm house with all four dogs in line.  We would spend hours lying on the warm sandy road holding a blade of grass over a tiny spider hole, trying to lure it out.  We often sat on a foot bridge a farmer had built over the farm fencing, and chewed on the soft sweet ends of green grass singing "Moon river" at the top of my lungs.  So you see, I was never alone.

When the sun was a huge burnt orange globe setting behind the fields and the compound children quiet, I would make my way home with panting tired dogs.  As I approached the front gate, I could always smell that my supper was on its way.  A splendid mix of fragrant veggies and roasting meat, or freshly baked Cornish pasties, or Cottage pie...YUM

Mama’s Cottage Pie

What you need:
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 1 cup chopped carrot, onion and leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ litre beef stock
  • A little oil
  • A few knobs of butter
  • Few glugs of Worcester sauce
  • 3 table spoons corn flour
  • Ready made mashed potatoes (leftovers work great!)

How to make:
  • Brown the mince in a little oil until it starts to brown. Pour off any excess oil.
  • In large pan, fry the veggies in a little oil, until soft then add the chopped garlic.
  • Sprinkle the corn flour over the veggies – stir - and add in the mince, stock, Worcester sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  It will thicken up nicely.
  • In either a large oven dish or little individual serving bowls, place the thickened meat sauce and spread a generous layer of mashed potatoes on the top.
  • Make patterns on it by running a fork length ways and then width Mama did.
  • Dot with butter and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.