Well, how lovely - since my last post I have had lots of new comments and followers, thanks everyone. I've been having a browse around lots of other blogs this afternoon and am really starting to realise what an amazing thing blogging is, so much potential to connect with all sorts of people in all sorts of places. I was delighted earlier when I saw that Cuckoo has passed on an award to me, but I will need to do a bit of pondering before I can do what needs to be done with it - decisions, decisions.
It's been a bit of a funny old day today - one of those times when I've been busily doing stuff around the house all day but haven't achieved anything much. I think everyone has those, I have them quite a lot unfortunately.
The flowers on my mantlepiece were looking a bit....brown but there were a couple of peony buds left so I went into the garden and grabbed some hydrangeas to put with them. They look quite pretty in this jam jar which was left over from the table flower displays at my sister's wedding. It was a lovely day and it's nice to be reminded of it.
Mr D has been doing some work on the kitchen floor today. The floor of most of the downstairs of our house was knackered, to put it politely. We had to replace all the joists in one of the rooms as they were rotten and covered in dry rot, and before we had the kitchen done a few years ago, I came home from work one day to find the units had dropped a few inches below the bottom of the splashback as they were sinking into the floor. The smell of mould under the floor is absolutely horrendous and it really hits you in the chest. It's all the fault of the previous owner of our house. I can't think of a polite word for him, so I won't say anything. Anyway, today's job is a relatively minor one, but still causing lots of swearing (by Mr D) and disrpution (for me).
Just as the day got started the little monkey-cat Christa started her strange bladder-infection behaviour (weeing blood in the corner of the fireplace). I had to take her to the vet last week because of it too. She's got an underlying kidney problem so probably doesn't have a very long life in front of her, but I love her so much and want to keep her around for as long as possible, so I panic whenever anything goes wrong. The vet has given her some more medication and we have to take her back tomorrow. She seems a bit happier this afternoon, despite the grumpy face:
|She looks like she's rolling her eyes and telling me not to make such a fuss|
We are having cottage pie for tea tonight. I always get confused between cottage and shepherd's pie (or sheep herder's pie as Mr D likes to call it), but cottage pie is made with beef and shepherd's pie with lamb. In which case really the beef one should be called Cattle Farmer's Pie, or the lamb one should be called Bungalow Pie or Terraced House Pie. Consistency is important. Can't see it catching on though. So I thought I would share with you how I make my, er, pie.
1 500g pack extra-lean beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 tin Heinz baked beans
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a couple of tablespoons of Bisto Onion Gravy Granules
You can also add whatever veg you fancy, I often put whole buttom mushrooms in
"Some" mashed potato - the quantity is difficult to say as it depends on the size of the dish you are using. For my 20 cm square dish I used about 700g (uncooked weight).
(With a blog title like Made From Scratch I really should be ashamed of that list of ingredients!)
|Some scratch. It's my blog and I shall define words as I wish|
1. Fry the onion in a little oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan until starting to soften
2. Add the beef mince and cook until it is all browned. I quite often do this with mince straight from the freezer, just scraping the cooked bits off the block as I go along. Not sure if you are supposed to cook mince from frozen but so far no mishaps have resulted
3. Drain off as much fat as possible from the pan. I do this by draining it into a bowl through a colander. I developed this in my student days when I could only afford Tesco Value mince which is really fatty, but I still do it now as even the lean stuff has quite a high fat content.
4. Return the mince and onions to the pan and add the garlic, beans, gravy granules and some hot water. I'm not sure how much water as I just add it until it looks right - probably about half a pint. If it looks too runny (remember it has to support the mash) you can just simmer it for a bit longer to reduce it down.
5. Simmer for about 30 mins
6. Put the mixture into the bottom of an oven-proof dish. Spoon or pipe the mash over the top. Yes, I know some might say life is too short to pipe mashed potato and this is probably true - HOWEVER it is an excellent way to practice your piping skills without wasting icing and also gives you the chance to do soppy things like piping "I love you" onto your husband's dinner.At this point you can put it into the fridge until the following day. You could probably freeze it too, not that I ever have enough room in my freezer to do this!
7. Cook in a pre-heated oven at about 180C for around 30 mins or until the potato is browned on the top. Normally I serve it with peas but tonight I couldn't be faffed to cook them.
I just saw a brilliant thing on Alan Titchmarsh's Love Your Garden programme. They made some beautiful window boxes for a terraced house just like mine. Unfortunately there is no photo of it on the website. I have thought about having them downstairs but they had them up and downstairs and it looked wonderful. So I dashed upstairs as I wasn't sure if I had outdoor windowsills upstairs but I have - yay! However, Mr D, the killjoy, said they would need to be secured otherwise they might get blown down - it does get pretty windy here as we are quite close to the sea. They didn't mention that on the programme, the meanies. Oh well I am still determined even if it does make it a bigger job than I'd thought.
It would be remiss of me to blog today without mentioning the Glastonbury Festival. I've never been! I wish I had gone when I was younger but I think it has probably changed too much to be worth it now. We go to this festival though Beautiful Days Festival which is brilliant - mainly because its a 5 minute drive from my mum's house so she can drop us off and pick us up again afterwards! I don't do camping. On Thursday night I had an early night and sat in bed listening to Glastonbury on the radio, knitting and drinking hot Ribena! That's about as close as I need to get, which probably makes me very middle-aged.
Finally, look at the shape my ball of wool has gone into! It's a wool flower!