Saturday, 9 July 2022

Shepherds Pie or Cottage Pie?

Hello there, I hope you are well and not melting in the heat. We've had some lovely warm sunny weather in England recently. In true British style, I will add that 'we could do with some rain!' 

Last week I photographed dinner as I cooked it, I forgot to photo it after it was nicely browned up, so you'll just have to imagine that part. My parents were due to visit for the week staying nearby at a caravan park. I cooked 2 Cottage Pies just incase they stopped by that night for dinner. These are characteristic by their Beef Mince content. Typically in the UK we call it Shepherds Pie, however that would be if it's made from Lamb Mince. 

I used this Stork cookery book as a basis to show the recipe, though I've been making this recipe for many years so rarely follow this recipe exactly. I thought I'd share my recipe and how I try to make it a one pot dinner.  

When I looked up about Shepherds Pie on-line, I found it interesting that it was traced back to the 18th Century. It was a way of using up a roasted beef joint after the weekend. The Cottage Pie was a popular dish for poor Irish cottage homes. Shepherds Pie may have originally had a pie crust but Scotland and Ireland replaced this with their plentiful supply of potatoes. There is more interesting info about the humble Shepherds Pie and the Cottage Pie from Jamie Oliver. If you live outside the UK, do you cook this dish or something similar for your family? 

One last strange fun fact:: is the total craziness of knowing that this dish is actually a cottage pie, yet calling it Shepherds pie! Even the cook book calls it by the wrong name! Anyway enjoy it whatever it's called.    

So onto my recipe and how it differs from this cookbook. I add mixed herbs and some soy sauce to enrich the beef flavour. I also add a grated carrot and either a few handfuls of frozen peas or a peeled and chopped courgette. I and my son J don't eat peas, so we opt for courgette. I then have a complete meal in one pot to put in the oven. If the meat mixture was simmered for 30mins and put together hot, the forked topping of mashed potato can be grilled for a few mins. I often cook double potato the previous day to save some for this dish, eg sausage and mash or fish cakes. 

As my Dad doesn't eat onions, I swapped them for parsnips. I remembered at the last minute just before adding them to the pan! If I'd planned it better, I would've bought some Celeriac to use instead.  
We ate one on the Saturday and we choose to eat the other one on the Monday. I added sliced tomato and grated cheese topping to the second one, just to change it up a bit. It was nice not having to cook that night too!

Maybe you may like to try it, let me know how you cook yours to make it unique to your family meals.
Do you ever eat meals by a different name? The only other one that I can think of is Toad in the Hole... Why!? There is no toad. 

Thank you for visiting, I'm trying to stay more up to date on blog reading at the moment x

Friday, 1 July 2022

On my kitchen table

Hello there, I hope you are all ok. We've had some thunderstorms whilst I was at work this morning. I'm so glad that it's Friday and I've booked holiday for next week too. My parents, Brother and Niece are visiting for a week, staying at a local static caravan park. It will be good to see them all again.

Sewing on the table 
I've got some sewing to be getting on with, first up is to sew 2 nightdresses using material that I bought on-line many years ago from My Fabrics. Then I'm going to make myself a summer dress, just waiting for all the supplies to arrive from Minerva online. If you're into dressmaking, have you used Minerva before. Any tips welcome eg have you registered an account for membership and discount off purchases? 


Shopping  on the table 
Today after work I popped into Morrisons to buy flowers and items that Aldi don't sell. It's Friday Night Pizza for dinner tonight! My favourite is their vegetable pizza, the chicken and bacon is good too, if you can find it. I shop at Aldi once a week and either the poultry shop or the butchers.

Writing my blog at the table
On my last post I mentioned a weekend walk organised at church. Here are a few photos from the walk, the other side of Louth. It was after a short heat wave, the weather was much cooler, dry with a little rain. Thankfully Angus didn't end up in the pond that we found along the walk.  

Beautiful Rhododendron along the route it's part field, woodland edges and part gravel track. It was an easy walk without hills, just 4 miles. Looking at these flowers reminds me of Clumber Park National Trust in Nottingham. The building was destroyed but the grounds are fabulous with massive rhododendron bushes. Great fun for kids hiding in them.

Another pond back at the beginning of the walk.

There's a Grand Prix on this weekend, so lots of knitting for me ha ha! I need to catch up with my reading again. There's nothing like setting a goal to get some reading done. It's not as if I don't enjoy reading, I just need to make time. Realistically I can read one book a week and I have 4 library books due back in a fortnight. I haven't ordered any for next time, so I may renew 2 books. 

Reading at the table 
I'm going to catch up with blog reading and some more knitting. Take care and have a lovely weekend. Do let me know what you have planned for the weekend. 
Ttfn, Cx

Friday, 24 June 2022

Five on Friday - Quick, Quick, Slow.

Hello there, how are you, had a good week? It's been a busy few weeks here, nothing in particular to write home about. Since April, myself and two other ladies have been planning some social activities at church, just one a month. We've also been on a walk that was planned by other's in the church. For years my tendons have hurt but they seems better now, making walking easier. We took Angus and were delighted that he managed both the styles on the walk. There's no way we could lift him over! 
I've been trying to slow down and not keep rushing round like a manic woman! The present UK hot weather certainly makes you slow down. 

We cheated with our hanging baskets this year, B&Q specials. They are beautiful and I'm very pleased with them, more flowers have budded since these photos. My view from the kitchen, on a clear day you can see across to The Wolds, Lincolnshire.  


We popped for a coffee in town a few weeks ago, they do a fantastic cooked breakfast if you get there early. This occasion we just had a cappuccino before finishing our shopping. 

Stocking up on some hand soap at the health store, they're all variations of the orange fragrance. Usually I buy their Rose Blossom soap and the same in shampoo refill. For years I used solid shampoo bars (friendly soap company) but after an itchy and dry scalp, it's a refreshing change. A beautiful delicate fragrance. 

It's finished at last, my coastal blanket that I've crocheted. You'll likely recognise it as designed by Lucy from attic24. I love everything about it, the bright colours and the soothing waves. I'm finishing off some socks I started a while ago, my plan is to focus on the top 5 craft items on my list. It's hard as I want to race ahead but no, I need to get things finished first. 

My current reading pile borrowed from the library. 
I've returned A Grave in the Cotswold by Rebecca Tope, an enjoyable read told by the natural burial,  sustainable undertaker. It's part of the Cotswold Mystery series, best read in order as it follows Thea's life as a house sitter / sleuth with her sidekick dog Hepzie. She's finding her way after becoming a widow, playing scrabble online to pass the time, dreading the return to an empty house. 

I've just finished The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I kept thinking about all the times in the past that I've visited the library, the changes that I've seen and its history. I remember, whilst working at Boots the Chemist in Petersfield high street, a colleague told me about the old underground library beneath the shop. Sadly it shut many years before I worked there   
taking all its secrets with it.

I'm reading the next in the Alexander McCall Smith - The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, there are changes for Mma Makutsi of 97%. She's married now and the blurb mentions a baby, I can't imagine that for a moment. 

Well that's my five things round up, what have you been up to, leave a comment to let me know. Thanks for visiting Cx

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Walking with the Vikings - Craft plans

Hello there, its been a busy few weeks. How are you, I've had a virus (not THEE virus) but horrible all the same. It started with a headache that left, a few days later I had flu symptoms, that left. Phew I thought, until bedtime... all my limbs felt like the weight of them were being dragged downwards. It was awful, that feeling lasted for days, with nights being the worst.

I've taken a few pictures on my camera but with no real purpose. I've photographed part of some cooking but forget to photo the finished product! I've also gone back on instagram... It feels wrong to say it's wasting time but it's true, I create/read or I scroll... but not both. I have found that I can log out, so I do, a lot. It's the only way for me.

One Saturdays a few weeks ago we set off for a walk 'with a nice clean dog.' It obviously didn't take him long to get muddy. Armed with water for Angus, our trusty local guide book, and a packet of humbugs we took our walking boots and set off. Being late in the day, we had the place almost to ourselves. It was a warm dry evening, not exactly a wooded area but enough to believe you're walking in the woods. 

Following one of the Spring walks in Summertime, meant that the bluebells and daffodils were no longer in bloom. That didn't spoil our walk, it was enough to extend our usual distance walk round the local area and Angus certainly enjoyed it. 

Lincolnshire is a large county so most walks require a bit of a journey. Our walk takes in part of the Spa Trail and the village of Martin. Continue in either direction along the old disused railway line and the Spa Trail will take you to Horncastle or Woodall Spa. It's good solid ground perfect for walking, pushchairs and cyclists. If you hear a bell, step aside for the bikes.

Along the Spa Trail are several metal sculptures celebrating the Viking connection. 

NOT a headless dog, the head end is busy sniffing EVERY thing and wondering if water, mud or rabbit droppings will be found on this walk. 

Well he certainly found the mud whilst seeking out a drink from a stream. 

It was a nice walk finished off with a stop at another beauty spot on the way home to bath the dog ha ha. 
Have you been out walking recently?

Some Craft Plans

I'm working my way through my craft projects 'to do/finish' list. I have 5 at the top of the list. 
* Crochet blanket - FINISHED, photo next time. 
* WYS Robin Socks - One sock complete, 2nd sock in progress. 
* Jumper - Finish
* Jacket - Finish
* Wrist warmers for Mark - I started some but didn't like them - so bought a proper pattern 

What are you making at the moment? 

Thanks for visiting, I'll stop by and visit your blogs this week.
Cathy x 

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Hello there how are you, welcome to my kitchen, I'll put the kettle on. It's time for some baking, grab a cup of tea or coffee and bake a long with me. I've been looking at my cookery books, I've de-cluttered so many cook books and those that are left on the shelf must be worth keeping or else!
I have a little black pink book that I write recipes in, so many have been ignored and forgotten about. It's time to go through the book and root out the abandoned and unwanted choices. At the time I had high hopes of cooking them but life got too busy and diets changed. 

Today I need chocolate, I prefer Cadbury's chocolate pieces but for now Aldi's finest will do. I only ever use Anchor butter, everything else seems too soggy and oily. You're going to love these I promise. Double chocolate chip cookies from the Be-Ro cook book... this has definitely a place guaranteed on my kitchen book shelf. 

I favour all-in-one recipes of which this isn't, however as my family will testify this doesn't stop me. The recipe requires creaming of fat and sugar before stirring in the remaining ingredients of 
Golden syrup, cocoa powder, SR flour and chocolate chips. I just throw all the ingredients in together, except the chocolate chips. I save those until the end, the blade will chop them up otherwise. The Braun mixer was a wedding present from Mark's Nan 30 something years ago. Incidentally it had stopped working, a dodgy connection in the plug, all wired back in again now. 


And here they are, tuck in they are so good! The recipe makes 12 cookies, I forgot the 2 tbsp of milk at the end, Oops! They look weird but they taste divine. I flattened 6 before baking and left the others alone. 
Next time, oh yes there'll be a next time, probably tomorrow... I will add milk and give them a gentle flatten first before baking. 

You can send off for your own Be-Ro cookbook for £2.99 + postage. 

*Do you write out favourite recipes in your recipe book? Do you have lots of cookbooks? 
Let me know if you bake some chocolate chip cookies xx

Friday, 20 May 2022

Five on Friday 'ing'

Hello there how are you, had a good week? I thought I'd do a 'Five on Friday' post today. A mixed lot of photos this week. I've been carrying on with knitting my sock, I've tried it on and it fits snug. A little unpicking as the foot length was a little too short... no suprise there! This week I popped into Knit & Natter in the next village to mine, I set it up a few years ago but handed it over to another lady before we moved. She's a lovely lady and more of a yarny expert than me, finishing far more too. It was nice to catch up with the ladies and see what they're making. Since returning to our previous church, I've been joining with their Craft Circle. Afterwards I pop to the shop and do the food shop for the week. Later in the week I drive back into town for the butchers and all the other bits needed around the town.

Ready for my Five on Friday?

First - enjoying my pot plants. My Orchid continues to amaze me, it keeps on blooming with more flowers. It's so beautiful and thriving in the lounge away from direct sunlight. It's been flowering for weeks now. 

Every Christmas I love to buy a Cyclamen, I prefer the white flowers but the pink one was all I found. In the loft is a wicker reindeer that will contain this plant pot. I water the indoor plants once a week and in the growing season they're all enjoying a feed of Baby Bio plant food. Unless there is a set day (Tuesday) for indoor watering, they get forgotten. 

Second - an amazing 'dinner tonight' - Lasagna with garlic bread, it was very tasty.
Beef mince fried with onion (I cheated and used chopped frozen onion) then I added an orange pepper, mushrooms and a jar of garlic tomato pasta sauce. After 20 minutes I added a tin of tomatoes a splash of wine vinegar & soy sauce. Meanwhile I made a cheese sauce, greased a glass dish ready and on heating the oven I layered up the dish.
Layer half the meat sauce mix, then 3 sheets of lasagna pasta, next half of the cheesy sauce, followed by the second half of tomato sauce, 3 more pasta sheets, the second half of the white sauce and topped with some grated cheese. Baked in the oven for 40 mins and garlic bread baked for 13 mins. 
Definitely a favourite and packed with flavour. 

Third - whilst shopping in town today and I succumbed to an impulse purchase at the checkout. A nice celebratory pot holder, or in my case an oven cloth to lift trays out the oven. Usually we use tea cloths, that get wet and cause burns. If you're in the UK Boyes sell them and tea cloths with the same logo. 

Fourth - listening on the library audio app. We watched this particular story on ITV3 Marple this week. It bore very little resemblance to the original story, a shame as it brings the drama to life. For a start Marple was plonked into the drama, whereas she was never in the book, the original featured Battle who solved the crime. Audio stories suit me, as I'm free to knit or crochet. 

Fifth - Watching Marple today, Greenshaw's Folly - link here for more info about the Marple TV series. There was a knitting circle meet up for the church. Lots of charity knitting and amusing as you never see knitting en-mass in programmes. 

I'm off to catch up with a bit of crochet, I did one row early this morning over a cup of tea. 
Thanks for visiting, glad you stopped by. Do leave a comment and let me know what you are up to. 
Ttfn (Ta ta for now - Good bye!)

Friday, 13 May 2022

Unpick and knit again!

Hello there, how are you? It's been a busy couple of weeks, with lots of extra work covering for someone on holiday. At the end of the day I was just exhausted. Some decisions were made and lots of audio story listening whilst knitting and unpicking socks. There's been lots of watering to do in the garden and admiring the pink Peony showing off, as blooms do. 

At church, our previous church leader visited last Sunday. I can't tell you how happy I felt to see them again. I helped the lady at school for a number of years in year 1, in Sunday school for a time and worked for them as their home cleaner. It must've been 7 years since they lived here, all our kids have grown of course! The church is advertising for a new minister and I think the congregation would love them back in a heartbeat. Once you've moved on, you rarely go back. Kids settle in school, then college etc and don't want to move away again. 

Having travelled to visit family over the years when the boys were small, I know neither of the boys want to face that for their future. Years ago families tended to live closer together, before employment forced lots of moving pre 2000. With many jobs now worked from home, maybe circumstances are changing, where there's less need to move.

Mark and Johnny have been working in the garden clearing the stinging nettles around the greenhouse. At the bottom of the garden is a seating area with slabs, it has a gazebo frame that used to have 4 boxes one in each corner to keep it ridged. We've replaced the battered boxes with 4 new wooden boxes and planted them up. I scrubbed the glass table and swing seat (left by the previous owners) only for birds to blast them again. We'll need to source roof covers for both, to give protection from the birds. 

Keeping with the bird theme, the sock yarn is Robin 4 ply WYS purchased from Yarndale a few years ago. I've tried knitting a couple of pairs of socks recently but each time they seemed baggy, too Nora Batty. Do visit Winwick Mum's blog for a pattern and a wealth of knowledge all about knitting socks, including a calculation chart for a perfect fit. 
Armed with renewed confidence and enthusiasm I started by unpicking the sock that I'd started. This one has 56 sts cast on. I've more sock yarn in my stash that I'm keen to knit into lovely socks, so I do hope these fit snug. Being a small project, they're easy to pack and take anywhere I go. 

I'm taking a break from instagram and thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet. With checking posts, stories and any links from those, plus all the extra posts, reels and general scrolling of stuff desperate for our attention; it became necessary to take a break. There are many lovely accounts that I followed on there but for my own sanity, I'm pleased with my decision. I've also taken facebook off my phone so except for Messenger that remains for our family chat group (handy to share photos and videos), I access facebook on the lap top only. 

Though it's only been a week, I feel so much better. I'm working through deleting emails, duplicate photos and files from the lap top and phone. It felt strange not regularly looking at my phone during the day. Listening to audio stories has helped with that, as despite picking up my phone, it wasn't to scroll. I tried all the time limits etc but nothing worked. It's a slow withdrawal I guess, busy but with purpose and over time hopefully there will be less need. 

I'm reading These Wonderful Rumours by May Smith. May records her life as a young school teacher surviving during the war years. Have you read this book, it was very popular when I was still on intsagram, especially in the vintage community following? I'm finding it slow and a little dull, each chapter is a new year. I may end up purchasing a second hand copy to slowly read through. The other book from the library was a cookbook, once upon a time I often read cookery books. Nowadays I find they just make me feel hungry.  


Two audio books by Agatha Christie that I've enjoyed listening to on the library app. Sparkling Cyanide and The Murder on the Links. One day I hope to have read or listened to all Agatha Christie's books. 

Well that's all my news at the moment, next week I plan to get back to de-cluttering and some weeding. Both are in need of attention, along with knitting socks of course. 
Do let me know what you've been reading or creating. 
Cathy x

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