Hello there! It's been a busy old time lately - lots going on - my heart and hands occupied elsewhere, and my little online world has been neglected. Truth be told, my mind is still in the Sheiling - as the memories of our long sunny summer days linger on. But, the wheel keeps on turning, and once again it is time to draw inwards and catch our breath.
And so - 'tis me! Well, a filtered, instagrammed, just back from the hairdressers sort of me - but this is blogland, so that's just fine.
And it is my birthday tomorrow - I will be 52! How did that happen? Time passes indeed, but anyway, sit down with me, have a cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake and lets talk about food.
Food, you may have noticed, is important to me. I spend a large part of my life, thinking about, planning, organising, cooking and eating food. I grow and produce as much food as I can. I am driven to provide good, honest, nourishing food for my family. I would rather spend my income on high quality, nutrient dense foods that anything else (even yarn - even books).
I feel so incredibly grateful to be living here and now, being in a position to buy nourishing food, to have the time to prepare it, cook it, and serve it at my table. Thankful indeed. I see it as a duty not to waste these resources, but to make use of every scrap. Good, traditional Scottish cooking - I was raised on such wholesome fare.
My mother was a great cook. When I was a child, our meals were home cooked from scratch. Plain food - meat, fish, soups, milk, bread - we had out main meal at noon, and my dad came home from work for this - most people I knew ate this way. Later, when my mother returned to college, I went to my grandparents at lunchtime. My grandmother was also an amazing cook and had a set meal plan which rarely varied from week to week. I can still recall it yet (you knew that...)
Monday - Scotch broth, apple pie or crumble with egg custard
Tuesday - Mince 'n tatties
Wednesday - Tripe, potato and onions, followed by rice pudding
Thursday - Stewed beef, potatoes and veg,
Friday - Mince pie, homemade chips fried in dripping, and beans - ice cream.
What a legacy to have been left with - a love of good, simple food, cooked with love that nourished the soul and well as the body. I can still taste it - and whenever I tie on my apron, I remember them and take them into my kitchen with me.
So - on Sunday, we had a small joint of venison saddle. Venison does not have much in the way of fat on it, so for roasting, it is best to add some extra. It protects the meat in the oven, bastes it and keeps it moist and juicy.
A simple Sunday roast dinner - fabulous. And then, of course, there are the leftovers!!
Growing up, we always had a family meal after Church on Sundays, usually involving a large roast. Monday was a busy night - Brownies and Guides for my sister and I, and my Dad was secretary of the local football club, so we all had to rush out quickly. Dinner was usually cold roast whatever, with proper chips (fries) and beans. Tuesday dinner though, would often be a big plate of Stovies.
Stovies is a classic Scottish leftover dish - a bit like hash, but nicer ;-). It is the best and tasitest way to use up the end of a roast, in my opinion. Basically, potatoes and onions are simmered slowly in the fat and drippings of roast meat. if there are any scraps of meat left, then they are added to the dish at the end. It is filling, frugal and delicious. Here is a quick run through.
After you have cooked the joint, save all the fat from around the meat - the stuff you spoon off before you make the gravy, and any bits that you sieve out. Keep it in the 'fridge until next day. I also kept the fat from the roast potatoes too - and the leftover gravy. My fridge is always full of little pots of substances to be added to something or other.
Melt all these fats, juices, drippings etc in a large pot, and then add a couple of chopped onions and some thickly sliced potatoes. I tend not to peel potatoes now, but you can if you prefer. I usually add between 5 and 7, depending on the size, but if you are feeding more people then add more - this is one of those expandable dishes, Turn the potatoes and onions in the melted fat (add a garlic clove if you like - I certainly did). Add salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1 tsp salt, but you may want more or less)
If you are a bit short of fat from your roast, then add some more - lard, beef dripping, suet or butter. The idea is to stew the potatoes and onions in the fat.
Put a tight fitting lid on the pot and turn the heat right down to a low simmer. Cook until the potatoes are nice and soft, stirring every now and then. If you find they are sticking to the bottom of the pot too much, add a splash of water or stock.
If you have any leftover meat, then add it now, and heat through. I had some cooked carrots left too, so they went in too. Check and adjust the seasoning -
and there it is - unctuous, lip-sticking and delicious.
and gone... xx