22 October 2010

Not so little things

Lancashire hotpot


2 tablespoons olive oil

800 g lamb neck fillet, cut into 5-cm pieces

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 celery sticks

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

800 g potatoes, unpeeled

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

serves 4-6

Heat the olive oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish, add the lamb and brown all over. Transfer to a plate. Reduce the heat under the casserole, add all the vegetables, then sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove the casserole from the heat, add the meat, then sprinkle in the flour and mix well. Pour in just enough hot water to cover the meat and vegetables, stir well and return to the heat.

Preheat oven t 180° C (350° F) Gas 4.

Bring the casserole to the boil, stirring frequently as the gravy thickens. Season and add the Worcestershire sauce. Remove from the heat.

Slice the potatoes thinly by hand or with a mandolin. Layer them carefully over the meat and vegetables, covering them completely. Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours. The potatoes should be golden on top and the gravy bubbling up around the sides.


Cooking success is so good for the soul. I made this recipe last night, and it was fantastic! The end result looked JUST like the picture in my Easy British Cooking cookbook. For me, that is real achievement!

(Note: I replaced the Lancashire lamb with Warwickshire Hogget, fresh from Charlecote Park. Hogget is is an age of sheep. It falls between lamb and mutton. I thought had something to do with pigs/hogs, initially. I also added parsnips and more leeks.)

My Warwickshire Hotpot was a delicious victory. A small victory, but a victory all the same.

As much as I love Autumn, it is a time that prompts reflection and introspection - the last things I need any encouragement to do! And, perhaps as residue from my years of teaching and lecturing, my sense of Autumn as the start of a new academic year still plays upon my mind. As I find myself no longer on the academic treadmill, I feel a little at sea without the purpose and drive of the academy. But, I‘m trying to find the purpose and drive in myself.

Having an editorial deadline for my column in Warwickshire Life each month certainly helps. Had a funny experience with that recently. Not so much funny “ha, ha”; but, rather, “you’ve got to be kidding me, oh my god, what am I going to!” funny…

Following Lucy’s demise, I languished (still am, though getting much better...) and struggled to find motivation for most things. My editor graciously offered me an extra week for my November deadline. I took every bit of it.

When I finally pulled myself together enough to write something, I submitted it, only to find that I had inadvertently traversed the same terrain as the magazine’s other columnist.

I mean, what are the chances that he and I would hit upon the very same topic – from very different vantage points, of course – at the same time? Since he got his in first, could I be a darling, write something else, and save this piece for later?

I was floored. It had taken everything I had within me to muster up the original piece, and now I was being sent back to the drawing board. Oy vey!

Oh, and it was needed ASAP...

I’m struggling now to recall the person who once said that we are each capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, or imagine possible. I certainly felt that to be true.

I had a not-so-quiet word with myself, grabbed my laptop, put away the tissues, and typed as if my life depended on it. Sure, this wasn’t life or death, but a commitment is a commitment.

In the end, the piece that I came up under duress was much better than the original one. Perhaps, the pressure even helped the creative process?

I believe that every opportunity no matter how seemingly small to others, is a gift, and not to be squandered or taken lightly. I approach my column with sincerity and seriousness, and try to put my heart and soul into it every month.

A few days ago, two sweet rewards arrived. First, an unexpected parcel from a dear friend in New England. The contents were a treasure trove of goodies from one of my favourite shops in Northampton, Massachusetts. The present reminded me of golden autumns, beautiful fall foliage, and days spent indulging in a wonderful Earl Grey and lavender flavoured ice cream called “Hearts and Flowers”…

And, a kind message from a reader, sent to me via my editor. The reader expressed her sympathy at news of Lucy, and commented that she looks forward to reading my column each month. My page is the first one that she turns to every time. Nice. That really meant a lot.

Lancashire Hotpot. A special parcel from a faraway friend. And, a fan letter. Sometimes, it is the little things that mean the most.

1 comment:

Spike said...

I agree. Love you... XOXOXO