Finally the sun is shinning and we are getting the much needed spring weather that we have so needed. I have been desperate to get cracking on my neglected gardening. This weekend I pretty much stayed covered in dirt and loved every minute of it. I just finished putting in broccoli, curly kale, beets, cauliflower, french beans, peas, 3 types of tomatoes and peppers. So far my tomatillo, courgette (zucchini) and squash seedlings haven’t sprouted like but I am hoping this weather will help encourage them.
Do you do much gardening? I remember for years thinking I had a black thumb because I just seemed to kill everything I tried to grow. But I know understand that I just didn’t know what I was doing. Learning more about growing and taking care of plants has shown me that I can do it. And I love it so much. I would spend every day out in my garden if I could. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and my hands in the soil is so therapeutic.
The one thing that I struggle growing are parsnips and carrots. My soil is very rocky and things like carrots and parsnips really do better in less rocky conditions. I made an attempt last year but I have decided to hold off on trying again until I can either build an above ground garden with soil without rocks or we finally sift out some of the rocks. So until then when I want to enjoy amazing dishes like this cottage pie with parsnip mash I am going to have to sick to the parsnips I get from the market.
If you do garden what is the one thing that you struggle to grow in your garden?
Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash
250g (1/2 lb) lean minced beef
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic, minced
4 carrots (about 450g/1lb), peeled and coarsely grated
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato purée
2 beef stock, cubes dissolved in 425ml/ 3/4 pint boiling water
1 tsp cornflour
350g (3/4 lb) potatoes peeled and cubed
350g (3/4 lb) parsnips, peeled and chopped
2-3 Tbsp skimmed milk
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food
When we started making our move to the UK I have to confess I thought we wouldn’t be celebrating things like Thanksgiving any more. It isn’t a holiday here so I guess I just assumed we would let it slip by. But I was so happy to be embraced by a loving family here who were more then excited to include an American holiday into their lives. It has remind me what the true meaning of Thanksgiving is. A time to be thankful for what we have been blessed with in our lives. And I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that I have married into the Hunter family. It isn’t often that you can say that you are best friends with your mother-in-law.
This Sunday Supper we are inspiring you with amazing ideas of what to do with Holiday leftovers. So in celebration of the merging of this American holiday with my British family I wanted to make a dish that resembled this merger by making a Thanksgiving pasty.
This pasty (a traditional English hand held pie,) is such a perfect blend of holiday food but in a different form to my usual sandwiches. And it was so simple to put together since I used pre-made pastry. I hope you give it a try this year. And don’t forget to take a moment out of the usual madness of the holiday and focus on the people (or pets) that bless your life. Even during the hardest times in our lives if we stop to think about it we can find things we are thankful for. So this year I want to say publicly that I am so thankful for my UK family. Thank you for making my move to another country, away from my family, one that has been filled with so much joy.
This year Sunday Supper is celebrating Halloween. And I have to confess I wasn’t really sure what to do because I’ve never gotten into Halloween. I didn’t grow up in a country that celebrated it and it wasn’t really that big in the UK when my husband was growing up. So I just never thought to get into it as an adult. For the longest time I associated it as the holiday that celebrated my least favourite things; candy corn, candied apples and getting scared. Everyone I knew seemed to love going to haunted houses and watching scary movies. And if there is one thing that I hate it is being scared. I don’t get the fascination with fear and avoid it at all cost. But this past year I have had a few people in my life that really got into Halloween in a different kind of way and it has shown me that it can be a lot of fun. And while Halloween doesn’t have a strong chance of being a much adored holiday in my house I am starting to see the fun and wanting to find ways of enjoying it more so that when my daughter is older, if she wants to get into it, I will be ready to dive in.
For my Halloween treat I decided I didn’t want to go down the traditional sweet route and thought why not show creative ways to bring Halloween treats to dinner. It might be a lot of work if you are making it for a big group but it could easily be a fun activity to get the kids into decorating their own sloppy joe pie.
Mini Jack-o’-Lantern Sloppy Joe Pies
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, shredded
1 green pepper, chopped
1 hot pepper minced
1 medium onion, minced
500g (1 lb) minced beef
120g (1/2 c) ketchup
1 400g (15 oz) can whole tomatoes, puréed
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp red wine (or red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg ready made pie crust
orange food colouring
I have been participating in the #SundaySupper movement started by Isabel, the FamilyFoodie now for a few weeks and I feel so blessed to be apart of a group of bloggers with such a heart for bringing families back to the dinner table with homecooked meals. Each week we pick different themes to share with our followers and this week has been a special theme, rather then a food theme we have all been asked to answer the question, “What does Sunday Supper mean to you?” Sunday Supper means the family coming together for not only a meal but to create memories that last a lifetime. Growing up I didn’t realize that I had something unique in that we ate almost every single dinner, including during the week, together. Family dinners at times were several hours long because long after the food was done we were often still gathered round the table playing games. One of our favourite was a game called, ‘Remember when’. During the game we would share funny stories that had either happened to us as a family or a bit of confession times as us kids told tales of adventures we had with my parents being none the wiser. We never felt scared to confess silly escapades because everything shared during ‘Remember When’ was safe. And my parents shared crazy memories from their youth as well. I don’t remember all of the stories but what I do remember is the laughter, there was so much of it. My favourite was when my dad would start laughing so hard that he would fall off his chair. Life is hard sometimes and it doesn’t always turn out the way we imagined it as kids but it is memories like this that help me remember that the best part of life is in the small moments. I hope that my husband and I can help create even more amazing memories like this with our family.
This recipe is a family special from my new family. My father-in-law always makes the pastry while my mother-in-law creates the filling and the rest of us anxiously await the moment when we can lick our plates. When I was first served it my husband and I were just newly engaged and I still felt I was trying to make an impression, so it took everything within me not to lick my plate, I instead requested some bread so I could clean my plate. My father is the king of pastry in our family and he taught me a new trick to make sure that the bottom crust cooks evenly something that up until now I had never mastered with meat pies.
Chicken Curry Pie
280g (2 1/4 c.) plain flour
70g (1/3 c.) butter
70g (1/3 c.) lard (shortening)
2-3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger (or fresh if you have it on hand)
3 Tbsp hot madras curry paste .
8 skinless chicken thigh fillets (about 900g) cubed
250mL (1 c.) chicken stock
200mL (3/4 c.) coconut cream*
salt and pepper
I did enjoy meat pies before I met my husband but I will admit I hadn’t had many different kinds. But since we have been together I have had an amazing time trying so many different varieties of pies. Eventually I will have to share the Hunter family favorite, Football Pie (chicken curry pie) but this time was going for something different. I wanted to try to take something that is often full of fat and cook it without using any fat. I wasn’t worried if I could do it, I knew with the ingredients I was going to be using that I wouldn’t need the fat to cook it in, but I was worried about the taste. There are some things that just aren’t worth eating without fat and I was afraid this would be one of them. I was pleased to discover that it was not only delicious but my husband didn’t even know it was reduced fat.
Reduced-Fat Chicken and Mushroom Pie
220g chicken breast
180g mushroom, diced small
1 onion, diced
120mL reduced sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp corn flour (cornstarch)
50g (1 c.) peas
1 Tbsp parlsey
2 sheets of filo pastry
small amount of olive oil