About thirty years ago a friend convinced me that homemade mincemeat was the best.She was not wrong and pointed me in the direction of Delia Smith https://www.deliaonline.com/.Yes of course I had a Delia Smith cook book (well four actually), seriously who didn’t back in the 80s?I loved that book, I never had a failure from it! However, I did adapt and ‘improve’ a little and put my own spin on certain recipes. But in the main, we have Delia to thank for this delight.
The origins of mincemeat
I love the origins of the mince pie too.The ingredients for the mince pie we know and love can be traced back to the return of the crusaders from the Holy Land.Middle Eastern methods of cooking (which sometimes combined meats, fruits and spices – Heaven forbid!) were popular at the time. Pies were created from such mixtures of sweet and savoury foods (I am not sure about that either!) In Tudor England, shrid pies were formed from shredded meat, suet and dried fruit. The addition of spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg was, ‘in token of the offerings of the Eastern Magi.’ During the English Civil War they were banned, on account of its connection with Catholicism. Crikey! The hubster would never have survived. I also believe it is ‘bad luck’ to refuse a mince pie (I avoid being offered one) and… you should always make a wish as you bite into the first one of the season.
Everyone loves a mince pie… well nearly everyone
They are well-loved in our household.My son loves them with an almond paste/marzipan top.The hubster just loves them! Fortunately (or unfortunately) I DON’T. Anyway, here is my recipe for homemade Christmas Mincemeat:
The equipment you will need:
450g cooking apples, peeled cored and finely chopped
It was free to park the car which was a bonus. The day was dry, slightly overcast and not too cold although the sun did peek through at points. Perfect weather for a good, long, circular walk. After a flight of steps down to the river bank it was almost all flat. A well-worn path with a few steps here and there and a few tree roots along the way.
Pitlochry https://www.pitlochry.org/index.html is world-famous for its ‘Salmon Leap’ which is a spectacle in the springtime when the salmon ‘leap’ to return to their spawning ground. This was our stop of choice at about the half way point of the walk. It is a pretty, touristy, small town which has its own railway station, quite a few shops selling Tartan and shortbread.
This one is definitely worth a visit...
A particular shop that caught our eye was the whiskey shop http://robertsonsofpitlochry.co.uk/ This little place is a real gem. It has a phenomenal range of whiskeys... and gins, some with a phenomenal price tag too! Attached to the shop is what looks like a small restaurant but is actually a whiskey-tasting experience room. Each place is set with a wooden, glass-holder which takes about 5 small glasses. There wasn’t a ‘tasting’ when we were there but we did buy a couple of glasses. A lovely reminder of our visit to Pitlochry.
‘Keep right on to the end of the road’
A quick coffee in the cafe across the road and we were off again to complete the circuit. We did this walk fairly recently and so the trees were decked out in their autumn colours. Just amazing, although my pictures don’t really do them justice.
If you ever take the ‘High Road’ to Scotland do yourself a favour, pack your walking boots and head for Garry Bridge.
Today’s soup recipe is not to everyone’s taste but most people I know like it.It’s smooth delicious and nutritious! A quick and easy recipe. Almost impossible to go wrong and it freezes well. This soup has a lightness and it’s great for filling a flask to accompany a Winter walk.
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent.Add the diced potato.Cover and cook on a low heat until potato is tender about 5 minutes. Add the chopped celery, cover and cook for 5 minutes.Add the hot stock, stir well, cover and cook for 10 further minutes. Add the seasoning. Stir well. Cover and cook until all veg are tender.
Remove from the heat. Blitz with a hand-blender add the milk. Serve hot,or portion and freeze when cold.
Sprinkle on grated mature cheddar cheese and serve with crusty bread. Or crumble some Blue Stilton cheese on top.
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent.Add the diced potato.Cover and cook on a low heat until potato is tender about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and white wine vinegar. Crumble in the stock cubes, stir well, cover and cook for 2 further minutes. Add the seasoning. Stir well.Add the tinned tomatoes. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.Add the 2 x 1 litre cartons of tomato juice. Stir. Cover and cook for a further 15/20 minutes or until all veg are tender.
Remove from the heat.Add all the basil (I don’t think it is possible to have too much basil, although it is possible to have too little!) Blitz with a hand-blender. Serve hot,or portion and freeze when cold.
To make it even more heart-warming, sprinkle on grated mature cheddar cheese and serve with crusty bread.
I actually made it.I did run the whole programme of Couch to 5K https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/get-inspired/43501261. Graduated and everything.Running was going to be my new thing to stop me from becoming a blob.But then a holiday got in the way.Yes, that meant not even one run for over two weeks.There was a lot of walking and healthy eating too but no runs.So I should have been right back into it but I hadn’t reckoned on the battering that jet-lag would give me.Many times I was wide awake at 3am and then solid-gone at 8am, couldn’t seem to get back into the circadian rhythm.
Up and running
The jet-lag faded eventually and I made it, up and out at 8am but it was so hard! My legs felt heavy, it was like running through treacle.I managed two runs before I was knocked back again.This time it was the ‘mother and father’ of all head-colds. It robbed me of a week of my life – and running!
Take a step back
Back with the programme again. The run this morning provided me with a moment of clarity.It came to me in a flash.Just start again.Well, not quite at the beginning but right back to week 5 of ‘Couch to 5K’.A major step backwards but it makes perfect sense! Take the pressure off, build it back up again.
Draw up a plan
However, it’s important that I stay focused as it is the local ‘Pilgrim Fun Run’ in six weeks. I rashly suggested to my daughter and daughter-in-law that we all do it together, we might even enlist the grandchildren.There are approximately 50 days to the ‘run’ – it is possible that there could be at least 20 training runs between now and then.This is a positive event to work towards.Although I do have more holidays that ‘might’ get in the way.I must try to incorporate some training into those periods too.
I love to make soup. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. It’s a good feeling to make it in batches and then freeze for cold, winter days. The only drawback is I probably make too much, the hubster tells me off for filling up the freezer.
First soup of the season
I got the urge to make soup yesterday. Carrot and lentil. I thought I would share the process with you.
Carrot and Lentil Soup enough to serve 12. (Good for a bonfire party or to freeze). Scale down for smaller quantities.
Peel the veg and immerse the lentils in cold water
Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, stir well, cover and cook for 3 further minutes. Add seasoning and spices. Stir well. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add soaked lentils. Stir. Add stock. Stir. Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Blitz with a handblender. Serve hot, or portion and freeze when cold.
Add chilli flakes and extra cumin to spice up to taste. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps sprinkle some mature, grated cheddar on top – watch it melt! Delicious.