Saturday morning

Another long lie in and another late start.  Yesterday was a very threatening day with regard to the weather it looked as if it would pour the minute you went outside but in fact it didn't rain until about 3pm however the wind was bitterly cold.  Today looks brighter and the wind has subsided and who knows we may even see some sunshine.


 The hens are due for a good clean out and I have loads of kitchen scraps for their delight.  I cook all the potato peeling etc in the microwave for a few minutes and they seem to like them a lot.  Best of all they like the bones from a roast joint which they pick clean in minutes.  

Yesterday we has some salmon fishcakes for lunch with a salad and some homemade tartare sauce.  Then for supper I made the Hairy Bikers pork and polenta dish.  The polenta part has plenty of butter and cheese added so it is very tasty and the pork part is made with sausages and onions and loads of paprika.  It ends up being a sort of cross between a shepherds pie and a lasagne but it is profoundly tasty filling and just the thing for feed hungry people.  I served it with some chard which I cooked with butter and garlic.  The calorie values are off the scale but it would be just the thing to eat after a long walk on a cold wet day.  I made it in the morning and then it took just 30 minutes to heat through and brown the cheese top.  I can recommend this as an excellent easy to prepare filling and tasty winter dish.  I can see this being a good dish to have stood by after a days beating or picking up when I come home exhausted frozen and starving.  I see no reason why it would not freeze once assembled. 

Pork with Polenta

2 tbsp sunflower oil
12 rashers thick rindless smoked streaky bacon
600g/1lb 5oz skinless spicy chilli sausages or soft cooking chorizo (I used ordinary sausages and extra hot paprika)
3 onions, halved and finely sliced
2 tsp paprika (sweet)
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
250g/9oz quick-cook polenta
1 tbsp flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
50g/1¾oz butter, cubed, plus extra to grease
100g/3½oz parmesan cheese, grated
100g/3½oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper


1. Pour one tablespoon of the oil into a large non-stick frying pan and fry the bacon rashers in two batches over a medium heat for two minutes on each side, or until browned and beginning to crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.

2. While the bacon is frying, separate the sausages, if necessary, and squeeze each one out of its skin. Add the sausagemeat to the frying pan and stir in the sliced onions.

3. Cook over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly to break up the sausagemeat and brown the onions. Stir in the paprika and hot smoked paprika and cook for one minute more, stirring constantly. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Lightly butter a shallow two litre/3½ pint ovenproof dish, such as a lasagne dish. Snip the cooled bacon into 3cm/1in lengths with kitchen scissors and set aside.

5. To make the polenta, pour 1.5 litres/2½ pints of water into a large saucepan and stir in the salt. Bring the boil and stir in the polenta with a wooden spoon. Take off the heat and continue to stir for a further four minutes. You will begin to feel the polenta swell and the mixture getting thicker, but it should remain pourable.

6. Add the butter and three-quarters of the grated cheese. Stir vigorously until the cheeses melt and the polenta looks creamy. Season with lots of salt and pepper. Pour a third of the polenta into the base of the prepared dish and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. (The polenta will thicken as it cools, so it is important to work fairly quickly.)

7. Spoon half of the sausagemeat mixture evenly over the top. Scatter with half of the bacon. Pour just half of the remaining polenta over the top of the sausagemeat and bacon and spread to the corners of the dish.

8. Spoon the rest of the sausage and the bacon pieces on top. Finish with the remaining polenta, but don’t take it quite all the way to the sides, so you can see the sausagemeat mixture peaking from underneath.

9. Scatter with the reserved cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling. Serve with a large mixed salad, tossed with a good dressing.

I must admit that I made my life easy by making the polenta in the thermomix which get you over all the stirring and beating.

Today my mind is blank and I have no idea what we are going to eat but no doubt I will come up with something once I have been through the freezer.

I took myself off to the wool shop yesterday and bought some DK cotton in a sort of lilac colour and a 2.5 hook so that I can make one of the baby jackets.  I think I may have to do a few more rows to get it to the right size but I am now confident enough with the pattern to make these adjustments.

In answer to your question Joy yes my parents did have to travel my father worked for the crown agents as a civil engineer in Nigeria and they were away for 18 months at a time.  As you will know 18 months to a 6 year old is forever!!!

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