Thursday 22 January 2015


Good Afternoon to you,

I love where I live, as everyone is so friendly.

On most days, George and I go for a three mile walk  around the village and on our walks we meet all sorts of lovely people.

Yesterday, for instance, we met a lady with two of the most adorable 'Scottie' dogs, whose names were Millie and Rooney.  I immediately thought that Rooney was named after the football player, Wayne Rooney, but not so.  After talking to the owner, she said she had named her dog Rooney after Mickey Rooney, the actor. Who would of thought it.

When we first saw the lady approaching us in the distance, with her little dogs, both of us stopped talking to each other and broke out into a smile. We both knew we just had to stop and say hello. Both Millie and Rooney were so gorgeous, but the tale of their beginnings was not so rosy. I won't go into details, as it would be too distressing for you to hear, suffice it to say that both Millie and Rooney were found in a dog rescue shelter. Both dogs, who are brother and sister were there because they had been mistreated. The new owner had cared for the dogs for two years and it was so obvious that they were so well loved, but it was so sad to hear that it had taken Millie, who we could see was a nervous little dog, over a year to wag her tail.... how awful. The owner said the first time Millie wagged her tail was such a heartwarming experience that she cried with tears of joy.

We stayed to talk for a while and of course we fussed and stroked Millie and Rooney whilst we talked, but we knew after ten minutes that we had to let the lady carry on with her walk and we needed to be on our way.  As they left us, we watched them walking away and we could see that Rooney's tail was wagging beautifully, but little Millie's was less so. 

It is just so sad to think that a person or persons could be so cruel to these beautiful little dogs, but we consoled ourselves with the fact that both Millie and Rooney were now enjoying  a wonderful life, filled with love.  

Both George and I are hoping that in the near future, we will bump into these little dogs again, just so that we can give them a little more fuss, I'm sure both Millie and Rooney won't mind.

As we walked away, we turned back again to see that the lady had only managed to walk about 30 yards, before someone else had stopped to talk to her. We did wonder how long it would take her to complete her walk, if every few yards she was stopped by someone who wanted to talk to her and fuss Millie and Rooney.   I feel sure, that she would not mind, as she was a lovely lady and is probably very used to it by now. 

Talking of completing a task, it took me an age to cook this,

Brown Lentil Shepherd's Pie, not because it takes an age to make, but because the phone kept ringing and I had to keep stopping what I was doing, but,

I persevered and it was oh so worth it.  I have not made this dish for a year or so, and then I received this months edition of Good Housekeeping, a magazine I love. Inside was a recipe for a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie and it reminded me that I had not shared with you my version.  So I thought it time to remedy that situation.

So, it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today, might surprise you.  The album is,

'X' by Ed Sheeran.  Whilst there are a couple of tracks that don't float my boat, the vast majority do and I feel it is always good to be open to new music. Listen to,

'Tenerife Sea'
'Thinking Out Loud'
'Afire Love'

which include the words,

'I would look into your eyes until the sun comes up
and we're wrapped in light and life and love.
Put your open lips on mine and slowly let them shut
for they're designed to be together.
With your body next to mine our hearts will beat as one
and we're set alight, we're Afire love'

They are such beautiful words.

So with 'Even My Dad Does Sometimes' playing, it is time to organise my ingredients.



1 large onion
1 large carrot
125g chestnut mushrooms
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 clove of garlic
60 ml red wine (optional)
1/2 pint chicken stock
400g tin of tomatoes
400g tin of brown lentils
200g of dried lentils
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


500g sweet potatoes
500g white potatoes
A knob of butter

Pre-heat the oven to 180C



the sweet potato
white potato
cut into chunks.

Pop into a pan of boiling, salted water
and cook until tender.

When tender, strain the water
mash the potato

a knob of butter.
Replace the lid on the saucepan
and set aside until needed.


Finely chop the onions.

Place the olive oil into a wide pan
add the onions.

Using a moderate heat
cook until golden brown.

Chop the mushrooms into small
add to the pan.

Crush the garlic
add to the pan
and cook for a minute or so.

Add the tomato paste
stir into the ingredients.
Cook for a further minute.

Finely dice the carrot
add to the pan.
stir the ingredients together.

Add the wine,
and turn up the heat to
allow the alcohol to evaporate.
This should take a couple of minutes.

Reduce the heat.
Chop the tinned tomatoes
and add to the pan
with the

chicken stock.
(Looking at this photo you would imagine
it was a cup of tea, but no, honestly,
it is chicken stock.) 

Place a lid on the pan 
bring the ingredients to the boil,
reduce the heat
simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the tin of brown lentils
and wash
under cold, running water.

Add to the pan
and cook for a further 15 minutes.

After 10 minutes,
firstly to make sure the carrots are cooked
if you find the mixture is getting a little too thick,
add a little water to loosen the mixture,
but not too loose
otherwise the mashed potato will 
sink into the filling.

season as necessary.

Give the ingredients a final stir.

Place the lentil mixture into a
relatively deep bowl
deep pie dish


place the
mashed sweet potato/white potato on top.
I find spooning it around the edges
first and then filling in the centre
guarantees that I have an even spread of

Place in a pre-heated oven
for 45 minutes
 or until the top is crispy.

Then all there is left to do

spoon yourself
couple of scoops of
Brown Lentil Shepherd's Pie



I have to tell you that usually when I make this Shepherd's pie I make it with dried green or brown lentils. I cook them first, which takes about 40 minutes and whilst they are cooking I start making the mash potato topping, but last week, I was in a supermarket which were selling tinned brown lentils for 29p a tin and it was such a bargain that I decided to try them.... and I am so pleased I did, because it turned this dish into quite a quick meal to prepare.  I actually bought two tins, so when time is of the essence, I can make this Shepherd's pie again, quite quickly.

Also, I added red wine, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  If we have a little bit of red wine hanging around which has not been drunk, then I usually add it to a dish, but don't worry, if you have none, as the dish does taste just as scrummy without the wine.

Oh and I thought I would mention that I realise this is another recipe with sweet potato, but I have to tell you, I love sweet potato, and also, they are very reasonably priced at the moment, so I am enjoying them before they become too expensive.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

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