02 April 2010

Trouble In Paradise ... Paddling Toward Bliss!

Let's just say that life in the cottage on the hill has been better. We woke up to rain ... rain ... and more rain. No gentle Spring showers, no! Torrents, 'sheets and pillowcases', buckets! You get the idea. Our cellar has about four inches on the floor and it's rising. The sump pump is trying hard, but it looks like it's not strong enough ... the old hoses have been pressed into service as siphons to aid the poor little pump that thought it could.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I tend to let loose with a string of vitriol (read really gross language) when I get frazzled. Poor Silent Bob has listened to me and suffered ... silently...  for much of the day, as I begrudgingly mop up tracks, curse the weather, mutter about mud, and in general, bitch and moan. So, enough, already! The siphons are in place, the tracks have been mopped up for now, the groaning chug of the sump pump assures us that it's on the job. It's time for me to make it up to poor Silent Bob.

Tonight, it's a good old-fashioned dinner that every self-respecting farm wife can throw together ... get ready for Shepherd's Pie. It helps that this is one of SB's favorite dishes. His mother made it for years for her raft of kids. It's fast, it's cheap, and it's easy. I can only hope to replicate the food memory for him. He deserves it after my day-long tirade...

Shepherd's Pie - printer friendly

Note: I wrote this post much earlier this week ... remember all that rain and bluster? Thank goodness, it's past. A word about the recipe ... I'd found a small piece of marinated leg of lamb at the market so I cut it up into bite-sized chunks and used ground venison sausage in this meaty gravy-rich version of Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. lean ground beef, ground venison, or bite-sized pieces of lamb roast
½ lb. ground pork
1 medium onion, small dice
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground sage
3 tbsp. flour
2 - 3 c. beef broth (Better Than Bouillon product is good)
a dash browning sauce - optional, but it gives a little more richness and color to gravy
2 cans corn niblets, drained or 2 c. frozen corn (I prefer frozen)
5 medium potatoes, peeled, chopped and cooked until tender
2 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ c. butter
enough milk to make a smooth mashed potato consistency
salt and pepper (Sometimes, I use white pepper.)
paprika and chopped parsley for topping

Making the Dish:

1. Sauté the onion in butter (2 tbsp.)  until it glistens. Add the meat and break into small chunks, continue cooking until meat is brown.

2. Add the spices and flour to make a roux.

3. Slowly blend in the broth and stir until a thickened gravy forms… pour into a casserole dish and set aside.

4. Drain the cooked potatoes and add the garlic, butter, milk to the pan. Whip until mashed potato consistency is right. Add salt and pepper to taste…

5. Drain the corn and layer on top of the meat/gravy.

6. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the corn layer and spread to cover the corn layer completely.

7. Use a skewer to poke a few ‘bubbling holes' down into the gravy layer.

8. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with additional black pepper, paprika, and chopped parsley.

9. Bake for about 45 minutes … until the potatoes are crisped and browned up… and the gravy is bubbling up a bit.

10. Serve warm from the oven.

Note: This recipe works well with ground venison meat – add a bit more butter to the onion sauté to accommodate the lean nature of the venison.


  1. This dish "Shepherd’s Pie" is the ideal hearty meal after a long hard working day in the vineyard or the vegetable garden.
    Thank you for sharing your know-how!

    Greetings from Germany

  2. Hope everything is nice and dry now! LIke we say in VT, April is MUD season. So I imagine it much the same in NH. In any case, Shepard's pie is certainly a great way to keep the warmth in!


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