The woodpecker comes to see us when we put peanuts out, they make great viewing from the kitchen window. We hear the woodpeckers in the nearby woods starting in the spring as they tap at the bugs in the trees and search for mates.
I went to buy a big sack of peanuts from the local farmers store to stock the birds up for the winter and came away empty handed. They wanted over £50 for the sack and our budget doesn’t stretch to that. When did they get so expensive?
Lamb and veg pasties
Makes 4 big pasties or enough meat for two to have with spuds and veg (you can always double the meat if you’re hungry)
Olive oil for frying.
250g lamb (you can buy stewing lamb in packs but we use diced shoulder)
1 big onion, peeled and diced
A large carrot peeled and sliced thinly or diced
A chunk of swede about the same size as the carrot, peeled and diced
A couple of medium potatoes, peeled and diced. (Keep the potatoes in water until needed)
The veg should be diced into little chunks about half a cm.
1 clove of garlic crushed
A teaspoon mixed herbs
A beef stock cube
Salt and pepper
A wine glass of water
500 g flour
250g fat (half block marge and half lard or refined veg fat)
Quarter tsp salt
10 tb cold water.
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl or a food processor bowl.
Dice the fat and add to the flour. Either rub together or whiz for about ten seconds. The fat should be mixed into a bread crumb consistency (the food processor makes it an even finer mix)
Add 10 TB of cold water and bring together with your hands or whiz until you have a ball of pastry.
Put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
Heat a couple of table spoons of oil in a medium to big saucepan on medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion, turn to a medium low heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring every now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick. The onions should be softening.
Cut the lamb into little chunks about half a cm to 1 cm in size and remove the fatty bits.
Turn the heat up and add the meat. You want the meat to sizzle. Keep it moving round the pan until it is lightly browned then turn the heat back down to medium low and tip in the rest of the veg and the mixed herbs. Give it all a stir to mix the oil around and let it cook for another ten minutes.
Add the water and crumble in the stock cube. Cook for about 15 minutes and then try the stock. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Cook for another 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and put it somewhere to cool down if using for pasties or add another wine glass of water and let it gentle cook for about an hour.
To assemble the pasties.
Oven to 180 degrees C/ Gas mark 4
Roll out a chunk of your pastry weighing about 230 grams to an eight inch circle. This is a desert plate size, somewhere between a side plate and a dinner plate. Use the plate as a template to cut round. Reuse the waste pastry as you go.
Divide the meat mixture between the pastry bases keeping it in the middle. Wash the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Fold the pasties in half and use a fork to press the edges together or use your fingers.
Place the pasties on a non stick baking tray or line a tray with baking paper and egg wash them and cook for 50 minutes.
The pasties should be golden to look at.
Serve hot or cold.