Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cooking up a stew

I watched the delightful "Julie and Julia" last night.  A Nora Ephron film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

It reminded me how much I enjoy cooking.  It tends to be one of those activities that I just get on with, usually while also involving Little C as much as possible, which doesn't make it any easier.  Watching this film reminded me that the process of creating something delicious in the kitchen, while sometimes stressful, is also immensely satisfying.  Getting Little C involved is teaching him a huge range of skills, as well as eventually nurturing his own creative outlet.

Yesterday we made Liver and Bacon Casserole (which by the way was delicious!).  Here's how we went about it:

Recipe for creating Liver and Bacon Casserole with mashed potatoes and carrots (with a small person)

Ingredients to serve 4 (we were serving 2 1/2 and a dog, so adjusted the quantities accordingly).
4 slices of unsmoked back bacon - actually I think I bought smoked because I always do; 2 onions - finely chopped; 700g lambs liver; 200g plain flour; 1 cube of beef stock (we had chicken, vegetable and fish stock cubes - so went with chicken); 500g chopped carrots; 75g butter; 1kg potatoes; 125ml full fat milk

  1. The first job was to get the carrots from the garden.  It was raining and almost dark so I did this while Little C cheered me on from the back door.  I then assembled a washing up bowl containing the carrots, a few inches of warm water and a vegetable brush, a chopping board, knife and peeler and a crock pot all on the kitchen floor and sat down there with Little CI encouraged him to scrub the carrots and hand them to me one at a time to peel and chop.  He then put the tops and tails in the crock pot before handing me the next carrot.  In between he enjoyed looking at the peelings in the crock pot, splashing the water around the bowl and choosing which carrot to give me next.
  2. Next Little C chose 3 potatoes, I chopped them and he put them into the pan.  At this point we moved from the kitchen floor to the work surface, so we got his little step-ladder out so that he could reach.  I put the pans on the hob for the carrots and potatoes and started to cook them.
  3. I heated some butter in a frying pan, chopped the bacon and fried it for 5 minutes, while simultaneously chopping the onions.  Little C helped me by playing with the onion, sniffing, tasting and so on, both the flesh and the skin.  Once the bacon was done I put it to drain on some kitchen paper (at which point Little C started to help himself to it), and cooked the onion in the remaining butter and bacon fat for 5 minutes.  I then put the oven on to 180C.
  4. While the onion was cooking I chopped the liver and tossed it in a little flour.  While I did this I encouraged Little C on his steps to continue helping himself to the cooked bacon, which prevented him from trying to help himself to the raw liver!
  5. The onion went into a casserole dish and the flour coated liver went into the pan for about 6 minutes with an occasional stir, adding a bit more butter as it cooked.  At this point most of what is happening is on the hob so Little C began to get bored and hungry I found him some milk and he found the remains of his snack from earlier, and so he was happy on his ladder all the way through the next step.
  6. Once the liver is done it goes into the casserole and the next part of the recipe involves adding the remaining flour to the fat in the pan, stirring over the heat for a couple of minutes and gradually adding 500ml of water and then the stock cube while stirring all the time to make a nice thick gravy.  This didn't work for me.  I didn't weigh out the flour so used too much, there didn't seem to be enough fat left in the pan, and there were lots of bits of floury liver stuck to the bottom, which all in all made for a lumpy wet mess in the pan.  I ditched it and used 1/2 pt of thick gravy made with ordinary gravy granules.  You then add this to the casserole and shove it in the oven for 15 minutes.  Little C helped by putting his hands in the box of flour and having a good feel and squish around.
  7. While the casserole is cooking, drain the potatoes and mash with some butter and the milk - Little C enjoyed helping with the mashing.  I also added some double cream left over in the fridge from another recipe.  Then drain the carrots.  I then moved Little C to the armchair next to the window to watch for Daddy coming home in the car while I cleaned up the debris and detritus and got everything served up - you add the cooked bacon to the casserole at the last minute) and on to the table.  
Daddy got home just in time and the casserole (I think I mentioned it was delicious!) went down very well.  Little C was a picture shovelling it into his mouth with both hands, but sadly I don't think he bothered with the home-grown carrots at all...


  1. This is the film that finally made me get off my bottom and start the blog I'd wanted to start for ages. The film inspired you to cook - the film made me to blog (though MA/job has meant the blog has grown a tad dusty shoved to the bottom of my workload) It didn't make me want to blog because I wanted to be rich and famous from it though, it just looked like so much fun! Ignoring the whole relationship-strain part...

    Great film :) Great blog! (Yours, that is)

  2. Thank you! As you can see I started the blog a little while before watching the film. Uncle C and I had been chatting about your blog, and he reckoned that I should get on and write one too, as a creative outlet more than anything else. So here it is - varied and eclectic, a bit like me I guess!