Hi! I realise I have been missing in action for some time now … Work was suddenly so busy, I was taking work home (something I promised myself I would never do again …) I started ballet classes and when I wasn’t working / at ballet class / trying to make sure my house didn’t look like a bomb had hit it, I was mostly collapsed on the couch, binging on episodes of Parks and Recreation. I think I want to be Leslie Knope when I grow up.
Don’t get me wrong – I also did bit of socialising. Australia Day was spent chilling at Kings Park, I have been checking out FringeWorld and Boy Robin and I had a romantic “this is the month we first started going out / got engaged / celebrate Valentine’s Day” dinner earlier this week at Pata Negra. (If you’re ever in Perth, check it out. Their Crema Catalana is to die for. The entire meal was beautiful, but they had my heart at dessert.) However, on the whole and despite the socialising, the last thing I have wanted to do lately is sit in front of a computer some more after work.
Don’t worry, that will change! I was keeping an eye on the Zero to Hero challenge and have stored up in my mind some posts (although that deadline seems to have flown right past me as well).
In the meantime, I leave you with my go-to dinner recipe for when you know the week is going to be a bit nightmarish. It feeds Boy Robin and me for the best part of a week, including lunches. While that sounds like a rather boring week of meals, there is enough flavour and texture there that it is still pretty tasty come Thursday. And that totally outweighs that sinking feeling when you get home an hour and a half after you had planned to and realise that although all you want to do is put your bag down and pour yourself a stiff drink, there is still dinner to make.
This recipe is courtesy of a friend of mine. She is very adventurous in the kitchen and is great with flavour combinations. I apologise for the photo. It really doesn’t do it justice. The original recipe calls for a packet of fresh spinach. I was experimenting with frozen spinach, which is better value for money than the fresh stuff. You can pack more in and can keep it handy in the freezer, but it also tends to disintegrate and colour the entire meal with a greenish tinge. You will just have to imagine how tasty it is.
Pork sausages with cider lentils
- pork sausages – enough to meet your meat preference
(Boy Robin is quite carnivorous, so we tend to go with 6 to 8 sausages.)
- 2 onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 2 apples, chopped into about 1 inch or so pieces
(They’re going to be cooking away for a while, so keep the pieces relatively large, or they’ll turn into apple sauce. I don’t bother peeling them, because I think it keeps the pieces together better, but it’s up to you.)
- small bunch of thyme
(Or other herbs you have to hand. Parsley would go well. Or if you don’t have anything else, a few liberal shakes of the Italian Herbs container also works.)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bottle apple cider (33oml)
- 1 tin lentils
- stock, as required
- 4 medium sized potatoes, if you think it’s necessary, chopped into bite-sized pieces
(We left them unpeeled, because peeling is fiddly and the peel is nutritious and holds the potato pieces together. The recipe doesn’t usually call for potatoes, but when we made it this week, we steamed some potatoes in the microwave until they were partially cooked through and added them towards the end. It thickens it up a bit, as well as bulking it out, extending the number of meals we can have from it. If you’re adding the potatoes, use a large bottle of cider rather than the usual 330ml to increase the liquid content.)
- packet of fresh spinach
(Frozen spinach also works, although it doesn’t look as pretty.)
- Fry up the sausages in a deep pan until brown and then set aside. Alternatively, get Boy Robin to do them on the barbecue, so you can get on with the other cooking and can eat dinner sooner.
- In the same pan, saute the onion, garlic, celery and apples with a decent slurp of olive oil. While the onion, etc is cooking, chop up the sausages into reasonable bite-sized pieces and steam the potatoes if you’re adding them.
- When soft, add the thyme, bay leaf, apple cider, sausages and the tin of lentils, juice and all. If you’re worried about the added salt, you can drain the can before adding the lentils and add stock instead, but stock contains salt as well. If you’re adding potatoes, now is the time to add them.
- Simmer away for 10 or so minutes, or until the sauce reduces a little, and season to taste. If you’re adding frozen spinach, add it at the 5 minute mark and stir through, using your spoon to break it up a bit. If you using fresh spinach, add it right at the end. The heat in the saucepan will wilt the spinach and allow you to stir it through.
- If you’re making it sans potatoes, serve with some bread to sop up the sauce.
P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day! I am slightly conflicted about Valentine’s Day. I love being doted on with flowers, chocolate and cups of tea in bed, but why reserve those demonstrations of affection for just one day? Plus, it leaves me with a nagging suspicion that it’s just an excuse for crass commercialisation. Stay tuned for Valentine’s Day ideas which can be used any time of the year.