This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Just where is the place you feel most at home? Is it the house you live in? A holiday retreat? Or an island off the west coast of Scotland?
For Kate, in Sealed With A Kiss, who lived with her partner, Ian, on an executive housing estate, home was with someone – anyone – but being on her own. Or so she thought.
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Then, when Kate and Ian broke up, home became her friends, Emma and Sam's house, as she lodged with them. But as comfortable as she was there, and as much as she enjoyed their company, it wasn't her home home. And home certainly wasn't at her mum's house. Oh no.
But then she decided to go and work on the scottish island of Auchenmor. I'll give it six months, she declared. Six months of being the Laird's Girl Friday. Of doing, well, she didn't quite know what the job description was, but six months of working and living on an island with few residents and many, many seals.
But you knew, as she scooped up the first few mouthfuls of shepherd's pie at Duntarvie House, with Roderick, her new boss, that she'd found her home. Her real home. The place she was meant to be. The island young people couldn't wait to escape from, but for Kate, it pulled her in and embraced her.
When I read Sealed With A Kiss in a foreign airport on the way home from an amazing holiday, I was at the point where – fed up with travelling and the delays – you just want to be home now. When I reached the point where Kate is fed shepherd's pie, I laughed out loud. My family and I had been craving a shepherd's pie all week and were looking forward to our first meal at home which would be, yep, a shepherd's pie from the freezer. Because shepherd's pie is the ultimate in comfort food.
Perfect for autumn. Perfect to make your house a home.
Heavy based pan to make the meat mixture, saucepan for the potatoes, masher and two oven proof dishes for the pie.
The great thing about shepherd's pie, is that you can add anything, within reason. Got some brocolli that needs using? Chop it up and throw it in. A few tomatoes? Yep, they can go in too.
The following is enough to make two pies, one for now, one for the freezer.
A glug of oil
2 onions, diced
6 carrots, chopped
1 leek, diced
1kg lamb mince
1 tube tomato puree
A glug of worcestershire sauce
1 large, heaped teaspoon marmite
1 litre stock, chicken or beef
2.5kg pack of potatoes, peeled and chopped ready for boiling
A big wallop of butter
A glug of double cream
- First you need to soften the vegetables in a large saucepan (or a wok can be good).
- Add the mince and chop up with a wooden spoon so it isn't one big lump.
- Add the puree, worcestershire sauce and the marmite. Stir.
- Add the stock and simmer for around an hour.
- While this is cooking, put the potatoes on to boil. Add salt.
- Once they are tender, drain and mash with the butter and the cream. Check the seasoning.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 fan.
- Scoop the meat out of the saucepan, with a slotted spoon, into two ovenproof dishes.
- If freezing one make sure it has plenty of sauce to stop it being too dry on defrosting and cooking. (I like lots of sauce anyway!)
- Top with the mash and rough it up with a fork. Place one in the oven and leave the other to cool. Once it has cooled cover with clingfilm and foil and place in the freezer.
- The one in the oven will take around 20 minutes.