Sunday, 29 November 2009
Marie's Sunday Six Smilemakers
Welcome to my Sunday Six Smile Makers post for today, the last Sunday in November, 2009! I thought I would do it a bit different today, shake things up a bit you know. They say a change is as good as a holiday, and I'm all for holidays! Today I'm going to share with you six things about England that make me smile! I hope you'll enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed thinking about them and telling you about them!!!
Anytime you get a bunch of men in silly dress, tie bells around their knee caps, pop flowered hats upon their heads, give them sticks to bang together, and then a license to dance in the streets, it makes me smile! Yes, Morris Dancers make me smile! How could they not!
A morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.
I just love to watch them!! I had never seen anything like this before I came over here and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching each and every time! I think it's a wonderful tradition, and I hope it never dies out!
It's English, but not as we know it! Yes, I am talking about the language over here and I just adore it! Peppered with strange words and idioms, I find it quite, quite entertaining and charming, and it goes without saying that one could get themselves into quite a spot of trouble very easily over here just by speaking English! There's phrases like "Mind the Gap", which means be careful not to step over the edge or into the gap between the train and the platform, or the elevator and the floor, etc. Words like aggro (aggressive or irritating), berk (fool or other silly person), fanny (female body part and I don't mean the butt here), bloke (male), cotton wool (cotton batting), gaffer (old man), Punters (customers), jumble sale (rummage sale) boot and bonnet (trunk and hood of the car) . . . I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the idea! It's wonderful and charming, and very entertaining! It does make me smile!
I just love the tradition and history over here. Everywhere you look, it surrounds you and I find it all fascinating. It's really pretty wonderful!
The scenery. Once you get away from the cities, you are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, and you don't have to go very far for it to change from rolling hillsides full of cotton boll sheep to flat plains and waving fields of wheat and corn, and then back again. Hedgerows, beautiful flowers, quaint villages and country cottages . . . it's all so very special and unique and I just adore it!!!
The Monarchy makes me smile. I know they have made their mistakes and sometimes they can be a bit of an embarassment, but all told, they are a part of what helps to make this country quite unique and interesting. I have always loved the Royals and everything to do with them . . . Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard . . . Windsor, the Queen . . . They bring a lot of tourist dollars into the country and add a lot of colour. I think they're pretty wonderful!
Castles make me smile! I love them and there are tons over here! (This picture is one I took of Scotney Castle which is not too far from where we live) Each one is quite unique and steeped in history and I adore walking through them and thinking about ancient times, ways and customs. They're just beautiful . . . even the derelect ones . . .
I know this makes seven, but it would be quite remiss of me not to mention the one thing about England that makes me smile the most and that is my husband Todd!!! He's the main reason I am here and the reason I came over here!! I just love him to pieces and he has brought so much joy into my life and continues to do so daily! I think everyone should have a Todd, but you can't have mine . . . You'll have to find your own! Good luck!!
And there you have it . . . six things about this wonderful country I live in that make me smile!
Today's recipe is one of my favourites. I just love swede (rutabaga) and potatoes, and when you throw some bacon into the mix and call it a pie . . . well, I'm there like a shot!! This is comfort food, plain and simple and very, very tasty!!!
*Swede and Bacon Pies*
I just love Swede, or rutabaga, as it is often called. It has such a natural earthy sweetness to it and goes with just about anything. In face Swede and Bacon are perfect partners!
8 slices of back bacon, trimmed of all fat and cut into small bits
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large swede, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
400 ml of chicken stock
1 tsp of summer savoury or mixed herbs
a small handful of chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
For the topping:
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 ounces strong cheddar cheese, grated
2 TBS butter
a little warm milk
salt and black pepper to taste
2 TBS melted butter
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
Put the bacon into a non-stick pan along with the olive oil. Brown on all sides and then remove from the pan. Add the onions and saute them in the same oil until soft and berinning to brown slightly. Return the bacon to the pan along with the swede and carrot. Season with some black pepper and the summer savoury and some salt if need be. Add the chicken stock, cover and cook over medium low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the parsley and then divide the mixture evenly amongst 4 individual pie dishes. Set aside and keep warm whilst you make the topping.
To make the topping put the potatoes into some boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and then mash along with the first lot of the butter, and a little warm milk. Add the cheese and stir it in until melted. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Loosely spoon this mash onto the swede mixture in the pie dishes, dividing it equally amongst them and piling it up a bit in the middle. Don't smooth it out too much, you want a bit of rough texture.
Pre-heat the oven to 205*C.425*F. Melt the second lot of butter and then stir in the bread crumbs, mixing together well. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over top of each dish. Place the dishes on a baking tray and bake in the heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned in places and the filling is bubbling away. Eat and enjoy!!
Over in The English Kitchen today there's some Pounded Pork Tenderloin with Lemon, Sage and Mushrooms on offer! Delicious!!