Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Spring has sprung!

Spring is one of my favourite seasons. After months of dark, gloomy colours (think blacks and greys and browns) suddenly the world becomes awash with beautiful colours and the air seems to be extra bright and fresh with hope. There are two flowers that I particularly associated with the end of winter and the start of spring, and with the hope that this season seems to bring – snowdrops and daffodils. A few weeks ago, I went for a little walk with my family, and found evidence that spring was on the way in multiple ways – the warm(ish) day, lambs and daffodils. I thought I share some pictures in the hope that they’ll bring a little spring sunshine into your day today.


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Friday, 23 April 2010

Pork Meatballs and Pasta with Easy Tomato Sauce

This recipe is really easy and needs only to be accompanied with some freshly steamed veg or a salad. I used 450 grams of mince when I last made this. However, different supermarkets seem to sell pork mince in different size packs – some are 450 grams and others are 500 grams. You can use either without it making much (or any that I’ve noticed) difference to the final outcome. Weighing out 450 grams of mince from a 500 gram pack is far too much effort!

For the meatballs, you’ll need:

A 450/500 gram pack of pork mince

2 slices of bread

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

Seasoning (salt, pepper and herbs of your choice – I can’t remember exactly, but I used either sage or oregano)

1 egg (if needed – see below)

For the sauce, you’ll need:

2 400 gram tins of tomatoes

2-4 fresh tomatoes

Gravy powder or powdered vegetable stock

Herbs (use the same herbs as you used for the meatballs)

You’ll also need:

Pasta – I used vermicelli, but you choose whichever you like and cook however much you need for the number of people eating (if I ever write a cook book I might need to tighten up on the precision of my ingredient instructions!)

What to do:


1. Peel the onion and divide into quarters. Then remove the skin of the garlic. Place the onion and peeled garlic into a food processor and whizz into a pulp. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the onion and garlic into the tiniest possible pieces you can. When you’re done, put the onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl.


2. Turn the two slices of bread into two slices of crumbs (I realise that doesn’t make complete sense, but you get the idea). This is easiest in a food processor (no need to rinse it after chopping the onions and garlic – too much extra work). If you don’t have one, tear the slices of bread into small pieces and then crumb them by rubbing each piece between your fingers over a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to the onion/garlic mixture.

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3. Add the pork mince and seasoning to the bowl. Seasoning is a bit of a gamble – I suggest you go with a small pinch of salt and shake of pepper and a reasonably generous sprinkle of herbs (with more if you like things herby). Then roll up your sleeves and dig your hands in and mix it all together thoroughly. If you didn’t pulverise the onions and garlic (which makes them slightly liquidy and helps to bind it all), or the mixture is dry and not sticking together very well, add one egg, beaten, to the mixture. Please ignore the slightly alien looking hand in the picture below…

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4. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, spoon a teaspoon sized amount of meatball mixture into your hand and roll it into a little ball. Place the meatball on a baking tray (I didn’t use a non-stick pan and I didn’t grease it so my meatballs stuck a little – you might want to consider greasing your baking tray, especially if it is not non-stick). Repeat until all the mixture has been turned into little meatballs and then put in an oven on about gas mark 5 until cooked.


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5. Whilst the meatballs cook, make the sauce. First, remove the skin from the fresh tomatoes. I find this easiest to do by blanching – score a line around the tomato from top to bottom and then back up to the top again. Then score another line around the tomato (just piercing the skin) at right angles to the first. Whilst you do that, put some boiling water in a pan over a low heat (just enough to keep it simmering) and then drop the tomatoes into the water for a minute or so. When you take them out the water, the skins should peel off really easily.

6. Roughly chop the peeled tomatoes and put in a pan with the tinned tomatoes and start heating. Add herbs and a small amount of gravy powder or powdered vegetable stock, to taste. I like my sauce to be really tomatoey, so added about one and a half teaspoons of gravy powder, just to give a slightly meaty undertone and help it thicken a little. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until warm and reduced to a satisfactory consistency.



7. As the meatballs are coming to the end of cooking, cook your pasta. Then remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the sauce. If you put the sauce to one side whilst the meatballs and pasta finished cooking, you might need to reheat it slightly (I have a bit of an obsession with hot food). Then dish up the pasta with the meatballs and sauce. Or, if you want to do it the Italian way, toss the pasta in the sauce and then dish it up. Either way, it’ll end up on your plate and ultimately, in your tummy!


Friday, 9 April 2010

Not for the righteous only

IMG_5310 - CopyHappy belated Easter to my vast readership of two! Although I spent a lot of the Easter weekend thinking about Christ’s death and resurrection, I also kept thinking about a certain passage in Luke (5:27-32), which I wanted to share here. In the passage Jesus is asked by the Pharisees why He eats and drinks with “tax collectors and sinners” (verse 30). Jesus’ response is recorded in verse 31-32 which says, “And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”’ (RSV version). So often I feel unworthy to come before the Lord, particularly when I feel like I’ve failed Him. I wonder how many others share that experience. Or how many people feel like they’ll never be good enough to be in a relationship with God. This passage is a good reminder in these moments of doubt that Jesus came not to call the righteous – those who’ve ‘made it’ in spiritual terms - but sinners – people who can’t make it on their own, who need a Saviour. At the church service that I went to on Easter Sunday, the person giving the talk reminded us that Jesus came to give help in our helplessness and to give hope in our hopelessness. He doesn’t meet us only when we are perfect and righteous. Rather, He meets us in our present situation and invites us to go on from there with Him.