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So. Ages ago Bex asked me to post the recipe for shepherds' pie and I've only been remembering when I'm either lying in bed trying to sleep or on the bus. And she's asked more than once and - ta-da! I remembered, so here it is.

first off, I call it shepherds' pie, but it isn't. That's made with lamb. This one, with beef, should be called cottage pie. I'm not going to give weights, nor am I going to translate into American.

Ingredients, in order of use

Olive oil for frying
Onion, diced
Pinch of mixed dried herbs
Mushrooms, diced
Carrots, diced
Minced beef
Tomato puree
Horseradish sauce
English mustard powder
Salt and pepper
Cheese, grated


1. Turn the oven on to 180 if you're doing the quick version
2. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a pan. Add the onions and herbs and cook slowly till they are golden.
3. Meanwhile peel and dice the potatoes and put them on to boil. They'll need about ten minutes, depending on size of dice. Then mash them, to taste. I hate sloppy, puree-type mash, but most people don't.
4. Add the mushrooms and carrots to the onions and stir around till the mushrooms wilt.
5. Add the beef and stir it around till it's all browned.
6. Add the seasonings - this is what I use but you can bung in whatever, but I would urge you to try it at least once without any artificial flavours.
7. Add water, to not quite cover. Bring to boil, put a lid on and simmer for... well, it needs a minimum of fifteen minutes, but longer is better. An hour or so is great.
8. Get an ovenproof dish. Using a slotted spoon, get the meat and veg out of the pan and into the dish.
9. Cover with mash, spread out to the sides
10. Top with grated cheese
11. Bung in oven for 40 mins.
12. Pour the remaining gravy into a suitably smaller pan and thicken slightly with a bit of flour.
13. Serve with green veg

So it turns out that the picturesque mist was in fact a cloud of mega-pollution that was sat over France but drifted over here. That'll teach me to avoid the news. The advice was for people at risk of heart attacks to not over-exert themselves, so walking four miles up and down hills carrying a bag of books would probably not have been my choice, but hey, I'm still here. I feel furious at the world for the state we've reached. I watched a bit of 'The Island' this week (reality show where groups of volunteers are left on uninhabited islands in the Pacific for six weeks) and the tide line was a big mess of plastic. The attitude was 'Hey look, a pair of flip-flops!' rather than 'Holy shit, we're fucking up the whole world with our disposable crap!'

Had to give up with the blood pressure monitor as it had become the focus of all my anxiety and it was all too much. I can take it back next week and get one that you wear non-stop for 24 hours and it takes the pressure at random intervals throughout the day. Writing that down made my chest tighten and my belly feel hollow.

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