My New Saturday

Before lockdown, my old Saturdays were spent in the shop. The morning was a bit hectic because I didn’t have to get Julia to work. This may seem counter-intuitive, but free time gave me the opportunity to make choices, which didn’t help. I was often only just in time, whereas I am normally an hour early when I take her to work during the week.

In lockdown I am free to watch Sharpe. It’s not, I admit, jane Austen, but it makes up in humour and action what it lacks in culture. It’s a reminder of simpler times when good always triumphed (in stories, at least) and we were still allowed to have violence and to look down on the French. Oh, how I miss those days.

Saturday afternoons in the shop were the social times, when people used to come in for a chat, as well as to buy things. I tend to have lunch after Sharp (avocado with prawns and Marie Rose dressing for me, mashed avocado on toast with poached eggs for Julia – the eggs were slightly overdone but at least they held together this week). Then I snooze as Jessica Fletcher rabbits on. I really should do something, butย  a man needs to recharge his batteries.

Late afternoon, I rose from my recharging and messed about on the internet. It was mainly watching eBay. I lost one lot (being underbidder once more) and securedย  a second lot for a very reasonable price.

Then I made fish pie in my quick and easy style. Soften some leeks (I had some green tops – you could use onions) and mushrooms. Add flour, add milk, make a sort of white sauce. Add the fish from the pack – salmon, smoked haddock and something white- and throw in sweetcorn and frozen peas. Let it cook gently.

Meanwhile, take the potatoes off the heat (yes, I forgot to mention boiling the potatoes, sorry about that). Mash with a little butter and some mustard. These are not American mashed potatoes so go easy on the butter.ย  And don’t add milk. You don’t need to.

Fish Pie with potato topping – the dark bits are the mustard seeds from the Dijon mustard in the mustard mash

Add some prawns (I had some from the pack we had for lunch), warm them through, pour the sauce into the dish, add the potato on top and stick it under the grill. I did put cheese on top, I confess, just to show off. With hindsight, it added nothing to the flavour and didn’t look as good as a nice pattern of lines browned under the grill.

You can add more seasoning and some herbs but tonight I just kept it simple.

I’m now marking time until I take Julia for her Covid Vaccination . It’s either half past midnight (which I think of as 00.30) or it’s half past mid-day (which I think of as 12.30). Unfortunately the booking site and the confirmation email use both times for the same thing. We will be going down just after midnight and I will report back.

I’m not good at food photography and I promise it was more appetising than it looks here.



22 thoughts on “My New Saturday

  1. tootlepedal

    Photographing food is a tricky business. Food adverts have got a lot less appetising since regulators insisted that they photograph actual food not glossy models. I had a friend who made food models for advertising in the sixties.

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      I remember reading an article on it once – they spent a lot of time hollowing out a block of cheese so they could illuminate it from inside. I couldn’t even bring myself to attempt a photo tonight – tinned haggis.

      1. quercuscommunity Post author

        It was quite tasty, with good texture, but it resembled dog food while it was in the can and a fatty cylinder when it first emerged. A bit like the fat you get on corned beef. It was part of our Brexit/Lockdown emergency rations.

  2. Jessica Urquhart

    Well, I’m not sure what the difference is between English mustard and the normal German or American mustard. I’m guessing these are all similar..? I do like Irish stone ground mustard best.
    So, does the fish pie kind of neutralise the taste of the fish for you? I love fish, but don’t eat it often enough anymore because it’s just too expensive if you aren’t catching your own. I grew up fishing with my dad. Certainly no shortage of fish in Florida! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good times! All the fish I could eat! Now when I do get fish, I have to fight my eldest daughter and my boyfriend for it, since all three of us are crazy for it. My daughter, who is now 6, even loves raw Sushi. She’s been eating it since she was about 4. How many little kids will eat raw fish?! Definitely my daughter! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      English is bright yellow and hot, German is browner and has flavour rather than heat, Dijon has the seeds in it to add interest, American, looks like English but has flavour rather than heat.

      It’s the texture and fear of bones too – I once got a bone lodged between tooth and gum. Fish pie, using the mix from the shop, has salmon and smoked fish as well as white fish and you can check for bones. I’m OK with tuna steak and fish from the chip shop, and even sushi. It’s just an irrational fear of certain sorts of fish. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Jessica Urquhart

        Hmmm… The only mustard I see here in Germany as the standard for this country is bright yellow and medium spicy. Spicier than the American mustard. Everything else is Dijon, or some specialty.
        I’m not a fan of the bones either. Salmon fillets are pretty safe, though. That’s my favourite anyway.

      2. quercuscommunity Post author

        Strange, German mustard sold in the UK is a rather brown colour. Must be a marketing ploy to make us use English. Injudicious use of English mustard makes my eyes water. It is too hot to eat for pleasure, we do it to demonstrate our stiff upper lips.

      3. Jessica Urquhart

        Lmao! That makes me wonder if what I’ve come to know as Irish mustard is really Irish at all! I don’t care for German mustard because it’s also too spicy. The American mustard is almost the same, just milder, so I can actually enjoy the flavour!

  3. Jessica Urquhart

    Mustard in mashed potatoes… That’s something I’ve never tried before. I wonder if it would taste good in colcannon or shepherd’s pie. I’m not too crazy about the idea of a fish pie. I prefer fish grilled with a bit of lemon, garlic butter and maybe a few herbs to mix it up. And always a bit of salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. I grind it with a mortar and pestle. It’s more work, but it tastes so good, and I can grind a lot at once, as opposed to a normal pepper mill, which takes forever!

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      If you use English Mustard you get a rather yellow result, and a less subtle flavour. I’ve never tried it with colcannon and it’s OK with Shepherd’s Pie but probably not needed as the flavours are usually good enough. Plus, in Shepherd’s pie I keep experimenting with other root veg for variety.

      We often just use it to jazz up the potatoes when we are having them as a side dish.

      Your method of preparing fish sounds great, but I’m afraid I’m not a fish fan. I know it’s good for me but I just have trouble enjoying it.

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