Fayefood recently wrote a blog post that talked about cooking. She ended her post with the following:

Just do it, do it, do it. Get up, do it. You can do it. And tell me how it goes.

It’s pretty much an explanation of how I cook. Occasionally, when I don’t want to cook, I draw a meal from the freezer. We call them easy-meals. And yes, they’re pretty much heat and serve (fish sticks, chicken strips, chicken wings, meatballs, frozen pasta sauce, frozen rice, veg, etc). The good news — they are usually homemade and stored for such occasions.  The bad news – sometimes they are store-bought. Sometimes the meals don’t turn out right. A few times they’re not even edible. I shrug, toss the food, bemoan the loss and try again the next night; subsisting on freezer staples, popcorn, and salads.

Last night, with friends coming over, I made shepherd’s pie. Normally, making shepherd’s pie is a several-night event (each night tasked with making some part of the whole and then combining them on the night I want to serve it).  I planned to make the meal in a similar way that I make chili.  But that plan went by the wayside. It was a weird week with sick days and doctor’s appointments. I was happy to just get dinner on the table each night; so the meals were very simple with very little seasoning or fancy side-dishes.

I started organizing yesterday as soon as I got home by digging out my food processor (well, moved the box it’s still packed in over towards the sink), but then didn’t use it.

Boil potatoes (peeled & cubed) , drained, then mashed with some reserved water from the pot & a pat of butter. Cook a miropoix (diced onions, carrots & celery) over the stove-top in your best olive oil. I add cubanelo peppers, but you don’t have to. When the vegetables are fork-tender, the meat is added (and broken up) in the same pan as the miropoix. I use ground beef, but any ground meat works. Stir well to mix. Once the meat is no longer pink, the fat is spooned out, and a tablespoon of flour, thyme, rosemary and a pinch of nutmeg are added along with a cup of broth. Mix well. Taste. Season accordingly. Pour into a baking dish, and topped with the mashed potatoes. The potatoes are topped with tiny dots of frozen butter and a dusting of paprika. When the potatoes are a golden crust and the gravy is bubbling, it’s taken out of the hot oven and left to sit. When the boiling stops, serve.

Serve it with a good green salad of romaine leaves, spinach, and finely sliced radicchio. Top it with 3 parts red wine vinegar and 2 parts olive oil along with a good pinch of oregano and a dash of pepper.

Friends arrived just in time to help me set the table and hear the fire alarm go off (it’s too close to the stove). There were no leftovers and the condiments on the table were ignored.

As to the previous part of the week, here’s what I cooked (as oppose to what I planned).

Rotisserie chicken with cold slaw
BBQ Rainbow trout, fresh herbs and Best green salad with red wine vinagrette beans & goat cheese
Pan seared steak with seared corn
Best green salad with red wine vinagrette and beans
BBQ Hamburgers, all dressed
Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie) with best green salad and red wine vinagrette