I just love living in an older house. I often wonder about who has lived here before us, what kind of lives they led, what these walls have seen. In particular, I wonder who this house gave shelter to in the war years. Did a housewife live here with her husband, or was he young enough to be away fighting?
Sometimes as I am walking back from town, I realise I am retracing the steps of whoever lived here before us, and I imagine a housewife with a basket on her arm, going home to cook the supper.
Tonight I made a dinner which would have been familiar to her – a Woolton Pie inspired dish.
I peeled and diced a variety of vegetables – you could vary these, they are just what I had:
1 each of leeks, potatoes and celery sticks.
2 each of carrots and parsnips.
I sautéed in a little butter, then covered with boiling water and stirred in a teaspoon of marmite (I hate marmite on its own but it is useful in cookery).
I set them to simmer gently for 15 minutes, and made a small amount of white sauce. I melted a knob of butter in a pan, stirred in 2tsp of flour, and then added milk slowly, stirring well until I had a thick White sauce.I seasoned with white pepper, nutmeg, and oregano. It would have been dried mixed herbs but I had used them up earlier.
When the timer for the vegetables went off I drained them (saving the liquid for soup making) then stirred in the white sauce. I added a small amount of leftover cooked chicken which I had roughly cubed.
I divided this mixture between two individual enamel pie dishes and a ramekin, then sprinkled a little cheese over the top. I added short crust pastry lids, made three slits in the lid of each with a sharp knife and then glazed with a little milk. I baked them in a hot oven for 15 minutes. They were delicious,mbut I think the oven needed to be a touch hotter or they needed 5 minutes more to get the pastry a richer colour.
I love dinners like this, taking a recipe as inspiration and following the thread of your thoughts and inspiration to make it your own.
I was inspired by this blog and recipe today.
I wonder what my wartime housewife housemate would have thought of it?