Friday, April 12, 2013

Six Steps to Happiness

This day had a soul-crushing start. First the ice storm,

Grape vines in back garden.

Compost bin sealed shut.

then to add insult to injury, Isabel ignored my advice about not wearing her Valentine sweater all the way to the point where her elbow broke through a thin spot.

This would have been SO much easier to repair if the hole weren't there. (Yes, Valentine has the same lace and cable pattern as this, but it predates it. Alison Green Will and I have had a chuckle over it. The stitch pattern can be found in several stitch dictionaries. Hers is much lovelier than mine, which was my first design.)
I wasn't in the mood to work on my project for publication. The day was cold, grey, and miserable, and I was angry, depressed, and miserable. What to do?

Here's my 6-step self-help programme:
1. Make a fire in the fireplace. Always brightens a cold, wet day.
2. Add a half hour of baroque music.

3. Drink a large mug of strong, hot tea.

4. Notice that Isabel had changed to a sweater made entirely by herself.

It's Maree, by Julia Trice from Twist Collective. Isabel did all the calculations to work out the adjustments for her size without any input from me. This is Isabel, computer geek, not knitwear model. I'm fond of both versions.
5. Don't knit. Spin something in jewel colours.

6. Make tortiere for dinner. OK, so this is traditionally served at Xmas, and we hardly ever eat red meat, but if ever a day called for something out of the ordinary, this is it.


lb ground pork
lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
½ tsp salt
dash pepper
½ c water
¼ tsp crushed celery seed
1 large potato, grated
pinch cloves
bay leaf

Preheat oven to 400F. Brown the meat and drain off the fat. Add remaining ingredients and cook uncovered for 20 min. While the filling is cooking, make the pastry. Remove the bay leaf, then pour the filling into the bottom crust, place top crust over it, seal, and prick with a fork. Bake for about 40 min or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 min before serving. Good with ketchup and braised red cabbage.

BTW, when we were living in Washington, DC, we almost never ran into meat pies, whereas they're a staple here. Are meat pies more a Canadian thing? Thoughts?


  1. I so agree with #2. I play cello. What do you play?

  2. I've heard of meat pies from a Canadian co-worker. Your recipe sounds much better than her description. My meat & potatoes husband would love it - I'll save it for the autumn and pray the warm weather returns soon. We're getting a cold wet blast of artic air, too, but no ice. Just rain and 40 mph winds here in Connecticut. I'm going to cuddle in my wool sweater and knit another while we watch a movie. Keep warm up there!

  3. Well, I make a depression-era cheese and meat pie on a regular basis. Ground beef, noodles, cheese, onions, green pepper in a tomato sauce all in a pie crust. The recipe is from my grandmother, a Detroit native, whose father was a Canandian. Who knows?

    1. Sounds good, but it's not in the same pie family as the (more or less) pure meat pie I'm talking about. The potato in my recipe is grated and disintegrates to form a binder. This sort of pie, which is available frozen in all our supermarkets, is likely related to the British meat pies that one reads about in Victorian novels. There must have been a French Canadian equivalent for the tortiere to have become so popular. Remember, at the time when most pastry was made with lard (and it still is here!), small pies would have been quite sturdy and portable for lunches.

  4. I think it is a Canadian thing. I live in Massachusetts and don't see any here. I do know they are popular fare in England where I have my roots. I'm sure that is why they are in Canada too. Love your blog - I have just found it.

  5. I, too, think it's a Canadian thing. Meat pies are nonexistent, and I'm just across the lake from you.

  6. It's a British thing but the Pork pie is a French thing. The Brits enclose everything in thick pastry as a covering so it can be taken to work. The 'pastie' is a small pie filled with meat & potatoes in thick pastry that the laborer took into the mines for his dinner. Game pies - rabbit, pigeon, venison - were also very popular & served as pub food with that thick pastry. Meat pies are everywhere because they're cheap & filling. The French mixed pork with onion & spices to make a thinner shelled pies called tortierre. Apparently old French settlement sites are full of pig bones!! Since both came to Canada to fight over the resources, they brought it all with them. On the Wet Coast, we have a lot of meat pies, rolls, dumplings & buns.