Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Veggie-laden Shepherd’s Pie, with its Cheddar topping, makes a dream entree

The classic Irish dish Shepherd’s Pie, filled with all kinds of wholesome veggies and a can’t-beat Cheddar-potato topping, was an easy selection for the entree at Son-in-Law’s birthday lunch recently. Yesterday I mentioned the Southwest Skillet Corn and Zucchini that was our side dish for this birthday observance. Since Son-in-Law favors meat and potatoes and celebrates his Irish heritage, this recipe that graced the Internet as marthastewart.com recently made its St. Patrick’s Day suggestions was a perfect choice. The website marthastewart.com called the dish “happily simple”; Martha was right on that one.

Other than the veggies, the best thing about Shepherd’s Pie is that it covers lots of bases with one entree. Fluffy, golden-brown whipped potatoes, with Cheddar cheese stirred in, top the layer of meat (I subbed beef with ground turkey), carrots, celery, onion, and tomato paste. Only thing that would have made it a little better is if I had remembered to add the salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to the potatoes before I baked it. Oh, well, Son-in-Law is accustomed to having to pour salt from his shaker on anything he ingests when he dines at our place, since we’ve sworn off salt since long before he was part of our family.

One the highlights of his birthday lunch is that it marked the first time that Grandmunchkin was grown-up enough to sit at his highchair at the dining table while the rest of the family observed a proper meal. A bottle for him while the rest of the guests dined on Cheddar-Topped Shepherd’s Pie, but he’ll be spooning some out of his baby dish before too many more luncheons go by.

Cheddar-Topped Shepherd’s Pie

2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, and thinly sliced
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper to taste
2 pounds ground-beef chuck (or ground turkey)
1 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 450. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover by 1 inch with water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, onion, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, until meat no longer is pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil, and simmer 1 minute. Set filling aside. Drain potatoes; return to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until all liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add milk and 1 cup cheese. Mash until smooth; season potato topping with salt and pepper. Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Drop dollops of topping over filling; use a spatula to spread to edges. Using a fork make decorative peaks; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes. (If topping and filling were chilled, increase cooking time to 35 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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