This weekend the annual Stoke Goldington Steam Rally and Country Fair was on, something I have enjoyed attending since I was a child. Having watched the weather forecast on Friday evening it seemed that Sunday was going to be the better day so we decided to earmark that as the day we would go. Having set aside Sunday for this family outing it meant that everything else that needed doing had to be crammed into Saturday. As we went up to bed on Friday night Steve asked, "What are you going to do tomorrow?" I replied, "The washing, clean the bathroom, make you some more flapjacks, pot on the tomatoes and strawberries... oh and make a model fire engine." Steve smiled and said, "And what about after lunch?
At half past nine the next morning the postman rang the bell and delivered a large envelope containing 36 bare-rooted strawberry runners. So that shifted my to do list around a bit.
After putting the washing on the airer and cleaning the bathroom, I put on my raincoat and wellies and went out into garden to construct a temporary potting shed under our shelter. It was raining steadily and a cold wind was blowing but I had to get the strawberries into pots. In fact, when I went around to the allotment to retrieve some pots and troughs I was surprised to find 3 our people there, gardening in the rain. "Well," one lady said, "it's May and these jobs need doing." How true.
That morning I potted up the 36 new strawberry runners, and potted on the 12 strawberries that I'd bought a fortnight previously. Then I potted on my 5 indoor tomato plants plus about 20 tiny tomato seedlings, 8 cucumber seedlings and 4 lettuce plants. By the time I came back inside I was cold, wet, stiff and miserable. As much as I love gardening, sometimes things can be a bit of chore. Still, on the plus side, whilst changing out of my gardening clothes I decided to climb back into bed for a few minutes to warm up under the covered and Steve came to my rescue and snuggled up with me!
Sunday was a much nicer day but no time for gardening. We went of to the country fayre and had a pleasant afternoon there. We even bought a few gardening bits whilst we were there. When we came home it was time to get the Sunday dinner in the oven. Earlier in the week I had been browsing the reduced section in the supermarket as I often do and had picked up a big block of meat labelled as "pork fillet". In my head the word "fillet" had equated with "best bit", such as in "fillet steak" but having got it home I began to have second thoughts. After all, in my opinion, the tastiest pork is the stuff with a bit of fat running through it. I imagined that a bit of roast pork fillet could come out of the oven with all the charm of the sole of a shoe. So instead I thought I might try a pot roast, not something I had done before. Still, I browsed the internet for a few ideas and quickly got the hang of it. And what a delicious result... tasty and moist roast pork and lovely gravy too. And as an added bonus it used up 8 homegrown shallots and some sprigs of fresh oregano from the garden. A lovely warming meal in May when the weather was still stuck in March.
Pork Pot Roast (serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 piece of pork fillet (about 750g)
150g pancetta cubes
Several sprigs of fresh oregano
2 sticks of celery
1 pint chicken stock
1 oz flour
Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas 4 and spoon the olive oil into the bottom of a suitable casserole dish. Brown the pork all over in a frying pan then place in the casserole dish. Fry the pieces of pancetta for 2 to 3 minutes then add to the dish. Put the oregano in the casserole dish too. Peel the shallots but leave whole and chop the celery into a few large pieces. Fry the shallots and celery for a few minutes until beginning to brown then add to the dish. Pour any excess oil from the frying pan before tipping in the chicken stock. Heat the chicken stock in the frying pan, scrapping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Pour the stock into the casserole dish too so that the vegetables are covered. Put on the lid or cover with foil then place in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, removing the lid or foil for the last 20 minutes. Once cooked, place the pork in a warm place to rest, drain the stock into a clean pan and set the vegetables to one side. Mix the flour with a little cold water then pour into the stock and stir, bring to the boil to make a gravy. Carve the pork and serve with the shallots and celery and gravy along with some roast potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus.