Warm and spicy shepherd’s pie on the menu tonight. Two things: it really ought to be a cottage pie because we’re using beef mince and secondly, should it be shepherd’s or shepherds’ pie? Oh it confuses me, but at least you guys aren’t getting the blog delivered in text speak. So shush. For tonight’s story you’re coming back with us to Stockholm but listen, we’re not going to stay too long – it’s just I’ve had this ‘typed up’ in my head all day and I want to spurt it out. It’s only one memory – a two hour trip, in fact – but because it was great fun, here it is. As ever, if you’re here just for the food, click the button below to be whisked straight to it.
Do you know, even though I’ve included that button and made it super clear how to get to the recipe, I’ll still get emails from people saying luklushun were recipea plz. I think I could cheerfully nip over to their house, cook their meal and then press their faces into the gravy and they’d still look blank-eyed and slack-jawed, mouthing the words carent c it sorry over and over. But I digress. Enjoy my mini holiday entry, those of you with some dignity.
I’m actually going to cheat and jump forward to the next day – we spent most of the evening before just wandering around drinking before retiring for an early night, and as this isn’t an Ibsen play, I don’t think you need that level of blisteringly boring deal. So, power-mince through time with me ’til the next morning when, having applied for a small loan in order to buy a coffee and a pastry, we wandered out into the streets.
What joys awaited us then? Of course: a museum dedicated to what life is like if you’re a blind person. Admit it: that was your second guess. We had seen the Invisible Exhibition advertised in the inflight magazine on the flight over and despite the scant details, we knew we had to give it a go, and so it was that we were found heading towards the Osynlig Utställning at 10.30am in the morning.
Our journey on the bus was marred a little by having some chap stare at us the whole way – every time I looked up from cooing out the window at how pretty the city was I’d meet his fixed, cold gaze. This went on for a good twenty minutes and he didn’t return my smile or respond to my scowling. Even when I started doing that thing where you stick your middle finger up and slide it over your cheek in a subtle ‘fuck off’ fashion he didn’t stop staring. Very disconcerting, and, of course, when it came to our stop he jumped up and made his way smartly off the bus in front of us, though thankfully he disappeared in the opposite direction as went off to find a coffee that wouldn’t immediately bankrupt us.
That took altogether longer than expected: turns out there’s not a great amount of cafés open down at the docks on a Sunday morning, though we managed to finally locate a watery attempt at coffee by walking into a gym and standing looking at the receptionist for ten minutes whilst she dithered about with her paperclips as though we didn’t exist. Here, I know we’re fat and thus about as welcome in your fancy spa-gym as a verruca outbreak, but pay us some heed. Sulking but caffeinated, we made our way to the exhibition.
The premise then: experience life without sight. The first shock was the price of admission – they definitely saw us coming. Or rather, they didn’t. Actually the entrance fee was very reasonable – I just wanted to set up that laborious joke. We were the only ones there and had to stow our coats, watches and indeed, anything with a light, into a locker. I joked that ‘but I light up a room just by being there!’ but they must have been a deaf-mute because they didn’t immediately fall to the floor clutching their sides. The tour began with a kindly chap showing us how to use a Braille keyboard which, of course, I grasped straight away and typed out my name – it came out as Jimas, and rather than admit my error I just took that name and ran with it for the rest of the tour, feigning some vague Arabic origin story. Paul mastered it effortlessly, of course, but see he’s got a terribly boring first name which is hard to get wrong. If his name was a colour it would be the shade of piss-weak tea.
Our young host left us at this point and we sat at the table until a cry of ‘Jimas and Paul’ bellowed out from across the reception. Part two of our tour was ready: forty minutes being led around a pitch black room stumbling around various ‘scenarios’ to see how you would come without sight. Our guide arrived and OF COURSE it was the bloke from the bus who I thought had been staring wildly at me but had actually just been looking at me without seeing me. The relief I felt when he explained in his opening speech that he was totally blind was immense. He hadn’t seen me mouthing ‘fuck off’ to him for half the bus journey. Or had he? Was this a ruse? Was he going to trip me up in the darkness? Paranoid!
He led us in. What followed was a genuinely bizarre but, no pun intended, eye-opening experience – lots of different rooms to be led around in the blackness, guided only by his excellent instruction. Stuff like sniffing spice jars in the dark to season a meal (at first I thought he was giving me poppers – what can I say, when in a dark room…), operating the taps in a bathroom, putting on music. There was a room where we were encouraged to feel various statues to identify them – The Thinker by Rodin, Atlas holding up a globe and then, with much shrieking from Paul, he identified that he was in the throes of giving Michelangelo’s David a rusty trombone. Later rooms involved crossing a ‘busy street’, walking through a forest at night (♬ you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith ♬) and sitting down in a café where you were able to order drinks and snacks from the guide. I was all for a glass of tap water and getting the hell out but, because Paul is hilariously obese, he ordered a tube of Pringles. He could not have ordered a noisier bloody snack if he tried. Have you ever had to sit in the pitch black, all senses bar your sight heightened, listening to your partner crunch his Pringles, smack his lips and make awkward small talk with a guide who was probably itching to get out? I have. I took to making ‘wanker’ signs at Paul and mouthing ‘c*nt’ at him whilst he chewed.
It occured to me as we left the ‘room’ that there’s bound to be an infra-red camera up in the eaves watching us in case of someone falling over or a fire breaking out, meaning that me being horrible to my other half in the dark will all be documented and put on the staff newsletter. However, as we left, Paul confessed that whenever the guide had been talking, Paul had been pulling faces and spreading his arse cheeks at me. Classic Jimas and Paul, right? Once we’d settled up the bill for the Pringles and said a thanks to the guide, we scuttled out.
Let me say this on a genuine note: it was great. No pun intended, it was eye-opening – so disorientating being in the dark but interesting in all of the different ways life can be made easier for blind folk. The guides were charming and the exhibition really well set out – if you’re ever in Stockholm, and in the mood for something entirely different, give it a go!
Right, let’s do this recipe eh? We were looking for a more unusual, warming take on the shepherd’s pie and this recipe came through! You might be feeling a bit unsure about adding spice to such a classic but trust me when I tell you it’s bloody amazing. This makes enough for four massive portions – could very easily serve 6, but we’re fat and greedy. We didn’t get here by eating salad, after all!
to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you’ll need:
- 800g potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
- 500g lean lamb mince (or beef)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 400ml lamb (or beef) stock
- 1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
- 200g frozen peas
- 1 tsp turmeric
- juice of half a lemon
top tips for making warm and spicy shepherd’s pie:
- if you can’t get hold of lean lamb mince, beef will do the job just as well. Get some in our build-your-own Musclefood hamper!
- You can sprinkle over some coriander leaves to make it look extra fancy. We didn’t because coriander is rank.
- An Actifry will make this job much simpler – or any airfryer for that matter. Check out our special page on which airfryer is best for you!
- Frylight will wreck your pans, and it tastes rank. Use one of these instead!
to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you should:
- if you’re using an actifry, chuck the potatoes in with the turmeric and spray over a bit of oil and cook for about 10 minutes
- if you’re using an oven, spray the potatoes with a bit of oil and toss in the turmeric
- next, preheat the oven to 200°c
- heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
- add the mince, onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently
- add the garam masala, stock, peas and gravy granules and give a good stir
- bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until the gravy has thickened (about 3-4 minutes)
- tip the mixture into a large dish and top with the potatoes, then squeeze over the lemon juice
- bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes
Tasty! Want more ideas for a good evening meal with mince? Then let the Mincing King sort you out!
- pizza stuffed meatloaf (syn free)
- stuffed onions (syn free)
- philly cheesesteak sliders (syn free)
- slow cooker lasagne (syn free)
- sweet potato and spinach beef bowls (syn free)
- easy peasy beef curry (syn free)
- sloppy joe mac and cheese tater tots (syn free)
- mince ‘n’ mash (syn free)
- steak au poivre (syn free)
- sloppy joe tater tots (syn free)
- enchilada steak fries (syn free)
- meatball marinara sandwich (syn free)
- cottage pie (syn free)