The Winter Pie Challenge

My resolution for 2018 is to pinpoint the ultimate recipe for vegetarian shepherd’s pie. Yes, I’m aware that it’s only February – I tend to think around six months ahead when it comes to this sort of thing. You see, I’m convinced that the secret to shepherd’s pie success is that at least 50% of the vegetable content must come from the cook’s own garden.

That’s what it says in the margins of my great aunt’s recipe file, anyway. I stumbled across it a couple of weeks ago and have since become determined to make a pie by that specification. This means that I need to get started now. I’ve never tried cultivating potatoes from seed before, so it’s going to be a wee bit of experiment.

As always when it comes to cooking, I’m going to be taking this to extremes by cultivating the potatoes from seed. I think I might as well try growing a few different varieties, and see which comes out on top. I’ll need some Dutch Cream and some Nadine, of course, and perhaps something more exotic like Sapphire. Blue mash? Bring it on!

What else do I need to plan for? Garlic is high on the list – my grandmother on the other side of the family always said you weren’t really a great cook if you weren’t growing your own garlic. I’ve really internalised that message, which has led me to produce a whole lot of garlic in my time. I reckon I’ll do both purple and white this year. I’m keen to try out mushrooms as well – they’d go perfectly in my veggie pie. Broad beans, peas and rhubarb are also my radar.

As I see it, even if this shepherd’s pie experiment is a total failure, the worst case scenario is that I’ll have expanded my backyard growing repertoire. I suppose the new year’s resolution is not so much to make the ultimate pie, after all – it’s to become more adept at growing winter edibles of the kind that can go in said pie.