My baby girl is expected early January. When this time arrives Olifant Pootjies is going to be exhausted and sore, so I’ve taken it upon myself that I will be running the household for the first month or so while mommy and baby bond, live and grow, which of course points to at least one important thing – I’m going to be in charge of the kitchen for that period.

Or at least, so have I decided.

Now I am capable of making a few dishes, though most don’t really count as supper. Roast Chicken pieces with potato, braai meat, baked frozen chicken goods with oven chips, pancakes – I think Olifant Pootjies might trample me to death if I try feeding us with this sequence of dishes every single night! :)

So I have decided to become a cook, and get a few good home meal recipes under my belt in order to do the job properly. After all, how hard could it be? A recipe is nothing more than a detailed instruction set without the required precision of a science experiment – thus something I as a computer programmer should be more than capable enough of handling.

But where to start? Well how about one of my favourites growing up as a boy in my mom’s house, good old Cottage Pie.

And so one phone call to mom and a hastily scribbled, shorthand note later, I got stuck in!

You’ll need:

  • 500gr Mince
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Carrot
  • some Parsley
  • Salt, pepper, Aromat
  • Two slices of white bread
  • 5 Potatoes
  • Milk, Margarine

First grab a mixing bowl and chop your onion nice and fine, dropping it into the bowl. Then grate the carrot (or two if you wish) into the bowl. Slice and dice or grate your tomato, adding it to the mixture. Throw the raw mince and some parsley into the mix, finally adding a generous amount of salt (2 tsp should do), pepper and some Aromat as a special flavour ingredient. Soak your two slices of white bread in plain tap water, removing the soggy pieces and wringing the water out (into the water bowl – you’ll want this water later), before crumbling them into the mixture.

Now for the fun bit. If you don’t like getting dirty, use a fork, otherwise take your hands and smush everything together, carefully mixing all the ingredients into one big colorful goo in your mixing bowl.

Grab your pyrex dish with its lid, apply some non stick Spray & Cook, and then fill with your minced up mixture, sprinkling some of the bread water over the top when you are done putting everything in place. Put the lid on the dish and pop into the oven on 200 degrees Celsius for 1 hour. Remember to turn around halfway if you are using a thermofan.

After the hour is up, remove the lid and bring the temperature down to 180 degrees Celsius, leaving the bowl in for 15 minutes or so just so that it can get a bit of a nice brown color.

During the time that this was baking, you would have already peeled and boiled a couple of potatoes (4 or 5 medium sized ones) until they were nice and soft, in other words perfect for making your plain old mash. So, with a little extra margarine/butter and milk, make your mash like you would normally do, making sure it isn’t too runny in the process.

With your mash ready, remove the pyrex bowl from the oven and proceed to smear the mash all over the top of the baked mince, adding a blob or two of margarine over the top, with a couple of shakes of Aromat for some added flavour.

The two layer bowl now goes back into the oven on 180 degrees Celsius for its last 15 to 30 minutes (sans lid), and once that timer rings its final ring, remove from oven and prepare to astound your dinner guests (or in my case Olifant Pootjies after a Monday’s hard slog.

And that is how you make good old simple Cottage Pie.

(Thanks Mom!)