It’s been a funny old weekend, as the shackles of winter are finally being shed, and a warm front gives promise to a lighter life, I’ve come down with a dastardly cold. It has not prevented me embracing these first moments of spring, I have tilted me face towards my saviour and drunk in his powers. I have sat, just sat and absorbed his wealth of hope and goodness that only he, the sun can bring. I had not entirely realised the extent of my longing, born from his lengthy absence, until he was here again in my life.
The whole family seem renewed by the calling of spring; we’ve been outside in the garden, playing, doing jobs and the guinea pigs have had their first taste of grass. A cool breeze tantalised us as it entered our home via the ajar front door, freshening the darkened corners, trembling those shameful cobwebs and exiting through the open back door.
We walked from our home to a local spot of beauty admiring the buds and shoots, the views; we milled and sauntered, no intense cold driving us to our destination just the pleasantness of the day to be had and enjoyed. Then we stopped, Mr H and I sat and against a back drop of immense beauty which is the place we call home, the boys tussled and wrestled, rolled around in the grass and laughed loudly. It was a forever moment that only the first days of spring can evoke, a hopefully precious moment.
My cold had by Sunday put pay to some more outdoor adventures we’d planed, for me anyway. Daddy and Stig managed another local ramble whilst Tink, as he often does, stayed close to me and climbed trees in his pyjamas and re-explored a garden not seen for some months. I managed to complete some chores but fading fast I gave in to an afternoon nap. The lightness of spring had however still inspired me to create a family meal for us to enjoy later. A slow cooker family favourite, that has a nod to the orient, sweetness and spice, and can be served with the most comforting of foods, mashed potatoes.
Pork, Orange and Star Anise
1 tbsp of sunflower oil
4 pork Shoulder Steaks cut into 3, approx 700g ( I buy a large shoulder piece and cut into large chunks)
1onion ( I used a red onion)
2 tbsp of plain flour
450ml Chicken Stock
grated Rind and juice of 1 orange
3 tbsp plum sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 whole star anise
1 fresh or dried chilli, halved (I used chilli flakes)
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the slow cooker.2. Add the oil to a a frying pan and brown the meat, then place in the slow cooker.
3. Fry the onions in the pan until lightly browned.
4.Stir in the flour.
5. Now mix in the stock, orange zest and juice, plum sauce, soy sauce, star anis, chilli and seasoning.
6. Allow to simmer.
7. Pour the sauce over the pork, cover and cook on low for 8-10hours. (or pop in an oven prof pot with a lid at 160C/ Gas mark 3 for about 3 hours, which is what I did on this occasion)
8. serve with mash if you so wish.
Recipe taken from Slow Cooker easy by Sara Lewis.