Saturday, June 7, 2014

"A series of accidents creates a positively light-hearted state."  ~ Jean Baudrillard

It's an amazing thing, meeting folks! They are around every corner of your life. I needed some more eyeliner today so off I went to Nordstrom's, and two of the the most beautiful ladies waited on me. They were both Persian, and I told them that the best writers I ever had in my high school classes were Persian! Their prose always read like poetry. Next thing you know, one lady was telling me about how she "learned to read English with her heart, not her mind," and what that entailed. Fascinating! We three went from "hello" to something that deep and perplexing in a matter of 5 minutes! 

Yesterday, an elegant older lady at the grocery store asked me if I coud reach a can of something that she wanted up on the highest shelf, and of course I did. She thanked me and added some pleasantries, and I could hear an accent in her speaking that I hadn't heard before. It was Welsh. I've always wanted to go to Wales, but never did, and suddenly yesterday, Wales came to me!

She told me that Wales was much like Ireland, green, green hills, green, green valleys, and, so naturally, I was enthralled! 

"I know of one difference, though, even though I haven't ever been there," I said.

"And what's that?" she asked in her whispery, musical voice.

"Every man in Wales is born with a beautiful singing voice!"

She smiled, and said it was so. "But the Irish can sing, too," she added. And we talked on and on about everything... Ireland, Wales, our husbands, her kids and my lack of them, but my teaching 10,000, instead. She told me of the dismissal of the Welsh by the English folks, and I added that it was so of the Irish, too, I thought.  

Well, you needn't know all we spoke of, but the end was the best! You see, I know the TRUE recipe for pasties, the ONLY way to make them authentically. My grandmother taught me to make the best pasties anywhere, for that matter! Not recently, you see, because I need to buy one of those thick black floor mats that hairstylists stand on in salons. Boy, do I! Pasties take hours to make, so when you do make them, make about a dozen and a half at a time. (They're wonderful warmed over, if you know the trick!) Pasties also take a fairly long preparation time before you are even set to roll out the dough and start in, unless you're Gordon Ramsey, of course! Our kitchen floor is tile, and it's just not worth the backache these days... I KNOW... boring, Terry... oh, and by the way, what do pasties have to do with anything Welsh, I'd like to know?

Glad you asked! Wales is down there next to Cornwall, and so the Welsh are very famliar with Cornish pasties. And this lovely lady agreed wholeheartedly with me when I told her of my incident at Harrod's food court when I was last in London. They were selling pasties with GRAVY inside of them! GRAVY! That's unthinkable! It's like selling hot dogs with brown gravy on them instead of mustard! It's like putting gravy over a salad instead of dressing... It's like... OK, you get the idea!

First, a tiny bit of history for you:  Wales and Cornwall were the land of the coal mines for Britian, and the miners would bring their lunches with them when they worked down deep in those mines every one of those long, long days. Their lunch buckets were just that - round two-level buckets. On the bottom of the lunch-bucket was the man's tea for the whole work-day. On the top of that was the place for two fresh half-circle pasties to sit until the lunch whistle blew, staying luke-warm because of the tea beneath that pasty compartment. Since the pan was round, so were pasties. And because I love you so much for reading this piece of my writing, I'm giving you my own grandmother's receipe below.  

Oh, I forgot to brag... My recipe below was published several years ago in a beautiful little cookbook with my very name and my city/state written there. But, best of all, I got a package one day all the way from Cornwall. It was a lovely letter that  I still have from a Cornish lady who said that my recipe was just right! In fact, she liked it so much that she included a present for me in the package. It was a tea-towel with the recipe for Cornish pasties printed on the front and a lovely painting of one, too. How kind of that lady!

The cookbook also includes my recipe for goulash soup, and, boy, is that goood too! I'm just not in an Hungarian mood today, though.  


Make a dough out of 1 cup shortening, 4 cups flour, 5 tablespoons ice water, and salt. OR, buy boxed pie crust mix and follow the directions, but add ANOTHER 1/2 cup or a bit more flour to it. The dough must NOT be a "short dough," like pie crust is... all flaky. This dough is going to hold meat and potatoes!

Form this dough into a ball and refrigerate it at least an hour.

While the dough is getting cold, YOU are NOT! Take about a pound of steak (your choice) out of your 'frig, and cut it into cubes. (Don't ask me the size... not too big, but not too small... YOU decide!) 

Done? Now, take about 4 pork chops out of your refrigerator and cut the meat into cubes, too. They should be about the same size as the beef cubes...  (Now you're gettin' somewhere!)

Now, find an onion (yellow ones are my favs, but it doesn't matter at all, really) in your 'frig, and dice it. 

Might as well grab at least 4 or 5 medium potatoes while you're at it, and cut them into dice, too.  Don't be making those dice too small, though. Potatoes are food from the gods, you know... You can never go wrong with more potaotes... and even more than that!

Now, sprinkle your work space with plenty of flour. Search in your drawers and find a rolling pin. You're nearly ready for the actual making of these little devils!

Take the dough out of the frig, and divide it into golf-ball-sized pieces. That will determine just how many pasties you'll be making!

Roll out one "golf ball" of dough into a "sort of" circle. Circle-ish is good enough for pasties!  On just one 1/2 of that dough circle, lay some of the steak on the dough. Now put some of the pork on that same 1/2. Now toss some potatoes on top of the meat. Sprinkle onions on top of all that.

Run over to the 'frig, and take out some butter. With a paring knife, cut about 3-4 little pieces of butter and let them fall on top of the concoction you've made there on that piece of dough. 

Salt and pepper the whole mass, and then the fun begins!

Take the empty 1/2 other side of the dough and fold it over the whole conglomeration! Crimp this half-circle that you've made, so it becomes a bulging 1/2 circle.

Take a knife and cut 3 smallish slashes in the top.  Use your spatchula to place this on a baking sheet. Turn your oven on to 425 degrees, while you're there, to prewarm it.

Now do that again, and again until you run out of something... dough, meat... something.  Whew!

When you have a couple of baking sheets full of these babies, shove them into the oven for 15 minutes.  When the oven buzzer rings, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and let them bake for another 45 minutes.

Now you can put your feet up and relax... sort of... You need to take out a small saucepan and put about 1/2 a stick of butter inside it with about 1/4 cup of water, too. Heat it until it's all liquid. Now get out a teaspoon.

This is important:  Pull out each baking sheet of pasties from the oven, and put a teaspoon of this butter/water mixture into EACH slit on EACH pasty. Then shove them back into the oven for 15 more minutes.

NOW, YOU ARE DONE!  Eat! Manga bene... or however you say that in Cornish...  :}  

P.S. They warm up beautifully the next day, and even one more day after that, IF you're careful enough to melt the butter into the water and douse each pasty slit again while warming them up.

P.P.S. Because of this recipe, the lovely lady asked me to have lunch with her very soon! 


  1. I like to read about baking. Much less calories than actually baking something!

  2. You are sooo funny! I used to make them every single Christmas Eve for dinner. They really taste soooo good!