It would have been better to have done it on Thursday, before yesterday's downpour, but today Jim sheathed Bakewell's cabin in heavy duty grey polythene, to keep the rain out for the rest of the winter. It should still be well enough ventilated to enable it to dry out, especially as there is (whisper it) a radiator in there, discreetly tucked behind the stove, which while it never gets quite hot, being at the far end of the system, keeps a decent background warmth, and in any case, the back cabin is well ventilated to the rest of the boat.
The heating system on Bakewell is simple but extremely effective. A back boiler on the squirrel towards the front of the boat heats a pipe that runs its whole length, culminating in that radiator, and a calorifier, so we now have constant hot water too. It's all done by gravity/convection, so requires no electricity. I'm only afraid we might get used to this soft life.
Today we picked up our Christmas dinner - a local gamey meaty treat - from the very local Whitegates Farm Shop. This looks like a brilliant place - we have popped in before and hadvsome fantastic stuff. But it will remain an occasional treat. Tonight it's another veggie/vegan recipe; one of my favourites, and loosely inspired by the steak and mushroom pudding my mother used to make (I suspect my father refused to eat kidney), only without the boiling. Or the steak.
Sausage and mushroom suet crust pie:
Fry (in an casserole dish) one chopped onion, and add six or so sausages (I like Cauldron), cut into bite sized chunks. Fry these gently until they're browned. Then add some mushrooms; I used a 500g pack of chestnut ones, cut into similar sized chunks to the sausages. Continue frying until the mushrooms start to soften. Then make the gravy. The easiest way I find to do this is to add some boiling water to the pan, just enough to covet the contents and let it come to the boil. In a cup, mix up a crumbled Oxo cube (it's ok, even the beef ones don't actually have any animal in them) and a couple of teaspoons of Bisto with cold water, then add this to the pan and stir it quickly in, keeping stirring while it thickens and comes back to the boil. You can then let it simmer a bit while you make the pastry. Oh, and add a dask or two of Henderson's relish if you can get it (thanks Adrian and Linda!)
or Worcestershire sauce if you're not too precious about the odd anchovie.
For the pastry, mix 8oz self raising flour with 4oz veg suet and a big pinch of salt, then add enough cold water to bind it together. Roll it out and shape it to fit the dish, cut a steam hole in the middle and lay it on top of the filling. Bake at mark 5 for about 45 minutes until the top is golden, and serve with steamed greens.