I think about my future sometimes, and it does scare me a little. University wasn’t exactly the number one plan, at least not my personal one. I loved high school, and everything before it, but I think I was a bit tuckered out from the academic side. Oh, if only I could have gone to university and not have to do any of the actual work, just go to classes and listen.
I hated my time there in the first few months. I still find it all right– I just get a bit peeved off when I realised my parents and I are paying £9,000 a year for me to have a social life, which is pretty much the best bit about uni (though the crazy professors I have in the Creative Writing department are an added bonus). My classes got so much better over the course of the year, and as much as I don’t want to admit it, even MWL taught me some things. Next year, I’ve been given free rein over my modules, and gone crazy on the Creative Writing part of my degree in English Lit (I’m taking poetry! My 16-year-old self would be disgusted).
The whole disliking university thing put a bit of a strain on my relationship with my parents. Though I thought it would be the other way around, my dad was the most sympathetic, my mum the least. Both were drop-outs themselves though, my dad to pursue a love of flying and gain a pilot’s licence, and my mother because she realised she couldn’t stand teaching children who were rude (bless her, she still has the tendency to believe the best in people even when they don’t deserve it — I think it gives her a rude wakeup call sometimes).
But, as my classes got better, so did things with my parents. I think they think I’ve forgotten the whole-hate-uni-thing (I have not, I’d still rather be doing something else–my problem is, I just don’t now WHAT), but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s summer now, I’ concentrating on things getting better, whether it’s my university-feels or my own health or my promotion at work (yay!), and making some good food for me and my family (and the blog!)
Speaking of good food…
These had been stuck in the freezer since Easter. For my dad’s return from Paris, we decided to finally bring these out. Wild birds are a bit tricky, because as delicious as I think they are, having them whole often results in a lot of effort for not a lot of return, meat-wise. Breasts are easier, but cooking them can go wrong — pheasant, in particular, doesn’t have much of an immediate flavour, IMO. But this sauce is perfect for adding a kick to what is an excellent piece of meat. The turnip mash is light underneath, and goes well with the sauce.
The mash can be made in advance, even the night before — just take it out, and put in a saucepan to heat up slightly again (though we had it slightly cold, which was nice too).
Serves 3-4 perfectly.
Adapted from Jamie’s America
4 medium sized turnips, peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
6 small new potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm cubes
pinch of fresh rosemary
4 pheasant breasts, skin on
salt and pepper
50g of butter
1/3 of a cup of Worcester sauce
2 tbsp of water, if necessary
2 tbsp of brown sugar
oil, whether olive oil or lightly flavoured oil, such as garlic–your choice!
chopped parsley, to serve
First, boil the turnips and potatoes in water for about 10 minutes, or until a thin metal skewer goes through them fairly easily. If they’re a little underdone, it’s no problem. To have a bit of crunch here is quite nice. Drain them, and let them sit in a colander for as long as possible to get the maximum amount of water out.
Then, heat up a large pan with some oil. Turn over your pheasant breasts so they’re lying skin down, and season with the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. When your pan’s hot, add the breasts. Let them cook slowly on medium heat, letting them brown evenly on both sides and so that the skin becomes crispy and golden.
When they’ve gained some nice, even colour — maybe eight minutes in, depending on size — add the butter, and let it melt in the pan. Then add the Worcester sauce, and mix together, rolling the breasts in the sauce to coat them thoroughly. Add the brown sugar, and turn down the heat on low. If you feel the sauce is getting too sticky/starting to burn, add some water, but not too much! It should be nice and sticky by the end. Add some extra cayenne pepper if you like.
Let your pheasant and sauce continue to cook to intensify the flavours.
In the meantime, take your turnips and potatoes, and mash them with a potato masher roughly, letting some chunks remain for a bit more texture if you like. Add your rosemary.
After about five more minutes or so, cut into your pheasant. The insides should be pink, but not in any way raw. Serve up alongside the turnip mash, and sprinkle over some parsley, et voila!