Wednesday 19 February 2014

Hound Tor, Dartmoor, and a slow-cooker dinner

Yesterday we went to Hound Tor, which was as spectacular as it always is. Somehow, now that we have a hound of our own, it seemed apt.

I love the wildness of Dartmoor. There's something primitive, something truly primordial about it. And Hound Tor is one of the best bits. It's a wild, unforgiving place, where nature concedes nothing. They say that it inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write the Hound of the Baskervilles.

We strolled along the avenue that runs between the massive granite walls of the Tor.

Then we climbed the shoulder of the hill on which the Tor stands to admire the bleak landscape all around. 

Over the other side there is a little path that leads down through the bracken to a forgotten village, where no one has lived for over half a millennium. It's an eerie place comprising several houses and barns. No one knows exactly what happened, and why the people who once lived there left. One theory is that it was abandoned in about 1350 as a result of the infamous Black Death. Whatever the way of it, the site must have been a desolate, inhospitable place to have called home. Even on a warm sunny day, it feels sort of chilly there.

It's a tricky place to photograph and I only had a little point-and-shoot camera with me, which wasn't up to the job so I'll have to remember to do it justice next time.

After all that walking it was lovely to open the front door and immediately smell our dinner bubbling away in the slow-cooker. 

I'm a really big fan of my slow cooker. It's not an expensive, flashy model, but it's great for those days when we're out and I need to conjure up some food almost as soon as we get back home.

Here's my very simple recipe for: 

Sausage stew

12 good pork sausages
200 g/ 7 ounces of bacon lardons
400 ml/ 2 cups of good vegetable stock
2 medium onions - sliced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced


1. Fry the sausages so that they have an attractive colour, but don't cook them right through.
2. Remove sausages from the frying pan and place in the bottom of the slow cooker pot.
3. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in the same saucepan as the sausages. When done, tip over the sausages in the pot, and add some chopped sage or a good shake of dry sage if you haven't got any of the fresh stuff to hand.
4. Fry the bacon lardons in the saucepan and sprinkle evenly over the sausage and onion mix in the pot.
5. Peel the potatoes, and finely chop. Then layer over the sausage mixture in the pot.
6. Pour 400 ml of hot, seasoned vegetable stock evenly over the potatoes. 
7. Place the lid on the pot and leave to cook for three and a half to four hours on the high setting.

Simple, hearty food! I served it up with some mushrooms fried in butter with spring onions and garlic, washed down with a nice glass of Rioja.

This recipe will feed 3 to 4 people, depending on the size of the servings: will you be wanting three sausages or four sausages per person? You can do the maths!

Anyway, tuck in and enjoy,

Bonny x

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