My library of food books spills off my shelves; there’s a French one in my car, which I read while waiting for my child’s ballet classes to end.  An Australian tome of great beauty adorns my coffee table; a nice escape from tedious TV adverts.  Sonia Cabano’s been my bedside companion for some weeks now; pre-sleep fodder for the sweetest dreams …

Yet, with this great bounty of culinary pornography, this plethora of divine inspiration, I am – once a week – presented with that deeply unsexy freezer staple: beef mince, a thing that does not make for poetry.

Meatloaf (both the singer and the dish) brings to mind a mullet hairstyle and I’ve done the California-glamour burger patty to death; spaghetti bolognaise and lasagna made repeat performances during the winter and must now be allowed to rest a while. Cabbage rolls have simply been banned and must never be mentioned in my home again for fear of frightful crossness from my family.

And so I confront the truth that into each life a little rain must fall; I pull myself together and fry an onion.  In the end I find that savoury mince on plain old white rice is just the thing a little girl who is feeling very poorly wants. 

Nursery food it is, and it really does have its place in the world.

“Plain fare gives as much pleasure as a costly diet, while bread and water confer the highest possible pleasure when they are brought to hungry lips.”

Epicurus (341?-270 BC)


63 Comments Add yours

  1. It (Savoury mince) is only second in my house to curried mince, on brown rice.

  2. Chantelle says:

    I am also all minced out … cottage pie, savoury mince on spuds / rice, mince curry, meatballs on mash AND those pasta versions you mention! I think I should try Supa’s meatloaf for a change! Ooo, I just remembered my Mince Swiss Roll!!!! I shall make that next time!

    PS: Incase you are interested in the Mince Swiss Roll:

    Take meatball mince (mince with whatever you normally add for meatballs) and press out into a rectangular shape on a sheet of tinfoil. Top with fried onions, fried mushrooms, fried bacon, wilted spinach and feta and/or cheddar cheese. Roll up like a swiss roll (the foil helps alot here – just don’t roll the foil up in it LOL). Place in greased (Spray & Cook) dish and refrigerate for at least three hours (I make it in the morning and leave it in there all day). Cover the top with bacon rashers and bake until cooked (just over an hour normally). Leave to rest for a short while and slice like a swiss roll 😀

    1. theonlycin says:

      Goodness me, what a feast!

      1. Jem says:

        That sounds divine!

  3. souldipper says:

    Are Tacos served in South Africa? Young people here look forward to tacos for a change – especially with all the yummy mince, melted cheese, sour cream and salsa.

    Hope your sweetheart is getting better. Her recovery will not have anything to do with lack of great food!

    1. theonlycin says:

      We do serve tacos, most often with chicken strips. Thanks for the idea.

  4. deepercolors says:

    Sometimes plain is what you need.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yep, you’re spot on 🙂

  5. paul willis says:

    I didn’t know what beef mince was when I first started reading… But, after hearing some of the recipe possibilities for it ,I sort of figured it was (hamburger meat)…Hey, maybe it would be more poetic to call it Ground Round, as I do…because I don’t touch anything less than 80 percent lean. Anyway, and this is not a fine dining recipe by any means, as you are accustomed to preparing, but, I usually have to break down and do the old military SOS staple at least once a month. Brown one pound ground round, sauteed onion and bell pepper to taste, and add a can or two of Creme of Mushroom soup…serve on toasted favorite bread. The original recipe substitutes the mushroom soup with a milk gravy…and I dare say the military’s name for it is no poetic than it is unappetizing…But, regardless of it’s simplicity, and military slang…It’s quite satisfying.

    Don’t know if I should disclose Military Secrets like this …but, SOS=Shit on Shingles…Lovely huh? LOL God Bless you

    1. theonlycin says:

      Paul, as always, you are an absolute tonic, LMAO, thanks 😀

  6. Madmom says:

    I used to want mash potato, jelly and custard when I was ill as a kid.
    Nothing like comfort food to make a young girl feel better.
    Hope she is on the mend, Cindy.

    1. Greg says:

      Not all at the same time I hope Madmom?!

      For me it was always vanilla ice-cream. For my daughter (especially when the winter sniffles and snot arrive) it’s her mothers killer chicken soup – like any good Jewish mother my wife knocks up an awesome “Chicken Soup for the Curing of All Ailments”.

      1. theonlycin says:

        Also wondered if it was some sort of sickbed-trifle Madmom was describing.
        Like your wife, I have a good Jewish momma fixer, mine is make-me-better-beans 🙂

  7. Now I feel homesick for good old Pick ‘n Pay! Hope your daughter feels better soon xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      She seems to have worsened a tad, Sunshine, or else the meds have affected her tummy 😦

  8. adeeyoyo says:

    Love the Epicurus quote, Cindy. It is SO true… 😉

  9. suzicate says:

    Ah, comfort food! Took salmon out of the freezer for dinner, and I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m going to do with it……

    1. theonlycin says:

      Poach it in cream with a little dill and serve it over pasta?

  10. Or – two of my favorites: “Hunger is the best sauce.” And from Proverbs, “Better a dinner of herbs, where love is, than a fatted calf and hatred with it.”

    BTW, please take a photo of the big Australian TOMB on your table. I can’t help but think it must be the tomb of a midget, or you have a very large table. Or perhaps you are speaking of a TOME. In that case, you can forgo the photo. 😀 (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. The picture that came to my mind, well – just think of it!)

    1. theonlycin says:

      Wicked, wicked woman!

      1. C’est moi! And how did you know?

  11. nrhatch says:

    Loved mince as a child . . . prepared by my Scottish grandmother and served over mashed tatties. 🙂

    Hope OB rebounds quickly, abetted by your loving care.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Mashed tats tonight 😀

  12. Naomi says:

    I can totally relate to OB, being a sucker for comfort food, especially mince 🙂 I hope she feels better really soon! Thank you for including that quote. It’s so profound.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I think it has something to do with eating with a spoon instead of a knife & fork that makes them feel that mommy is taking care of things?

  13. gospelwriter says:

    I used to use it in a great variety of dishes, but I too had grown tired of its – what? predictability? – ah, mundaneness (apparently that’s not a word – it is now 🙂 ). Love the phrase “culinary pornography.” I do hope your daughter is feeling better…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh, I say we proclaim ‘mundaneness’ an officially acceptable word!

  14. Greg says:

    Have you seen this post on the Homepage Cindy?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, I did see it, thanks Greg!

  15. I also like plain old mince with onion.

    How about the dutch-style frikkadels on a skewer, it’s a bit different.

    Way back in my adventurous days I made meatballs covered in a layer of thick mashed potato, rolled in crumbs and roasted in the oven.

    I also once successfully made boiled baby potatoes with a sort of frikkadel mix wrapped round the outside.

    Mince with moroccan spice and rice used to stuff half butternut and roasted has been a success twice for me.

    and how about babootie and moussaka?

  16. mixed mince and lentils is nice to stuff sweet peppers to be roasted

  17. somewhere i had an interesting erecipe for turtles.

    balls of mince (and whatever else you fancy) with bacon strips layered like wickerwork to make a pattern. Viennas cut to make a head, 4 legs and a little tail.

    I think there were baby tomatoes stuck on with toothpicks. and then the whole lot roasted. Look like turtles, if your family could be that adventurous 😉

  18. lifeinarecipe says:

    Sorry to hear that your little one is not well…mince, onion and rice sound like simple things to eat for someone not feeling up to snuff…but it is her Mom’s tender care in making her what she wants to eat that will have her feeling better soon!

    1. theonlycin says:

      She’s on the mend, thanks Cindy 🙂

  19. klrs09 says:

    Hi Cindy. Sorry to hear your girl is sick. Hopefully, the plain, simple food fixed her up a bit.
    Hamburger ( what we call mince) was a staple in my house while I was growing up. with 7 brothers and sisters, we couldn’t afford much more. But you know, to this day, I love hamburger. One of the things my mom always made (at least twice a week) was what we called hash. Brown hamburger with onion and celery, toss in a handful of flour, some seasonings then the water from boiled potatos to make a gravy. Mash the potatoes. Heat up some creamed corn. Serve all together on a plate. Mix with a fork. Yum! Or at least I remember it as being yum. Huge LOL! My God what we remember! Thanks for reminding me. Really do hope your daughter is feeling better. Take care — oh and by the way congrats on the win of cutting boards and knives! Awesome for you.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Your hash sounds delicious 🙂

  20. Tammy McLeod says:

    LOVE the quote Cin and your consumption is very in line with our thinking as we are in our week of the American Food Stamp challenge. Oh boy. But my kids like simple and your post is perfect.

    1. theonlycin says:

      *goes off to Google the food stamp challenge*

  21. Usually when I cook mince I know that Jamie and Nigella would never use it, and nor would Cindy, but life is life and Felix likes spag bog. Now I shall square my shoulders and hold my head up high, because you, too, use it once a week.

    Actually I think Jamie does use it, but he minces the cow himself with a mincer which costs the earth.

    Is that libellous?

    1. theonlycin says:

      bwahahaha, you are too funny 😉

  22. You are absolutely right. Nursery food does have a place. Enjoy!

  23. Bee says:

    Sometimes the simplest meals are the best aren’t they?

    I’m a big fan of American style chilli (though it doesn’t have to be spicy hot) with mince and beans and sweet peppers and such. with rice and cheese and yoghurt and homemade salsa. Yum!

    I hope your daughter is feeling better soon

    1. theonlycin says:

      ooh, that does sound good, thanks Bee.

  24. oh my word! how do u do that!? that was just lovely. delicious writing. keep on.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks for the house-call Doc 😀

  25. Count Czardas says:

    When you write that beef mince is “that deeply unsexy freezer staple”, don’t forget that Lady Gaga is likely to, at any moment, step out in public and attend a premier dressed up only in beef mince.

    1. Count Czardas says:

      Although that probably wouldn’t change the “deeply unsexy” rating.

      1. *dashes off to sewing machine with packet of mince from freezer*

      2. theonlycin says:

        You’re spot on there, as always 😉

  26. slpmartin says:

    If you wait long enough….the pain of hunger will make such plain fare taste like a well prepared gourmet meal…well of course presentation would be most import. 😀

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