Saturday, 12 May 2012

St Pancras, a celebration of home

I am staying in this evening. For a Saturday that is fairly rare. I was at school today, celebrating the summer fete by checking my Year 7 form were having fun washing cars, and that they were doing a fairly reasonable job! I have some excellent pictures of them, but sadly it would not be wise for me to publish them here. They did a sterling job, and made a killing! My car looks shiny and new after their loving attention!

Still, all this staying in has left me with a few moments on my hands to think about a Roman Martyr whose feast it is today. St Pancras. Now is there a more appropriate saint to help you think about home? For those of us who live in the UK, St Pancras is the name of the beautifully built, wonderfully restored, hectic train station of central London. For me particularly, the words of Gemma as we emigrated from Ireland to England stick in my mind. We boarded a train towards a new home and she said to my Ma, 'I think we are on number one not budger.' It had been a very long day. Ever since, St. Pancras has been where you have to get to to get home. He is the start point and the end point of many adventures.

But who was St. Pancras, and before he was famous for looking after a railway station, what did he do? The answer is that little is known. He is buried on the Aurelian Way, just outside Rome. He died around 304AD. Some say that he was born in the East, orphaned, brought to Rome by an uncle, Dionysius, and martyred by the age of fourteen. He was a popular with the faithful from the 6th Century onwards, and the first Church St. Augustine of Canterbury established in England was dedicated to him. The church dedicated to him that has impressed me most is in Dartmoor, Widecombe-in-the-moor hosts the 'Cathedral of Dartmoor', dedicated to none other than St Pancras.

St Pancras is often invoked against false witness and perjury, headaches and cramp, he is the champion of oaths and is the patron saint of children. In art he is often shown with an inverted sword in one hand and palm branch in another. Look out for him in London next time your travel!

For me, with all his past actions, patronages and history, he is the saint of being at home, and so in his honour I cook a meal for 'staying in' suitable for everyone, especially the kids.

Sausage Plait

I'm tired and I cheated, so I bought puff pastry (mea culpa)

425g puff pastry sheets
500g good quality sausage meat (get it from your local butcher, tell him what it's for, take advice)
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tbl sp wholegrain mustard
1 egg whisked
a little milk

Preheat the over to 230C. Gently fry the onions in a little olive oil. Mix the sausage meat with the onions and mixed park. Place a rectangle of pastry on a greased, non stick, baking tray. Spread a thin layer of wholegrain mustard down the centre (you can leave this out, of course). Place the sausage mixture down the centre of the pastry, leaving a 5cm border down the side.

Working down each side, cut strips from the mixture to the edge of the pastry at a 45 degree angle at 2.5 centimetre angles. Carefully plait these strips across the sausage filling, working alternately left to right and then right to left. When the plaiting is complete brush the pastry with a mixture of beaten eegg and milk.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Great hot or cold.

I am serving this with coleslaw, beetroot, salad and a warm potato salad, but it is equally good with beans and chips. It is all about being at home.

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