Sheila O'Kelly's Blog

Freelance journalist, sub-editor, and e-novelist

Herby, easy, tasty, vegetarian turkey stuffing

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I wasn’t working today so had lovely time in kitchen getting ahead for Christmas. I put on a beef pot roast this morning in the slow cooker – Marks and Spencer has half-price beef joints and legs of lamb at the moment.

I also put on vegetarian chilli for various non-red meat eaters who will be here over Christmas – it freezes very well. You can see this chilli on the blog under ‘Main courses’.

And then I made the stuffing. I always make it a bit before Christmas and freeze it. It’s a godsend on Christmas week when so much is happening. This recipe is inspired by the one in Darina Allen’s ‘A Simply Delicious Christmas’. I still put stuffing into the turkey. It keeps it nice and moist – the stuffing must be completely cold before you stuff the bird.

Smoked salmon was half-price in SuperValu so I bought two sides, cut each into three and froze them. I will use them in a pasta sauce with cream and lemon for a quick dinner – or as substitutes for vegetarians.

I made double the quantity of stuffing that I give here. I divided the stuffing in two: to one half I added a little flour and an egg and mixed it thoroughly. Then I made it into small patties and put them on greaseproof paper on a tin and open froze them. Tomorrow I will put them in polythene bags. I will use these for the vegetarians when I am making meatballs. I also had a bit of salmon and mashed potato left over from last night; and made and froze fish cakes for the vegetarians.

Ingredients for herby stuffing (for a 10-12lb bird)

  • 170g butter
  • 340g chopped onions
  • 800g fresh, white breadcrumbs
  • 55g chopped, curly parsley
  • Thyme leaves stripped from the twigs (about 1/2 a cup of stripped leaves).

How I do it

Cook the 340g onions in the 170g butter gently for about 10 minutes – the mixture will be quite sloppy. When it has cooled slightly, stir in the 55g parsley and half-cup of thyme leaves.

Stir in the 400g breadcrumbs - you may need to move the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Also add a little salt and pepper.

Mix all together well with a wooden spoon.

Put into plastic bags (squeezing all the air out) or put into plastic food boxes and freeze.


Written by SOKNH

December 17, 2009 at 18:46

Posted in Christmas, Recipes, Stuffing

Dodder diary 14 December 2009

with 2 comments

Setting sun

For a change these pictures were taken in the evening when we went for a walk on Saturday to shake off a Christmas party hangover!

It worked.

The setting sun casts different shadows.

Warming, calming glow of the setting sun.

Setting sun enflames the splashing water.

A familiar Dodder monument - outside the Dropping Well. This rhino seems to survive all flooding.

Written by SOKNH

December 14, 2009 at 11:08

Posted in Dodder Diary

Multi-purpose tomato sauce for the freezer

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Great standby over the holidays

Vegetarian, vegan

Makes 4-5 litres of thickish tomato sauce for pasta, pizza, chicken or wherever your imagination takes you.

Tomato sauce - takes about 30 minutes to get this into the pot. Then you have the basis for about 12 x 4 dinners.

I find this tomato sauce indispensible and I always have it in the freezer. First, you do need to cook it for at least 2 hours. But then you have enough sauce to form the basis of about 12 meals for 4 people (that’s 48 meals!). Frezze it in small quantities in plastic bags, plastic boxes or even glass jars with lids – then it’s easy to defrost. I use organic ingredients for this – I reckon it is still cheap because you get such a lot of sauce.  A food processor is really useful here – especially if you prefer to chop whole tinned tomatoes instead of the ready chopped ones. I use this sauce:

  • For a quick dinner of spaghetti with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese;
  • To pour over chicken breast fillets and bake for 45 minutes (serve with couscous);
  • And most of all as a topping for my homemade pizza (or you could use it over a shop-bought base).


  • 500g peeled onions, chopped
  • 150g peeled carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (or whole tinned tomatoes, chopped)
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • One bay leaf
  • A few sticks of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chilli
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 glass of red wine or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

The print version of how I cook this sauce is below the photos. Enjoy!

How I do it

  1. Cover the base of a really large casserole type pan with olive oil and heat slowly (there is no other fat in this recipe). I use a Le Creuset pot that I got as a wedding present (and that’s well over 20 years!).
  2. While the oil is heating, peel the 500g onions and cut in quarters. Chop finely. and add to oil in pot and cook slowly for about 10 minutes stirring.
  3. Peel and chop the 150g carrots.
  4. Add the 2-3 stalks of celery to the food processor and pulse – you don’t want a mush.
  5. The carrots and celery should look like this when chopped.
  6. Stir the carrots and celery into the onions and cook for another few minutes.
  7. Add the tinned, chopped tomatoes.
  8. Stir the tomatoes into the vegetable mixture.
  9. Fill one of the cans one third with water. Use this water to rinse out each can passing from one can to the other – okay this is optional!
  10. Chop a large handful of parsley, including stalks.
  11. Add the parsley, bay leaf and fresh thyme to sauce – stir it in.
  12. Add about a teaspoon of dried basil to the sauce.
  13. Add a teaspoon of salt to the sauce.
  14. Add a good grinding of pepper.
  15. Add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed chillies.
  16. Add a teaspoon of sugar – this offsets the acidity of the tomatoes.
  17. Add a glass of red wine or a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
  18. Cook on a very low heat with the lid off for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally.

Written by SOKNH

December 9, 2009 at 11:57

Posted in Recipes, Sauces

Dodder diary 7 December 2009

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Wonderful light this morning. My walking is taking longer and longer as I take more and more pictures. Got a nice one today that I will use for Christmas cards.

The moon in the morning sky.

Winter colour.

Inspiring sky.

Little light shines.

Green, green grass.

Written by SOKNH

December 7, 2009 at 13:31

Posted in Dodder Diary

Dodder diary Friday 4 December 2009

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It’s a dull day today and the colours and textures stand out more as a result.

This particular spot is one where the reflections often taken on a surreal quality.

The textures stand out more on a dull day.

Long-legged Italy kicked poor Siciliy into the Mediterranean Sea. This is an offcut of waste timber from a tree that came down in a storm.

Colour and texture are heightened by grey skies.

Dodder walkers mark the spot.

And the township marked another spot up beside the weir more than a hundred years ago.

Silken water is foil for filigree branches.

Leaves snuggle up to the main iron gate.

The key to the park - I don't remember ever seeing this gate closed.

One of the herons was under the footbridge this morning.

Written by SOKNH

December 4, 2009 at 13:34

Posted in Dodder Diary

Dodder diary Wednesday 2 December 2009

with one comment

I have to go for the dreaded NCT for the car next week, so left it in to be serviced this morning and then went on my Dodder walk. My camera is acting up a bit so I took some of these on the iPhone.

The autumn leaf-strewn path has turned to winter.

Golden sun warms the bare branches.

Sparse twigs pattern the water.

Evergreens remain constant.

One of the two herons settles in his morning spot.

The other heron is alert and watching out for breakfast.

Lacy lichen littered branches spread out across the water.

The heron and the shopping trolley. Ah me.

Two different worlds side by side.

Written by SOKNH

December 2, 2009 at 13:21

Posted in Dodder Diary

Dodder diary 30 November

with 2 comments

Last days of autumn

Dimples in the water at the weir.

Magical morning sky.

Autumn burns out in glorious orange.

The last few leaves linger on.

Written by SOKNH

November 30, 2009 at 16:46

Posted in Dodder Diary