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The animals are hogging the fire, sleeping the sleep of the blessed with not a care in their furry little world. On the other hand, I have to contend with questions of how I pay the mortgage and bills this month.

I have a little cash which I have to try to eek out to feed me and the furry contingent for the next month. I will have to put on my thinking cap to come up with healthy, nutritious and cheap meals preferably with a comfort food element. I don’t like the winter, although the fact that I am not working helps me to cope as it means I see daylight, and I am not leaving the house and arriving back in the dark.

A couple of months ago, I made a lovely vegetarian cottage pie (actually I made two rather large ones, one of which I froze) so I am going to make another one (two) this week.

It is really simple to make. In a heavy based pan, fry a couple of leeks and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add sliced carrots, puy lentils and kidney beans, a tin of tomatoes, mushrooms if you are not going to freeze it, some stock, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme and some chilli flakes (optional). Once it is cooked allow it to cool, put it in a dish and cover with mashed potato. You could also use sweet potato instead of normal spuds, or perhaps a mixture of mashed potato and turnip (ponch mipe).

Ponch Mipe is a traditional dish from north Wales and takes me back to my childhood. We used to have it with our Sunday roast, and I loved to tuck in to a large mound of creamy, smooth mashed potato and turnip. It is comfort food at its best, although for me it has to have absolutely no lumps, plenty of pepper and has to be mashed with butter. I have a potato ricer which takes the hard work out of the preparation and if you want to fancy it up a little you could scatter some chives on the top, but I love it just as it is.

If anyone has any suggestions about tasty vegetarian comfort food let me know.

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