cottage-pie

4

November comfort food

This week is brought to you by some of my followers who came to my aid when I tossed out a cry for help. Feeling uninspired, a couple of days ago I asked if anyone had a food they would like to see on tango-mango. Bingo! So far I have received six great suggestions. They may not all make it this week, but certainly a few of them will, with the others not too far behind.

Lost-My-Hearts-in-Republic-City asked if I could make a fall/wintertime comfort food and suggested shepherd’s pie. Motivated by the idea of creating something warm and delicious for cool and rainy days, I spent a fair amount of time looking through a dozen-or-so recipes. The origin of this meat pie dates back centuries, so as you can imagine, there are about as many versions of this dish as there cooks who make it.

According to history, the humble “cottage pie” dates back to around 1791, when the potato was introduced as an edible crop affordable to the poor. Along with the potatoes, any kind of leftover meat was used. Cookbooks from the early 19th century started calling it “shepherd’s pie” and those recipes usually listed lamb as the meat ingredient. Since then, (supposedly) lots of people have felt that shepherds primarily tended to sheep, therefore, a true shepherd’s pie must contain lamb. Cottage pie, shepherd’s pie – overall the names are fairly synonymous.

Last night’s casserole was gorgeous, and those spoonfuls of the savory meat-and-vegetable filling, blanketed with mashed potatoes hit the spot. It was so good, leftovers were packed in containers and taken away to work, to reheat later in the day.

This recipe is my own version, influenced by many. You could use any leftover vegetables you have on hand, including squash, beans and corn. A vegetarian version could easily be made substituting lentils for the meat.

Cottage pie (you can call it “Shepherd’s pie” if you wish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 6 - 7 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven 375°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add the onions and sauté them until they begin to turn golden, about 7 minutes. Add ground beef and continue to cook, breaking it up in pieces. Add carrots, salt, pepper and thyme and continue to cook until beef is done. Drain fat from pan and discard.  

Sprinkle beef with flour and stir through. Add tomato paste, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Let this cook for a minute or two and then add beef stock. Allow to reduce down until you have a thick gravy and carrots are beginning to soften. (They will continue to cook in the oven.) Taste and add more salt if needed. Stir in peas.

Remove from heat. Spray an oven proof 11 x 7 or 13 x 9-inch dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon meat mixture into dish. (I actually prepared two smaller dishes to created two casseroles.)

Stir egg into hot mashed potatoes. Spread or pipe the mashed potatoes over top, covering completely. Bake casserole until bubbly around edges and potatoes are beginning to turn golden, about 25 minutes. If potatoes haven’t browned but casserole looks done, put dish under the broiler for several minutes. Watch carefully!

Tent casserole loosely with aluminum foil and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Cottage Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 6

  • For a shepherd’s pie, use lamb. Or, try a turkey twist: Add 2 cups finely minced turkey meat along with the peas. 
  • To store, let cool completely, cover with foil, and refrigerate, up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven until warmed through. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced medium
  • 2 large carrots, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup dark (porter) beer
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 1 large russet potato (¾ pound), very thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, 5 minutes. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. 
  4. Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, 3 minutes. Add thyme and beer and bring to a boil. 
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. 
  6. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. 
  7. Add 1 cup water and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. 
  10. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. 
  11. Bake until potatoes are browned around edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. 
  12. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

disposable-teen13  asked:

32. “Your eyes are red… Were you crying?” Robron please :)

32. Your eyes are red… Were you crying? (spoiler alert: he wasn’t. and this is all the fault of @capseycartwright you can’t go around putting stuff like that in my head lorna!)


Aaron doesn’t do much of the cooking. Not because he’s lazy or anything, it’s just. Well, Aaron’s idea of a hearty meal is four slices of toast and Robert’s actually good at it so. Aaron does other stuff, alright? You’ve never seen Robert clean the bathroom have you? Didn’t think so.

The point is, it’s not that he can’t cook. So there’s really no reason for Robert to look so bloody surprised when he gets home to find Aaron most of the way through Vic’s cottage pie recipe. It’s a Sunday, he’s been home alone all afternoon. It’s not that weird.

“Well this is a surprise,” Robert says. Aaron can hear him taking his coat off, crash of keys into the fruit bowl on the counter that’s never seen any fruit, boots thumping against the wall. Aaron’ll have to tidy those away later, he just knows it.

“Is it?”

He feels Robert step up behind him at the cooker, hands smoothing over his shoulders, soft kiss to the back of his neck. Aaron stirs the stew, sets his wooden spoon back down in the puddle of gravy it’s left on the counter. He’s got a while before he needs to turn the potatoes off.

“Cottage pie?” Robert asks, just from the smell apparently.

Aaron nods, distracted as Robert levers himself up on to the counter. He’s wearing the jumper Liv bought him last Christmas, soft and grey, sleeves shoved up to his elbows and Aaron loses himself for a minute watching the bunch and release of the muscles in Robert’s forearms. Has to check the food again before Robert notices or he’ll never hear the end of it.

“Smells good,” Robert says, which makes Aaron feel inexplicably shy. He’s given up trying to understand his body’s reactions to Robert by now.

Before he can say anything else Robert’s long legs are reaching out, catching . Aaron around the waist. He stumbles into the vee of Robert’s thighs, can’t help but laugh.

Robert ruffles a hand through Aaron’s hair, squeezes him in tighter with his knees. “Thanks for this,” he says. “I was dreading having to sort something for tea after the day I’ve had.”

Aaron shrugs, dropping his hands to Robert’s thighs, rubbing a little because he can’t help himself. “Well, I’ve got my uses.”

Robert’s smile could power the sun. “You really do.” 

He’s got that look in his eye, Aaron thinks, that look like Aaron’s about to get good and kissed and he better hold on tight. It makes him shiver. He can feel himself wavering closer before Robert inclines his head sharply, face worried.

“Your eyes are red,” he says. “Have you been crying? What’s wrong?”

Aaron shakes his head and the smile that spreads across his face is completely outside of his control. “I’ve been chopping onions, idiot. What have I got to cry about? I’ve been sat on my arse all day.”

Robert huffs a laugh. “Sorry, it’s just-”

Aaron hurries a nod. “I know.” Robert doesn’t like to take any chances anymore, neither of them do.

They stand for a moment, just nodding at each other. It feels utterly, ridiculously romantic to Aaron. To be stood in their kitchen, the kitchen Robert built for him, the smell of Sunday food in the air, April shower tapping at the fogged up windows. It feels like home.

Aaron can’t really get any closer but he tries his best, hands sliding around Robert’s waist in a hug. He has to lean up further than usual to get at Robert’s mouth but that’s okay. It makes the sensation of Robert kissing down into him that little bit sharper, Robert’s hands on his face, fingers soft against his jaw.

It’s the sort of kiss they don’t often have time for. Starts slow and gentle, slick slide of tongues. Robert tastes like salt and the inside of Aaron’s own mouth, familiar and exhilarating like it’s always been.

Robert’s thumbs are pressed to the pressure points at the hinges Aaron’s jaw, fingers rubbing up into his hair. It makes Aaron want to writhe, push into the touch like a cat until Robert pets him. He settles for arching his neck a little, muffles the noise he makes on Robert’s tongue.

He loves it when it’s like this, kisses long and sloppy, mouths moving in a rhythm they perfected a long time ago. Aaron’s lips feel used already, he knows Robert’s will be red all through tea and he can’t wait to see it.

It slows up a little, has to, windows down to soft brushes of lips, shared breath, Robert’s tongue flickering over Aaron’s bottom lip until Aaron can’t stand it anymore. His hands find Robert’s hips with a groan, tug so Robert slides forward on the counter and now they really can’t get any closer.

He can feel Robert, hard against his belly, a matching ache to the one Aaron is trying not to subtly grind against the cutlery draw. It doesn’t feel urgent though, more like a promise.

Robert eases back eventually, when his stomach grumbles loudly enough to have Aaron laughing into his mouth.

His palms cup Aaron’s jaw, eyes bright. “You want to be careful,” he says, nudging their noses together. “I could get used to this sort of treatment.”

Aaron gives him another kiss, feels warm and soft behind his ribs. Robert always does this to him. “Maybe you should,” he tells him. It’s easier to be soppy when Robert’s too close to see clearly.

Robert winds his arms around Aaron’s neck and Aaron lets him because he’s not an idiot. Hugs from Robert are the best kind of hugs. He hides his warm face in Robert’s shoulder, breathes him in.

He really needs to finish tea now, can probably he can talk Robert into sorting the potatoes if he plays his cards right. But he’s just going to hug his husband for a bit longer first, it’s what Sundays were made for, after all.

Shepherd’s Pie Potato Skins

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 250g/8oz beef mince (ground beef)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion (brown, white or yellow), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • cups frozen mixed vegetables (pea, corn, carrots) (or fresh)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup beef stock/broth (or 1 stock / bouillon cube dissolved in hot water)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper

Potatoes and Mash

  • 4 large potatoes, scrubbed clean (about 400g/13oz each)
  • ½ to 1 cup milk (full or low fat)
  • 2 tbsp butter (optional – but highly recommended)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Potatoes and Mash

  1. Prick the potatoes with a fork (about 6 times on each potato) and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Then turn and microwave for a further 5 minutes. Pierce with a knife to check if they are cooked.
  2. Remove from microwave (use a dish cloth). Cut off the tops and scoop out the center using a spoon, leaving a fairly thin skin (about 0.5 cm / 0.2”).
  3. Place the potato scooped out in a bowl. Add milk, butter and salt and mash with a potato masher until smooth, or to your liking.
  4. If you want to pipe the filling, place the mashed potato into a piping back with a large star tip nozzle.

Filling

  1. Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes until softened.
  3. Turn up heat to high. Add mince beef (ground beef) and cook, breaking up the mince as you go, until nicely browned and cooked – about 3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle over flour and stir to combine.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to simmer and continue to stir until the sauce is thick and glossy – around 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat.

Assemble Potatoes

  1. Fill each potato with the Filling so it is slightly heaped. Push down lightly to pack the filling in well.
  2. Pipe over the mashed potato, or scoop it on with a spoon then fluff it up with a fork. You probably won’t use all of it – save the remainder or serve it on the side.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the mashed potato is starting to brown on the ridges.
  4. Serve immediately!

Notes

  • This freezes really well. Freeze after baking for best results, otherwise the mashed potato sticks to the cling wrap. To reheat, thaw then bake (to get the top crispy again) or microwave.
  • You can bake the potatoes if you prefer, rather than microwaving them. They will take around 40 – 50 minutes at 180C/350F.
  • If you are in a real hurry, you can skip the step of baking and just brown the top under the grill/broiler. But note that the baking gives the filling time for the flavours to develop as well as browning the top.
  • You could also sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top of the mashed potato. Adds even more crunch and flavor!
  • Here’s a bit of food trivia for you: Shepherd’s Pie vs Cottage Pie. Do you know the difference? The recipe is the same – a mince filling topped with mashed potato. The only difference is that Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with lamb mince whereas Cottage Pie is made with beef mince. I always get the names confused! And most people know the version made with beef as Shepherd’s Pie, so that’s the name I’ve gone with.
Jam's Shepherd's Pie...

Hello, this is a dish I made for a dinner party the other night (Jelly was sous chef - since his chopping skills are superior to mine)… It’s a typical winter dish, but I was feeling patriotic with the olympics, so thought would try this out and serve with a salad (rather that traditional winter veggies) to cool it down. In Barcelona, it is surprisingly difficult to get minced lamb… We tried a few supermarkets and some halal butchers, but couldn’t find it, in the end we went to the boqueria and a butcher told us, it is so rare in Barcelona, it’s done on request since it’s not popular – so she offered to mince one of the whole legs she had in the display cabinet – Jelly said ‘yes please’. I must admit I was like, ‘what? That does not look like it will turn out like minced lamb’ but she de-boned it there and then and stuck it in a mincer – and no offense intended – but it looked just like the pre-packaged ‘crap’ I normally buy in the supermarket, so I was relieved… and it tasted gooooood. 1 point to Jelly… 

Jam xxx

PS. I apologise for the sideways pictures… plus, it seems like lots of steps, but its actually quite simple - if i can do it… 

To MAKE… 

2 tablespoons of olive oil (keep the bottle to hand)

1 large onion                                   Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

1 large stick of celery                      Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

2 decent sized carrots                     Finely diced (Jelly helped with this)

2 cloves of garlic

680 grams mince lamb

2 tablespoons of plain flour

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup stock (ideally homemade lamb stock)

10 dashes of Worcester sauce

1 cup red wine

200ml tomato passata (US: puree) [in Spain we used Tomate Frito, slightly more flavours but couldn’t find plain tomato sauce]

1 beef stock cube (or chicken, these are for your taste).

2 handfuls of frozen peas

8 medium potatoes (I weighed it at 1.2kg, then peeled and cut to roughly uniform size to speed up boiling)

200ml cream

50ml butter

100g grated cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil into quite a deep pan.
  2. Fry onions on high heat until moist and sweaty – this will make them sweeter and add best flavour.
  3. Fill pan with water and add potatoes and generous pinch of salt to water, time for this to boil should fit with the other tasks – fingers crossed – keep an eye on it throughout – we want soft potatoes, but they shouldn’t start to fall apart.
  4. When onions soft and just about to brown, add the garlic (we just separated the cloves with the side of the knife, you can use garlic press if preferred), and add celery and carrots, add bay leaves and take thyme from stalks and add, continue to fry on medium heat.
  5. Add pinch of salt & pepper.
  6. Allow this mix to fry down – the goal is soft carrots and celery, will take roughly 15 mins with only occasional stirring to check no sticking – if something has stuck, add a dash of olive oil.
  7. When celery and carrots are cooked and tender – add the meat, allow to brown – stirring to avoid lumps, should take around 5 minutes until all meat is brown and the lamb’s fat has released.
  8. Add the flour evenly and stirring as you add.
  9. Add tomato sauce, 6 dashes of Worcester sauce, the cup of wine and the cup of stock stir in and allow to boil to reduce the wine.
  10. Taste test. If you think it needs a more meaty taste – add a beef stock cube (if it’s too meaty for your taste, some people add chicken stock cube). Also, taste test with no alcohol taste signifies wine has reduced significantly.
  11. Add 4 dashes of Worcester sauce for luck too.
  12. When potatoes are boiled, drain them, and in the same cooking pan, add the butter, half the cream and the cheese, and mash. Hold the rest of the cream back, since the potatoes sit a little, it will be added just before spreading to add some moisture.
  13. Empty mince into casserole dish, then add the potatoes – since the potatoes have cheese, they are quite gloopy consistency, will not be able to spread with just a spatula – I use a wide spatula and a thin one – and shape, 2cm thick ‘pattie’ squares on the wide spatula, then using the thin spatula, I release this messily onto the mince and pat down softly. Cover completely with potatoes.
  14. Fork the top of the dish all over (this gives different levels of crispiness).
  15. Please in pre-heated oven on 225 C on a medium shelf for upto 30 mins – but keep an eye on it, could be less – remember everything is already cooked – we want to create a crispy and/or browned top.
  16. Remove from oven, and allow to sit for 10 minutes as it will be piping hot.
  17. Serve with a side salad.
Keto Recipe Master List

Here is an organized list of of the recipes I have posted on my blog, for easy finding of things. I will also be putting a link to this post in my sidebar for ease of use.

*asterisk next to a recipe indicates that it comes from an outside source and, therefore, may not provide you with nutrition information or net carbs.

Desserts

Snacks and Side Dishes

Main Dishes

Recipe Collections

Lets talk BLOCK B in London

First off, if you weren’t a B-Bomb stan before that concert, its pretty safe to say if you were sat anywhere within the vicinity of my seat, you damn well are now! That boy has some serious fan service that ropes you in without telling you! From his effortless beauty that shines the minute he steps on stage, to his favourite English food of Cottage Pie (Who taught him that?), to the intense stares he was giving the entire left hand side of the balcony which, might i just say, are literally soul-sucking whenever his eyes land on you! Its safe to say, i’d give my entire life’s earnings to see B-Bomb smile at me again. O.O

But i digress.

To be honest, i probably owe everyone an apology for being a little too excited the entire hour we were seated leading up to the beginning of the show, so if there was a girl by you with deely boppers and grey/purple hair that was shouting and dancing too much to the sound system, I apologize for any inconvenience i caused you!  (I was just trying to make everyone a little more hype!) ;)

But its safe to say, the minute the lights went down and the VCR began, i could not stop screaming. And the moment they all came out, skipping onto stage whooping, Zico going above and beyond the level of hype i expected- I was gone, im pretty sure the scream that left me was long and continuous and did not stop for the entirety of the concert.

But shall we get onto the bit, that i know you’re all here for?

Block B, when seen with your very own eyes, are the epitome of beauty, and in the strangest sense, when you see them, reality comes squeezing in around you, and you’re forced to realize in that moment that their little feet start dancing around the stage, that they are in fact ACTUAL human beings. 

Along with this, the most prominent understanding you are forced to come to, is that, that Taeil that you’ve always seen on screen and in pictures, is LITERALLY JUST AS CUTE AND SMOL as he is in real life. I could not stop staring at how adorable he is- regardless of how manly he might actually see himself as. 

I was also forced to accept the true herculean form of Kim Yukwon’s thighs, and the reality of exactly why he’s got a girlfriend and has had her since debut and beyond- the boy is GORGEOUS. 

I had to confront myself about the reality that Jaehyo really is an extremely tall Ahjumma crossed with Adonis. And i cannot tell you the enjoyment i got watching him get to the end of the 3rd song, before seeing his face start to show the pain of exercise and dancing whilst all his other members were still happily bouncing away (because SAME). And by the half way mark, he had almost completely given up and had began to piss about with U-Kwon, who continuously tried to jab him in the ribs.

And then came Kyung. Now, im not the biggest Kyung stan as im sure most are aware. HOWEVER, i cannot deny him the fact that he is incredibly cute in his gestures, and he was SO HYPE to be in London! I swear to God he didn’t stop smiling the entire time, and i think that is one of the main memories that i will take away from that experience, is the huge arm heart that Kyung kept showing to the 2nd level- plus, when he smiles AS HES LOOKING AT YOU, you’re sure to go home happy. Although, can we just also talk about his miniature English q&a session (because he was all too aware he is the most fluent in English out of all of them), in which he asked the members about their favourite British foods, (hence B-Bomb and cottage pie) and he tried to rip into them for their adorable simplistic answers? Quick run down:

B-Bomb - Cottage Pie (proud of himself)
Jaehyo - burger and fries? (I think, was very shy and awkward when he said it xD)
U-Kwon - five guys (also pretty enthusiastic) 
Zico - fish and chips (very VERY enthusiastic, could be the new mascot for fish and chips tbh)
Taeil - (i feel like it was something generically English but i cant remember, my bad) 
Kyung - just giggled the whole time.

Now, lets move onto Zico. That boy, was LIVING for being in London. Before i got there, i got the feeling he was pretty excited to be here through his insta posts, but he could not stop going on about it the whole time, exceedingly smiley and energetic through the entire first half (and second half to be honest) but after Conduct for Zero (when he filled in for P.O- I was sad, but it was a lit stage) he just seemed so happy to be there, and seemed to genuinely be having the time of his life. He was ALL TOO HAPPY to speak English for pretty much the entire time, and just seemed so proud of himself to be able to do so, which was so adorable i cannot tell you! But after seeing Block B live, you can really understand what kind of a group leader he is; efficient, compassionate, and just BAWSE!! 

One of the songs which was a game changer for me, was the heavy rock version of Very Good they played!! Like holey moley, that was LIT TO HIGH HEAVENS!! (i’ll upload a video clip in a mo). But also NICE DAY WAS INSANE! And Taeil carried it SOOO well- if you ever do anything in your life, see Lee Taeil sing them high notes live man!! It is WORTH IT! But tbh, the highlight of that night, despite the lacking of P.O’s presence- which i think i would have legitimately fainted at- was Zero For Conduct. I’ve always been a HUGE Bastarz fan!…but seeing that live, has changed my life! Sincerely.

And also, you might be thinking, but how did the other members feel? Zico and Kyung were happily chatting away in English, but what about the others? However, despite wondering this myself, when the ‘thank you’-esq time came around, they had such a good translation system working, and although i initially thought it would be awkward, the minute the crowd started responding to what the translator was saying after the boys had spoken, it just became such a beautiful and warming atmosphere, because i dont know about everyone else, but i was soo happy to know how the boys felt about London, and the end of their Europe tour in general. And after Zico took his hat off for us like he said he would if we genuinely impressed him, i can honestly say, any normal band will never live up to the experience of a block b/kpop concert in general.

And on a final note, lets just talk about the fan service again, cause i still cant get over B-Bomb and i dont think i ever will. He is Apollo, he is sunshine on a rainy day, he is a tragically beautiful painting, and for as long as i live i will never forget the entire 5-6 times i locked eyes with that man and shared in his smile. Because even though I got to wave at Taeil who was waving and pulling many a sad/funny face at the second floor area, and even though Kyung may have shot a heart in my direction, and coupled it with the cheesiest grin i ever did see, neither of them for some reason compare to the utter, graceless beauty, that is B-Bomb’s smile when directed specifically at you.

I’d say more about Zico, but his attention was mostly on the front row and the standing crowd, and im not entirely sure he could see the balcony seats and up well- but he was having a grand time regardless. Jaehyo was smiling throughout, but i got the sense from him, that despite the fact he was having a good time, he was tired from the end of tour. And U-kwon was really just playing with the girls hearts in the front row the entire night- so if you were down there, r.i.p after Kim Yukwon.

And alas, here i sit. Crying over remembering all the little details of the show, that as soon as it started seemed like it only took 5 minutes before it was ending, cause i was simply enjoying myself so much. The Post-concert blues are real, and i think that concert truly did change my entire life, but if there is one bit of advice i’d give anyone who was thinking of going to a kpop concert, or any concert in general in the future…its simply to take a moment to take it in, it wont ever be enough, but as long as you take a moment for yourself to realize that what you’re experiencing is real, then it’ll all be okay.

P.S. imma probs do another post tomorrow with everything i’ve forgotten from this one, but for now, enjoy my reliving of ‘Blockbuster in London’. <3

The Closet....

Jack: So where did you send Dot and Mr Butler

Phryne: Daylesford, of course. I always lie as little as possible.

It’s after midnight, How much longer did you want to stay here?

Why? Aren’t you enjoying yourself?

Try some of Dot’s cottage pie.

Er… Do you have a fork?

You’ll have to use your fingers.

beyond repair

read on ao3

summary: robert reaches breaking point

based on a conversation with @sapphicsugden

content warnings: depression, implied accidental self-harm, disordered eating

Three weeks after Robert goes missing, Victoria finds him asleep in the back of his car, parked up on a verge just outside of Hotten. She just happens to be passing on her way back from a wedding reception. The van smells like cold hot dogs and she has the windows down to expel the smell. The stench will cling to her clothes and hair even after washing, so the smell of manure smeared fields is a welcome reprieve. She’s singing along to an Ed Sheeran song when she sees the car. She quietens immediately. The music seems to shoot up in volume as she tries to work out what this could mean.  

The van pulls up onto the verge with a shudder. Something in the back falls to the floor and shatters, but Victoria doesn’t go back to assess the damage. She shuts off the engine and opens the door, hopping down onto the soft grass. It’s a humid day. The grey clouds lie across the sky like a duvet and the air is a jumper that can’t be removed. Despite the heat, the windows in Robert’s car are opaque with condensation. Victoria’s mind begins to spin. A disaster movie plays on the backs of her eyelids and she wonders what she could find in that car. Unable to stand the apprehension any longer, she surges forward, quickly closing the distance between the van and the car. She pulls down the sleeve of her long-sleeved t-shirt over her hand and scrubs at the back window. Much to her frustration, this does nothing; the condensation is on the inside. Steeling herself for the worst, she takes a deep breath and raps a fist against the glass.

‘Robert?’

When no response comes, she knocks again. Harder this time. So hard that her knuckles glow red and sing with pain.

‘Robert!’

She keeps knocking, fighting against the urge to dislodge a brick from a crumbling wall nearby and put it through the window. She can hear herself shouting, her voice taking on panicked edge that she hardly recognises. She’s being ridiculous. Robert isn’t an old dog, he wouldn’t just slip away quietly to-

The lock clicks.

Victoria grabs the handle and wrenches the door open with such force that she almost knocks herself backwards. The smell of whisky and body odour rolls over her in a wave. Robert lies on his side, curled up on the rear seats with his face pressed into the backrest. Victoria stands over her brother, staring, trying make sense of what she’s seeing. It is Robert, she’s sure of it, but at the same time it’s barely him. His usually immaculate hair is matted against his skull and his cheeks are shadowed with blonde stubble. Robert is the kind of person that takes up space, who walks into a room and occupies every corner. This Robert isn’t him. This Robert is small.

Swallowing through the tightness in her throat, Victoria crouches down next to the car, placing a hand on her brother’s shoulder. He doesn’t so much as flinch.

‘Robert? It’s me. Are you okay?’  

He clearly isn’t, but what else can she ask?

‘Can you sit up, Robert?’

It takes a moment, but he does. The more he uncurls himself, the more apparent it is that something is very wrong. His face his drawn; his cheekbones hollowed out and his eyes sunken back into his skull. There’s blood on the collar of his shirt, purple against the blue material, and more unidentifiable stains down his front. Victoria clamps her hands over her mouth, breathing through her fingers and doing her best to fight back tears.

‘Oh God, Robert, what happened?


Robert doesn’t speak. While Victoria gets him something to eat, he watches the rain slide down the window pane, turning the village outside into a smeared canvas. He nibbles on the skin at the tip of his thumb, his nails bitten back to almost non-existent bloody slithers. Victoria watches him from the kitchen while she waits for the kettle to boil. She’s tried talking to him. All the way back she’d bombarded him with questions. Where had he been? Why hadn’t he called? Why was he living in his car? But he didn’t answer, just watched the world speed past the window of the van.  

As Victoria pours the tea she looks at the family photo that sits on the windowsill. Five smiling faces trapped behind a layer of glass. Her dad and her mum and her two brothers and her. Seeing them all together like that feels like the most impossible miracle. Victoria sees families all the time. Sees them sat together in the pub or walking to the shops. She wishes that she didn’t hate them, but it’s hard to look up into the lush branches of a great oak when her own family tree is withering. She tries to keep it alive, but no matter how often she waters the gnarled roots it keeps dying.

Keep reading

Does anyone know that frerard fanfic where Frank’s dad died and his mother is on a business trip or something so Gerard goes over to see if he’s ok (they’re neighbours) and brings him a cottage pie or something like that??? Then Frank ends up moving in with Gerard and he has a problem with picking his fingers apart so he always wears gloves??? I’ve done a really bad job of explaining this wowwwww

Here

Band Member: Ashton

Type: Gang AU

Description: The Sons’ mechanic and the Devils’ girl were never supposed to fall in love. You were supposed to hate each other but you could never quite hate the boy with the curls and the infectious smile.

Warnings: blood and death mentions.

You ran your finger around the lip of your glass and wondered why the fuck you’d bothered getting so dressed up for tonight when you knew how it was going to play out. Your brother had bailed on you, he had kissed your cheek and promised that the gang shit was important like he did every single time he left you hanging. You’d heard the same story a thousand times so you kissed your teeth and smiled, swearing to him that you would have a few drinks at the club bar then you’d get a cab home like the good sister you had always been. But the act was growing tired. Your father was vice president in the club so that automatically meant you and the club were family and the thought made you want to groan. You’d grown up surrounded by men with more bullet holes than Swiss cheese and women who wielding guns like they were the newest fashion.

Your brother had got caught up in the idea that your “patch” needed protecting. The only time you saw him was when you arranged to come back to the Devils’ clubhouse and sat through the endless stream of guys asking about how your life was going since you’d skipped town. You knew they liked you but you’d always been the forbidden fruit, the VP’s daughter was off limits to everybody which was just as well since you weren’t going to fall for some leather jacket wearing idiot with a bike. At least, that’s what you had told yourself for years until you’d met Ashton. You’d watched your mother turn grey worrying over your father. You had sat with her at the kitchen table as she’d waited for him to come home, usually broken in some sense. You would run the hot water and gather the gauze for her to dab silently at the wounds like it was a normal family activity. You had watched as the kids at school realised who your father was and you knew how they looked at you when their mothers had warned them to stay away from you like your seven-year-old self was going to take a gang member in for show and tell. Sometimes, you wished you had just to see the horrified looks on their faces. You had sworn to yourself you would steer clear of the gangs but Ashton had you hook, line and sinker. His smile and outlook on life filled you with a warmth you had never felt with anybody else but he was still dangerous and that should have been enough to drive you away from him.

You picked up your glass and drained the remainder of the vodka and coke some guy had order for you. You checked your phone and decided you’d wasted long enough at this stupid clubhouse.

You said your goodbyes and flagged down a taxi.

“Where to, sweetheart?” the guy asked.

You contemplated going back to your parents’ house and sitting up with your mother waiting for your father and brother for old times’ sake. But you couldn’t face it, not tonight. You didn’t want to listen to the soundtrack to your mother’s dithering that silenced as soon as your father returned because she was too concerned with tracing the blood back to its sources.

“Take me to the bar near the airport,” you said.

“The Sons’ bar?” he echoed in disbelief, his eyes were suddenly clouded with concern.

You nodded, then sat back into the seat and tried to ignore him as he muttered something about how it’d be nice to have a night without you people. You tried to tell yourself that you weren’t part of the gangs he despised but you knew deep down you always would be.

The driver took you the long way around for the fare but you didn’t care because it meant you spent less time in the Devils’ patch. Part of you felt better for being out of it, the chances were the guys wouldn’t be out this far on a Sunday night. You paid him and stared up at the flickering luminous sign that advertised some cheap beer. You felt nervous, arriving unannounced but you hoped Ashton would be okay with it. The Sons hardly noticed you when you walked in, they assumed you were here on club business and they would leave you alone unless you showed any signs of causing trouble.

The bartender gave you a glare as he asked what you wanted.

“I’ve got a message for Ashton,” you said as you leaned over the bar. “It’s from my father.”

He grunted and nodded towards the back of the bar before he threw his arm out to stop you. “Your father seems more and more interested in Ashton. Is there something we should all know?”

Your heart picked up pace but you tried to keep a calm, sweet smile on your face.

“It’s just about the bike parts,” you said quickly. “You know, the ones Jack has for sale? My dad doesn’t think my brother has offered a fair price.”

“Ashton!” The man stared at you for a minute then dropped his arm. “You better not rip my boys off, girly. Devils are famous for being—”

“Yeah?” Ashton said as he rubbed his hands with an old rag.

“Devils’ girl is here to talk bikes again,” he mumbled before walking to the other end of the bar.

Ashton tried to conceal the smile on his face when he saw it was you. He bit his lip and nodded towards the back. You walked by him and towards the stockroom that had become your safe haven over the last year. The place was filled with barrels waiting to be taken down to the cellar but it was quiet and hardly anybody ever bothered to check it.

Since you had met Ashton, your relationship had never been straightforward. You knew him from school but you were always told to keep your distance from the Sons’ boy. But you were the kind of girl who liked going after what you couldn’t have and Ashton was the embodiment of that need. Soon you realised you had a lot in common and last year, you’d finally given up trying to be the ideal, obedient child your club expected you to be and so had Ashton. You were adults and you were going to give your best shot at this relationship.

As soon as the door was closed, Ashton wrapped his arms around you and held your head to his chest.

“I wasn’t sure about coming here without giving you a warning,” you muttered into his grease and oil stained shirt. “My brother stood me up again and I didn’t want to go back to my parents’ place. I’ve drank too much to drive home and all I could think about was you so I thought I’d risk it.”

He sighed into your hair. “You know I love to see you, princess, but the guys are getting suspicious about why you keep showing up here. I can’t keep telling them it’s about bike parts when we’re supposed to be rival gangs. I don’t want you to get caught up in the crossfire.”

You looked up at him. “I know but I can’t keep waiting for you to come visit, I miss waking up next to you and spending time with you. The club is literally your mistress, Ash.”

“Hey,” Ashton said as he stroked your cheek. “I’m trying to get out, babe. I’m saving every penny they throw my way but I’m only their mechanic.”

“My mechanic,” you muttered. “Not theirs, never theirs.”

He sighed like he wanted to say something but he knew it’d only make it worse. Everything seemed to cause friction when you hadn’t seen each other for a while.

You pulled away from him and leaned against the cold, painted brick wall. You looked at your boyfriend properly for the first time in a while. He had a fading black eye he hadn’t mentioned over the phone and a smudge of engine oil across his cheek. His hair was beginning to grow out again which you always said made him look like a lion. You hated how intermittent your relationship had become lately. Ashton hardly found time to get away and you were working the shift pattern from hell.

“Why can’t we be like the other couples, Ash?” you sighed. Though you knew the answer, it was a question you still wanted to ask. “They can be seen out together and they can live together without anybody getting disowned, they can be together without being labelled traitors. The Devils already think I’m stupid for distancing myself, my dad hardly talks to me anymore. Apparently the gang was the only thing we had in common.”

You looked away, it was true. Your father barely spoke two words to you when you called. He’d hand the phone to your mother because you didn’t want to hear about the drug deals he’d stopped or the guns they’d bought from some gang up north. Your mother just asked how you were, you never discussed her beyond the basics. She was just as absorbed by the gang as your father but even she realised exchanging recipes for cottage pie over bullet inventory wasn’t normal by any standards.

Ashton moved closer to you and took your hands in his own. “Hey, I know it’s hard but who says we can’t be a normal couple? We just need to be careful.”

“I’m tired of being careful, Ash.”

“I know,” he said softly. “Well, for the next ten minutes, we can be normal.”

You opened your mouth to ask what could possibly be normal about spending ten stolen minutes in a store room but you heard Ashton’s name being yelled again.

You rested your head on his shoulder then sighed. “I want to hit something, it’s like they already know.”

Ashton smiled like you’d said the magic words. He picked up the nearest crowbar and handed it to you. He told you to follow him out into the alley behind the bar then he pointed at the beat up car.

“Hit the car, I’ll go back and finish the bikes then we can go back to my place,” he promised. “Just don’t get too loud or somebody will come out and I’m not explaining why Jack’s sister is beating up an old truck.”

You watched him walk inside then gripped onto the cold metal of the crowbar. You felt its weight then smiled to yourself. The bar smashed the rear window and you waited to see if it had an alarm. It felt good to hear the splintering glass and see the spider web pattern cloud the window. You pictured your brother’s face and hit the bodywork, you imagined what would happen if anybody ever found out about you and Ash then hit the car over and over as the angry grunts slipped through your lips. You hated the hiding and the lies, you hated how your mother rattled on about how you should find a nice boy to take care of you, you hated the tone your father took when you told him you were going home rather than staying for the weekend. You were done with it all.

You raised the bar above your head, ready to bring it down onto the front window screen but the sound of screeching tyres stopped you. Something didn’t sit right with you about how silent it had suddenly become on the city streets. You crouched behind the car and braced yourself for something, whatever this was. Maybe you were paranoid, your years under threat had caused you to expect the worst from every situation. You were ready to laugh at yourself, tell your overcautious mind to rest easy.

The rain of gun fire wasn’t what you had expected. Your heart stopped as you heard the smashing glass echo and tried to tell yourself they weren’t firing into the bar. But you knew that was the target. Ashton would be in the back still, you reassured yourself. He’d be safe from the angry bullets that lodged themselves into the cheap wooden walls because he was invincible. Your boy was steadfast and constant. You counted to sixty after the last bullet and waited to hear the wheels screech down the street before you moved. Your heartbeat was rapid, pushing the adrenaline through your body as you shakily stood up. You clutched the glock your father insisted you carried from your purse and held it against your side as you dared to go into the open fire exit doors.

You weren’t stupid enough to call Ashton’s name but you were sure as hell desperate enough to. Your footsteps were light, they had to be. You didn’t know if anybody was still in here. The garage was at the back of the building but you’d never been as daring as to find out exactly which door it was. The moans from the front of the bar caught your attention and you realised what you had to do. They were supposed to be your enemies but they were Ashton’s family. You knew they weren’t bad people or you’d have to consider your own family to be terrible too and you weren’t willing to think that about the brother you loved.

Your eyes scanned the room and you tried to avoid letting your eyes linger on the dead bodies littered about the place. The barman was slumped over and you knew from the contorted position of his limbs he was dead if the pool of blood wasn’t a big enough clue. You noticed the ones that had escaped injury beginning to help the bloodied ones but they didn’t notice you. They were absorbed with calling the other guys to get revenge and getting endless emergency services for the ones that were barely clinging on.

You saw the familiar mop of curls that were barely visible from where you were stood and you froze. Ashton.

“Babe?” you said softly as you approached him like he was a wild, injured lion.

You didn’t care who heard now when you saw the crimson stain on the front of his shirt. Your hands shook as you clamped your hand over the bullet wound and fumbled for your phone. The distant sound of sirens came closer and your thumb left streaks of Ashton’s blood across the screen. You waited for the call to connect.

“Ashton,” you said again. “Ash, can you hear me? Please be okay.”

“I told you I had club shit, sis,” your brother sighed through the speaker. “I’ll make it up to—”

“Shut up, Jack,” you snapped. “I need help.”

Your brother was many things but he wasn’t disloyal. “What do you need?”

“Who hit the Sons’ bar tonight?” you asked as you stared at Ashton’s unconscious form. “Tell me, Jack.”

“Why does it matter? They’re not your concern.”

Jack.”

You heard the doors open and watched as the paramedics spread out, one crouched next to Ashton and started to ask questions you knew the answers to better than you knew some things about yourself. You answered while your brother struggled to find the words to explain who it was. His silence almost confirmed what you had thought, the sick feeling crept up on you until you were deathly certain of who had attacked the bar.

“It was us,” Jack admitted. “I don’t see why you care so much—”

You let your hand drop, the phone tumbling away from you and you stared after it. The call was still connected but that didn’t matter now. The paramedic removed your hand as his lips moved feverously with questions you couldn’t hear.

“Please help him,” you begged now you realised the only person who mattered now was right in front of you. “Please save him.”

@splendorburned


It was the morning she found her boss fainted on the floor that she learned of Evita’s condition. It was a harsh realization, having to keep a mindful eye as the days and weeks passed, at least until the Irishwoman could no longer bide her silence.

Stepping into the office, she sighed, settling into the chair across from Evita and clearing her throat.

“M'lady… You’re looking slightly better today. I.. I never knew your health was in such decline. If there is anyt'in’, anyt'in’ at all I can do for ye, please do ask. I don’t mind.” She was trying her best to keep her composure to not get up and just hug her employer, instead letting her Irish brogue slip through. “Ah’ll even bring ye some of me mum’s homemade bread, Knödel, and Königsberger Klopse when I have the time to cook and get ingredients. Maybe even cottage pie to share.”

Anything, at least, for her employer in these troubling times.