BONFIRE night has long passed and Google searches of ‘Santa’, ‘presents’ and ‘elfs’ ramp up along with guaranteed Christmas sofa deliveries.

We also crave for ‘comfort’ foods this time of the year.

One theory behind why we tend to crave more starchy carbohydrates in winter is that it stimulates our feelgood hormones in the brain which need extra calories to keep our body warm. That’s no my excuse!

Of course, some comfort foods will need to be eaten in moderation, for example a sticky toffee sponge pudding, chocolate biscuits, crisps and mince pies.

There’s no clever advice on how to avoid their charms, but do wrap up warm and go for a long brisk walk every day, the dog will thank you.

I was surprised to read the other day that only one in six of us have nether cooked a meal from scratch before – some prefer to open a jar of bolognese or flash a ready-meal in the microwave.

Do people lack confidence in the kitchen? Do they have a fear of getting a recipe wrong? Stuck in a rut, sticking to the same meals every week due to lack of culinary skills?

So think on next time you’re thinking of making bangers and mash for tea – I want you all making Mock Goose, a belly-filling cheap meal which will leave no room for a pudding and custard.

Mock Goose was a wartime Yorkshire recipe which was very popular around our neck of the woods, that grandmas and mums used to cook us for tea after school. .

The recipe originally encouraged people to use food wisely: people back than did anything to cheer themselves up due to food rationing.

The idea of these mock dishes was: wasn’t it better to have a goose in some form or other, than not have a goose at all?

Rationing and the shortage of food after the war meant that the poor. Housewives were forced to provide wholesome meals for their hungry kids and family from very little, or almost nothing.

Today things have got better, thank goodness, but back then ‘fast food’ was hand-made by mum, and quality was far more important than convenience.

Tonight’s dinner did involve turning the oven on, walking the dog and making a homemade, which I can categorically say neither looked, nor tasted, nor resembled any ready-meal known to mankind.

I rest my case and pay tribute to our grannies and mums!

Mock Goose

Feeds a hungry family


450g/1lb pack of good quality pork sausages, skinned

450g/1lb mash potatoes

1 large onion, sliced and fried in a little butter

110g/4oz mushrooms, sliced to fry with the onions

Salt, freshly ground black pepper, mustard powder to season

Knob of butter

Dash of cold milk or double cream

Good handful of grated Cheddar cheese


1. To make nice fluffy potatoes, start with good quality potatoes like Maris Piper or King Edward.

2. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks placing them into a big saucepan.

3. Start the potatoes off in cold salted water and bring them to the boil, then cook for 15 minutes until fork-tender.

4. Strain and set aside to cool slightly before mashing by hand with a fork until fluffy.

5. Season the potatoes with a good knob of butter, salt, black pepper, mustard powder and a dash of milk till you have the correct consistency you want, then set aside.

6. Fry the sliced onions and mushrooms in a little butter till golden colour.

7. Skin the sausages and squash them together before spreading over the bottom of a gratin dish or similar ovenware container.

8. Place the fried onions and mushrooms on top of the sausage meat.

9. Top with the seasoned potatoes, forking the top so it becomes crisp and browns.

10. Sprinkle over a handful of grated Cheddar cheese on top of potatoes.

11. Cook for around 60 minutes at 180c/gas mark 5 until the cheese is golden brown.

12. Serve at once with some nice seasonal green vegetables and good gravy.