Saturday

It Certainly Aint Kansas



During the great flooding of Drumchapel in the 70's, Noel Duggan came for me at the back of eleven one wintry night, his grand long beard all awry with the stress of it all. It would seem that his ninety-three year auld grandmother, who lived in a small basement apartment below the music shop in Pitmilly Road, had fallen foul of the dreadful weather and had seen herself flooded halfway up to the gunnel's. As we battled hard at taking out her oaken front door with our bare hands, an almighty swoosh was to be heard and Granny Duggan gleefully floated out on top of a large wooden cello. It was music to our ears alright, but nothing could beat the magical moment when enquiring about her husband, she told us that not to be outdone, he had soon followed suit and accompanied her on the old piano. There was always music in her, people would say. It was nearly five years since she had passed before we found out that the organ player from St. Patricks had been rumping her religiously every Sunday behind the closed curtains of the vestry. God bless her soul, the dirty wee mare.

Come on all you people of Scotland, what is wrong with the picture here? Have the damply limp English mob brainwashed you into being as soft as their sorry lot? For the love of all things holy, when I was a wee nipper and the snow fell, the rain pished and the wind howled, we went out, built grand looking snowmen, splashed in rather wet puddles the size of Loch Ness and flew homemade kites made out of bible pages and gnarled twigs from Ma Kelly's thatched roof. The only reports of people going missing back then was a certain fella in Provanmill who fell down a storm cellar after a night on the lash, the other being a young girl by the name of Dorothy and her wee pooch from Kansas, who allegedly blew away in a storm. Or did they? I never did quite get the gist of that rather strange movie. Lions looking for courage, little old men hiding behind curtains, not to mention a walking oil can that was the very first homosexualist ever seen on Christmas TV. My father refused to have the television on in the room for years afterwards whenever he was alone in case he became corrupted and began walking with a lisp and talking with a limp. I was twenty-seven years of age before my phobias surrounding scarecrows relaxed enough for me to be able to enter a field to relieve myself during the long nights walking home from McGillicuddy's all night bar and grill.

There is no particular moral to any of this other than let us not allow the weather girls on the telly to overplay their part. They were lucky to get a couple of minutes after the news and before the test card back in the days when we had real weather. Now they get fifteen minutes, every hour, on the hour, live from somewhere beyond the car park at the BBC in some anonymous monstrosity of a sky tower, where the wind whips through even at the height of Summer. With exaggerated hand gestures, tight bodices and the fluttering of heavily made-up eyelashes, they point randomly at satellite pictures of a low pressure system somewhere out there in the darker side of the world. Possibly Belgium, where it is always grim. Holy Mary herself, they were more believable back in 1979, when wee Hamish McFutter, aged three and three quarters, sent in his hand paintings of his mammy with a crayoned umbrella chasing a damp looking cat beneath puffy white clouds and a smiling sun. These new showbiz antics actively promote people ringing in advance to their work, possibly next Thursday, cancelling hair appointments in favour of sandbagging the front garden against the incoming tsunami that in all reality is little more than a few drops of acid rain. Possibly, they might be swept away by a monsoon, even though the enforced hosepipe ban back in 1983 has never officially been rescinded.

 Cold Weather Cottage Pie

1lb of minced leg of lamb
1 tbsp good olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 oz of carrot, chopped very small
3 oz turnip, again, chopped very small
1/2 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 level tbsp plain flour
10 fl oz fresh lamb stock
1 level tbsp tomato puree
pinch sea salt and milled black pepper
2 oz mature Scottish or Irish cheddar, coarsely grated
2 medium sized leeks cut into bite size pieces
2lb of King Edward tatties
2 oz fresh Irish butter

Begin by taking the frying pan to an open flame, gently heat the olive oil. Fry off the onions in the oil until they are tinged brown at the edges. Add the chopped carrot and turnip and cook for 5 minutes or so, then remove the veggies and put to one side. Turn the heat up and brown the meat in batches, tossing it around to get it evenly browned. As always, a wooden utensil must be used if you are to break up the mince without tainting the flavour.

Give the meat a good seasoning of salt and pepper, then add the veg, cinnamon, thyme and parsley. Next, stir in the flour, which will soak up the juice, then gradually add the stock to the meat mixture until it is all incorporated. Finally, stir in the puree. Turn down the heat, put the lid on the pan and let it cook gently for about 40 minutes. While the meat is cooking, make the topping.

Peel the tatties and boil them up. Drain, cover with a clean tea cloth to absorb the steam and leave for 5 minutes. Then, add the butter and salt, but never milk for the sake of his holiness the Pope fella himself, When the meat is ready, spoon over the mashed tatties, sprinkle the leaks, scatter the cheese and bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden and crusty. Serve piping hot with fresh green beans and a chilled glass or two of white wine. Put it on the windows edge to cool if you must, but do keep one eye on the weather. It looks possibly like it might rain.

57 comments:

  1. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.

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    1. Does he mean ME?

      I can smell that dish from here brother!

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    2. Of course he means you. How many other drunkards do you believe I may associate myself with other than you?

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    3. Raincheck I'm afraid, early start in the morning, tis to the city I must go.

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    4. Will there be rubber gloves and bending over? I'll keep an eye on yer stool, the one at the bar.;-)

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    5. You misunderstand my friend. It is not an English city that I am to attend...

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  2. You have never been quite the same, Mr Pewfodder, ever since the institute psychiatrist told you that these days you are morbidly obese.

    As if you didn't already have enough on your plate....

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  3. I was so relieved to learn there was no moral to this story. I had gone in search of one to no avail; and in this heat we're experiencing down this way, movement is really not high on my agenda today...other than to press the buttons on the remotes as I watch others sweat and pant.

    To clarify that statement...I'm watching the tennis, with a little cricket tossed in (we've beaten the Poms in the Ashes, so this last match in the Test is redundant in the whole scheme of things...but...another thrashing could be fun to watch).

    I do love cottage pie, but as the name stipulates...it will have to wait until the heat disappears. Actually, if the temps reach the heights predicted today, I could cook a cottage pie without the aid of my oven!

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    1. Lee, as you are more than aware, the pressing of device buttons, of which may cause one to sweat and pant, in both NSW and Victoria, is deemed to be offensive between the hours of 3am - 9pm.

      Not content with upsetting the English with the ritual humiliation of yet another good thumping, you then attempt to make more British enemies by describing the rather sumptuous weather conditions in your neck of the woods. The mere mention of hot sun will now be responsible for several cases of heatstroke and dimpled rashes across the UK. Did you not heed my warning up above dear lady?

      Shame on you...

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    2. Well, that ruling re the pressing of device buttons excludes me then...because I live in south-east Queensland, not in NSW or Victoria...to reiterate...in Queensland - where it's beautiful one day, perfect the next; except when in the grips of a vicious heatwave.

      Oops! Did I mention heatwave again? Slip of the tongue.

      Warning? What warning?

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    3. My education is fast turning into a lifelong event Lee. All these years and I never realised that Australia has six states. I feel as though I should hang my head in shame due to my own ignorance.

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  4. Then Nathan said, "My lord the king, have you said, `Adonijah shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne'? "For he has gone down today and has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king's sons and the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest, and behold, they are eating and drinking before him; and they say, `Long live King Adonijah!'

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    Replies
    1. Try as I might to understand you, for me, the kingdom of heaven is like an ubiquitous curtain of smog that continually hangs over your head and clouds your mind of rational thought and therefore making you devoid of all intelligence.

      However, full credit for the use of the word 'fatlings'. It reminded me wonderfully of both of my beloved sister-in-laws.

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  5. Someone on some social media platform yesterday wrote something like 'A storm? Feh...this is what we used to call "It's snowing outside"'. Sure, we got hit by about a foot of the white stuff overnight. But it was overnight. The most pleasant time of day for a foot of snow as there was plenty of brown liquor to keep us warm.

    The sun's about to go down as I finish typing this. Supposed to approach zero here tonight. Negative 18 or so for you Celsius heathens. I may need to arrange for another liquor delivery...

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    1. Social media, the modern day curse to old school thinking. The most pleasant time of day for a foot of snow for me, is when I return back to Spain in March and blank the rest of the world from my mind. Selfish of me you say?

      Too bloody right pal.

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  6. And that Cottage Pie looks ridiculously delicious. But white wine? I'd prefer a nice porter or four. Or a delicious Oyster Stout. Which, as I understand it, used to be just a dry Irish stout that one would eat with oysters but somehow evolved into using actual oysters in the brewing process sometime around 100 years ago. Where was I again? Oh yes, the recipe and photo look divine.

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    1. Why not combine white wine and Guinness together in the same glass my friend? Black Velvet, as it is better known, is the drink of all drinks when one has a thirst big enough to drop a horse. As for the oysters? Och, put them on a saucer for the cat to nibble at later.

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  7. The rain worries me a lot these days, it keeps coming in through the holes in my shoes!

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    Replies
    1. Holes in your shoes my friend? Borrow money from pessimists to get them repaired -- they don't expect it back.

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  8. Lol, talk about the kettle calling the pot black. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't you just set up home in a warmer climate because you can't stand the cold these days?

    By the way, you missed out the garlic in the recipe.

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  9. Have you ever seen the way the general population of Norway dress themselves?

    You have? Good!

    Now think again about the similarities between that and putting garlic in a cottage pie.

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  10. Nothing beats coming home to a nice hotpot on a cold wet rainy day. Apart from a brandy or three. Loved the piano crack.

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    Replies
    1. All Geordies love the crack, so I hear.

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  11. The weather ninnies are all into fear mongering these days... as they themselves are too soft to tolerate anything other than sun, warmth and dryness. Here, we have a couple feet of snow lying about and it is -42C this morning. I drove to work yesterday in the midst of a blizzard, with snow blowing every which way and visibility down to about the length of your front drive. I'll be heading in to work in about an hour, and it's a 40 km drive one way. But I have nice warm boots, a multi-layered coat and a truck with a block heater that plugs in to keep the engine warm. I used to walk to school in weather like this all the time when I was a kid. Now they close whole school divisions. Everyone's gotten as soft as the Pillsbury doughboy, it seems.

    That cottage pie looks fantastic. Save me a bite? I don't get off work until 7 pm.

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  12. Viking women are naturally hot blooded creatures, a small bit of frost will not keep a real trooper, such as you, at home for long. Make sure you wear your warmest knickers and keep your hat on at all times.

    I've saved you a nice big portion for later on this evening when you get off. Afterwards, we'll rest a while and then eat the pie.

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  13. Here in Merka they have taken to naming the storms both summer and winter, apparently we are up to H this winter and i'm wondering how we ever got past A? As i shovelled the snow from the latest "blizzard", all three inches of it in single digit temps i could not help but notice the silence, everyone huddled around the heater inside, of course it was 7 in the morning and i'm sure i was pissing off some of the last sleepers but the boyos don't let the old man rest that long anymore... of course now we're all "bracing for the next one" due here Monday night and it is my ritual to come inside and warm up with a delicious black pint no matter what time or how many times i must shovel the snow, keeps me healthy!

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    1. I've shovelled snow in minus 60 degrees with two broken arms, a broken leg, not to mention being blind in both ears. Took me 20 minutes to clear a path 3km long. All I had to keep me going was a spoonful of raw honey and a dry slice of bread. Did I complain about the weather? Aye... of course I did, but it never stopped me from going to work once!

      Twice maybe...

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  14. Meh .... it's snow.
    It's the shoveling that I hate.
    And the cold. My bones don't like the cold.
    But like Kono, I have plenty of delicious black liquid to keep my joints lubricated! lol

    That Cottage Pie looks fantastic!
    Have you considered adding nutmeg? It really brings out the lamb.

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    Replies
    1. Shovelling snow is easy if you know how. I usually hide a few bottles of bitter shandy, then invite the little singing fella along to find them. It never fails...

      Nutmeg in my pie? Aye, I have tried it, I like it and for you I'll add it next time.

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    2. You should try hiding something from the top shelf my friend... :)

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    3. My skittles trophies perhaps?

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  15. Ever since Hurricane Hugo landed so far inland here in 1989, every drop of rain is a menace waiting to be named. Sigh. Thankfully while it's extremely cold today, our snow is liquid and not piling up like those north of us. Gotta love the South. :)

    Pie sounds wonderful. Prior to this evening's Charity meeting, Hubby is deep frying (outdoors!) Fish and Alligator. I joke that we eat first so the Board is too full to run away from work.

    You and your pal go have a warm adult beverage while I send you warm thoughts.

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    1. Hope, I kind of freaked out Scarlet by mentioning that it was -48C here this morning... And yes, we have lots of snow. But the sun is brilliant and my house is warm, so what more could I ask for?!?

      I've not had alligator. Will have to come for a visit one day to meet you, Hubby and Bou. Maybe he could do another batch then? :-)

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    2. Well someone left the door open in Canada and all that cold is headed our way. Cold and WINDY! That means are cold is multiplied by wind for a projected -4F (-20C) which is beyond frigid for us! And not one flake of snow.

      I joke that alligator is like chewy chicken...but I've only had it fried to this point. He'd love to show off his culinary skills should you visit. :)

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    3. Fish and Gator outdoors on the barbie.... now that is what I call decadent. I'd love to be part of that particular dinner party feast my dear.

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    4. Room for a little fella? I don't eat much.... and only take a drink on days with a 'y' in it. :¬

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    5. We may need a washer-upper I suppose.

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    6. Sounds like the party is at your place, Hope!!! :-)

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  16. Got 6" on Thursday, and i'm hoping for 8"-12" tonight. it's gonna snow, too....

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    1. You're my favorite of all time.

      Tomorrow, here in the "Garden State" (yes, that's what it's called), the day will break at 50° (that's 10C) and in the evening it's going to plummet to 5° (-15C). My 8"-12" will shrivel to the size of a raisin.

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    2. Daisy... incorrigible....nothing left for me to add. Well there is, but I'll save that for when I see you in person.

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    3. ...and UB, do not encourage her, Ms Fae is already out of control and needs my careful handling.

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    4. HA! Careful Handling?!
      I'd put my $$ on Daisy.
      :D

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    5. I doubt that Ms Fae charges $$ for any type of handling. She simply isn't that type of girl.

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  17. We won't get any snow in the South Sandwich Islands until the next glaciation, Chef. Nevertheless, I'd love to have a piece of that delicious cottage pie with a pint of Black Velvet.

    Cheers!

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    1. You are welcome to a piece of my pie, as long I can have a mouthful of yours in return.

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  18. I second Chef Anthony: a tiny bit of garlic would be perfect for your cottage pie and a glass of red wine!

    Snow? What's that?

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    1. Garlic in my pie? No... there are some lines that even I will not cross.

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  19. There was a panic here when something white appeared around the summit of Volcan Irazu...but it was only hail.

    Snow? I remember it well...all too well...

    Great recipe for when people here think it is cold at 18 degrees C.

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  20. Snow is what you dig your way through before using the outdoor privy.... in June.

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  21. Golly that looks good. I think I'm going to have to do it - which means laboriously typing it out word for word as we aren't allowed to copy and paste. Meanie!
    It was a joy to read the above - above the recipe that is and I even turned off the sainted Sir Terry the better to wallow in your utterings.
    I will just say that our lane is awash and if it freezes these old bones are going to stay put.
    Thankfully I have just frozen four portions of your other masterpiece.

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  22. My dear woman, for you I'm sure we can arrange to send a few recipes directly to you, should you require them. There will of course be a small handling fee.

    Shall we say a jaunt around the harbour in St Austell, drifting smoothly in something old, wooden and highly polished, before we return for a nice cream scone and a cup of strong tea?

    I'll send a car for you on Saturday morning at the back of nine. Perhaps your couturiers will be good enough to offer up something befitting to your stature. Manolo Blahnik, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton will suffice nicely, especially as we may stop off for luncheon in a a rather charming little place I know just off the main drag.

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  23. [unrelated, sorry]

    This could be interesting for you:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24156265

    German version Uni Rostock:

    http://www.nrl.uni-rostock.de/index_files/JohannisPresse2013.htm

    Basically: A solution of Johanniskraut done with 80% alcohol leads to a stuff that actually helps to prevent the plaque in the brain, solves it and helps to kill actual placque. They already tested it on humans and it worked. The Johanniskraut-extract has side effects on other medications, so no self-medication. Ask a doctor. S/he can turn to Uni Rostock, Prof Pahnke, the man who leads this research, for further details / instructions.
    I read another German article / interview with the man where he said that there is actual a medication available that is produced in the required way; its used against light depression - what Johanniskraut is traditionally for. So one feels good while the brain is cleaned.

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  24. Key under the mat. Don't be late.

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  25. It is NOT always grim in Belgium. How can you say that about a country which gave us chips in mayonnaise, the finest beer known to mankind, and for the girlies perhaps, chocolate which makes Cadbury's taste like a sweet version of a McDonalds burger.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on people moaning about the cold. Why should we expect to be warm all the time? Worse still is Americans and Canadian bloggers making some sort of heroic stance about it, about how cold it is. Yes, but OUTSIDE! In my room it's fucking cold. I could put the heating on but I don't. No normal person puts the heating on when it's cold, surely?

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  26. When you find a source for turnips (or swedes!) in Spain, do post. I tried growing them for a while, but my cats were the only indirect beneficiaries, eating the field mice who decimated my crops.

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Thank you, the chef is currently preparing an answer for you in the kitchen. Do help yourself to more bread.