This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cottage Pie On A Cold Winter Night

Looking for an easy to make comfort food for dinner? Here is one that is a favorite around our house. Having a son-in-law who happens to be a Brit helps.

We were in Wales with family and friends a couple of New Years ago. Nick and I were tagged as the dinner maker for New Year's Eve Dinner. We decided to make a Shepherd's Pie. Making it with lamb is considered Shepherd's Pie, with beef is a Cottage Pie.

Turned out we had all the ingredients except for the tomato products usually added in--usually catsup and or tomato paste and sauce. I suggested using Daddy's Sauce, a sort of A-1 Steak Sauce tasting concoction, which we did have. This is what we came up with. It was delicious. Daddy's Sauce is available here in the States but it is pricey!

2 pounds of ground beef or lamb
1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced
2 handfuls of peas (frozen is fine)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup of Daddy's Sauce
1/4 cup of beef broth


1 stalk of celery, diced

8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper

5 pounds of potatoes

1/2 stick of butter
1/ 4 cup of milk

Peel potatoes and cook in salted boiling water until soft. Drain and put back in the pot. Add milk and butter and use a mixer to blend into potatoes until they are mashed. Salt and pepper to taste.Set aside.

In a skillet, add veggies except peas and add meat. Cook until meat is browned and veggies are nearly cooked through. Drain oil from pan.
Add in Daddy's Sauce and broth stirring into mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a 9 X 13 casserole pour meat and veggie mixture into the bottom and smooth out filling the bottom. Pour mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and spread uniformly across the top. With a fork, rough up the top of the potatoes leaving small peaks. These will brown and caramelize as the casserole bakes. Place in preheated 350 oven for 45 minutes or until the top of the potatoes are browning.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It Just Makes No Sense

Senator Gabriella Giffords, the Republican Congresswomen from the 8th Congressional district in the Tucson, Arizona area, is shot in the head by a deranged, lone gunman with a record of violent and disruptive behavior. So violent and disruptive that he is permanently banned from his college campus. His parents knew of his issues yet apparently remained in denial and did little or nothing to help this disturbed young man.

Giffords, a crack shot with her Glock hand gun and a representative of a part of Arizona where most of the constituency would rather die with their gun in their cold, dead hand than to allow any gun control laws, was the latest victim in a nation that just can't seem to agree on what to do with the problem of her mentally ill and the issue of gun control.

Jared Loughner is also the victim here. He is a member of the invisible part of our community that desperately needs help but either doesn't get it or has no one to advocate for him to get it. We live in a society that has chosen to toss aside our mentally ill and homeless (often the same people). Instead, we cross the street rather than walk past them, avert our eyes when we have to stop at a light and one of them stands with a sign in their hand not 10 feet from our car asking for help. Many of these people are sick and often through no fault of their own, they are unable to get the medical help they need. The system is too broken and convoluted for most of these folks to be able to navigate through the endless and complicated maze of bureaucratic red tape without giving up and slipping into the dark abysses of society.

What to do? The Supreme Court has rendered it almost impossible for persons who are mentally ill to be kept against their will in any confinement. Hence nearly all of the horrid mental hospitals made infamous by the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are closed. Most of those institutionalized today are there due to criminal offenses. Their commitment was after the fact. In other words, they had to commit a crime before they were 'locked up.'

Nothing can be done for these people with our current societal attitudes towards taxation (a whole other blog entry). However, when we do finally tire of innocents like 9 year old Christina Green being murdered for no other reason than she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, then there are some answers.

1. Streamline the system, beefing up the staff of the governmental organizations who are tasked with helping the mentally ill.
2. Assign the ill to an government advocate who has a case load that is easily managed to help monitor these people, helping them with their medications, homelessness, jobs, reconnecting with family, etc.
3. Increase government funding to and for homeless shelters. The individual's advocate can also act as the inspector to these shelters to make sure they are being run effectively.
4. All of this will, of course, take money. When we as the fellow citizens of those who have no voice are finally sickened enough by the violence and the growing throngs of the disenfranchised all around us, perhaps we will elect to do something positive about it.

Until then, who among us is next? Where will the next random act of violence take place? Whose niece, grandaughter, son or daughter will be the next senseless victim?