Archive for December, 2011

Sweet Potato

This is a two-part blog.   A precursor to the next  blog about Sweet Potato Pie.

I had always believed that the orange fleshed sweet potatoes were called Yams and true sweet potatoes are white.  You even see that at the grocery store.   It turns out they are both sweet potatoes.  We do not have yams in stores in North America (unless you are at some kind of African ethnic store) 

Yams are a starchy, non sweet tuber native to Africa and not very tasty.  We definitely do not eat yams.  Apparently when Louisiana producers started to market orange coloured sweet potatoes they tried to differentiate themselves from the white fleshed version by calling them Yams.  (marketing guys what can you say) 

They are no more different than red skinned potatoes are from white potatoes. 

I only point this out because I have pontificated at meals with my kids by referring to the orange sweet potato by the misnomer Yam.  My bad. 

We actually prefer the orange fleshed version.

Cottage vs Shepherds Pie

Did you know the difference between a Cottage Pie and a Shepherd’s Pie?   They are both made with a meat and vegetable layer covered with mashed potato and baked.  A Shepherds pie is made with ground Lamb and a Cottage pie is made with ground beef.  Amazing the things you can learn later in life.

Pat and I have numerous subscriptions to cooking magazines and love to pick an exotic dish to treat ourselves.  Being retired we can make a multi hour dish on a weeknight…. because we can.  When I phone my mother I tell her of our adventurous meals and all she says is “no wonder you are fat”   I try to tell her it is part of the experience of life.

(aww mothers, you have to love them…. apparently there is some kind of law) 

Anyway tonight we made a Sweet Potato Cottage pie.  The filling had the usual ground beef and carrots and celery etc but included olives and cranberries topped with mashed Sweet Potato.  Preparation and cooking took at least 2 hours. 

Very tasty but not sure if we would do it again.  The sweet potatoes make a marvelous top coating but they are so sweet it kind of off-set the subtle flavours of the meat layer.    Still it is a pretty dish.  

I am Home Alone

Despite the title for this blog, this is not about the great movie (although Pat and I watched it last night)  We saw it on regular TV with apparently hours of ads and no ability to fast forward.  Very upsetting.   Pat kept telling me to relax and take on the spirit of Christmas.  

Anyway the title of this blog has nothing to do with the movie.  It is Monday night and I am Home Alone.  Pat is off for one of her many nights out (this time the New Comers ladies pot luck Christmas evening)  Gone are the days in business when I was missing so many nights so I guess this a bit of pay back, but I do not like to be Home Alone.

So I spent the evening in the workshop making transoms frames for the Victory while watching the Allistar Simms version of A Christmas Carol.  Still the best version.  (I decided to have a late dinner given the menu of leftovers from the past week) 

Scrooge is a great movie, and I suspect I have seen it 100 times and can virtually quote the dialogue ( how many times have you heard the song Silent Night and can you sing the words, but don’t you still like it?)  

However I was left with the same question I have every time I see the movie. 

The Cratchets had a full goose being cooked.  What did they do with the 30 lb turkey?  Could not have cooked it in time for dinner (they would have to have started the night before given the ovens of the time)  If you have ever cooked a big turkey you know the issue.

They do not have a deep freeze so what happened to the Turkey?  This question has bothered me for many years. 

The rest of the story I like (particulary each time Scrooge grants a big raise to his staff, in my working life I always liked that part)


Victory Keel Laying

The official start of the building of the model of the Victory with the laying of the keel. 

The original Victory keel was laid on July 23 1759, and it took almost 10 years and just under $1 billion in today’s money to complete the ship.  I will try to do it in less time and for much less money.

The Victory is famous because it was the Flag Ship of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805.  This was a significant victory because it eliminated the threat of Napoleon invading England.  As significant as the Battle of Britain in 1940.  The fact that Nelson died on the deck of the Victory gave the ship such prestige that Britain spent a fortune over the next 200 years to maintain it as a monument.  It is still the best ship museum that I have ever visited.

By 1805 it was already a very old ship, particularly as it was made out of wood and not the biggest battleship in the fleet.  As ancient as the First World War battleships in WWII.  But it had unique sailing properties for a triple decker in that it was fast for its size so could keep up with the smaller ships in a fleet, as a result it was a favourite flag ship with the admirals of the time.  These days it is a popular project for model shipwrights as it is so well documented.  A typical kit cost $800 but I will be scratch building this one. 

I have wanted to make this model for 30 years but waited until I thought my skills were adequate.  I thank Andra and Sean for commissioning it.  My blog will have updates over the years as this project progresses .

Naked Human Body – Running

Now I added this title to see if I can get more paying customers to my blog site, but in fact there is some logic.

Pat is away tonight, and I was watching a documentary about early human development.  I had always been taught that the way early homo erectus developed was by group hunting and development of weapons.  There is another theory that kind of makes sense.

Once humans could walk upright they could run.  Without fur they could sweat over their entire body.  The thought is that early humans learned to hunt by running down the prey.  Take a small gazelle.  They have great speed but they sweat through their tongue.  Lions and tigers that hunt them are good for 300 metres of chasing but then give up because they also have to cool down and pant. 

Along comes humans that can chase prey for 30 kms, not at the sprint speed, but consistent because they can cool their bodies by all-skin evaporation.  The Gazelle eventually falls of heat exhaustion when being chased by a human because it cannot sweat.  Catch the poor critter on the ground panting and beat it to death with a rock.  It is the long distance running that separated man from the beasts. 

Now you realize why some primitive humans still choose to run marathons for no particular reason.  Old prehistoric urges kicking in.

I choose to go to the grocery store and buy my gazelle meat frozen and already cut up.


Movember Winner

Well the public spoke and the winner was Jorg.  What most people did not realize was the picture used in the judging was taken early.  After another day this is what his mustache looked like and I have to admit a true masterpiece.

Perhaps he should send this picture to the German investment group and claim he has expertise in South American opportunities.

Make fun of my need to use products from Just for Men will you……..


Well it is December 1 and time to make a decision.  Do I keep the magnificent mustache that I have nurtured for the last month or shave it off.  There is mixed reactions from my family, after all most of my children grew up with the shaggy soup strainer as part of their image of their father.

So I decided to do the typical Canadian response to lack of consensus.