Dec 162010
 

It is worth mentioning, because it’s a compliment that a lot of people give me when they write to me, that readers can never guess what they are going to be delighted by and read next on my blog and I suppose that is why it is so amazingly successful.

This Cat loves to entertain and put a smile on his wonderfully cuddly readers faces and I hope that I always do, in fact judging by the very large number of books being sold around the world, especially at Amazon.com, I imagine that my readers are regularly entertained and recommend my blog, my book and my website to all of their friends.

I know how much everybody enjoyed my blog a while ago about London Bridge and so I thought I would post a picture that the ever charming daughter of my translator sent me recently.

My translator’s daughter is called Jo Woodcock and she is one of those famous humans who acts and if you type in ‘Jo Woodcock actress’ in say www.google.com or www.bing.com you’ll be able to see this picture of her and many more.

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For your information this picture (above)comes from the BBC www.bbc.co.uk and is a still from the series ‘Land Girls’ which is on your screens in the UK soon and on BBC America around Christmas too I believe.

Anyway enough of humans here is the picture.

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When you look at the picture does it strike you that the guy on the left looks as though his batteries have run out and he has just come to a stop people in the street do that a lot don’t they tee hee! I suppose he has stopped on his way to a job he hates and is thinking “maybe I could call in sick? I just really don’t want to spend another eight hours bored stiff when I could be a… professional wreck diver in the Caribbean!”

The woman behind him is obviously humming to herself and, “think we’ll have Shepherd’s Pie tonight mmh lovely that might make Nigel take more notice of me and it is a cheap, filling and tasty meal – oh I am glad I’m not a vegetarian!”

This Cat loves Shepherd’s Pie by the way, especially when it is cooked with beef and not lamb, actually did you know that when ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ is cooked with beef it is known as ‘Cottage Pie’ and when ‘Cottage Pie’ is covered in Cheese (preferably a very orange Cheese like Double Gloucester) it’s called ‘Cumberland Pie’ I love English cooking it’s so inventive without being pretentious like some cuisines I could mention but you all know by now I mean ‘french’ don’t you!

It’s possible that some of my lovely cuddly readers are deprived – and don’t you have to be careful when you type that word? And not adding a rogue ‘a’ instead of the ‘i!’ – and that they might not have enjoyed the delightful taste of Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie or indeed Cumberland Pie you poor things and so to put that right here are some pictures of what they look like and a recipe – yes that is right I am the Cat that keeps on giving! But then it is the season for that and also to be jolly apparently.

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Just think what a change a simple (and it is simple) dish of Shepherd’s Pie or any of its other incarnations will be over the holiday season, when you are stuffed to the brim with rich food and if you have any leftover meat and you don’t know what to do with it you are in for a real treat.

THE RECIPE

Boil and mash 2lbs (1kg) of big, floury potatoes, adding a thick slice of butter and some cream as you mash.

Soften 2 large onions, peeled and chopped, in a little butter. If the fancy takes you you can add a few diced carrots and celery now. Some people also add Baked Beans or peas – basically if you like ‘it’ throw ‘it’ in – within reason of course Prawns don’t work in Shepherd’s Pie – but they really do in the other ‘Pie’ variation on the mashed potato topped theme ‘Ocean Pie’ which is all fish, delightful cod, delicious haddock, wonderful smoked salmon more fish than you can imagine and I once imagined a swimming pool filled to the brim with Prawns – sorry I have to stop for a minute and regain my composure.

Where was I – oh yes – Onions!

When the onions are golden, add about a 1.5 pounds (600g) of minced lamb and cook it until is thoroughly browned.

At this point you can add salt (if you want to), pepper, thyme, a bit of marjoram, some sage and some ground rosemary and dribble one or two drops of Worcestershire Sauce over the mixture.

Next add about two thirds of a pint (350ml) of stock and allow the mixture simmer gently for 30 minutes or so.

When the meat is soft put the lamb mixture into a shallow baking dish and add the topping of mashed potato, dot it with a little butter and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes in a hot oven. You will know that it is cooked when the surface of the mashed potato is crisp.

This recipe will serves 4 adults or one peckish Cat.

Note

Don’t worry about weighing anything or indeed the weight of the ingredients at all this recipe can cope with twice as much meat or half as much, especially if you have a near empty larger/purse and a few vegetables to replace the meat.

Some tips

Here are a few tips to make sure that the Shepherd’s Pie is not just good but divine, make sure that the onions are nicely browned, use cream, butter and milk when you mash the potatoes for a very creamy result and if you fancy a bit of extra spice add pepper to the mash.

If your meat mixture is a little runny either take out some of the stock and make a wonderfully tasty gravy with it or use a sheet of tin foil to catch any drips that don’t bubble over the mashed potato and form a wonderful crunchy crust.

Of course the mashed potato crust should be crisp on top and you can achieve this easily by either pull a fork across its surface to create “furrows” or pile it up into clouds with a spoon.

Truly flexible

As I said above you can use beef instead of lamb and turn the recipe into Cottage Pie. In addition you can add a layer of grated cheese and made a Cumberland Pie (below in a picture I have just borrowed – personally I would add even more Cheese, then a little more Cheese on top of that! But then like most Cats I like Cheese).

Cumberland Pie.jpg

This is a great way to enjoy a hearty meal in these cold snowy days and better still it is one of the ways to help stretch your budget, after the bankers have ruined the world’s economy and the politicians and other idiots have turned a financial disaster into a monetary Tsunami, and to eat heartily but cheaply is not only a bonus to some it is a way of life.

Gosh I didn’t expect to be giving recipes and cooking tips when I started this blog all those ages ago, but then I suppose this is why my blog is so popular I cover all sorts of subjects.

Actually just there is a little example of a pet project I have – why can’t we create a word that combines the two words all and sorts into ‘alsorts’ but I better not get started on that subject!

As usual do let me know if any or all of the above was helpful/interesting – I would hate to think that I was talking to myself and my thousands of fans had just suddenly disappeared!

Author’s background information

The Cat is one of the most successful feline authors in history, his sharp elegant wit has produced the bestselling book ‘Getting out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ and of course the much plagiarised gag of the same name which appears on all of the funniest joke sites on the internet.

Copies of the Cat’s masterpiece of feline literature ‘Getting out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ can be purchased at a bookstore near you or at Amazon.com or at what The Cat calls his www – wickedly wonderful website hereĀ www.thecatsdiary.com where you can not only learn more about me the genius Cat but also play my games they are all paw picked by me and have been described as “exactly what free on-line games should be, fun, free and fantastic.”

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Jan 252010
 
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Well my long suffering, oops I mean faithful, readers here is another moan about www.google.com and unbelievably some praise for www.bing.com well the maps department anyway.

At the weekend friends of mine told me to go and have a look on www.rightmove.co.uk at a house that they were thinking of buying!

By the way www.rightmove.co.uk is a great little English website, it is small, only run by a couple of people trying to do a good job, where you can find property to buy and rent which if you are actually looking for property to buy or rent is, you have to admit, pretty handy isn’t it?

Sadly www.google.com that ever annoying and bulging behemoth is trying to send little companies like www.rightmove.co.uk out of business by offering free listings of properties so that they can get even more advertising revenue buy stealing it away from family style companies like www.rightmove.co.uk or at least that was what I was reading on www.bbc.com the other day.

Well I have deviated from my point but that means I have a lot to say and am not a ‘deviant’ honestly.

So my friends said have a look at a house called “Knapp Farmhouse” which they said was in the odd and I think rather distinctive sounding village of “Puncknowle” in the delightfully charming English county of Dorset.

Being inquisitive (it is such a nicer word than ‘nosey’ isn’t it?) I decided to not only have a look at the pretty pictures of the property that my friends were thinking of buying and closely study the property particulars, I decided to find out exactly where the oddly and distinctively named village of “Puncknowle” was and how close it might be to the sea and the lovely fresh fish especially Prawns that people pull out of that bit of the English Channel, just in case I get invited to stay and on the off chance get offered fish.

Now we all know because we have been told by www.google.com that their map search thingy is second to none and with street view it is even better because you can get to see into peoples houses – sounded good to me and so I copied and pasted the address of the house my friends were thinking of buying into Google maps, and here I have to say that www.rightmove.co.uk are sticklers for accuracy because they give to entire address of the property that they are marketing even down to the post code (or zip code as my lovely American readers would know it better).

Then I waited for the magic to happen!

Imagine my surprise when this good looking Cat got not only a picture of the house my friends are thinking of buying but also an advert which said that the property was a sort of guest house that we only have in the UK I believe and call a “bed and breakfast,” these places are sort of like motels but with limited parking, but are fun to visit because the people who run them are usually mad and do odd things like pre-Basil Fawlty’s and on a smaller scale.

Knapp Farmhouse according to this advert (and the brochure that popped up when I clicked on a link) was indeed a bed and breakfast and strangely enough it was a completely different building to the one on www.rightmove.co.uk.

I was astonished that my friends were obviously considering ‘trade,’ were they that far down on their luck poor things? And my shock and horror grew as I noticed that the address of the property on Google maps was completely different to the address I had been given by them and also the nice website www.rightmove.co.uk.

My suspicions began to grow, were my friends trying to tell me something? Because with the help of Google maps had I discovered that they were about to move and didn’t want to give me the address of their new home and were thinking of disappearing forever – bastards!

Happily I am not the sort of clever feline that jumps too far to any conclusion and so I first checked to see if maybe some clumsy stroke of a furry paw had pasted in the wrong address – but no it wasn’t that.

Then I checked to see if the address my friends had given me was the same as the one on www.rightmove.co.uk – no that wasn’t the reason for having a different address and indeed picture on Google maps.

I called my friends and checked the address with them “yes” they said “that’s the right address, what did I think of the farmhouse and also the guest accommodation?” (A converted barn big enough for about twenty Cats).

“Very nice I said!” And put the phone down in confusion, it was obvious that they weren’t trying to get rid of me as a friend, they had asked me about the guest accommodation hadn’t they?”

So that meant that there had to be some other reason for the glaring discrepancy between the pictures of the house on www.rightmove.co.uk and bed and breakfast brochure on Google maps! They were so different and so it led me to think that they must be two different properties, but the smarties at www.google.com couldn’t be wrong could they? They are bright, they are clever, they are at long last moaning to China about their really dreadful freedom of speech issues, they are the next best thing to god aren’t they?

They have most of the same letters in there name as ‘him’ after all and they seem to control and manage everything and if they don’t like you or what you say they aren’t above a bit of censorship of their own are they?

So what to do, this little problem was gnawing at me, was there a way of checking whether www.rightmove.co.uk had made a mistake – yes there was they have an aerial picture of the property which probably most people would look at first and so now I checked that and it was different too www.google.com, then I thought maybe I should see what another aerial picture would look like and so I went to www.bing.com.

www.bing.com have a map and an aerial picture thingy, the map is actually much better than www.google.com and has a lot of map type information and not a lot of ads and guess what you can make the map full size so that you can see more of the map unlike Google maps which has more space for ads that are on the left hand side of the screen and can’t be made smaller to show more, well any of the map.

The aerial picture is not as good on www.bing.com but who cares about that? When I searched www.bing.com with the same address (glad that I had copied it and could paste it in so many times www.bing.com found the right property which agreed with the address that my friends had given me and also the pictures on www.rightmove.co.uk, bit of course not with Google maps.

So I think that unbelievably, because I am not a great fan of Microsoft at all, www.bing.com has won a little more of my heart, it isn’t as inaccurate as www.google.com, it is less committed to plastering ads all over your screen when you are snooping on your friends new home in the map section and you can even ‘see’ what you are looking for full screen after you have found it and not a collection of adverts unlike Google maps and soon it will be the search engine of choice on the iphone.

Now of course the reason Apple Computers are changing their search engine on the iphone according to the www.bbc.com is that Apple Computers are annoyed that the iphone has some competition in the shape of the Google Android (‘phone’ as it has been described) – some competition har ha – and they are annoyed that they might only sell one billion and one iphones instead of one billion and ten iphones next year or something petulant like that.

So I have decided that for the time being that like Apple Computers I too like www.bing.com and I seriously suggest that you have a gawp at it too!

Currently one of their screen pictures is of a Cat as well, a rather fine Cat as well let’s hope that the rather fine Mountain Lion is pouncing on the idiot who works at Google maps and was responsible for England and in particular Dorset, let’s face it Google maps should get rid of that idiot as fast as possible it is giving them a bad name.

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