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Three random things I learned, or remembered, today

Archive for September, 2007

Mince and potatoes




This is a recipe for Scots all over the world who are homesick for their mother’s or granny’s “Mince and Tatties”

Every Scottish mother’s mince and tatties tasted differently because of little variations.

My mother made the best mince and tatties in the world. Truly. Mine is something like it but does not always turn out as good.

I never measure anything very much when I’m cooking, but this will give you a bit of an idea. Eventually, your mince and tatties will taste like yours and yours alone. And you will like yours best of all. So persevere.



1 lb mince – only use the very best quality minced rump steak. Or mince your own after removing fat.
2 small onions (vary amount according to taste).
2 medium carrots (vary amount according to taste).
1 medium purple turnip when in season (vary amount according to taste). If these early small purple turnips are not available, omit or add a few slices of swede turnip. ( The term swede in Scotland refers to the large turnips which are yellow inside).

Gravy thickening – “Bisto” – see below.


“Bisto” has always been used in our family. Nothing else, because nothing else tastes the same. (If you can’t get “Bisto” outside the UK, ask Santa Claus to send you a years supply every Christmas.)

The amount of “Bisto” you add depends on how thick you like your mince. You’ll need to experiment.

Make up the “Bisto” once the mince is cooked.

Try 3 teaspoons of “Bisto” first. If you like the mince thicker add more, thinner add less the next time.

Don’t add the “Bisto” straight to the mince! Put the spoonfuls in a cup. Gradually mix it into a paste with cold water and add more water until it just reaches pouring consistency.

When the mince is completely cooked, take it off the cooker and prepare your “Bisto.” as above. Add the “Bisto” solution STIRRING it gently but continuously into the mince OFF the heat. If you don’t do it this way the the “Bisto” will form horrible jelly like lumps and the whole thing will be ruined.

N.B. Don’t use the modern “Bisto” granules. Stick to the old fashioned “Bisto” powder.


In may family, there has always been someone who doesn’t like onions, but likes the flavour. If you are cooking mince and tatties for one of these pests, then don’t use an onion powder substitute. And don’t omit the onion. It will not be the same. Instead put two small onions in whole, and remove them at the end. Serve the offending person first, chop up the cooked onion and put it back into the mince for everyone else.

Doing it this way also prevents you from weeping!

So, with that taken care of you’re ready to start!

1. Braise the minced meat in a pot breaking it up with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps forming.
2 Once the meat is well browned, add the water hot or cold – it doesn’t matter. Add enough to cover. Give it a stir.
3. Put in the onion whole or cut up into whatever size you prefer.
4. Cut up carrots and turnip to your preferred shape and size.
5. Bring the pot to the boil, put lid on and turn down to a simmer.
6. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until vegetables are soft and meat thoroughly cooked.
7. Take off the heat and add the “Bisto.” See above.
8. Return to a low heat to thicken.

Additional salt is usually not necessary with Bisto.

You might want to add pepper to taste but we never did.


In summer mince was always served with tiny new Ayrshire potatoes (believe me, no matter what people say, you can’t get the true “Ayrshires” any more)

In winter the big older potatoes were always mashed smoothly with “the top of the milk” and a little butter.

Enjoy and experiment until you make your own signature mince and potatoes.

P.S You could not even begin to imagine how much I yearn for real new baby Ayrshire potatoes! A generation of young scots have never tasted them and have no idea what they are missing. I BLAME THE SUPERMARKETS FOR THIS TRAVESTY!!!!

© Bloomoon711 |


Coca Cola cleans things



1. Clean a burned saucepan by pouring Coke into it and boiling. This takes out all the staining.

2. A can of Coke poured into the toilet will clean it. The acid in the drink gets to work right away.





I have never seen blueberries cultivated in Scotland and wondered why. Maybe the Scots just don’t like them much.

Apparently they need very acid soil. Almost pure peat some say. We have that in the highlands.

There needs to be more than one bush for pollination.

And should never be allowed to dry out.

I’ll bet it’s too cold up here.


All about potatoes



I was always told that potatoes that go green are poisonous.

Here are some questions and answers I found.

Q. Are potatoes poisonous?
A. No. The potato tuber, the part we eat, is not poisonous, however the potato plant is toxic. Green portions on the skin of the potato are also toxic.

Q. What is the green coloring on the potato skin?
A. The green on the skin of a potato is the build-up of a chemical called Solanine. It is a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine produces a bitter taste and if eaten in large quantity can cause illness, this is unlikely, however, because of the bitter taste. If there is slight greening, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.

Q. Why do potatoes grow sprouts?
A. Sprouts are a sign that the potato is trying to grow. Cut the sprouts away before cooking or eating the potato. To reduce sprouting, store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark location that is well ventilated.

Below is a link to a great website that tells you everything about potatoes. (I don’t suppose it tells you how to grow real old fashioned Ayrshire potatoes though.)


© Photographer:Girivenko Sergej | Agency:




A camel’s life expectancy is 50-60 years.

There are two true camels – the Dromedary or Arabian Camel (one hump) and the Bactrian Camel (two humps). They are desert animals. The Dromedary is native to western Asia and east Africa, the Bactrian Camel to central and east Asia.

A Camelid is a camel like animal. These are the Llama, Alpaca, Guanaco and Vicuna, all from South America.

Camels have oval red blood cells unlike other mammals which are round. This shape has an advantage in the dehydrated state.


List of the world’s bridges



If you like lists, and are interested in bridges, here is a link all the bridges in the world.

Once there, you can follow a link to details and photographs of most of them.





Antioxidants can bind free radicals in the body. This is good because free radicals are damaging to cells using an oxidation process.

Current research suggests antioxidants can prevent or delay some serious medical conditions such as arterial disease or cancer.

Vitamin C found in fresh fruit and vegetables is an antioxidant. There are many others.