Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Mekong, The Arctic, Snow,

The Mekong has apparently produced 1,000 newly discovered species in the last few years, I receive an e-letter from World Wildlife Fund on a regular basis and this was their headliner yesterday. One of the critters found was a rat which was thought to have gone extinct 11 million years ago. This snake's colour really appealed to me, what a brilliant green. If you would like to read about the discoveries click here to see the WWF article and play a video. Glenda Larke (Tropic Temper) told me first, but if you go to WWF website you will see details of the new rules and changes introduced by George W. Bush - below is a excerpt from the e-letter.
Akutan Island © Kevin Schafer/WWF-Canada
DO YOU KNOW? Last week, the Bush administration announced substantial rule changes that would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These changes would:
a. expedite oil and gas exploration in the habitat of the polar bear. b. eliminate key environmental review process that ensures federal development projects do not cause additional harm to species that are at risk of extinction. c. weaken ESA protections across the country. d. have a particularly harmful impact in the Alaskan Arctic, which is home to many at-risk species, including the polar bear, as well as the nation's most productive fisheries.
This is his parting shot - and the main reason I personally have always intensely disliked the man because his ecological concerns were apparently non existent. So yesterday it snowed solidly all day and didn't stop til the evening. A lot of people were sent home from work early because it was so bad and there were a lot of accidents. People never learn. If you have to be out, drive carefully. We just never went out. Many flights were cancelled resulting in congestion at the airports. The picture appears to have been taken earlier in the day. We certainly got 15 cm to 20 cm. Needless to say we didn't go bowling, nor did we go to dinner at our friends' home. Hopefully we will be going to dinner at another friends' home tonight with no problem and lets hope the expected snow tomorrow won't affect our bowling Christmas lunch on Monday, nor our dinner guests on Tuesday. Even if you don't live in the snow areas, here is a nice warming recipe for a cold night. Once again from the LCBO's Food and Drink. This was more work typing than it actually would be making although it sounds quite a lot. Rich Beef Pot Pie with a Cheddar Crust Jerusalem artichokes take a little less time to cook than other vegetables so cut them slightly larger. You could also use frozen puff pastry for the pie, but the cheddar crust does add to the taste. Serve with a salad of mixed greens and Belgian endive. 2 tbs olive oil, plus extra if needed 2 lbs stewing beef salt and freshly ground pepper 1 cup chopped onions 1/2 cup shopped arrots 1 tsp chopped garlic 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary 1 cup red wine 1 cups beef stock (homemade is good) otherwise watch the salt 1 cup drained canned tomatoes, chopped 1 bay leaf Root Vegetables 1 cup diced parsnip 1/2 inch dice 1 cup diced rutabaga (swede) 1/2 inch dice 1 cup diced carrots, 1/2 inch dice 1 cup diced Jerusalem artichokes. (My note: this will give a nice earthy flavour to the pie) Sauce 2 Tbs olive oil 1 Tbs flour Cheddar Crust - recipe follows 1 tsp Dijon mustard Egg Wash 1 egg yolk 1 Tbs milk Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat 1 tbs oil in a Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Pat beef dry using paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add beef to Dutch oven, adding more as needed. Sear beef until browned on each side, about 4 minutes total. Removed to a plate and reserve. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining 1 tbs oil to pan. Add onions and carrots and cook for 2 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 more mintue. Stir in rosemary. Add red wine and bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add stock, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to boil. Return meat to Dutch oven (if you have not been using a Dutch oven, tranfer contents to an ovenproof, heavy baking dish), cover and bake for 1 1/2 hrs. Add root vegetables and bake for 45 minutes longer or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. Cool and skim off any fat. Strain cooking liquid into a large measuring cup, (you should have about 2 cups). Reserve meat and vegetables separately. Discard bay leaf. For sauce, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook until flour turns a nut brown colour, about 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly add reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until strongly flavoured and thick. Sauce needs to be thick enough to coat the meat. Toss meat and veg. with sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve. Preheat oven to 400 °F. Divide Cheddar Crust pastry almost in half (You will need a slightly larger piece for the bottom crust than the top). Roll out the larger piece of pastry to fit a deep 9 inch pie plate. Brush the bootom inside crust with Dijon mustard. Fill with meat and veg mixture. Roll out remaining pastry and centre on top of pie. Use a little cold water to seal top and bottom crust together. Trim and crimp in a decorative fashion. For egg wash, combine egg yolk and milk in a small bowl and brush exposed pastry with the wash. Use a sharp knife to cut a few vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 40 minutes or until crust is deeply gold and filling is bubbling. Serve hot. Serves 6. Cheddar Crust Using cheddar cheese and mustard in a crust gives extra flakiness and adds to a slightly tangy taste to the pastry. 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 cup grated cheddar chees 1 tsp dry mustard 1 to 4 tbs cold water Combine flour, salt, butter, cheese and mustard in a food processor to make pastry. Pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with just enough water to bring pastry together. Knead into a ball, wrap with plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Makes enough pastry for a double crust as above. Have a great weekend.

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