Seren is two!


20171207_133151_4-1Oh my goodness, how did I forget to post about this? On November 30, Seren (Sandfox Starlight Serenade) turned two. Now, I’ve always found with Corgis that two years old is a turning point — they suddenly become adults. But, uh, it doesn’t seem to be happening with Seren. In fact, for the past week he’s been a complete monster. My mother still refers to him as “Naughty Puppy”, rather than by name, and he’s been matching that. I really hope this is just a phase brought on by the sudden freezing temperatures and snow.  But he is still adorable.

Attentive, happy monster:


Naughty, mad-at-me monster:



Bad Sex in Fiction Award

“Each year since 1993, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has honoured an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel. The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.”

Christopher Bollen has won the 25th annual award for The Destroyers, his third novel.

“She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.”

How flattering to liken a woman’s skin tone to bathtub stains. And I suppose testicles are the same shape as billiard balls (how many does he have?). But does that mean his penis is the triangular rack?


Recipe: Welsh Pasties

My grandmother used to make this (although she made her own crust and did one big dish, rather than individual pasties) when I was a kid. I remember my father getting angry when she made it during a visit to us–to him, it was “Depression food”, cheap to make; “I can feed my family better than this!” he said. But I loved it–simple and filling and tasty, and made with love by my Nana.

Here’s the easy-to-make version of Welsh Pasties, that the men could carry off to the mines or fields for lunch:

  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts-thawed to room temperature
  • 4 potatoes, cut into thin half circles, or diced
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef, or beef sliced thinly against the grain and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin half circles, or diced
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 beaten egg

Heat oven to 350F. Unroll crusts onto a greased cookie sheet. On half of each pie crust, place a layer of potatoes, one of onions, and beef. Season with salt and pepper. Layer again with potato, onion and beef. Season again. Fold the pie crust over the potato/meat filling and crimp securely to seal the crust closed. Brush tops of the pastry with egg wash. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Can be served with softened butter, if it seems dry.


Recipe: Cawl

Cawl (pronounced ‘cowl’) is a basic Welsh lamb stew. Historically the Welsh were poor miners and farmers, so the traditional foods tend to be simple and lean heavily on what cheap ingredients were available. Lamb was plentiful and not costly for them; leeks seem to be in almost everything. Now, what I pay to get lamb takes a week’s grocery budget!

If you get the Travel channel, check the backlist for Delicious Destinations, Andrew Zimmern’s trip to Cardiff, Wales. I drooled all the way through.


(All the root vegetables should be cut into chunks of similar size, to ensure even cooking. And you’ll need a good grocery store in order to get rutabagas, parsnips and leeks; try the “organic” section.)

1.8 kg (4 pounds) lamb neck or chops, or a mix of lamb cuts
salt and pepper to taste
4 white potatoes cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
1/2 swede (rutabaga/neep), cut into large chunks
Optional: 1 parsnip, cut into large chunks
2 leeks, sliced (green and white parts)
1 or 2 vegetable stock cubes, to taste
Optional: Parsley sprigs

  1. Put the lamb in a large pot. Cover with water, add salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes or more, until tender.
  2. Skim the fat from the top of the water. Remove meat and cut into smaller chunks; add back into pot.
  3. Add all the root vegetables. Cover and simmer another 45 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced leeks and vegetable stock cubes. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Boil gently for 20 to 30 minutes. You can add parsley sprigs when ready to serve.

Serve hot with hearty bread. Can be refrigerated and reheated the next day.

Recipe: Mom’s Pot Roast

I do pot roast in the slow cooker, and it is always delicious and tender. But my mother’s is even better, everyone in the family loves it; she uses the oven for six hours.

Size of roast and amount of vegetables is variable—are you feeding four or fourteen? How much leftovers do you want?

You need a roasting pan with lid, or a deep pan that can be covered with aluminum foil. Large: room for the roast and lots of vegetables.

To start:

One large white onion, sliced thick
Jar of mild or sweet chili sauce
Beef stock or beef buillion
Beef pot roast

Pile half the onion slices in middle of pan. Put the roast on top of those, then put the rest of the onions on it. Pour the chili sauce over it. Add enough beef stock to the pan to be at least ½ inch deep. Cover. Bake at 275 degrees for 4 hours. Check to be sure it doesn’t bake dry; add more beef stock if needed.

Add vegetables to pan. Add more beef stock to cover or almost cover veggies. Turn oven up to 300 degrees. Recover pan. Bake at 300 degrees for two hours. Test to be sure veggies are done.

Potatoes: peeled and cut into quarters; or use the small potatoes, puncturing each with a fork
Carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
Onions, cut into chunks
Corn on the cob, cut into about 3-inch pieces (or can use the frozen small cobs)
Mushrooms (whole)
Optional: Beets, peeled and cut into smaller chunks (they otherwise take longer to cook)
Optional: Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (they cook faster than regular potatoes)
Optional: Dried cranberries

If you have leftovers, it makes great vegetable beef stew:

Pour off the beef juice. Use flour or corn starch to thicken it a bit.
Cut the remaining beef and vegetables into bite-size chunks. Cut corn off the cobs. You can add peas or green beans if desired. (These can’t be cooked with the original pot roast, they become too mushy.)

Add meat and veggies back into juice.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for tomorrow’s lunch. Just reheat and serve with crusty bread (or put in bread bowls).

Recipe: Welsh Raisin Cookies

My maternal ancestors were Welsh. (But I think not so bright — they left death in the Welsh coal mines and the poverty of Wales, and came to the U.S. and were poor and died in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania.)

Anyway, I love Welsh foods. So you’re going to get some Welsh recipes.


4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 to 1-1/3 cup butter-flavored Crisco (or use half Crisco and half real butter)*
1 to 2 tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs, well beaten
¾ cup milk
1-½ to 2 cups raisins

Mix all ingredients by hand. Roll into small balls (walnut size), flatten with floured glass.

Bake on griddle or electric fry pan at 350 degrees, 3 to 5 minutes one side, then flip and do other side same time.

* Old Welsh way would be to use bacon fat, lard or beef drippings.