"Mince and Tatties"

As comfort foods go, I fell in love with an old Scottish dish when I was a kid. It was called "mince and tatties".

Nothing was better than mince and tatties. It was so simple, really. The "mince" was ground beef, sauteed with onions, simmered in a beef broth, and thickened later into gravy. The "tatties" were mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes. Together -- the gravied beef ladled over the mashed potatoes, with a few peas thrown on top, plus a dollop of butter -- they made the most economical, flavourful, filling supper a little kid could ask for.

With three teenaged brothers (all older than me) fighting for first crack at the big bowls we passed around the table, I was really grateful my mom peeled at least half of a ten pound bag of potatoes, while she cooked up little more than one pound of ground beef. As a Scot, she knew it was the best way her kids could fill up on the inexpensive potatoes while savouring a bit of pricey beef in every bite.

What she didn't know was how much we would love it to this day.

"What's for supper?" George asked me the other night. I responded, "Mince and tatties." He smiled and nodded his head.

It was just fine with him too.

Dinner for One

He did it again. Waldo, the wonder dog, one-upped us.

This time, we were headed on our long road trip south. After putting in ten hours of driving, and with dusk coming on, we pulled off to check in at a motel and get a bite to eat.

One thing you should know about Waldo -- his nerves get pretty shot on car trips. Although he's good as gold in the car, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that he suspects we're going to leave him somewhere and his little life will suddenly fall apart. And so, of course, he refuses to eat for the three days it takes us to reach our destination. Somehow he manages that time on a few laps of water and the crust of our sandwiches.

Which brings me to the sandwiches. I always pack a couple of days worth of peanut butter sandwiches into our zippered, insulated tote bag, along with a few cans of Coke and some bottles of water. That way we don't have to stop for lunch along the way.

At day's end, George pulled the car up to the front door of the restaurant. This gives Waldo a bird's eye view of us and where we went. He normally watches the door like a hawk waiting to spot us coming out exactly where we went in. Usually, we find him sitting in the driver's seat, peering over the steering wheel.

But this time was different. He wasn't visible through the windshield.

We opened the car door to see a sheepish-looking dog with bread crumbs in his whiskers, down on the floor in the backseat. He hung his head. His eyes drooped. He knew he was in trouble.

The zipper on the lunch bag was neatly pulled back. Not a tooth mark to be found. There was Saran wrap on the floor, a little mangled, but still intact. The sandwiches had disappeared.

Doggone it.