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Eat Me (or, How One Woman Overcomes her Racial Handicap and Prepares Damn Tasty Food from Around the World)

Strictly for High Rollers – Millionaire’s Shortbread
by Clare Nisbet

Shortbread crumbs mixed and ready for pressing The perfect Scottish trifecta - shortbread, caramel, chocolate

It’s a gloomy Monday morning at the downtown headquarters of OSB and the fact that it is a holiday inspired me to write about some serious Scottish dessert – Millionaire’s Shortbread. Besides, the baseball card series is getting old for me and it’s time to inject some good, old-fashioned variety back into this blog. I hope the NWTVS and Ace follow shortly. In my next blog I will take a much needed departure from dessert and Scotland but in the spirit of dusting off the cobwebs at OSB headquarters I am going to stick with what I know and love for one more week. Besides, is it just me or is it enough with the baseball cards already?!

Millionaire’s Shortbread is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s actually likely to push those weak of heart over the cardiac arrest edge. It is a traditional Scottish treat that I used to love as a child – likely contributing to both my chub and my janky teeth. I recently made it for a bunch of Americans at our annual Festivus celebration as a sort of sociological experiment and they couldn’t get enough. It’s true that most Scottish food is based on a “survival of the fittest” mentality and ideal for only those blessed with an iron gut. That being said, if you are tough enough – these are some of the best mouthfuls you’ll ever experience.

This shortbread is a perfect combination of traditional shortbread, homemade caramel, and chocolate. It’s also a great dessert because it’s got a couple of tricky elements that are good for practicing. You can perfect your shortbread and caramel techniques and your patience in the kitchen and what results is to-die-for good.

Here are the three stages for perfect Millionaire’s Shortbread. The best tip I can give you is patience – make sure that the recipe is cooled completely after each layer is completed.

Shortbread

6oz butter6oz granulated sugar
8oz plain flour
2 oz corn flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat over to 350. Grease and flour a 12 inch baking tin (the deeper, the better). Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, corn flour, and baking powder. Gradually beat this into the butter and sugar mixture until you have beautiful shortbread crumbs (see photo for example). Spread the mixture into the baking tin and press to create shortbread (with clean fingers is the most old school, and most effective method). Bake shortbread for 20 minutes and cool completely while you prepare the caramel.

Caramel

6oz sugar
6 oz butter
I can (15 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients except the vanilla into a saucepaul. Over very low heat stir until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved (this can take several minutes – just hum and stir, hum and stir). Then bring mixture to a gentle boil and boil for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Take the mixture of the heat, let cool for 1 minute then stir in the vanilla. Stir final mixture for 2 more minutes and then pour over the shortbread. Place this in the refrigerator until caramel hardens completely.

Chocolate

All you need is your favorite chocolate. In the spirit of Scotland I use Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Dark Chocolate.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. A touch of butter gives the chocolate a beautiful sheen. Pour it over caramel when it is completely hardened. When the three-layered goodness is completely cooled, cut into squares and enjoy. Guaranteed mad props.

Gambling Is Easy (or, You’ve Heard of Ace Rothstein? Well This Is Ace Cummins!)

Week 5 – The Second Quarter Begins

By Ace Cummins

More Than A Feeling?

The first quarter of the NFL season ended with a bang. Despite Ace’s rather average performance during the first three weeks of the NFL season, The Big Schelp’s one and only Clarita sacked up and convinced her special man friend to lay some ducats down on a four team parlay. Against the founder of OSB’s judgement, Clarita forced the issue and sure enough, as the Pats wrapped up their easy win over the Bungals on Monday night, The Big Schelp’s account grew $300 larger. Clarita has some big balls (and now a bigger wallet).

How did she come to such a decision? Well, she saw the Ace and a certain Boston-centric writer agreed on four games (somewhat of a rarity) and saw dollar signs. The only game that the Bean Town Boy and I disagreed on was my five-star pick (Pittsburgh) – my only loss last week. Great job Clarita. May you be an inspiration to OSB readers. Simple cross referencing (i.e. trends – last week’s theme – way to go with it!) paid off.

Week 5 picks…

Dolphins @ Texans (-5.5)
Despite still being ravished by injuries, the Texas will take care of the hapless Fish at home. Miami’s defense was atrocious last week, and I think could have gained 100 yards on the ground against them. Houston is a solid team and an even better home team. This is the match-up we’ve been waiting for. Texans by two TDs.

Panthers (+3) @ Saints
Everyone still wants to believe in the Saints. If any other team in the NFL put up the Saint’s number’s in their first three games I don’t think they would still be favorites. For instance, New Orleans is scoring 12.9 points per game and giving up 34.4 points per game. For the math deficient, that is losing by an average of over three TDs per game. But America still believes. Heck, I still want to believe. But numbers don’t lie. I’ll take points against those numbers any day, and twice on Sunday.

Cowboys (-10) @ Bills
A very good and very hot team hits the road to take on a very young, inexperienced and below average team. Seems like a no-brainer. Yes ten points is a lot to lay, but don’t fret. The boys have been great to gamblers all year. Don’t be scared of a big line when the game could easily be out of hand after the first quarter.

Falcons @ Titans (-8)
The Titans came into the season off of everyone’s radar. Their mediocre roster has kept them there. However, Vince Young is a winner… plain and simple. The Titans are well coached and believe in themselves. If the spread were under a touchdown this would be my five-star pick. However, despite Tennessee’s penchant for close games, this one won’t be.

Bears @ Packers (-3) *****Five-Star Pick of the Week*****
Chicago is 0-fer ATS this year. Green Bay is undefeated ATS to start 2007. The Bears can have the three points. They will need a minor miracle to win this game. Favre vs. Griese. Laughable.

Oh, and if you need to know… The Bean Town Boy and I agree on three of the above five games. Which ones? Well, you’ll have to do some homework of your own to find out.

*Three- team parlays pay 6-to-1 in case you were wondering.*

Ace Cummins is 20-15-4 overall and 7-2 on 5-star picks. Please send all hate mail, questions, fantasy football lineup dilemmas and 10% of your profits to ace.osb@gmail.com.

Gambling Is Easy (or, You’ve Heard of Ace Rothstein? Well This Is Ace Cummins!)

Week 4 – Trends

By Ace Cummins

Despite Hines Ward being listed as Doubtful, Ace still believes in the Steelers this week.

Now that we have access to three weeks worth of data, it is time to really look at trends around the NFL. A week here and a game there can provide anomalies. But three weeks is enough to really see what teams can (or can’t do).

One thing is now for certain: the NFC is terrible. Headed into last week I saw only three possible NFC contenders: the Cowboys, the Seahawks and the Eagles. I said this when the Eagles were 0-2. The Eagles proved me right with their drubbing of the Lions (my favorites to win the NFC North), the Cowboys made my 5-star pick a breeze and the Seahawks scraped out another win (something they are very good at) last week. The Bears and Saints are still MIA and are expected to remain that way. The Pack are making noise, and Favre could script a storybook run in the weak NFC, but I don’t buy it yet. Even if they will be 4-0 after this week.

Before you throw out all of my non-5-star picks and just throw the farm on my proposed lock, keep in mind I am feeling it this week. I like the match-ups, the trends and the numbers. It has been relatively easy to choose my 5-star game the first three weeks. This week it was different. I like too many games. But do keep in mind I am a stout 7-1 (.875) on 5-star picks. So if you are following trends, my 5-star pick is the way to go. I should be charging for this info. Other “Pros” charge for theirs with much lower numbers. Come on, enter the party.

Week 4 picks…

Ravens @ Browns (+4.5)
I am not crazy with this pick. I love the Browns at home against a very overrated team that almost blew a large lead to Kurt Warner last week. The trends are with me, too. Cleveland is 2-1 against the spread (ATS) this year and Baltimore is 0-3. I’ll take the points.

Chicago @ Detroit (+3)
Another home dog makes the list. Can Chicago still be considered for road favorite status? Really? They were on the losing end of last week’s 5-star pick for good reason. They ain’t good. And I am certain Brian Griese is not the answer to their troubles. The Lions will throw early and often. Kitna can easily have Romo success against the Bears D. Did I mention the Bears are 0-3 ATS this year? And 1-8 in their last 9? I like points against a trend like that.

Packers (-1) @ Vikings
From two home dogs to three road favorites… Leading off are the very surprising 3-0 Pack Attack. Pure numbers: Green Bay is 3-0 ATS this year and 6-1 in their last 7. Minnesota is 1-0-2 this year and 3-8-2 in their last 13. I love when trends work together to make a clear decision. Yes, the Pack will be 4-0. Who’d have thunk?

Patriots (-7) @ Bengals
Road Fav #2… the Pats. If you need convincing (you shouldn’t), here it goes: Brandy and Co. are 8-1 ATS in their last 9. The Bungals are 2-3-1 ATS in their last six. Is it possible that Vegas sees the Pats as underrated and the Bengals as overrated? That’s what the trends say. I’ll take the “underrated” (cough) Pats and give the Bengals their seven points, even if they are at home. The Pats cover, it’s what they do.

*****Five-star pick of the Week***** Steelers (-6) @ Cardinals
The Steelers are sleeping Giants. They have won their first three games by a combined score of 97- 26. Sure they played some lackluster teams, but it’s not like the Cardinals are striking fear into anyone’s heart these days. Another mediocre opponent for Pittsburgh means another lopsided victory. Oh, I almost forgot… the Steelers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight (3-0 this year). The Cards are 1-0-2 to begin 2007. I love it!

Ace Cummins is 16-14-4 overall and 7-1 on 5-star picks. Please send all hate mail, questions, fantasy football lineup dilemmas and 10% of your profits to ace.osb@gmail.com.

Gambling Is Easy (or, You’ve Heard of Ace Rothstein? Well This Is Ace Cummins!)

Week 2 – The Week That Could

By Ace Cummins

Little Engine. It could.

If week 1 was the week that “could have been” then week 2 is definitely the “week that could.” AT least that’s what I tell myself. After watching the Eagles special teams mock me with two blunders that cost Philly the game (not to mention the cover) and the Rams being, well… the Rams I thought that starting the year off at 0-2 was a bad sign. But I fought off those demons and tripled up on my five-star pick of the week (Seahawks) and coasted to two Sunday afternoon victories (Chargers). I left Vegas with over a grand of cash in my pocket.  It felt good.  On Monday the 49ers and Cards were a push, so after the 0-2 start I was very happy to end the week 2-2-1 and nailing my five-star pick (again!). People, are you paying attention? 6-0 on five-star picks. Free money.

Now to my Week 2 picks…

I was only going to pick five games a week, but I like six this week. So screw it. I am going with six this week.

Bengals (-6.5) @ Browns
This is one of those games where I fell the road/home advantage doesn’t come into play. Bengals are good. Brown are bad. Under a touchdown means bet the favorite every time. Bengals will win by two TDs.

Saints (-3.5) @ Bucs
I can’t believe people are jumping off the Saints wagon already. It was one game. It was against the defending champs. The Bucs will have trouble scoring all year. The Saints are still a high powered offense, despite week 1. Note: I will continue to bet against the Bucs until they prove they can cover a spread.

Cowboys (-3.5) @ Dolphins
Sure the Cowboys gave up a lot of points against a poor team last week. And yes, the Dolphins aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. But these teams are on opposite sides of the NFL Mendoza line right now. The Cowboys have their eyes on the postseason and the Dolphins are searching for an identity. The Dolphins were my sleeper pick this year too. Oh well. I like money.

Chargers (+3.5) @ Patriots
If you only watch one football game this week, chances are it will be this one. There are two ways to look at this game. I for one believe in karma. And Karma is a bitch. The Changers money line is a great bet if you like karma. But getting 3.5 points is even more solid. Prior to “CameraGate,” or whatever you want to call it, I liked the Chargers. In the aftermath I think it is highly possible that the Pats will be pressing. If they lose, everyone will think that they benefited from the cheating ways. Also, I liken this situation to stealing signs in baseball. Stealing signs is a huge advantage. Take it away and batters start to feel at a disadvantage. Couple these two things and the fact the the Chargers have THE best player in football and a solid defense; I give the 4th quarter edge to the boys from San Diego. Chargers win on their last possession and the “CameraGate” story lives on. Karma.

Redskins @ Eagles (-6.5)
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I still believe the Eagles will make a SuperBowl run. Serious. It’s their year. Despite last week’s debacle, I feel that if it wasn’t for a few Special Teams miscues, they would have squeaked out the win, and would be a 9 point favorite this week. That is an easy correction and hopefully the real DNabb shows up for a few series. If he does, this one could be a breeze.

*****Five-star pick of the Week***** Seahawks (-3) @ Cardinals
As I said last week, the Cards are still the Cards until they prove otherwise. Seahawks were solid on both sides of the ball and the Cards were bad on both sides of the ball last week. Do the Cards have a home field advantage? Do I need to answer that?

Ace Cummins is 14-7-2 overall and 6-0 on 5-star picks. Please send all hate mail, questions, fantasy football lineup dilemmas and 10% of your profits to ace.osb@gmail.com.