Wednesday, 29 August 2012

11. Recipe: Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

I think we can all agree that winter is on its way out. No longer do we leave work in the dark. Each day  provides a little bit more sunshine than the last. It's like Mother Nature letting you know that the sun is back from annual leave. All he has to do is go through his cluttered inbox and he'll be back up and running in no time.

Saying that, I thought I'd sneak in a winter warmer favourite of mine, but with a bit of a twist. I use sweet potato as it more nutrient dense than normal potatoes. This dish also reheats well, meaning it makes great leftovers for the next day.

The dish consists of two main parts, the mash and the mince.

Ingredients - Mash:

1 medium sweet potato
Tasty cheese
Whole milk

The butter was stuck in traffic and couldn't make the photo - I definitely didn't forget to include it.


1. Cut up the sweet potato into chunks. The smaller the better, as it'll boil quicker.
2. Boil the sweet potato until cooked through. It'll be done when it's a dark orange colour.


3. Drain all the water out, and throw in a splash of milk, a tablespoon of butter and a pinch of cheese. Mash to your liking. I like to leave the odd lump in there, just to give it a bit of soul.

Ingredients - Mince:

500g minced beef
1tbsp BBQ sauce
1 cup Peas
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon Garlic

All ingredients included here.

1. Start by softening the onion and garlic on a low-mid heat.

2. When it starts smelling like Bunnings on a Saturday, throw in the mince and peas. Use a wooden spoon to break the mince up as it cooks. When it's cooked, add the BBQ sauce. That's literally it.

 Do you mince, take mash to be your delicious accompaniment? In flavour and in nutrition - till Loic eat you apart?

Without stating the obvious, layer the mince in a dish first.

Then the mash. Use the back of a spoon to smooth it over.

And if you're a loser like me, dust the top with some paprika for aesthetic value!

Maybe winter isn't so bad after all! Just kidding - winter can take long service leave as far as I'm concerned. I'll be doing an extra update on Sunday. I was supposed to get it done a week ago but I've been sick with the man flu. Curses.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

10. Wardrobe Essential: Plain White T-Shirt

When mapping out this blog, one of my focuses was to include wardrobe essentials. Stuff that should be in every man's wardrobe. Like a hall of fame, but for clothes. The idea is that if you have these essentials, you'll always be dressed for the occasion and won't ever be caught out.

Besides a good pair of jeans, a white t-shirt is one of the most basic and important pieces of a man's wardrobe. Plain white t-shirts are great, because they are extremely versatile. They can be both dressed up and down. They're also cheap and you can never have too many! I think the beauty lies in its simplicity.

Before we start looking at pretty pictures of me, there's one rule I have with t-shirts. The rule is: never wear a t-shirt under a closed button up shirt. It's an unbelievable style cramp.

Now, here's a few ways to wear a white t-shirt:

Smart casual, minus pyjama pants.

White t-shirt and denim - a classic.

Knit with crew-neck and chinos. I love this look.

Under an open, casual shirt.

So it's been established that white t-shirts are fantastic. Next comes the debate - crew neck, or v neck? 

Both have their merits. Crew necks work well with knits, where you want your t-shirt to be seen. V necks look great on their own, and can work with an casual shirt left open.

My personal preference, because of my arguably sexy physique, is the v neck. It shows a bit of chest, but tastefully. Just don't be a douche about it and get a v neck that cuts halfway through your six pack. It's one thing to have a good body, but it's another to be a total show off with it. Not to mention, seeking the approval of others is super uncool. 

I'm partial to GAP plain t-shirts, since you can usually get a discount if you buy a few at a time. Marcs and Country Road also have good plain t shirts, if a little pricey. I wouldn't pay more than $30 for a plain t-shirt, though. Like everything, shop around and get a feel for what brands look best on you. It's all about fabric and fit.

I'll be doing a super cool update in the coming days, rather than next Wednesday. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

9. Ten ways to look terrible

I've recently been working on a good post. I've been talking to some people about what a doozy it's going to be. Unfortunately, it's not quite ready as I've had a change of mind on its presentation. If all goes well it'll be much better than a doozy.

Now, onto this week's post - ten ways to look terrible. After jotting it down, it looks like a Hall of Shame of trends from the last twenty years. This one is for the grandpas, douchebags and insecure nerds whose mothers still buy their clothes for them. 

1) Wearing sunglasses and hats indoors

Though less obvious than the other entrants on this list, it's just as relevant. Wearing sunglasses and hats indoors is rude and impolite. It shows that you don't have manners or basic courtesy. Also, showing off your sunglasses by over-wearing them is style-crampingly embarrassing.

2) Socks and sandals

I think this one is self explanatory. Regardless, I cringe every time I see this.

3) Ugg Boots

Ugg boots shouldn't be worn anywhere but home. Not even going down to the servo. Doesn't matter if you have the expensive "real" Ugg branded boots. Put on a pair of thongs, at the very least. I spoke with my boss about this today, and he abides by "Letterbox Protocol". Letterbox Protocol dictates that Ugg boots shall not be worn beyond the limits of your letterbox.

4) Trainers with formal wear

If you're going to suit up, go all the way. Don't try to be edgy or cool by wearing your raggy old Chucks instead of a pair of a proper shoes. There was a time and place for it, puberty and your school formal. 

Same goes with cardboard cars.

5) Popped collars

Popping your collar is an extremely efficient way to tell the world that you're a douchebag. You just lift (or pop) it up and voila

6) Long, dark socks with shorts

You have a choice when you wear shorts. Either wear short white socks, or none at all. Anything else often ends in disaster. My expert covert photography shows this:

Our friend's sense of style: disabled.

7) Three-quarter pants

These are just an abomination. You either wear shorts or pants. There is no middle-ground. My expert covert photography shows this:

I feel like I'm repeating myself here.

8) Beanies in Summer

Last summer, there were plenty of teenagers wearing beanies, with their fringes sticking out. It's incredible how people sacrifice comfort for the purpose of looking like an idiot.

9) Double denim

It's not the 80's any more, and it hasn't been for a long time. Please, do it for the children. Even if they wear beanies in summer and get tattoos in silly places.

10) White formal leather shoes

I feel so embarrassed for guys who wear these monstrosities. These are usually accompanied with a crappy shirt and a skinny black tie. The only time these shoes are acceptable is if you're in a Backstreet Boys film clip. 

When asked if they regret the shoes - they unamiously responded "YEAAAAAAH!"


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

8. Branded clothing

Back in high school, mufti days were a fashion parade of branded clothing. It was all about the surf and skate brands like Billabong, Rip Curl, Quiksilver and so on. If you remember what it's like being a teenager, you'll remember that fitting in was paramount. If you didn't, it was the end of the world. However, branded clothing couldn't save me from the fact I was a nerdy mama's boy.

World of Warcraft didn't help either.

Fast forward to turning 18 and my first visit to a bar with a collar and leather shoe policy*. My existing insecurity combined with an unfamiliar environment, had me crying for branded clothes. I remember wearing a black Colorado polo shirt, jeans and a horrible pair of brown leather shoes. I did what I could to blend in as much as I could by wearing black. I was so self concious and focused on how I looked, I didn't take notice of what others were wearing. It felt like I was back at high school. 

If time travel existed, I would use it to give Past-Loic an uppercut.

A couple of years later, I begrudgingly find myself at the same bar. Only this time I'm seeing everyone in button up shirts with surf brands written all over them. I couldn't help but see myself in them. They relied solely on the over-the-top branding on their shirts to validate their presence.

Now, this is wrong.  By wearing overly branded clothes it shows that you are still highly dependant on the approval of others. Is fitting in a bad thing? Not necessarily. What is bad though, is wearing something horrible simply because it says G-Star on it.

Overly branded clothing can also be extremely tacky and tasteless. Let's take Ed Hardy for example. Why is Ed Hardy so horrible? Is it because of the mediocre design? No, it's because of the association Ed Hardy has with fake tan, steroids and industrial quantities of hair gel. Rather than wear what looks good, these generic meathead types would rather fit in to the expectations of others.

Ed Hardy: Not even once**

That isn't to say avoid popular brands. There are brands which are synonymous with quality, and boast wardrobe essentials. Tommy Hilfiger has knits. Converse has Chuck Taylor All Stars. Burberry has trench coats. Country Road has tote bags. Oakley has sunglasses. Play to the strengths of brands.

Instead of restricting yourself to common brands - try branching out. It's easy to be comfortable and wearing the same stuff all the time, but where's the fun in that? Don't just settle for brands that you know and that everyone else wears. Instead of advertising brands, advertise your ability to put together an outfit that looks good. It will leave a lasting impression, and mufti days won't be so scary anymore.


* The particular bar being The Mean Fiddler. A visit to this cesspool is a rite of passage for anyone turning 18 in western Sydney. The thing is, I'm not sure if it's always been terrible or if I've grown out of it. I look back on my first few visits there fondly, minus the self conciousness. Almost every Friday for a year or two was a high school reunion. Who wouldn't love seeing people you never spoke to at school, pretending to be your best mate, then asking 'what you do for work' every week?

**Image sourced from -

Sunday, 5 August 2012

7. Outfit deconstruction - Guy at Maccas

I was going through old pictures on my phone and came across this beauty.

It's a well known fact that a night on the piss isn't complete without a visit to McDonald's. On such a night on said piss, I couldn't help but take a sneaky picture of this poorly dressed individual. I knew that one day down the track, I would need it. That day is today. I'm well aware of the blurriness. Funnily enough, I imagine that would have been what I saw that night anyway. 

Rather than just post the picture, I thought I'd point out the wrongdoing. See below:

A) T-shirt with suit jacket - T-shirt has a print on it, grey and ugly. If he absolutely had to wear this, a white v-neck would have been a better option. The jacket itself is an uninspired, dark and dull colour. 

Alternative: Navy blazer - a wardrobe classic. 

B) Jeans - They're rolled up at the bottom. If your jeans are too long, get them altered. They're a bad fit as well. Notice how the jeans maintain the same shape from top to bottom. 

Alternative: Slim fitting (not skinny) pair of indigo jeans. 

C) Shoes - this guy is wearing a pair of runners with a suit jacket. I don't think I need to go any further, but let me just say running shoes and suit jackets don't match. One is smart while the other is casual. Never ever wear runners for anything besides gym visits and a trip to the servo. 

Alternative: Dark brown desert boots would smarten the look up, but still have a casual look.

Suit jacket with jeans is a common look. I personally don't like it, but only because it's done incorrectly nine times out of ten. If done correctly, you can really stand out. If not - you'll look like a try hard. The mistake our friend made was that he relied too much on the jacket to smarten up the outfit. If you're going to take the plunge, make sure that you achieve the overall look. 


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

6. Shirt buying guide - Part 3: Smart Casual Shirt & Recipe: Chickpea Salad


I've got a bit of a two-fer-one deal for you today. As the final part of my shirt buying guide is short, and I said I'd post a recipe - I'll throw in a chickpea salad recipe too. It's as easy to make as it is to 'forget' to take the bins out. Let's get the business part out of the way first, though.

Today's post is about the smart casual shirt. First and foremost, let's think of the purpose. Where would you wear this, and why? The typical reason would be a going out to a bar that has a collared shirt policy. Keep in mind that a decent smart casual shirt will cost over $100, but don't let that scare you away. Think of it as an investment.

The primary factors are pattern and colour. As previously stated in last week's post, the shirt should fit the shape of your body. A flattering fit is a big part of this kind of shirt, in my opinion. 


With smart casual shirts, the detailing of the patterns should be smaller, subtle and understated. Stripes should be avoided unless they are extremely subtle. Plain coloured shirts work well. Gingham is a good, safe pattern to get you started (pictured below). If you're feeling adventurous, try polka dots with a pair of chinos. 

Relax, I don't know how to pronounce gingham either.


As a rule of thumb, darker colours are generally smarter. However, we want to broaden the spectrum of colour in your wardrobe, so we're going to avoid black and grey. Pastel colours are great, and often work well with blazers.

YD has the most horrible shirt colours, ever. They are based on colour choices from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which was on television 10 years ago.

You're not 18 anymore, stop being a tryhard.

Do: light blue, pink, white or navy
Don't: brown, grey, black, teal or anything from YD.


A good thing with this kind of shirt is that more or less anything goes. Epaulets (those shoulder things you button down), one/two pockets, button cuffs, French cuffs - it's all good.

One thing I would advise, is to avoid is any writing, graphics or over-the-top branding. Keep it tasteful. A small guy riding a horse playing polo isn't so bad. On the other hand, an essay from G-Star is a bit much. The colour and fit of the shirt should be the priority, not the branding.

Smart casual shirts can be difficult as there are a lot of grey areas. Just keep it simple - good fit, no black, no stripes and isn't smashed with branding. Shop around and be picky, you are making an investment after all.

To help get you started, try the following brands for smart casual shirts:

- Ted Baker
- Paul Smith
- Nigel Lincoln
- Marcs (especially the 'Elvis' range)
- Hugo Boss
- Jack London

Chickpea Salad Recipe


1 can chickpeas, drained
1 small tomato, chopped coarsely
1 small lemon
Bunch of flat leaf/continental parsley, chopped finely
(If you're badass - sprinkle a bit of paprika for a subtle kick)

"Man, I hope Loic doesn't make us into something really tasty."


Put it in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon on it, give it a stir.

And there you have it; a beautiful Mediterranean-style salad. It's great because of its simplicity and chances are you're going to have everything on hand. It's nutritionally sound, with plenty of protein and fibre. Though, if you still have original hips and teeth I wouldn't worry about the fibre.

"God dammit."

Next Wednesday I'll look into clothing brands, branded clothing and the difference between the two. Something tells me that G-Star is going to get a hiding.