Thursday, July 31, 2008

Show, Produce and Mennonite Farms

Thoroughly enjoyed A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It started off a bit slow after the opening number, Comedy Tonight; you can't go wrong with that. It gradually got funnier and funnier. I am very glad I went to see it. My friends picked me up and we had a pretty good run to Drayton although when they dropped me at the theatre, they had a bit of trouble parking. We weren't sitting together as I had booked way after their tickets were bought. I could see them, so I wasn't that far away. Once again I bought 50/50 draw tickets and didn't win. Nothing unusual about that. They have made a few changes to the Drayton Festival Theatre since last I was there. Not sure where the orchestra actually is any more, but you can see them on a TV screen at the base of the balcony, not that I bothered to look. On the way back, we stopped at a farm produce stall and I bought some cherries, blueberries, tomatoes and a couple of stalks of corn (Matt doesn't eat it). The corn were rather small and when I ate them later they turned out to be a lot smaller than I realised. Oh well, they tasted good. Will get some more when we are out shopping. I have always wanted to eat corn until I got sick of it, unfortunately, unlike asparagus, it isn't a slimming food. I have probably mentioned that some of the best corn I ever ate was on a visit to North Carolina about 6 years ago. The corn was called "How Sweet it Is" and was absolutely delicious. I wish I could get some more, but I have never found it since, either there or up here. I only got to eat two pieces of that because Matt was rushing me off somewhere else. Probably just as well, it was soooooo good. Blueberries are really good for you as well as tasting good. Matt likes them on his cereal, but I would rather eat them loose. The cherries I bought are pretty good too, haven't yet tried the tomatoes. One thing that really impressed me on our way to Drayton today was how well cared for the farm buildings were. You frequently see somewhat dilapidated barns, but not today. I am assuming they are mostly Mennonite farms, but they were a delight to look at. My assumption came from the fact that we saw Mennonite buggies all over the place and the farm where we shopped was definitely Mennonite. Farming is not supposed to be a profitable endeavour any more, but these farms certainly looked prosperous. Maybe because, as I understand it, Mennonites don't spend their money on all the gadgets and fripperies the rest of us buy. Just not having to buy gasoline must help a bundle in this day and age. I don't know how much it costs to keep horses of course, but I bet its not as much as keeping a car. To me they are a fascinating people and I have a lot of admiration for their way of life. This morning there was a report on the huge profits made by gasoline companies, way up in the billions. We poor souls are being stiffed at the pumps with gas prices rising higher and higher followed, of course, by food prices and anything else you want to buy. One expert assured us, when explaining all the figures, that gas companies make less per dollar than companies such as MacDonalds???? The main focus of the report this morning was how much gas companies are spending on alternate fuels, Exxon spends the most being a little more than 2% of their profits. 2% ain't too darned much and the other companies spend even less. It was pointed out that even a small percentage of the profits is quite a lot of money, maybe, but more would help. A price cut at the pumps would be nice too. I know they have a responsibility to their share holders, but presumably their shareholders buy gas and food etc. too. I guess I should produce a Mennonite recipe, but I don't have any that I know areauthentic. However, I have seen a reference to Dirt Cake a few times lately and thought I would share my recipe for it. I have made this several times for families with kids having a special party, I used to buy a plastic truck or something similar in which to serve it. This recipe makes a heck of a lot of cake. I actually got it from a neighbour in North Carolina so I have no idea where it originally came from. As for any Europeans, I don't know if you even have Oreo cookies - they are a chocolate cookie with cream in the middle and one of the most popular cookies you can think of over here. You can serve the cake in a (clean) flower pot with edible flowers planted in it, or the gummy worms (same consistency as jelly babies) all over it. Be creative. Dirtcake 1/2 stick butter, softened 8 oz pkg cream cheese 1 c confectioner's sugar 3-1/2 c milk 2 pkg (7 oz total) instant vanilla or chocolate pudding 12 oz whipped topping - thawed 2 pkg (40 oz total) Oreo cookies crushed to dirt consistency in processer Cream butter, cheese and sugar. In separate bowl mix milk, pudding and whipped topping. Combine mixtures. Put 1/3 of crushed cookies in bottom of plastic sand pail, flower pot or kid's wheelbarrow (about 2 qt capacity). Add half of pudding mixture, top with layer of cookies then remaining pudding cover with final layer of cookies on top. Decorate with gummie worms, plastic greens or flowers. Serve with a plastic shovel or spade. Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Extra, Global Warming

There is an article on Rogers Yahoo this morning about a massive chunk of ice field (20 square kms) which has been in situ for 3,000 years, breaking away this week. They expect more to do so this summer. If you want to read the article its here; this spells more trouble for Arctic wildlife. There are lots of videos on YouTube about the plight of the Polar Bear which is the most common theme, but it is not by, any means, the only animal affected. I felt this was important enough to share with you. Have a great day.

Crossing Out, Volunteering, Theatre, Books,

I'm so pleased, I have finally discovered how to do a cross out in my blog, one friend, Hrugaar, uses it a lot and I thought it was fun, but I couldn't do what he did, now I learn from Glenda Larke what she does and it works. Woo hoo. Now I can delete cross out to my heart's content. Its a silly thing I know, but I'm happy. I forgot to mention yesterday, I have decided to apply as a volunteer for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Gotta have something to fill my time. I have to go for a kind of interview on Thursday afternoon. I wasn't quite sure where the building was, so we went to check it out today. I am hoping to be able to do some clerical or administrative work. Apparently my knowledge of computers will come in handy. So we shall see. This afternoon I am off to the theatre once again, this time it is "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum". I remember, many years ago, Frankie Howerd, a well known English comedian, played in this show, but I never did see it. The picture on the left is Wikipedia's picture of Frankie Howerd. The show we are going to see is part of the Drayton Entertainment group which I have mentioned before and is actually being staged in Drayton itself - the theatre there is a converted school house. I am, of course, looking forward to it. Marilyn, you queried my reading speed, I have just finished another Jig Dragonslayer book. The last of the Trilogy unfortunately. I was sorry to finish them as I have quite enjoyed them. Very light hearted and very enjoyable. Maybe I won't read so many books if I start doing volunteer work. I am just about to start another book called Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich. A total departure from my often chosen spec. fic. novels. It looks pretty good, if you would like to read the blurb which is on the inside cover, you can find it at Random House plus information about the author if you are interested. Hopefully this is a book Matt will enjoy. Now he will take a week or two to get through it. Here's a somewhat different recipe for potato cakes which I got from the recipe collection bequeathed by my friend in the UK.

Algerian Spiced Potato Cakes

900 g / 2 Pound mashed potato 1 Tablespoon paprika pepper 2 Teaspoon ground cumin good pinch of cayenne pepper 1 bunch of coriander, chopped 3 eggs salt pepper oil for frying In a large bowl, mix the potato with the spices, coriander, egg and seasoning. with floured hands, form the mixture into round flat cakes. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Heat a shallow layer of oil in a frying pan, add the cakes in batches and fry until crisp and brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cookbooks, Electronic or otherwise, Cucumber Salad

Being asked about having a cookbook programme, made me think about cookbooks in general of which I have quite a few plus a mass of Cooking Light magazines from older years. I have had a software cookbook for a number of years called Micro Kitchen Companion. I thought it was a great programme, unfortunately they stopped supporting it and it is getting less likely to work as time goes by. I am still on Windows XP and likely to remain so, but if I had to go to Vista, I suspect this programme wouldn't work at all. Because of that I have been evaluating a couple of other programmes and have found Living Cookbook to be the nearest to my Micro Kitchen Companion. I can design menus and then make a note of guests who are going to eat these menus which I find very helpful - after all I don't want to serve Chicken à la King to someone twice running. Not that I have ever served anyone Chicken à la King but the principle is the same. I find the search section a bit cumbersome, but it can be done. It was also great for me that I could import my recipes from the old programme. Both programmes had the ability to cut and paste which saves a lot of unnecessary typing and I can add pictures if I want which is easier to do in the new programme. I have just discovered that I said all this in January, but some of my current readers weren't around at the time. Anyway, suffice to say, we basically don't buy cook books any more as most recipes are available in one for or another on the internet. If I come across a recipe I want I can save it to my programme to pull up when I decide to cook it. One wonders whether cook books will soon be a thing of the past. One often reads, in Speculative Fiction, of people in the future basically being unfamiliar with paper books, they read everything electronically and we are definitely heading that way. I personally buy a lot of ebooks and read them on my Palm Zire although I still prefer a paper book, but I guess one day people won't buy paper any more. Look at encyclopaedias, they are very much outmoded these days. I doubt there is anything you can't find out on the internet one way or another. I used to have a set of Britannica Encyclopaedias but gave them away. I suspect the person I gave them to has got rid of them now as he too has a very computerised household. I still have a Britannica CD and I do love some of the pictures it has, but I assume that most of those pictures could be found online with diligent search. I still haven't downloaded any cookbooks for my Palm, I haven't even looked to see if there are any and I don't think I would do so if I did come across one. I know I have talked about Mrs. Beeton's Cookery book which I love, my edition is from 1935 and has loads of household hints which are funny to us today, but the cookery is still sound and if I want to know something I can bet on being able to find it there. When I first came to Canada, I had never heard of squash, the vegetables that is, but, lo and behold, Mrs. Beeton had a recipe for cooking it. For the Brits who read this, Vegetable Marrow is a squash and I wish I could get them, the nearest I can get is an overgrown Zucchini which isn't the same thing at all. Not that I ever came across one as big as the one in the picture. I also have an older version of The Joy of Cooking which is the American cookery bible. It was given to me by a friend who bought herself a newer edition. I had a copy which was stolen unfortunately. A very useful compendium of books is the Time Life Foods of the World series which I bought many, many years ago when I was still living in England. I have to remember, with my English books, that some of the measurements aren't the same. An English pint, for instance is 20 fl. oz. A North American one is 16 fl. oz. or 2 cups. The measurements I haven't got the hang of are the metric ones. I still ask for half a pound of something in the deli. My mother did get the hang of it, but she lived in Europe a long time and had to get to know them. Canada uses metric but they still know what you mean if you use pounds instead of kilos etc. America still uses the old avoir dupois system of pounds and ounces. They use gallons too and they didn't get that right, it is much smaller than the usual gallon, 4/5 I think. A friend told me she was making a cucumber salad the other day, I don't have her recipe, but I have a very simple one I have been making for years. I have no idea where I got this recipe. Danish Cucumber salad English cucumber thinly sliced salt white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar for extra taste. a little sugar. Put the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle it liberally with salt. Stir to make sure all the slices are covered. Leave half an hour or so until the cucumber slices are limp and flaccid. Rinse off the salt and pat dry. Put into a clean bowl and add wine vinegar to cover and a little sugar to take the edge of the vinegar. I actually make a quick version of this by just salting (but not heavily) the sliced cucumber and adding the vinegar and sugar, omitting the marinading step. The original version is better of course. Have a great day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Manitoulin, Chi Cheemaun and Current Books

Well we didn't do very much at all this weekend. I did book the ferry trip to Manitoulin Island which I mentioned a week or so ago. We will be catching the Chi Cheemaun at 1:30 in Tobermory and we have booked a couple of nights at the South Bay Guest House to start off our visit to the area. One of my girlfriends happened to go to the St. Jacob's market this weekend and picked up my diabetic socks for me. So she called in on Sunday and it turns out she knows Manitoulin Island very well and also knows the owners of the South Bay Guest House. As usual, its a small world. Of course I did a lot of reading this weekend. I finished Goblin Hero by Jim C. Hines which is the second in his Jig Dragonslayer series. They really are fun these books, and I can recommend them. I already have the third book, Goblin War to read but thought I would read some of the other books I have on hand. I am now reading a book by a new author, Alaya Dawn Johnson, the book is called Racing the Dark and it is her first book. By the looks of it, it won't be her last. You can hardly see them, but in the cover picture, the protagonist is shown with huge black wings. The series is called The Spirit Binders. The author was born in 1982 so she is very young and if this is a sample of her work, she should certainly be encouraged. I highly recommend this book. Glenda Larke (see her blog link this page) shared with us a snippet of her new trilogy. The first book is tentatively called Rogue Rainlord, which I think is a fabulous title, by the time it gets published most of us will have bitten our nails to the quick in anticipation. As an already published author, I can't believe she hasn't got a publisher for this series yet. I am crossing everything on her behalf. Makes it difficult to type though. No rush today, I don't have to eat early to go bowling, I will miss it until September. At the moment we are dithering between bowling on Monday or Friday. The parking lot is tiny and to ensure a reasonable slot, I feel I have to eat my lunch at breakfast time in order to get there. The bowling starts at 12:30, I have no idea why, most bowling leagues play at 1:00. If we bowl on the Friday, there are only about 9 people there so parking won't be a problem and the whole thing will be more leisurely. However, we have quite a lot of fun with the Monday crowd, hence the dithering. Below is a recipe I picked up from Good Morning America which I thought sounded very good. I have given you the recipe, but there is a video of Wolfgang Puck, of Spago fame, preparing the dish click here which you might like to watch. For my own convenience I have amalgamated the two recipes, one for the chicken and one for the couscous. Works better in my cookery book programme that way. Delicious Summer Couscous and Chicken Chicken 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil 2 Tbs lemon juice 1 small shallot, minced 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 4 large boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves 2 lemons, each cut into 4 wedges Couscous Salad 2 cups (500 ml) good-quality canned chicken broth 10 oz (300 g) dry instant couscous 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 small red onion, cut into small dice 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice 1 red bell pepper, halved, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and cut into small dice 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and finely chopped 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro leaves Freshly ground black pepper 1 Chicken 2 In medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Place in large, heavy-duty sealable plastic food-storage bag. 3 Using a fork, pierce each chicken breast all over several times to help the marinade penetrate. Cut each chicken breast into 8 large equally sized chunks. Put the marinade mixture in the plastic bag; add the chicken, seal the bag, and move the pieces around to coat them thoroughly. Put the bag in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. 4 Preheat the grill. Meanwhile, thread the chicken chunks onto 8 skewers, including a lemon wedge in the middle of each skewer. 5 Grill the kabobs until the chicken is nicely brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, turning the kabobs once. Serve on a bed of Couscous Salad (recipe follows). 6 Couscous Salad 7 In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. 8 Put the couscous in a large, heatproof bowl. Stir in the salt and cinnamon. Pour the boiling broth over the couscous, stir briefly, cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature for 5 minutes. Uncover the bowl and, with a table fork, fluff the couscous to separate its grains. Leave it to cool completely to room temperature. 9 In another large bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, red onion, cucumber, bell pepper, and green onions. Add the cooled couscous and toss until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve at room temperature. Servings: 4 Recipe Source Author: Wolfgang Puck Have a great day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hespeler Village, The Last Lecture,

I'm not exactly bright and early this morning either. Matt had to call me to get up, I am not usually a slug-a-bed. It was interesting visiting our friends yesterday, for one reason or another we haven't been to their home before. It is a very old place by North American standards and was built in the 1800's. Their back yard slopes down to the Speed River and the whole place is very attractive. The storm I mentioned last Tuesday did a lot of damage to the trees, especially their neighbour's where there is a rather dangerous branch hanging down which could go at any time. Our friend has dozens of rose bushes which, unfortunately are mostly no longer in flower, I would love to have seen them when they were. Above is a picture of the Black Bridge Mill which shows the old stone buildings of which there are a lot in Hespeler Village where our friends live. Our friend is very keen on gardening and the whole yard is a mass of flowering plants of one kind or another. She even has Yucca plants in flower, they grow wild in North Carolina, didn't think they would grow up here. The second picture is from the Speed River showing some of the churches in Hespeler. Unfortunately the village has now been swallowed up in Cambridge which is composed of three original towns/villages, Galt, Preston and Hespeler. I don't think anyone will ever stop using the original names though. We lived in Cambridge for 13 years, and to anyone local where we lived was Galt. Our friends used to own the bowling alley in Hespeler which was where we have bowled most of our time in Canada. To our great regret, they recently sold it and it is no longer even an alley any more. I was sad to hear Randy Pausch died yesterday. His last lecture to his students created a great stir, it was the most incredible talk and demonstrated that it is not necessary to be down and out when you know cancer is going to kill you. I have posted the lecture to another blog page. Do watch him if you haven't done so, he is very inspiring. I cannot get the YouTube video to post in my blog for some reason. If you would like to view the video click here it is really worth watching and very inspiring. Tonight we will be having Picadillo for supper. This is a version I just got from the internet. There are dozens of different recipes for Picadillo the one we are using tonight adds yoghurt and radishes, others have cheese in them.

Cuban Picadillo recipe - Beef Hash of Cuba

courtesy of Cocina Cubana Club (please join) / Pascual Perez and chef Sonia Martinez The following can be added to white rice or used as filling in the "pastelitos" recipe in the dessert section to make small meat pies. For picadillo you can use ground lean beef or turkey. 1 lb ground meat 1 large onion, chopped 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped 1 small can tomato sauce 1/4 cup dry white wine Pimiento stuffed olives Raisins Salt and pepper to taste In a large skillet, brown the ground meat, onions and garlic. If meat is not too lean, pour out whatever fat you render. turn heat down to medium low. Add the tomato sauce and wine. While it simmers, chop up the pimiento stuffed olives and add to meat mixture, it is ok to add a little bit of the brine, if you wish. Add the raisins and adjust the seasonings. I like my picadillo almost dry, not too soupy. Serve over fluffy, white rice. If you like it soupier, just add more tomato sauce and/or wine, if you wish.

Have a great day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lazy Day

Had a doc's appointment and then visited a friend this morning. So I think I will have a lazy day today and write a blog tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Anyone Out There, Leeches and Stem Cells

Its nice to know that some of the hundreds of dollars I have spent on Microsoft software over the years, is being used to fund SETI Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. There was a segment about it on Nova Science Now last night. Apparently in 1993 Congress cut off funding for SETI, but now the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have injected $11.5 million into the research. Paul G. Allen being one of the Microsoft millionaires. If you would like to watch the segment click here and you can do so. You can also, if you would like, download a programme which will help SETI listen for aliens in space. I did this a number of years ago, it actually crunches numbers on your system when you are not using it. These days, my PC isn't sufficiently reliable and would probably seize up instead of crunch up. The programme works a bit like a Screen Saver. Not much to watch, but its nice to know you are doing your part. There was another segment on the re-introduction of leaches into the medical arsenal, you can also watch this segment at which will show you a young man who almost lost all his fingers and once they had re-attached everything, one finger would not dispose of the blood being pumped into it, so they used leeches with their anti coagulatory properties to relieve the blood build up and eventually this helped the proper flow of blood to and from his finger. A third segment was about research into stem cells and how they are now able to convert cells from skin back into stem cells which they can then convert to the type of cells they require for repair of various ailments in the body. Again, this can be watched at I found this particularly fascinating because there has been so much problem with ethics regarding the use of embryonic stem cells, and this would hopefully help to eliminate such controversy although one of the scientists did say he wasn't sure this research would completely cut out the need for embryonic stem cells. I know our son-in-law had his stem cells removed and "washed" then put back as an aid to cancer fighting in his body. Crossing one's fingers it seems to have worked and he is much improved. Matt has just read, in the local paper, that we had 50 mm of rain during the storm I told you about on Tuesday night. We are the second wettest town in Canada at the moment. What a difference from last year when everything was so dry. Not that we are as wet as Texas where, thanks to Hurricane Dolly, they are receiving 100 mm an hour. Well, its Thursday, shopping day in this household, Matt is nattering at me to get ready so I had better do so. The following lamb recipe comes from a collection of recipes by a friend who passed away a few years ago and made sure all his recipes were passed on to his internet friends who cooked. We actually were lucky enough to meet both he and his wife when we were in England a few years ago, we stayed with them a couple of days, and I was so very sorry we lost him. I know a lot of people in North America don't like lamb, but for those who do, this is a great recipe.

Abbacchio Alla Cacciatore

1‑1/4 kg new season lamb 10 flat anchovy fillets in oil 1 Teaspoon crushed dried chili's 250 ml dry white wine 60 ml red wine vinegar 3 clove garlic 1 Teaspoon chopped rosemary 1 Teaspoon chopped sage 1 Teaspoon flour olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Traditionally this is made with baby lamb. New season's lamb works well but needs a longer cooking time but older lamb would traduce the character of the dish. Cut the meat into 6‑7 cm cubes. Heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil in an ovenproof casserole and brown the well‑seasoned pieces of meat. Add the finely chopped garlic, half the anchovy fillets and half the chili's and stew a few seconds without letting them color. Add the wine and the vinegar, cover and place in a medium oven (Gas Mark 5) for an hour or until the meat is tender. Do not let the liquid reduce too much. If it does, add a drop of water and turn the oven down a notch. In a small bowl mix the herbs with the flour, the remaining anchovy fillets and the rest of the chili's (if you can take it). Moisten with a ladleful of the sauce from the casserole and make a smooth paste. Lift out the meat on to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep it warm. Stir the herb mixture into the cooking liquid, whisk the juices well and bring to the boil. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes to cook the flour and thicken the sauce. Add a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper, if necessary, and spoon over the meat.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby Moose, Storms, Pools

Matt, being ever practical, thought the moose family in one's back yard, could, in fact, be quite dangerous. Presumably if you went near the babies, Mama would take exception, and that is one very big lump of animal. Once is cute, if they start paying regular visits, not so funny. I only ever saw a moose once, we were driving through Algonquin Park up north and saw cars parked all over the road, we stopped to see what people were looking at, and saw a female moose in the woods. Never seen a male although we used to hear a moose crashing past us when we were on a campsite up north years ago. Same campsite where Matt was fishing early one morning and an otter was teaching her family how to fish. She kept popping up with a fish in her mouth and looking at Matt seemingly to say "see that's how its done". He didn't catch anything. We had one heck of a storm last night, we watched the black clouds approaching over the trees from the other side of town, they really were incredibly black, in fact I would say frighteningly black, you could see the rain in the distance but for a while we were clear. Then lightening and thunder started, enough to knock your hearing out completely, great resonating cracks of massive thunder, then the rain started and it was lashing across so heavily it was like thick fog and I couldn't see into the park outside. One lightening strike caused the alarms to go off in the building, but surprisingly it didn't have any effect on the power. It didn't stay overhead that long but we could hear the thunder and see the lightening in the distance for an hour or so afterwards. I don't know if it did any damage anywhere, I haven't heard anything. The alarm was ringing for ages, its a very noisy sound too, well it has to be. This morning I hear Hurricane Dolly is right off the shores of Texas and expected to make landfall any time. I hope people have moved from its path. At the moment it is a Category 1 which isn't very strong as hurricanes go, but it is still over warm water so it can strengthen, in fact they anticipate it to strengthen to Category 2. Hurricanes are something we have plenty of experience of, it is best to move out of their way. Although sometimes they can follow you inland. On Good Morning America today, they had a segment on swimming pool drains and the extreme danger to young children. Apparently hundreds of children have been drowned because of the extreme pressure exerted (40 lbs) by the drains and there is a campaign to do something about it. A pool contractor has been arrested because of unsafe drain covers see here and they said this danger can be averted by buying a particular $40 drain cover to put in place. One piece of advice, if a child does get caught, don't use a direct pull but roll the child from side to side in an effort to break the suction. I have just joined iHype as a way of earning a few bucks now my Google ads have been taken away from me. Anyone who writes a blog can join this group and depending upon your range of interest, you can earn a little or a lot of money. This is a somewhat gloomy blog today isn't it? Sorry about that. The air outside our window is fresh and clean after the storm and Matt is out golfing which is what he loves to do. The following recipe is a Diabetic recipe, but not, of course, limited to people with diabetes. BAVARIAN POT ROAST Source: A-Z Recipes Servings: 8 Ingredients: 4 pounds beef arm pot roast 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 3 whole cloves 4 medium apples, cored and quartered 1 small onion, sliced 1/2 cup apple juice 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons water Instructions: Wipe roast well and trim off excess fat. Lightly rub top of meat with oil. Dust with salt, ginger and pepper. Insert cloves in roast. Place onions and apples in crockpot and top with roast (cut roast in half, if necessary, to fit easily). Pour in apple juice. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 to 12 hours or on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours. Remove roast and apples to warm platter. Turn crockpot to HIGH. Make a smooth paste with flour and water; stir into crockpot. Cover and cook until thickened. Pour over roast. Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Twin baby moose in sprinkler

Chi Cheemaun

Spa Treatments, Last of the Summer League, Chi-Cheemaun

Today, Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America's team, sat with her feet in a bath of water whilst some tiny fish (carp) nibbled at her feet and ate all the dead skin. Apparently afterwards your feet feel wonderfully smooth like a baby's skin. I decided to look at this report on line and discovered a series of pictures of the most unlikely spa treatments around the world. click here and go to Unusual Spa Treatments to read the rest. It really is most interesting. Chocolate, Wine, Beer, Snakes, Gold, all feature in some of these treatments. Don't delay as I think they change some of these stories daily. I must admit if I was going to spend $250 I would rather spend it on a piece of jewellery than on a gold pack for my face. In the States the miniature fish treatment costs about $50 for 15 minutes apparently. My foot nurse absolutely loves my feet, so I don't need any expensive treatments luckily. Talk about coincidence, Matt was reading the paper and there is an article on fish spa treatment - the Japanese call them Dr. Fish. We had our lunch at the bowling alley yesterday, sandwiches, pickles and brownies. It was quite enjoyable and included lots of chat and laughter. We then bowled two games only, one in which I won $5 for the secret score. Matt got $5 for a high triple for the season, so now we are rich!! The other game was bowling bingo and we just couldn't get any strikes between us, last season we couldn't get spares - I hope you know what I'm talking about. My thumb held up OK, but now I will try and remember to ice it regularly and rest it until we start again in September. I have strained something just where the thumb joins the rest of the hand. Mostly it doesn't hurt until I pick up something heavy. We are hoping to spend some time away in September which will mean we will miss some of the new bowling season, but we like to go away when the kids are back in school. Less crowded. We are thinking of visiting Manitoulin Island which is north of here and which we have never visited. You can get there by taking the Chi Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory. Above this blog you will see a film from YouTube about the launching of the ferry. It fascinates me to see the bows lift up to disgorge the vehicles, like some kind of sea monster. It also interested me to see that the ferry was launched during the winter when there was snow all over her. I am surprised the water wasn't solid ice. This recipe comes from Giada di Laurentis at Everyday Italian. One of our favourite TV cookery shows. I have copied a lot of her recipes over the years. The picture is not the actual recipe, but it does have a Mascarpone Cream frosting. In fact you could use the frosting on any pre-made cake. Angel Food Cake with Espresso Mascarpone Cream Serves 8-10 Ingredients: 2 tablespoons boiling water 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature 1 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 1 (12-ounce) purchased angel food cake 1/2 cup coffee liqueur Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting Instructions: Stir the water and espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the mascarpone. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream in another large bowl, while slowly adding powdered sugar, until soft peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten. Then fold the remaining whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Cut the angel food cake into 16 (1-inch thick) wedges. Reserve any remaining cake for another use. Brush 1 side of each wedge of cake with the liqueur. Arrange 2 wedges of cake on each plate. Dollop the espresso cream atop each wedge of cake. Dust with the cocoa powder and serve. Have a great day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bowling, Governments

How sad, the last bowling day of the summer league today. We have our lunch at 1 and then bowl three games, one straight, and two "silly". Like bowling with your other hand, or backwards through your legs etc. in one game and the other is called bowling bingo where you have a sheet of scores to check off and you all bowl like mad to try and get the scores first. I remembered to ice my thumb joint last night but I'm not sure I did enough to help today so maybe the rest through August will do it good. Grrr, Governments. I quit work last year and sent in a tax form showing my estimated income for 2008, after several months, they adjusted our pensions and supplements to reflect my lack of earnings for 2008. Friday I got a another form saying they have adjusted our pensions reflecting the tax filing for 2007 which has dropped our pensions considerably each month due to my salary in 2007. This morning I phoned and I have to fill out yet another form showing estimated income for 2008 which will take another 3 months for them to adjust. It seems to me it is yet another case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. I am not a happy camper. I have just finished reading Karen Miller's Empress in her Godspeaker Series - I enjoyed it, but I sure learned to intensely dislike the main protagonist, Hecat, however, Karen assures me that in her next book, Riven Kingdom, it talks about a different bunch and I will not come across Hecat too much. I am now reading an amusing book called Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines, part of a series. The book is described as hilarious, I wouldn't go that far, put it is pretty funny in some places. Who would ever think you could empathise with a goblin. I think the cover alone is pretty funny, I hope you can make it out OK. I will certainly be reading the rest of this series. For those of you who know my love of dragons, no, I did not choose this book because of the dragon on the cover, I chose it because of a recommendation in one of my ezines, Recipe du Jour. Well, better get going, I don't want to miss my "banquet". Hope some of you enjoyed the River Cross puzzle I posted yesterday. When we visited Portugal I loved their pork stews, I have been trying to find one similar, this is one of the nearest I found on the Internet. I apologise, I don't remember the exact source. PORK STEW WITH CUMIN (Portugal) Portugese Servings: 6 Ingredients: 2 pounds boneless pork, cubed MARINADE: 1/3 cup dry white wine 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons cumin 1 bay leaf salt and pepper to taste TO COOK: 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped water or stock (if needed) TO SERVE: 10 large pitted black olives lemon wedges for garnish Instructions: Marinate pork in mixture of white wine, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, bay leaf, salt, and pepper in refrigerator for 6 hours. Remove pork from marinade and reserve liquid. Sauté pork and onion in oil until pork is browned. Add marinade and bring to a simmer; cook 30 minutes. Add water or stock if necessary to keep it moist. Scatter with olives and serve with lemon wedges. Have a great day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Here is a link to a puzzle I have been "having a go at" off and on for a few years. I can solve it sometimes and then when I try it again, I have lost it. Its called River Cross and is a Japanese game. You start it by clicking on the round blue button. You have to remember that the boys cannot be left with the mother and the girls cannot be left with the father. The convict cannot be left with anyone but the guard. Only the adults can work the ferry button. Have a go and see if you can solve it. To work it you click on the people to load them onto or off the ferry. To start the ferry you click on the red knob beside it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

St. Jacobs Market

We thought we would go to the market at St. Jacobs this morning. What a joke. Millions of people decided the same thing. When we saw just how far we would have to walk from the parking lot, we drove on through and came home again. Pity, but there it is. I was going to take some pictures to show you what it is like there. I think all I would have got was pictures of people. I have been to markets all over Europe, but never seen one that busy. Surprising in a way as it is 30°C today and somewhat humid. I guess that doesn't worry a lot of people. I was a tad dubious about going anyway because of the heat. The French and Spanish markets used to be the ones we enjoyed most - someone would go out early in the morning to buy fresh bread for breakfast and then we would return later to buy fruit, vegetables and often meat or fish, frequently cheese. Once the marketing was done we would go to a vendor who sold coffee and cognac and enjoy a refreshing break after our shopping. We could sip our drinks and watch the other shoppers go by. We would then wend our way home (whether it were the boat or the house) and by this time it would probably be lunch hour. Although that was not as early in Europe as it is in the Americas. When my parents lived in Spain we would often spend the rest of the morning around the pool and sometimes have lunch there. Later, of course, a siesta would be in order which took us til about 4:30 in the afternoon. My father used to call this a horizontal height test. Later we would have cocktails and then dress for dinner and head out around 8 or 9 to whichever restaurant we had decided upon. In Spain as many of you know, they serve tapas which are small helpings of food which are served with your drinks. You can make a full meal of these, or you can have a few as an hors d'oeuvres before you have your main meal. One of the classic tapas dishes is a Spanish Omelette which is made with potatoes and is absolutely delicious. Once when we made it, one of our guests couldn't leave it alone. I haven't made one for a while and this is making me hungry. Spanish Omelette Serves 4
  • 1/2 pint of olive oil
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced and lightly sprinkled with salt (I like Yukon Gold although in Europe you have many more potato choices)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (in fact I would use a Vidalia if in season)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt
Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch skillet and add the potato slices carefully, because the salt will make the oil splatter. Try to keep the potato slices separated so they will not stick together. Cook, turning occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain into a colander, leaving about 3 tablespoons of oil in the skillet.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes, and stir to coat with the egg. Add the egg-coated potatoes to the very hot oil in the skillet, spreading them evenly to completely cover the base of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, shaking the pan frequently, until mixture is half set.

Use a plate to cover the skillet and invert the omelette away from the hand holding the plate (so as not to burn your hand with any escaping oil). Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and slide the omelette back into the skillet on its uncooked side. Cook until completely set. Allow the omelette to cool, and then cut it into wedges. Season it with salt and sprinkle with lemon juice to taste (optional).

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Have a great day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Howl at the Moon, St. Jacobs, Tigers

Last night we decided to go out for supper so went down the road to Howl at the Moon - we both had a Caesar Salad and Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken which was good. The vegetables were a sautéed mix of snow peas, cauliflower, peppers and broccoli, not the usual overdone mush either, but very edible. The cook/chef knows what he is doing. They serve you a small loaf which is soaked in garlic butter. My main complaint is they give you way too much food. But that is a common complaint in North America. They actually have a neon sign of a wolf howling. Since we have lived in this apartment building, the restaurant has had three names, Whisky Jack's, Brubachers and now Howl at the Moon. One time we went there for lunch and I had the most delicious soup. I tried to get the recipe, but they wouldn't part with it. Thursday is our usual grocery shopping day and I was disappointed to find only American strawberries in the stores. I guess the local ones have more or less finished although we had bought some the day before. I am planning to go to the market in St. Jacobs on Saturday morning so maybe I will find some more there - a kind of last gasp. The blueberries were also from the US and when we went to the farm the day before they had lots of local blueberries. Although they were a lot more expensive than in the stores. I specially want to go to the market as there is a stall selling socks which my diabetic foot nurse has recommended. I have some long ones, but they have ankle socks and apparently much cheaper. They are more or less seamless on the toes. I find I have a lot of problems with seams. I get a regular newsletter from World Wildlife Fund; this morning there was an interesting article about relocating tigers to an area where the animals had been wiped out click here to read how it was done. Apparently tigers are dwindling at an alarming rate and if we are not careful there won't be any for our children or theirs. Of course, in some areas tigers pose an extreme hazard for the native population but this is not always the case. It will be interesting to find out if the relocation of a tiger and tigress will help to repopulate the Sariska area in India. Another segment in the newsletter is about the pressure on drilling for oil in the Arctic which according to WWF will not alleviate oil prices in the long run but will help to destroy "The Polar Bear Seas". They are advocating support of an act to close the loopholes which would possibly allow drilling in these seas. The polar bear habitat is disappearing fast enough on its own without encouraging it by drilling for oil. We have the ability to use alternate means of powering our vehicles, its time we knuckled down to using such means. These days I read a lot on the internet about improving one's carbon footprint, OK, I am doing what I can, but what about nations. I have said it before, the idea of taking til 2050 to reduce emissions by half is ridiculous. Do it NOW. We don't have time to muck about. The world is deteriorating around us and its our fault. The following is a recipe I got from World Wide Recipes some time ago. Its very good and worth giving a go. Chicken Breasts stuffed with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Red Peppers, Ham, & Herbed Cheese Serves: 4 4 chicken breasts, pounded very, very thin 4 slices of ham (Black Forest works well) 1 large onion 4 pieces roasted red pepper 1 tub (8 oz.) vegetable cream cheese black pepper your favorite herbs-for instance white pepper, thyme, basil, and rosemary olive oil margarine or butter chicken stock (around 1/4 cup) white wine (around 1/4 cup) Finely slice the onion and sauté in margarine until caramelized, about ten minutes. Finely chop the roasted red peppers, and add to the cream cheese, along with the herbs, caramelized onions, and lots of freshly ground black pepper (the more the better). Mix well. Place a slice of ham on top of a chicken breast; place a big spoonful of the cheese mixture in the middle of that, and starting with one end of the chicken, roll it and secure with wooden toothpicks. In the same pan in which the onions were sautéed heat some olive oil (a tbs. or two). Brown the rolled chicken a few minutes on each side. Once the chicken is golden all over, transfer to a shallow baking dish; add some more olive oil to the pan and scrape the bottom. Add the white wine and chicken stock, let boil and then simmer; add the remainder of the cheese mixture and stir until a smooth consistency is reached. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serves four. This entrée goes really well with risotto and a salad. Have a great day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Google, Hurrle's, Nova Science Now

Some of you may be wondering about the ads on my blog page. They will no longer appear as Google AdSense has closed my account. I am apparently a risk to their advertisers although I have not been told why this should be. On investigation, I find through the forums that lots of accounts have been closed in the last week or so, not just mine, and not one of the people knows why. I am feeling somewhat upset about the whole business so I apologise if this blog seems a little lacklustre. Yesterday afternoon, we drove into the country and visited a place called Hurrle's (pronounced Hurleys) where they have their own farmers' market. They have all kinds of vegetables and baked goods for sale there but we just ended up with strawberries and a few tomatoes. I had been told their strawberries were particularly good and I found them delicious. I sliced up one of their tomatoes for supper and found that to be very good too although I presume they are not field tomatoes yet, too early. We didn't check out any of the baked goods or breads as we don't eat a lot of that kind of thing. They also sold some sausages - I heard one customer say she waited for them every summer. The only problem is, they are rather a long way out of town and Matt kept pointing out that some of the items were a lot cheaper where we normally shop. I kept saying they were not as fresh. When we ate the strawberries and tomato Matt couldn't see any difference so...... I watched Nova Science NOW again last night, they had a very interesting segment on the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. An absolutely fascinating segment on bird brains which apparently have linguistic sections similar to ours and another about a young Japanese woman who is working on a robotic arm and hand or prosthesis which will eventually work exactly like an original hand, stimulated by the brain, for those who might lose theirs in an accident of some kind. You can watch these video segments here. The following is a recipe we have made often either for a dinner party or just for ourselves. We got the recipe from Readers Digest Great Recipes. Vegetable-Stuffed Mushrooms Serves: 4 12 lge mushrooms (about 1 lb) 1 tbs butter 5 green onions chopped fine 1 med size stalk of celery, chopped finely 1 small ripe tomato, cored and chopped 1/2 tsp dried marjoram crumbled 1/8 tsp black pepper 1/2 C soft white breadcrumbs or less if you use dried Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and twist off the stems: set the caps aside and mince the stems. In a heavy 10 in skillet melt the margarine over moderate heat; add the green onions, celery and mushroom stems and cook uncovered, stirring often unti the veggies are soft - about 5 mins. Add the tomato, marjoram, and pepper and cook, covered, 5 mins longer. Stir in the breadcrumbs and remove skillet from the heat. Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps, mounding it up slightly. Lightly grease a baking pan and arrange the mushrooms in one layer. Bake uncovered for 20 mins or until lightly browned. This recipe does not call for salt, however you may wish to add some. Have a great day.