Saturday, October 30, 2010

Plate Tectonics, Terrorism, Book

We have been following a series (well we’ve only seen two episodes) on TV presented by David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things, which is the most fascinating documentary about Plate Tectonics. The series is called Geologic Journey II and the website is here Because of the movement of the plates, there are areas in the middle east which are literally being torn apart by their movement and volcanic action pushing them apart. Not going to happen tomorrow, more like 10 million years away, but it really is interesting to contemplate all the information and pictures they present in this series. I highly recommend this programme. You can watch the episodes on line too, last night was particularly focused on the The Great Great Rift ValleyRift Valley which stretches for 9,600 kms in Eastern Africa and which is slowly being separated by volcanic action. The bottom of the rift is very thin. The geologist, Dr. Nick Eyles, visited a volcano containing a lava lake which is one of only 4 in the world. Quite incredible to see the boiling magma just bubblingLava Lake away there waiting to erupt once again. I decided to check just where we were sitting on the rift which contains our part of Canada. We appear to be well away from the edge. There were pictures of cities, such as Jerusalem, which are sitting right over the plates in such a way to ensure they will be destroyed by earthquake one day. The following is from the web site - Geologic Journey II will change the way you look at the world. In each episode, we dive straight into the Earth's mysterious geologic processes – and explore both science and legend as we seek to understand and explain the geologic forces that shape our world, and our lives. With Dr. Nick Eyles of the University of Toronto Scarborough as our guide, this five-part documentary series will reveal the Earth's magnificent power and its breathtaking beauty

I guess one will have to be careful buying ink cartridges for the printer any more, they have found such cartridges on a couple ofl planes bound for the US full of explosives instead of ink.

Jacob de ZoetI have just finished an absolutely delightful book called The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. It is set in the Japans in the late 18th century and tells the story of a young Dutchman who becomes the Chief Resident in Nagasaki, originally trading with the Japanese on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. It is a realistic, gritty and disgusting but romantic story, nothing is held back and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes novels of the Orient. I cannot for the life of me remember who recommended this novel to me, but whoever it was, I thank them.

Here’s a new take on a classic Chinese recipe – I have included the nutrition information. I need to take a bit more care on my consumption as I am having high sugar readings lately. I thought this might be a good start.

Moo Shu Vegetables

From EatingWell: September/October 2008

This vegetarian version of the classic Chinese stir-fry, Moo Shu, uses already-shredded vegetables to cut down on the prep time. Serve with warm whole-wheat tortillas, Asian hot sauce and extra hoisin if desired.

Moo Shu Veg4 servings


3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 12-ounce bag shredded mixed vegetables, such as “rainbow salad” or “broccoli slaw”

2 cups mung bean sprouts

1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, (see Shopping Tip)

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs; cook, stirring gently, until set, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  2. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, 1 minute. Add shredded vegetables, bean sprouts, half the sliced scallions, soy sauce and vinegar. Stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved eggs and hoisin; cook, uncovered, stirring and breaking up the scrambled eggs, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining scallions and remove from the heat.

Per serving : 171 Calories; 9 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 212 mg Cholesterol; 14 g Carbohydrates; 11 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 328 mg Sodium; 226 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Shopping tip: Hoisin sauce is a dark brown, thick, spicy-sweet sauce made from soybeans and a complex mix of spices. Look for it in the Asian section of your supermarket and in Asian markets.

Happy Hallowe’en and have a great weekend.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Wye Valley, Cold Cap, Storms and Vitamins.

Wye ValleyThe other night, we watched a delightful little documentary about the Wye Valley in Britain, it is shared by the West Country and Wales and is a beautiful area. They were predominantly showing a cider apple grower, a bee keeper, a sheep farmer and a fisherman and how they lived during the year. It was fascinating that the bee keeper brought millions of bees to collect the nectar from the apple trees – a co-operative effort, the bees would also pollinate the trees for the grower whilst they were harvesting the nectar. Britain too is affected by the disease which is killing off honey bees and which could cause a major disaster because there won’t be anything to replace them to pollinate all kinds of plants.

Good Morning America, on Thursday, had a veryCold Cap interesting segment about chemo therapy and hair loss. It appears that in the UK they have been using an “cold cap” very successfully during certain chemo treatments, breast cancer being one, and by using these cold caps it is possible for the patient not to lose her hair. By freezing the hair follicles, it appears the chemo does not affect the scalp area. There are people (around 100) who have tried this in the States although it is not recognised by insurance companies and costs as much as $1,500 nevertheless some women are pursuing it. One patient was talking to GMA and she definitely managed to save her hair. She had a team of friends with her during chemo treatments who changed her ice cap every half hour. The friends have since formed an informational group called the Rapunzel Group (what a great name) which disseminates the word in order to ensure that everyone is aware of the option. They also donated a freezer to their local hospital. I understand dry ice is used so these caps must be fairly difficult to put up with. There are two main reasons for using the cap, one you can keep your cancer private if you wish by not losing your hair, and two you feel so much better in yourself if you still have your hair even though Robyn Roberts, who has gone through chemo, said “you are not your hair”.

ThBus Shelteris week we have had, what has been referred to as a weather bomb, in North America. Very high winds and in the central States and Provinces they were socked in with snow storms – other places were inundated with flooding. Locally we were staggered to see three glass bus shelters had been damaged by the winds. One time our car was badly damaged because we were parked in our outside parking lot and the wind blew grit off the roof – we needed a new paint job, others needed new windshields. I don’t know if that has happened this week, haven’t yet heard anything.

Today on GMA Dr. Richard Besser was talking about vitamins and other supplements. Basically the consensus for a generally healthy adult with a good, balanced diet and regular exercise, you don’t need to spend a load of money on taking pills. The young and the old often do need such supplements, but mostly otherwise, he said, it’s a waste of money. Guess we will be saving ours in future.

Hallowe’en approaches and for those people who like to make various items to hand out rather than candies here is an English recipe for biscuits (cookies over here) which I thought looked pretty easy and rather fun.

Halloween Biscuits

BBC Food

Halloween biscuits

Whip up some homemade sweet treats to delight little ghosts and ghouls. Try our simple biscuit dough, rolled out and cut into spooky shapes.


Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper (waxed paper).

  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until combined.

  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, a little at a time, until well combined.

  4. Stir in the flour until the mixture comes together as a dough.

  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 1cm/½in.

  6. Using Halloween-style biscuit cutters, cut biscuits out of the dough and carefully place onto the baking tray.

  7. Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to harden for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

  8. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir in enough water to create a smooth mixture. Stir in the food colouring.

  9. Carefully spread the icing onto the biscuits using a knife and set aside until the icing hardens.

Have a great day


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Interview, Bugs and Critters.

Had a fun time yesterday and running into today, with Glenda Larke being interviewed and then answering all kinds of questions on Sia McKye’s blog – Sia McKye’s Thoughts – Over Coffee – they made me bring my own coffee though!!! I learned a few more things about Glenda that I didn’t know, like some of her rainforest experiences. I envied her recent Borneo trip where she saw Pygmy Elephants and Pigmy Squirrels, but after reading what she wrote yesterday, I think she can keep her job after all. I will not compete. I’m not really into King Cobras and much as I push saving tigers, I don’t want one up close and personal stalking me.

One thing we did talk about was cockroaches – not veryPamara nice critters at all. I have been having a hate relationship with them for many years. When my parents took their boat, Pamara, to Malta to live. they were moored by old wooden docks which had probably been there from time immemorial and which were crawling with huge cockroaches. There were of great interest to the cat who would catch them and bring them on board and then, in the way of all cats, play with them and sometimes lose them. Delightful. Now we had big buggers on board. Not only that, my father reckoned a lot of eggs actually came aboard with shopping, particularly vegetables. Later when Matt and I lived in North Carolina we had the same problem although the Carolinians call them Palmetto bugs and don’t admit they are cockroaches. (In fact nobody in Malta had cockroaches in their homes, certainly not my parents). I personally can’t stand the things but Matt doesn’t worry about them so much. In fact we used to spray inside our home every couple of weeks and outside about once a month and we rarely had problems. Friends who were not so careful had plenty of roaches in their lives. To quote one friend “when I got home, I opened the door and the roaches were jumping up and down saying goody, goody, daddy’s back”.

Its nice to live without such critters, in fact its nice to live in a country which doesn’t have a lot of nasty wildlife. We do have Mississauga Rattlers, but I don’t think they are widely distributed and certainly not around the towns as far as I know. Of course we have bears, Polar, Grizzly and Black to name a few, in Canada and a whole plethora of different animals, but we certainly don’t have to deal with roaches round here.

Today is the first of our Travel League Bowling for this winter season. In fact we are bowling at our local alley and some of us will be lunching at the My Thai across the road. The way both of us have been bowling, we are going for the exercise!!!

I had a friend who loved Stilton and pears or maybe Gorgonzola. The following recipe doesn’t specify what kind of blue cheese, but those are two of the best. This would make a nice lunch or even a quick and easy supper.

Pear & Blue Cheese Flatbread

From EatingWell:  January/February 2008

The classic combination of pears, walnuts and blue cheese isn't just for salad. Toss the same ingredients onto purchased whole-wheat pizza dough and make your own gourmet flatbread at home. Any type of ripe, firm pear will work—red pears look great.

6 servings 


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil Pear & Blue Cheese Flatbread

3 cups thinly sliced onions

20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 ripe but firm pears, sliced

1/2 cup finely crumbled blue cheese

  1. Place oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, 5 to 8 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes. Toast walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir vinegar, sage and pepper into the onions. Spread on the crust and top with pears, walnuts and cheese. Bake on the bottom rack until the crust is crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 11 to 13 minutes. Slice and serve.

Have a great day


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Biodiversity, Lady the Lioness.

I posted an article about saving whales yesterday which I think is very important as I do saving tigers. I believe it is very important that everything possible be done to convince people that such animals/mammals are part of the biodiversity of this environment and are very important to our own survival in a healthy world. Humans have been given the role of custodians of the earth and so far have done a pretty poor job although we are finally beginning to wake up to our responsibilities. When I was a young woman nobody cared at all, now thanks to all the wonderful people who have made the study of such things their life’s work, a large number of people have begun to understand the importance of our custodianship of Planet Earth. My message would be, please care.

We watched a fascinating programme on Monday about a solitary lioness known as Lady Liuwa, she was so lonely, she was trying to become friends with a bunch of photographers who were working in her part of Africa, Zambia. The photographers would not allow her to approach any nearer than 15 ft. not for fear of what she would do, but for fear of her becoming too used to humans. She would roll on the ground exposing her belly as a gesture of submission and friendliness, just like a Lady and Matehouse cat. The programme covered a number of years. In the end, they managed to translocate a couple of male lions to her region and towards the end of the programme, they were beginning to become acquainted. It is hoped that they will manage to establish a pride. I have actually just found an article from the Daily Mail (UK) which says she has mated with one of the lions and it is hoped she will soon be pregnant. To read the full story

I don’t know if you like to make cookies for  Hallowe’en, but here are some really ghoulish ones: actually I think they would taste pretty good.

Halloween Eyeball Cookies

By Chef Dee on October 31, 2005

Yield: 40 cookies

About This Recipe

"Halloween treats to make with your kidsEyeball Cookies. How can anything that looks so hauntingly creepy taste so good ?? My kids have enjoyed taking these to school for years, and so will yours."


1/2 cup butter, softened Eyeballs

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

12 ounces white dipping chocolate

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

blue food coloring


  1. Cream the butter and peanut butter together.
  2. Beat in the vanilla and sugar.
  3. Chill for 1/2 hour.
  4. Roll into small balls, chill on wax paper for another 1/2 hour.
  5. In a microwave, melt the white dipping chocolate.
  6. Using two spoons dip the eyeballs into the white chocolate.
  7. Let cool on waxed paper until firm. Chilling will speed up the process.
  8. Pour a drop or two of blue food coloring into the remaining melted chocolate.
  9. Make a round iris on the eyeball, and immediately press a miniature chocolate chip in the center for a pupil, doing 5 at at time.
  10. For the bloodshot effect, dip the tiny end of a toothpick in red food colouring and squiggle the lines from the pupil outward, but not quite to the edges of the ball.
  11. These are quite tasty--considering how creepy they are.

Have a great day


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whales, Hallowe’en, Pianist

I feel this is important enough to pass on to you and anyone else I can encourage to sign the petition.

Will we stop mass extinction?

I've just signed an urgent global petition supporting a new treaty to prevent mass extinction. The petition will be delivered Friday at UN talks in Japan -- check out the email below and sign on here:

Dear friends,

blue_whaleThere are only 300 northern right whales left, and 99% of blue whales have been wiped out. These majestic giants are endangered species, and their case is being played out across the world, time and again. In fact, one third of all life forms on the planet are on the brink of extinction.

The natural world is being crushed by human activity, waste and exploitation. But there is a plan to save it -- a global agreement to create, fund and enforce protected areas covering 20% of our lands and seas by 2020. And right now, 193 governments are meeting in Japan to address this crisis.

We have just 3 days left in this crucial meeting. Experts say that politicians are hesitant to adopt such an ambitious goal, but that a global public outcry could tip the balance, making leaders feel the eyes of the world upon them. Click to sign the urgent 20/20 petition, and forward this email widely -- the message will be delivered directly to the meeting in Japan.

To read the rest check the link above.

Watching Good Morning America yesterday, I learned that Hallowe’en is the most dangerous time for kids to be killed on the roads. Particularly boys and particularly between the hours of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. One of the reporters dressed up in a witches outfit, black hat, black cloak and when they turned off the lights and shone headlight type lights at her, you couldn’t see a thing. However, she took off her cloak and she had all kinds of bangles and stickers which reflected light and on the back of her witches hat there was a chem light. Her back itself was covered in reflective stickers and so on. There are two young girls who were both almost killed a year ago and they are circulating bracelets which shine in the dark in the hope of helping other kids on Hallow’en night.

I just discovered a young pianist called Ethan Bortnick who is now 9 years old and apparently first appeared on Good Morning America when he was 6. He has his own special coming up on Public Broadcasting. He has played piano with some quite amazing people including Elton John. This morning he played a jazz piece which he wrote himself having told the story of the piece first – see With Elton he played Chopin. What really irritated me, we didn’t get to hear the whole piece, the programme cut off for the ubiquitous ads. I know ads pay for all this, but for goodness sake, let us see the segments properly. This youngster got me to thinking about genius. I wonder what it is in the brain which produces a genius, Mozart was one and this young man appears to be another.

Here is a very simple recipe from although the recipe source is Eating Well, but really easy to do for a party at either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Date Wraps

Source: Eating Well

Sweet dates and salty prosciutto combine in a tasty bite.


16 thin slices prosciuttoDate Wraps

16 whole pitted dates

Freshly ground pepper to taste


Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each date. Grind pepper on top.

Have a great day


Monday, October 25, 2010

Politicians, Elections, Our Week.

I guess I am pretty naïve or something. I have been sick of watching mud slinging political ads on TV for years, but it was only yesterday that I discovered they tell outright lies and some of what is said is totally untrue. I have never had much time for politicians, but that made me have even less time for them. A total bunch of liars in my opinion. I could use several other words but won’t do so here.

Tomorrow is local election day here – it will be interesting to see the results. The Americans are also voting in a few days and Mr. Obama is campaigning for all he is worth. Things are not much better in the States than when he took over and so he is being blamed. I guess people thought he was a superman not just an ordinary person. They seem to think he should have been able to wave a magic wand and fix everything that’s wrong.

Meanwhile, we are bowling once again today and I wish I had that magic wand to enable the pair of us to bowl better. Then this week Matt gets his Loop Monitor for two weeks which will make him really happy. Thursday we have our first travel league for bowling and some of us are going to the My Thai restaurant opposite the bowling alley, some of the group don’t like Thai food so they are going to a different place. Can’t please everybody I suppose.

On Saturday I promised you this recipe. Its very simple to do and absolutely delicious. The instructions say to turn the tortilla over, but this isn’t easy so I just wrapped the handle of my pan in foil and put the whole thing under the grill to brown off.

Tortilla des Patatas

3 Medium-sized potatoesTortilla-de-patatas
1 Onion (optional)
3 Eggs
oil (olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil are good)

1. Peel the onion and potatoes.

2. Cut the onion into thin pieces. Add plenty of oil to a frying pan and let them fry until they turn brown

3. Dice the potatoes while the onions are cooking. Season them as desired and add them to the frying pan.

4. Fry everything together over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything turns slightly brown.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the oil

6. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and add the potatoes, onions.

7. Add a little bit of oil in the frying pan and add the mixture. Cook the egg until it sets up, first on high heat, and then over low heat.

8. Turn the tortilla over so that it browns on both sides. You can serve hot or cold.

Servings: 4

Author Notes
The tortilla de patatas, which literally means "potato tortilla", is a very typical Spanish dish, similar to a frittata.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Bra?, Tortilla and Piri-Piri.

victorias-secret-diamond-braNeed new bras? Victoria’s Secret have just launched this year’s $5 million bra – their jewel encrusted Fantasy Bra. They have one every year, apparently last year’s was covered in champagne diamonds but they are not being bought so they are talking about selling them for charity. This year I think its also diamonds and sapphires, I think, but I can’t find any details. I told Matt I needed new bras, but he doesn’t think I should have one like this!!! Mind you it seems they make more fuss about the model than the bra.

The other day someone described eating a Tortilla des Patatas which a Spanish woman used to make for her all the time. Made me hungry, we haven’t had one for years. Decided to make it for supper on Friday night, it was delicious. This is basically an egg dish, bit like a frittata. I will post the recipe on Monday.

I was going to post this recipe yesterday as I loved Piri-Piri when I was in Portugal, I had it at one particular restaurant where we sat outside to eat. We had made friends with a retired English guy who promoted the restaurant by handing out flyers. When I got my dish of piri-piri I said I didn’t think it was that hot (spicy) so he went into the restaurant and got me extra sauce, whooo, was that ever hot. I didn’t eat a whole lot of it, but it improved the dish 100% by just adding a small amount. Then I realised the recipe calls for a spatchcocked chicken and I wasn’t sure who would know how to do that and I didn’t have time to research. If you go to it shows exactly how to spatchcock. I’m not sure whether adding chips is a Portuguese recommendation or an English one, there seems to be a habit in the UK of having chips with everything.

Piri-Piri Chicken

Source: BBC Food - Anthony Worrall Thompson


1 whole chicken (about 1kg/2lb 3oz), spiripirichickenpatchcocked salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the piri-piri sauce
6-12 fresh red chillies, depending on how hot you want it
1 tbsp garlic, blanched and chopped\1 tsp salt flakes
½ tsp oregano
½ tbsp paprika
100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
50ml/1¾fl oz red wine vinegar
To serve

Preparation method

  1. To make the piri-piri sauce, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the chillies on a roasting tray and roast them for 10 minutes.

  2. Cool and roughly chop the chillies. Place the chillies, garlic, salt, oregano, paprika, olive oil and vinegar in a saucepan, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

  3. Allow the mixture to cool, then blend it to a purée in a jug blender or food processor. Store in a lidded container at room temperature; it will keep for about a month. Shake before using.

  4. Place the spatchcocked chicken in a sealable plastic bag. Add half the piri-piri sauce, spreading it evenly over the chicken. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

    Technique: Spatchcocking chicken and poultry

  5. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6, and preheat a large griddle pan on the hob. Alternatively, light your barbecue.

  6. Season the marinated chicken, and cook it on the griddle pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

  7. Transfer the griddled chicken to a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until cooked through. Alternatively, place the chicken on a medium heat barbecue, covered, for 10-15 minutes on both sides or until cooked through, basting regularly with the remaining piri-piri sauce.

  8. Serve with chips and salad.

Have a great weekend


Friday, October 22, 2010

Windows Live, Monster, The Moon, Gwenhwyfar.

Microsoft has just updated my Windows Live Writer and my Live Email. In the latter I lost all my “sent” emails except the most recent, or if I haven’t lost them, I can’t find them. As for Live Writer, which is what I use to write my blog, it is totally different. I guess I will get used to it, but right now I am not sure I like it. This regular updating is all very well, but… I had trouble this morning figuring out how to position pictures.

It appears that our latest monster who has been given 2 25 year sentences to be served concurrently, is now no longer a colonel nor a member of the military. Apparently he was very regretful in court and the judge felt he was sincere!!! I wonder. He is apparently going to Kingston Prison which is already holding a couple of serious offenders of the same kind. All kinds of things will be taken from him but at the moment he will still receive his military pension when he becomes the right age. The Prime Minister has said this will be looked into.

The MoonI heard an announcement last night that water had been found on the dark side of the moon, a billion gallons in one crater alone which is enough to fill 1,500 Olympic sized swimming pools. They have also found lots of minerals mixed in with the water. Go to and read an article plus see a video clip. Unfortunately it seems that NASA does not have much more funding for moon research and I am not sure Obama is pro space exploration. He said, on TV, “we’ve been there once” which does not bode well for the future.

I am presently reading a Mercedes Lackey book called Gwenhwyfar The White Spirit – in other words about the King Arthur legends. It is based on a legend I had never encountered before, that King Arthur actually had three wives called Guinevere, not just one, this book is written from the point of view of the third wife starting at childhood when she was 8 yrs old. I am enjoying it.

Eating Well have published a list of healthy soups and I thought this one looked good. I make batches of my own pesto and keep it in the freezer – I didn’t even know you could buy store bought. I also make my own croutons and freeze them. They taste so much better in my opinion.

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

From EatingWell: September/October 2009

This fragrant, Italian-flavored soup takes advantage of quick-cooking ingredients—boneless, skinless chicken breast, bagged baby spinach and canned beans. It features a simple homemade basil pesto swirled in at the end to add a fresh herb flavor. If you are very pressed for time, you can substitute 3 to 4 tablespoons of a store-bought basil pesto.

5 servings


2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, Chicken and Spinach Soupdivided

1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters

1 large clove garlic, minced

5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram

6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

Per serving : 204 Calories; 8 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 29 mg Cholesterol; 16 g Carbohydrates; 18 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 691 mg Sodium; 529 mg Potassium

1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Have a great day


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crackers, Politicians

I have never mentioned a habit I found most peculiar when I arrived some 30 odd years ago, and still do: filling your bowl of soup with Saltine crackers. Eating crackers with soup is, to me, normal, but putting in so many crackers that you are virtually eating a cracker pudding flavoured with whatever soup was served, is deSoup and crackersfinitely odd. I never serve crackers when I serve soup, if anything I might serve crusty bread, but I would be very upset if I had gone to the trouble of making a delicious soup only to have someone load it up like that. Adding lots of condiments is bad enough, especially when people do so without tasting first. If you look at the picture, I can bet with certainty that those four crackers will end up in the soup itself.

Matt and I were having a discussion the other night about the stupidity of politicians who have serious aspirations to be state Governors or even President of the US, who are yet dumb enough to have a mistress (or mistresses) and even babies on the side and expect people to either not find out or to ignore it if they do. Its not just Caesar’s wife who must be beyond reproach. In France, they take such things in their stride, but if you are a North American politician you MUST know that North Americans do NOT so why be so damned stupid. Both Governors of North and South Carolina (to name a couple) have lost their credibility because of this.

Matt’s just pointed out to me that there is a group of people in the park outside our window with their dogs. He says they meet up every morning. I’ve never noticed them before. The dogs are having a fine old time gambolling around the place and the people are talking up a storm by the looks of it. I miss having a dog but neither of us could walk one properly any more plus we think it would be unfair to the dog in an apartment. Mind you there have been instances of people keeping pot bellied pigs in their apartments!!! I wonder how, or even if, you can house train them.

I am unlikely ever to bake these, but with Hallowe’en coming up I just had to post them because they look so cute. I love anything with meringue anyway especially when accompanied by really thick English cream.

Ghostly Brownies

Celebrate Halloween by baking a round pan of chocolate brownies, then topping them with piped meringue ghosts. Add chocolate chips for eyes and bake until meringue is lightly browned. Serve.



1 ¼ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate ChipsGhostly Brownies

¾ cup butter

3 eggs

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Robin Hood® Nutri™ Flour Blend

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp Corn Starch

16-20 Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


PREHEAT oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease a 9” (24 cm) spring form pan. Brownies MELT chocolate chips with butter. Reserve. WHISK eggs with sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in chocolate and butter mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. POUR mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven. Meringue ONCE brownies are made, beat egg whites using mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in corn starch. Spoon 1 cup (250 mL) meringue over baked brownies. Place remaining meringue into piping bag with a ½” (2.5 cm) plain tip, or place in heavy plastic bag and cut a ½” (2.5 cm) hole in one corner. Pipe about 8-10 ghostly shapes over the prepared brownies. Add chocolate chips to the meringue for eyes. BAKE again in preheated oven 10-12 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I wrote to my friend Marilyn in Paris mentioning our present trial taking place in Canada. I think he fits her ‘monsters’ bill to a T. She has written about one monster in her book Die in Paris. Colonel Russell Williams who was the head of Canadian Forces Base in Trenton has 88 charges against him, including rape and murder. At the moment horrific pictures, which he took, are being shown in court, but are not being shown to the public as they are considered too horrible. If you would like to read some of the articles here is one at CBC I am not perfectly clear why such an extensive trial has to be held when he has pleaded guilty to the murders anyway. This morning the headline is that he has been formally convicted.

Of course he is not our only monster, another who comes to mind is Robert Pickton in British Columbia who boasts that he is a legend and that everyone knows about him. Well I guess everyone does know, we know how many women he killed and then buried on his property. His charges were reduced, but in fact he is suspected of killing at least 50 women.

Yesterday I took some cooked pork from the freezer and turned it into a Portuguese type stew which I am particularly fond of. We had collards with it tossed in garlic, oil and vinegar. A pretty good meal. We also tossed parboiled potatoes into the stew to make a full meal. Obviously as the pork had already been cooked, I didn’t marinade it, but I fry onions and garlic until they are soft and then add the herbs and spices, the pork and the wine, not forgetting the lemon juice. If I feel the stew is a little too dry I add some stock.

Pork Stew With Cumin (Portugal)

2 lbs boneless pork (cubed ) Pork Stew with cumin
2 tsp cumin
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped )
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper (to taste )
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion (finely chopped )
10 large pitted black olives
lemon wedge (for garnish)

1. Marinate pork in mixture of cumin, garlic, bayleaf, salt, pepper, wine and lemon juice.

2. Marinate for 6 hours.

3. Remove pork from marinade and reserve liquid.

4. Saute in oil, onion and pork until pork is browned.

5. Add marinade and bring to a simmer.

6. Simmer 30 minutes add water or stock if necessary to keep it moist. Scatter with olives and serve with lemon wedges.

Servings: 4

Author: wicked cook 46

Have a great day


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alzheimer’s vs Dementia, Burning Water.

Good Morning America are spotlighting Alzheimer’s this week. It has always been something of a bugaboo of mine as I have relatives (not actually in my direct line except for my grandmother) who have ended up with one kind of senile dementia or another if not actually Alzheimer’s. I must admit I am not quite sure what the difference is – look it up Jo. One of the big items on which they have been focusing is care giving and the strain on the care givers themselves. I think care giving is exceptionally hard, having done it briefly when Matt has had operations, I have some idea of what its all about. Better if you are fit, but still it cuts into your life and virtually takes it over. One thing GMA emphasised this morning is finding some kind of peer group with whom you can discuss problems of every day life and also spend some relaxing time away from the patient. I’ve never looked into what kind of assistance one can expect in Ontario, but in the States where so much has to be paid for, it must be pretty stressful all round. Yesterday they said Alzheimer’s is very much more likely for women – there are many millions of women patients in the States with the disease, much higher numbers than males with Alzheimer’s – and they have discovered it is likely to start during menopause but not really develop until some 20 years later. Plus, if you are diabetic it doesn’t help. Thanks guys, just what I wanted to know. That puts me smack in the middle of the the risk category. There was a comedian in the States a few years ago, an elderly man, he used to say “Alzheimer’s is fun because you meet new people every day”!! I suppose when you have the disease you don’t really know what’s going on anyway.  OK I looked it up it appears dementia is a symptom and Alzheimer’s is a disease. Dementia can be caused by several things some of which can be treated. Alzheimer’s is one of the illnesses which can cause dementia. In other words you can have dementia but it is not necessarily anything to do with Alzheimer’s.

Huh, Satima described my blog in part as covering the vicissitudes of life, I guess Alzheimer’s definitely comes under that category. If you want to know more of what has been covered by GMA so far, go to where they have links to all their segments.

I am currently reading Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey. If you have ever read any of her books, in particular the Valdemar series, this is a total departure from her usual subjects. The book is not new, published in 1989, but somehow I have never come across it before nor its partners, there were three of them about a detective and a witch. This is quite a horrific story about Aztec gods and serial killing for ritual sacrifice. I am, however, very much enjoying the story. I wouldn’t have been surprised to get nightmares last night though.

For some reason Mac and Cheese is a staple dish in North America. In many cases bought in a packet made by Kraft. I have seen shopping carts piled high with such packets. Is this a sign of lazy mums or stubborn kids I wonder. Anyway, produced this somewhat lighter version which I thought sounded good and which, somehow, I think will taste better than that found in a packet. Having said that, I will never forget that I made custard from scratch many years ago and found it tasted just like Birds Eye custard from packets.

Lighter Macaroni and Cheese

Source: Martha Stewart Living

Serve 8

To wit, these individual mac-and-cheese casseroles call for pungent Parmesan and extra-sharp cheddar, which means the noodles get away with less-than-usual amounts of cheese. Low-fat milk, chicken stock, and olive oil keep the sauce creamy.


6 small vine-ripened tomatoes, (3-inch) , cut into Lighter Mac and Cheesetwenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for sprinkling

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

5 slices white sandwich bread, with crust

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound elbow macaroni

2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk

8 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Process bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining tablespoon oil in amedium skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Whisk 1/2 cup stock into the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups stock. Whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cheeses; cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over macaroni, stirring to combine.

Put eight 4 1/2-by-1 1/4-inch ramekins on a baking sheet. Put 2 tomato slices in bottom of each ramekin. Divide macaroni mixture evenly among ramekins. Top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and thyme sprigs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Have a great day


Monday, October 18, 2010

Botox, Poppy Seeds, Versatile Blogger,

On Sunday morning there was a segment on Good Morning America talking about giving Botox injections to people with chronic migraines. A friend of mine was given such injections a couple of years or so back, she said they worked temporarily, but were by no means permanent. Her headache was constant 24/7. I don’t know how things are today, she didn’t really like to talk about it and refused to take pills which turned her into a zombie, but I was surprised to see this report on Sunday being introduced as thought it were something really new.

Another funny/serious report, a woman gave birth to a baby which was subsequently taken away from her because they said she tested positive for drugs. It finally turned out that she had eaten a bagel with poppy seeds on it shortly before giving birth. Only in certain States to they test your blood when you are delivering, but it just shows that you have to be careful when and where you eat poppy seed bagels.

I watched How to Train Your Dragon on Saturday, I rented it from a local store. I then ordered it from as I loved it so much.

You will notice a Versatile Blogger sticker on this page. It was awarded to me by Satima Flavell who has her own blog. See link this page. Now I believe I am supposed to come up with 7 things my readers may not know about me as part of the award. The way I write, I would doubt there is anything people don’t know about me.

1. I speak fairly tolerable French although it is a bit rusty these days. I also have a smattering of Spanish and Greek.

2. I was trained in a secretarial college in England to do Pitman’s shorthand, typing and bookkeeping

3. I tend to like most music although I am particularly fond of classical and especially like to listen to good tenors.

4. I too love chocolate, not fussy what colour, just good tasting chocolate.

5. I once had a job as a Fleet Administrator which I loved and which enabled me to travel around North America quite a bit.

6. I have lived in three countries and certainly had lots of addresses when I lived in the UK. Only 3 addresses in Canada and 2 in the US. I am pretty well travelled in Europe, at least the coastlines of Europe.

7. I love pot bellied pigs – the type you can keep as Pot Bellied Piglet pets. Once had a friend who owned one. I wonder what ever happened to it? It bit me once, on the back of the leg. I really don’t know why. Didn’t do much harm as it had a ring in its nose which prevented any possible damage. This is a piglet by the look of it, but I think they are so cute. My friend’s pig used to love water melon rinds.

Sadly I have now finished my book The Way of Kings and I have not heard anything about when book 2 might be published, let alone book 3. I believe the next thing Brandon Sanderson will be publishing will, in fact, be his next episode of The Wheel of Time series originally written by the late Robert Jordan.

Talking of chocolate, here is a nice decadent chocolate recipe from Hershey’s. Matt loves cheesecake, but he likes the plain, unadulterated New York type cheesecake with nothing on top, just as it is. Me, I like anything with chocolate as you know.

Triple Layer Cheesecake

Source: Hershey’s Kitchens

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST(recipe follows)Triple Layer Cheesecake

3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/3 cup dairy sour cream

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup HERSHEY'S Butterscotch Chips, melted*

1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted*

1 cup HERSHEY'S Premier White Chips, melted*

TRIPLE DRIZZLE(recipe follows, optional)


1. Prepare CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST. Heat oven to 350°F. 2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, sour cream, flour, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth. Stir together 1-1/3 cups batter with melted butterscotch chips in medium bowl; pour into prepared crust. In another medium bowl, stir together 1-1/3 cups batter with melted chocolate chips; pour over butterscotch layer. Stir together remaining batter with melted white chips; stir until smooth. Pour over chocolate layer. 3. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until center of cheesecake is almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, immediately loosen cake from side of pan. Cool to room temperature. 4. Drizzle TRIPLE DRIZZLE, one flavor at a time, over top of cheesecake, if desired. Refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 12 to 14 servings.

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST: Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together 1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 45 wafers, crushed), 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa; stir in 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine. Press mixture onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up side of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 minutes. Cool. * To melt chips: Place chips in separate microwave-save bowls. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred.

TRIPLE DRIZZLE: Place 1 tablespoon HERSHEY'S Butterscotch Chips and 1/2 teaspoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Repeat procedure with 1 tablespoon HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1 tablespoon HERSHEY'S Premier White Chips.

Have a great day


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pensions and Movies

There has been a lot of fuss for a while now because prisoners, particularly those convicted of major crimes, were continuing to receive old age income benefits from the government whilst in prison. There is a bill in the works to strip prisoners of these benefits. However, it appears that a Colonel, who has admitted to murder and sexual stalking, will not have his military pension withdrawn. This, to me, is incredible, apart from the fact that prisoners, in many cases, live better lives than those on the outside, they get three meals a day, food and lodging, the best medical care, together with all the TV and other such entertainment they could want, what do they need a pension for? Why should they receive one. Give it to the rest of the pensioners, who are not inside jails, many of whom are struggling to live on the meagre benefits they get.

Just to keep you up to date, I had a rough day yesterday, but am feeling fine now. Matt dragged me to the bowling alley saying it would be better than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. Instead I sat at the bowling alley feeling even sorrier for myself as I couldn’t bowl worth a damn.

I suppose Hallowe’en is in a couple of weeks now, we are getting all kinds of ads for it and all the stores are selling costumes and other accessories for the occasion. I have mentioned before that the Superintendent collects candies from residents and then they hand them out on the night.

I just read they will be starting to make the film The Hobbit some time next February. I didn’t know it was planned. I thoroughly enjoyed The Lord of the Rings which I actually own on VHS tapes, and will look forward to seeing The Hobbit which, apparently, they are filming in 3D. I think filmmakers have gone nuts about 3D, I also read they are converting the latest (and last) Harry Potter movie to 3D. Yesterday How to Train Your Dragon was released and I wanted to maybe rent and possibly buy it (big kid), but I am having trouble with iTunes and the programme “ceases to work” on me every time I try to do something. I guess I will have to rent the movie locally which is more expensive and then buy it if I think its worth it. There’s a couple more movies I am waiting for which were released in September, one is The Legend of the Guardians which is from the books Guardians of Ga'hoole; I’ve forgotten the name of the other although I do remember it was animated too, saw ads when I was in the States.

Marmite I heard about this rather unusual recipe the other day and actually found it this morning. I don’t know if one can even buy Marmite in the States and in Australia I am sure they would choose Vegemite. As for other countries, I don’t know

Spaghetti with Marmite

By Nigella Lawson

Serves 4-6

I know the combination of pasta and Marmite sounds odd to the point of unfeasibility, but there is a traditional day-after-the-roast pasta dish, in which spaghetti is tossed in chicken stock, and I have eaten shortcut versions of this in Italy which use a crumbled stock cube, along with some butter, olive oil, chopped rosemary and a little of the pasta cooking water to make a flavoursome sauce for spaghetti.


375g/13oz dried spaghettiSpaghetti with Marmite

50g/2oz unsalted butter

1 tsp Marmite, to taste

freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Preparation method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water, according to the packet instructions.

  2. When the pasta is almost cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and one tablespoon of the pasta water, mixing thoroughly to dissolve.

  3. Reserve half a cup of the pasta water; then drain the pasta and pour the Marmite mixture over the drained spaghetti, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to amalgamate if required.

  4. Serve with plenty of grated parmesan.

Top recipe tip

I think of Anna whenever I cook pasta, remembering her two ordinances: one, that the water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean; and two, that pasta should not be too officiously drained, but rather be ‘con la goccia’, that’s to say with some cooking water still clinging to it, as this makes it easier to incorporate the sauce.

Have a great day


Friday, October 15, 2010

CT Scan

I am not sure if I have had a CT Scan before or not, suffice to say, I think the dye they used affected me somewhat, I didn’t feel particularly well after it happened and had something of a headache which I still have today. Not only that, I have to be off my diabetes drugs for at least 48 hours and I have to have a blood test on Saturday to see if my creatinine levels are back to where they should be before I re-start them, the trouble with that is the doc may not get the results on Saturday and even if they are sent, she won’t be there!!! What a palaver. All because of diabetes.

So, sorry guys, I am not going to write much more ‘cos I am feeling sorry for myself this morning and am not even sure if I will be bowling later on today.

At least two sources are publishing potato recipes  in order to re-introduce potatoes to our diets. Eating Well says they got a bad rap over the years but are in fact a very healthy food full of vitamin C and potassium and when eaten with the skin on, include fibre and may promote weight loss. Here is one of their recipes which I thought looked very good.

Potato & Sweet Potato Torte

From EatingWell:  Fall 2003, November/December 1995, The Essential EatingWell Cookbook (2004)

Layers of potatoes and sweet potatoes meld into an impressive vegetable "cake" that forms a golden crust during baking. Serve as a vegetarian centerpiece or with roast poultry or pork.

6 servings 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Potato & Sweet Potato Torte

2 large leeks, trimmed, washed (see Tip) and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound sweet potatoes, (about 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

1 pound all-purpose potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold (2-4 medium), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

  1. Position oven rack at the lowest level; preheat to 450°F. Coat a 9 1/2-inch, deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper or foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and thyme; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. (If necessary, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to prevent scorching.) Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange half the sweet potato slices, slightly overlapping, in the prepared pie pan and season with a little of the remaining salt and pepper. Spread one-third of the leeks over the top. Arrange half the potato slices over the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Top with another third of the leeks. Layer the remaining sweet potatoes, leeks and potatoes in the same manner. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
  4. Bake the torte until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the torte to loosen it. Invert onto a serving plate. Remove paper or foil and serve.

Per serving : 144 Calories; 3 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 20 g Carbohydrates; 3 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 226 mg Sodium; 704 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: The torte will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350°f oven.
  • Tip: To clean leeks: Trim and discard coarse green tops. Split leeks lengthwise with a sharp knife, beginning about 1 inch from the root end and cutting toward the green end. Leave root end attached. Swish leeks repeatedly in a basin of cold water to remove grit. Alternatively, trim roots and ragged tops. Slice leeks and place in plenty of water, then drain. Repeat a few times. The slices do not absorb water or lose flavor and the process is faster.

Have a great day


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lady Liberty,

Lightening Shot

A friend sent a link to this photo on the BBC News website. It is quite a picture to see it really enlarged go to The photographer, Jay Fine, said he spent 2 hours and took some 80 pix before he managed to get this shot. He also said he has been waiting 40 years to get such a picture. Really is quite something. I wonder how often Lady Liberty gets hit by lightening. Don’t know I would want to be travelling around in her crown when it happens. I have never been there; I have only once been near New York when we drove through it on our way down south – bit of a miscalculation on our part. Its funny, I lived in London for four years and I think that put me off cities for the rest of my life. I have an acquaintance who thinks Toronto is where its all happening, not for me I’m afraid. In my book cities are cities are cities. About the only thing I would want to go for are the theatres and I find I am quite contented with the local ones.

I almost forgot to mention that all the miners have now been successfully rescued. What a wonderful operation that was and how incredible the success. I wish long life and happiness to those rescued.

Of course I am having my CT scan right about now so obviously I posted this before I left. Much to my surprise the medicine I have to take is tasteless and is a way of preventing kidney damage from the dyes when I have the CT scan. I believe that is particularly because I am diabetic.

I found this simple but tasty sounding recipe in a diabetes email I receive regularly.

Baked Shrimp

Makes 2 servings

Source: Delicious lemon and Parmesan shrimp.


1/2 lb raw medium shrimp, deveined Baked Shrimp 1 tbsp Butter, unsalted 1 medium garlic cloves , minced 1 tsp fresh lemon juice 1 tbsp chopped parsley 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese


1 Rinse shrimp under cool water, remove shells. 2 Preheat oven to 350°F. 3 In casserole dish, combine butter, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley . Place dish in oven until butter melts. 4 Add shrimp and bake, covered, 10-12 minutes. 5 Remove from oven, sprinkle Parmesan on top.

Have a great day


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Time Is It? Mine Rescue,

I just learned something new, if you want to know what time it is in another country, you can go to Google and type in “What time is it in (name of country)”. If its a big country the town might be a good idea too, i.e. its not the same time in Vancouver as it is in Kitchener although we are in the same country. This tip came from Worldstart who send out a computer news and tips email regularly. I have a clock programme saved in my bookmarks, but this is much easier.

chile-rescue-capsule They are supposed to be starting to pull up the Chilean miners today, what a terrible ordeal these men have endured which is also going to have a terrible climax by being pulled up a hole in a capsule. It could take 15 minutes to an hour per man. Medics from the surface will be going down to assess in what order the men should make the ascent. Sorry, you wouldn’t catch me going down there, no matter what. Not that I would fit in the capsule LOL. There is an interesting article from CBC yesterday which gives a lot more detail of the whole rescue effort. One will just have to hope and pray all goes well. I personally cannot imagine what the first 17 days must have been like before anyone made contact with them, nor can I imagine what these trips up the tunnel will be like either. At the time of writing the current report is that 10 of the miners have now been rescued. That’s great news.

Tomorrow I have to go for my CT scan because of my vascular problems. Apparently, I have to drink something prescribed three times before I go, twice today and once tomorrow and I am not allowed to have breakfast unless I have it at 6 p.m. Being diabetic this concerns me although they have said I can drink some orange juice. Dunno if I can heave myself out of bed early enough to eat. I have no idea what the liquid is that I have to drink, I can’t pick it up at the pharmacy until after 10 this morning. I have a nasty feeling it is going to be something horrid, these things usually are.

100_0482 By the way, I think summer has come back again. I don’t know if this is too early to be called an Indian Summer, but the weather has been beautiful lately. Even the balloons have been flying and that is unusual in October.

Eating Well are promoting comfort foods made healthy this week and I liked the sound of this pot roast. Its a little bit different.

Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions

From EatingWell:  Fall 2004, October 1998, The Essential EatingWell Cookbook (2004)

This recipe is reminiscent of a pot roast made with onion-soup mix, but the flavors are true and pure --and nobody misses the excess sodium. (For a slow-cooker variation, see below.)

10 servings, 


1 4-pound beef chuck roast, (see Ingredient note), Coffee Braised Pot Roast trimmed of fat

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (4 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 cup strong brewed coffee

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning from time to time, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in coffee and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Return the beef to the pot and spoon some onions over it. Cover and transfer to the oven.
  4. Braise the beef in the oven until fork-tender but not falling apart, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer beef to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, skim fat from the braising liquid; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, whisking, until the gravy thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Season with pepper. Carve the beef and serve with gravy.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • Ingredient Note: Although it is not the leanest cut of beef, chuck is still our choice for pot roast because it doesn't dry out during braising. You will find pockets of fat as you carve it, but they are easy to remove.
  • Slow-Cooker Variation: In Step 2, transfer the browned beef to a slow cooker. In Step 3, use just 1/2 cup coffee. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker. In Step 4, cover and cook until beef is tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. In Step 5, pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and continue as directed.

Have a great day


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dates, Nobel Prize, Kitchener, Google Car and Peas

Did you know lots of people got married last Sunday because the date was 10/10/10? What a very odd reason for picking a time to get married. Some Chinese couples consider it a lucky date and  followers of numerology consider it magical. Don’t see it myself at all. However, all over the place, happy couples selected it as THE day. This date happens once a millennium. In Toronto there were so many that they had to move the ceremonies from City Hall to a hotel in order to get everyone accommodated.

The Chinese are doing well. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who is in prison. This infuriated the Chinese government. Then Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, was permitted to visit him in prison and immediately afterwards, put under house arrest!!! I ask you?

A comment yesterday from French Marilyn, she didn’t know about Oktoberfest in Kitchener. I mentioned that it is the biggest one outside Germany, but what people may not have realised, there is a big German population in the town which was once called the City of Berlin. I believe the name was changed at the beginning of World War 1. In fact Google has an interesting article here including information about which I knew nothing In fact my statement of the big German population is inaccurate as the population were originally Mennonites from Pennsylvania although as far as I am aware, they were originally from Germany. Today the population isn’t particularly Mennonite in town although there are many (if not most) farms in the surrounding area which are operated by Mennonites.

Google Car Talking of Google, have you heard about their robot car, I heard something about it yesterday and this morning they had a segment on Good Morning America showing the car driving itself. It is full of all the safety features and lots of computer technology but whether it will ever be marketable is very dubious. It is a very interesting concept though. It turns out on research that Google have a whole fleet of these cars. You have to be able to drive to travel in one, you cannot just get in and say take me to…… but it does mean you can rely on the car whilst you are texting or phoning someone. They stated the vehicle had already driven 140 miles on its own. The theory is that these vehicles would cause less accidents and there would be less traffic congestion.

I have just discovered, through one of my regular emails, that peas are very good for tightening the facial skin. Guess who will be eating lots of peas from now on. Always did eat a few, but things will change from now on. More salads and soups made with peas. They included some recipes and this one for pea soup appealed although there are some rather odd measurements.  I already have a recipe for pea soup. Another recipe I love is one I call French peas where they are cooked with lettuce, onions and lots of butter.

Amazing Pea Soup

Source: Eating Well


12 cup(s) water amazing-pea-soup

2 pound(s) English peas with shells

0.33 cup(s) finely chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish

1 teaspoon(s) salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

0.75 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt


  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add peas, return to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer one-third of the pea pods to a food processor. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid and process until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining pea pods in 2 batches, with 1/2 cup cooking liquid each time. Pour the pureed peas plus the remaining cooking liquid through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. (Alternatively, put through a food mill fitted with a fine disc.)
  3. Return the soup to the pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer until reduced by about a third (to about 6 cups), 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in chopped dill, salt, and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a swirl or dollop of yogurt and a sprig of dill, if desired.

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