Monday, January 31, 2011

Gasoline, TV, Snow.

Gas pricesGasoline prices have gone up and are probably going to go up a good bit more if the Egyptian crisis is not soon resolved. If the whole of the Middle East ends up getting involved, we are in for a nasty shock. Mind you, Matt was talking to his oldest daughter yesterday, she has just replaced her car and now has a 6 cylinder which costs her £60 to fill up, that’s roughly equivalent to $95 Canadian. What a lot of money, we have a 6 cyl. and it costs us around $50 to fill the tank which we think is plenty bad enough.

For the last few weeks I have been watching an excellent series on Public Television called Downton Abbey. I assumed last night would be the final episode and wrap up all the lose ends, I assumed wrong. It turns out that Downton AbbeyITV in England, who made the series, is planning more later this year. I thought there might be a book, I thought wrong unfortunately, so I guess  I will just have to possess my soul in patience until they finally come up with the rest of the series. How frustrating though. The story is about a great house, in England of course, and everyone who lives in it from Daisy the kitchen helper (scullery maid?) to Lord Grantham the owner. All of it taking place in 1913/14. In fact the last words of the series last night were an announcement that Britain was at war with Germany. The family is not all sweetness and light by any means and two of the sisters do the most dreadful things to one another, a right pair of b*tches. Then there are a couple of the servants, one who is a thief and another who purposely causes her mistress the fall and lose her baby because she mistakenly thought she was being fired. All good stuff!! Maggie Smith makes a wonderful Dowager Countess.

There is a major storm heading our way and they are talking 30 cm of snow on Tuesday, whether it will miss us as all the snow has so far this winter, we shall see.

A friend who originated in Germany, makes this cheesecake. Another friend was talking about it, she and her husband were stationed in Germany quite a few years ago and she used to make this, but had lost the recipe. In the end, my German friend sent me the link for this recipe which she says is the same as she makes – which is delicious by the way.

Käsekuchen - German Cheesecake

Diana’s Desserts

Servings: 12
This wonderful and creamy German Cheesecake is very light and each bite melts in your mouth. It is not too sweet. This is a dessert that always gets many wonderful compliments.

Ingredients: Kasekuchen_2
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla-sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 stick (7 tbsp/3 1/2 oz/100g) butter

For the Filling:
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla-sugar
3/4 stick (7 tbsp/3 1/2 oz/100g) butter, very soft and at room temperature
6 oz. heavy cream
17 oz. (500g) Quark - A light yogurt type cream cheese* (see note below for Quark substitutions, if needed)
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt

For the Crust:
Sift the flour, stir in the baking powder, salt, vanilla-sugar, lemon peel and sugar, then rub in the butter and knead to a smooth consistency with the egg. Place dough in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 C). You will need a 9 or 9 1/2-inch spring form pan.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface, then form it into a ball again and roll it out a second time. (This dough is the worst behaved of any I have ever had to deal with, but the double rolling helps tame it, and the end result IS worth the hassle). Place dough in bottom of a 9 or 9 1/2-inch spring form pan, pressing it up the sides almost to the top. Set aside.
For the Filling:
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla-sugar until pale and foamy. Add the softened butter and beat well, then add the heavy cream and beat again. Add the quark and stir until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.
Whisk the egg whites with the salt until very stiff, then very gently fold in the quark mixture, also adding the sifted cornstarch a little at a time. Pour the filling into the crust shell and gently wobble the pan back and forth until the surface is smooth. Trim the dough, leaving about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm). Bake in preheated 300 degrees F (150 C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes (longer if necessary) until well risen and golden - it resembles a souffle at this point (It will sink in the middle quite dramatically - don't worry, it's supposed to do this). Turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 15 minutes; then remove it from the oven, cool for an hour or so at room temperature, and refrigerate for several hours before releasing sides of pan and serving. (I make mine the day before I need it). This cheesecake is very nice served with sliced strawberries, or a raspberry sauce. Keep cheesecake stored in the refrigerator, covered.
There are 3 substitutions that can be used for the Quark in this recipe if Quark is not available. One is to use farmer’s cheese, another is to purée cottage cheese in a blender or food processor, and the third is to purée eight parts of ricotta cheese with 1 part of sour cream in a food processor.
Makes 12 servings.

Have a great day


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie, Unrest and the Superbowl.

Mr. DarcySadly, I have finished watching Pride and Prejudice, I am not sure if I saw this version before, think I might have done, I certainly enjoyed Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and loved Jennifer Ehle as Miss Elizabeth Elizabeth BennettBennett. Alison Steadman was good as Mrs. Bennett, I wanted to throttle her several times. In fact I can’t remember thinking any of the cast as not portraying their characters very well. I did not want it to end, and am even more decided I shall purchase a DVD of this movie.

Egypt is up in flames at the moment. I normally think of them as a relatively passive country, but not right now. Not funny if you happen to be touring when things like this happen. Like Mexico and their drug wars, I wouldn’t go near the place although incredibly, lots of tourists are still pouring into the country. Do they think they are exempt from bullets, I wonder?

I see the Superbowl is scheduled for February 6. I watched one game once, we went to a friends’ house for a party and watched most of the game. The friend explained to me what was going on as I have no idea about football (American that is) and I actually quitCheese headse enjoyed the game. Those same friends are Green Bay Packer fans so will no doubt be glued to the TV this year. If you are a Packer fan, you wear a cheese hat as shown in the picture. The Packers are from Wisconsin which is the dairy state. I like this picture, she has a cheese bra on as well. Amazing what people will do for sports. Like those people who paint their bodies to match team colours and then attend the game on a cold day without a shirt on, brrrrr.

Sadly, by the way, Matt’s cortisone shot doesn’t seem to have worked.

I love soups, and this one is a recipe from the kitchens of Jenny Craig (the diet company) given to Good Morning America by their spokeswoman, Valerie Bertinelli. I looked into Jenny Craig, but it costs more per week than we spend for two of us. I found this on Good Morning America’s site.

Valerie Bertinelli's Tuscan Style Soup

The Actress Shares One of Her Favorite Low-Calorie Recipes

Servings: 4

Tuscan Style Soup satisfies with 63 calories, 2 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium. The recipe is courtesy of Jenny Craig, of which Valerie Bertinelli is a spokeswoman. For more of her favorite dishes visit

IngredientsTuscan Style Soup

1 1/4 cup eggplant, peeled and cubed 1 cup water 1 can whole tomatoes, no salt added, undrained and chopped (14 1/2-ounce) 1 can sliced mushrooms, drained (OR 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced) 1 clove garlic, minced 1 small summer (yellow) squash, coarsely chopped 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, dried 1/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp pepper 12 oz can chicken broth, reduced sodium 8 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated


Combine the first 10 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring well.

Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle 2 tbsp of Pecorino Romano cheese.

Have a great weekend


Friday, January 28, 2011

Acting, Warning, Movie and Bowling.

Yesterday I quoted some hearsay about Colin Firth having trouble getting back to normal speech after performing in The King’s Speech. Thinking about this afterwards, I don’t suppose its really true. I watched Anthony Hopkins being interviewed the other day and he said that when the filming was over, he went home to his wife as his usual self. This is what great actors do, they ‘pretend’ to be someone else for a while, and then leave it behind when they go home. I am sure Colin Firth is a good enough actor to fall into this category. I did a lot of acting in my youth and went to a small theatrical school for a while, so I do know something about it.

BEWARE: If you are on Facebook and you see the free iPod messages, avoid them like the plague, I have just discovered large additions to my cell phone bill from these people which I did NOT know I was getting. I was yelling at my cell phone service provider and it wasn’t them at all. I had even, more or less, forgotten I ever looked at this free iPod message.

Pride & PrejudiceI am in the process of working my way through six VHS tapes of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy. Now here I agree he is a wonderful specimen of manhood. These tapes were lent to me by a friend, I didn’t realise she didn’t have the DVD. I think I might treat myself to it from as I can get a second hand copy relatively cheaply. I wonder how many actors have played this part? Seems to be a lot of versions. I have seen others, don’t think I have seen this one before. I am a sucker for Jane Austin stories and think I have seen all the movies made from them.

Yesterday we met our Travel League group at Angel’s in Cambridge, a diner, and had their special which was chicken noodle soup and a Western sandwich (they called the sandwich something else, I forget what) for $5.99 – not a bad deal. A couple of people ordered apple pie and cream after, they each got enough for a small army. I was tempted with a chocolate dessert but was “good”. On our travel league meetings we get served coffee and donuts anyway, so I didn’t lose out. Mind here I was ‘bad’ as I had two donuts. My bowling was reasonable, not brilliant, but reasonable. I just registered that on February 24 we have another get together, on the 25th I have normal Friday bowling, on the 26th I have a tournament and then regular bowling again on the 28th. I will be knackered.

I am not a biggie for pies, but I do enjoy Chicken Pot Pie occasionally, it is one of Matt’s favourites. I have a friend in the US who makes it with pasta instead of pastry, its very good, never got the recipe from her though.

Chicken Pot Pie

Source: Casual Cuisines of the World - Diner

Serves 8

Although simple pastry-topped meat stews originated long ago in England, the humble meat pie has been satisfying American appetites only since the late 18th century. This recipe uses baby vegetables and boneless chicken breasts to turn out a great pie in record time. INGREDIENTSChicken Pot Pie

For the Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup ice water

For the Filling:

2 1/4 cups chicken stock

2 skinless, boneless whole chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 lb total


2 1/2 cups baby carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 celery stalks, thickly sliced

10 oz pearl onions, peeled

1 cup small peas

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten


FOR THE PASTRY: Place the flour in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until crumbly. Add the cheese and work in until just blended. Sprinkle the ice water over the pastry dough, a little at a time, and gather the pastry into a ball. Knead lightly until just combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until needed.

FOR THE FILLING: In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered, until opaque throughout, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the chicken cool completely in the liquid. Remove the breasts, reserving the stock. You should have about 2 1/2 cups stock. Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch chunks. Set aside.

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil and salt lightly. Add the carrots and cook over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes. Add the celery, pearl onions and peas and cook until all are barely tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain well; set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until the mixture is gently bubbling and smooth, 2-3 minutes; do not brown. Gradually add the reserved stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until smooth and slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and pepper to taste, the thyme, chives and parsley.

TO ASSEMBLE: Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Add the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and stir to combine. Spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Brush the edge of the dish with some of the beaten egg.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry into a rectangle 10 by 15 inches. Transfer the pastry to the dish, pressing on the edges firmly. Trim away the overhang. Gently knead the dough scraps together, roll out 1/8 inch thick and cut out several small leaf shapes. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg. Using the knife, score the pastry leaves lightly, attach them to the pie pastry, and brush with more egg. Cut 3 slits each 1 inch long at the center of the pie.

Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then spoon onto warmed individual plates or bowls.

Have a great day


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Actors and their Roles. Lost Something? Bowling.

I was talking to Sia McKay (Thoughts Over Coffee) about actors, which made me think of two I particularly admire, Anthony Hopkins and Peter O’Toole. I love Emma Thompson too. If an actor can make me totally forget who they are when they are playing a part so that I only think of the part itself, that to me is a sign of excellent acting.

This morning I am also full of admiration for Colin kings-speech2Firth’s rendition of George VI in The King’s Speech. What an excellent movie, I do hope you get the chance to go and see it. Although I wasn’t actually alive at the time of most of the movie, it brought back memories particularly of the Windsors and how he abdicated in order to marry Wallace Simpson, much to the disgust of those concerned. Also, the speech itself, which was his first during the war years, I remember hearing recordings of many times in my life. I don’t know the name of the actor playing Winston Churchill but I thought he had the voice down to a T. I heard also, that Colin Firth had worked so hard at perfecting the stammer that now he was having trouble getting his speech to flow properly again. One thing which did stick out like a sore thumb to me was the use of the word loo to describe a toilet. That phrase didn't come into being until many years after the era of the movie, a glaring anachronism. Next week my friend and I are planning to go and see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a somewhat contrasting movie.

How’s this for an odd picture, the piano was found in Miami Bay and no-one knows for surepiano2 where it came from. One or two theories of course, but what a very peculiar place to find a piano? Wot no piano stool?

Today is one of our Travel League get togethers for bowling, we are going to Cambridge this time. The restaurant chosen for lunch is absolutely miles away from the bowling alley so it seems quite stupid to me when there are restaurants close by. However, not just me choosing. I think there is only one 5 pin bowling alley in Cambridge where once upon a time there were at least 3 to our knowledge. Such a pity they have disappeared.

I have cooked fish in foil several times over the years and always enjoyed the results. Obviously you can select a variety of different fish to make this dish. The recipe was obviously provided by Kraft but I think it sounds very tasty and we will certainly be trying it.

Foil-Pack Fish Florentine for Two

2 servingsFoil-Pack_Fish_Florentine_for_Two

What You Need

1 cup instant white rice, uncooked

1 cup warm water

1 halibut fillet (1/2 lb.), cut crosswise in half

2 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup KRAFT Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing

1 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

Make It

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

SPOON 1/2 cup rice onto center of each of 2 large sheets of heavy-duty foil with sides slightly turned up. Pour 1/2 cup warm water over each mound of rice; top with 1 fish piece. Arrange spinach around fish; drizzle with dressing.

BRING up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in single layer in shallow pan.

BAKE 15 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packets; top with cheese.

Kraft Kitchens Tips


Prepare using any flaky white fish.


If you don't have heavy-duty foil, you can use double-layer sheets of regular foil instead.

Have a great day


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscars, Heartthrobs, Movie.

kings-speechIt appears The King’s Speech is leading for Oscar nominations with the rest of the film categories as follows”

  • Facebook tale The Social Network
  • Dance thriller Black Swan
  • Boxing drama The Fighter
  • Sci-fi blockbuster Inception
  • Contemporary family drama The Kids Are All Right
  • True-life survival tale 127 Hours
  • Animated tale Toy Story 3
  • Revamped western True Grit
  • Ozarks crime thriller Winter's Bone

Read more:

I haven’t yet seen The King’s Speech but everyone says it’s a great movie, not sure how many say that because they are so enamoured of Colin Firth, LOL. I must say from what I have seen on TV it looks like a good movie. George VI came to the throne before I was born, but I remember him very well in later years. I certainly never knew for years that he had a stutter, I only learned about it long after he was dead.

Talking of Colin Firth, I had no idea who he was when lots of friends were talking about him in throbbing voices *g*, however, I then discovered I have seen him in lots of movies including Nanny McFee which I watched again last night. I hadn’t realised that was Colin Firth and I had seen the movie before. Until I saw the credits last night, I still didn’t know. I am afraid I don’t agree with the statement “the greatest specimen of manhood to walk this earth” which is the way one friend described him. Anyway, I have now arranged to see The King’s Speech tonight with a friend, so I can tell you what I think of the movie.

Not only did I think this looked different, I thought it looked delicious. I suspect we would use the goat cheese as Matt is not to keen on Gorgonzola although I love it.

Caramelized Onion Lasagna

Caramelized Onion LasagnaFrom EatingWell: May/June 2008

This unusual lasagna with portobello mushrooms, sweet onions, spinach and Gorgonzola cheese has a rich, complex flavor. It's also great with goat cheese instead of Gorgonzola, if you prefer.

9 servings


Caramelized Onion Lasagna
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, preferably whole-wheat
Caramelized Onion Filling
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced (about 10 cups; see Kitchen Tip)
  • 4 medium portobello mushroom caps, gills removed (see Kitchen Tip), diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Spinach & Cheese Filling
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
White Sauce & Topping
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain; return the noodles to the pot and cover with cool water.
  2. To prepare onion filling: Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and very soft, about 25 minutes. (If they begin to stick, add water 1/4 cup at a time to release them and prevent burning.) Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add wine and 1 teaspoon salt and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pepper.
  3. To prepare spinach filling: Place spinach, ricotta, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and process until smooth.
  4. To prepare white sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir until bubbling, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, until the sauce has the consistency of thick gravy, about 1 minute. Add Gorgonzola and gently whisk until it is melted. Remove from the heat. (The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.)
  5. To assemble lasagna: Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Drain the noodles and spread out on a kitchen towel. Spread 1/2 cup white sauce in the prepared pan. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread half of the spinach filling over the noodles and top with one-third of the onion filling. Evenly spread 1/2 cup white sauce over the onions. Repeat with another layer of noodles, the remaining spinach filling, half the remaining onion filling and half the remaining white sauce. To finish, top with a third layer of noodles, spread the remaining onion filling over the noodles and then spread or dollop the remaining white sauce on top. Sprinkle with walnuts and basil.
  7. Bake until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving : 345 Calories; 14 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 7 g Mono; 9 mg Cholesterol; 39 g Carbohydrates; 16 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 680 mg Sodium; 514 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving

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

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the caramelized onion filling (Step 2) for up to 1 day.
  • Kitchen Tip: Onions contain a volatile compound called lachrymator that reacts with the fluid in your eyes and makes them water. To chop them without crying, try wearing goggles, burning a candle nearby or cutting them under cold water. To mellow the bite of a raw onion, soak it for an hour in 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Kitchen Tip: The dark gills found on the underside of a portobello mushroom cap are edible, but can turn a dish an unappealing gray/black color. Remove the gills with a spoon, if desired.

Have a great day


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cards, Cortisone Shot, Rabbie Burns.

Funny, Matt has a birthday coming up shortly and for some reason his youngest daughter always has trouble getting a card to him on time. Not this year, her card arrived yesterday, a good two weeks before the date. Well done y’all.

This morning Matt had to leave before the crack of dawn to get to Cambridge (more than 8 miles) for his cortisone shot, but it snowed last night and the roads were not in great condition plus he was getting badly splashed and eventually had to stop on the way there to fill up his window shield washer fluid. Now we wait with everything crossed to see if it achieved anything.

Today is Robbie Burns Day which means that in Scotland some will be feasting on Haggis as will Scottish communities all over the world. I know there is at least one group locally who celebrate traditionally and presumably “Address thehaggis Haggis” when it is served. Address the Haggis you ask? Basically they recite the poem by Robert Burns:

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

This is the first verse, the whole poem is “as lang’s my arm”, but if you would like to read it, together with a translation, go to they also tell you about the traditions behind the occasion. I have never eaten haggis, basically because I have never had the chance to do so.

I have a friend in the UK who’s birthday it is today, her husband used to serve her haggis for dinner followed by a traditional Scottish drink/dessert, Atholl Brose. I tried making this once and it wasn’t very successful, I guess I should try it again. After all I am a Scotch drinker of old. Of course it is difficult to get thick enough cream here, made with the kind of cream we get in the UK it would make one heck of a difference.

Traditional Easy To Make Atholl Brose Recipe

This easy to make Atholl Brose recipe can be made in a few minutes and can be made on the day it is to be drunk but tastes much better if storAtholl Broseed for a week.
One bottle of Scotch whisky
10 fluid ounces (Half Pint) of double cream
450g of clear Scottish honey
The whites of six large eggs
One handful of fine ground oatmeal

1. Soak the oatmeal with the Scotch whisky and set aside.

2. Beat the egg whites until they become stiff.

3. Fold the cream into the egg white mixture.

4. Add the honey.

5. Blend in the whisky and oatmeal mixture at a slow but steady pace.

6. Pour the liquid into some bottles and set aside for one week. Shake each bottle of Atholl Brose each day.

Have a great Burns Day.


Monday, January 24, 2011

White Deer, White Snow, Book Covers.

A friend posted this picture on Facebook on Saturday, she saw the animal in the woods out back of where she lives.. I was absolutely fascinated. It is a deer and running with ‘normal deer’, we none of us know what it is. One suggestion was that it could be a Seneca deer which are rare, but they are completely white, not black and white. It was also suggested it might be albino, but that means at least one eye should be pink apparently.

Deer Pic

When I first saw the picture I thought it was a sheep or something. Fascinating picture. Anyone know what it is or even if it is anything special? I have pictures of white lions who are definitely not albino.

Over the weekend I have been getting pictures from NC Golffriends on the coast of NC showing all the snow they have had. For that area it is very unusual. They have had several fairly heavy falls of snow. One friend’s house backs on to a golf course and her pictures show the course absolutely covered – looks very pretty, but usually you can play golf there at this time of the year although you might have to wait a bit to let the frost disappear from the greens.

I am reading the second book by Mary Doria Russell called Children of God. Another excellent story. But what getChildren of Gods me is the cover. I understand from what my author friends write, they don’t get any input on the covers of their books and in my opinion the artists never read the books anyway and mostly have no conception of what the book is about. If you really look at this cover, you can see some circles with stars which could indicate space, but at the bottom it has no relation to the story which is predominantly about Jesuit priests and space aliens. I have no idea what that picture is supposed to represent. I wouldn’t have chosen this book, or the earlier one, The Sparrow, by looking at the covers. One of the best covers I ever saw was the Australian cover for Glenda Larke’s Stormlord Rising, it actually depicts a scene from the book which is interesting to look at (you won't see the cover I am talking about at this link though. However, I understand books only sell with certain types of cover – sounds nonsense to me, but I am no expert. It is a fact, and I have complained before, that certain publishers use a figure in a cloak for the majority of their spec. fic. books. Usually a cloak blowing in the wind. Except that I know the author writes good books, I wouldn’t pick up a lot of them.

Got an Cartoonemail with some cartoons in it this weekend. There were a whole bunch of them, but this one I thought was very funny. Matt didn’t, but I hope you will get a laugh out of it. Seemed such a good idea to me.

Another recipe from Eating Well which is designed to be good for your skin. I know sweet potatoes in particular are rich in all kinds of healthy nutrients and reputedly very good for people with diabetes. Unfortunately, Matt doesn’t like sweet potato although I might try him on this recipe anyway.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

From EatingWell: January/February 2011

Make a double batch of this quick vegetarian chili, full of black beans and sweet potatoes, and eat it for lunch the next day or freeze the extras for another night. We love the smoky heat from the ground chipotle, but omit it if you prefer a mild chili. Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread and coleslaw.

4 servings, IngredientsSweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups water

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoons lime juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.


Per serving : 307 Calories; 8 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 51 g Carbohydrates; 12 g Protein; 14 g Fiber; 494 mg Sodium; 947 mg Potassium

2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Note: Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers. Ground chipotle chile pepper can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets or online at

Have a great day


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Search Engines.

Today GMA announced the formation of a new search engine called Kwiki. It is actually not really ‘up’ yet, but you can join their Alpha membership. The new programme talks to you when it finds what you are looking for. There are some examples on their current website – not many yet – but you can find the site at The site talks to you in dulcet female tones and you are stuck with that voice at the moment. Its information is supposed to be a combination of Google, YouTube and Wikipedia. Of course there are several search engines out there other than Google; Microsoft have been trying to introduce their new one called Bing. I have never used it. So far Google does everything I want it to. I often wonder how we lived before search engines, but of course we had encyclopedias (well I did) but even they didn’t give all the information one needed. I think its one of the best things about computers, having information at your fingertips. Mind you I think computers are great anyway; Matt would totally disagree with me.

Talking of Matt, I forgot to mention that having seen the surgeon a couple of weeks ago, he decided Matt probably has bursitis and does NOT need another hip operation at this time. Thank goodness. The surgeon is going to give him a cortisone shot. Unfortunately that was postponed last week (bit of a screw up) so poor soul has been suffering an extra week and popping Tylenol 3 like candies. Keep your fingers crossed for him.

Well, today I am cooking as we have friends coming for dinner tonight so that is all I am writing today. The following recipe from Eating Well is in their latest newsletter on foods that are good for your skin. I will certainly be trying this in the near future.

Almond and Lemon-Crusted Fish with Spinach

From EatingWell:  January/February 2011

Coating fish with nuts and baking it is an easy, Almond & Lemon Crusted fishfoolproof way to cook it elegantly. And it is especially nice with a mild white fish like cod or halibut. The spinach turns a little yellowy because it’s cooked with the acidic lemon juice, but what you lose in green color is more than made up for in great flavor.

4 servings | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds Pacific cod or halibut (see Note), cut into 4 portions
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine lemon zest, almonds, dill, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard. Divide the almond mixture among the portions, pressing it onto the mustard.
  3. Bake the fish until opaque in the center, about 7 to 9 minutes, depending on thickness.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the spinach is just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm. Serve the fish with the spinach and lemon wedges, if desired.

Per serving : 249 Calories; 13 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 8 g Mono; 46 mg Cholesterol; 8 g Carbohydrates; 28 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 496 mg Sodium; 1025 mg Potassium

1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 2 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Note: Pacific cod, a.k.a. Alaska cod, is considered a good choice for the environment because it is sustainably fished and has a larger, more stable population.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Killing our Heritage.

This morning I received a newsletter from the World Wildlife Fund detailing the increase in rhino poaching. In 2010 one South African rhino a day (365 animals a year) was being lost to poachers who are now very sophisticated using helicopters, vetinary tranquilisers, night vision equipment and silencers. World Wildlife are Rhinosrequesting help from the public – particularly asking people not to buy rhino horn products in any form. Obviously they would also like donations from anyone and everyone. To read more about it go to As you will see, its not just rhinos, tigers have decreased by 95%, 12,000 elephants are illegally killed along with many other species which are used for illegal purposes. The traffic in animals and animal parts is very distressing to me which is one of the reasons I support World Wildlife and any donations I make end up in their coffers which is a drop in the bucket compared with what they need. I wish I could form a world wide support group for their work.

This is a subject I feel very strongly about and were I a younger woman I would be “out there” helping to preserve all animals and fighting the poachers. The best I can do today is give them my support and as much publicity as I am able. Please spread the word yourself otherwise the sci fi stories of a world with no animals at all will come to pass. We have to act today and we have to do it ourselves not leave it to others.

I like barley, I love risotto, and this one is a version which can be made in a slow cooker which means you don’t have to stand around adding liquid for hours on end, what more could you ask for?

Barley Risotto with Fennel

From EatingWell: January/February 2008

This convenient alternative to traditional stovetop Barley Risotto w Fennelrisotto uses healthy, fiber-rich whole grains—either barley or brown rice—seasoned with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and oil-cured olives. The gentle, uniform heat of a slow cooker allows you to cook a creamy risotto without the usual frequent stirring.

6 servings, generous 1 cup each Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 3-4 hours

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds
  • 1 cup pearl barley, or short-grain brown rice
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or “no-chicken” broth
  • 1-1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a saucepan. Combine the fennel seeds, diced fennel, barley (or rice), carrot, shallot and garlic in the slow cooker. Add broth, 1 cup water and wine, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the barley (or rice) is tender, but pleasantly chewy, and the risotto is thick and creamy, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours on high or low.
  2. Shortly before serving, cook green beans according to package instructions and drain. Turn off the slow cooker. Stir the green beans, Parmesan, olives, lemon zest and pepper into the risotto. If it seems dry, heat the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir it into the risotto. Serve sprinkled with the chopped fennel fronds.

Per serving : 242 Calories; 6 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 9 mg Cholesterol; 36 g Carbohydrates; 10 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 474 mg Sodium; 330 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare fennel, carrot, shallot and garlic. Combine broth, 1 cup water and wine. Refrigerate in separate covered containers for up to 1 day.

Have a great day


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ecoli, Celiac Disease, Mexico, Disney Dream

pitt-meadows-300A quality assurance officer has blown the whistle on his company. The plant manager has been covering up a lab test which showed they have Ecoli 0157 strain contamination in their product. This is a particularly deadly strain apparently. However, further tests cleared the plant and the management describe the officer as a disgruntled employee (ex of course). I hope this whole problem will be thoroughly investigated – it sounds somewhat scary to me. To read the full article go to

There was yet another shooting in Mexico yesterday, in Mazatlan. A Canadian tourist was wounded in the leg. He in fact pushed his wife onto the ground and lay on top of her. I asked Matt if he would do that for me, he said he didn’t know!!! Truthfully he said how could anyone know how they would react until the time came. Apparently the wounded man is not put off and still plans to buy a house in the area in the future. Sorry with everything going on in Mexico such as the drug wars at the moment, you wouldn’t catch us anywhere near the place. There are lots of other beautiful places to visit which aren’t so dangerous.

Also on GMA this morning, Sam Champion the Disney Dreammeteorologist, is cruising on the latest Disney ship, the Disney Dream. There are all kinds of things to do on board many of which were shown on the TV. I’m sorry we wouldn’t go near that ship either. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go on a cruise, but there is too much on the ship and also too many people. Not my idea of a cruise at all. Good food, good weather, a swimming pool and a good bar, that’s all we need on a cruise ship. I don’t need to climb rock walls (even if I could) go waterskiing, rush round a tremendously big water tube, have Broadway shows, etc. etc. not my idea of a relaxing cruise at all. The ship also has 16 decks, I would be scared it was top heavy and would roll over.

Yesterday I posted a gluten free recipe. Today, Good Morning America had a segment about celiac disease talking to Elisabeth Hasselbeck who has published a book called The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. and there are recipes on the GMA site. The following is one of them.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Meat-Based Tomato Sauce for Lasagna

From 'The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide'

From the Kitchen of Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Servings: Over 8

"This is my mother's basic meat sauce, which I useMeat Sauce and which she and my grandmother used, over penne, spaghetti, and other pasta. My mother adapted it and the meatballs to make them gluten-free for me. I serve the meatballs and sausage on the side, with a fresh garden salad. …

The recipe calls for sausage, but a piece of pork, such as a thick boneless pork chop, can be substituted. Pork gives tomato sauce nice dimension. I make the meatballs small so that the sauce penetrates them during simmering, keeping them moist."


1 pound Italian sausage, gluten-free, hot or sweet 1 small onion 3 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil 3 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves meatballs, gluten-free, cooked (recipe follows)


1/2 cup hominy grits or coarse cornmeal (or 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs) 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck 1 egg

1 garlic clove, minced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cut the sausage into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Mince the onion in a food processor and set aside.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot, and brown the sausage on all sides in the oil. Add the onion and cook it with the sausage until the onion is soft and light brown.

Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes to the pot. Add about 1/4 can of water to rinse the can and add the water to the pot. Stir, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the other 2 cans of tomatoes, rinsing each can with 1/4 can of water and adding the water to the pot. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, and basil, and stir to mix. Add the meatballs and stir.

Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer sauce for 30 minutes or longer if desired. I like to simmer the sauce until I see that oil has risen to the top. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve over pasta or in lasagna.

Note: I often use a Crock-Pot to make this sauce. If you use a Crock-Pot, brown the sausage and onion in a large skillet. Add the cooked sausage and onion to the Crock-Pot, using water to scrape up the brown bits with them.

Add the remaining ingredients according to the above directions, and stir. Cook on high for 4–5 hours, then switch to low for 1–2 hours or until ready to use. Or cook on low for 7–8 hours.


In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of water to grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs). Mix to moisten the grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs), which should be damp, but not wet. Set aside. If using gluten-free rice crumbs, which are harder than cornmeal, use 1/4 cup of water and allow rice crumbs to soften for several minutes.

Place ground chuck in a large bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt, and pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the moistened grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs) and mix, first with the spoon, and then with your hands, just until ingredients are combined.

Shape the meat mixture into meatballs, about the size of golf balls.

Brown the meatballs in a skillet in light olive oil or canola oil. Cook in batches, and do not overcrowd the skillet. Add more oil if needed. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside for use in the tomato sauce, or cover and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make the tomato sauce.

Have a great day


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Funeral, Haiti, Woolly Mammoths.

It was as good funeral yesterday. Incredible all the wonderful things people had to say about my friend’s mother, it made me wish I had known her better. The minister was a nephew of the deceased which made it more personal. Afterwards we joined our friends at the reception whilst the bulk of the people went to the cemetery.

I mentioned Duvalier yesterday, it appears that a number of charges have been laid against him including corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds. I wonder if these charges will stick and/or be carried through. If he has lived in France for 25 years, why would he come back to face criminal charges unless he has some ulterior motives.

This article is so incredible, to me anyway, I have copied it whole from

Worldstart Computer Tips 01-19-2011
Cloning the Ice Age.

Japanese researchers are launching a project to revive the extinct woolly mammoth, using cloning technology to bring it back in an estimated 5-6 year's time. They will do this by using the tissue obtained from a mammoth carcass that has been preserved in a Russian research laboratory, the Yomiuri Shimbun (a mass-circulation daily) reported.

The team has invited a Russian mammoth researcher and two US elephant experts into the project and has already established a technique to extract DNA from frozen cells.
Researchers had once given up on cloning the mammoth after mammoth skin and muscle tissue were found damaged and proven unusable. Teruhiko Wakayama of the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology then succeeded in cloning a mouse from the cells of another that had been kept in deep-freeze for 16 years.
Akira Iritani, leader of the team and a professor emeritus of Kyoto University, said, "If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public," Iritani said. "After the mammoth is born, we will examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors."

I cannot imagine having woolly mammoths running around the place and I am not quite sure why they really would try this, but it is fascinating that they feel they can. The only problem now is are we headed for Jurassic Park? Surely this is much the same thing?

I keep coming across people who cannot tolerate gluten even if they are not actually suffering from Celiac disease. So here is a gluten free chicken recipe. At the bottom is a link to the site which has more gluten free recipes.

Gluten Free Breaded Chicken


Serves: 6-8, Gluten Free Breaded Chicken

10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

3/4 cup ground oats (use coffee grinder)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup milk


  1. 1 combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. 2 whisk milk and egg into a separate bowl.
  3. 3 dip each chicken thigh in the milk mixture and then into the dry mixture.
  4. 4 place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  5. 5 place in oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Read more:

Have a great day


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ladies in the News, Haiti, Bob and Jimmy.

Kate MiddletonShortly after their engagement, it was announced that William’s fiancée, Kate Middleton, wished to be known as Katherine in future. I notice in North America, at least, no-one is taking any notice of her request. This morning they were talking about the wedding on GMA and interviewing someone in Britain who stressed this point and then called her Kate himself. One thing I had forgotten, once she is married her official title will be Princess William,  which tradition always seemed odd to me. Mind you most people don’t take much notice, Diana was really Princess Charles, but you never heard anyone use that title. Reports say William will soon be given a Dukedom, I wonder which one? The couple have been offered accommodation at Buckingham Palace which I wonder about after their expressed wishes to live simply without servants, etc. etc.

Betty White was on TV this morning, she was 89 Betty Whiteyesterday and is certainly very lively and fit and constantly working. Betty White has lots of energy and is very funny off stage as well as on. She assures everyone she is milking her birthday for all she can get. Quite an incredible woman. Someone suggested they would like a date with Betty and would love to drink a glass of red wine with her, she said OK but did they mind if she had vodka. I have to add here that I bowl every week with a woman who is 96 and who, I am assured, bowls twice a week, line dances and plays ping pong (table tennis). I should be that fit at my age.

Sadly we have a funeral to go to today, the mother of a close friend. She made it to 94 and certainly still had clarity of mind right up to the end if not the greatest health in the last year or so. Clarity of mind in the elderly is so very important. Then last night I heard of another friend who is riddled with cancer and only 58; I wish her the very best.

I must say news like this makes me wonder why I bother worrying about my weight etc. Betty White eats hot dogs and hamburgers regularly she says. Mind you she is NOT carrying excess weight, not an ounce.

I have spoken before about Matt’s reluctance to visit Mexico which he thinks sounds a very dangerous place, there is a new report from a Canadian couple who were arrested on New Year’s Eve and she claims she was gang raped by the cops. Obviously, I don’t know, but I tend to believe it because of all the horror stories we have been hearing from Mexico lately.

Then there is the news that Baby Doc Duvalier has gone back to Haiti after 25 years, no-one is quite sure why, but my guess is due to all the political unrest at the moment he is hoping to seize power once again. If that is so, and he manages it, God help the Haitians. In a report last night, they point out that the young people don’t remember the horrors of the Duvalier regimes, dad and son. There is a new museum which shows what their time was like and all the atrocities committed in their names which they hope will awaken these young people.

After the depressing news, a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video of Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney demonstrating their versatility and how well rounded they were even at 52 and 56 years old.

Jimmy and Bob

Continuing with Eating Well’s healthy eating theme, here is a Vietnamese type recipe which contains lots of things I like, especially rice noodles.

Vietnamese Tofu-Noodle Lettuce Wraps

From EatingWell:  March/April 2009

Here we toss rice noodles with crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, tofu and a light, sweet, tart and salty Vietnamese dressing flavored with fish sauce and wrap the mixture in lettuce leaves. For a vegetarian version, use reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari in place of the fish sauce. Pass the mixture, lettuce leaves and sauce separately so everyone can make their own wraps.

4 servings, 2 wraps each

IngredientsVietnamese Noodle Wraps

2 ounces thin rice noodles, or rice sticks (see Note)

1/4 cup water

5 teaspoons fish sauce, (see Note)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 ounces firm or extra-firm seasoned tofu, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 cup snow peas, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

8 large leaves green-leaf lettuce

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add rice noodles (or rice sticks) and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Gently squeeze noodles to remove most of the water.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup water, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and crushed red pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  3. Coarsely chop the noodles and combine in a large bowl with tofu, carrot, snow peas, basil and mint. Pour the sauce over the salad and toss to combine. To serve, spoon about 1/2 cup salad onto each lettuce leaf and roll up.

Per serving : 197 Calories; 6 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 0 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 23 g Carbohydrates; 14 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 747 mg Sodium; 147 mg Potassium

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

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

Tips & Notes
  • Ingredient notes: Dried thin rice noodles (or rice sticks) are also called “bun” or “vermicelli-style” rice noodles. Look for them in the Asian section of well-stocked super markets or an Asian-foods market.
  • Fish sauce is a pungent Southeast Asian condiment made from salted, fermented fish. Find it in the Asian section of large supermarkets and in Asian specialty markets.

Have a great day


Monday, January 17, 2011

Bendy Toys!! Book, Actor.

A friend sent me this link over the weekend. Both Matt and I consider this quite incredible, Matt, being an ex gymnast, was particularly impressed. Do have a look.

Last night I finished a book called The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. What a powerful novel. In a way I am very sorry to have finished it. It is the story of a Jesuit mission to a planet in the Alpha CentaThe Sparrowuri system – the party consisted of 4 Jesuits and 4 civilians. They went because a San Juan receiver had picked up the most wonderful music coming from a planet in the area. The expedition ends up in disaster, but how it all happens is an excellent read. The story is predominantly told by the surviving Jesuit priest. If you get the chance, do read it. The author won all kinds of awards for this book which are well deserved. I did find the story a tad slow to get into at the beginning but…….

Oops, now I am in trouble, my friends have been discussColin Firthing Colin Firth and I hadn’t a clue who he was. I am assured he is the most gorgeous specimen of manhood to walk the earth!!! He has actually just received a Golden Globe award for his role in The King’s Speech. As I have not yet seen that movie and am not sure whether I saw Love Actually, I don’t really know how I would have come across him before. Oh, Google says he played a couple of other roles I must have seen as I did watch Bridget Jones’ Diary, not sure if I saw his version of Pride and Prejudice.

I have always enjoyed Picadillo, the South American ground beef dish, we have made it several times over the years. The following recipe is a new twist on an old theme, its part of their healthy meals series in Eating Well.

Apple Turkey Picadillo

From EatingWell: September/October 2007

This twist on the Latin American staple is made healthier with lean ground turkey and crisp apples. It doubles well. Try tucking it into whole-wheat tortillas or serve over instant brown rice for a quick and healthy supper.

2 servings Apple Turkey Picadillo


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

8 ounces 99%-lean ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 medium tart green apple, peeled and chopped

1 cup chopped tomato

3 tablespoons chopped green olives

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sliced scallion greens

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add turkey; cook, stirring and breaking up, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cloves; cook for 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in apple, tomato, olives and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring often, until any liquid in the pan has reduced to a syrupy glaze, about 8 minutes. Stir in scallion greens and serve.

Per serving : 246 Calories; 8 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 45 mg Cholesterol; 17 g Carbohydrates; 30 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 488 mg Sodium; 360 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 fruit, 4 very lean protein, 1 fat

Have a great day