Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Wedding, Royal Winner, Tornado Destruction

Wils and KateSo, I did see the wedding ceremony itself even though I hadn’t intended to. I found I became somewhat emotional when she walked down the aisle with her dad. I hadn’t realised they had put trees in Westminster Abbey for the occasion, looked great. The dress was beautiful but, in my opinion, relatively simple and definitely uncluttered; better than Diana’s which to my mind was too fussy. William was in uniform with a red coat and Harry in black. Actually Harry’s uniform was a lot more ornate than William’s. One little titbit I learned, Prince Charles has never put the toothpaste on his own toothbrush. This was shared when they were talking about the fact that the newly weds, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by the way, would be living a simple life in a house in Anglesey, Wales with Catherine doing the cooking. Reported this morning, they have gone away for a quiet weekend at a private retreat and will go on honeymoon at a later day.

It tickled me that some young women in the crowd had a sign “Marry me Harry”. The wedding breakfast, as it is called in England, consisted of champagne and canapés. Hope none of the guests were diabetic or that there were enough to stave off hunger. Apparently the Queen doesn’t eat at these kinds of receptions, too busy hostessing. Damn that for a lark, I wouldn’t host anything if I couldn’t partake of the available nosh. In the evening they will be having a dinner which is being hosted by Prince Charles. Then afterwards a ‘knees-up’ and for the non Brits, that originated from the Cockney Song “Knees Up Mother Brown” except its pronounced Muvva. Basically it means a hell of a party, a right rave up, a real good time. It apparently lasted til dawn.

Funny item I heard on the radio yesterday, thereWinner was a horse running in in the 5:30 race at Fontwell Park in England – it was a 4-1 longshot called Royal Wedding. Guess what, it won. I hope the owners had a good big bet on it. I would have done if I’d been there, too much of a coincidence not to win. It was at better odds early on at 8-1 so if one had managed to get that price, it would have been a good pay out.

Severe Weather VirginiaWhat terrible devastation in the American south; this morning they were showing towns which had been wiped off the map – Alabama was particularly badly hit and there are now well over 300 dead. The central states are having a particularly bad time of it as there is also massive flooding. As far as I know, there is no flooding in the tornado damaged areas, that would really put the icing on the cake. I feel so sorry for all these homeless people who were just going about their normal every day lives and suddenly their homes collapsed on top of them. The pictures on TV showed acres and acres of nothing but debris where once houses and churches used to stand. On top of the debris one could see cars and trucks just strewn about, some upside down. Dreadful.

Yet another delicious looking recipe from WebMD. We both like fish I am pleased to say although so many people say they do not.

Easy Agave and Lime Salmon

By The Gluten Free Goddess
WebMD Recipe from

Picture of Easy Agave and Lime Salmon This dish is so easy you can take it from the kitchen to the campground. Prepare it in foil packets and toss it onto the campfire or use your own indoor (or outdoor) grill at home. Amazing with veggie kebabs on the side, this dish will quickly become a family favorite.


4 serving-sized pieces of salmon
1 red onion, sliced
4 scallions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
Fresh lime juice from two large limes
Pinch of cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear off eight pieces of foil; two for each piece of salmon. Place one serving of salmon on one piece of foil. Season the salmon with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

4 serving sized pieces of wild caught salmon
1 red onion, sliced
4 scallions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
For the sauce:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
Fresh lime juice from two large limes
A tiny, secret pinch of cinnamon -- don't tell
Combine the olive oil, agave, lime juice and touch of cinnamon in a glass measuring cup. Pour the sauce all over the salmon pieces. Sprinkle the salmon with onions, scallions and garlic.

Place the remaining pieces of foil on each serving and fold the edges to create a packet. Bake in a preheated oven for roughly 20 minutes, till it flakes easily but is not dried out.

Total Servings: 4

Have a great weekend


Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornadoes, Sandwiches, Movies

When I got up on Thursday morning it was blowing a gale and the wind whips around our nine storey building howling like a banshee which makes one feel cold just listening to it. Then I turn on the TV and see they had 150 tornadoes in the States on Wednesday night with lots of destruction and quite a few deaths, I couldn’t help wondering if they were headed here with all this wind? The States has certainly been pounded with tornados lately, the pictures on yesterday’s TV were horrifying. The last count I heard was 290 deaths from tornados recently.

As I mentioned, we went to Benny’s for lunch yesterday. Everyone seemed to be OK with what was being served, I ordered a sandwich called Lox, Stock and Bagel. Not a good choice, in the first place a good bagel doesn’t seem to be available round her, secondly the lox was overpowered by a mayonnaise, tomato, onion and lettuce combination. The mayo itself was a big mistake for a start. But that is how North Americans make sandwiches, they don’t use butter but slather the bread with mayonnaise which neither of us have taken to. Mayonnaise certainly does not go with smoked salmon – it wasn’t particularly good mayonnaise either. Ah well, if we go thereBLT again, I will not be choosing that. It was actually on the breakfast menu which several of us used for our selections. One person had a Benny’s Benedict which I thought looked pretty good. Matt had his good ol’ standby of BLT which he enjoyed. I had thought of soup and salad, the the soup of the day was broccoli and it didn’t appeal to me at the time.

We had fun at the bowling alley, I even bowled two good games although the third one was terrible. Matt didn’t bowl well at all, he gets up tight which doesn’t help it I guess. We have started playing poker (used to do it years ago) you are dealt a 5 card hand then if you hit the head pin you change one card, if you bowl a strike you can change two cards. In the second game I started with a flush and didn’t want to change any of them. I ended up with a load of rubbish Ah well, only a quarter (25 ¢) a time so I didn’t exactly lose much.

King's SpeechMuch to my delight the DVDs I had ordered, The King’s Speech and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, both arrived in the mail yesterday so we played The King’s Speech last night and Matt thoroughly enjoyed it. Well it is a wonderful movie. I was so glad it got so many Oscars although I was sorry Geoffrey Rush didn’t get one. I won’t play the Narnia movie for Matt, not his scene at all, but I will be watching it again. The first time I saw it in the theatre it was in 3D, will be interesting to see if it makes much difference.

I didn't intend to get up this morning for the wedding, but nature called at 5:45 a.m. so I figured I might as well stay up and turn on the TV. I very much liked the dress, pretty simple but elegant and beautiful. I saw the ceremony right through and loved every minute of it.

This is a possible clone of the cake which Prince William has requested as one of the wedding cakes today. Apparently this particular cake recipe originated in Denmark. The Palace cake is supposed to be a secret but I imagine there is a lot of similarity. I like the look of this because it doesn’t need cooking.

Nick Watt's Mum's Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Give This Royal Favorite a Try

From the kitchen of Carol Watt

Servings: 8Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Prince William's childhood favorite treat is the same as ABC News' very own Nick Watt, but Nick has a secret weapon that even the Royal Family can't match: his mum Carol. She shares a generations-old Watt family recipe here.

  • 8 oz. good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 oz. Rich Tea biscuits or Graham Crackers, broken into almond-sized pieces
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds
  • ¼ cup raisins, soaked in 2 tablespoons of sherry (omit if making for children)
  • Cooking Directions

    1. Melt chocolate in a mixing bowl placed over a saucepan of gently simmering water. In another saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl) melt butter.

    2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the eggs and sugar until mixed well. Add melted butter and chocolate. Add orange zest, raisins, and nuts to the chocolate mixture. Gradually fold in the crushed biscuits (or graham crackers), until biscuits are evenly distributed throughout the chocolate.

    3. In a 2-pound loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, spread the chocolate mixture and smooth out evenly. Cover entire pan with plastic wrap.

    3. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into slices.

    Cook's Note: This cake is quite rich—a small piece is all you need.

    Have a great day


  • Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Prison Lunch, Training, Bowling.

    The ClinkWell, here’s a new one, trust the Brits. There is a restaurant called The Clink. So what, you may say, the what is that it is inside an actual prison in Surrey, England, the chefs, staff and waiters are all prisoners. It says a Category B prison, not sure what that is, but presumably a pretty minimum security place. So I Googled, I quote

    • Category B prisoners are those who do not require maximum security, but for whom escape needs to be made very difficult

    For more information, especially if you live in the UK, go to Do read the menus, they look delicious and feature things we can’t get in Canada which makes me want to try it out. I do hope the staff keep a good eye on what actually goes into the food.

    My training went well yesterday, there are a couple of changes to things we did last time, but nothing major. They are now quite concerned about accessibility in polling stations principally because one wheelchair bound guy in Québec complained to them because he had a lot of difficulty, next time he used the same polling station which had the same access problems for him so he decided to sue them. Why on earth didn’t they take notice the first time? Very shortsighted. A few extremely dumb questions were asked during the training session and they not only vote, they run the stations.

    Today we are having our last Travel League get together for the winter Bowling League. We are going to try a different restaurant which was recommended to me, its called Benny’s. I know nothing about it or what the food is like. Tomorrow we will find out. The Thai restaurant we had been going to was not popular with the whole group so although several of us really enjoyed it, we have to sacrifice to the will of the majority. If I don’t think too much of Benny’s, I will be back at the Thai restaurant next year.

    Just for fun, I decided to include this recipe from BBC Food, I actually can’t imagine anyone making them unless they have lots of time and love to bake. Still, if you want to make something special to celebrate the Royal Wedding – here you are.

    Union Jack Fondant Fancies Ingredientsunion_jack_fondant_70560_16x9 For the cake 175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened 175g/6oz caster sugar (same as our regular sugar in Canada) 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 175g/6oz self-raising flour (all purpose) 1-2 tbsp milk

    For the syrup 50g/1¾oz caster sugar 50ml/2fl oz water ¼ tsp lemon essence

    For the filling 150g/5½oz icing sugar 75g/2¾oz butter, softened 3-5 tbsp strawberry jam

    For the topping 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed gently, then passed through a sieve 250g/9oz marzipan 450g/1 lb fondant icing sugar red and blue food colouring

    Preparation method 1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and line a 20cm/8in square cake tin. 2. Beat together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until well combined. (If the mixture looks like it is curdling add a spoonful of the flour.) Fold in the flour and add a little milk if the mixture looks stiff. 3. Spoon the cake batter into the cake tin and level using the back of a spoon. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 4. Remove the cake from the oven, set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely, upside down, on a wire rack. 5. Meanwhile, for the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the lemon essence. 6. For the filling, beat the butter in a bowl until soft and smooth, slowly beat in the icing sugar. Continue to beat until fluffy. 7. Very carefully, using the longest knife you have, remove the dark crust from the top of the cake and turn the cake upside down. Then cut the cake in half horizontally. 8. Drizzle or brush the bottom cake layer with the sugar syrup and then spread with the buttercream. Top with the jam and carefully sandwich with the top half of the cake. 9. Wrap the cake in cling film and chill for 2-3 hours, this will make it easier to cut the cake later. 10. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to the same size as the cake. Once the cake is chilled, brush the top of the cake with the sieved apricot jam. Carefully lift the marzipan onto the cake, smooth it flat along the top of the cake and cut off any excess marzipan. Cut the cake into equal 25 x 4cm/1½in squares. 11. Sieve the fondant icing sugar into a small bowl and stir in enough hot water to make a smooth icing thick enough to coat the cakes. Reserving three tablespoons of the icing into two bowls, cover with cling film and set aside. 12. Coat the cake squares with the icing, easing the icing down the sides of the cakes until you have an even coating all over the cakes. Sit the cakes on a cooling rack until the icing is set. 13. Add a few drops of blue food colouring to one of the bowls of icing, mix to a smooth paste and spoon into a piping bag with a very fine nozzle. Repeat with the other bowl of icing using the red food colouring. 14. Use these two colours to pipe the union jack onto the fondant fancies. Be as simple or as intricate as you dare! Carefully remove the cakes from the rack and sit in paper cases.

    Have a great day


    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Wedding, Training, Spring???

    I spoke to a British friend on the phone yesterday who said what was really annoying her about the royal wedding was the continuous comparisons with Diana. I do so much agree, its Catherine’s wedding not Diana’s. I know the engagement ring was originally Diana’s but it is traditional to pass on family jewellery, in particular engagement rings and has normally nothing to do with remembering the mother. I don’t know whether these were really thoughts of William’s or whether it was the media who spread these ideas. I am sorry it happened, but Diana is no longer with us and Friday is Catherine’s day, stop spoiling it.

    This morning I have to go for my election office training. 9:30 a.m. Means I have had to get up early, grrr. Not so much getting up as having to rush around having breakfast and my shower, etc. etc. Mind you for election day itself I will have to get up even earlier so I shouldn’t complain. Of course its pretty thick fog so might have to leave a tad earlier.

    I keep hearing how nice the weather is in England at the moment, I am so jealous particularly because of the asparagus. However, I went to have an ECG yesterday and there were shrubs near the office which hadDaffs green leaves on. Good sign I hope. There are lots of robins too, but we don’t seem to be getting anything more than rain, guess I should be grateful it isn’t cold or it would be more of that white stuff. We have daffodils out front as well as crocus. They have been working on all the grass surrounding the building, but the sun is still keeping hidden.

    I get a regular email from Dr. Oz and I found a Weight Watcher’s asparagus recipe being offered in their email. I love asparagus, I love risotto, so I can’t go wrong can I? Of course, Barrie Bros. are not yet selling asparagus so I am out of luck at the moment.

    Weight Watchers™ Asparagus Risotto


    Makes 6 (1 cup) servings AsparagusRisotto

    1/2 tsp table salt, for cooking water 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces Cooking spray 1 tbsp unsalted butter 3 small shallot, minced 1 cup uncooked arborio rice 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 4 cup canned chicken broth 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, such as Parmigianno-Reggiano 1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste


    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add asparagus to pot; blanch for 2 minutes. Immediately remove asparagus from pot and place them into ice water (to stop them from cooking and help retain their bright green color); set aside. Coat a medium pot with cooking spray and set over medium heat; melt butter. Add shallots; cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add rice and toss to coat; cook for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice; cook, until all lemon juice has been absorbed, stirring continuously so rice does not stick to sides of pot, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer; keep warm. Add 1/2 cup of hot broth to pot at a time; stir until absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth, making sure each addition of broth is absorbed before adding more. This process takes about 20 minutes.

    When rice turns creamy and just done (should be slightly chewy and not mushy), remove pot from heat; add cheese and stir well. Stir in asparagus; season with salt and pepper.

    Have a great day


    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Tornadoes, Royal History, More on Chocolate for Singers.

    TornadoThis morning Sam Champion. the meteorologist on GMA, reported that the amount of tornadoes in the States was now making history, there have never been so many in a season. Struck me as funny, if you are living with these tornadoes,  I wouldn’t think you would give a damn whether you were in the middle of a record or not. It is a very serious situation for the people living in these areas with destroyed homes and quite a large number of deaths. I would imagine it is pretty terrifying when you encounter one. There is also going to be record flooding Sam said. I know that isn’t funny although I was never flooded as badly as some of these poor people have been.

    I heard something this morning which I hadn’t heard before, The Queen told Diana and Charles to get divorced. I am somewhat surprised, I would have thought they royal family would have moved heaven and earth to prevent such a thing happening. Although, thinking about it, one tends to forget all the things which have happened to royals over the centuries, especially in the days of the RegencyPrincess_Charlotte_Augusta_of_Wales_s when they were constantly causing an uproar with who they married or who they didn’t. The Prince Regent shut his daughter up in her home for a while but she eventually escaped. She did get married in the end, but she died before her father ascended the throne as George IV. I have not heard of any similar scandal in modern days.

    Thinking about all these royals last night, I was wishing I had paid more attention to my history although in my day it was presented so badly. All I really recall is a string of dates being give to us talking about things like corn laws. At that age, basically, who cares, I certainly never did. I always maintain I learned more history once I had left school than I ever did whilst there.  I never forget that once I had left school I saw a movie about the Battle of Culloden (Bonnie Prince Charlie and all that) and understood what it was about for the first time, I must have had some god awful history teachers, I think.

    Re singers and chocolate, I have been receiving comments from our sinlaw on yesterday’s blog. It appears it is the fat in chocolate and dairy produce which causes problems for singers although his daughter doesn’t stay away from it if she is not performing. The effects are, apparently, temporary.

    Nothing nicer than a well cooked piece of fish, this recipe sent by WebMD sounds like another goodie. Halibut can be bought here, but any good solid white fish could be used I think. I haven’t a clue what Black Garlic is. OK, here is a link about Black Garlic sounds interesting, I must see if I can get it locally.

    Balsamic Black Garlic Halibut Steaks

    By The Healthy Apple
    WebMD Recipe from

    Picture of Balsamic Black Garlic Halibut Considered healthier than plain garlic, black garlic has twice as many antioxidants and has long been consumed in Asia for its disease preventative and treatment properties.


    2 Halibut Steaks (6 oz. each)
    2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
    2 cloves Black Garlic
    1 small orange (juiced)
    1 tsp. orange zest
    2 Tbsp. olive oil
    Dash of sea salt and ground white pepper
    Fresh cilantro, chopped (for topping)


    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in garlic.

    In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice, sea salt and pepper.

    Season both sides of halibut steaks with balsamic mixture.  Place steaks into skillet; cook for 10 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

    Flip steaks halfway through cooking to ensure brownness on both sides.  Serve warm and enjoy with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

    Total Servings: 2

    Have a great day


    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Easter Bunny, Wedding Fever, Dyngus Day, Chocolate and Bowling

    ‌Lindt BunnyI hope you all had a great Easter and are enjoying a day off today. My Lindt Bunny didn’t survive Saturday night untouched although Matt’s wasn’t chomped into until Easter Sunday. We both went for the ears which is apparently what the lindt-deaf-bunnymajority do. This morning I still have some left, Matt, however, finished his. Looking for a picture, I see Lindt have their own version of the bunny joke. Those are both dark chocolate bunnies. You can tell by the colour of the ribbon.

    Watching TV yesterday they were talking about the choirs which will be singing at the Royal Wedding on Friday, there are two of them, both composed  of boy singers, don’t think there were any adults. One thing that surprised us, they are not allowed to eat chocolate which is bad for the voice. Matt used to be a chorister and had never heard that before, nor had I. I wonder why its bad for the voice, I shall have to try and find out.

    Needless to say Good Morning America is full of the Royal Wedding. Half their presenters are in London together with several ABC people from other programmes. Elton John has been invited and Barbara Walters was talking to him about his contacts with the Royal Family. Whilst talking, Sir Elton was extremely critical of the British Press and the way they hound royalty. He used to be a friend of Princess Diana which is why he has been invited. The royal guest list includes other royalty and heads of state. The Middleton guest list includes their postman, their butcher and the owner of the local pub. Poor Matt, he has just turned off GMA in disgust because it is all about the wedding. Typical male, not really interested and will be glad when its over.

    Today is Dyngus Day, what’s that you ask? I’m not Dyngus Daytotally sure myself. It is a post Lenten bash. It seems to be originally a Polish celebration held on Easter Monday and one of the biggest celebrations is in Buffalo, NY. Apparently there is a lot of Polka dancing involved. Go to for more information – I like the comment, for those about to Polka we salute you.

    Today is also the last day we will be bowling with Bowling Pinsour winter league. The banquet is next Monday but that is Election Day so we will be working. The following Monday we start the summer league which doesn’t last many weeks. I am sorry we won’t make the banquet, its always a fun time.

    I have mentioned Recipe du Jour in the past. They just came up with a new asparagus recipe which I asked permission to share. If you have really fresh asparagus, picked that day, you will not need to snap off the ends. For some reason the longer they are picked the woodier the stems become. Takes a few days though, so if you buy stuff with stems which need snapping you know they are probably more than a week old.

    Cheesy Asparagus Pie

    Serves 8

    1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagusasparagus
    1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
    1 tablespoon butter or margarine
    1 large sweet onion, diced
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 (8-ounce) package shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend
    1 1/2 cups half-and-half
    2 large eggs
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    Snap off tough ends of asparagus (trimmed to about 5 inches). Cook in boiling water to cover 30 seconds; drain. Plunge asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

    Reserve 9 spears; set aside. Coarsely chop remaining asparagus; set aside. Unfold piecrusts; stack on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a
    14-inch circle. Fit piecrust into an 11-inch tart pan, trimming excess dough. Line piecrust with foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 425F for 12 minutes; remove weights and foil. Bake 2 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Set aside. Brush bottom and sides of crust with mustard. Sprinkle with half of cheese, chopped asparagus, onion, and remaining cheese. Arrange reserved asparagus spears over cheese. Whisk together half-and-half and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture evenly over asparagus.

    Bake at 375F for 25 minutes or until set and golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes. 

    Have a great day


    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Easter and Eating, TV Viewing, Bunnies.

    The discussion on whether to eat turkey or lamb for our Easter dinner ended up with us choosing turkey. The gumbo last night was very good, made more so by the oysters although they didn’t seem to have a lot of flavour not compared with oysters fresh from the sea. They were huge though, I don’t think I have ever had to cut an oyster in half before. I didn’t like oysters for many years although both my parents would woof them down on the half shell. Then I moved to North Carolina and learned to eat them steamed – wonderful – I could knock off a bushel in steamed-oystersvery short order. Matt even built a small outdoor fire for steaming them. In case you don’t know, we used to put them on a metal sheet over the fire and cover them with a piece of wet sacking. Once they started opening they were done. I then had a table with lots of paper towel and some Tabasco plus an oyster knife in case they weren’t fully open. I was then in heaven. Matt would rescue a few and take them indoors and cook them with wine and shallots; he no longer eats shellfish very much after we pigged out, with friends, on 1,800 clams which we ate every which way you could think of including chowder. Matt never really touched shellfish after that, not even when we went to a clam bake.

    We went to vote yesterday afternoon although I was busy cooking but decided to go and get it done with.Jeopardy We can then relax for the rest of the weekend. I mentioned the US voting ads at the banqueting the other night and our friends hadn’t seen them, which means, I guess, that they don’t watch any of the US channels. In particular we enjoy watching Jeopardy in the evening and that is an American Channel, as is Good Morning America of course.

    Tomorrow I can start eating my chocolate rabbit. As you saw from the picture, we have two. Matt bought one in dark chocolate but I prefer milk chocolate, yes I know its Bunny Cartoonnot as good for me, but still – rather than take it back he decided he would eat it himself. Maybe that was the plan all along. I have a serious problem though, do I start with the ears or the rear end or even another part? I have discussed it with a friend on Facebook. You must have seen the cartoon, it comes out every year. I do love those Lindt chocolate bunnies, they make excellent chocolate – Matt is nuts about Swiss chocolate, with good reason. As I have mentioned before though, one doesn’t find much in the way of really nice Easter Eggs as we used to have in England. I do miss those.

    Here is something which, to me, is very unusual, from Eating Well. It is a healthy food and I would imagine could be served either as a starter or a main course for lunch.

    Parmesan Spinach Cakes

    From EatingWell:  September/October 2008

    If you like spinach-cheese pie, try these simple butParmesan Spinach Cakes elegant-looking little spinach cakes.

    4 servings, 2 spinach cakes each

    • 12 ounces fresh spinach, (see Note)
    • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
    • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
    3. Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).
    4. Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.

    Per serving : 141 Calories; 8 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 123 mg Cholesterol; 6 g Carbohydrates; 13 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 456 mg Sodium; 560 mg Potassium

    Tips & Notes

    Note: Baby spinach is immature or young spinach—it's harvested earlier than large-leaved mature spinach. We like the sturdy texture of mature spinach in cooked dishes and serve tender, mild-flavored baby spinach raw or lightly wilted. Baby and mature spinach can be used interchangeably in these recipes (yields may vary slightly); be sure to remove the tough stems from mature spinach before using.

    • Weights & Measures
    • 10 ounces trimmed mature spinach=about 10 cups raw
    • 10 ounces baby spinach=about 8 cups raw

    Happy Easter


    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Good Friday, THE Wedding, Easter Weekend.

    Easter ChristmasHappy Good Friday. This isn’t the best picture in the world, but it amused me because – quite accidentally – we have Easter bunnies and a Poinsettia right next to each other. Celebrating two holidays at once. I’m getting a bit fed up with the Poinsettia mind you. The piggy banks are incidental. I meant to make some Hot Cross Buns for today and completely forgot. We can buy them, but they are not quite the same taste as the ones I make or that we used to buy in the UK.

    It seems, watching TV this morning, that the whole of the ABC is jaunting off to the UK this weekend in order to “do” the royal wedding. Some of them are already there and the rest are going over the next couple of days or so. A lot of people seem very wrapped up in the whole celebration. It will be shown on TV from about 4 a.m. onwards, but this is one cookie who will NOT be getting up that early. I don’t think I did for the other weddings either. They didn’t invite me, why should I care!!! I just heard this morning it takes 4 minutes to walk up the aisle. They figure its because of the whole event that Kate has lost so much weigh lately and one presenter guessed she probably hadn’t had too much sleep lately.

    I picked up a tub of fresh oysters the other day so I am making gumbo tonight with shrimp and the oysters. Only thing will be missing is the crab. Canned crab just isn’t the same. We are still debating whether to have roast lamb or roast turkey breast for our Easter dinner. We only get turkey a couple of times a year normally so I think we will opt for the turkey. This turkey breast came all the way from NC. Can’t find such deals here.

    Last night we had our bowling banquet and everyone was very disappointed that, for some reason, we didn’t have rolled ribs, apparently they were ordered. Instead we got platters of grossly overcooked beef which was difficult to lift off the plate because it just fell apart it was so well done. Matt and I just don’t understand how much people seem to enjoy beef like that which, to us, is totally ruined. Little or no flavour to it. Even if you don’t want rare, serve it slightly pink, much better flavour.

    Today we are supposed to vote, actually we have a choice of today, tomorrow or Monday. That is because we are working the election. Yesterday, our cleaners came in, they are French Canadians so I was asking them about the words for polling booth (un isoloir) and other appropriate words in case I get someone who is French speaking and needs an interpreter. Apparently they only ever speak French at home and talking about family things so they couldn’t remember the French for any of the things I was asking.

    This recipe is for Tina, Matt’s youngest daughter who, on her one and only visit to Canada, could not get enough of chocolate pies. That was quite a few years ago.

    Velvety Chocolate Cream Pie

    Hershey’s Kitchens

    IngredientsVelvety Chocolate Cream Pie

    • 1 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 eggs, beaten
    • 3 cups milk
    • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • Whipped topping
    • Additional HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


    1. 1 Prepare pie crust, cool.
    2. 2 Stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan. Combine eggs and milk; gradually stir into sugar mixture, blending well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until mixture begins to thicken and just comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
    3. 3 Add chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Stir until chips and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared crust. Immediately press plastic wrap onto pie surface. Refrigerate three to four hours or until firm. Garnish with whipped topping and chocolate chips. 8 servings. VARIATION: COCONUT CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE: Prepare pie as above; stir in 1 cup MOUNDS Sweetened Coconut Flakes with chocolate chips and butter.

    Have a great Easter weekend


    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Peeler, Banquet, Prom.

    I was thinking the other day, one of my favourite gadgets is my Citrus Peelercitrus peeler which I got free from Tupperware some time ago. I think it’s a marvellous little tool and so very simple as many such useful gadgets are. It is really somewhat incredible that Tupperware were giving these away for free at one time. It now appears Pampered Chef are doing them as well, but I bet no-one is giving them away any more.

    Tonight we have a bowling banquet. This is basically the one for our travel league although it is really just all the people who used to bowl at Playfair Bowl in Hespeler until it closed down. We still meet every year for a banquet and some of the people we never see at any other time, by we I mean Matt and I because I have no doubt as they all live close by one another, they do see each other now and again. We go to the Grand Valley Golf Club – why we always go there I am not sure, I guess its become something of a tradition.

    This morning on GMA a report on prom dresses. Doprom dress you know, some people are paying well into the thousands for their dresses – well their parents are. they showed garments costing $3,000 and more. How absolutely ridiculous for just one night. I always thought spending so much money on a wedding dress was ridiculous, but on a prom dress???? I suppose you can wear it again, but females being females, they probably won’t because its been worn once before.

    Another good recipe from WebMD – this is a definite on on my list as I love stuffed mushrooms.

    Spinach and Lemon Stuffed Mushrooms

    By Dana Treat
    WebMD Recipe from

    Picture of Spinach and Lemon Stuffed Mushrooms Make a LOT of these because they will simply fly off the platter. These are a great party food, no plate or napkin necessary. Just pick up and eat. Repeat until full.


    1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
    1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    2 oz. cream cheese, softened
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    3 tbsp. lemon juice
    3 scallions, sliced thin
    1/2 tsp. salt
    24 large mushrooms, stems removed
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 tsp. lemon juice
    Salt and pepper
    1/2 cup store-bought bread crumbs or Panko


    For the topping: Process first 8 ingredients in food processor until smooth. Transfer to Ziploc bag until ready to use.

    For the mushrooms: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and set wire rack inside baking sheet. Toss mushrooms with oil, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper in bowl. Arrange mushrooms gill side up on rack and roast until juices are released, about 20 minutes. Turn caps over and roast until mushrooms are well browned, about 10 minutes.

    Remove baking sheet from oven. Flip roasted mushrooms gill side up and cool slightly. Snip off one corner of the Ziploc and fill the mushrooms. (Mushrooms can be made to this point, up to three days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.)

    Press each cap (stuffing side down) into bread crumbs and arrange (topping side up) on rack. Bake until filling is hot and topping is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes before serving.

    Adapted From "Cook’s Illustrated"

    Total Servings: 24

    Nutritional Information Per Serving

    Calories: 63
    Carbohydrates: 2.8 g
    Cholesterol:  5 mg 
    Fat: 5.2 g 
    Saturated Fat: 1.5 g 
    Sodium: 91 mg 
    Protein: 1.9 g
    Sugar: .6 g

    Have a great day


    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Interview, Food Revolution, Training.

    Yesterday, we listened to our granddaughter being interviewed with a couple of her stage friends. I was impressed with the interview, three youngsters in the 15 yr. age range, with all kinds of confidence speaking on BBC Radio Kent. They were talking about a new show they are due to perform quite soon. I didn’t catch the name of the show, I know her last one was Billy Elliot which is on in Toronto right now.

    Last night we watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, his second week in LA. I cannot believe Jamiethe school board will not let him in to the school kitchens in fact they were talking about calling the cops on him if he entered a school premises. Nor is he officially allowed to talk to the kids about their school lunches. What a crock of sh*t. As Jamie said, the Americans fought the Brits to obtain freedom and now the LASU are clamping down on the freedoms of students and parents in LA. Jamie is absolutely furious. He doesn’t do this for profit, he does it because he genuinely believes American school kids need help. There was one school kid, 17, in his class (he was eventually allowed to give a class but not to go into the school cafeteria) her sister got diabetes at 10, both her parents have diabetes, and she is just waiting for the axe to fall. Jamie promised to help where he could. It really is heart breaking to see these kids who need help in all kinds of ways and Jamie is not allowed to help with their school lunches. I do so wish I could assist although presumably by the end of this series of programmes something will have happened, give Jamie his due, he will fight tooth and nail for something he believes in.

    Last night we went to the Elections Canada office for Matt to have training on being a Registration Officer. He ended up with a sheaf of paperwork including the forms he has to fill in. I figured it would be a good idea to go along so we can both remember what has to be done. My training is next Wednesday, I am going to be an Information Officer which is the same job I did last time and more or less remember what I had to do.

    Well, how frustrating for me, I listened to the recording on BBC Radio Kent, in England, and just before the interview discovered that asparagus is already in the stores there because of the nice weather. I am beginning to receive more and more asparagus recipes as the annual favourite becomes freshly available in different areas. Ours is still not ready sadly.

    Easy Creamy Baked Asparagus 

    Kraft Kitchens

    Serves 4 Easy-Creamy-Baked-Asparagus

    What You Need

    1 lb. fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

    1/4 cup KRAFT Peppercorn Ranch Dressing

    2 Tbsp. KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese

    12 RITZ Crackers, coarsely crushed (about 1/2 cup)

    Make It

    HEAT oven to 350°F.

    COOK asparagus in simmering water in large skillet 2 to 3 min. or until bright green, but still crisp; drain. Place in shallow baking dish

    ADD dressing; toss to coat. Top with cheese and cracker crumbs.

    BAKE 10 to 15 min. or until topping is lightly browned and asparagus is heated through.

    Kraft Kitchens Tips

    Make Ahead

    Prepare as directed except for baking; cover. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 20 min. before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 15 min. or until heated through.

    Healthy Living

    Save 6-1/2 grams of fat per serving by preparing with KRAFT FREE Ranch Dressing and RITZ Reduced Fat Crackers. You will save 40 calories, too.

    Trimming Fresh Asparagus

    Asparagus spears snap off naturally where they are tough. Simply bend the spear near the bottom end and it will break off at the right point. Or, remove an inch or so of the "woody" portion off the bottom of the stalks with a sharp knife.

    Have a great day


    Tornadoes, Dating, Elections, Inflation

    In the news Monday morning, something like 240 tornados in the States, some of which took place in North Carolina which is not generally known for such tornado-damageweather. Sam Champion, the weather man on GMA, was in Sanford, NC which was badly damaged. We had no idea where that was, so looked it up. It was well away from the coastal areas where we have friends. Not that I don’t heartily sympathise with the people of Sanford, but it is always good to know one’s friends are safe. They really have had some bad storms in the States this last few days causing several deaths. A Lowe’s store was blown to bits but the staff managed to save everyone by hustling them to the back of the store. Another woman was delighted to find her puppies which had recently been born, she has now named them, Tornado, Lucky and Miracle. The storm chasers must have been happy they had lots of places to do their experiments etc.

    I have always been leery of dating companies, there seem to be more and more of them advertising on TV every day. This morning a woman came forward on GMA and described how she had a date with a registered sex offender and she was going public because she wanted dating companies to do more about background checks on their clients. I know or have met two or three couples who met through a dating service, but I think I personally would be very reluctant to pursue such a course if I happened to need a new date. Of course if you meet someone out and about the same thing could happen to you I suppose. I have always believed, and advocated to single friends, the best thing to do is to join a club or society which interests you, in my case it was amateur dramatics first and then scuba diving second, and there you will make friends and this can often lead to marriage with someone compatible. The idea of dating total strangers is not a course I would ever pursue. This morning’s story just confirms my reluctance.

    By the way, when we left to go bowling yesterday, it was snowing, not much, but it was still snow not rain. Grrrr. We got a little Easter gift from one of our friends at bowling, he always produces little bags of Candies for both Easter and Hallowe’en. A nice idea.

    Today I have to have a mammogram and then tonight Matt gets training on his job as a registration officer for the elections on May 2. I thought I would go along and he could come with me for my training session so that we are both capable of helping each other out.

    Headline this morning, Canada’s inflation rate hasHigher Prices risen to 3.3% the highest since before the recession. It is all powered by the rises in gasoline prices which continue to go higher every day it seems. Gas is still cheaper in the States, but it doesn’t bode well for our vacation in September. Obviously this is going to affect our shopping prices and I don’t suppose anyone is going to give pensioner’s a raise.

    Back to WebMD for today’s recipe. The picture made me feel hungry and as this is a healthy food, I might well give it a go some day soon. Doesn’t that picture make you feel hungry? For your information, we often do cook the recipes I give here, I just don’t always remember to mention it.

    Chunky Vegetable Pot Pie

    By Dana Treat WebMD Recipe from

    Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook – The Original Classicschunky-vegetable-pot-pie


    1/2 medium (about 8 ounces) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes 1 small head celeriac, cut into ½-inch cubes 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks 1 cup cauliflower florets (from ½ of a cauliflower) 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1 medium beet, trimmed and scrubbed, cut into ½-inch cubes 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks Olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 medium shallots, minced ½ cup dry white wine 1½ cups light vegetable stock 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon 3 tbsp. unsalted butter 1/2 cup milk 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch long matchsticks


    Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place squash, celeriac, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beet and parsnips in a roasting pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring twice during the cooking. Remove; reduce oven to 375°F.

    Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the garlic and shallots; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high, and add the wine. Let the wine reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.

    Combine 1 cup flour, the baking powder, 2 tsp. tarragon, and a sprinkling of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and Parmesan, process until combined, and set aside.

    Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add zucchini and the remaining two tablespoons tarragon; toss to combine. Stir in the stock mixture; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof glass pie dish; bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and drop heaping tablespoons of the biscuit dough over the vegetables, leaving some of the vegetables exposed. Place the pie dish in the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

    Total Servings: 6

    Nutritional Information Per Serving

    Calories: 291.4 Carbohydrates: 42.3 g Cholesterol: 17.8 mg Fat: 8.0 g Saturated Fat: 4.4 g Fiber: 5.1 g Sodium: 170.8 mg

    Have a great day


    Monday, April 18, 2011

    April, Honeymoon, Passover.

    It was predicted, but I didn’t believe it, snow. Admittedly not much,  but still, snow!!!! We ended up having quite enough snow thank you, I know we started the winter with none, but we made up for it, WE DO NOT want any more; in the end it snowed on and off all day, but never did accumulate. Actually one of the worst snows we ever encountered was in April, Matt couldn’t get to work and I was stranded at my office. Matt went to the store to do our weekly shop, a 5 minute ride, it took him close on an hour to get home. Then the silly nut decided to come and get me even though I told him not to. What a hairy ride, the engine kept stopping and I was terrified we would have to abandon the car and try to walk. Luckily we finally made it home only to open the hood and discover the engine was totally snow packed, amazing it ran at all. The next day Matt and a friend went to dig out my car which was completely buried at the office parking lot. Some April. Then again, I always remember the first year we were in Canada, Easter was in April – as it is this year – and that weekend it was 80°F and I was out sunbathing in a bikini. Just no telling.

    Today they were talking on TV about the royal honeymoon. One idea was Jordan were the Middleton family lived for a while. Bearing in mind all the unrest in the middle east, I Balmoraldon’t think that would be a very good idea somehow. Maybe not as exciting, but I think they should stick to Balmoral. I have no doubt castles can get pretty boring when you live in them all the time, but it will be a lot safer. There are rumours that their first official trip after the wedding will be to Canada. Many Canadians are keeping their fingers crossed.

    Saturday night we had friends over for supper and we cooked the Pork Tenderloin “Rosa di Parma” Pork_Tenderloin_Rosa_di_Parmarecipe which I posted on April 6th. It was very good. Only problem we didn’t turn the oven on soon enough so had to wait a bit to finish off the recipe. The instructions include very complicated ways of butterflying the pork tenderloin, we just cut ours almost in half, added the prosciutto and parmesan and then folded it back over, tying it with kitchen string. It was voted delicious by all of us. Before we had the pork we had Asparagus Pesto Toast, then we had Goat Cheese Potato Purée and SelmaAlmond Rice Pudding’s Coleslaw with the pork and for dessert an Almond Rice Pudding which I got from my cookery group and which I love – as it turned out one of our guests was also particularly fond of rice pudding.

    On Tuesday Passover begins. I have a very good friend in Philadelphia who celebrates this with her Jewish family. It seems to me she cooks for weeks  beforehand. Sunday I decided to send her an ecard and discovered charoset which has a dozen different ways of being spelt or pronounced as far as I can tell. According to what I first found out, one is supposed to eat a bitter herb and dip it in a charoset, in an article I was just reading, people make a matzoh sandwich including a very pungent horseradish and some charoset. To read more which will explain it and also give you a source of traditional and other charoset recipes. In simplistic terms, Passover is the time when Moses was trying to free his people (the Exodus) and a number of plagues were sent to the Egyptians. The final one was the death of the first born. The Jewish people were “passed over” because they had marked their doors with the blood of a spring lamb as instructed. Charoset itself has quite an interesting history and changes somewhat according to the branch of Jewish faith.

    Fig and Port Wine Charoset

    Epicurious  | March 2006

    Developed by Adeena Sussman

    Makes about 2 cupsPort & Fig Charoset

    In addition to its traditional role on the Seder plate, this charoset is delicious as a condiment for duck or roast beef.


    • 1 cup ruby port
    • 1 cup black Mission figs, finely chopped
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 cups finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onions
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    In small saucepan, combine port and figs. Set over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until figs are softened and port is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in large heavy-bottomed skillet over moderately high heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

    In large bowl, combine fig/port mixture, onions, pine nuts, and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

    Note: Kedem brand kosher-for-Passover ruby port is available at

    Have a great day