Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zabaglione, Pradax, Cooking, Endings,

I am sorry that this is the last day of the A to Z challenge and hope I can take part next year. I have loved meeting all the bloggers I didn’t know before and reading all the things they had to say and their differing points of view. Many of these bloggers I will be following in the future and hope they will continue to follow my ramblings. Its just hit me, I will have to start looking for recipes. My A-Z were all planned out well in advance.

PradaxSaturday, of all the weird days, Matt had an appointment with his cardiologist. This all started because we asked our family doctor if Matt could change from Warfarin to Pradax (Pradaxa in the US). Its great, without any prompting from us that is just what his cardiologist did. Apparently he, Dr. Pandey, was involved in the trials which were done in this area, and is very pro the drug and its ability to prevent strokes. Let’s hope it will help Matt not to have any more TIAs. However, The doctor has had lots of meetings and arguments with the powers that be about getting the government to pay for the drug. Apparently last Thursday they finally agreed to do so. We weren’t concerned because our insurance covered it anyway although I don’t know how much the government are paying. The thing we particularly like is the cessation of regular blood testing – Matt was having to go to a clinic every two weeks to get his INR reading done. That must have cost the government and is something they will save with Pradax. According to Dr. Pandey it is so much better at preventing TIAs or strokes. One small problem, when I took it to the drug store, they had forgotten to put the strength of pill on the prescription.

I spent Sunday morning making Quiches from the recipe I posted for Q theQuiches Lorraine other day. I found the recipe filled two frozen pie shells, but I only had one, so I cooked the other without pastry. It worked fine. Mine didn’t look as nice as this picture I’m afraid. They tasted OK though, or the one we ate did. We had had a fondue Bourguignonne and coleslaw on Saturday so had coleslaw left over – it went fine with the quiche. I started thinking about supper for tonight and then realised we will be eating at the bowling alley, duuuh.

This is the last day of our winter bowling league. We do some bowling, have a banquet and then its all over til September. I am not sure if Matt will be able to bowl as his back is quite sore. Next Tuesday, we start the summer league which ends at the beginning of August. Of course we are in the Carolinas at the start of the season anyway.

Right from the moment I first started this challenge, I knew I was going to do Zabaglione, seemed a perfectly obvious choice to me. Not that there are all that many recipes beginning with a Z. It is a lovely light dessert.


Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2009

Serves: 8 to 10
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Fresh berries or chocolate, for garnish, optional


Bring 1-inch of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan set over high heat.

Add the egg yolks and sugar to a large glass bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on the highest speed, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and the sugar is completely dissolved, 4 to 5 minutes. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the Marsala and salt.

Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and put the bowl atop the saucepan with the boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Beat the mixture on medium speed, until it is thick, frothy, holds a ribbon, and the temperature reaches 145° to 150°F, on an instant-read thermometer.

Spoon the warm mixture into custard cups or serving glasses and serve immediately or allow to cool slightly. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.

Have a great day


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yucatan Roast Pork (Cochinta Pibil), Chocolates, Radio, Matt’s Fall.

So now our winter season bowling is over. The bowling on Monday doesn’t really count for anything, then we stuff ourselves with food, are given small cash prizes and that’s it. I actually bowled a bit better yesterday, but Matt bowled really well again which is a surprise to do that two days running.

This is also the penultimate recipe in the A to Z challenge. Pity, I have enjoyed the challenge. My thanks to all those who have visited, I have enjoyed reading your blogs as well.

I received aPolish chocs huge box of Polish chocolates from one of my Avon customers today. I kind of did her a favour and she was appreciative. I am looking forward to opening the box, but we are still eating our Reid’s roses from Tuesday. This is some box isn’t it? The painting is one hanging in a Warsaw art gallery and I think is rather lovely. The chocolates are described as pralines with cream centres, some of the centres are vodka, rum, coffee and so on, they sound like they will be pretty good. I will, of course, be letting you know at a later date.

My radio ‘appearance’ went well on Friday, I managed to make my Chinese sound reasonably authentic but the DJ was a bit ‘took aback’ because it was a recipe I had never prepared. I certainly will be doing so in the near future, I thought it sounded pretty good.

Matt dropped me off after bowling and went down to the grocery store for Spinal Stenosissomething, when he got back to the garage, a woman asked for his help because her husband had fallen on the floor. Matt (who doesn’t believe he is 77 not 27) tried to pick the guy up, his hands slipped on the material of the guy’s coat so he (Matt) fell on his back and eventually staggered back up to the apartment in considerable pain. We spent the evening icing it and hoping it would be OK. Keeping our fingers crossed at the moment. He sees his cardiologist at noon today so hopefully he will feel up to it. I was not very pleased when I heard this. I am also somewhat concerned because he fell a few years ago, on ice, and ended up having a spinal stenosis and a fairly serious operation. So please keep your fingers crossed for him.

Here is another interesting recipe from a cookbook we acquired by attrition. a friend in NC lent it to us and we never did return it. I asked her about doing so once or twice and she assured me she knew where it was. She still does, albeit it is now 1,000 miles away. We have used this book a lot.

Yucatan Roast Pork (Cochinta Pibil)

Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook (thanks Dottie).

Originally this dish was prepared by the Mayans in ovens dug into the earth and lined with stones. The meat was wrapped in either seaweed or banana leaves and Yucatan Roast Porkleft to roast slowly in its own juices. Eat this succulent meat wrapped up in flower tortillas with Sweet Pickled Onions

2 tbs annatto seed (as this is basically a colouring agent, don’t worry if you don’t have it)

18 whole black peppercorns

4 large cloves garlic, cut into fourths

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp dried oregano leaves

4 lb. pork shoulder roast

Sweet Pickled Onions (recipe to follow)

Sixteen 8 inch flour tortillas, warmed.

Cover annatto seed with boiling water. Cover and let stand at least 12 hours; drain.

Place annatto seed, peppercorns, garlic, orange juice, cumin, salt and oregano in blender. Blend with on/off motions, scraping sides occasionally until annatto seeds are chopped, about 1 minute. Make several deep cuts in the pork roast. Place pork in a shallow glass or plastic dish. Pour marinade over pork; rub into cuts. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours. Prepared Sweet Pickled Onions. Place pork and marinade in Dutch oven. Cover and cook in 325°F oven, turning pork and spooning marinade over it occasionally, until very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork; let stand 30 mins.

Remove bones and fat from pork; pull pork into shreds. Skim fat from marinade. Return port to marinade. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until it is hot, about 10 minutes. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the pork mixture onto each warm tortilla; top with Sweet Pickled Onions. Fold in sides of tortillas.

8 servings

Sweet Pickled Onions

2 large onions, sliced

1/4 cup vinegar

1 tbs sugar

Cover onions with water in skillet. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 5 mins; drain. Mix onions, vinegar and sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Have a great weekend


Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xiang Luo Bu Si, Canadian Coins,

Had a fun day with the Travel league. I bowled really, really badly, Matt bowled Pin_Animation1really, really well. Hmmmpf. Trouble is it doesn’t really count for anything apart from fun and of course, personal satisfaction. He had over a 600 triple which is pretty good. Now if he could do that again tomorrow, it would be good. The last day of Senior league bowling. Monday we do bowl but its none of it that serious. I suppose in fact that our Senior league bowling isn’t that serious anyway, but on the last day, we often play bingo amongst other games we bowl.
For lunch before bowling, we went to a new Angel’s Diner as I mentioned. It was very good with some good specials which we took advantage of.

Now that seems to be a ridiculous thing, apparently 2012 minted loonies and Looniestoonies (our $1 and $2 coins) are lighter than before and it is going to cost $40 million to alter parking meters and other similar machines to accept these coins. Makes me wonder about our laundry machines in the apartment building which take loonies. Then what about the old, heavier loonies – the article doesn’t cover that at all. The lighter coins will save the government a lot of money as they are made of multi ply plated steel. The government has also been introducing new polymer bills which will also necessitate vending machine adjustments. They figure this will be a one time cost to the industry. Now I wonder how the industry will recoup their expenses???

Needless to say, I had trouble finding a recipe which fit the X category. I went to the Chinese guessing that they would have something, and sure enough, they did. Having checked with a couple of Chinese in a restaurant they told me the translation I was given was not the same, so I have changed it. I needed to know how to pronounce it as I will be talking about this recipe on the local radio, CKWR, at 11:30 this morning. If you want to listen just click the On Air button.

Xiang Luo Bu Si (Fragrant Daikon Salad)

By FLKeysJen on October 19, 2007
Photo by Rinshinomori

Xiang Lu Bo Si
Servings: 8

About This Recipe
"From the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, this is easy to make, and pretty with the white, red and green colors."
    • 1 lb daikon radishes ( Asian white radishes available in Asian markets and now in many grocery stores)
    • salt
    • 1 fresh red chilies
    • 2 scallions ( green parts only)
    • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 3 tablespoons peanut oil

    Cornstarch Paste

    • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch or 3/4 teaspoon potato flour
    • 2 tablespoons cold water


  1. Peel the radish and cut into 2 1/2-inch sections; cut each section first into very thin slices, and then into fine slivers; combine with 3/4 teaspoon salt, then set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Discard the stems and seeds of the chili, and cut into fine slivers to match the radish; cut the scallion greens into similar slivers.
  3. Drain the radish slivers and squeeze dry; set aside.
  4. Mix the cornstarch and water into a paste.
  5. Heat the wok over a high flame until smoke rises, then add the peanut oil and swirl around. Add the chili and sizzle for a few seconds before adding the radish slivers. Stir-fry vigorously for a couple minutes, adding the soy sauce and salt to taste, if necessary.
  6. When the radish slivers are hot, add the scallions and vinegar and stir well to combine. Add the cornstarch paste to the middle of the wok, stirring rapidly as it thickens to a gloss. Finally, remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.
Have a great day

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Save the Bees

I think this is so important I am passing it on.


Dear friends,

Pesticides are killing bees and threatening our food supply. In 24 hours, shareholders at the biggest chemical producer, Bayer, could vote to stop their toxic production. Massive public pressure has forced this debate at their Annual General Meeting, now let’s make sure they vote to stop the pesticides and save the bees. Sign the emergency petition:

Sign the petition

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But if Bayer stops selling one group of pesticides, we could save bees from extinction.
Four European countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. But Bayer, the largest producer of neonicotinoids, has lobbied hard to keep them on the market. Now, massive global pressure from Avaaz and others has forced them to consider the facts -- and in 24 hours, Bayer shareholders will vote on a motion that could stop these toxic chemicals. Let’s all act now and shame the shareholders to stop killing bees.
The pressure is working, and this is our best chance to save the bees. Sign the urgent petition and send this to everyone -- let's reach half a million signers and deliver it directly to shareholders tomorrow in Germany!
Bees don't just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90% of plants and crops -- with an estimated $40bn value, over one-third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves.
Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations -- some bee species are already extinct and some US species are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But increasingly, independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.
This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get Bayer shareholders to act, we could shut down once and for all Bayer’s influence on policy-makers and scientists. The real experts -- the beekeepers and farmers -- want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let's support them now. Sign the urgent petition to Bayer shareholders now, then forward this email:
We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on.
With hope,
Alice, Antonia, Mia, Luis, Ricken, Stephanie, Pascal, Iain, Ari and the whole Avaaz team
Studies fault Bayer in bee die-off (Christian Science Monitor)
2 Studies Point to Common Pesticide as a Culprit in Declining Bee Colonies (New York Times)
Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags (Grist)
Bayer’s Annual Stockholder’s Meeting (ASM website)

Support the Avaaz Community!

We're entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way. is a 14-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 19 countries on 6 continents and operates in 14 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
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W is for Welsh Cakes, Endings, Bean to Bar, Friday on Air.

Today is our last Travel League bowling so it will be in Waterloo again. We will be lunching at AnAngels Dinergels Diner in Waterloo (recently opened) beforehand. The food isn’t bad in the various Angels I have been to so far. The winter season is drawing to a close and we have our final day of Senior League on Monday with a banquet to follow. On the Tuesday following, we start our Summer League which is run slightly differently more like regular league play than is usual. Most of the seniors in the Winter league just like to bowl with their friends.

Our A to Z challenge is winding down too, just 3 more letters and thAZen its all over. I shall miss it. I have thoroughly enjoyed hunting for suitable recipes with the right letter of the day and discovering lots of other blogs plus getting comments left from other bloggers. Fun. I shall certainly try and take part again next year. I reminded my friendly radio DJ that X would be posted on Friday and he said did I want to do it on air, so I replied yes I would. Only small problem, I haven’t a clue how to pronounce it. I have been racking my brains about finding someone who can tell me. There is a Chinese restaurant quite close, guess I could see if the owner would assist. If you are interested you an go to and click the On Air button. I will be there at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. That’s Eastern Standard Time.

saltfront chocHaving roused my interest I chocolate making, I have discovered a company in Raleigh, North Carolina that makes chocolate from “bean to bar” they are Escazú Artisan Chocolates and I have emailed them to see if its possible to visit them in September. This is a picture of one of their chocolate bars which is a dark chocolate with sea salt. There are several other chocolate bars of course plus other types of chocolates. Interesting, it says they call this the Beaufort Bar after where they began. I am guessing that means they started in Beaufort which is just ‘up the road’ from where we lived and where we vacation. Pity they are not still there it wouldn’t be so far to travel. There is a fudge factory in Beaufort who’s products are delicious. Fudge is a big favourite of mine. My diabetes medical team would be horrified to hear all this, but I do eat such stuff in moderation. One chocolate a day is my normal. Anyway, if we do get to go I shall take pix and write about it, of course.

This is a somewhat more luxurious recipe than I have in my cookbook – the traditional recipes don’t contain spices, but are generally somewhat plainer. However, its like so many traditional recipes, cooked in different ways by every household. This one came from

Welsh Cakes

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flourwelshcakes

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter

1/3 cup (50 grams) currants or raisins

1/4 cup (40 grams) chopped Mixed Peel (candied citrus peel)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 - 4 tablespoons milk

Note: Mixed peel or candied citrus peel is preserved fruit that has been dipped several times in a concentrated sugar syrup. It is usually packaged in small plastic tubs.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and mace. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the currants and mixed peel. Add the beaten egg and enough milk to form a light dough.

Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured surface and roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch (5 mm). Cut into rounds using a 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) cookie cutter.

Lightly butter a griddle, heavy frying pan, or electric frying pan and heat to medium hot. Cook the welsh cakes for about 5 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown, but still soft in the middle. Immediately after baking, sprinkle with granulated white sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Welsh cakes can also be eaten buttered or split in half and spread with jam.

Makes about 20 - 2 1/2 inch cakes.

Note: Welsh Cakes can also be baked in a 350 degree F (177 degree C) oven. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 7 - 9 minutes on each side or until set and very lightly browned yet still soft inside (they won't get as brown as when you cook them on a griddle). They can also be cooked on a baking stone in the oven. Heat the stone in a 350 degree F (177 degree C) oven and then bake the Welsh Cakes on the stone, turning after about 4 - 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Have a great day


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Veal Escalopes With Ginger Wine, Nor’easter, Chocolate and Wine

If you live in this area of Canada, you may notice that winter has returned. Snow for goodness sakes. Luckily round here we really didn’t get much more than sleet, but it is cold enough to give a brass monkey some problems. Considering the lovely weather we had last month, it is a bit of a shock to the system. There was a nor’easter running up the east coast and some of its weather spread as far as Southern Ontario. They had snow in North Carolina which would normally be somewhat warm at this time of the year. Personally I don’t care what kind of precipitation we have, so long as we have some. We need rain – and not just for the asparagus!!! I remember one nor’easter when we were living in the Carolinas, we ended up with a huge tree lying across our back deck with the barbecue and a couple of chairs underneath it. Luckily it didn’t do much harm to the deck itself. Matt built well LOL.

We had  a very busy day. Matt had to be at the doctors early so off he went. He was lucky, Hairnetsgot in an out quickly. Then after lunch we headed for Reid Candy and Nut store. We were a bit disappointed as it turns out that they don’t temper and conche the chocolate themselves, they in fact buy it from a Pennsylvania company which has an outlet in Canada. The chocolate is made to a Swiss recipe they tell me, which is a good thing. I don’t think I ever went into their store before, it was a chocolate lovers paradise. We were taken out back and given nets to put over our heads (don’t we look cute). In the background you can see all kinds Base coatof Easter moulds which they have yet to clean and put away. They were running some candies which had to be chocolate coated. The fillings had been prepared in the morning, the first stage is to roll them over the molten chocolate which you see at the beginning, the conveyor is air conditioned so it chills quicklyCoating. Then a machine which is behind glass feeds chocolate into another part of the conveyor where the top coat is poured onto the candy and again chilled. Looks a bit messy where the chocolate gets splashed up during the process. The finished chocolates then get marked with a simple pattern and are checked for holes at the same time. At the far end of the whole Caramel Chocolateprocess they are packed in boxes or a couple given to visitors to try. They were pretty good. However, that’s all they were doing today, they had two lots of filling plus a load of jelly fillings to be done. There was also a large slab of caramel chocolate just lying there (waiting to be cut perhaps) I could have done some damage to it. It looked rather lonely. Wandering round I saw some EasterEaster bunnies which obviously were waiting to be reprocessed, all the Easter stuff gets melted down and used again. These were a creamy colour and I was told that white chocolate is very expensive so they use something different. I don’t think they were really into telling us all about it. We were given a sample of the chocolate and it tasted just like white chocolate to me, but not to them apparently. Guess who would have liked to take the big bunnyBehind counter home? We then chatted to the staff for a while about chocolate production, one of the young women has been to several places where they actually do make the chocolate, she says Rosesyou don’t see a whole lot, just a display of machinery. I took a couple of pictures in the store itself and then bought a box of chocolate roses, not quite as pretty as the one in my blog yesterday. They had some chocolate roses on sticks which were on sale for $1.80 eacChocolate Rosesh. The last picture is the roses I bought for ourselves. They do them in different flavours, mint for one, and in their white chocolate too. They also sell a stack of dietetic chocolate which is very popular apparently, however, I decided to be bad and buy the real stuff. Later in the evening we tried them, deeelicious. The chocolate is so smooth and feels wonderful in the mouth.

All this didn’t actually take very long. We had been told 40 minutes, more like 15 to 20. So Magnotta Cab Sauv 2007 Ltd. we had some time to kill before my internist appointment at 3:00 we went for a coffee. After that drove to the Magnotta wine store principally to pick up a bottle of Toro Nero which is a wine we both enjoy. Still having time to kill, we tasted a couple of wines they had available, one their Zinfandel which wasn’t bad, but there are others we prefer more. The other was a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition VQA which was delicious and we ended up buying a bottle of it as well. We both found it a delightful wine so it has been added to our wine cooler.

Finally went to my internist and discovered I have an enlarged artery leading to my heart, didn’t know that before. I have to have another echocardiogram next Tuesday. I don’t like that, it hurts my chest and then I’m sore for days after. But I guess if it has to be done, it has to be done.

This is a recipe we have been making on and off for close to 40 years. It is delicious so long as you can get Stone’s Ginger Wine which is an English product. We can certainly buy it where I live, in fact I like it on a cold winter’s day mixed with Scotch when it becomes a Whisky Mac.

Veal Escalopes With Ginger WineVeal Ginger wine


4 veal escalopes, each 1/4 inch thick and weighing about 3 ounces

Seasoned flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

6 tablespoons imported ginger wine

2 teaspoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons heavy cream

Salt and black pepper


4 lemon twists

1 tablespoon chopped parsley


1) Cut fat off the escalopes and trim into shapes.
2) Dust scallop lightly with the seasoned flour.
3) In a heavy-bottomed pan heat the butter and oil. Sauté veal till golden brown.
4) Place into serving dish and keep them warm.
5) Pour ginger wine to the pan. Boil scraping pan juices with a rubber spatula.
6) Decrease heat and simmer slowly for 5 minutes till wine is syrupy.
7) Add lemon juice and cream. Simmer for 2-3 minutes till sauce becomes pale coffee color.
8) Add salt and freshly ground pepper.
9) Pour sauce over the meat.
10) Garnish each escalope with a lemon twist scattered with chopped parsley.

Have a great day


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Utan Binisaya and Ukranian Stew, Chocolate, Superstition, Prison?

Apart from a couple of doctor’s visits today we are going to visit Reid Candy and chocolate roseNut Store in Cambridge. I am really looking forward to it. Telling a friend about it they said they had been to Hershey’s in the States, Pennsylvania. I think that would be an interesting visit. Of course if I had my druthers I would love to go to a Swiss chocolatier, like Lindt for instance. The Swiss are reckoned to be the best chocolatiers in the world although one process they use was actually invented by a Dutchman and then another by an Englishman: conching was invented by Rodolphe Lindt. Wikipedia on Chocolate is interesting to read. I don’t think I will be seeing anything as beautiful as this rose today though. Just as well, I would be scared to eat it, I am often reluctant to eat my Easter bunnies. I wonder why they didn’t remove the drips?

As I said, Matt has a doctor’s appointment early this morning in order to get a scripsprescription for foot nursing. It really is ridiculous, I have been going to the same foot nurse for years (diabetes) and they have all her information on my file. But they can’t use that, it has to be re-supplied along with a doctor’s scrip before they will give us anything towards the payment for his treatment. Insurance companies can be a pain in the you know what can’t they?

On Sunday I was thinking about superstitions, many of which were passed on to me by my mother and I still cling to, such as not cutting one’s nails on a Sunday (superstitionMatt’s mother said Friday) and not walking under ladders. One of the oddest, to me, was in the North of England where the fisherman will not use the word pig, it has to be gissy. I have no idea why, just tried to find out but Google didn’t have the answer. There is an island called Pig Island which they renamed Gissy Island. If you break a mirror, that’s 7 year’s bad luck and so on and so on. Matt’s grandfather would not proceed to work if a black cat crossed his path and walking between two nuns was really bad luck. And what is it about Friday the 13th? I was also thinking there are not many things that can be said to bring you good luck, OK if you find a four leaf clover, who ever does, or carry a rabbit’s foot, poor rabbit. Do you have any particular superstitions which you cling to despite everything?

A friend sent me a series of pictures in an email. Here are a couple from the series. The New Prisonemail carried a question, did one know what these pictures were? Eventually we were shown gymnasiums, sports rooms, leisure rooms and then bedrooms. Once Matt saw the bedroom, which to me looked like a celldorm room, he said “that’s a cell”, he was right. Does that look like a cell to you, I can see university students living in similar types of accommodation This is the most luxurious looking new prison which was recently built outside Toronto. Not only that, the prisoners get a choice of menu. The final comment in the email asks how one can get in there, shoot a politician maybe!!! I can believe recidivism would climb rapidly, many of the people who end up as prisoners don’t live so well outside on the street.

I have never heard of most of the ingredients in this Filipino soup recipe but as it fits the category I thought I would include it for a bit of fun. Of course if you have access to these ingredients, well and good. It looks as thought it would be very tasty..

Utan Binisaya - Vegetable Soup

1 bundle malunggay leaves, removed from stemutan binasaya
2 c. kalabasa, cut into wedges
1 bundle sitaw, cut around 2” length
3 medium size gabi, cut into wedges
1 bundle okra, cut into wedges
3 small size talong, cut into wedges
1 bundle alugbati (if available)
1 small bundle spring onions, chopped


1. Wash thoroughly all vegetables.
2. In a large pot, boil water and add gabi, and kalabasa, cook until firm tender.
3. Add sitaw, okra and talong.
4. Add salt to taste.
5. Add malunggay, spring onion and alugbati, cook until leafy vegetables are just cooked.
6. Serve immediately.

On the other hand we have this Ukranian dish which is a somewhat unusual combination of meat and fish in one dish but the ingredients are much more familiar. Couldn’t find a picture anywhere.

Ukrainian Meat & Fish Stew



    1/2 lb Ground beef

    1/2 lb Ground lamb

    1/2 lb Herring, fresh, cubed, skinned & boned

    1/2 c Plain Yogurt

    4 T Butter

    4 Eggs, separated

    1 Garlic clove minced

    1 Onion lg. chopped

    4 Potatoes peeled and boiled

    1/2 t Salt

    1/2 t Black pepper

    2 T Goat cheese crumbled

    3 T Bread crumbs

    4 T Carrots shredded

    Put 1 qt of milk into a bowl and soak the herring in it 8-12 hours. Pat dry being sure to remove any and all bones. Fry the onions and garlic in 2 T of butter until golden. Pan fry the ground meats and place into a food processor. Add the onion, garlic herring, and potatoes. Chop until a smooth mixture is achieved. Stir in the yogurt and the egg yolks. Add the spices. Preheat the oven to 400° F. and butter a large baking dish. Add the shredded carrots at this point. Beat the egg whites until they are fairly stiff but not dry and then add to the mixture. Turn the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and goat cheese, dot with remaining butter, and then bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot.

    Have a great day


    Monday, April 23, 2012

    T is for Texas Mop Sauce, Andean Bears, Bear Stories, Kentish Castles.

    Andean BearThere was a lovely article in the Telegraph on line about the Peruvian relatives of Paddington Bear, or Spectacled Bears as Andean Bears are known by the English speaking world. The writer refers to the newest Paddington Bear book ‘Paddington Races Ahead’ which is due out on April 26th and visits Peru to check on Paddington’s relatives. The bears are not yet endangered but are threatened by a combination of agricultural expansion, drug production, poaching and fear, to quote Christopher Heaney. They are a small bear and generally live very much hidden away with nests in high trees being a shy and solitary animal. The youngster in the pPaddingtonicture has quite a nasty set of claws on him I notice. They do occasionally eat corn and cattle which tees off local farmers. Let us hope the humans don’t win. Paddington Bear is a well known character in England more than in Canada. Author Michael Bond first wrote about Paddington (famous for eating marmalade sandwiches which he often keeps under his hat) some 50 odd years ago, telling the story of a lost bear from deepest, darkest Peru stranded at Paddington Station bearing a name tag and how he was adopted by the Brown family. On the 50th anniversary the Peruvian embassy gave Paddington his own passport. Michael Bond has written other stories including the delightful Monsieur Pamplemousse series which I read and enjoyed some years ago. The food descriptions alone make these books worth reading. Monsieur Pamplemousse is ably assisted by his hound Pommes Frittes. Here is a blog about one of these stories which I can highly recommend.

    I wonder Rupertwhat it is about British children’s stories and bears, everyone knows about Winnie the Pooh created by A.A. Milne, but when I was a kid I used to get an Adventures of Rupert annual every Christmas which was actually began as a comic strip in 1920 created by Mary Tourtel and was published in the Daily Express. I used to love those stories too, there were lots of characters which became favourites, I particularly remember the little oriental girl called Tiger Lily. Reading Wikipedia I find there was a dragon too named Ming. Maybe that’s where I got my love of dragons although I had forgotten about him. One thing tickled me, he started as a brown bear but became white to save on printer’s ink. I would have thought the clothing colours would be expensive anyway. Paddington Bear was after my time although I have read one of the books about him in recent years.

    I knew a lot of people wrote blogs, but this A to Z challenge has drawn in close to 2,000 bloggers all of whom are posting away at their blogs for the letter of the day. I have been reading some fascinating thoughts on all kinds of things. I am particularly enjoying the two blogs by Bob Scotney and Hilary Melton-Butcher on British Castles, who knew there were so many, I certainly didn’t. Saturday Hilary came up with Scotney castle which is kinda just down the road from where I lived for much of my life; in Kent. It has the most beautiful gardens. I had never heard of it; Matt had, vaguely.  Bob has been telling some of the ghost stories attached to his castle posts which makes one realise just how barbaric we were (are we better today? I hope so). One thing that staggers me is just how many castles there are in Britain. 19 posts by the pair of them and only once did they choose the same castle. Having lived in Kent so long, I was mainly aware of Dover, Rochester Leeds_Castle,_Kent,_England_1_-_May_09and Leeds castles. Dover and Leeds still being in good repair. Rochester they have done some restoration since we left England I understand. Leeds Castle was in private hands til 1974, as we left in 1975 I hadn’t realised it wasn’t private any more.  I guess no-one has the money any more with taxation and upkeep draining their reserves. There may well be more castles in Kent that I don’t know about. Checking it out, I realise Hilary had written of Lullingstone Castle, also in Kent. I wonder how many more I don’t know about, I didn’t know I was so ill informed about the castles in my back yard. I went and checked how many there are and discovered Upnor Castle which I had completely forgotten, although this castle was familiar to me being very close to where I lived. As far as I can discover there are actually 12 castles in Kent. Who knew? I’m somewhat ashamed that I didn’t.

    I picked this recipe up from South Beach Diet and thought it sounded rather interesting. It’s a diet friendly version, obviously if you are not concerned, you can use non diet ingredients. I think we just might try this, sounds tasty.

    Texas Mop Sauce and Grilled Steak

    Coffee might be a surprising barbecue ingredient, but in Texas it often shows up in “mop sauce,” which is used to baste, or mop, meat while it’s cooking, resulting in a moist and tender dish. The name probably comes from the fact that pit Texas Mopmasters in the South actually use cotton mops to baste large quantities of slow-cooking meat.

    Makes 4 servings
    1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
    1/4 cup strongly brewed decaffeinated coffee
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon sugar-free pancake syrup
    1 (1 1/2-pound) sirloin steak, about 1 1/2" thick
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, coffee, Worcestershire sauce, and syrup. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Transfer 2/3 cup of the sauce to a small bowl and reserve for dipping.
    Lightly coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Rub steak on both sides with pepper. Grill steak, basting frequently with remaining 1/3 cup mop sauce, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove steak from grill and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
    Cut steak into thin slices, divide evenly among 4 plates, and serve with reserved mop sauce for dipping.

    Have a great day

    Saturday, April 21, 2012

    S is for Spinach, Gift Cards, Bowling, Missing, Cancer Research.

    I was so tired when we got home from our bowling banquet and a visit to friend’s I Gift cardscouldn’t write much on my blog for Friday. These days I find staying out late is tiring although if I get a good book, I don’t have much trouble staying up reading til the wee hours. I mentioned we won a couple of door prizes, $10 each for our local LCBO (liquor board) so Matt used it to buy a bottle of wine, a Clos du Val Zinfandel, one of my faves. We still have Matt’s $20 win from bowling to use as well. It isn’t dated, so I guess we have plenty of time.  M & M’s have such a variety of foods, not sure what we will get with it.

    Bowling yesterday was lousy. I really couldn’t do anything, if I managed to find the head pin I hit it dead on and got nothing else. Very frustrating. Someone asked me if I would be bowling in the summer league. I said I would be turning up at least, I didn’t know about bowling!!! It really is a very peculiar game. One of my team members had a really fantastic game and then the next he almost didn’t make it over the 100 points.

    Headline in the news yesterday, our government is going to give the parents of Missingmurdered or missing children financial support if they need to take time off to get over their grief. $350 a week for 35 weeks so long as the children are under 18 and their disappearance falls under the Criminal Code Offence. I guess this is a pretty sympathetic action on the part of our government. Parents who later turn out to be responsible for the child being missing or murdered will have to reimburse the government. If they are imprisoned I wonder how they will be able to do that.

    dandelion-cuAnother interesting story is a cancer research team have just received more funding for their research on the cancer killing properties of dandelion tea. So far they have discovered that dandelion root extract  virtually forces chronic monocytic myeloid leukemia cells to commit suicide. The researchers were very skeptical at first but they had been asked to check it out because of the number of incidences of dandelion tea helping people with leukemia. The research is in early stages even now, but the current conclusions seem very hopeful. I knew all those gardeners shouldn’t have been mowing down dandelions.

    I thought this recipe looked delicious, I love all the ingredients in it, so what’s not to like and of course, I love risottos. Please note that is a short o in the middle not a long one. I could eat risotto almost any time. I was interested in the explanation for all the stirring of risotto. Nice to know it doesn’t need to be constant.

    Spinach and Porcini-Mushroom Risotto

    Yield: Serves 4

    The stirring and stirring and stirring for a traditional risotto has a purpose: It releases the starch in the rice, and it's the starch that gives risotto its distinctive creamy texture. We have found, however, that the stirring needn't be constant, just frequent.

    RECIPE INGREDIENTSSpinach and Porcini Risotto

    For Mushrooms:

    1/2 ounce dried porcini or other dried mushrooms

    1 cup boiling water

    5 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed

    For Rice:

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion, chopped

    2 cups arborio rice

    3/4 teaspoon salt

    1/3 cup dry white wine

    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cognac or other brandy

    1/2 pound spinach, stems removed, leaves washed well and cut into 1-1/2-inch ribbons

    3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

    2 tablespoons butter


    FOR MUSHROOMS: In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and strain their liquid into a medium saucepan through a sieve lined with a paper towel. Add the broth to the mushroom-soaking liquid; bring to a simmer. Rinse the mushrooms well to remove any grit, chop them, and set aside.

    FOR RICE: In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and salt and stir until the rice begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, the 1/4 cup cognac, and the chopped mushrooms. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed.

    Stir 1/2 cup of simmering broth into the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the broth has been absorbed. The rice and the broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb the broth before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice until almost tender, about 25 minutes, and add the spinach. Cook, stirring, until the rice is tender, about 5 minutes longer. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need to add more broth or some water. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of cognac, the Parmesan, and butter.

    Have a great weekend