Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sheer Stupidity, Snow, Travel League.

Gawd I’m an idiot at times. I have been using my laptop a lot as I have to keep my feet up as much as possible after the vascular op wifilast year. Feet swell like balloons if I don’t. So, anyway, sitting there on Tuesday aft, my internet connection went off. I lose internet now and again so I just unplugged the power on the router and re-plugged it and then went to supper. Later on I went back to my laptop, still no internet, checked the desktop, it was fine. Phoned the ISP and they dithered around a bit and then said I must have an internet connection button on my laptop and gave me Toshiba’s number because I couldn’t find what they were talking about. Phoned Toshiba and whilst waiting to speak to someone, they gave tips such as turning on the connection on the front of my machine. Oh yes, that one, the one I sometimes turn off when travelling. Duuuh. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten all about it. I must have knocked it off earlier but really, Josephine, you are definitely an idiot.

We woke on Tuesday morning to snow, but really not much, nothing Lacy treeslike they had been predicting. By the time we were ready to go out, shortly after 7, the ploughs had actually been round and driving was fine. I’m still glad we don’t have to shovel though. It continued to snow all day, a fine snow, but it lay on the ground OK. Originally we were forecast to get 25 cm but I don’t think we have anything like that. It was so pretty when we went out first thing, the snow was clinging to the trees and it was like driving through avenues of lace.

Today we have our travel league with the alley being quite local, with all the snow that’s a good thing. Only trouble is, not sure I will be able to bowl, my knee is playing me up. Honestly, I’m falling apart. We'll be having lunch at Angel’s which is a chain I quite enjoy, they have a fairly good variety of foods.

Having received a bunch of recipes for St. David’s day, I had to check when that is. Turns out its March 1. This Onion Cake looked like a great side dish. No I have no idea what those potatoes are, they seem to have a plethora of different potatoes in the UK. Personally I will use Yukon Gold for this recipe.

Welsh onion cake

Recipe by Matt Tebbutt

BBC Good Food

This is Welsh comfort food at its finest - layers of sliced potatoes Welsh Onion Cakeand soft onions cooked together until sticky and golden

  • 100g unsalted butter , melted and warm
  • 500g white onions , sliced
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1kg Desiree or Maris Piper potatoes
  1. Heat about a quarter of the butter in a large pan, set over a medium heat. Sweat the onions with a little salt and the rosemary sprig. Slowly cook on a gentle heat with a lid on for about 20 mins. Remove rosemary and set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Peel the potatoes and immediately cut into wafer-thin slices directly into a bowl containing the rest of the warm butter. Season with salt and pepper. The thinner the potatoes, the better the dish will be. Do not wash them once they are sliced, as you want all of the starch to stick the potatoes together.
  3. Line an ovenproof, non-stick frying pan with a round of baking parchment. Layer potatoes neatly into the dish in a circle, slightly overlapping. The bottom of the pan will become the presentation side. Continue to pile in half of the potatoes, then add the melted onions. On top of the onions continue with the potatoes until all used up. Set the pan over a medium heat and gently begin to colour the bottom of the dish for 5 mins, then transfer to the oven and cook for 45-50 mins until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 mins. Invert onto a serving plate, then slice into wedges with a very sharp knife.

Have a great day


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A to Z Challenge, Information, Snow?

Yesterday I decided to check how many people had signed up for April’s A to Z Challenge, the numbers are well into the 800s and it doesn’t start for another month. This is becoming quite a mammoth undertaking. I also decided to visit some of my co-minions (Spunky’s Soldiers) to see who they are, I already read the blog of one of them, Sia McKye, but was unfamiliar with the rest. Laura Marcella, Sia McKye, Golden Eagle, Clarissa Draper, Tyrean Martinson, and Gwen Gardner, and me of course. It was an interesting journey. If you too are not familiar with these blogs, maybe you would like to go look as well.

A friend sent me this link to a BBC video which I found fascinating, BBCparticularly the information that we are exposed to as much information in one day as our 15th century ancestors were exposed to in a year. I think that is quite incredible. When you actually think about it, there is a stunning amount of information available out there particularly if you are on the net. Something my husband cannot conceive, I looked up drug info on line and he thought I should believe what it said on the prescribed pot before whatever I found on the internet. Many people just don’t understand what information is now available to us. Not only that, there is so much in the news about stealing information, hacking into major computers etc. that many people are afraid to use their computers to capacity. I know people who have computers but go to the utility companies to pay their bills. Nor do they bank on line of course.

Wednesday morning, early, I have two appointments for Matt and I at the local lab to get blood work done. Only trouble is, they are saying we are going to get a really heavy snowfall and will probably not be able to go anywhere which will be a bloody nuisance to say the least. Other areas have already had a visit from this storm and I guess we are due to get it overnight, I am writing this on Tuesday evening. Fingers crossed it won’t be as bad as they say.

I have always liked recipes from Mario Batali and this sounded like one I would enjoy apart from being very healthy. The recipe calls it pearled barley, I have always known it as pearl barley. It occurs to me this is very similar to a microwave recipe which I have posted before, and once used to cook a lot.

Mushroom Orzotto

Contributed by Mario Batali


  1. 1 cup pearled barleyMushroom Orzotto
  2. 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  3. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 3/4 pound shiitake, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
  5. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  6. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook the barley for 15 minutes. Drain the barley and let it cool slightly. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil; reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the mushrooms are softened and the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the barley and stir to coat. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly between additions, until the barley is al dente and suspended in a creamy sauce, about 25 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Have a great day


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bowling, Giant Icicles, Alarm Checks. Oscars.

Pin_Animation1I was so busy feeling sorry for myself on Friday, I forgot to tell you how well I bowled. I was quite chuffed. Matt too had a good game. The same cannot be said for our Monday bowling, there were only 3 on the team and we all bowled badly. Matt had one good game, but that was it. There really is no rhyme or reason for it. It’s also very frustrating. Ah well. We have our travel league on Thursday and will be meeting some of the others for lunch at Angel’s. Not being a real league, it honestly doesn’t matter how you bowl which often means one bowls better then. I always remember my first 600 triple was when I was bowling for charity and it didn’t matter a damn what I did.

This is a season for giant icicles and there is one causing concern giant-icicleon an apartment building in Saskatoon. Neighbours are worried it will break off and crash into their basement apartment. It has now been ordered to be taken down, nothing has yet been done other than looking at the situation. It doesn’t look too unsafe to me, but that’s only a photo. I would think the thing would just thaw and melt away, it doesn’t really look like an icicle anyway does it? We had icicles on our balcony this year, don’t ever remember seeing them before. They disappeared, not sure if they fell or melted, but either way, they’re gone.

Today they were testing the fire alarms in the building. I don’t know Alarm Bellwhat they do or how they do it, but it drives you nuts because the bells are ringing every few minutes. They also are checking the fire alarms in all the apartments which hasn’t been done for a long while, and then only once since we’ve been here. In fact they have said one of ours is dead and they will be replacing it. We check batteries every year when the clocks change. We have a bell right outside our door and I got caught just as I was leaving they started it ringing, nearly knocked my ears off.

You will gather we didn’t watch the Oscars Sunday night, from what OscarI have heard, not such a bad thing. Its the first time I haven’t watched in a very long time. Just wasn’t in the mood. I read one criticism that the show was sexist and misogynistic. I don’t know, the Good Morning America people seemed full of it all and they all went down to take part in the whole thing. I hadn’t even heard of the movie in which the best actress won her Oscar. Didn’t know the actress either. Not very surprising, I don’t keep up with movies much. Bet the Ninja Captain knew all about it.

This is a recipe right up my street. I probably would reduce the sugar a bit more, but not too much.

Japanese Chicken-Scallion Rice Bowl

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Here's the quintessence of Japanese home cooking: an aromatic, protein-rich broth served over rice. Admittedly, Japanese cooking Japanese Chicken Riceleans heavily on sugar - for a less traditional taste, you could reduce or even omit the sugar.

1 1/2 cups instant brown rice

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin (see Ingredient note)

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Ingredient note
Mirin is a low-alcohol rice wine essential to Japanese cooking. Look for it in your supermarket with the Asian or gourmet ingredients. An equal portion of sherry or white wine with a pinch of sugar may be substituted for mirin.


Prepare instant brown rice according to package directions.

Pour broth into a heavy medium saucepan, along with sugar, soy sauce and mirin. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.

Stir egg whites and whole egg in a small bowl until just mixed. Add chicken to the simmering broth. Gently pour in the egg mixture, without stirring. Sprinkle scallions on top. When the egg starts to firm up, after about 3 minutes, stir it with chopsticks or a knife. (The chicken will be cooked by now). Divide the rice among 4 deep soup bowls and top with the chicken mixture.

Have a great day


Monday, February 25, 2013

Cover Reveal, Snow, Big Fish

Havenstar CoverHaving just done a cover reveal for Alex, I thought I would do one for my good friend, Australian Glenda Larke. This is a book which was originally published 14 years ago, but the publisher folded. I had the luck to have a copy given to me and had read it two or three times, it’s a good story. Then Glenda decided to publish it as an ebook through Smashwords. So naturally I got a copy of it for my Kindle. But now she has found an Australian publisher. Triconderoga, who are going to release it as a book again. I love Glenda’s work: she has three trilogies to her name and they are great reads but Havenstar is my favourite. I find her stories so very different from the usual run of spec fic books, of course, being a well travelled Australian she has a lot of different backgrounds to call on and her world building is excellent. As you can probably tell, I am a devoted fan.

We have snow, again. We are really getting a pasting this month, not sure how thick it is, there is no build up on our balcony wall which is usually a good indicator, but the road is white. Matt said something about 25 cm being forecast for later this week. That is a fairly hefty amount. I just hope its a day when we don’t have to go anywhere.

Couple of Québec ice fisherman pulled out what is being describedMonster cod as a monster cod. Matt was quick to point out that cod can be much bigger than that, but not when being caught through the ice. Apparently cod this big are rarely seen in that part of the Saguenay River. It was 1 metre long and weight 25 kilos. Looks like a pretty big fish to me. I assume they took it home although the only reference is the catch is perfectly legal apparently.

Having been dying over the weekend, of course I was, don’t be silly, anyway, I finally managed to catch up with some of the blogs I had missed. My apologies to everyone but I did feel pretty shitty. I still don’t know how Alex manages to visit so many people, write a blog, write books and go to a job as well. Way to go Ninja Captain.

This recipe made me think of Portuguese pork stews which I loved, its not quite the same, but…

Yucatán Pork Stew with Ancho Chiles and Lime Juice

Contributed byTia Harrison


Butcher-chef Tia Harrison finds making stew a versatile way to use cuts like pork shoulder, shanks and belly. Here she cooks the stew with pleasantly bitter ancho chiles.

  1. 1/4 cup vegetable oilFW1108TOC01
  2. 4 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 2 large white onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  5. 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  6. 1 pound carrots, cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
  7. 3 ancho chiles, seeded and cut into very thin strips with scissors
  8. 3 bay leaves
  9. Pinch of ground cloves
  10. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  11. 6 cups chicken stock
  12. 6 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  13. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  14. Steamed white rice and sliced jalapeños, for serving
  1. In a very large enamelled cast-iron casserole, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Season the pork with salt and black pepper and add half of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate. Brown the remaining pork.
  2. Return all of the pork to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Stir in the onions, garlic, carrots, chiles, bay leaves, cloves, lime juice and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, nestling them into the liquid. Cover and cook over low heat until the pork is very tender and the carrots are cooked through, about 3 hours. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the cilantro. Serve with rice and sliced jalapeños.

Make Ahead The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.

Suggested Pairing

This Mexican-influenced dish gets its earthiness from ancho chiles, a flavour that pairs well with Argentina's premier grape, Malbec. Originally from France, this dark-berried, spicy variety reaches its pinnacle in Mendoza, producing juicy, potent wines.

Have a great day


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Banks, Dry Mouth.

How daft is this – our credit cards are due for renewal in March. I credit cardsassumed March 1, so as we don’t have them yet, I phoned the bank. Matt, however, is actually the card holder, so they wouldn’t talk to me without his say so. He came to the phone and she must have heard me feeding him all the info. such as his card number, his Social Security number etc. etc., finally I could speak to her and she informed me that they don’t actually expire til the end of the month, all that hoo ha for a simple question. Meanwhile, had I wanted, I could have gone and maxed out the credit card without them being able to stop me. I am now told we can get a Power of Attorney so they can talk to me. Honestly. These security measures are all very well, but…. be reasonable.

When I got up yesterday, I didn’t think I was going to live, let alone Dry Mouthgo bowling. Maybe I mean I hoped I wasn’t going to live. The whole of the centre of my face was in pain. Took some Tylenol 3 and it got better later. Then when we went bowling I got dry mouth (Xerostomia). I have always dismissed it when I have heard of it; it’s not funny I assure you. I kept sipping water, but no matter how much I had it didn’t seem to help. I hope it’s temporary, but looking it up, it can be caused by anti histamines, blood pressure meds and diabetes. I’m assuming it was the anti histamine I took at bedtime not the other two which I have had for years. Any way, I am feeling like you know what. Sorry I haven’t been visiting anyone’s blog, but I just don’t feel like it.

I got this recipe from a distant relative of Matt’s, she had posted it on Facebook. Thought it looked scrumptious.


1 Italian loaf, about 12 inches long
1 stick butter, melted
1/8 cup olive oil
3 tsp minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs poppy seeds
3 tsp chopped parsley (add more if you wish)
12 oz grated cheese (I used a mix of white cheddar and Monterey Jack.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix the melted butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, Dijon mustard, poppy seeds and parsley in a bowl.
Cut the bread into cubes with X slices without cutting all the way through the bottom crust.
Pour the butter-onion garlic mixture carefully into those X cracks using a small spoon and over the top of the bread. Fill those delicious cracks with the grated cheese. (It seems like a lot of work and trouble but it's all worth it. Yes.)
Wrap the entire loaf with foil, sealing the sides properly and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap. Bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey.

Have a great day


Friday, February 22, 2013

Cassa Storm Cover Reveal.

I have read both of the previous books, Cassa Star and Cassa Fire and am looking forward the next one, Cassa Storm. Today we have the cover reveal for Alex’s third book which many of us are blogging about in order to spread the word.

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh

A storm gathers across the galaxy…CassaStorm by Alex J Cavanaugh

Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Release date: September 17, 2013

Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure

Print ISBN 9781939844002

E-book ISBN 9781939844019

If you enjoy sci fi, I recommend this series. Great stories.


Rhino Poaching

I think I’ve got a cold. but, I don’t get colds, I DO NOT GET COLDS. How could this possibly happen? I’m not happy. Later I decided it could be allergies but as I am constantly blowing my nose it doesn’t make for happy blogging.

dehorned rhinoI am very concerned about the poaching of rhino horns, elephant tusks too, but already 96 rhinos have been slaughtered this year and lets face it the year has hardly started. Somehow we have to convince the purchasers that there are NO medical benefits, whatsoever, in rhino horn. At the moment it fetches big money unfortunately, and despite everything the rangers can do, poachers still get through. Some poachers get shot, but the others are still tempted by the huge profits. I believe its the consumers we have to get to somehow. They need to be educated. I am very much against trading in animal parts of any kind or trading in exotic animals, alive or dead, but the rhino situation is reaching critical proportions at the moment.

I had some collards in the fridge and I was thinking of making them into a soup. I decided to look on line and see what was available and found this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen by Susan Voisin, so I decided to make it for supper. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so had to make it the long way. The recipe is more or less what I was thinking of doing. Not being vegan I used chicken stock and real parmesan cheese. It was delicious and made lots of soup.

Collard Greens and White Bean Soup

Ingredientscollard white bean

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds collards, tough ribs removed and chopped (can substitute kale, chard, or other greens)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • 4 cups fat-free vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained (I used Great Northern beans)
  • 2-4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground red pepper, to taste
  • vegan Parmesan (optional)
  1. Heat a little water (about 2 tbsp.) in a pressure cooker and add onion. Cook until onion is tender, about five minutes. Put the next 5 ingredients into pressure cooker and seal. Bring to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and release pressure manually. (If cooking without a pressure cooker, cook covered in a large pot until collards are tender, about 30 minutes.)
  2. Add the beans, 2 cups of water or broth, and the remaining seasonings. Simmer for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to combine. While cooking, add additional water or broth if the soup seems too dry. Serve topped with vegan parmesan.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Have a great day


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sandy Hook, School Security, Identifying Problems

Watching Nova, they were discussing the brains of killers, Brainparticularly those who go on rampages in schools. They have been watching families for many years to see how they developed and how their children developed. They have also done MRIs of known killers to try and understand how their brains differed from those who didn’t do any killing. There was a lot of interesting stuff including an interview with Liza Long who wrote the blog “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” which I remember reading after the Sandy Hook shootings. In fact she didn’t title it that, it was Thinking the Unthinkable.

A follow up talked of security in schools, what they could introduce and what was really effective. As well as trying to identify potential problem kids. With the many programmes in place Assault weaponsthey seem to be achieving something. But, a problem arises when students are being treated for mental health problems and then reach the age of 18, beyond that point, no-one can enforce treatment or medication. There was a frightening interview with one couple who had had to take an injunction against their son and who were seriously afraid of him, refusing him permission to be on their property. This same son didn’t think there was anything wrong with him and couldn’t understand all the time he had spent in mental hospitals and why they expected him to take drugs. That’s scary. After watching this Matt said he didn’t realise it was so bad in the States, but is it just in the States or is the rest of the western world experiencing similar problems? A large proportion of Americans state they need to have weapons to protect themselves. An acquaintance said how awful to have to live in fear. That statement was refuted but…. It is a fact that having lived in two countries where weapons are not readily available I have never felt the need of a gun in my home and nor have my friends and neighbours. Arlee Bird has blogged about banning guns, I wonder if he saw these two programmes on Public Television?

I am posting this recipe for a meatless chilli especially for blogging buddy Stephen Tremp. I have no idea what the recipe was called originally, I have had it for years, and gave it my own name. We have made it several times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Chilli Sin Carne

Eating Well

This truly tasty half-hour vegetarian chilli is made possible bChili sin carney using convenient canned beans and tomatoes (no pantry should be without them). Whole-grain bulgur adds another layer of toothsome texture and nutritional heft. This chilli is relatively mild, so it’s a good crowd-pleaser. If you like it spicy, add extra chilli powder or serve with hot sauce.

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 medium onions, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoons chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 28-ounce can plus one 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with juices

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed

1/3 cup bulgur (see Note)

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt for garnish

1/3 cup chopped scallions for garnish

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, jalapenos, garlic, chilli powder, and cumin. Sauté for 5 to 7 mins, or until the onions and carrots are soft. Add tomatoes with their juice and the sugar; cook for 5 mins over high heat. Stir in beans and bulgur wheat and reduce heat to low. Simmer the chili, uncovered for 15 mins or until thickened. Serve with yogurt, green onions and cilantro or parsley on the side.

Servings: 6

Tips & Notes
  • Note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. Don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which is simply that—cracked wheat. Since the parboiling step is skipped, cracked wheat must be cooked for up to an hour whereas bulgur simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at,

Have a great day


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snowy Day, Book, X, Ambulance.

Awoke Tuesday morning to snow on the roads and what looked like freezing rain. The roads cleared fairly quickly, but from mid afternoon it snowed continuously making the roads white again. It was very fine snow which you wouldn’t think would cover much, but it achieved it without much problem. It also blew heaven’s hard which whistles round the apartment and seems to get inside no matter what we do. Brrr. We didn’t have occasion to go out all day so we could watch it without suffering it. Unfortunately when we got up Wednesday morning the same thing had happened, only this time we did have to go out.

I have discovered something very upsetting about our new ParamedicsSuperintendent and his wife. They won’t give assistance to the ambulance when it arrives. Previously the supers would put the elevator on “service” for the paramedics and open the doors for them if necessary. When we got to the ground floor they were standing there and although Matt was going to the garage, he stepped out, but we didn’t manage to hold the door. The super was right there and could have used his key to call the elevator but didn’t. I have since heard from others that he considers that it isn’t his job. True or not, for sheer humanity you assist where you can. Talking to a nurse today, we all agreed that the extra few minutes could make the difference between life and death. Another couple said it had happened when their brother died. I am not clear if they reported it to the Realtor or not.

Much to my delight, the Postman, well Postwoman I suppose, called up to say she had a parcel, it was my A Memory of Wheel of TimeLight which came through pretty quickly and I was very happy to receive. As I’ve said before, its only taken 20 years to get to read this book. If you abandoned the series in despair, you can now read all 14 books which I loved, even on the second read. I own a few, some in ebook form, one, no 2 in hardback. Maybe I will gradually end up owning them all. I really have been trying to reduce the amount of books I own, ebooks are so much easier to store, but somehow I still end up getting actual books.

I have just written my X post for the A2Z challenge and discovered Xsomeone else had the same idea last year. As our take is somewhat different, and anyway I had already written it, I decided to leave my post. After all I post an X recipe as well. This year I managed to find one that was not Chinese. You know, if I write all these blogs in advance, I will have no blogging to do in April at all.

I used to make this chutney a lot when I lived in England but I have never made it since I have been in North America, mainly because of the lack of what I call cooking apples. However, it would probably be very successful with Spy or similar apples. Mrs. Shaw was my cleaning lady, but I have no idea from where she got the recipe. I believe Chutney originated in India and the British Raj brought the idea home with them. Its excellent served with cold meats or with curries. I really will have to make it again, it was always very popular. Matt is not that keen on chutney though.

Grannie's ChutneySpy Apples

2 lbs cooking apples (tart)
1 oz garlic
1 oz powdered ginger
1 oz mustard powder
1/2 oz salt
1/4 oz cayenne
1- 1/2 lbs moist brown sugar
1/2 lb chopped raisins or
1- 1/2 pints vinegar

1. Peel, core and slice apples. Put in to a very large pan with half of vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a little while. Allow to cool until a pulp then add all the other ingredients and boil for a further 30 mins (stirring often). When cool put in air-tight jars.

Source: Mrs. Shaw

Have a great day


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carbonite, Minions, No Peace.

I sell Avon, right? So a customer called me yesterday and placed an order, I went to enter the order in my Avon database and it wouldn’t open properly. All the stuff I had on customers, past and current Carboniteorders, etc. etc. was gone. The backup was gone, the database was gone, my tranquility was gone. I checked my laptop but the last backup I had copied to it was from June 2012. Panic. Then I woke up, I have a continuous backup system called Carbonite which I pay for every year and which is off site. Opened up the files, backed up my Avon programme, lo and behold it worked again. Wonderful. I have been using this backup programme for years, I don’t know why it took me so long to think about it. Nor is it the first time I have had to use it. One of the best times is if you have to restore your whole system, although you have to install all the programmes, Carbonite has all the data saved for you. Great and a time saver.

I trust you have noted my new Spunky Soldier badge. I am a minion for L. Diane Wolfe for her hosting duties in the A to Z Blogfest taking place in April.Minions Really this real minion picture is what we should all be showing in our capacity as minions. Did you see the movie, Despicable Me? I tried to watch it because I thought the minions were so cute, but found the actual movie to be a waste of time. Despite the fact that I am an animation fan par excellence, I thought this one was despicable. Anyway, that is a digression. I had a visit from one of my fellow Spunky Soldiers today. I need to go visit the others so we can get to know one another.

Laying carpetI stayed at home on Monday afternoon instead of going bowling as I was feeling a tad off colour. I ended up listening to drilling and banging in the apartment upstairs, just what I needed. Think they are laying new carpet. No peace for the wicked. We would really like new carpet in our apartment but the furnishings would be a big problem, not sure how we would cope. Need to get in touch with the realtor.

I love rice – it makes a nice alternative to potato or pasta. This sounds like an enjoyable dish.

Spanish Rice Bake

By The Gluten Free Goddess
WebMD Recipe from

Make this Southwestern-inspired rice dish as spicy or as mild as your taste buds prefer. We serve this as a vegan recipe, but if you love cheese, try topping it with fresh crumbled goat cheese.
  • 2 cups brown rice, long or short grain
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a splash to moisten the rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  sweet or red onion, diced
  • 1  bell pepper, red, yellow, or orange
  • 1  fresh yellow tomato, chopped
  • 3/4 cup roasted or frozen corn kernels*
  • 2  roasted or fresh green chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with green chillies with juice
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Cook the rice in 5 cups of fresh water. Use a rice cooker to do this or cook the rice in a covered pot.
  2. While the rice is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic, chopped onion, sweet bell pepper, and cook for five minutes.
  3. Add the fresh yellow tomato, roasted or frozen corn kernels, roasted or fresh green chillies, and lime juice, to taste. Stir-fry very briefly, just until crisp-tender.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  6. When the rice is cooked, assemble your casserole: spoon the cooked brown rice into a casserole dish. Add in and stir dashes (to taste) of: sea salt, chilli powder, cumin, touch of cinnamon, and chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.
  7. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to moisten the rice. Stir.
  8. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and the skillet vegetables. Add fresh chopped herbs, to taste and toss to combine.
  9. Cover and bake for 25 to 35 minutes until the rice is piping hot and heated through.
Note* To roast frozen corn, spread kernels on a baking sheet and roast at a high temperature until slightly charred; or pan roast them in a large dry skillet until sweet and toasty.

Have a great day

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wheel of Time and Other Books,

A Memory of LightI am impatient. I am certainly impatient about receiving a book I have been waiting for for some 20 years. I was on a waiting list at the library for the final book in the Wheel of Time Series which is called A Memory of Light. I went from 12 to 7 and seem to have been stuck there; sod it I thought, and have ended up sending for it from I have been waiting too long for this book. Some years ago, Robert Jordan reported that he was sick, but he assured us, his readers, that he would be able to complete the series. Luckily, despite the sadness of Jordan’s death, Brandon Sanderson seems to have been able to finish the series which, apparently, was largely outlined by Robert Jordan in the first place. I think Brandon Sanderson has done a great job with the two books I’ve read.
I really don’t know why authors enter into something so huge, The Clan of the Cave BearGeorge R. R. Martin has done much the same thing. I no longer remember what the hell his books were about. I guess I need to re-read from the beginning. The first book was great, but somewhere along the way, he lost the brilliance and his later books have not been nearly as good, IMHOP. Another author like this is Jean M. Auel. Her first book. The Clan of the Cave Bear was absolutely brilliant, but after that her stories degenerated. They tried to make a movie of the first book but it was very badly done, I believe Jean Auel sued the film company. I think Robert Jordan sustained his narratives very well, but then he popped his clogs before he finished.

MoonsDreamingSmIn case you get the wrong impression, I don’t only read well established authors, for a start I read many books through Kindle which I usually get for free, but if I find them any good, I usually end up buying the sequels. Right now I am reading Children of the Rock, a duology by Susan Sizemore, Moons’ Dreaming and Moons‘ Dancing which I am enjoying. Then there are Alex J. Cavenaugh’s books, Cassa Star and Cassa Fire with Cassa Storm in the works. Great stories. Stephen Tremp has a trilogy out too – Breakthrough. All of which are excellent reads.

I am in shock, I have just seen the final episode of Season 3 of Downton Abbey which ended up with the accidental death of one of the principle characters. I can’t believe they did that to us, the audience. Now we have to wait a year before finding out how things go on.

We love lamb, but many people don’t enjoy it. This recipe suggests you can use beef if you wish.

Caribbean Grilled Lamb Skewers With Long Beanscaribbean_grilled_lamb_skewers_with_long_beans

By The Food Gal
WebMD Recipe from

12 servings
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, fresh
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2  jalapeno peppers, minced
  • 3 pounds boneless lamb loin, or well-trimmed leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound long beans, tips removed, left long or cut into 3-inch segments; or substitute green beans
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 12  wooden skewers, soak in a pan of water for at least 20 minutes (we have metal skewers so can skip this part)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. To prepare the lamb marinade, whisk together ½ cup of olive oil, lime juice, lemon zest, garlic, cumin, chili powder, curry powder, 2 teaspoons salt, cayenne, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and jalapenos in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, cayenne, and lime juice.
  2. Put lamb cubes and marinade into a large glass baking dish and toss, rubbing marinade all over lamb. Thread 4 to 5 pieces of lamb onto each skewer. Place skewers into baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.
  3. While lamb marinates, preheat a grill or broiler to medium-hot and prepare beans. Sauté beans in remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are tender and begin to blister. Stir in butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. When butter just begins to brown, transfer beans to a warm serving platter and drape with foil.
  4. Grill lamb, turning skewers every few minutes, until medium rare (internal temperature of 130 degrees), about 6 minutes. (Alternately, skewers can be broiled until medium rare.) Transfer skewers to a plate and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. To serve, place long beans to the side, and lay skewers across them.
Have a great day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meteor Explodes, Blade Runner, Dummy Me.

Russian meteorThank god I don’t live in Russia. Apparently the count of people injured by the exploding meteor on Friday is up to 1,100. How very frightening. It was the size of a bus they say and exploded with the power of an atomic bomb becoming a fire ball. Shortly after it happened, a large asteroid passed by some 28,000 kms out. If you haven’t seen it there is some video of the meteor here. It looks pretty scary.

Bowling was not good today, I had one good game and the other two were lousy. Matt didn’t even have one good game. Really is very frustrating. We forgot to take a pain killer before we went out which didn’t help.

Everyone is somewhat shattered by the news that Oscar Pistorius Blade Runnerhas been accused of murdering his girlfriend. After all the fuss and fame of his entry in the Olympics last summer and everyone backing him because he is a disable athlete, the Blade Runner, he became a popular icon world wide and then to get the shock of the accusation today really is quite horrifying. I’ve heard/read several people defending him and saying they don’t believe it, but we also heard a report that there had been several domestic disputes prior to this event. No doubt the future will reveal more of what happened. At the moment they consider it to be premeditated murder.

You may have wondered what happened to my Friday blog. When I posted it, I found something I needed to change so I ‘edited’ it and somehow it was posted as a draft and never made it to being published until the next afternoon. Dumb thing No. 1. The second dumb thing I did was to order some DVDs from BBC UK which it turned out DVDswould not play on our DVD player. I was going to return them but it would cost me almost as much as I originally paid. I then discovered I could actually play them on my desktop, only trouble was, I bought them for Matt and he is unlikely to sit and watch them on the computer. My IT guy also tells me I shouldn’t switch the regions too often either (the DVDs are region 2). A friend sent me DVDs of her TV programme in England and they played fine, I assumed that the ones I ordered would too, wrong. I also ended up with one DVD which was a repeat of one I already have. They say I ordered it, I say I ordered another one. Ah well.

I’ve always enjoyed the taste of fennel and this combination sounds like a good one.

Roasted Squash and Fennel With Thyme

WebMD Recipe from

We have only one word for this recipe: magical. As the vegetables roast in the oven, the fennel develops sweet, caramel flavouroasted_squash_and_fennel_with_thymers and the summer squash is infused with the garlic. Serve it with grilled pork chops or chicken.


Prep: 30 Minutes | Total Time: 30 Minutes

  • 2 small summer squash (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fennel bulb, (about 1 small bulb), plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Quarter squash lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash with sliced fennel, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic and roast until the vegetables are tender and the fennel is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Stir in fennel fronds and serve

Have a great weekend