Monday, October 31, 2016

Real Life Zombies, Hallelujah,

Well, it's Hallowe'en today and I received a Hallowe'en contribution from National Geographic. This is what National Geographic have to say:
Real-Life Zombies
Sometimes real life can be stranger—and scarier—than fiction. Such is the case with these “zombie snails.” The parasite Leucochloridium paradoxum infects snails through bird poop, turns their antennae into pulsating caterpillar doppelgängers , and then compels them to slime their way to the top of plants, where they are easily eaten by birds.

Thus the parasite is passed back to the bird, which completes the spooky cycle by pooping it out again—to the peril of the snails.

—Nick Lunn, editor

The video doesn't work from here but this link will show you the cycle of the snail eating the bird poop and becoming bird food once more. Delightful.

One of my friends, Australian blogger Helen V of Imagine Me posted a blog the other day talking about Pentatonix and their acapella version of Hallelujah which is on their recently released 'That's Christmas to Me' album. I finally got round to watching it and I thought it was fabulous. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Now I'm seriously thinking of getting their Christmas Album.

I always enjoyed vegetables especially broccoli and Brussels Sprouts, I know there are many people who don't. However, a few years ago I stopped enjoying them. I didn't know why. Then something I read or heard, made me rethink and I started cooking them in distilled water. Lo and behold I am enjoying them again. Turned out it was the softened water in the building which was giving them a taste I didn't like.  As I was serving broccoli on Saturday night and our meal was a relatively plain one, I found a way of dressing it up which appealed to me and it was good.

Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews

"A new recipe a neighbor gave us. What a hit with my family. Just the right mixture of garlic and
cashews with our favorite side dish, broccoli. And, so very easy to make!! If in a pinch, you could probably use frozen broccoli too, but I haven't tried."

1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/3 cup butter
1 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped salted cashews

1. Place the broccoli into a large pot with about 1 inch of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes, or until tender but still crisp. Drain, and arrange broccoli on a serving platter.

2. While the broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Mix in the cashews, and pour the sauce over the broccoli. Serve immediately.

Servings: 6

Have a great day

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday Recipe

So, here's a way to decorate cupcakes for Hallowe'en.

Hallowe'en Fang Cakes

Learn how to make Halloween fang cake decorations for your Halloween cupcakes this year. With gruesome blood made from jam, you can make these
cupcakes in no time thanks to our easy step-by-step picture and video recipe.


  • 1x batch of cupcakes
  • 1x batch of buttercream
  • Piping bag
  • Parchment paper piping bag or a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off
  • Wilton 1B nozzle
  • Sharp knife
  • Small plastic glass
  • Cocktail stick
  • Water brush for sticking
  • Drying sponge or greaseproof paper
  • Pink food colouring
I actually decided the best thing to do would be to direct you to the actual web page as there are lots of 'how to' pictures.
Have a spooky Hallowe'en everyone.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I'm doing well lately. It it's not volcanoes, rogue waves, sharks or earthquakes, it's sinkholes. Watched an excellent programme  on PBS which, I think, we have seen before. Watching all the horror stories about people's homes sinking into the depths and even one incident of a man's brother being lost because his bedroom disappeared into a sink hole. I didn't remember the reasons for sinkholes but now I do and as a lot of them are affected by underground water, I thought the guys (spelunkers I assume) who were swimming around in these underground caves were totally nuts. The ground above them could sink at any time and bye bye swimmers. It would appear one of the worst areas is Florida and many new homes have been built on unsafe ground there. I feel very sorry for people who have retired there only to find their homes are so unsafe. This was an hour programme so I assume this version will take the same amount of time. Do watch though, it is interesting as well as a precautionary tale.

I was feeling quite complacent about living in Canada but much to my horror there are sinkholes in Ontario, and other provinces, too. There are places in Toronto which have become sinkholes. For us Canadians, I suggest you google them so you can find out where these things have occurred and why. You might want to move LOL.

Today, it rained, it was a mizzly, drizzly day altogether. We had already decided not to go with the Travel League to New Hamburg and I am not sorry we made that decision. Went to our local alley and lo and behold, when it doesn't matter a damn, I bowled well although Matt didn't. Typical of me.

It may surprise you to know that in all my years living this side of the pond (Atlantic) I have never made a grilled cheese sandwich and I have only ever eaten it once, at the bowling alley. They have been telling me how to make them as well, but as yet I have never tried. It was not something I ever remember in the UK although probably today everyone makes them. I am sure most, if not all of you know how to make them, but here is a recipe anyway.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices bread, either soft sandwich squares or large peasant-style slices, not more than 1/2 inch thick
1 to 2 oz grated cheddar (or other cheese), depending on size of bread

1. Heat a heavy pan over medium-low heat.

2. Thinly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Spread the other side of each slice with mayonnaise and place the bread, mayonnaise-side-down, in the pan. Divide the cheese evenly on top of the buttered slices. Adjust the heat so the bread sizzles gently.

3. When the cheese is about halfway melted, use a spatula to flip one slice over on top of the other, and press lightly to melt. Keep turning the sandwich, pressing gently, until the sandwich is compact, both sides are crusty, and the cheese is melted.

Yield: 1

Source: The New York Times

Author Notes
The trick to great grilled cheese sandwiches isn't in the ingredients, but on the stove. Achieving a golden, crusty outside and oozy inside takes a little patience: if the heat is too high, the outside will scorch before the cheese melts. Cooking the slices separately at first gives the cheese a good head start. There's no need to search out artisanal loaves or local cheese (though they won't hurt), but definitely do not use homemade mayonnaise. Mustard, chutney or even strawberry jam (believe it) can be dabbed on the cheese as it melts, or add ham, prosciutto or slices of apple or tomato (drain on paper towels first). You can use any melting cheese, such as American, Muenster or Swiss, but not too much: part of the perfection here is in the proportion of bread to cheese.

Have a great day


Well, they started on May 7 and they have finally started erecting the walls of the balconies.

We had been hearing the noise of drilling the balcony walls and floors which seemed quite close. During the late afternoon I went down to look out of the back door and much to my surprise, they have taken down the balcony walls and floors on all but 2 of the nine tiers at the back. At that rate, they will be on our side in no time. Of course winter is setting in and I don't know how much they can achieve in the cold and snow. I understand you cannot pour concrete under a certain temperature and this morning everywhere was white with frost. I just checked, any time you have 3 days of less than 40°F (4.4° C) it is apparently too cold. Well, in winter, we have lots of days like that. We will see what happens I guess.

I thought with turkey season coming up I would post this recipe. I don't know about you, but I only cook a turkey once a year and always have to hunt for instructions. So this saves you hunting. It doesn't include stuffing of course which changes the whole deal.
how to roast a turkey
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
How to Roast a Turkey - learn easy techniques to perfectly roast a turkey. Step by step instructions from start to finish.
Serves: 8
  • 1 fresh turkey (10 to 12 lbs)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and juice and the teaspoon of thyme to the butter and stir. Set aside.
  3. Wash the turkey and make sure you remove the giblets from inside the turkey cavity. I also usually trim some of the excess fat around the neck of the turkey.
  4. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with a roasting rack. Salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the turkey with the onion, garlic and thyme.
  5. Brush the turkey with the butter mixture all over and generously season with salt and pepper.
  6. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey, this will help stabilize the turkey when carving, plus it makes it easier to carve the breast. Tie the legs together with butcher twine.
  7. Cover the turkey with the lid, or if your roasting pan doesn't have a lid cover with aluminum foil.
  8. Roast the turkey for an hour, remove lid or aluminum foil. Roast for an additional 2 to 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer to know when the turkey is done. When the thermometer is inserted in the breast it should read 165 F degrees, and 180 F degrees in the thigh.
  9. Remove the turkey from the roasting pan to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
  10. Slice turkey and serve.

Have a great day

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dinner Out, Flu Shot, Shark Cage,

Monday, I didn't bowl worth a damn, was feeling a tad off anyway, one of the owners suggested Matt should take me out for dinner at the Mandarin. Way to go, we did just that. Only trouble was, I was hoping to get some duck but that had finished on the 23rd. I did get some great ribs. They also had different desserts which were good. The staff were promoting the prime rib of beef. I do not go to the Mandarin for European food.

Tuesday we went for our flu shots. After lunch I didn't feel too good at all. Not sure if it was the shot or something else.

I wrote about Jaws the other day and an Australian blogging friend, Pinky Poinker, pointed me in the direction of a movie she saw of a Great White shark actually crashing into a shark cage and getting inside it. Not funny.

Sunday night I didn't feel much like cooking either, so I did some googling and discovered the following recipe from the New York Times. It doesn't look all that pretty when finished but it tastes very good. I didn't have any chives so I used some sweet onion chopped. I didn't totally mince the garlic either. Finally, I served it over toast.

Scrambled Eggs With Mushrooms

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
½ lb cultivated or wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (2 cups sliced)
1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), minced (optional)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbs minced chives (to taste)
6 to 8 eggs
2 Tbs low-fat milk

1. Heat the oil or butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring often, until they begin to sweat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, five to eight minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the chives.

2. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, and beat in the milk. Add to the skillet. Cook, stirring every few seconds, until the eggs are scrambled. Remove from the heat, and serve.

Servings: 4

Advance preparation: You can prepare the mushrooms through Step 1 several hours ahead. Reheat over medium heat, and proceed with the recipe.

Source: The New York Times

Have a great day

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rogue Waves,

Sunday night we watched a fascinating programme about the way the oceans are changing and also about rogue waves. For a long time people believed that the huge waves spoken about by sailors and the like, However, they have now managed to measure some of these waves. One they measured was over 80 meters high. That is huge. They have sunk ships all over the world and there is really no way to tell when they are going to happen. They are also working on the theory that a lot of the energy driving the movement of the seas is actually generated by the animals living in the seas. What they call the butterfly theory (a butterfly flaps its wings and a hurricane occurs on the other side of the world). They consider the seas are becoming angrier and that by mid century people won't be able to live on the coasts at all. Some of this is due to global warming but not all of it. The only people who appreciate these waves are surfers who travel the world looking for these dangerous waves. I wondered about deaths of surfers, it is 2.8 deaths to every 100,000 surfers. Surprisingly low.

To me this is a new way of doing Chicken alla Cacciatora and sounds good. Because Jamie Oliver (British TV cook) went to Italy, I know that their ways of cooking foods differ virtually from town to town so I am not surprised that there is a different recipe for Chicken alla Cacciatora. Sometimes the differences are only small, sometimes the food preparation differs immensely.

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora

Chicken alla cacciatora, or hunter’s style, is found all over Italy — but for a long time, tomatoes were not. Most American know the southern Italian version, with tomatoes, but this one is from Umbria, in
the country's center, and it’s made savory with lemon, vinegar, olives and rosemary instead of tomatoes. It’s lovely served with steamed greens dressed with a fruity olive oil, over homemade mashed potatoes or polenta.

1 Tbs plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces, or use bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumsticks
1 onion, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 Tbs capers
¼ cup good-quality brine-cured olives, black or green, with pits
1 sprig rosemary
1 handful sage leaves
Salt and black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add chicken pieces and sear over medium heat until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe the pan clean before proceeding.

2. Turn heat to low, add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and return the chicken to the pan. Add onions and stir frequently until caramelized, about 18 minutes. Add minced garlic, capers, olives, rosemary sprig and sage leaves. Season with just a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.

3. After a couple of minutes, when everything smells fragrant, add wine. Cover and simmer very slowly until the chicken is tender and cooked through (165 degrees). Start checking the temperature of the chicken after 15 minutes to avoid overcooking. Add some water if the sauce gets too dry while simmering.

4. When ready to serve, reheat if necessary, then add lemon juice and zest and balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more lemon if desired. Remove the rosemary sprig and serve.

Servings: 4

Source: The New York Times

Have a great day

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jaws, Hallowe'en

Saturday night they had Jaws on Turner Classic Movies. I turned it on for Matt to watch. He ended up going to play on the PC and I ended up glued to the TV. I had forgotten what a good film it was although having read the book I didn't think enough was made of the town wanting to preserve their holiday business. I am sure if Matt had watched it he would have assured me this was wrong or that was wrong, but I am not so critical and I really enjoyed it once again. Not sure when I last saw it, but it was quite a few years ago. The movie was made in 1975. The year we came to Canada. Amazing. What occurred to me later, people were all smoking in the movie. You rarely see anyone smoke in movies today. One thing I don't think I believed, shark cages are not that vulnerable. I have actually seen real film of Great Whites attacking shark cages and they did NOT break them. Mind you I guess this was the Moby Dick of Great Whites.

I pay for our bowling a couple of weeks or so in advance. That way I can use my Visa card and get
cash back on it. Anyway, when I paid last week, it included October 31. These days, we have the owner, his son who is also an owner and his son who is now called the manager. So the manager made some comment that I had to arrive in costume. I said how about I come as an old woman!! However, it would be fun to turn up in some costume or other but I don't want anything difficult or elaborate. So, anyone got any ideas? I did think I might see if I could buy a witches hat or something. Whatever I do it has to either be wearable when I bowl or easily removed.

I am not a Roman Catholic but recently I have adopted the idea of Fish on Friday. Last Friday we had smoked salmon open sandwiches, but I wanted something else with it and ended up doing a Crisp Snow Pea Salad. Luckily I have a Julienne gadget which made life simpler with the carrots. We both liked it very much although I think I might have added a touch more wasabi powder although Matt figured there was enough..

Crisp Snow Pea Salad

A simple Japanese dressing turns crunchy snow peas into a refreshing salad. Great with grilled
salmon or chicken.

1 lb snow peas
1/4 cup very thinly sliced carrot ( Matchstick size)
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
2 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp wasabi powder
2 tsp sesame seeds, preferably toasted

1. Snip ends and remove string from snow peas. Fill a large bowl full of ice water.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, and add snow peas and carrots.

3. Cook just until snow peas turn bright green, about 15 seconds, drain and plunge into cold water. Drain well and pat dry.

4. Cut snow peas diagonally into ½-inch (1-cm) wide pieces. Place in a bowl along with carrots.

5. To prepare dressing, whisk soy with lemon juice, sesame oil, sugar and wasabi powder, making sure sugar and wasabi powder are dissolved.

6. Stir with snow peas and carrots. Taste and add salt if needed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Servings: 4

Author: Heather Trim
Source: Food and Drink.

Have a great day

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Recipe

This looks and sounds delicious. I couldn't resist sharing it. Not only that, the pastry seems really easy to put together.

Spinach-and-Artichoke Galette

This buttery pastry evokes the classic flavors of Greece with its luxurious, creamy filling of spinach,
artichoke and a hint of citrus.

The Ultimate Savory Pie Crust dough (see below)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts—drained, quartered and patted dry
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle; transfer to the baking sheet. Fold the dough edge over itself to form a 1/2-inch border all around and pinch the corners together. Refrigerate until firm.

2. Mix the crème fraîche, garlic, hot sauce and zest; season with salt and pepper. Spread over the dough. Top with the cheese, spinach and artichokes. Brush the edges with egg wash.

3. Bake the galette in the bottom third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the edges are slightly puffed. Cut into squares, garnish with sliced scallions and serve warm.

Source: Food & Wine

The Ultimate Savory Pie Crust

This savory crust is perfect as the base for tasty appetizers, plus it comes together in just 10 minutes.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup ice water

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-size pieces of butter still visible. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough just starts to come together; you should still see small pieces of butter. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat the dough into an 8-inch square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 1 hour or for up to 2 days.

Have a great day

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bowling, Rain, As We Know It,

I had a lousy day bowling. Don't know what was wrong with me, a few aches and pains, but that is par for the course these days. I didn't throw one strike all day. Matt had two very good games though. Not only that, the owner wouldn't give me my money back LOL Funny really, a kid had been bowling using a ramp so when he and grandpa had gone I had a go at using the ramp. First and only try I got 11 points. Then went and started my real game and got 2. Matt, on the other hand, couldn't go wrong.

It has been raining all day so of course the balcony workmen haven't been around much at all. We haven't had a lot of rain for a while so it is good for the ground - the grass and trees at least, although out back we don't have too much grass any more. Thank goodness we have the park to look at.

I have finished proofing my Carrie Butler's book,As We Know It. What an excellent story. A really good disaster book as well as a delightful love story with a great twist at the end. When it is released in December, I can thoroughly recommend it.

This is full of Kraft products, of course, but it looked really edible to me!! Simple enough to make too.

Cheesy Buttery Puff

Move over, potatoes. Six simple ingredients blend and melt and puff up into an airy, delicious side.
Be sure and serve it hot.

10 RITZ Crackers, crushed (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 lb (4 oz.) VELVEETA®, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 oz (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
4 eggs, separated
3 Tbs chopped fresh chives

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Spread cracker crumbs onto bottom of 9-inch square baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

3. Microwave milk, VELVEETA and cream cheese in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until cheeses are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after each minute. Whisk egg yolks and chives until blended. Stir into VELVEETA mixture.

4. Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; gently stir into VELVEETA mixture. Pour into prepared dish.

5. Bake 20 to 25 min. or until top is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Servings: 6

Source: Kraft

Have a great day

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Election, As We Know It, Earthquakes, Exercise Class

I had to leave the room on Wednesday evening because the news programme Matt was watching was all about the upcoming debate. Save me please. I cannot believe this is an election more like a fight between school children.

I am currently proofing As We Know It, the book by Carrie Butler. I haven't got too far yet, but it is quite a story. Based on a disaster which could happen, its background is an earthquake. I think most of us are pretty scared by quakes although I have a cousin in the San Francisco who has been thrown out of bed by earthquakes and seems relatively unconcerned. Maybe if you live in that area, or any other prone to such possible disasters, you live in a state of denial. I have gone through two mild tremors since I have lived in Canada and I wasn't happy about that. Having lived the first 37 years of my life in England I assumed it was a safe area. I was horrified to discover that in fact there have been earthquakes in England, one of which destroyed the Lincoln Cathedral. Way before my time, but....  I assume nowhere is really safe.

Wednesday was exercise class which for some reason I didn't want to go to, however, I am glad I did. Feels much better after. Not many of us there though, unusual. On Good Morning America they showed exercise classes anyone could do, not they couldn't, some of them were on the ground. A lot of us oldsters have difficulty getting on the ground and even more difficulty getting up.

I may have mentioned that I love carrot cake! Couldn't resist this  recipe.

BA’s Best Carrot Cake

This is the only carrot cake recipe you’ll ever need. This is part of BA's Best, a collection of our essential recipes.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
3 Tbs dark rum (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 lb carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp baking soda
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup vegetable oil

Frosting And Assembly
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Generous pinch of kosher salt
4 cups powdered sugar
Candied Carrot Coins (optional)

1. Cake

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat two 9"-diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; lightly coat rounds with nonstick spray. If using raisins and rum, heat together in a small saucepan over low just until warm, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until liquid is absorbed and raisins are plump, 15–20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes; let cool. Combine carrots and buttermilk in a medium bowl.

4. Whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually stream in oil. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; mix until smooth. Fold in raisins, if using, and walnuts with a rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pans.

5. Bake cakes, rotating pans halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cakes cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of cakes and invert onto wire rack; remove parchment. Let cool completely.

6. Frosting And Assembly

7. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla extract and salt. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in powdered sugar. Increase speed to high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

8. Place 1 cake, domed side down, on a platter. Spread ¾ cup frosting evenly over top. Place remaining cake, domed side down, on top. Spread top and sides with 1¼ cups frosting and chill 30 minutes to let frosting set. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides, swirling decoratively. Top with Candied Carrot Coins, if desired.

Servings: 12

Source: Bon Appétit

Have a great day

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Balconies, Mandarin, Shopping.

Well after all these months, this is what it looks like across from us on the new balconies. Still no walls of course.

Mind you, at the front of the building, a different story. There is a dreadful mess. However, I am told, they will be packing up soon for the winter. I have also heard that the walls will be installed before the winter. None of it from the horse's mouth, so who knows. The grounds are ruined and I assume will have to be re-sodded when this is all over. By my calculation, it will be two years before they get to us.

Today we went for lunch at our favourite Chinese, the Mandarin. As usual the food was excellent but woe is me, when I went for dessert, there was no moon cake and yet they are supposed to still be celebrating the Moon Festival. I was told their supplier had run out?? A big chain like that? Oh well. Got my hot and sour soup of course. Brought some home with me too. We decided to go grocery shopping afterwards. That way Matt didn't drag me out of bed before the crack of dawn this morning. Found a small, nice looking, boneless leg of lamb there, first time I have seen one in that store, reasonable price too. I grabbed one. Usually buy lamb at Costco. Their meat is very good.

Bon Appétit calls this the Greatest Recipe of All Time. Not totally certain why but it does look good.

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Depending on your personal preference, you can brush off and discard the peppercorns before cooking, or leave them on for stronger flavor. One of our food editors says this chicken adobo recipe is actually the greatest of all time.

8 chicken drumsticks
15 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 Thai chiles, halved lengthwise
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
¾ cup soy sauce (preferably Silver Swan)
2 Tbs black peppercorns
2 Tbs palm sugar or light brown sugar
3 bay leaves
2 Tbs canola oil
Steamed rice and scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on a diagonal (for serving)

1. Place chicken, garlic, chiles, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, palm sugar, and bay leaves in a large reasalable plastic bag or 13x9" baking dish; toss to combine. Chill, turning chicken once, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

2. Heat oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium. Add chicken, reserving marinade, and cook, turning occasionally and adjusting heat to medium-low if needed, until skin starts to brown and caramelize, 6–8 minutes. Add marinade and ½ cup water; bring to a simmer. Cover saucepan and cook 30 minutes. Uncover, turn chicken, and continue to simmer, turning chicken occasionally and adjusting heat if needed, until meat is very tender and liquid is reduced and starting to glaze, about 30 minutes.

3. Serve chicken over rice. Spoon sauce over, then top with scallions

Servings: 4

Source: Bon Appétit

Have a great day

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Volcanoes, Reading, As We Know It.

I can't help wondering how long we are going to survive. I keep seeing reports on TV shows about all the major volcanoes, or super volcanoes, which could erupt at any time and nobody knows when. If they do erupt, they will cause untold damage to the environment and the ash clouds will cause winter like conditions over large portions of the world. I learned of a new one near Santorini in the Med. Santorini itself is a volcano, but this one which is underwater is way more powerful and way more likely to blow apparently. To quote "Kolumbo is an active submarine volcano in the Aegean Sea, about 8 km northeast of Cape Kolumbo, Santorini island. The largest of a line of about twenty submarine volcanic cones
extending to the northeast from Santorini, it is about 3 km in diameter with a crater 1.5 km across."  I heard about this one in a TV programme on Sunday night. Then, of course, there is one in Yellowstone Park which is classified as a super volcano and would create untold devastation in the Americas. I just  found this map of the predicted Kill Zone for Yellowstone. I think I will move further east although my part of Canada is not in that area, It seems the effects will spread east anyway. And yet they figure life originated in the underwater hot water zones of volcanoes.

I have been reading a lot of Juliet Marillier lately. Particularly the Shadowfell trilogy which is, I think, classified as young adult. I don't fall into that category but I am really enjoying them. Then a friend, Carrie Butler, has just released a trailer of a book which will be coming in December. It is titled As We Know It. Looks like quite a story and the trailer is excellent, Carrie made it herself.

Deep beneath the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles alongside the Pacific Northwest coastline, lies the Cascadia subduction zone—a fault on the verge of unleashing a catastrophic earthquake, thirty times more powerful than the San Andreas. Unfortunately, like most tourists, Elena Cordova is oblivious.

She’s got her own pent-up stress to deal with, a humiliating breakup that’s driven her to end her tenure as a human doormat once and for all. So, when a pickpocket makes off with the last remnant of her relationship, she takes action—only to get trapped with him when disaster strikes.

Now, if either one hopes to survive, they’ll have to get past their initial impressions and work together . . . because in fifteen minutes, half the town will be underwater.
To read more go to Melissa  Maygrove's blog. If the book is as good as the trailer, it should be an awesome story.

Wild Mushroom Quesadillas

You don't have to use wild mushrooms, of course, but if you can get chanterelles — oh man. It takes a bit of time at the stove, but when the quesadilla is done, you have a great handheld food that is,
among other things, very kid friendly.

4 Tbs vegetable oil
1 lb chanterelles, black trumpet or other wild mushrooms (or substitute oyster, crimini or clamshell mushrooms; do not use shiitake), roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup minced yellow onion
4 oz grated Oaxaca or domestic Muenster cheese
4 oz grated panela or aged mozzarella cheese
4 oz grated cotija or Parmesan cheese
? cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
½ tsp dried oregano
pinch of ground coriander
8 8-inch flour or corn tortillas, preferably homemade

1. Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When oil shimmers, add mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until mushrooms release their liquid, liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Add onions. Sauté, adjusting heat as necessary, until onions are soft and entire mixture is golden brown but not burned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Using a food processor or a knife, finely chop mushroom-onion mixture, then transfer to a large bowl. Add grated cheeses, cilantro, oregano and coriander. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Place a large nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over medium heat, and add remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. While pan heats, place a large spoonful of mushroom-cheese mixture into center of a tortilla, and fold tortilla in half to make a half-moon. Place filled tortilla in preheated skillet and cook, turning once, until tortilla is nicely browned on both sides and cheese is melted. Repeat to make 8 filled tortillas. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8

Source: New York Times

Have a great day.

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Badge, Copper Socks, Modern Communications,

You will notice a new badge at the side of this blog. It was drawn by Tara Tyler of the Really Real Housewives of America. I think she did a pretty good job. She used a picture I sent her as a basis. This was a picture taken by a friend of us in the uniforms we wore when we had a small catering business. We used to go to people's homes and cook a dinner they had chosen. It was quite fun but someone pointed out we needed insurance and that kind of made the business fold. I am not sure we don't still have these uniforms somewhere.

I have worn my copper socks twice now and I love them. I am thinking of getting some more. They really seem to do all they promise. I was a bit concerned about washing them but apparently one can put them in the washing machine. With only one pair at the moment, I will have to wash them by hand though.

Had some fun again on Saturday when I got to speak to Al Diaz, otherwise known as Father Dragon,
Lisa Buie Collard and David Powers King. All of us on Google Hangouts. It really is amazing the way you can talk to people this way. As you may remember, our granddaughter is in Florida rehearsing for her shipboard performances of We Will Rock You and her father, in the UK, tells me they talk to her on Snapchat regularly. I have no doubt her mother is anxious about her baby being so very far away. I can't imagine sailing on that vast ship.

I know a lot of people don't like tofu, personally I always enjoyed it although I don't use it as much as maybe I should. This recipe is from the New York Times and I thought sounded good.

Vegetarian Mapo Tofu

8 oz shiitake mushrooms
2 cups water
15 oz block of soft tofu (do not use silken)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
3 small dried hot red peppers
1 Tbs fermented black beans, rinsed
1 Tbs fermented spicy broad bean paste (doubanjiang)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs grated ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp finely ground Sichuan pepper
1 Tbs corn- or potato starch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
½ cup slivered scallions, both white and green parts
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

1. Remove stems from mushrooms. Make a light mushroom broth by simmering stems in 2 cups water for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve broth (discard stems). Dice mushroom caps and set aside.

2. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Cover with boiling salted water, let steep for 15 minutes, then drain.

3. Put oil in a wok or wide skillet over medium heat. Add red peppers, black beans and bean paste and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and let sizzle, then add mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil and Sichuan pepper. Add 1 1/2 cups mushroom broth and cook mixture gently for 2 minutes.

4. Carefully add tofu cubes. Shake pan to distribute sauce, using a wooden spoon to help. Try to avoid smashing tofu. Drizzle in cornstarch mixture, gently swirling pan to incorporate (sauce will thicken) and simmer tofu in sauce for 2 minutes more. Thin with a little mushroom broth if necessary. Transfer to a low bowl or platter. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 6

Author Notes
Mapo tofu is a justly popular menu item in many Chinese restaurants. It is a quickly cooked dish of braised tofu with minced pork (sometimes beef) in a bracing spicy sauce made with fermented black beans and fermented broad bean paste, along with hot red pepper and Sichuan pepper. This meatless version with fresh shiitake mushrooms is completely satisfying, and surprisingly easy to make. For the best texture, use soft tofu rather than firm, taking care to cook it gently to keep it from crumbling.

Have a great day

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Recipe

I remember living in North Carolina and Matt used to just walk out into the water of Bogue Sound and collect a large bunch of clams which we would then cook in various ways, often making a clam chowder. I saw this version and thought I would like to share it with you.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Sarah Anne Ward for The New York Times.

24 medium-size quahog clams, usually rated ‘‘top neck’’ or ‘‘cherrystone,’’ rinsed
1 Tbs unsalted butter
¼ lb slab bacon or salt pork, diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, cleaned and diced
12 red bliss potatoes, cubed
½ cup dry white wine
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley.

1. Put the clams in a large, heavy Dutch oven, add about 4 cups water, then set over medium-high heat. Cover, and cook until clams have opened, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. (Clams that fail to open after 15 to 20 minutes should be discarded.) Strain clam broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or doubled-up paper towels, and set aside. Remove clams from shells, and set those aside as well.

2. Rinse out the pot, and return it to the stove. Add butter, and turn heat to medium-low. Add the bacon or salt pork, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the pork has started to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove pork from fat, and set aside.

3. Add onions and celery to the fat, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in potatoes and wine, and continue cooking until the wine has evaporated and the potatoes have just started to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of clam broth, reserving the rest for another use. Add the thyme and the bay leaf.

4. Partly cover the pot, and simmer gently until potatoes are tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, chop the clams into bits that are about the size of the bacon dice.

6. When the potatoes are tender, stir in the chopped clams and reserved bacon. Add black pepper to taste. Let the chowder come just to a simmer, and remove from heat. Fish out the thyme and bay leaf, and discard.

7. The chowder should be allowed to sit for a while to cure. Reheat it before serving, then garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with oyster crackers.

Author Notes

Clear clam chowder originated along the southern coast of Rhode Island, where it is a local delicacy much to be preferred over the creamier version of Boston to the north and the (to them) criminally tomato-hued style served in Manhattan to the south and west. Eating it recalls the feeling of pulling into Block Island after a long day at sea, scented with salt spray, and sliding into a clean bunk to sleep.

Have a great weekend

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Spoon Theory, Bowling, Trump,

On Wednesday a friend, Helen V of Imagine Me, posted a link to an article on another blog called But You Don't Look Sick. This is an article explaining the Spoon Theory which is something the author Christine Miserandino invented as a way of showing her friend what it was like to live with a chronic illness. It was so very clever and although I don't suffer from a chronic illness in the same way both she and Helen do, I could certainly identify with the Spoon Theory, especially when my back is playing me up. If you do suffer, or know anyone who does, I highly recommend you read this article. Very often through my life, when I have been sick, people have said that to me "but you don't look sick". Others very often don't understand how ill a person can be without giving the appearance of being ill at all. I  have just downloaded a PDF version too as I want to save it.

Bowling was pretty average today I beat Matt once out of three games. Grr. There was quite a lot of activity at the bowling alley today - there is always a league, but lots of other people turned up wanting to bowl ahead, or just bowl. I often wish we could join another league but all the afternoon leagues apart from the Seniors League are women only. I could dress Matt up in drag I suppose.

So now your Presidential candidate is being accused of sexual harassment which he says is all false of course. Michelle Obama seems to believe it. She was really horrified about the whole business today. I am not surprised. I just can't believe there are so  many people still supporting him.

I haven't had Borscht in years. This sounded a pretty good version to me.


2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups reduced sodium beef broth , or vegetable broth
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups beets, steamed cubed, 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbs prepared horseradish
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add broth, potato, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the potato is just tender, about 8 minutes. Add beets and vinegar; return to a boil. Cover and continue cooking until the broth is deep red and the potato is very soft, 2 to 3 minutes more.

2. Combine sour cream and horseradish in a small bowl. Serve the soup with a dollop of the horseradish sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley.

Servings: 4

Source: WebMD Recipe from

Have a great day

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bits and Pieces Day,

Well carpet's in and it didn't take long plus I got the carpet layer to fix the carpet/wiring area between the kitchen and dining area. My ISP wouldn't touch it although their person laid it underneath the carpet when we first came here 15 or so years ago. It's been a potential tripping hazard since they re-did the wiring a few months ago.Then I showed our new neighbour where the exercise classes took place and afterwards in the mail I had my new copper infused socks in the mail. They actually came from China. Or mine did. If they do all they say they will, I shall be very pleased. Our neighbour helped restore the furniture to the bedroom although Matt had tried to do some of it on his own. I wish he would remember he is NOT 40 any more.

Later in the day I picked up my laptop and had no wifi. Then I went to use my tablet, guess what, no wifi there either. I got on the phone and told them I was absolutely sick of this. The tech I was talking to reckons he made adjustments to the modem his end and I won't have the problem again. However, I still have no wifi for my tablet. They say that is the tablet's fault. Yesterday it was my laptop's fault. Grrr. Crossing my fingers, at least I seem to have had wifi on my laptop ever since. But, boy am I teed off about this whole business.

Last but not least we received a nice cheque,  unexpected, from the Electric Membership Corporation from who we obtained our power in NC. They accumulated money in a membership account for the customers and have sent us dribs and drabs over the years as we are "retired members". The last couple of times were more than dribs and drabs though.

I had an email saying it was International Chocolate Day. When I googled, it seems to have actually been in September. I didn't even realise there was such a thing. I didn't celebrate it at the time, but being a chocoholic, I will certainly celebrate it now.

Millionaires’ Cupcakes

Chocolate cake

100 g self-raising flour
115 g caster sugar
20 g cocoa powder
50 g milk chocolate
2 large eggs
115 g soft butter/margarine
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp milk

Caramel buttercream

150 g soft butter
150 g caramel sauce (I use a double batch of my homemade caramel sauce)
150 g icing sugar

For the hidden centre

2 shortbread biscuits (you can use this recipe if you’d like to make your own)
2 Tbs caramel sauce

1. Chocolate cake

2. Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan.

3. Line a 6-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

4. Grate the milk chocolate (50g).

5. Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl (100g self-raising flour, 20g cocoa powder, 115g caster sugar, 2 large eggs, 115g soft margarine, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp milk and the grated chocolate) mix on a low speed until fully combined.

6. Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases.

7. Put the tin in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

8. Once cooked, remove the cakes from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the caramel buttercream.

9. Caramel buttercream

10. Put the buttercream ingredients into a large bowl (150g butter, 150g caramel sauce, 150g icing sugar) and beat on a low speed until fully combined and smooth.

11. Build the cupcakes

12. Use a pestle and mortar or rolling pin to crush the shortbread biscuits.

13. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the centre of each cupcake.

14. Add 1tsp of caramel sauce and then 1 tsp of crushed shortbread into the centre of each cupcake.

15. Put the caramel buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe the buttercream on top of each cupcake.

16. To finish sprinkle each cupcake with a little of the crushed shortbread.

17. Enjoy

Yield: Makes 6 cupcakes

Source: Gharlotte's Lively Kitchen

Have a great day

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Carpet, Wifi, Trump,

Finally, we are getting the carpet in Matt's bedroom replaced. The super's wife called (after I had emailed the office) and said the carpet layer will be here at 10 and everything had to be out of  the room. Uh oh.(She smiled at Matt!!). Matt has already cleared out most of it, but the bed will be a bit of a problem for the two of us. Called my cleaning lady who is due to come anyway, and she agreed to come at 8:30. So nice of her. Mind you, bearing in mind how much we have hauled this bed around due to our pesky visitors early in the year, you'd think we old fogies could manage on our own.

Regarding the wifi, the tech said it was my laptop which was dropping the internet and picking it up. Not my ISPs fault at all. He kind of proved it to me by using his laptop. Mine works too. For a while. Anyway, spoke to my IT guy and he says he doesn't think it's my laptop but could be the driver. (More money). Matt says I have an expensive hobby, I guess he is right. Admittedly all the stuff done by the ISP didn't cost us.

A blogging friend, Birgit, said she thinks Trump is a bully, I do so very much agree. That is exactly what he is. This was on Facebook today.

This recipe sounded good and I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand with a few substitutions. I even remembered to take pictures. We both enjoyed it and pigged out by eating all of it between us.  I cooked  the rice in advance and put it in the fridge, I also cooked the broccoli in advance, but too much in advance so it took a bit to warm it through again.

Chicken and Broccoli Rice Bowl

3 cups small broccoli florets
1 (8.8-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's) I cooked 1/2 cup basmati up for both of us
1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 oz light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light), cut into 1-inch pieces, I used a regular grated cheese which was spicy.
2 Tbs sliced almonds, toasted

1. Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

2. Heat rice according to directions.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Add onions and cheese, stirring until cheese begins to melt. Stir in rice; fold in broccoli. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with almonds.

Servings: 3

Source: Cooking Light

Have a great day