Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prescription Drugs, More on Michael, Canada Day, Paul Potts,

Matt and I have been talking about prescription drugs and I gradually was getting more irritated that when I was in considerable pain after a hip replacement all I could get was Tylenol 3 which I have to say is a totally useless painkiller, however neither my surgeon nor, subsequently my doctor, would give me (or Matt after his surgeries) anything stronger in case I became addicted. So, basically, I had to suffer pain. Meanwhile, those with money, or in the know, can find "enablers" so that they can get as much OxyContin and Demerol as they want as well as any other pain killers. Obviously they are addicted but I am not nor am I likely to be so because these pain killers are not freely available to me, but please, do give me them when I am in serious pain. Once again, it is the story of the few who get addicted ruining it for the rest of us who genuinely need the help of such pain killers. I remember in 1989 the British did a study of patients who were given opiates for extreme pain and then it was discovered when such patients were weaned off because their pain had lessened, most addiction was not permanent. I googled and found the following: read this article which will explain it more succinctly. Marilyn Tomlins (French Marilyn's Blog) directed me to an article about Michael Jackson which was in Britain's Daily Mail. I found it very interesting if somewhat long. I thought you too might like to read it. Apparently the author Ian Halpern has a lot of insider knowledge. He says there is no way Michael could have coped with 50 concerts in his extremely frail state of health. Not only that, but his lungs were shot so he couldn't sing any more. A very tragic tale. Tomorrow is Canada Day, once known as Dominion Day. It changed in 1982, since we first came here, although I gather a lot of sources still call it that. Apart from anything else, you can guarantee lots of fireworks which will be visible from our balcony. The celebrations get bigger every year and lots of households fly the flag all week and especially on the day, July 1. Plus there will be lots of barbecues and lots of parties. I forgot to mention that Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent a year or so ago, is performing at Centre in the Square which is our local theatre. His show is today, I hadn't realised that, I guess I have missed it. Just checked, no tickets are available anyway. I am so glad for Paul that he is selling out at his concerts. Our Cuban Pork was good last night by the way and we have leftovers for supper tonight. Also, Matt's foot is 99% better - he still has a few more antibiotics to take but the wound has healed up well. Here's a good recipe from Eating Well which can be done on a barbecue either for Canada Day or for the 4th of July. Unfortunately local corn, as shown in the picture, is not yet ready although I am getting hungry for it. Local asparagus will be unavailable any day now. Pork Chops with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Makes 4 servings


¼ cup plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar 2 cups boiling water 3 cups ice cubes 4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, ½-¾ inch thick (1 ¾-2 pounds), trimmed 2 ripe but firm peaches, pitted and quartered, or 3 cups frozen sliced peaches 1 medium tomato, quartered and seeded 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon canola oil ½ cup chopped onion, preferably Vidalia 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger 2 tablespoons honey ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste


1. Place 1/4 cup salt and brown sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add ice cubes and stir to cool. Add pork chops, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. 2. Puree peaches, tomato and vinegar in a food processor until smooth. 3. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the pork chops, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peach puree, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, honey and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about half, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for basting the chops; keep the remaining sauce warm in the saucepan until ready to serve. 4. Preheat grill to medium. 5. Remove the pork chops from the brine (discard brine), rinse well, and thoroughly dry with paper towels. Season the chops with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and brush both sides with some of the reserved sauce. 6. Grill the pork chops, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the warm peach barbecue sauce on the side.


Brine the pork chops (Step 1) for up to 4 hours. Refrigerate the peach barbecue sauce (Step 3) for up to 5 days.

Have a great day.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wine Names, Billy Mays, Satuday Dinner

Discussing wine names with Marilyn in France (see link this page) she didn't realise that Fat Bastard is a French wine click here for their site. You will see they do several different wines with the same labels. We have only tried one and I don't remember now what it was. I seem to think it was a white wine but beyond that my mind is blank - I asked Matt and he thought it was a red we tried. Another weird name at the moment is Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush, that turns out to be a Canadian Winery. We tried this one and it wasn't bad if a little young. Another one we haven't tried is Goats Do Roam click here which is a clever play on Côtes du Rhone. This turns out to be from South Africa. I gather the Rhone wineries are not too happy with the name. I must admit names do tend to attract me to try them even if I know nothing about them. Now of course we also have the French Rabbit wines which are sold in tetra packs - not yet tried those but we will. Click on this link to read about French Rabbit wines. It seems a lot of wineries are breaking away from traditional wine production and branching out in all kinds of directions. So, it doesn't just come in threes unless this is the start of another threesome of course - I hope not. Last week we had Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, this week we lost Billy Mays who was well known over here for his shouting type ads telling you this or that product was the best thing since sliced bread. He drove us up the wall, but I certainly didn't wish him a death at 50. The speculation as to the cause is that at the weekend he was on a flight which landed badly due to a burst tire and a piece of the plane ceiling hit him on the head so this could have caused head trauma. The doctor on TV said it could also have been a heart attack which is very frequent occurrence in men of 50. So that will cause another round of speculation until autopsies are finished. The airwaves are filled with Michael Jackson news still and all kinds of speculation. I wish they would wait for the toxicology report before making all kinds of announcements and talking to all kinds of people about his cause of death. We had an excellent dinner at our friends' home on Saturday with barbecued ribs, I ate too much, a very different ice cream dessert and then our hostess had made a German style cheesecake especially for Matt who loves a good plain cheesecake. He ate two pieces and then she gave him a chunk to bring home. I had a piece, big mistake, I was so full I felt I would burst. Sunday I started a hunt for a cheesecake recipe for the first cheesecake I ever tasted. It was a recipe in a Robert Carrier cookbook and it was prepared by a friend for us some time in the mid '60s - it was served with a compôte of fruit which was tart to counteract the sweetness of the cake. A friend has emailed that she might have the recipe so perhaps I will have a go -I have never, but never, made a successful cheesecake. I have no idea why. Tonight we are having a pork tenderloin recipe which I found on the Internet and which we have been meaning to try for some weeks but for some reason or another we haven't got round to it. Cuban Pork Tenderloins The marinade from this is wonderful and produces very moist flavorful tenderloins, they can be grilled as well. Plan ahead they need to marinate for 24 hours. This marinade is enough for up to four tenderloins. These can also be barbecued or broiled 1/8 cup olive oil 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 1/8 cup fresh lime juice 1/8 cup dark rum 2 1/2 green onions, finely chopped 1 Tbs minced fresh garlic 1 tsp dried oregano 1 1/2 tsp cumin 1 tsp salt 1 bay leaf 1/2 tsp black pepper 2 pork tenderloins 1 In a bowl whisk together first 11 ingredients and transfer to a large heavy ziploc plastic bag, add in the tenderlons to the marinade; close bag tightly and turn to coat. 2 Place the bag in a large bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours. 3 Set oven to 400 degrees. 4 Transfer the tenderloins to a baking dish and discard the marinade. 5 Cook for about 25 minutes. 6 Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Servings: 4 Author: KITTENCAL Have a great day.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jackson, An Ideal Husband, Dinner.

The news is full of Michael Jackson and it now appears that there is something odd about his death. He was definitely addicted to pain killers and it is being said that his doctor gave him an injection of Demerol which on top of everything else would have killed him. However, the doctor then fled in someone else's car, leaving his own behind. The speculation is that it might have been an assisted suicide. I wonder if it might not have been an accident. I guess it will take forever to find out. They haven't even got the toxicology report yet so I'm not sure just what is known. He had three children and there is lots of speculation about who will care for them. He was also millions of dollars in debt (how on earth can that be?) but his music has been selling like hot cakes in the last couple of days which help to defray his debts. All very odd. Odd life, odd death. Look at the picture, he was once such a good looking young man. On TV I watched An Ideal Husband with Cate Blanchett playing Getrude. I thought the part of Lord Goring was particularly well done by Rupert Everett. The play is by Oscar Wilde. I thoroughly enjoyed it - Matt disappeared - and found it a very good play and very well done. It tickled me that when guests were being annoounced at a party, one couple were Lord and Lady Windemere, a nod to his other play called Lady Windemere's Fan, perhaps. I was in that once many years ago not sure what role now. Nothing major of that I am sure. Tonight we are going to friends for dinner which makes a nice break. Looking forward to it. They have a grandson teaching English in Korea who plans to get married in December so they are flying out there to attend the wedding. Matt commented "be careful not to cross the border". Last night we had one of our favourite dishes, Picadillo. There are as many recipes as there are South American cooks, I do believe each has a different one. My favourite is a combination of a few different recipes we have in different cookbooks. This is the basic one we use with a couple of additions. Picadillo Betty Crocker's International Cookbook. Mexican Picadillo is a colourful mélange of ground beef, green pepper, tomato and pimiento-stuffed olive. It is seasoned with garlic and perfumed with cinnamon and cloves. Raisins and almonds are added treats to this minced meat hash, which often fills tortillas, pies and whole peppers. 1 lb ground beef 1 medium onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 medium tomatoes, chopped 1 medium green pepper, chopped 1/4 cup raisins 1 1/2 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/8 tsp. ground cloves 1/4 cup slivered almonds 1/4 cup sliced pimiento stuffed olives Hot cooked rice. To this we like to add the following adapted from other South American recipes. 2 1/2 tsp. chopped chilies 1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar Some recipes call for yoghurt to be added to the final dish when serving. Cook and stir beef, onion and garlic in 10 inch skillet until beef is light brown; drain. Add tomatoes, green pepper, raisins, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Also chilies if using. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Cook and stir almonds over medium heat until golden, 2 - 3 mins. Stir almonds and olives into beef mixture. Add vinegar and stir well. Serve with rice and if desired, top meat with a spoonful of yoghurt. 4 servings. Have a great wwekend.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett, Shopping and Wild Dolphins.

So, Micheal Jackson died yesterday - aged 50. That's very young. He apparently went into cardiac arrest at his home and from reports, I think he died there. He lived a very odd life, to say the least, but he still seemed to retain his popularity and made plenty of money. The crowds outside the hospital where he died were huge even though he was flown away by helicopter. They were doing an autopsy this morning. Sadly, Farrah Fawcett also died yesterday. Such a beautiful woman. She allowed cameras to film her cancer progression. She had apparently agreed to marry Ryan O'Neil again but cancer took her before it happened. Sadly her death has been somewhat neglected because of Michael Jackson. She was only 62 which, at my great age, doesn't seem very old either. Had a very frustrating day yesterday. Went shopping as usual. We were just about finished when the lights went out. Emergency lights came on but they were saying at the checkouts "cash only" - well we don't carry that kind of cash. We sat around in their cafeteria for a while and then I went to an ATM machine (outside the store, in the mall) and drew out enough cash to pay our bill. I must explain we have a card through our grocery store which enables us to collect points and eventually get free groceries. When I got back into the store, the lights were on again and I was told everything was fine, so I went to the store's bank and deposited the cash (in their ATM which was working now) I had drawn out. With me so far? The woman in front of me paid with her store card OK but then the machine decided it didn't want to take debit cards at all so back I went to the ATM in the store and drew out cash again. When I got back to the cashier I had to wait until the manager with all the unpaid bills turned up, I then settled my account. Just after that a woman used her credit card and the machines were quite happy with it but they still wouldn't take debit cards. Meanwhile, Matt was in the car with some ice cream which was melting. Actually despite everything, we had ice cream for supper and it was OK albeit somewhat runny in the middle. Watched part of a pretty horrifying documentary about capturing wild bottle nosed dolphins for sale to amusement parks, hotels and such. Like the Dubai area which looks like a palm tree. There is a business, run from the Solomon Islands, exporting these animals. It is done with the permission of the Solomon Islands' government - the islanders kill dolphins anyway so the excuse of the Canadian, Christopher Porter, who runs the business is that he is saving the animals. Here is an article which tells you all about it. The programme we actually watched was on the Doc Zone The Dolphin Dealer I couldn't stand watching the whole programme seeing the dolphins being hauled around on the backs of the Solomon Islanders and being held by their noses. Quite a few have died in captivity not too long after being captured. They said, on the documentary, that North American dolphinariums now rely on breeding programmes because of the uproar about capturing wild ones. However, the Swim with Dolphins programmes are a billion dollar industry and Porter is anxious to make money by supplying them. I have mentioned before the ezine I read called World Wide Recipes published by Joe Barkson on a daily basis. This morning he had a chocolate pie recipe which was his grandmother's and he included it as one of his 100 favourite foods. Dottie's Chocolate Pie 12 oz (340 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips 3 Tbs (45 ml) milk 2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar 4 eggs, separated 1 baked pie shell Note: This recipe contains uncooked eggs. If salmonella contamination is a concern to you, be sure to use pasteurized eggs. Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan and heat over low flame until melted and smooth. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate. Allow to cool slightly and beat in the four egg yolks, one at a time. Allow to cool to room temperature. Beat 4 egg white until stiff and fold into chocolate mixture. Put in baked pie shell and refrigerate. Serves 8. Have a great day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer and Twilight.

The weather has certainly changed round here, we have gone from pretty cool to pretty hot in just a day or two, we kind of missed the gentle spring weather somehow. Glenda Larke is posting pictures (see her blog Tropic Temper) of gorgeous beaches which are making me somewhat envious being stuck in our apartment at the moment. We do sit on our balcony but once the sun shines on to it directly, it can get very hot - Matt can stand it, but it can get too much for me. Talking of Matt, the antibiotics seem to be working I'm pleased to report. I have no doubt all the good wishes helped too. I have just finished a book called Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - I wasn't too certain whether I would like it or not. Its about a 17 yr old named Bella Swan (the biggest klutz around) and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen and their star crossed love affair. Edward and his coven basically hunt for the blood of animals as they don't want to be considered monsters. His description of this is that it would be like eating tofu and soymilk instead of steak. In other words the temptation is still there. I thoroughly enjoyed the story which becomes really exciting when another coven discover Bella. I have ordered the next book from the library which I didn't think I was going to do. The cover art of my book appears to be from the film and is not the same as the most publicised cover art. It being strawberry season right now in Ontario, I thought this recipe from Food and Drink published by the LCBO would be a good one. Gorgonzola and Strawberry Canapés Crisp, golden toasts are ideal for the bold, herb flavour of the Gorgonzola. A fruity and colourful topping of strawberries or grapes makes this an enjoyable, fresh canapé, perfect for summer entertaining. 6 slices bakery white sandwich bread 2 Rbs unsalted butter, melted Freshly ground black pepper 6 oz. Grogonzola cheese, softened 3 Tbs whipping cream 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans 12 small strawberries, sliced, or 6 seedless red and green grapes quartered. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Trim crusts off bread and cut each slice into 4 squares. Brush with butter and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely. Using exlectric hand mixer, beat cheese, cream, basil and thyme together until very smooth. Spread evenly on toasts. Sprinkle each with walnuts. Top each toast with strawberry slices or grapes. Makes 24 canapés. Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Samosas, Health Systems, Mediterranean Diet.

If you read the comments, you will see a friend told me I can buy samosa wrappers locally. I was thinking about them after I had blogged yesterday, I think it would be a good thing to make a batch with different fillings and then freeze them so that you could take out one or two of each flavour at a time. Buying wrappers would certainly make it easier if not as authentic. However, not being the best pastry maker in the world, that is probably the way I would go. I nearly forgot to mention, went to Barrie's Asparagus farm yesterday and he had strawberries for sale. I bought some and last night we had a feast of berries and cream for dessert, delicious. They were pretty sweet but still needed sugar/Splenda added. This is another thing we have lost, really sweet berries. When I was a young woman in the UK we never needed to add sweetening to strawberries or raspberries. How sad. Diane Sawyer of GMA was talking to President Obama this morning about health care and smoking. He is still a smoker and struggling with it apparently. click here. Tonight Dianne and Charles Gibson of Night Line are having a meeting with the President and a lot of medical people and I believe you can call in and ask questions, about the proposals for improving medical services in the U.S. This is an article by the New York Post click here if you wish to read it. The Americans want to achieve a balance between the kind of health system they already have and a socialised scheme such as is available in both Canada and the UK. Certainly socialised medicine leaves a lot to be desired when you have to sit in an emergency room for hours on end. A lot of that is because people just don't have their own doctor, there are not enough doctors to go round. Having to go to Emergency just for medical treatment is ridiculous, although I believe they do sort out those who are really there for emergencies, but the systems get swamped. This morning there was a report on GMA about the Mediterranean Diet which is a very popular diet. They are now saying, having studied the foods and people of Greece, that certain foods on the diet are excellent for promoting longevity. Basically, a plant based diet is better for your chances of a long life. Check here to read all about it. One of the things was red wine with less than a glass of red wine for women and less than two glasses for men (I have never seen people drinking less than a glass of any wine). Although fish and grains are good for you, they are apparently not instruments for promoting longevity. Longevity is all very well if you have the health to go with it. One of the foods mentioned in the Mediterranean Diet was beans. Matt and I enjoy bean based foods but don't eat them as often as we maybe should. Here is a pasta salad from Eating Well which includes beans. Southern Pasta Salad with Black-Eyed Peas Makes 6 servings, 1 1/3 cup each 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) 8 ounces whole-wheat small elbows or other small pasta shape 8 ounces Swiss chard (not the red variety), washed and cut crosswise into thin strips 8 ounces smoked turkey, chopped 2 14-ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed ½ cup chopped sweet onions, such as Vidalia ¼ cup brewed coffee or tea, such as Lapsang-Souchong 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 ½ teaspoons molasses 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder ½ teaspoon ground cumin Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste 1. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and let stand until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut into slivers and set aside. 2. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes; add chard during the last minute of cooking. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool. Press to remove excess water and transfer to a large bowl. Add turkey, black-eyed peas, onions and the reserved tomatoes. 3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the pasta and chard; toss until well-combined. Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Matt, Things Sent to Try Us, Supper,

We had a lovely day yesterday, we spent from around 2:45 til 8 p.m. in St. Mary's Hospital. I have spoken about Matt's foot problems and the fact that through friction his second toe on his right foot was wounded. Yesterday morning when he got up, the wound looked worse and the toe was both swollen and red. I immediately thought 'cellulitis' and spent the rest of the morning until after lunch nagging him about going to emergency. Matt tends to keep saying "yes doctor" in the most sarcastic way possible, but guess what, when he finally saw the doc I was right. He had cellulitis once in NC must be 12-15 years ago and I read up all about it at the time. Its not funny and can lead to quite serious consequences. He now has a 10 day course of antibiotics but if things don't improve in a couple of days he will have to go back. Last time, in NC he ended up with shots in his rear end on a daily basis for a while. If you can't stand nasty pictures, don't look up cellulitis on Google. Just to add to our woes, they really couldn't read the doc's signature at the pharmacy so they had to fax and ask what it was. Neither of us remembered what his name was. He looked too young to me to be a doctor anyway. They say you know when you are old when cops look like kids, its the doctors that seem too young to me. This waiting business is ridiculous, St. Mary's is supposed to be faster than Grand River which is the other hospital with an emergency room in town. I know we have waited 8 hours or more there on occasion. It used to be this bad in Britain, but I was talking to a couple of holiday makers from Britain when we were in Grand River and they said it wasn't like that in the UK any more. Anyway, when we got home the super had replaced the light in the bedroom and we now have power in there. So the answering machine, having been off for four days, decided it wanted a new battery which of course we don't have. For supper we decided to grab a Melton Mowbray Pie for Matt and a couple of Samosas for me from the grocery store whilst waiting for the prescription. The Melton Mowbray Pies are originally an English recipe (pork) and the ones in our store aren't bad at all. Their Samosas weren't bad either although I think they would have been better heated. If you don't know Samosas, they are kind of Indian turnovers filled with all kinds of things, I had beef and spicy vegetable tonight, they were pretty spicy too. We just wanted something quick as it was getting late. It occurred to me you might like a recipe for samosas, I think they are fairly easy to make although I haven't tried to do so myself, I'm afraid I have always bought them. In the UK there are many Indian shops where you can do so. This is the first time I have bought them locally. Here is one from Food TV, Canadian Living Cooks. Vegetable Samosas Yield: 20 Pastry * 2 cup flour * 1/2 tsp salt * 1 tbsp vegetable oil * 3/4 cup water, (approximately) Filling * 4 medium boiling potato, (about 1 pound) * 1 tsp black mustard seeds * 1 tsp vegetable oil * 1 onion, chopped * 2 tsp minced ginger * 2 tsp mild curry paste * 3/4 cup vegetable stock * 1/2 tsp salt * 1 tbsp lemon, juice * 1/2 cup frozen peas * 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander Pastry 1. In large bowl, stir together flour and salt. Add oil and stir until well blended. Gradually add enough of the water, stirring with fork, to make a firm dough. Turn out onto floured surface. Knead 5 minutes until smooth; cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Filling 1. Peel and cut potatoes into 1/4 inch (5 mm) cubes; set aside. 2. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds to pan and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until seeds turn gray and start to pop. Remove and set aside. 3. Heat oil in pan and add onions, ginger and curry paste; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add potatoes and cook for 2 minutes. 4. Pour in stock, salt and lemon juice; bring to boil reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and liquid is almost absorbed. 5. Stir in peas and chopped coriander; remove from heat; set aside. Samosa Preparation 1. Divide pastry into 10 balls. Working with one at a time and keeping the remaining covered, roll each into a 7-inch circle. Cut the circle in half and brush edge with water. Add a rounded tablespoonful (15 mL) filling and fold the pastry to form a cone. Press the straight edges to seal. Fold the rounded edges together and crimp to seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. 2. In large shallow saucepan, heat oil to 350°F or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Cook 2 to 3 samosas at a time for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towels. Have a great day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fans, etc., Father's Day, Ministry of Food, Foodscapes.

Poor Matt has spent the greater part of the last four days trying to install a ceiling fan. The first fan we bought he got as far as installing the paddles and discovered the fan housing was bent. That was Friday. Saturday he went back and exchanged it and then installed the new fan successfully although with great difficulty. It was not well built and there were screws in such inaccessible spots that he needed a magnetic screwdriver. In the end, he gouged a piece of soap with the screw head and that worked. He also had to re-wire one part which was not threaded through a hole. (He was an electrician many years ago, so knows what he's doing) after all that, it didn't work. Sunday morning he returned it and got a tower fan. Originally there was a light in the bedroom, we saved everything when we put up the first fan, unfortunately that was close to 10 years ago and Matt is not a fit 30 yr old any more - I think he was pretty exhausted by the time he got to the light and so didn't manage it. He has given up and is going to get the super to do it. Some Father's Day. This did not help his feet problems either so today he is in even more pain. However, on Saturday at dinner, Matt gave me a delightfully romantic card with pictures by a Dutch artist Marjolein Bastin, I thought she might be English because one of the pictures includes an English Robin. Question for Mike, are Robins only in the UK or do they spread over Europe? The card was for no special reason, just to say he loved me. Aaaaah. He also called both his daughters so was really happy to talk to them. If you are a dad, I hope you had a good day yesterday. We watched Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food series last night, I am very impressed with that young man, it's all be costing him a pretty penny. In last night's programme they ended up with his first 10 students learning another recipe then passing it on to 5 more students each who then "passed it on" to more students, this went on all day with workers from different companies around Rotherham ending up with 1,000 people being taught the same recipe. Once they had cooked they got to eat the results and everyone seemed very enthusiastic. Unfortunately, not all the companies ended up backing Jamie's ideas. He has opened a Food Centre in Rotherham which he is hoping the town will take over once he has gone - from what I have read on his web site, these Food Centres seem to be working. If you are interested go to Jamie's Ministry of Food where you can also get some of his "Pass It On" recipes. Another interesting website this morning is Foodscapes by Carl Warner, there is a Daily Telegraph (UK) site with 14 of his pictures made from all kinds of foodstuffs. I am particularly fascinated with this one where the sea is made from salmon click here. Do go look at the other pictures, they are quite incredible. Mind you it does seem a bit of a waste of food. I thought I would share Blueberry Ginger Pie with you from Food and Drink (LCBO) it looks absolutely delicious to me and would make a lovely dessert for my next dinner party perhaps. Blueberry Ginger Pie Ginger goes well with blueberries and this easy pie is a great summer standby. If you do not like ginger, substitute a cookie you prefer or use all shortbread. Pastry 1 cup ginger cookie crumbs 1 cup shortbread cookie crumbs 1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes 2 oz chopped white chocolate melted. Filling 5 cups wild blueberries 1/2 cup granulated sugar (in the UK use caster sugar) 1/2 cup water 1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 tbs cornstarch (cornflour) 1 tbs water 1 tbs butter 2 tbs crème de cassis Garnish 1 cup shaved white chocolate Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place cookie crumbs and butter in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Press crumbs into a 9 inch pie or tart pan. Freeze 15 minutes or until firm. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until sides are lightly browned and bottom is not quite set. It sets as it cools. Brush melted white chocolate over cooled crumbs. Combine 2 cups blueberries, sugar, water, lemon rind and juice in a pot over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until blueberries are cooked and liquidy. Combine cornstarch and water. Add this and the buter to the pot and bring to boil, stirring. Remove from heat. Add cassis and cool to lukewarm. Fold in remaining blueberries, pile into pie shell. Refrigerate until serving time. Garnish tart with white chocolate shavings before serving. Serves 6. Have a great day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Soup, Fans and Museums,

For some reason, I have never made Tim Barrie's Mom's asparagus soup before. I have now, its absolutely delicious. Thanks Mrs. Barrie. I didn't have any chives handy so I used a Basil leaf for a garnish just for the picture. I later rinsed it and used it with more leaves to flavour the tomato soup I made as well. We ended up having some of the asparagus soup for supper, but, as I doubled up on the recipe, I have two more meals in the freezer. Matt bought us a new ceiling fan for the bedroom yesterday, our original had got wet (leak through the ceiling) a year or two back and was quite noisy - used to be the noise would lessen if you ran the fan all day, but not this year. However, he spent hours messing around with the new fan which turned out not to have a ground wire unless you used the extension piece. It was extremely difficult to attach to the ceiling. Once done, he then assembled the paddle blades and discovered the part of the housing where they should attach was bent out of shape. He was not a happy camper. A friend referred me to a BBC article about the new Acropolis Museum in Athens which is due to be opened soon. From the series of pictures, it looks to be well worth a visit. If, like me, you can only visit on line, here is the link. This picture shows the outside during the day, if you follow the link there is a better picture at night. I would love to go back to Greece, I thoroughly enjoyed my visits there, a fascinating place. I was lucky, travelling on my father's boat, to see quite a bit of the country and its famous ruins. My all time favourite was the ruins of Delphi as well as its museum which contained the famous statue of the Charioteer which was believed to originally have been part of a group with the Sun God Apollo in his chariot. At the Acropolis itself, my main memory is stumbling across the stones which were many, tumbled from the ruins. I believe I was wearing flip flops at the time and it wasn't easy walking at all. It somewhat detracted from the visit. People didn't wear running shoes as much as we do today, much more suitable footwear. I do remember the fantastic view though - I just remembered we sat on a wall by a small olive tree and smoked - God that was a long time ago, thank goodness I gave up that habit. Browsing through Food and Drink from the LCBO, I saw another appetizer I liked the look of. Don't forget Bruschetta is pronounced as if there were a k in the middle. White Bean and Tomato Bruschetta Creamy white beans enhanced with the sweet addition of toasted pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes sit atop golden garlic croûtes. This spread is the perfect backdrop for the peppery bite of watercress and juicy grape tomatoes. 1 baguette, thinly sliced 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, halved 1 can white kidney beans, 540 mL, drained and rinsed 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 4 tsp sherry vinegar 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage leaves 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Topping 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes 1/2 cup watercress leaves, or chopped baby arugula leaves 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C) Brush baguette slices with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let cool slighly. Rub each slice with the garlic halves and set aside. Discard garlic half. Purée kidney beans in food processor until almost smooth. Scrape down sides and add oil, vinegar, sage and garlic and purée until smooth. Stir in tomatoes and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For the topping, toss tomatoes and watercress with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside Spread bean mixture onto toasted baguette slices and top with tomato and watercress mixture. Place on serving platter. Makes about 40 pieces. Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 19, 2009

06 17 09 Storm Chase - Austin, MN

These are storm chasing pix from Wednesday night.

Flight 61, Crystal Skulls, Tornadoes,

How nice, nothing special to do today, I can relax. Bit of a shocker on the news last night, a plane lost its pilot during the flight. He had a heart attack and died. Of course the co-pilot took over and none of the passengers, apart from a doctor, knew anything about it, but its not something you think of happening on your flight. Apparently most flights over 8 hours carry a third pilot, although Air Canada does not, so they said. Still, presumably the co-pilot is there because he is quite capable of handling the emergency. Hard on the family too. We watched an interesting programme last night about crystal skulls. I am sure you are aware of the Indiana Jones movie on this subject, well this was almost like the movie. The Mayas have a prophesy which says that if all thirteen of these crystal skulls are not available in 2012, there will be a cataclysmic catastrophe causing the end of the world. Nasty thought. They have found something like 8 of the 13 skulls and they think they know where at least a couple more are. There is a lot of controversy about the time these were made, was it by the Atlanteans, ancient Mayans, an extra terrestrial race or were they all made in fairly modern times. You can read more about it here. People attribute all kinds of magical properties to these skulls and it was a very interesting programme last night following the adventures of a man (don't remember his name) who was married to the daughter of Mitchell-Hedges (Anna) who was something of an Indiana Jones and who's family appears to have perpetrated a hoax on the world, although the explanation of the Sotheby's story was that Mitchell-Hedges had left his crystal skull with a friend who put it up for auction. The only way for Mitchell-Hedges to get it back was to buy it!!! I'm not quite sure why the friend would do that? Extensive testing was done on the M-H skull and they ended up with the answer that "The damned thing simply shouldn't be" which rather adds to the theory of extra terrestrials. Its a very interesting story altogether. The skull on the left is made of amethyst crystal. I hope they find them all, I don't want to take chances in 2012. There have been lots of tornados in the central States, something like 28 on Wednesday night. How terrifying. I am not sure I would live in that 'corridor' as, IMHOP, they are getting more and more storms. There were pictures on TV from a storm chaser heading towards one which was half a mile wide. To me such people are mentally deficient. The rest of us run the other way. As you will see, I have posted pictures from YouTube in a separate blog. We got a new Food and Drink from the Liquor Store this week and right on the cover were these savoury bites which look absolutely fantastic. I love smoked salmon. Smoked Salmon Kettle Chip Bites The lemon kick in each bite works well to balance the salt in the chips and smoked salmon. No time to prepare the chips? Simply chop the smoked salmon, stir it into the cream cheese mixture and serve as a dip for the chips. 1/2 cup light cream cheese, softened 1 Tbs horseradish 1 Tbs minced shallot 2 tsp minced capers 1 small clove garlic, minced 1 tsp grated lemon rind 1 Tbs lemon juice 1 bag kettle cooked potato chips 1 pkg (85 g) sliced smoked salmon 2 Tbs chopped fresh chives Using an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in horseradish, shallot, capers, garlic, lemon rind and juice until smooth. Empty chips onto a large plate and select flat, similar-sized chips. Dollop a small amount of the mixture onto chips and set on a serving platter. Cut smoked salmon into thin strips and place decoratively on top of cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with chives before serving. Serves 6 to 8. Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Busy Tuesday, Fossils,

Life is suddenly pretty busy with all kinds of medical and other appointments this week which is why I couldn't write a blog this morning as I just didn't have time. We went to the Asparagus farm in the morning and I bought extra asparagus in order to make some soup. We decided to go to Cora's, in Cambridge, for lunch - we went there a few week's ago with friends if you recall. We both had crêpes mine with ham and cheese, Matt's with spinach in the crêpe and a salad alongside. Very good again. We also discovered that there is a new Cora's opening fairly close to us in Kitchener on July 6 so that is good to know. Afterwards we went to get a foot Xray for Matt and then to the surgeon to drop of the CD. After all that we finally went to Costco. We bought lots of stuff there including a leg of lamb and some lamb chops. Plus some of the haddock loins we had got there before and which are very good. Oh and lots more stuff, told you it was the $200 store. Then of course all the meat had to be split up and put away in the freezer. Don't forget we are not young and fit like some of you so this all takes a lot of effort. Today it was my foot nurse plus Matt had to buy a lottery ticket for tonight. He won $10 on last week's. I wish there had been a few more zeros after that - tomorrow its eyes and the weekly shop. At the moment nothing on Friday, whoopee. On Nova last night there was a fascinating programme about finding the bones of an animal they had never seen before or heard of anything similar in the world. The bones were discovered in an ancient cave in Australia by accident, as so often happens. They called it a Thylacoleo. It was a marsupial lion. Through extensive research they have worked out what it would have been like although they guessed the skin colouring of course, as well as how it hunted and killed its food. They figure it was a very aggressive animal and not one to meet on a dark night which is when it probably would have hunted. There was computerised video of the animal - its amazing what can be done now. I have decided to make the Asparagus soup from Tim Barrie's web page which is linked on this page. It's his mother's recipe. I just might make a batch of the purée and freeze it so I have plenty for future soups.

Barrie's Asparagus Soup Recipe

My Mom's Famous!!! 1 lb asparagus chopped 1/4 cup chopped onion 2 cups chicken broth 2 tbsp butter or margerine 2 tbsp flour 1/2 tsp salt dash pepper 1 cup milk 1/2 cupsour cream or yogurt 1 tsp fresh lemon juice fresh chives for garnish In a covered saucepan, boil the asparagus, onion, and 1 cup of the chicken broth. When asparagus is still tender and bright green blend to a puree (this purêe can be frozen and used for future batches). In a large saucepan heat the butter and flour on medium to make a paste. Cook until golden. Stir occasionally as you add the 2nd cup chicken broth, making sure lumps don't form. Stir in the salt, pepper, purée, milk. Bring to a boil. Take soup off heat. Measure the yogurt or sour cream into a bowl and stir in spoonfuls of hot soup, little by little. Now, carefully stir this warmed yogurt or sour cream mixture back into the pan of soup. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, or to taste. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkled with chopped chives. (makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups of soup) Have a great day.