Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wild Horses, Pandas,

Watching GMA Weekend, there was a story about the wild mustangs of Nevada who are being rounded up by a government agency in order to 'manage' the herds. They are herding them by helicopter and then penning them. They say the animals are beginning to starve because they have eaten themselves out of house and home. Some of the animals may go to private owners, but many could end up being slaughtered. Apparently Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, wants to move them to different areas of the States in order to preserve them. Wild horses are part of the American west and it would be so very sad to see them go. If you want to read more about it, there is an article here and a series of photos here - I couldn't find the report, but on TV it talked about a millionaire's wife wanting to buy thousands of acres of land to set up as a reserve for these horses. There are wild horses running free in quite a few states but I guess land is getting scarcer because humans want to use it. Whilst researching the horses, I came across a brief reference to a Panda in a US zoo which is being sent to China next week. Apparently the cub Tai Shan is being returned to China for breeding. His parents return to China at the end of the year. The zoo is in Washington and I have no doubt they will be devastated to lose their cub. The article doesn't say anything about whether the cub will be returned at a later date or not. I can't honestly say I approve of all this shipping of animals on a regular basis. I know they take lots of care, but the animals must be totally confused and have no idea what is happening to them. Can you imagine flying without understanding anything about it. A pretty traumatic experience I would think. They wouldn't know how to relieve the pressure in their ears or anything like that. Do the hostesses bring them snacks and drinks LOL? We have friends coming for dinner this evening so I decided to try another recipe from What's Cooking, the Snowball Chocolate Cake which I mentioned a week or two ago. I have said before that I don't generally make food which comes out of packets, but I thought I would try this one as it looked so good. It was rather funny, in retrospect, although not so funny at the time, I hadn't checked the ingredients we had bought and it turned out that the mixture for the frosting wouldn't set or thicken. Then I finally saw on the packet that I had not bought an instant pudding mix but one that had to be cooked. I decided to try cooking it anyway and it seems to have worked OK in the end, but it was a bit panic stations for a while and I thought we were going to have to rush to the store for the right ingredients. It is now sitting in the fridge looking pretty good. I am almost certain I posted this recipe before, but I can't find it, so here it is again. If you would like to see a video of how the cake is made, go to this website I'll let you know on Monday whether it tastes as good as it looks. Snowball Chocolate Cake

Kraft What's Cooking 1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix 1 pkg. (250 g) PHILADELPHIA Brick Cream Cheese, softened 1 egg 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar 1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Instant Pudding 1/4 cup icing sugar 1 cup cold milk 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping 1 cup flaked coconut HEAT oven to 350ºF. PREPARE cake batter, in 2-1/2-L ovenproof bowl, as directed on package; scrape side of bowl. Beat cream cheese, egg and granulated sugar until well blended; spoon into centre of batter in bowl. BAKE 1 hour 5 min. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in bowl 10 min. Loosen cake from bowl with knife; invert onto wire rack. Remove bowl. Cool cake completely. MEANWHILE, beat dry pudding mix, icing sugar and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in Cool Whip. Refrigerate until ready to use. PLACE cake on plate; frost with pudding mixture. Cover with coconut. Keep refrigerated. Kraft Kitchens Tips Size-WiseAt 16 servings, this fun-to-make cake is a great dessert to serve at a holiday party. Easy CleanupSave on cleanup by mixing and baking the cake batter in the same bowl! Substitute 3 squares (84 g) Baker's White Chocolate, grated, for the coconut. To grate, first warm the chocolate in microwave on DEFROST 1 min. for each square or until warm. Use a coarse grater for best results.

Have a great day

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chocolate Paradise, Snow,

Chocolate Lovers Paradise, a friend sent a link to the BBC in England where there is a video of a chocolate exhibition in China. Apparently China are taking to chocolate like a duck to water and the exhibition features all kinds of things made of Belgian chocolate, including The Great Wall of China, clothing, cars, everything, all edible. I particularly liked the chocolate dragon one model was wearing. I am not sure I could ever get to wear anything like that, I would be too busy sampling it. If you want to see this fascinating exhibition, the link is here - watch and drool. The girl in this picture is dressed in chocolate.
We had yet more snow last night, yesterday, it snowed on and off all day. In fact at one point we couldn't see the trees outside our window. We didn't go bowling in the end, partly because of the weather and partly because I had a stomach upset and just didn't feel like it. I spoke to one friend who went and she told me she had missed the turn off into New Hamburg because she couldn't see. She also saw a speeding truck almost jack knife as he slid for quite a distance sideways. She hoped he was carrying spare underwear! The problem with weather like that, it isn't just driving, its what other drivers do and there are some real idiots out there who don't consider what a difference the conditions make. There were lots of accidents all over the place yesterday, as reported by the news broadcasts. Safer to stay home.
Having talked about chocolate I had to give you a chocolate recipe. This one is from Hershey's kitchens and really appealed to me. I even included the high altitude directions, just in case! Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water ONE-BOWL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING(recipe follows) Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. 2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. (Cake may be left in rectangular pan, if desired.) Frost with ONE-BOWL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING. 8 to 10 servings. ONE-BOWL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened 2-2/3 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa 1/3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting. HIGH ALTITUDE DIRECTIONS (Cake): -- Decrease sugar to 1-3/4 cups -- Increase flour to 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons -- Decrease baking powder to 1-1/4 teaspoons -- Decrease baking soda to 1-1/4 teaspoons -- Increase milk to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons -- Bake at 375°F, 30 to 35 minutes for both pan sizes
Have a great day

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Showers, Rescues, Recalls.

I'm not sure when I will actually publish this post, I have to finish my coffee and rush off to shower early because the water is going to be turned off all day today. We aren't planning to be around but the weather may have changed our minds. The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing and to paraphrase, we might weather the storm better at home. The bowling alley is a good half hour's journey through country roads which would be very susceptible to snow blowing across and causing whiteouts, so as we don't have to leave til about 11 (we meet for lunch) we will be watching the weather carefully. What I am worrying about is the tournament I have to take part in in late February. Hamilton, where it is taking place, has steep hills to get down to it which can be nasty in this kind of weather. Talking of water, we have just discovered that the reason we have been having trouble with maintaining the temperature on our showers is due to the diverter. Didn't know about such things but was talking to the ex super and it happened to come up in conversation. I shall be contacting our current super toute suite. Right, I'm off to shower. All clean now *g*. Like the puddy tat in the pic. Did you hear about the young girl who had been discovered in the ruins in Haiti yesterday, two weeks she has been buried - she was in a college building where she had just recently started studying. Apparently the main thing wrong was an injured leg and the medics say she will survive. Pretty incredible story. They have found others in the last few days, but this was 15 days after. It makes you wonder if there are others alive somewhere else in all that rubble. It must be very frightening to spend all that time wondering if anyone is going to find you or whether you are going to die. Horrifying thoughts must go through your brain. I wonder if you sleep most of the time? I am pleased to say its stopped snowing so there is hope for us yet. Toyota can't be too happy at the moment they are having to recall more than a million cars and trucks and they have extended their recall to Europe and China because there is a rare fault on the gas (accelerator) pedal which might stick down or only return to position very slowly. What is worse for Canada is that these pedals were made in Ontario - if Toyota is losing $millions you know they will be passing on the costs to the manufacturing plant. In the tough economic climate this is not going to be funny. Another Skinny Snack picked up from the GMA recipe files. I don't know that I could stop at one with some of these snacks. Maybe I should make the ones I don't much like the sound of and then I wouldn't be tempted. That reminds me, we decided to go down to the pizzeria we have just discovered through a friend, its called Delicious Pizza, we found out they do quite a few other things as well as pizzas. We ordered a Fromaggia with extra tomatoes, it was very good. I also bought a slice of Tiramisu, it was good too, but I wish I hadn't!!! Cappuccino Truffles From the Kitchen of Taste of Home Servings: Over 8 Ingredients 1 tablespoon boiling water 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 tablespoons butter, softened 3 tablespoons sugar Directions In a small bowl, combine the water, coffee and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir in coffee mixture. Press plastic wrap onto surface. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle. In a small bowl, combine sugar and remaining cinnamon. Shape chocolate into 1-in. balls; roll in cinnamon-sugar. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm. Yield: about 1 1/2 dozen. Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving (1 each) equals 43 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, trace protein. Have a great day

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TIAs, Fat Ratios,

Matt had yet another TIA yesterday and so we spent time in the hospital again. Wonder of wonders though, we were only there about 2 1/2 hours. That must be a record. However, he is being sent to a neurologist as the doc felt he shouldn't be having so many of these things. He already has an appointment with a neurologist because of his recent episode which shaking so now I guess its up to me to co-ordinate these.
On GMA this morning, there was a segment about body fat. Even if you appear to be at a normal weight, you still might have too high a ratio of body fat to muscle. They were pointing out how dangerous this can be to health and shorten one's life (that puts me in trouble). Even if you have lost a lot of weight, you still might have excess body fat which means you are still at risk. There is an article here which tells more about the risks which include diabetes, heart problems and strokes. One way to counteract is to change the way you exercise and add more weight bearing exercises in order to build more muscle. By the way, the Surgeon General in the States is saying that not exercising is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
There was another segment about little kids wearing high heels, not just young kids, but kids still in diapers. I don't mean staggering around in mother's high heels playing dress up, but actually having their own high heeled shoes. The doctors are worried and say the children are at risk of limb damage when their leg and feet bones are still forming. Suri Cruise (Tom Cruise's littlie) has been photographed wearing 'kitten' heels on several occasions apparently. Another concern is that it may sexualise little girls and therefore put them in another risk category. Seems to me they are in that category anyway without wearing heels. Again if you would like to read the article it is at
Because Good Morning America want you to reduce your fat ratio and knowing that people will still snack, they have a whole load of healthy and flavourful snacks which you can make at home. here is one which appealed to me - well its chocolate!!!
Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Bars Skinny Snacks From the Kitchen of Taste of Home Servings: Over 8 Ingredients 3/4 cup water 1/3 cup butter 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 egg white 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream Cream cheese mixture: 1 package Kraft Philadelphia® Cream Cheese Light (8 ounces) 1/3 cup sugar 1 egg white 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces) Directions In a small saucepan, combine the water, butter and chocolate. Cook and stir over low heat until melted; stir until smooth. Cool. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the egg, egg white and sour cream on low speed just until combined. Beat in chocolate mixture until smooth. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg white and vanilla until smooth; set aside. Spread chocolate batter into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Drop the cream cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls over batter; cut through batter with a knife to swirl. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Yield: about 2 dozen.
Have a great day

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trillions, Sailing Teens and Computers.

Governments toss around billions and trillions when talking money, it has become kind of commonplace and most of us don't really know how much that is. However, in Recipe du Jour yesterday there was a link to a visualisation which shows you comaprisons of what these figures really mean. The one that struck me was the visualisation of the US National Debt in March 2009 - it is shown in $1 bills and is absolutely mind boggling. And that is a year ago, a lot has happened since then to send the figures soaring. If you would like to see the rest of the visualisations, go to and look at the slide show. Funnily enough, last night I watched Brewster's Millions starring Richard Pryor and John Candy. He had to dispose of $30 million in one month in order to inherit another $300 million. Seemed coincidental talking about the trillions governments spend without batting an eye.

Yesterday I wrote about Australian Jessica Watson planning to sail around the world and be the youngest to do so, a friend in Oz pointed out to me that there are actually two 16 yr. olds trying to gain that title, the other being a young American girl Abby Sunderland. I wish them luck, but I think their parents are nuts. I had had no idea there were two youngsters trying to do the same thing. Both young women have blog pages although Abby doesn't seem to have written anything since she set sail where you will find a link to Jessica's blog and for Abby's. Seems I got it all wrong, Jessica set sail in October whereas Abby has only recently left the States. There are some interesting pages on Jessica's blog with pictures of Cape Horn which can and did produce very violent storms and has sunk lots of ships - it can also produce total calms which can be a big problem for a sailing ship. Jessica apparently went through a pretty violent storm and makes for interesting reading. She must have been pretty shaken I would think.

Tickled me today, shades of modern life, our granddaughter was complaining she couldn't finish her homework because the printer wasn't working. In the days when I was doing homework, computers weren't available at all. I was going to say they hadn't been invented, but in fact the binary system was invented hundreds of years ago. The computer as we know it today was not invented though. I remember my first encounter with a computer was at work where everything was programmed with punch cards and such (don't ask me the details, I don't know them) and one of the staff assured me that I would never be able to use a computer because my math was no good. I am glad they changed them because he was probably right then. Now I spend a great deal of time on a computer.

I got my newsletter from Mushrooms Canada yesterday and I am surprised to discover that mushrooms are full of Vitamin D. They contain about 9% of an adult's required intake per day. I know Vitamin D is provided by sunshine, but a lot of people are too scared to spend time exposing their skin to sunlight so alternate sources are required. Mushrooms are apparently one of them.

Mushroom Stuffed Pizza Pockets Mushrooms Canada

A larger version of this Italian recipe is often called a calzone. Vary the fillings to your families liking and you will win raves at the table.

Ingredients 5-6 medium fresh white Mushrooms (about 3 oz/90g pre-sliced) 1/2 cup diced green pepper 125 mL 1/4 cup pre-cooked bacon pieces or pepperoni 50 mL 1/2 cup pizza or spaghetti sauce 125 mL 3/4 cup pre-shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend 175 mL 1 pkg (10 oz/283 g) refrigerated pizza dough 1 tbsp milk 15 mL 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 15 mL Method 1. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel or mushroom brush. On the cutting board with the sharp knife trim bottom of stems; coarsely chop the mushrooms to fill 1¼ cups (300 mL). 2. Place the mushrooms, diced green pepper, bacon, pizza sauce and cheese in the bowl; stir to mix well. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). 3. On a lightly floured counter or cutting board unroll the pizza dough according to package directions. Roll or press out to 12”(30 cm) x10” (25 cm) rectangle. With sharp knife cut into 4 equal pieces. 4. Using a pastry brush moisten edges of each piece of dough with water. Mound ¼ of mixture onto half of each piece of dough leaving a ½”(1 cm) border. Pull and stretch the other half of dough over the filling and press edges firmly together. 5. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and place pizza pockets about 2”(5 cm) apart on it. With the tines of a fork press edges firmly again to seal and prick a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape. 6. Brush top of pockets with milk and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 7. Place baking sheet in middle of oven and bake for 13 –15 min until lightly browned and crisp on top. 8. Using oven mitts remove baking sheet from oven and place on cooling rack for 5 minutes. 9. With sharp knife cut in half diagonally to serve if desired. Makes 4 pizza pockets Tip: If rolling dough on a cutting board, place a damp dishcloth under the board to prevent it from moving around. Variations: Substitute broccoli for green pepper and ham for bacon.

Have a great day

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sleep Talking, Sailing Round the World, Books,

Over the weekend I heard about a woman who's husband talks in his sleep and says the wierdest things - she has made a blog out of it all and has had over a million hits. It seems quite incredible to me. Some people are wondering just how true it is, I know Matt doesn't believe it. He now tells me I talk in my sleep although he has never really understood what I said. I had no idea although I do remember once my first husband, John, saying I shot bolt upright in bed one night saying "I'll have a gin and crusho" as I don't drink gin and we have no idea what a crusho is, it seemed somewhat odd. I am disappointed that Matt doesn't know what I am saying although I do remember, now I am writing about it, I was once told I gabbled in an invented language when asleep. I think that was in my much younger days. I had forgotten all about it.
Another story in the news is about the 16 yr. old, Jessica Watson, who has set off to sail around the world single handedly. There is a lot of fierce argument about the whole thing. She says she feels she understands the ocean - at 16, I don't think so. Matt and I have lived on the water most of our lives and wouldn't say we understood it. I wish her all the best now she is under way, but I personally think its a damn fool thing for a 16 yr. old to do. I know what the oceans can throw at you. I have lived through hurricanes (admittedly not at sea), I have been at sea during a force 8 gale when we were all scared silly and hoping to survive and if any of you saw The Perfect Storm, there is no saying that she couldn't run into something like that. I wouldn't want a youngster of mine attempting such a thing. If you would like to read more about it go to where I believe there will be regular reports of her trip. Her yacht is supposed to be virtually unsinkable - now where have I heard that before?
I am, by the way, using my treadmill regularly and gradually building up the time I spend on it. I got hold of a book on CD (I was surprised how many CDs) and listen to it whilst walking. Its one of the Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun, The Cat Who Turned On and Off, I read one, about a year ago I believe, they are quite fun. Sunday I also finished the Suicide Kings by George R.R. Martin. Turned out to be a good story but it jumped around a great deal going to several different characters in one chapter. Multiple points of view I guess is the term. It certainly wasn't a book I could read quickly. I am not sure if I want to read any more of the series or not. Had I done so before, I would have latched on to what the heck was happening a lot quicker. At first I found it all really wierd. I have now got A Darkness Forged in Fire to read plus the sequel The Light of Burning Shadows by Chris Evans. I know nothing about these two at the moment so we shall see what transpires.
On the 17th I published a recipe from What's Cooking called Catalina Cranberry Chicken. I cooked it last night and we have leftovers for tonight. It was absolutely delicious. I was very pleased with it. I can highly recommend it and it was so simple to do, you just mix the ingredients, dollop it over some chicken and cook for 50 minutes, what could be simpler. The result was really, really good, so do try it. I had thought of cooking it at the weekend for guests, but I didn't really know what it was going to be like. I am generally not an advocate of cooking with packets of this or cans of that, but this was certainly a worthwhile exception. Now we don't really want to eat it again that soon so we have to put our thinking caps on. I am definitely planning a dessert from the same magazine for Saturday, but the main course is still up in the air.
OK, so I was so impressed with our chicken dish tonight I thought I would share this dessert with you. It says 16 servings, I am not too sure about that, I guess it depends on who is eating these servings, right?
Caramel-Nut Cheesecake
What's Cooking by Kraft
16 servings
1-1/4 cups HONEY MAID Graham Crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 pkg. (250 g each) PHILADELPHIA Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream 3 eggs
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
3 Tbsp. caramel ice cream topping
HEAT oven to 350ºF. MIX crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 min. MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each just until blended. Pour over crust. BAKE 40 to 45 min. or until centre is almost set; cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with nuts and caramel topping just before serving. Have a great day

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hope for Haiti, Tournaments,

Last night there was a telethon on TV (Hope for Haiti) to raise money for Haiti relief. Apparently Canadians coughed up to the tune of $9.4 million which is pretty incredible. Canadians are very good about such things, I remember they donated millions for the tsunami relief a few years ago. The government has already spent millions on shipping supplies to Haiti and is pledging a lot more help. In fact the incredible outpouring of assistance from so many parts of the world is very heartwarming. The problem is, a lot of people are still without water and food - there are many almost insurmountable problems on the ground which prevent distribution. Not least of which is the looting and fighting which is going on. I saw one programme which showed the hospitals of towns along the border in the Dominican Republic which are also overloaded with wounded refugees. Plane loads of orphaned children are being shipped into Canada to be adopted by generous Canadian people. There were a lot of Canadians working in Haiti, some of whom lost their lives in the earthquake. Many were there as ministers to help the Haitian people. I believe the latest total of Canadian deaths was 11 but there are still at least 1,000 unaccounted for. Of course out of 100,000 deaths, maybe 11 isn't that many unless its your child or spouse.
Meanwhile back at the ranch - we went to our usual bowling for Friday afternoon and I spent part of the time organising our team for a tournament which will take place in June. The same team took part last year and we bowled in New Hamburg, this year the bowling will take place at Towne Bowl which is just down the road from us. We have also decided to go to the banquet which, being in town, isn't too far to go. Its on Wabanaki Dr., where on earth did that name come from? I had never heard of it before and had to check it out on a Google Map. As for the bowling itself, I am pleased to say I beat my average in each game, not by a lot, but I was still over. I still have my Executive tournament at the end of February. I do hope it won't decide to start snowing hard again right then. So far we have had a pretty easy winter.
We watched Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. It wasn't bad although the first movie was the best. Nowadays Susan and he have a youngster who is put into school whilst they are in LA (Los Angeles means Lost Angels according to Dundee) and then Mick Dundee proceeds to have adventures in town. We quite enjoyed the movie. There were some pretty funny scenes but Paul Hogan was looking old and the movie was made in 2001 so goodness knows what he looks like today. Funny, put a similar hat on Matt and he looks just like him. A friend in the States who had such a hat and fancied himself as a look alike was most put out when Matt put the hat on and everyone exclaimed at the likeness.
The guy who works at the bowling alley on Fridays is interested in cooking and he was telling me he had seen a recipe on TV the other day with lamb shanks and apple sauce. I came home and Googled it because it sounded so good. I couldn't seem to find anything similar with apple sauce, but the following has apple cider which sounds pretty good to me. I also found another by Jamie Oliver but it was a tad heavy on chillis for me. Chefs seem to have gone overboard on hot and spicy foods these days. Over here, what I would describe as hot would probably be described as spicy, I find this a tad confusing, so be assured I mean the foods are overly hot as in burn your mouth off.
Michael Smith's Braised Lamb Shanks Michael Smith Chef at Home Ease of Preparation: Easy A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason feel free to stir your own ideas into this dish. When you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don't like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own! Yield: 4
Ingredients 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 4 lamb shanks 4 carrots, peeled and chopped 4 celery stalks, chopped 2 onions, peeled and chopped 1 litre apple cider 2 cups raisins 1 tablespoon cinnamon 4 bay leaves 2 crisp apples, cored and chunked Salt and pepper 1 celery rib, sliced 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1 apple, cored and chunked Directions 1.Heat a heavy bottomed stew pot over medium high heat and add oil. 2.When it begins to smoke, add lamb shanks and brown until they are a deep golden colour on all sides. 3.Remove from pan and rest on a plate. 4.Drain excess fat from pot, then return the shanks to the pot. 5.Add carrots, celery, onions, apple cider, raisins, cinnamon, bay leaves, and the apples. 6.Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. 7.Cover tightly and braise for 1.5 to 2 hours, until meat is very tender and almost falling off the bone. 8.Add sliced celery, carrot and apple during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Have a great day

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cash for Gold, Movie, The News.

For some time there have been ads on the TV about sending away your gold and getting a cash offer for its value. Both of us thought this was more of a con than a straightforward deal, now it appears that it is not the best thing to do. Good Morning America investigators have found the offers for the value of the gold were very much under market value. Not only that, if someone asked for their gold to be returned problems developed. In some cases the gold had already been melted down, in others the gold was lost in the mail and not insured by the gold merchant, another case the offer was increased by 100% although still not up to what was considered the market price of the gold. The US government have brought out new legislation, but I still consider mailing your gold to anyone to be a very risky business. Much better to take it to a reputable jeweller or precious metals dealer and even, to take it to one or two places to get comparisons. We watched a pretty good movie last night called The Replacements with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves (don't tell anyone but I know very little about American Football) it was about a strike by a professional football team and how the owner called on Gene Hackman to form another team to get them to the Superbowl (I think), it was very funny and really a most enjoyable film and even if you don't know much about the sport it was still a good movie. There was a soumo wrestler who could really shove, a Welsh soccer player they brought in for the penalty kicks, one guy who hated anything in a red shirt and several times knocked out members of his own team! A prisoner on loan for the short term and a cop, amongst others, quite a funny collection of players out of which Gene Hackman had to weld a team. Do see it if you get a chance. The news is still full of Haiti and miracle discoveries of missing people, California and its feared mud slides and John Edwards and his family. Not sure why they can't leave them alone to sort out their own lives. Regarding Haiti I heard a list of major donors the other day and it was pointed out that India had only donated one million and some of the oil rich countries hadn't donated a cent. Other small countries that didn't have much money had, nevertheless, donated quite large sums. Mind you, both Canada and the US have donated large sums which has put their national debts even further behind. If we could stop all this fighting in the middle east, it would be financially better all round if nothing else. There are great difficulties getting the supplies to the people, many of whom are fighting to get such supplies although in many ways you can't blame them. If you, and particularly your children, haven't eaten in several days I guess you are going to fight to get your share. The Americans have sent in soldiers to help keep the peace and assist in distribution, but they can't be everywhere all the time. Hersheys are promoting guilt free desserts this week, I'm not sure that can really happen, however, this is one of their light recipes which looked delicious to me. Lighter Than Air Chocolate Delight Hershey's
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1/2 cup cold water 1 cup boiling water 1-1/3 cups nonfat dry milk powder 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa or HERSHEY'S Cocoa 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Dash salt Granulated sugar substitute to equal 14 teaspoons sugar 8 large ice cubes 1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in blender container; let stand 4 minutes to soften. Gently stir with rubber spatula, scraping gelatin particles off sides; add boiling water to gelatin mixture. Cover; blend until gelatin dissolves. Add dry milk powder, cocoa, vanilla and salt; blend on medium speed until well mixed. Add sugar substitute and ice cubes; blend on high speed until ice is crushed and mixture is smooth and fluffy. 2. Immediately pour into 4-cup mold. Cover; refrigerate until firm. Unmold onto serving plate. 8 servings. NOTE: Eight individual dessert dishes may be used in place of 4-cup mold, if desired. Have a great day

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alzheimer's and Infidelity.

Alzheimer's or senile dementia has always been a big worry of mine because at least two relatives in my father's family were apparently senile when they died. Dr. Oz was talking about Alzheimer's on Good Morning America today and describing some of the differences between loss of memory caused by old age or by Alzheimer's. It is OK to forget where you left your glasses, but if you end up finding them in the fridge, that is not OK! If you start to go somewhere and forget where you are going (as in heading for the store or for the doctor's) that is a bad sign. Struggling with words is another bad sign. Read the article here. If you can't bring the word 'key' to mind, for instance, and have to invent ways to describe it, like "the thing that opens the door" that could be the onset of a problem. I have to say that does happen to me now and again. I like to think its because I have so many things buzzing around in my brain at the time, but I guess it coould be a bad sign. However, when you look at the reams of stuff I write in my blog, I don't think I am there yet. The disease is getting more and more prevalent in the States with some 5.3 Americans having it and a new diagnosis every 70 seconds. Dr. Oz talked about prevention and considers what you eat to be very important, in other words, the Mediterranean diet - the percentage of Alzheimer's in the Mediterranean countries is far less. Turmeric, which is present in curries, is a good thing to eat too. One assumes India also has a low incidence although he didn't specifically say. When we were living in North Carolina, John Edwards won the governership. He is such a handsome man and he seemed to have a wonderful family. Then we heard about his extra marital affair and now they say he has a Love Child from this affair. Then there is lots of speculation about Tiger Woods and where he is. The rumours say he has signed into a sex addiction clinic. What nonsense, you can't stop men being addicted to sex its in the genes. They are designed by nature to procreate the species and,. to quote The King and I, to go "from flower, to flower, to flower". As a wife one just hopes that they won't want to. They were talking yesterday about how many women were now earning more than their husbands and how it was now beneficial for men to get married to such high earning women (it used to be the other way round after all). Of course it was not unusual once upon a time for men to marry heiresses. Frequently men with an impoverished title would marry into a moneyed family. I am always looking for different ways of preparing vegetables and whilst perusing the GMA website, I noticed this one for carrots. Roasted Carrots with Fresh Thyme Emeril Lagasse Healthy Side Dish Servings: 4 Carrots are an inexpensive, all-purpose root vegetable that is often overlooked. This delicious dish is a cinch to prepare." Ingredients 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch lengths 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 sprigs fresh thyme 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon honey Directions Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a medium oven-proof saute pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the carrots, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Add the thyme sprigs and butter, and drizzle with the honey. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the carrots are golden and crisp-tender. Serve immediately. Have a great day

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mudslides and Earthquakes, Book,

California is very worried at the moment, having had lots of fires which have denuded the hillsides, they are now getting lots of rain and could get major mudslides at any moment. Not a very nice predicament. So much for Paradise. The more I hear of California, the less I would like to live there. Not to mention the San Andreas fault.
It appears, however, that America is riddled with fault lines and earthquakes happen all the time, one major fault line being the New Madrid running along the centre of the States from St. Louis to Memphis. I am not sure if the same applies to Canada, although I can't see why not, but I do know I was in an earth shake some 25 years ago whilst living here. They have just had an aftershock in Haiti which was 6.1 on the Richter scale. That is some aftershock, more like another major quake to me. I wrote about earthquakes once before and on researching was staggered to find out about quakes in the UK which I had fondly imagined to be exempt. Not something you hear about very often. I guess most of the world is at risk in one way or another. There is an interesting article about American fault lines here
We had a sprinkling of snow during the night but not enough to cause much problem which is good as Matt has to drive to Cambridge this morning. A half hour trip, roughly. Last night we played cribbage with a neighbour and the pair of them thrashed me despite my having a 24 hand which is a pretty good hand in cribbage, 29 being the best of all. I am reading a very odd story which I have discovered is actually part of a series called Wild Cards, I had never heard of them and I am not sure I want to read any more. This one is by George R.R. Martin who's previous writing, such as the Song of Ice and Fire books, I have very much enjoyed. This one is called the Suicide Kings and is the latest in a long line of books written by different authors. The basic premise is that there was a virus which either killed people or turned them into mutants - half man half rhino (jokers), mildly powerful (the deuces) and superpeople caled Aces. The virus is actually called the Wild Card virus and they talk about what someone was like before his/her card was turned!! I'm sort of enjoying it, but some of it I really am not sure about. I will persevere though. I am currently about 1/3 of the way through it.
French Onion soup is very popular in this part of the world and I think most restaurants around here do their own version. Earing Well have produced a quick version which might appeal to some of you. This recipe states French Onion Soup is not enough for a full meal, it is in my book, especially the way it used to be served in Belgium. By the time you had finished a bowl of soup there, you wouldn't want anything else.
Quick French Onion Soup From EatingWell: May/June 2008
French onion soup is a favorite but it usually isn't substantial enough to make a complete meal. We've solved this problem by adding fiber-rich chickpeas to a broth flavored with sherry and three kinds of onions. Of course, we didn't forget the gooey topping, we've just made it a little lighter and a lot easier to prepare at home—simply top toasted whole-wheat bread with cheese and pour the soup on to melt it. 6 servings
Ingredients •1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil •2 large sweet onions, sliced •2 cups chopped spring onions, or leeks, whites and light green parts only •2 tablespoons chopped garlic •1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried •1/4 cup dry sherry, (see Ingredient Note) •1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper •3 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium beef broth •1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed •1/4 cup minced fresh chives, or scallions •6 slices whole-wheat country bread •1 cup shredded Gruyère, or fontina cheese
Preparation 1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sweet onions and stir to coat. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add spring onions (or leeks), garlic and thyme and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. 2.Stir in sherry and pepper; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in chives (or scallions). 3.Meanwhile, toast bread and divide it among 6 bowls; top with cheese. Ladle the soup over the bread and cheese and serve immediately.
Nutrition Per serving : 374 Calories; 10 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 20 mg Cholesterol; 48 g Carbohydrates; 18 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 591 mg Sodium; 555 mg Potassium 3 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 1/2 fat Tips & Notes •Ingredient note: Sherry is a type of fortified wine originally from southern Spain. Don't use the “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, purchase dry sherry that's sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store.
Have a great day

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catalyst, Licenses and Tenors.

I have just finished reading Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. It is the beginning of a series about The Barque Cats which, I understand, were briefly mentioned in another series of books. I enjoyed it and will be looking out for further books - the next is supposed to be Catacombs. I am assuming most of the writing was not Anne McCaffrey, didn't have quite the same tone. If you are a cat lover, you should certainly enjoy this story. Its based on space ship cats - all good ships have cats on board after all. Matt had to go for blood tests this morning and then was planning to go to the Health Office to get his new health card. We have been told about all the queues at this office so he figured he would get there when they opened at 8:30 a.m. I hope he managed to get there first of all. He then has to get his driver's license this year too. I wonder how come these things come all at once. They have moved all the license offices since last we got one, there used to be two locally, but now we have to go search for the nearest one. Turns out I sent him to the wrong office. I have now managed to get him an appointment. I have no idea who's card this is, but I wanted to show you what one looked like. I don't know what they do in Britain these days, we just quoted a number when I lived there, but here we have to show this card whenever we go for any kind of medical treatment although apparently some people still have the original red and white card. We watched a programme last night with Placido Domingo from Berlin. Turned out it was actually filmed in 2006, but there were two young singers with him Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, both of whom impressed us very much. I guess we don't keep up with opera singers much these days. One sees tenor groups on TV occasionally and we used to see Luciano Pavarotti a lot when he was alive. We have seen some re-runs of his concerts, but these two young singers are certainly new to us. Matt knows more about voice than I do having been a singer as a youngster, and he was particularly impressed with Rolando Villazón who sang one song which is a real test for a singer - no, sorry can't remember the title. The picture, by the way, is from the DVD. Having talked about chicken thigh recipes, a friend sent me this recipe which she said is delicious. It appears she increased the quantities a lot and made something of a crust of the 'sprinkle' ingredients. Garlic Lime Chicken Le-Anne Eli “Saving Dinner” 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon thyme 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup chicken broth 4 tablespoons lime juice Mix first 7 ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. The recipe calls for the seasoning to be sprinkled on the chicken. I spread the seasoning onto a dinner plate and pressed the chicken into it, covering all sides. Heat butter and olive oil in skillet. Add chicken breasts and brown well on both sides (about 5 minutes each) Remove chicken to a plate. Add chicken broth and lime juice to skillet. Scrape all the brown bits up and bring to a boil Add chicken back in and simmer until completely cooked Have a great day