Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hospitals, Christmas, Heating, Aging

Isn’t there something wrong when you cannot go into hospital without losing your jewellery (if you are unconscious that is) a friend recently did just that and lost everything including her wedding ring. I know one elderly woman in the States who lost her wallet too. If either of us is going in to the hospital – even though we are conscious, we remove everything, we take our health card and drug information and that’s it. But, who, why, what? Is it the staff that steal? The nurses, the doctors? Presumably it’s the nurses who remove the jewellery from the patients? Then what happens to it? Nobody seems to give a damn and surely someone should.

Sugar Free CakeWhen I lived in the States, I used to buy things occasionally from Swiss Colony who make the most decadent goodies. I recently discovered they do a line in sugar free items including a Christmas cake. When I went on line it said these things could not be shipped to Canada, however, I have just phoned them and I can get the Christmas Cake and some cookies shipped. I wanted their sugar free vanilla cheesecake but they cannot ship that. Oh well. I used to buy their Dobosh Tortes which were to die for, if you are in the States, you should check them out. They do all kinds of other foods such as hams and cheeses.

I mentioned, on Saturday, about the heat problem in our apartment. It is on its way to being fixed, but at the moment its like living in a sauna bath even though we have the windows open. At least we left for a while yesterday to go bowling, think I will have to visit somewhere today just to get away from it. The super says he will be getting a part today and then fixing it – ve shall see. He did at least come up to check everything out last night.

I briefly heard something on the news last night about reversing the aging process. They have had some success with mice apparently. If they do manage something like that, I have no doubt it will be prohibitively expensive for a long while so I guess I shall just have to go on getting older gracefully!!!

Pursuing the different vegetable theme, here is one for Brussels Sprouts. I actually like them, but a lot of people turn up their noses. Mind you, I think too many people haven’t eaten fresh Brussels Sprouts properly prepared. I know one friend who had only ever eaten frozen ones which I personally can’t stand, once he tried fresh, he loved them.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto Crisps

Source: Food and Drink

Serves 4-6

This recipe gives a whole new dimension to Brussels sprouts. Confirmed non-lovers will enjoy the caramelized flavour topped with crispy prosciutto

1/4 Cup  butter

1 lb Brussels sprouts, root removed and thinly sliced

2 Tbs sugar

1/4 Cup lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

2 slices prosciutto, slivered

Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add sprouts and sauté for 1 minute or until coated with butter. Turn heat to low and cook another 5 minutes, tossing occasionally or until soft. Sprinkle in sugar and lemon juice, turn heat to medium-low and continue to cook another 8 – 10 minutes or until sprouts are nicely caramelized. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While sprouts are cooking, heat olive oil in a separate skillet at medium-high heat. Sprinkle in prosciutto and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp. Set aside. Remove prosciutto from pan, drain on paper towel, then sprinkle over sprouts.

Have a great day


Monday, November 29, 2010

Wallpaper, Movie, Otter Attacks

I get an email from the How to Geek which frequently has links to sources of wallpapers. The latest one had all kinds of tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards and then right at the end, was the one I finally chose. The most dangerous of all the wild animals.

Wildest Animal

Don’t you think that’s cute? Thinking about it some more, I believe this was the kitten picture used with a gun to show the kitten was being held up. It won’t last long, on December 1st I have an Advent Calendar wallpaper starting which I got from www.JacquieLawson.com I use that site a lot for ecards of all kinds and this year took advantage of their new offering of an Advent calendar.

Saturday I rented (actually I got it as a gift from my server) The Expendables. In one way I was disappointed because on the previews I had seen it implied that a whole bunch of well known ‘hero’ actors were part of a group of mercenaries. Not so; both Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger appear for a few minutes, but actually it is all Sylvester Stallone and friends, some of whom may be well known, but not to me. However, it wasn’t a bad film although Matt didn’t watch it, his comment from the computer room was that they used as much ammunition in the movie as they did in the second world war. One crack I thought was funny, somebody inquired what was wrong with the Schwarzenegger character and Stallone said ‘nothing, he just wants to be President’.

Watching Good Morning America on Sunday, they reported on a number of otter attacks. Yes, otter attacks, the emergency operator had trouble getting hold of that too. They are not sure why, but of course one reason could be rabies. Bit hard on the people who have been bitten, don’t know what the treatment for rabies is these days, it used to be shots in the stomach.

I have said before, I am always looking for new things to do with vegetables. Over the weekend Matt picked up the magazine Food and Drink from the LCBO (liquor store) and they have several good recipes for veg. This one is for parsnips which so many people say they don’t like (including Matt) and I thought it sounded good enough to eat.

Creamed Parsnips with Bombay Butter

Source: Food and Drink

Try this instead of the usual mashed potatoes. It is fabulous with roast chicken, roast beef or sautéed lamb chops

1 1/2 lbs parsnips peeled and cut into chunksParsnips0001

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup butter softened

1/2 cup whipping cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

Place parsnips in a pot of salted water over medium-high heat, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain, return parsnips to pan and place over low heat for 1 minute or until all water has evaporated.

Place parsnips in a food processor with garam masala, cinnamon and butter and purée until smooth. Add whipping cream and process until well combined. Season to taste.

Serves 4.

Have a great day


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Outsourcing, Lost NZ Boys, Chilly Weather.

Last night we were invited for dinner which made a nice change. We had a very enjoyable evening. Good food, good wine, good company. Our hostess told us a story which I thought was funny. Her son-in-law had to phone his company help line which – as so many here – is outsourced to India. The person in India kept asking him to identify himself by providing the name of his nicey. He kept asking her to repeat herself and she kept saying nicey, eventually he asked her to spell it – niece!!! This is the problem with outsourcing because although they might speak excellent English, many of them don’t pronounce it the way English speaking people do and it is almost impossible to communicate. I recently called my internet provider and got service from the Philippines, luckily the young man I spoke to talked “English as she is spoke” so I could totally understand what he was saying. He was telling me that the Philippines is trying to get a large chunk of the IT market.

Incredible story on the news at the moment, about the three young New Zealand men who were lost at sea for 50 days. One family had already held a memorial service for their family member assuming them to be dead. They did have a few coconuts at the beginning apparently and managed to catch enough rainwater to drink, they also managed to catch a seabird to eat. Their incredible story and a video clip can be seen here http://tinyurl.com/24tm9q7 It was only by the merest fluke that they were found because a fishing vessel decided to see their catch in New Zealand for a change and spotted the boat on their way in.

Well, at long last we have had some snow, not enough to do very much but it is lying on the ground this morning. It was certainly very cold last night and blowing a gale too. Unfortunately, we discovered we have a problem with heat in our apartment, something has ‘gone wrong’ we called and the man who stands in for our super came up straight away and ‘by passed’ the system to allow some heat to get into the apartment, not very much however, so they will be calling in the plumber on Monday. Our heat (when its working) is provided by hot water pipes running through the building.

In this cold weather, soup sounds good to me, I just received an email with turkey leftover suggestions and turkey salad was one of them, but my mood is for something much warmer and more comforting. I just found this recipe on the internet, not only is it a recipe, but an interesting little tale about how it was first invented. It is a soup we like very much and I make quite often. I found this on a new (to me) site called Soupsong (www.soupsong.com) which, for those of you who speak French, is, I think, a play on the word soupçon or I may be reading too much into it and it is just in reference to Lewis Carroll’s Turtle song. If you chill this soup and add some more cream then garnish with chopped chives, you have Vichysoisse, another favourite soup albeit mainly for hot weather.

Potage Parmentier


This excellent French soup is as smooth and elegant as it is simple; serve hot to 6-8 people as a first course.

Soup Tale: France was beset with famine following the Seven Year War (1756-1763). Native son Antoine Auguste Parmentier, who had been fed the so-called poisonous potato root in a German prison-of-war camp, returned to France to find his country men starving. He set up potato soup kitchens throughout Paris to assist the poor. Ultimately, Louis XVI recognized his work by saying, "France will thank you some day for having found bread for the poor." In fact, he is best honored by the pleasure his country take in digesting Potage Parmentier.

3 cups leeks, white and tender green parts, sliced (although not original to the recipe, the soup is enriched by sautéeing the leeks Potage Parmentierin 3 Tablespoons of butter as a first step)

4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped

8 cups water (chicken stock is not original, but enriches it)

1 Tablespoon salt

6 Tablespoons heavy cream

Garnish: chopped parsley or chives

In a Dutch oven, simmer the potatoes, leeks, and salt in the water until all are very tender--about 50 minutes. Puree the mixture, then correct seasoning.

When ready to serve, stir in the cream, ladle into bowls or a tureen, and decorate with herbs.

Have a great day


Friday, November 26, 2010

Language, Smoking and Leftovers.

I hope everyone who was celebrating had a great day yesterday. Me I was just eating a BLT for lunch, albeit a very good one. We joined some of the Travel League members for lunch at The Crossroads and met our Dutch friends’ friends from Holland. As usual I continue to be impressed with the ability of people from Holland to grasp the English language. We then headed to the bowling alley and the three non bowlers proceeded to show the rest of us up. I don’t know how that happens. I know two legally blind guys who can bowl better than most people I know and now the three Dutch people showed us all up!!

According to a newly released report, more than 600,000 deaths a year are caused by second hand smoke.cigarette-smoking-ash The figures were taken from a survey in 2004, but it is still a pretty horrifying number and might have got worse in the intervening years. I am so glad both Matt and I quit smoking a long time ago. There was an excuse for us to start, we didn’t know the dangers then, but today, anyone who begins smoking needs their head examined. The article is here http://tinyurl.com/26sb8rh and the picture alone is enough to upset me.

Well more bowling this afternoon, so I need to get cracking again.

For those of you who were overindulging yesterday, here is a healthy recipe to add lots of fibre to your diet and which could be used with leftover turkey instead of chicken.

Chicken & White Bean Salad

From EatingWell: May/June 2010

Zucchini and celery give this chicken-and-bean salad a nice crunch. We like serving it over a bed of slightly bitter escarole and radicchio, but any type of salad greens will work. Recipe by Nancy Baggett for EatingWell.

4 servings

IngredientsChicken and White Bean Salad


1 medium clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus more to taste

1/4 cup white-wine vinegar or red-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained

2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (see Tip)

2 cups diced zucchini and/or summer squash (about 2 small)

1 1/2 cups diced celery

1/4 cup finely diced ricotta salata, halloumi (see Shopping Tip, above) or feta cheese

1/3 cup chopped, well-drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, plus whole basil leaves for garnish

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)

2 cups torn escarole or romaine lettuce

2 cups torn radicchio leaves

  1. To prepare vinaigrette: Peel the garlic and smash with the side of a chef’s knife. Using a fork, mash the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl to form a coarse paste. Whisk in 5 tablespoons oil. Add 6 tablespoons orange juice, vinegar and mustard; whisk until well blended. Taste and whisk in up to 4 tablespoons more juice to mellow the flavor; season with more salt, if desired. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. To prepare salad: Combine beans, chicken, zucchini (and/or summer squash), celery, cheese and sun-dried tomatoes (if using) in a large bowl until well blended. Add chopped basil and 3/4 cup vinaigrette; toss until combined. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper, if desired.
  3. Toss the remaining vinaigrette with escarole (or romaine) and radicchio in a medium bowl. Serve the salad on the greens, garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Per serving : 428 Calories; 23 g Fat; 5 g Sat; 15 g Mono; 79 mg Cholesterol; 24 g Carbohydrates; 34 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 667 mg Sodium; 648 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 vegetable, 4 lean meat, 3 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2 (omitting basil), cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Stir in chopped basil just before serving.
  • Tip: To poach chicken breasts, place about 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Ricotta salata and halloumi are both firm, salted cheeses that can be found at large supermarkets and cheese shops.

Have a great day


Thursday, November 25, 2010

CBC News - Health - Eat more protein to keep weight off: study

If you have any problems with your weight, this article is about a study carried out in Europe which has proved successful not only in enabling people to lose weight, but in helping people keep that weight off. I first heard about it on the news last night and then again on the radio this morning. CBC News - Health - Eat more protein to keep weight off: study Have a great day

Thanksgiving, Cards and Finance

To all my US readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving today, I hope you eat well, but not too well, and remember all that you have to be thankful for.


Finally finished doing all my Christmas cards yesterday, Matt picked up the stamps for me, mostly not Christmas ones unfortunately, and I stuck ‘em on and stuck down the flaps. Had to buy some new envelopes as I ran out this year. I got the kind where you tear off a strip and its all ready to stick down. Much easier. Only wish I had had them for all my cards. Whilst I was being such a busy little bee I wrote all our rent cheques for next year. What a pain. Our landlord’s agent (a realtor) will not get with it and do it electronically. All the books for the apartment block (and presumably other buildings too) are done by hand in books, when I complained I was told they couldn’t do it because they had more than one building to look after. What a load of BS. They need me working for them. It really is ridiculous so every year we have to laboriously write them all by hand. We do post dated cheques which is something we can do in Canada but could not do in the States for some reason, we didn’t pay rent, of course, but for something one wanted to pay for in the future, it couldn’t be done, at least not in our part of NC.

Mind you I complain, but if anything ever happened to me, Matt would revert to doing books by hand. He knows nothing, nil, nada, about the computer. Most of it is sheer stubbornness I think. Same with languages, he doesn’t think some of the rules, in French for instance, are sensible so that’s the end of that. Pity we didn’t go live in an EEC country then he would have had to learn the language. With computers Matt keeps saying to me, not everybody has a computer, well I think they should have. Especially people who are shut-ins, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family if you can’t go visit.

Today we are off to our monthly Travel League bowling going to Elmira and eating at the Crossroads restaurant. They make some of the best BLT sandwiches anywhere.

I know most of you are concentrating on Thanksgiving at the moment, but one of our favourite meals, which I haven’t made in a coons age, is Sauerbraten. I just bought a piece of beef to make this – probably next week and thought I would share the recipe with you. Its actually a lot easier than it looks. Tuesday I made the chicken and rice recipe which I posted Friday the 19th of November, it tasted pretty good and there were leftovers for last night.


Source: Time Life Foods of the World

6 Tbs dry red wine  Sauerbraten-marinating
6 Tbs red-wine vinegar 
4 pint cold water 
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and  thinly sliced
5 black peppercorns and 4 whole juniper berries coarsely crushed using a mortar and pestle
2 small bay leaves
1 scant tsp salt
4 lb boneless joint of beef, preferably topside, silverside or rump, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 oz lard
2  ounces finely chopped onion
2 ounces finely chopped carrot
1 oz finely-chopped celery
2 Tbs flour
6 Tbs Water
24 oz gingersnap crumbs or 3 oz crumbled honey cake

1. Put the wine, vinegar, water, sliced onion, crushed peppercorns and juniper berries, bay leaves and salt into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring this marinade to the boil over a high heat, then remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Place the beef in a deep crock or a deep stainless- steel or enamelled pan just large enough to hold it comfortably and pour the marinade over it. The marinade should come at least half-way up the sides of the meat; if necessary, add more wine. Turn the meat in the marinade to moisten it on all sides. Then cover the pan tightly with foil or a sheet of plastic and set aside in a cold place for 2 to 3 days, turning the meat over at least twice a day.

2. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it completely dry with kitchen paper. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve set over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Discard the spices and onions.

3. Melt the lard over a high heat in a large, heavy flameproof casserole until it begins to splutter. Add the meat and brown it on all sides, turning it frequently and regulating the heat so that it browns deeply and evenly without burning. This should take about 15 minutes. Transfer the meat to a dish, and pour off and discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the fat in the casserole and cook them over a moderate heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 to 8 minutes, until they are soft and light brown. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes longer, or until the flour begins to colour. Pour in pint of the reserved marinade and 6 tablespoons of water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Return the meat to the casserole. Cover tightly and simmer over a low heat for about 2 hours, until the meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Transfer the meat to a heated dish and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm while you make the sauce.

4. Pour the liquid left in the casserole into a large measuring jug and skim f the surface. You will need 1 pint of liquid for the sauce. If you have more, boil it briskly over a high heat until it is reduced to that amount; if you have less, add some of the reserved marinade. Put the liquid and the gingersnap or honey-cake crumbs in a small saucepan, and cook over a moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. The crumbs will disintegrate in the sauce and thicken it slightly. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard with a wooden spoon. Return it to the pan, taste for seasoning and let it simmer over a low heat until ready to serve.

5. To serve, carve the meat into *-inch-thick slices and arrange the slices attractively in overlapping layers on a heated serving dish. Moisten the slices with a few tablespoons of the sauce and serve the rest of the sauce separately in a sauceboat. Traditionally, Sauerbraten is served with dump lings or boiled potatoes and red cabbage (page 63).

6. NOTE: If you prefer, you may cook the Sauerbraten in the oven rather than on top of the stove. Bring the casserole to the boil over a high heat, cover tightly and cook in a preheated Mark 4: 350°F. oven for about 2 hours.

Servings: 6

Have a great day


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cholera and Shopping.

Last night there were lots of horrifying statistics broadcast about the cholera in Haiti. Possibly 2,000 dead, between 50,000 to 70,000 sick and thousands more expected to become sick and yet they are still going ahead with the election. Seems somewhat irrational. By the way, the actor, Sean Penn, has been on the ground in Haiti for the last year since the earthquake happened. My admiration for him has increased by leaps and bounds. He appears to be mainly involved in clearing up the devastation, removing the rubble and making areas at least partially habitable.

This morning I have decided to go with my husband on his early shopping trip, he gets to the store shortly after 7 and as they have carts which can be driven, I have decided to go as well. There are things he doesn’t see – he sticks to the list and mostly that’s that. If either of us forget to put something down, we don’t get it. I am more likely to look at what’s there – of course I am more likely to overspend too *g*. Its funny, when I saw the vascular surgeon I said I wanted to go shopping, I have no doubt he thought I meant the kind of shopping most women love, looking at clothes and fashion items. I didn’t, I meant grocery shopping. Very unfeminine of me, but I generally hate to shop. So, only a short blog.

For all of you in the States who are about to cook yourselves silly on Thursday with a Turkey, all the trimmings and Pumpkin or Apple Pies, here is a cranberry relish which would make a nice change from the general run of the mill cranberry sauces.

Gingered Cranberry-Raspberry Relish

From EatingWell:  October/November 2006

Unlike cranberry sauce, a relish involves no cooking. Here, plump raspberries add a juicy freshness, while crystallized ginger provides sweetness and warmth. It is best served cold. Hold the mayo on your post-holiday sandwiches—use this relish instead for a real treat.

About 4 cups Ingredients

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberrGingered Cranberry Relishies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced, (choose soft nuggets over disks, if possible)

3 cups raspberries, (2 pints), fresh or frozen (not thawed)

  1. Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and crystallized ginger. Gently stir in raspberries—it's fine to crush some of them. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let the flavors combine.
Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Have a great day


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wedding Date, 50, Shots in Korea

So the wedding date is April 29 for the royal couple. So much for the people who bet it would be in July. They will be getting married in Westminster Abbey where the queen was both married and crowned. Not in St. Paul’s where Charles and Diana got married. Friends on Facebook were discussing whether it would be a holiday or not, rest easy guys, it will be a National Holiday, that is for all the people who are not police, nurses, prison officers, etc. etc.

robin_roberts_gma_fiftyRobin Roberts, one of the hosts on Good Morning America, turned 50 today and the whole programme was full of well wishes to her from all kinds of people. Not a bad way to celebrate one’s birthday. I remember we went to a Greek restaurant in Brantford for my 50th birthday dinner. Sadly the restaurant is no longer there, the food was superb.  For Matt I hired some caterers and invited friends to dinner. It was a good evening. We also had someone to serve and clean up so it was a double present really.

It really is quite incredible the difference in people today and when I was young. People were getting old at 50 in those days and even if they didn’t shuffle off their mortal coil too soon after, they were old people. (I don’t just mean in my perception). I guess a lot is due to medical science and to the availability of so much fitness advice and knowledge, but people are much younger seeming today. In fact I just discovered a man with whom we bowl every week is 86. I was staggered, several of us were, I wouldn’t have guessed his age at all, maybe in the 70s. When you see all the people, seniors, we bowl with each week, it makes you realise the difference, once octogenarians were very old, doddery and decrepit, not any more. I assume it’s the same in all Western countries, but I don’t really know. I certainly think life in North America seems to keep people younger. It was one of the first things I noticed when I came to live here.

Looks like there is trouble brewing between North and South Korea. I do hope it doesn’t amount to anything serious. http://tinyurl.com/2utqqrn will give you a video and GMA’s report on the current situation.

I have always loved chestnut stuffing in turkey. The regular kind is so very easy to make. However this one is a different twist and I thought it would be a good one to try.

Chestnut and Apple Stuffing

Source: Eating Well by Burt Wolf

Makes about 8 cups


5 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch piecesChestnut and apple

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup sliced scallions

1 cup canned chestnuts, coarsely chopped

3 cups apple cider

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 cups of bite-sized pieces of stale bread

2 unpeeled apples, cored and coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a bowl. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the celery, scallions, and chestnuts and cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Place bacon and sautéed vegetables in a bowl. Add the cider, egg yolks, and pepper. Mix. Add bread and toss until liquid is absorbed. Mix in the apples.

Place in a 9-x-13-inch baking pan or an ovenproof casserole and bake for 45 minutes.

Serving size = 1/2 cup

Have a great day.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Scrumping, Our Weekend,

I wonder how many people on this side of the pond are familiar with scrumping? It means raiding orchards and helping oneself to fruit (a polite word for stealing). It used to be a vEnglish Applesery popular pastime with little boys in England. Matt was telling me one story this weekend, I hadn’t heard it before. He was out biking with some friends and they came across an orchard which looked tempting, they parked their bikes and over the fence they went. Unfortunately the famer happened to be in the orchard and Matt told him he had needed to use the tire pump and when taking it off his bike it had flown out of his hands over the fence and he was looking for it. The farmer was so amused that he let them get away with it. Of course, sometimes the farmers took exception, justifiably, and were quite likely to box your ears, then the bobby (cop) would come along and box your ears as well. When you got home, your dad would ask why you were crying and then box your ears as well. Dangerous business this scrumping. I guess if enough kids went scrumping it could make quite a difference to your harvest.

For us, we had a very busy weekend. First there wasRoasted Pigtails the Pigtail do at the Hespeler Royal Canadian Legion, Cambridge,  which was fun, I ate two pigtails and a schnitzel with some sauerkraut. I was good, I didn’t go back for dessert. To be honest, they didn’t appeal to me that much which was a good thing I suppose. I enjoyed the pigtails but in fact I do prefer them to be crisped up rather than done in sauces. Years ago we used to buy small pails of frozen pigtails which had been marinated in fruit juices, we would then cook them on the barbecue when they became beautifully crispy. Must admit, I have never seen them curled in rings as shown in the picture.

Then Sunday, back to the same place for a 50th Wedding Anniversary which was a delightful occasion. Lots of films and pictures of the happy couple plus messages from their friends and family in Holland which is where they came from some 50 years ago. I know the “bride” was shedding a few tears. She had a very lovely wrist corsage which went very well with her outfit which was most attractive. The finishing touch, her nails were painted silver which matched everything else very well. They have a couple of friends over from Holland and all four of them will be coming to Elmira on Thursday for our Travel League. Even the husband intends to bowl and he doesn’t usually do so.

The Americans are protesting like mad about the security measures at airports. They are not only being fully screened with a mild dose of radiation, but they are being subjected to pat downs. In fact, I understand, this is not happening at all airports, 80% won’t have any trouble at all. However, I personally would suffer a pat down so long as I knew it helped to ensure my plane was free of any terrorists or their weapons. People are so concerned about profiling that now everyone has to be treated the same.

All the chefs are now pulling out the stops with recipes for Thanksgiving which takes place on Thursday, even Jamie Oliver who is from the UK and certainly doesn’t normally celebrate Thanksgiving at home. I am always looking for different ways of preparing vegetables, here is one for green beans.

Bacon Braised Green Beans

Emeril Lagasse


1 tablespoon olive oil Green_beans_bacon_

6 slices bacon, diced

1 cup thinly sliced onion

2 tablespoons sliced garlic

2 pounds green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed

1 cup chicken stock or canned, low- sodium chicken broth or water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Directions

Set a Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionaly, until it is well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green beans and toss to combine with the bacon and onion.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken stock. As soon as the stock begins to boil, place the lid on the pan and cook the beans for about 6 minutes. Remove the lid, season the beans with the salt and pepper, and toss well. Replace the lid and cook until the beans are tender, 1 or 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and transfer the beans to a serving dish or small platter to serve.

Have a great day


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Amazon, DVDs and Books

Poison dartfrogI get a regular newsletter from The World Wildlife Fund and just recently got one talking about exploration in the Amazon where they are discovering new species at the rate of one every three days. It is incredible to me that so many things are left to be discovered, but as our abilities progress, we are able to explore further than before. This picture shows a previously unknown poison dart frog – if you click on http://tinyurl.com/2dwj7nt you can see a lot more pictures and information about the discoveries which have been made there.

For those of you who, like me, love Celtic Thunder, Celtic Thunder ChristmasAmazon.com or .ca are now advertising their latest Christmas DVD for pre-order, it will be released on November 22. I have been looking forward to this DVD for a while as I saw some shots from it earlier in the year which looked like fun. The DVD is called Celtic Thunder Christmas and in Canada is retailing for $17.49 at the moment.

I was thinking about longevity yesterday, not of people but of possessions. I have two bathmats that I bought in the UK almost 50 years ago and although one is a little bit the worse for wear, the other is still going strong. Today most things appear to have built in obsolescence and you can only get a few years wear out of them. The same can be said for clothing – when I was a youngster, we repaired (or had repaired) clothing, we darned socks, sewed hems and so on – I was actually very good at darning. Nowadays if you get a hole in a sock it goes in the garbage.

I have just finished reading a Miles Vorkosigan book The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. I love those books and I hadn’t read this one before. There are quite a few books in the series, all individual stories although they do fall in sequence. Now I am rHundred Thousand Kingdomseading a book recommended on Sia McKye’s blog by a new author whom she interviewed the other day, by the name of N.K. Jimisin. The books is called The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and is a delightful story about captured godlings being treated as slaves inside a palace built by the gods and taken over by one family who rule an empire. I am enjoying it very much. I am hoping to get book 2 fairly quickly.

I have now got my blog feeding onto Facebook which is supposed to give more exposure to my advertising. Hint, hint.

Tonight we are going to the Hespeler Legion for Pig Tails and Schnitzels. We have been two years running and always enjoyed ourselves. Tomorrow we celebrate a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary at the same place, so a busy weekend. Makes me think of the old joke about a man refusing to eat pig tails because of where they came from, the waiter asked what he would like instead, he said he would have an egg.

Talking (as I was yesterday) of Sheila Hutchins, here is a recipe from her Daily Express Cookbook. Watercress is found in North America, but not very often I’m afraid.

Watercress Soup or Brussels Sprout Soup

For watercress soup, use two nice bunches of Watercresswatercress and let it simmer in two Tbs of butter in a saucepan with a lid for about 15 minutes., stirring occasionally (keep back a few leaves for garnish) and adding two large peeled potatoes cut in chunks Add salt and pepper and two pints (40 fl. oz.) of water and cook it all gently for about 30 minutes. Then make a purée of the vegetables in a blender or by putting them through a sieve. If you like, stir in a beaten egg with a spoonful of top of the milk (cream) at the end with a Tbs of butter (essential to the flavour) and the watercress leaves. For brussels sprouts leave out the potato, use about 1 lb of sprouts, outside leaves and all, coarsely chopped.

Have a great weekend


Friday, November 19, 2010

Blogging, Traditional Cooking.

On Good Morning America today, they had a segment on people who write blogs and make thousands of dollars doing so, lucky them, I guess I am doing it all wrong, I earned $100 with Adsense when I first started, but since then, when they decided to drop me, I haven’t earned a penny. I have said before, I don’t know why they dropped me, but as I have since heard they dropped others just as inexplicably, I don’t feel so bad, just annoyed because there is no real court of appeal. I guess I basically blog because I enjoy it. I like writing about all kinds of things, in particular food of course, and I do have a few loyal followers, for which I thank you. If anyone happens to buy anything through a link on my site I would get commission, but as no-one appears to be rushing to do so, I am out of luck. However, I still love to write and will continue to do so: I hope you will continue to read.

English RecipesThere used to be an English food writer by the name of Sheila Hutchins who wrote for the Daily Express newspaper in England. I have two of her cookbooks, one a collection of her food articles from the paper, and another called English Recipes and Others from Scotland, Wales and Ireland which is full of old recipes she has collected for years. She had a huge collection of cookbooks, not in pristine condition either, but well used, and her descriptions of the books she collected from all kinds of places for many years, is fascinating to read. I have just been Googling for Sheila Hutchins but cannot find out very much about her other than that she was born in Cheshire, happy coincidence, so was I. Reading her introduction makes me feel hungry; her descriptions of what was available to the English in the early eighteenth century – we apparently ate better than anywhere else in Europe at the time – make one’s mouth water. Our meat, poultry and cheese was some of the best anywhere and we had loads of wonderful sauces to use with these plentiful viands. Once upon a time there were lots more British cheeses which have disappeared over time although I understand that since we emigrated there have been quite a few new cheeses introduced. Even since I was a child, many dishes have disappeared from the average English menu and most of them have certainly not travelled to the New World.

The reason I am writing about her is that I decided the other day I would cook a particular recipe which I found in her book and which I haven’t made in years. It was delicious, but Matt has never had the chance to taste it. In my programme on the computer, I have modernised the instructions, but I am giving you her original from the West Kent Women’s Institute. This recipe was designed for old birds, but we never see those any more, so I have always done it with a young one. Sheila Hutchins suggests adding a little tarragon or thyme to the rice which should be well seasoned. One thing I should mention is the 1 pt of milk is a UK pint which is 20 fl. oz. I have always used white rice and I have never had to add more milk during the day, however, be sure to check. I know a lot of people don’t bother with these recipes, but do try this one, it is so easy and requires so little effort.

Kentish Farmhouse Chicken

Old chickenFirst thing in the morning, say about 8 o’clock, put the fowl in a baking tin with a lid. Round it, put a cup of washed rice, natural brown rice is the best, 1 ping of milk, a dust of powdered mace, salt and pepper and a very small peeled onion in each corner. Cover tightly and put it in a very slow oven and leave it all day to look after itself. At mid-day look to see if more liquid is required to keep the rice soft. By evening all should be just ready. The fowl should not be at all dried up if the oven has not been too hot, but should be exceedingly tender. Dish the bird with the rice round, if liked with a few quarters of hard boiled eggs as a garnish.

Have a great day


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Filicide, Dancing, The Wedding.

I learned a new word on the news last night, filicide. They were talking about a mother who has recently been convicted of killing her children, i.e. maternal filicide. It is incredible to imagine that any woman could do this, but unfortunately some do

A show which is very popular on TV in North America is Dancing with the Stars. We don’t watch it, but right now there is a bit of a row going on because Bristol Palin (Sarah Palin’s daughter) is getting high numbers of favourable votes even though the judges keep marking her down because they don’t consider she is very good. The suspicion is that all the people who support her mother politically are registering votes for the daughter. By the way, the mother has said that she will most likely be running for President and that she thinks she can oust Obama. Anyone who votes for her is nuts, she quit her governorship in Alaska part way through the term, what makes anyone think she won’t do the same to the Presidency?

The news is still full of the royal couple, I have a feeling we are going to get a tad tired of them by the time the wedding occurs and then it will all start again. I gather one of the big problems about the wedding is that they don’t want to spend TOO much money because of the economic situation in Britain at the moment. I would think the tourism which would be generated by the wedding would be a boost for the economy.

Last night, Matt made a dish we haven’t had for a long time, but which we both enjoy very much.

Potato and Spinach Galette

Happy Cooking by Jacques Pepin

Serves 4 (they say)

This main course vegetable dish is prepared in a non-stick skillet or omelet pan so it will release easily when inverted onto a plate for serving. The word galette denotes a flattish, disk shaped pancake here; this one is really a “sandwich” of potatoes pan fried in a skillet with a filling of garlic-flavoured spinach. This galette is especially good in summer with a green salad accompaniment

1 lb. spinachPotato and Spinach Galette

1 1/2 lbs potatoes (3 or 4) preferably Yukon Gold

3 Tbs virgin olive oil

1 Tbs unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

4 large cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly slices (1 1/2 Tbs)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

If you will bake the galette immediately after preparing it, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove and discard the tough stems and damaged leaves of the spinach and wash the rest.

Wash the potatoes, peel them and cut them into very thin slices by hand or in a food processor fitted with a slicing disk. Wash the slices, drain them and pat them dry with paper towels.

In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet (preferably an omelet pan), heat 1 Tbs of the oil and the butter until they are hot. Add the potato slices and season them with 1/4 tsp of the salt. Sauté over high heat for 2 or 3 minutes, gently stirring the potatoes, until all the slices are coated with oil and butter and are just starting to soften and become transparent. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and set them aside.

In the same skillet (unwashed), heat 1 Tbs of the remaining oil until it is hot. Add the garlic and sauté it for 10 seconds. Then add the spinach, the remaining salt and the pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and most of its liquid has evaporated. Transfer the spinach to a plate and set it aside.

Place the remaining Tbs of oil in the same skillet and arrange a layer of potato slices in an attractive pattern to cover the bottom of the pan, extending about 1/2 inch up the sides. Place another layer of potatoes on top, using half the potatoes for the two layers. Spread the spinach on top of the potatoes and cover it with the remaining potatoes (the recipe can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead.)

When you are ready to serve the galette, bake it in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the skillet and place it on top of the stove over medium to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the bottom layer, shaking the pan so the bottom of the galette doesn’t stick to it. Invert the galette onto a large plate or platter and cut into wedges to serve.

Have a great day


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Me, Bowling, The Royals, Mountain Goat

If medical stuff makes you sick, ignore this first bit. 

I saw the vascular surgeon yesterday who said that the CT scan had shown Iliac veinseven more blockages than the ultrasound. It appears I have a piece of plaque right behind my belly button area, at the junction of the two iliac veins. What is currently planned is that I will be going in for an angiogram and angioplasty combined, some time in January, to place stents in that area. Later, I may well have to proceed to proper vascular surgery and have my leg veins by-passed. What staggers me is that I can go home the same day after the angioplasty. In 2004 I had to stay in overnight.

I had a phone call yesterday to say I had won the in- house tournament and would I be able to go to the next round in Hamilton in February. I assured them that I would – ops permitting of course. I had 85 pins over average last week, however, last year there were lots of people with 200 plus and one person with 300 or more pins over average!!! However, it is fun to do and we get a night in a hotel on the Association.

Of course there has been lots on the news about William and Kate. I loved the brief interview with Prince Charles who said he was happy about the engagement “they have been practising long enough”!!! Some people seem Kate's ringsurprised that she has the sapphire ring which was Princess Diana’s engagement ring, but to me that is a natural progression. many families pass down their jewellery to their descendants. It is a very large sapphire, surrounded by diamonds. Doesn’t leave a lot of room for a wedding ring does it? Now of course everyone is waiting for the wedding news.

Mountain Goat

I absolutely had to share this picture with you. This is from the current November edition of the National Geographic and the photo was taken by Joel Sartore. The goat, in this instance, is after a salt lick, but look at his position on the rocks. Most of us – even with climbing tackle – couldn’t manage this easily, how the hell do they. Do click on the picture and enlarge it, it really is an incredible sight, plus a fantastic piece of photography. But how the hell that goat gets where it is is a complete mystery to me.

Here is another bean recipe which will make up for the sinful dessert from yesterday.

Bean Bolognese

From EatingWell:  December 2006

Fiber-rich beans stand in for the beef and pork in this surprisingly rich-tasting vegetarian take on pasta Bolognese. Without the meat, the dish has only a third of the fat and 80 percent less saturated fat. To make the perfect meal, serve with a peppery arugula salad and warm, crusty Italian bread.

4 servings


1 14-ounce can salad beans, (see Shopping Tip) or Bean Bologneseother beans, rinsed, divided

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup white wine

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Mash 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine; increase heat to high and boil until most of the liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, 2 tablespoons parsley and the mashed beans. Bring to a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining whole beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
  4. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Discard the bay leaf and top the pasta with the sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining parsley.
Shopping tip: A can of salad beans, a mixture of chickpeas, kidney and pinto beans, adds depth and variety to this recipe. Look for it in the natural-foods section of larger supermarkets or natural-foods stores. If you can't find it, substitute a can of your favorite beans.

Have a great day


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

William and Kate, Wicked Steps, Surgeon.

William & KateSo, at last, Prince William is engaged to be married. There will be a spring or summer wedding next year. That will cause a lot of excitement in the UK and will be a great boost for tourism. Thousands of people flock to see a royal wedding. There is an article about them here http://tinyurl.com/28p3kle Prince William apparently announced that he wouldn’t marry til he was 28 or 30 and he has just turned 28.

Funny, I had a thought, you never hear of a wicked step-grandmother do you? There must have been some through time. I am a step-grandmother but I hope I don’t classify as wicked. For any of my family who read this, you had better answer nicely or I will put a hex on you!

Today is the day I have been waiting for for some time, the day I see the vascular surgeon and find out just what is going to be happening. Keep your fingers crossed everyone that it will be something soon. I am sick and tired of my inability to walk very far. Mind you I wish I could blame my bowling on that too, but unfortunately I can’t. Yesterday I had lousy games (well one reasonable one) – it really is the weirdest game, you can bowl brilliantly one minute and appallingly badly the next. We have one member who is our top bowler and yet even he had two very poor games today although his last game above his normal standard. Because one of the bowlers says “I hate this game” whenever he bowls badly, we all say it now. Oh well, Friday bowling is another day.

As I have said, I don’t like Pumpkin Pie, however, Pecan Pie is another thing altogether and a Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips – well what more can you want? Except, maybe the dollop of cream to go with it. For those who are planning for Thanksgiving, I offer this recipe from Cooking.com.

Pecan-Chocolate Chip Pie

Source: Cooking at a Glance - Pies & Pastries

From Cooking.com

Makes 10 servings

There's only one way to improve on a pecan pie: Add chocolate! The resulting pie is rich and filling, so cut the pieces small.

For the Pie:

3 eggsPecan Choc Chip Pie

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted

one 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces (1 cup) or 1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate

1 cup pecan halves

Pastry for Single-Crust Pie (home made or bought)

For the Topping:

10 pecan halves

1 cup whipping cream, whipped


In a medium mixing bowl use a rotary beater or wire whisk to lightly beat eggs just till mixed. Stir in corn syrup, sugar, and melted margarine or butter. Mix well. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chocolate pieces; stir remaining chocolate pieces and 1 cup pecan halves into filling. Set filling aside.

Prepare and roll out pastry as directed. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Trim and crimp edge of pastry. Pour filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20-25 minutes more, or till center appears nearly set when shaken. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt reserved chocolate pieces over low heat. Dip one end of each of the 10 pecan halves into melted chocolate. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate about 15 minutes, or till chocolate is firm.

Dollop whipped cream on each slice. Insert a chocolate-dipped pecan half in each dollop of whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator

Have a great day


Monday, November 15, 2010

Wikipedia, Record Auction, Jumping Bulls, Exorcism?

I love Wikipedia, I think its an excellent source of information and knowledge and personally wouldn’t want to live without it. However, you may not know but it is basically funded by contributions by private sources, they do not have advertising to sustain them. Right now they are asking for donations and I just sent in a very modest amount. I thought I would mention it to you as I think it is a wonderful service to the cyber world and would hate to see it disappear. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every person who has ever used Wikipedia were to send in a small amount? They would be set for years.

BRITAIN-CHINA-LIFESTYLE-ART-AUCTIONAlong with everyone else I was staggered about the 18th century Qianlong Vase from China which was auctioned in London last week and which fetched a record price of £43 million, that is one hell of a lot of money. The vase was apparently in someone’s attic collecting dust for years. I am not sure how much the seller actually got for this as he had to pay the auction house a few million as well as the government, but I have no doubt it was a pretty hefty sum. I don’t see anything on the internet but I also heard on the news that it was a very clever fake, but that seems to just have been a brief rumour or hoax. I would think that Bainbridge’s. the auction house, would have authenticated the vase very carefully before putting it up for auction. I was wishing we could find something similar but as Matt pointed out, we don’t even have an attic.

I have written before about bulls jumping the fence, it just happened again at a rodeo in Edmonton, Alberta, four Calgary Bullpeople were injured. They are saying that it’s the first time its happened in an indoor arena – so – if a bull is going to jump he doesn’t give a damn whether he is in our out of doors. There is some video here http://tinyurl.com/3xzyk6t The officials are saying an event like this is extremely rare, how come I have written about it before and found several instances on the net. Admittedly most instance are of bulls in bull rings being fought by matadors and this one had only been ridden, but even so, bulls jump fences and it is not that rare. Moral of the story, don’t sit close to the ring and maybe raise the fences too.

GMA Sunday there was a bit about exorcism, I didn’t actually catch most of it, it was to do with children in Africa being exorcised, but a priest was interviewed and asked how one knew possession had taken place and one of his criteria was that the person (often a child) was talking a language that they couldn’t possibly have learnt. Err, didn’t the apostles get blessed by tongues after Jesus died, and was this exclusive to the apostles or could it happen to other people? You’ve gotta be consistent here, surely? If you believe one then you have to believe in the possibility of the other. The host said the exorcism looked like child abuse to him, must say I thought so too.

Yesterday morning, I was getting dressed and gazing vacantly out of the window and saw a couple of black squirrels chasing each other along the grass and up the trees and such. I was thinking how lucky we were to have a park right outside our windows where we could not only watch the seasons but also see some wildlife, albeit not a lot of wildlife. Then I thought, middle of November and still grass. Certain States and provinces have been socked in with snow and so far we have had one slight flurry which I didn’t even get to see. Surprising when there is so much snow elsewhere. I am not complaining you understand, I prefer this mild weather, but Matt tells me we can expect it to get a lot colder and possibly snowier in the next day or two. Ah well, too good to last I suppose. In fact I hear we are going to get flurries, at least, by the end of the week.

Here, for me, is a somewhat different recipe. I like black beans, well all kinds of beans really, and I was reading this morning how good beans are for lowering cholesterol, hence a black bean recipe which you can throw together quickly.

Black Bean Quesadillas

From EatingWell:  July/August 2010

In a hurry? These satisfying quesadillas take just 15 minutes to make. We like them with black beans, but pinto beans work well too. If you like a little heat, be sure to use pepper Jack cheese in the filling. Serve with: A little sour cream and a mixed green salad.

4 servings


1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed Black Bean Quesadillas

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack

1/2 cup prepared fresh salsa (see Tip), divided

4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1 ripe avocado, diced

  1. Combine beans, cheese and 1/4 cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread 1/2 cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.

Tips & Notes

  • Look for prepared fresh salsa in the supermarket refrigerator section near other dips and spreads.

Have a great day


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fog and Fire.

Woke up to a bright clear morning, the last couple of days we have had thick fog. Reminded me of being back in the UK – not that fog is exclusive to England, but these we have just experienced were almost pea soupers. I remember driving through thick yellow fog (smog) in my 20’s and having to sit half on the passenger seat in order to see the side of the road. Before my driving days, they used to have windshields which could be raised in order to see better. I also remember fog at sea which is very difficult, even if everyone uses fog horns, it doesn’t necessarily help as the fog distorts the direction of the sound, the only thing you really know is that there is something else out there. Someone has to stand outside on the deck, cold and dripping and peering into the fog to try and see if there is anything in the way. Best thing really is to anchor if you can, but even that isn’t always safe and you still need to sound the horn. Another very dangerous thing at sea is fire, such as the fire in the engine Pamararoom of the cruise ship the other day. You can’t call for fire fighters to come and help you. We once had a fire on my father’s boat – a wooden boat mind you – but luckily it was brought under control without causing too much damage. Very scary thing to happen though.

After raving about the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, I am having a little trouble getting into the latest book. I am sure it will improve, but right now…..

Did I mention I have a sore arm!!!

One of my favourite fish is Arctic Char, I don’t think I had ever eaten it before we came to Canada. I think it is wonderful fish. There used to be a restaurant in the next town, Cambridge, where one of the owners smoked both Salmon and Arctic Char. I tried his smoked Arctic Char and thought it was better than the smoked Salmon which I love. Unfortunately the restaurant is now closed and I have no idea where the owner lives and whether he still smokes his own fish. However, yesterday I got a recipe from my local seafood store which is for Arctic Char, so I thought I would share it with you. If you can get hold of Arctic Char I highly recommend it.

Easy Baked Arctic Char with Roasted Garlic

T & J Seafood


2 Arctic Char fillets (about 1 pound each)Arctic Char

2 medium-sied bulbs garlic

1/4 cup rapeseed or canola oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Leaves from 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Slice off top of the garlic bulbs, wrap in foil and roast for 1 hour. Set aside and allow bulbs to cool. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the bulbs into a food processor, and add the oil, lemon juice and rosemary. Process until mixture is smooth.
  3. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F.
  4. Place the char fillets on well-oiled, foil-covered baking sheet. Salt and pepper the fillets. Spread puree over the char fillets, making sure all the flesh is well covered. Let fish marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake the Char fillets for 12 to 15 minutes, until the meat flakes easily and has a somewhat darker appearance on the inside.
  6. Broil for another 2 minutes to brown the tops of the Char fillets.

Have a great weekend


Friday, November 12, 2010

Cruising, Mafia War, Books and Shots.

I hear the passengers of the Carnival Splendor are delighted to get the hell off her, not really surprising after the dreadful time they have had since a fire in the engine room put paid to the whole cruise. They pulled into San Diego having been towed there. Mind you, it must have done Hormel, who make Spam, the world of good as the canned meat was flown out to the ship to feed the passengers as no cooking could be done, nor could much of anything else I gather. No electrics, no air conditioning, nothing. 4,500 passengers and crew stuck on board in appalling conditions. Puts one off cruising doesn’t it? Mind you we would hate to be on a ship jam packed with so many people. Like setting sail in a city. The one time we went on a week’s cruise there were far less people on board and room to breathe.

The Godfather has come to Montreal. It seems there is a Mafia war going on and the capo di capos, Nick Rizzuto, has just been shot, in his home of all places, mind you he was 86 so I can’t think he was much threat to anyone any more. He was the Don Corleone of the family and now it appears his son, who really ran the family these days, is in prison anyway. It would seem this family’s ascendancy is totally on the wane. According to reports – read at this link http://tinyurl.com/249byc6 several of the family have been gunned down and/or just disappeared. Just like reading the Mario Puzo book.

Girl Hornets NestI just got the last of the Millenium series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, today and almost dread reading it because it is his final book.

Just to let you know, I also have a sore arm from my flu shot. That will probably last a week. Not for Matt though, no reaction at all.

I am now receiving all kinds of Thanksgiving recipes – US Thanksgiving that is, we have had ours in Canada. One of the main features is, of course, pumpkin pie, which – sorry – I do NOT like, so will not be passing on any recipes. Pumpkin in soup is great, in my opinion, in pies, no way. It was suggested that I publish more soup recipes as in this hemisphere we are heading for cold weather, so here is one I like the sound of.

Split Pea Soup with Bacon

Source: Casual Cuisines of the World - Diner

Serves 4-6

Although the authentic version of this cool-weather diner favorite is smooth and creamy, you can give your split pea soup a little texture by setting aside some of the mixture before puréeing, then stirring the two batches together. Serve with buttermilk biscuits, or garlic or Parmesan toasts. INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oilSplit Pea Soup with Bacon

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/4 cups green split peas, rinsed

6 slices thick-cut bacon

7 cups (56 fl oz/1.75 l) water

1 bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley


In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and sauté until the carrots are tender, 2-3 minutes longer. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer.

Add the split peas, bacon, water and bay leaf, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, until the peas are soft, about 1 hour.

Remove the bacon and the bay leaf. Discard the bay leaf. Cut the bacon into small squares; set aside.

Using a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a hand blender, purée the soup until smooth and creamy. If a food processor or blender was used, return the purée to the pot.

Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and stir in the reserved bacon. Ladle into warmed soup bowls; sprinkle the parsley over the tops. Serve immediately.

Have a great day