Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spencer Tracy, Sandy and its Aftermath.

Spencer TracyMonday night I watched two Spencer Tracy movies, Inherit the Wind and Judgement at Nuremberg. Both movies stuffed full of well known names, the second one included William Shatner and Judy Garland in small parts. Both excellent movies, I think I had seen them both before, but it was a long time ago. Spencer Tracy was so very good. I particularly liked Bert Lancaster in Judgement at Nuremberg and I am not really a fan of his. I sat up til about 1:30 watching these movies. Matt said there was still a Spencer Tracy movie on when he got up the next morning. I know Look Who’s Coming to Dinner was on after the two I watched, but a) it was late and b) saw it a few weeks ago. Both movies were based on true stories and I was particularly disgusted with the narrow minded bigotry displayed in Inherit the Wind . I wanted to hit the townspeople. Trouble is, this kind of behaviour continues in our current world too.

Sandy didn’t cause us much problem round here I am delighted to say. Had quite a lot of wind, but that was it. Although a friend said they lost power for a few hours giant red oakand a woman in Toronto was killed by a flying street sign. One sad story, two boys were killed when a tree fell on their house. Made me think of a storm we lived through, not officially a hurricane, but a nor’easter (mentioned it yesterday) we were sitting in our living room when there was an almighty crash and a tree came down on our back deck. Completely missed the mobile home thank God. In fact we were very lucky with all the trees we lost over the years, not one of them ever fell on the house. Watched a lot of the damage and flooding on LibertyTV and what really surprised me was all the snow in some of the southern states, Virginia, for instance, got 18 inches. Very surprising. According to the reports, Southern Ontario and Quebec have had bad winds, and the remnants of the storm are lashing the Maritimes. Thousands are without power in Toronto. I am surprised at that too. I guess we basically just missed it where we are. Above is a Twitter picture from Toronto. There have been several spoof pictures spawned by the storm like sharks in the water, etc. but the one I liked best was this one of Lady Liberty which a friend posted on Facebook.

One thing, people have to be so careful if they have been flooded, there were all kinds of warnings issued by Dr. Richard Besser on GMA – if your basement is flood for instance, you shouldn’t go down there without rubber boots because the water could contain all kinds of contaminants from sewage and animal wastes etc. He said if you have stored food in canning jars, you should boil them – most other items should be thrown out. He also pointed out there could be electrical problems in a flooded basement too. Here are some tips to clean your drinking water. He  showed a jar of very filthy water from flooded areas. There are some pretty devastating pictures from the fires which sprang up in one area of New York on Monday night with people unable to escape by themselves as they were caught between chest high water on one hand and fires on the other.

Well, here is a final Hallowe’en recipe for this year. Matt thinks some of these recipes are most unsuitable for children!!

Rat Cheese Ball By Rita

Rita's Note:

The Cutest Halloween cheese ball! Cheese ball shaped into mouse/rat for your Rat Cheese Ballcheese platters. You can use your favorite cheese ball recipe and go ahead and use almonds for ears or whatever you have on hand. Bloody Guts is fun when you cut into the cheese you find a sweet spicy hot gooey center.


Servings: 15

Cheese ball
Mice Fur and Holes for cheese wedge
Body parts
  • 1 dried shiitake mushroom (broken into pieces two for ears)
  • 2 red peppercorns (for eyes)
  • 17 bacon bits (for toes & nose)
  • 10 dried rosemary sprigs (for whisker)


  1. Cheese ball: Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.

  2. Divide in half then from one half take a 1/4 cup and add the mice fur ingredients mixes in well.

  3. With the other 3/4`s mold into a mice shape.

  4. With the 1/2 of cheese mold into a wedge. With your finger press to form hole as in a Swiss cheese. Fill holes with the dark cheese mix. Smooth it flush.

  5. With the rest of the dark cheese, spread it over the mouse/rat body saving a little for the tail. You may need to dampen your hand slightly for the tail. Then using a fork create the fur starting at the tail end going up toward the head. Fur strokes are to be flowing back away from the head. Place the dried mushrooms on the head for ears, red peppercorns for the eyes, bacon bits for the toes and nose, and dried rosemary for the whiskers.

  6. Serve with pepper crackers and or Veggie sticks.

  7. Optional bloody center.

  8. When molding the cheese add some cold jelly to the center and wrap the cheese around it to encase the jelly.

Have a great day


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm, HMS Bounty,

I can’t believe it, we lived through lots of hurricanes when we live in NC – mostly Sandy_isaac_floridawe evacuated as we were living in a mobile home – but because the remnants of Hurricane Sandy are supposed to affect us in Southern Ontario, Matt wanted to go buy milk!!!! He was watching GMA at the time and they were emphasizing the dangers of this storm, telling people not to go on the beach and not to even go near the water. There was a picture of one of the GMA reporters being hit by a rogue wave and nearly being swept away. That happened to Matt years ago when we were in NC and it wasn’t even a hurricane but turned out to be a nor’easter. He was, luckily, close to the steps and could hang on. I was watching a storm cam at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning and I would not have liked to be on the promenade where these pix were being taken. I was surprised to see an emergency vehicle of some kind going along the sea wall area because water had already been coming over the top of the wall. At least there weren’t any surfers!!!! Looking for pictures I found the one above taken in Florida plus pictures of people standing near the water taking pictures themselves, the caption was “Some people don’t believe the hype”. They’ll believe it fast enough when the waves really come at them. I am writing this on Monday morning, and the worst is yet to come.

The crew of the HMS Bounty a tall ship was abandoned on Monday and she wasHMS Bounty sunk by the storm somewhere off Cape Hatteras, NC. Such a loss. Two of the crew are missing. The ship was built in Canada.The US Navy fleet had all left the east coast prior to the storm in order to be out of the way. One thing I don’t understand, there was a cruise ship out there and apparently they were having a wonderful time with all the passengers being seasick. What the hell was a cruise ship doing out there in these weather conditions? Its not like hurricanes are a big surprise, we have known Sandy was coming for a while now.

At 6:30 on Monday: We heard earlier that the power was out in a nearby town, I dunno, there is a bit of a breeze here and that’s all and yet on the radio they are broadcasting hurricane preparedness messages just as if we were on the east coast. I think its nonsense, I just hope I am not proved wrong. apart from anything else, once a hurricane comes ashore, it usually decreases in power as there is no warm water to fuel it any more.

1:30 a.m. Here we have had some wind and rain, but so far very little from the remnants of Sandy. I hope all is well with those who were in the high risk areas. One person discovered from the Bounty, but the captain is still missing.

Here’s another treat for Hallowe’en. What with Broken Finger cookies posted last week and now Black Cats, should make good scary eating.

Black Cat Cookies

Source: Halloween Treats
Makes about 2 dozen 5- or 6-inch cookies

Click here to find out more!These cookies are big black cats that you definitely want in your path. They may Black Cat Cookielook eerie but they make good eating! Kids can help mix the dough, cut out the cookies and then (what fun!) ice them!

For the Cookie:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:

2 egg whites

4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Food coloring, black, yellow, and pink or red

Black licorice strings


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, allspice, and nutmeg; reserve

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.

Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat until the dough comes together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. Using a cat-shaped cookie cutter or template 5 or 6 inches in diameter, cut out cookies. Reroll scraps. As you cut the cookies, transfer them to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until lightly browned on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and let cool to room temperature before icing.


Place the egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and continue to beat until thick and shiny. The icing should spread easily. If the icing is too thin, add more sugar; if it's too thick, add a bit of water.

Scoop out half the icing and divide it in half between 2 small bowls. Tint the icing remaining in the large bowl with black food coloring (for the eyes) and the other small bowl with pink or red coloring (for the mouth).

Spoon black icing onto its center. Smooth with a small spatula or butter knife. Allow to dry for a few minutes. Using a paint brush or toothpicks (if you don't have a pastry bag or the inclination to use one), draw eyes onto the icing with the yellow icing and a mouth with the pink or red icing. Place 3 licorice strings, cut to fit, on each side of the face for the whiskers.

Have a great day


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pern, Sandy, Radio, Spider.

This weeThe White Dragonkend I got hold of a wallpaper for my PC which is from the Anne McCaffery book The White Dragon. Those of you who follow The Dragonriders of Pern will recognise the picture. I must admit it is one of my favourite covers from the series. In fact it was reading this book which first started me off on the Dragonrider series. I own all of them these days, even the ones written by her son although I am not as impressed with those as I was with the original Pern stories. Anne McCaffery could write no wrong in my opinion. Ruth, the white dragon, was one of my favourites of course. As many of you will know I am a dragon aficianado and if anything has a dragon in the story or the picture, I am right there. I am not so into stories of ‘bad’ dragons though, superior dragons maybe, but not ones that do willful damage, or eat maidens, etc.

Everybody is concerned about the storm roaring up the east coast, calling it Sandy at NCFrankenstorm. I understand Hurricane Sandy is scheduled to meet up with a cold front which will make the storm spread even further, it is already 800 miles wide (update 2000). Of course when we see the meteorologists on the coasts, in the background you can see idiots surfing!! A friend posted a picture from NC at the Bogue pier on Saturday and that was well before the storm is due to hit. As you can see the waves are beginning to pound into the shore. I do hope the pier itself will be OK, it has sustained so much hurricane damage over the years. Not sure how much longer they will continue to repair it. All the other piers have gone now. Here in Ontario they are talking about us getting snow as a result of this storm and saying some of the Lakes will feel effects from the wind. I find very often these storms are magnified beyond proportion and I hope this is the case this time. Nevertheless, I hope all my friends in its path will hunker down and keep out of its way. CBC has, what appears to be, a continuous video cam of the waves at

Broken Finger CookiesYou will remember I posted a recipe and picture last Thursday for Broken Fingers, I am going to be giving out this recipe on the local radio on Wednesday the 31st,  bit late in the day as will already be Hallowe’en. However… if you wanted to hear me you can go to at 11:30 a.m. and click on the Listen Live Button. It is real time, if you don’t hear it at that time, you can’t pick it up later although I will end up with an MP3.

Visiting some friends the other day I spotted a lovely/horrid Hallowe’en spider but didn’t have a camera with me so asked them to take the pic for me. Here it is.

Hallowe'n Spider
Enough to give one the willies isn’t it? Especially if you aren’t too keen on spiders in the first place.

I thought this was an interesting side to serve for dinner although I am not sure I would use the maple syrup, I think that would make it too sweet.

Roasted Mini Pumpkins

Source: Food & Wineroastminipump_nov96v

Yield: 12 Servings

12 mini pumpkins
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a grapefruit knife or a sharp paring knife, cut a ring around each pumpkin stem to form a lid; remove the lids and set aside. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds and any membranes.
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and sprinkle the spices inside the pumpkins. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter and 1 teaspoon of the maple syrup to each pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.
Set the pumpkins in a baking dish and add 1/2 inch of water. Replace the lids and roast the pumpkins for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Serve hot.

Have a great day

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meat Tenderisation, Aging Beef, Amethyst and Rock Spa.

meat-mechanical-tenderize-cbcWell. isn’t that delightful, there is a warning on CBC news about mechanically tenderised beef and if you look at the video here it shows how beef is tenderised by prodding it with spikes which have a tendency to push any bacteria, such as E coli, from the outside of the meat into the middle and lower layers meaning that such meat would need extra heating in order to kill the bacteria. There is a suspicion that this was the problem at XL Foods where a humungous amount of beef was recalled because it had been making people sick. OK if you cook your beef to death anyway, but if you tend to eat your beef rare or medium rare this could affect your health due to this mechanical tenderisation. It also appears, reading the article, that this practice is common with both stores and restaurants and the government is working with involved producers to have food labelled stating it has been mechanically tenderised. They say this could happen as early as next week. I knew that in North America meat was not ‘hung’ like it was in Europe (or used to be) with the result that it tends to be a lot tougher. I have, somewhere, a recipe for tenderising beef in the fridge, will have to see if I can find it.

This article is from Recipe du Jour and was written by Simply Tim. I have never tried it, but having read about mechanical tenderising I think I will be trying it out on my next piece of beef.


1. Rich already mentioned the flank steak, so I can move along to the good part: how to age meat in a refrigerator. Unwrap and rinse the store bought cut of meat as soon as possible. Pat dry. (So far I've only tried flank steak, but I now have a sirloin roast and a London broil aging away in the refrigerator even as I speak.) Place the UNSEASONED meat on a wire baking rack such that air can freely circulate all around the meat. Then place the wire rack inside a large baking pan to catch any juice runoff. Place the pan UNCOVERED on the top shelf of your refrigerator (slightly warmer up there).

2. Turn twice a day, rinsing the rack and drip pan when necessary. After about a week, I noticed the flank steak appeared dry around the edges. So I rinsed off (massaged) the steak with cold water and patted dry. Worked great. Friday night's flank steak had aged for about 1-1/2 weeks. Next time I will go a full two weeks. Maybe longer.

3. Friday morning I removed the flank steak(s) from the refrigerator and rinsed them off. I wrapped one in plastic-wrap and put it in the freezer for a rainy day, and seasoned the remaining one with sea salt (or coarse Kosher salt), fresh ground rosemary, and coarse black pepper. Nothing more. I pressed the seasoning well into the surface of the meat.

4. I seared the flank steak for 90 seconds on each side on a VERY hot (on high) open grill. Then cooked the steak on each side (medium heat) for an additional 4 minutes. (2-1/2 minutes to 3 minutes would have probably been better*, although a small portion of the steak remained medium rare.)

5. And there you have it. My observations: I did not discover any unpleasant odors from the aging meat. In fact, the meat-locker smell was rather pleasant. Any negative odors came from the drip pan not having been rinsed often enough. There was NOT an excessive amount of juice. The steak gradually grew to a deep burgundy color as aging continued. The final feast could be cut with a fork. Just ask Rich.

6. And, oh--- yesterday I thawed the frozen flank steak and prepared it exactly the same as above, except I *reduced each subsequent side's cooking time to 2-3/4 minutes. Outstanding. Try aging your next roast beef purchase before your next cookout. You'll be glad you did.

7. Next up: aged leg of lamb?

Ever since Sia McKaye did a guest post on Amethysts for me I have wanted to Amethyst 001supplement the amethysts I already had with a pendant. I already have a couple of rings and some stud earrings, so I wanted a pendant to complete the set. I had often passed The Rock Spa – actually it is close to our hairdresser – and so the other day we decided to go in. What a fascinating place with stones and rocks of all kinds, could have spent hours browsing. It turns out they are actually a spa as well and they do all kinds of treatments specifically with salt. I have seen travellers in various programmes getting salt baths – they looked pretty good. They also have qigong which I learned in conjunction with my T’ai Chi. An interesting store. We ended up finding me a nice amethyst pendant which is my Christmas present, yeah, I know, its not Christmas yet. My camera (or maybe the photographer) doesn’t know how to do justice to amethyst  unfortunately, but you can take it from me, it is an amethyst and quite lovely. The chain is one I already had.

Here is a beef recipe, maybe you should make sure its not mechanically tenderised before you make it.

Tomato-Herb Marinated Flank Steak

WebMD Recipe from

In this recipe, we make a dual-purpose sauce from garden-fresh tomatoes, shallot, marjoram and rosemary. We use half the sauce to marinate the steak and use the other half as a basting sauce. Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is gentler on the environment, free from growth-promoting hormones and typically lower in fat and calories than grain-fed beef. Marinating grass-fed beef for atomato_herb_marinated_flank_steak full day helps make it tender. Look for it at natural-foods markets or find it online.


  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram, chopped fresh
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped fresh
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, preferably grass-fed, trimmed


  1. Purée tomato, shallot, vinegar, marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup, covered, in the refrigerator. Scrape the remaining puree into a large, sealable plastic bag. Add steak and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade). Oil the grill rack. Grill the steak 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium, turning once and brushing the cooked side with some of the reserved sauce. When the steak is cooked, turn it over again and brush with more sauce. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak crosswise and serve with any remaining sauce spooned on top.

Have a great weekend


Friday, October 26, 2012

Bowling and Diabetes

Thursday saw us at lunch with friends from our bowling Travel League. Went to the Red Lobster. In my opinion, Red Lobsters don’t really work in Ontario because we are too far from an ocean. Most of the fish we get has been frozen and a lot of the flavour gets leached out. That being said, I had haddock and chips which wasn’t bad. We then went to the bowling alley where I proceeded to do a moderately good job of bowling, but only moderate.

Later in the day I couldn’t eat anything for supper although forced a few things down my throat, however, I still ended up with hypoglycemia and for a while felt pretty lousy, with the result that this blog is short and sweet today. Sorry about that.

If you are into Hallowe’en and have kids to please, here is a fabulous recipe, when I first saw this picture, I thought it was real.

Broken Finger Cookies

Food Network

“Fingernails” made from almonds or banana chips add a realistic touch. But avoid Broken Finger Cookiesthe nuts if allergy is an issue.
Courtesy of Jennifer Low

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 17 minutes
Yield: 20

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons red cake-decorating sugar
  • 20 whole blanched almonds OR 20 pieces banana chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat until mixture is no longer “scratchy” sounding against bowl. Beat in egg, vanilla and salt.
  4. In separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder (tip for measuring flour: stir flour, spoon into measuring cup, then level).
  5. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
  6. Switch to working in flour mixture with hands when dough gets too stiff to beat.
  7. Knead into smooth dough. Roll into 3/4-inch thick “ropes”. Break ropes into 3-inch sections. Pat one end smooth. Dip tip of other end of each piece into milk then red sugar.
  8. Place on lined baking sheet. Pressing in sides of rope to prevent flattening, insert almond or piece of banana chip into rounded end. Repeat process to make 20 fingers.
  9. Bake on middle rack of oven 17 minutes, or until dough is lightly golden.

Have a great day


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lunch, Specialists, Shopping

AngelsI forgot to mention that, on Tuesday, after we had been to the doc’s, we went to Angels in Cambridge for lunch. Thoroughly enjoyed it and it was all paid for by a gift voucher we were given as an anniversary present. Angels are themed as old style diners with pictures of stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis on the walls and a juke box in the room, not sure if they work mind you. Their food is usually pretty good.

I am always boasting about our Health system in Canada and how we don’t have Stethoscopeto pay, however, we often have to wait. I mentioned about my Urinary Tract Infection yesterday and that I was being referred to a urologist. I now discover, calling their office, that they are not booking for a UTI for 5-6 months!!!! Ridiculous. Meanwhile I am in pain and discomfort and reading about the whole thing on the web, could end up in a more serious situation. Matt is also under the care of the same urologist and will be seeing him in a couple of weeks, I will get my penn’orth in then!

shopping listYesterday I actually heaved myself out of bed to go shopping with Matt who insists on being in the store at 7 a.m. – I notice all the staff know him. He is very right, there isn’t anyone in the store at that time of day and one can just sail round in no time. He doesn’t like shopping with me, of course, because I stop and look at things and often buy things which are not on the list. Actually we decided to get some Brie and later in the day went to look for it each having thought the other had put it in the fridge, no cheese. After searching everywhere I phoned the store and said although we had been charged for it, it hadn’t made it home with us. The manager said bring the bill and they would replace it. That’s pretty good. No idea what happened to the first one.

I’ve never tried soup for breakfast, but I can certainly eat soup practically any time of the day. Here’s a good one.

Carrot and Coriander SoupCarrot & Coriander Soup.

BBC Good Food
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 450g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1.2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
  • handful coriander (about ½ a supermarket packet)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, then fry for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the ground coriander and potato, then cook for 1 min. Add the carrots and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 mins until the carrots are tender.
  2. Tip into food processor with the coriander. then blitz until smooth (you may need to do this in two batches). Return to pan, taste, add salt if necessary, then reheat to serve.

Have a great day


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Buzzard’s Feathers, Copper County, Tide Pods, Medical.

I came across this delightful little legend on Facebook. Its from the Native American Encyclopedia. It tells the story of how Buzzard brought back the feathers for all the birds.Buzzard-Feathers

In the elevator the other day, I got talking to a man who had been delivering food, I thought Meals on Wheels, not so, turned out it was Copper County Foods and they deliver frozen foods, individual portions, to people, particularly seniors. He gave me a card. Their webpage is I said that we cooked but his response was these were useful to have if you didn’t feel like cooking at any time, and lets face it, sometimes one doesn’t feel like it. No room in our freezer at the moment, but I will certainly think about it for another time. Some of the items wouldn’t appeal to us of course, but there are lots of selections. Their desserts look pretty good too and they have a carrot cake!!

Tide PodsHave you ever tried Tide Pods (or any other make)? We have another coupon right now which made me think about it. I think they are great. You just chuck one pod in the wash, no mess, no measuring. When we went on vacation we just took a few pods with us instead of having to take a whole jug, absolutely great. I now hear that children have been mistaking them for candies, well obviously you should put them where your children can’t get at them, but doesn’t that apply to all household products?

Had to go to the doctors’ once again yesterday, still got a UTI and am now on my sixth lot of antibiotics each stronger than the last, plus I have now to go see a urologist. As this has been going on since August, I am somewhat fed up with it. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that this recent bunch of pills will do the trick. So far, I might as well have been eating Tide Pods as well for all the good the antibiotics have done for me.

I’ve seen spookier treats for Hallowe’en, but this looked a nice cake anyway and I would certainly go for a slice (or two) if presented with it. I don’t think I will be making it though as there is only one person who would really eat it, and I definitely do not need it.

Haunted Tree Hallowe’en Cake

Hershey’s Kitchens.

Serves 10-12

IngredientsHaunted Tree Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S 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
  • 2 cans vanilla ready -to-spread frosting or your favorite homemade vanilla frosting, divided
  • Red and yellow food color
  • 1-1/3 cups (8-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Minis Peanut Butter Cups, divided
  • 5 to 6 teaspoons HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa or HERSHEY'S Cocoa


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  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 mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely.
  4. Set aside 1/2 cup frosting. Tint remaining frosting to desired shade of orange with red and yellow food color.
  5. Coarsely chop 1 cup mini peanut butter cups; set aside. Place first cake layer on serving plate; frost top of layer with about 3/4 cup frosting. Top with chopped peanut butter cups. Add second cake layer; complete frosting cake.
  6. Add cocoa to reserved frosting; place in heavy duty (freezer) resealable food storage bag. Cut off tip of bag about 1/4 inch from one corner. Draw leafless tree and branches onto top of cake by piping chocolate frosting in desired design. Add remaining mini peanut butter cups as few remaining leaves on tree and as leaves that have already fallen to the ground. 

Have a great day


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Armstrong, Bowling, TV and Politics.

Yesterday I was reading about Lance Armstrong and the doping case. He has been stripped of his titles and for the sever years the various agencies involved have declared that there was no winner. I have Armstrong2never been particularly interested in cycling, but I have friends to whom Armstrong was something of a hero and who must be desperately disappointed in everything which has now been discovered. It is such a shame that he and other sportsmen feel the need to cheat in order to win at any cost. I guess its taken a long time to catch him, and maybe he figured he never would be caught, but he was. It also casts a shadow over the Livestrong Cancer programme he founded although I gather he has resigned the chairmanship. But why; why do these well known sportsmen who become heroes to the world, do this? A well known English school, Eton, have a saying “it matters not who won or lost, but how you played the game” which is something these guys don’t take to heart, its win, win, win. To me it is ineffably sad.

Yesterday I bowled a bit better, but not much. My first game stank though. We Pin_Animation1have two more games this week as its our Travel League on Thursday. Some of us are not very happy that the proprietors have put up the fees by 22%. Only $2 a head but nevertheless its one hell of an increase and when there are two of you, it makes it somewhat expensive. One friend has quit – as he also points out, he neither drinks coffee nor eats donuts which is one of the treats of the Travel League, so why should he pay an extra $2?

Recently there was a Hallowe’en Dog Parade and one of the popular entries was Mutt RomneyMutt Romney. Many Canadians are fed up to the back teeth with US elections, unfortunately lots of our TV programmes are American ones and so all the advertising, political or otherwise, is American too. If you don’t live in this part of the world, you have no idea what its like to see American political advertising for a whole year prior to their Presidential election. We do have all Canadian channels but I have to confess that a lot of the best programmes are not on them. Although this season, I am pleased to say, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (the latter is my favourite programme) have been moved to a Hamilton, ON channel so at least the ads we are bombarded with are Canadian ones. We do have a public TV channel with no ads during programmes, but they don’t show a heck of a lot that we would watch, plus there are at least two American stations with no ads, but they too don’t always show anything we want to see either. In fact I have got to the stage, presently, if something is on a channel with ads, I mostly won’t watch it.

Anything based on Spanish cooking usually perks up my interest.

Spanish Monkfish

Source: The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook

Home cooks in Spain know that it’s easy to put a quick and tasty meal on the table by using flavorful basics — garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and saffron — and simple spanish-monk-fishtechnique. Following their philosophy and style, we created this delicious, no-fuss dish. serve it over brown rice.


  • 1 tablespoon oil, olive, extra-virgin plus 2 teaspoons, divided
  • 2 clove(s) garlic thinly sliced
  • 14 ounce(s) tomatoes, diced(1 can)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron powdered
  • 1 pinch salt plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch pepper, black ground plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds fish, monkfish or halibut fillets
  • 2 tablespoon parsley, freshly chopped
  • Heat oven to 425°F.
  • Heat 2 teaspoon of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, saffron, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.
  • While sauce is cooking, brush fish with remaining oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake until just opaque in the center, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Add parsley to sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Spoon over fish and serve.

Have a great day 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Saint Kateri, Fall Colours, Reading Again.

Kateri TakakwithaThe aboriginals of Canada are thrilled to know that a Mohawk woman, Kateri Tekakwitha has been canonised by the Vatican. According to the video she was beatified some time ago, but to become a saint there has to be a miracle connected to her and this happened in 2006 with a 5 yr. old American boy, Jake Finkbonner, considered to be at death’s door, last rites had been performed, but the family prayed to Kateri Tekakwitha and the boy was cured. In fact he attended the ceremony at the Vatican to canonise Kateri who was known as the Lily of the Mohawks. She is the first aboriginal woman to be canonised. Her story is quite interesting to read. She died of smallpox but her face cleared miraculously before she died.

Sam, my favourite weather forecaster (meteorologist) said the fall lAutumn Treeeaves would drop pretty quickly this year because of the dry weather we experienced in the summer – its made up for it since round here – however, ours seem to be hanging on quite well in the park although a few trees are completely bare now. Its funny how much we enjoy the fall colours even though they are a harbinger of winter. I was going to take some pix but my camera isn’t really good enough and Matt’s isElora in Fall playing him up – we have to take it into the camera shop. This is a picture of a local tree he took a few years ago, doesn’t really do the colours justice though, they are usually so brilliant. The second picture is better – it was taken of the Grand River at the Elora Gorge which is not very far from here. A friend posted this on Facebook and I have stolen it to share with you. Give you a pretty good idea of the terrific range of colours we get at this time of the year. I can see why my friend and her sister like to live in Elora.

I have been re-reading Elizabeth Moon’s Paks World series starting withDeed of Paks the trilogy The Deed of Paksenarrion. I am now on to the second of the new books Kings of the North having finished Oath of Fealty. I read the current or third book Oath of Gold a few weeks ago which is why I decided to re-read because I found over the years I had forgotten much of what happened. I still have one of the older books to read but my friend is busy reading it herself, so I will have to wait awhile. There are two more books still to be published. I had forgotten just how exciting these books are, and I had certainly forgotten a lot of the first trilogy, much of it was like reading a new book. I wish they were in ebook form, I would purchase them. Really good stories. I enjoy everything she has written, and have two of my favourites on my Kindle, The Speed of Dark and Remnant Population.

As you know, I am not a devotee of pumpkin in desserts nor am I a cheesecake fanatic like Matt who likes plain, plain, cheesecake with nothing, but nothing on it. Much to my surprise he tried a pumpkin cheesecake the other day and enjoyed it. So basically for him, here is a cheesecake recipe.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

16 servings

Click here to find out more!A spectacular, graceful ending for a holiday feast or any elegant fall or winter meal.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Pumpkin CheesecakeINGREDIENTS

For Crust:

1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 20 cookies)

1 tablespoon canola oil

For Filling:

20 ounces low-fat cottage cheese (2 1/2 cups)

12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (1 1/2 cups), softened

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

1 large egg

2 large egg whites or 4 teaspoons dried egg whites, reconstituted according to package directions

8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream (1 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup unseasoned pumpkin puree

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat oven to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap the outside bottom of the pan with a double thickness of foil.

To prepare crust: Combine crumbs and oil in a bowl. Press into the bottom of the pan.

To prepare filling & bake cheesecake: Puree cottage cheese in a food processor until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the workbowl once or twice. Add cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons cornstarch; process until smooth. Add egg, egg whites, sour cream, vanilla and salt; blend well. Measure 3 1/2 cups of the batter into a separate bowl; stir in lemon juice. To the remaining filling, add pumpkin, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch; blend well.

Pour about 1 cup of the vanilla filling into the center of the crust. Then pour about 1 cup of the pumpkin filling into the center of the vanilla filling. Alternate the remaining fillings in the same manner; concentric circles will form as they spread. To create a marbled effect, gently swirl a knife or skewer through the fillings.

Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1/2 inch up the side of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles, about 50 minutes. Turn off the oven. Coat a knife with cooking spray and run it around the edge of the cake. Let stand in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1 hour. Transfer from the water bath to a wire rack; remove foil. Let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled

Have a great day


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Swearing, Bowling, Cooking.

Tom Hanks was on GMA yesterday morning talking about his latest film, Cloud Atlas. Tom HanksApparently he plays several different parts, one being an Englishman. He was asked to do the accent for the interviewer and he said it was mostly swearing anyway, then started using the accent and accidentally swore, I think he said fucking, I wasn’t quite listening. Of course then there was a big hoo ha with everyone apologising to the kids of America and the audience of the programme, etc. etc. I thought it was silly, you can’t watch many movies without hearing such words almost constantly plus from what I see of today’s kids, they can swear much better than their parents. IMHOP a simple sorry would have been more than enough. I suppose, in fact, they will get lots of email and tweets complaining about it. Later I saw a blog about it on CBC. He was certainly mortified.

Bowling, for me, was a disaster yesterday. I did pass the hundred mark every time, but didn’t do a whole hell of a lot more. Matt, meanwhile had one pretty good game and one very good game over 200. One of my team mates got two 200 games today which is unusual for her. In one game she got 5 strikes in a row, something to get excited about. Personally I seem to be getting worse and worse. I blame the fact that I am still waiting for my vascular surgery and not very fit. Probably not a valid excuse, but I’m sticking to it LOL.

Today I am cooking one of the rib roasts we bought recently. Looking forwarib roastrd to it as my food tastes have been so odd lately. I should enjoy a roast of beef though. My tastes have been running to oriental noodles of various kinds, a lot of the things I normally eat just don’t appeal even though I have now been put on a thyroid medicine. Mind you at .025 grams, I guess any results are not going to be that swift. I do tend to want sweet stuff too which, being diabetic, is not a good idea. I could devour a box of chocolates in no time flat. I could, but I don’t.

I often make Leek and Potato Soup and either serve it hot as Potage Parmentier or cold as Vichyssoise. This is a different take on it with bacon and dill.

Potato Leek Soup with Bacon and Fresh Dill

By The Nourished Kitchen
WebMD Recipe from
Potato leek soup truly satisfies and nourishes on those rainy, cold and wet days of autumn and winter. Salty, smoky bacon from pasture-raised hogs pairs beautifully potato_leek_soup_with_bacon_and_fresh_dillwith the soft flavors of leek, celery and potato while the vibrant addition of fresh dill brings the flavors together.
  • 4 ounces pasture-raised bacon, fried and crumbled with fat reserved
  • 4 leeks, rinsed well with white and light green parts sliced very thinly
  • 1 pound waxy potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
  • 1 quart fresh chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh though dried will do
  • 2 cups fresh whole milk
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped fine
  • unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • crème fraîche or sour cream, to serve
  1. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat reserved bacon fat over a medium flame until melted and sizzling.
  2. Add the thinly sliced leeks to the melted bacon fat and fry until they begin to soften and release their aroma, about five to six minutes or so.
  3. Add one quart fresh chicken broth to the leeks and dump in the cubed potatoes and cover the pot.
  4. Cook the potatoes, leeks and broth together over a medium-low flame until the potatoes are softened and tenderly fall apart when pressed with the tines of a fork, about thirty minutes.
  5. Remove the soup from the flame and allow it to cool slightly, and then pour two cups fresh whole milk into the soup pot, stirring in the fresh dill as you go.
  6. Season the mixture with unrefined sea salt and white pepper as it suits you, then serve the soup with plenty of crumbled bacon and a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.
Have a great weekend

Friday, October 19, 2012

Soup, Onions, Dangerous Dog.

Pumpkin SoupI now have, probably, a couple of gallons of Pumpkin Soup, I had forgotten how much a pumpkin makes and we had both forgotten how difficult a pumpkin is to prepare for soup in the first place. However, the end result is worth it. Its delicious. Someone commented its is ambrosia for the gods. Not sure I would go quite that far, but, yummmm. Of course we had some for supper last night. No not served in a pumpkin. Especially not for the pair of us. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. The amount of soup I have made will last us a good long time.

I mentioned, a while back, that I had bought a double DVD of Jacques Pépin’s Chopping an Oniontechniques and recipes. I have watched parts of it. I remembered that there was a section on cutting onions with some tips I hadn’t used before, so I checked it out when I had three onions to chop for the soup. Obviously I was a lot slower than Jacques Pépin, but I did what he showed and found it much easier than before. Here is a slide show which demonstrates his technique. Not as good as the video but that particular one doesn’t seem to be available. There are lots of his ‘techniques’ videos available on the internet though.

Just spotted a story about a 3 lb. Chihuahua accused of biting a postal worked last August. I believe it may well have happened, but I think the consequences as dchihuahua-dangerousescribed in the article are ridiculous. The dog, who is tiny, has to be muzzled and the owners have to take out a million dollar insurance which will cost them quite a bit of money, as well as displaying a dangerous dog sign at their home. My mother had a couple of Chihuahuas so I am very familiar with the breed. They are, however, so tiny, that they only nip at ankles etc. not really bite.  The most dangerous dog my mother ever owned was a Yorkshire Terrier who could be a vicious little beast at times although as sweet and loving as you could want at other times. However, to designate the dog as dangerous is, in my opinion, ridiculous.

This recipe sounds interesting, as they say, its based on a North African stew and certainly sounds full of flavour. I love the combination of lentils, chickpeas and squash, I think it will be a recipe I will certainly try.

Squash, Chickpea and Red Lentil Stew

Source: © EatingWell Magazine
8 servings

Modeled on North African stews, this aromatic vegetarian main course can be Red Lentil Chickpea Stewserved over brown rice or steamed spinach.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

3/4 cup dried chickpeas

2 1/2 pounds kabocha squash (see Note) or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup red lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon saffron (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Ingredient Note: Kabocha is a squash with a green-streaked rind and tender, sweet orange flesh. An average kabocha weighs two to three pounds. It is considered the world's most expensive spice; saffron contributes a pungent flavor and intense yellow color. It is sold in threads and powdered form.


Soak chickpeas in enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches for 6 hours or overnight. (Alternatively, use the quick-soak method: Place beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour). Drain when ready to use.

Combine the soaked chickpeas, squash, carrots, onion, lentils, broth, tomato paste, ginger, cumin, salt, saffron and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker.

Put on the lid and cook on low until the chickpeas are tender and the lentils have begun to break down, 5 to 6 1/2 hours.

Stir in lime juice. Serve sprinkled with peanuts and cilantro.

Have a great day