Thursday, October 31, 2013

Storms, Great White Sharks. Travel League.

From all the reports we got, the storm named St. Jude in England was a bit of a loss although there seem to have been lots of downed trees and there were 5 deaths. Speaking to family in Kent, who are slightly inland although close to the River Medway, it was little more than a whimper. However, my friend who lives right on the coast seems to have had some pretty powerful winds. I am told that, despite the warnings, people were playing in the water on the beaches and at least one youngster got swept out to sea. We used to see that in North Carolina, a hurricane approaching and pBeach Stepseople out there surfing. They have no conception of the power of water especially driven by the winds of a hurricane. I have written before about Matt going down steps on to the beach, during a storm, to take pictures. He was a long way from the water, but suddenly it was all around him in a surge and if he hadn’t been close to the steps and able to grab the rails, it might have been a different story. These are not the actual steps, but very similar.

Just reading an article about white sharks and they have had somelydia-great-white-shark-tracking-map-20131028 problems tagging them in the Atlantic although successful in other waters. However, recently they have been able to tag more and have become very surprised to find sharks coming up into Canadian waters. There is an interesting video of the tagging of one 14 footer which they have named Lydia and which they know to be in Placentia Bay. Apparently not that much is really known about white sharks as yet. The map shows Lydia’s travels since she was tagged.

Today we havPin_Animation1e our Travel League and will be bowling in New Hamburg which is a fair distance away. We meet for lunch and I always used to have a Monte Christo sandwich, however, this year I won’t, they are loaded with calories I have discovered. Even a BLT is bad enough. I have to save room for my doughnut. Only reason I go, as I keep telling everyone, is for the doughnut.

Having used the slow cooker or crock pot the other day I was thinking I don’t use it nearly enough. It really does make life so much easier. Then I received an email from Kraft with slow cooker recipes some of which I certainly intend to try. Here is one which is high on my list. Obviously if you can’t get some of the Kraft ingredients, there are substitutes.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Kraft Kitchens

This slow-cooker recipe takes just 10 minutes of prep in the morning—so you can come home to a cheesy and tender stuffed pepper dish in the eSlow Cooker Stuffed Peppers recipevening.
4 servings

What You Need

4 medium  bell peppers
1/2 lb.  ground pork
3/4 cup  BULL'S-EYE Original Barbecue Sauce, divided
1 cup  instant white rice, uncooked
1 cup  frozen peas
1/4 lb.  (4 oz.) VELVEETA®, cubed
1/2 cup  water

Make It

CUT tops off peppers; chop tops, then refrigerate for another use. Remove seeds from peppers; discard. Set pepper shells aside.
MIX pork, 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce, the rice and peas; spoon evenly into pepper shells. Top evenly with VELVEETA.
POUR remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce into slow cooker; stir in water. Stand stuffed peppers upright in slow cooker; cover with lid. Cook 5 to 7 hours on LOW (or 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours on HIGH).

Kraft Kitchens Tips

Cooking Know-How
Every time you lift the lid, you lose heat. So, keep the lid on and resist the urge to peek!
Serving Suggestion
Serve with a mixed green salad tossed with your favorite KRAFT Dressing.

Have a great day

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

St. Jude, Cracked Window.

News reports about St. Jude (funny name for a storm), in the Fallen-tree-on-car-in-north-London-2646870UK, say/show there were lots of downed trees and damaged houses; 5 people died and other damage reports and yet my friends all living in the south of England almost dismissed the storm so I got the impression it didn’t amount to much until the news reports last night. I am assuming we would have heard if anything had happened to Matt’s kids and grandkids, but it was too late to phone by the time we saw the TV reports.

Some of you may remember we had new windows put in all our Bluebirdbestbedrooms a few months ago. Sunday morning I walked into the bedroom to get dressed and noticed a crack in the window. No idea how it happened unless it was because of heat inside and cold outside. Super came up to look at it and will no doubt get it fixed. I also complained about one of our toilets ‘singing’ or ‘groaning’. He fiddled around with the tank and told me it was fixed. We shall see. But it is nice just being able to call and say ‘fix it’. Friend at bowling was telling me about his chimney needing fixing, we don’t have problems like that. Once in a while I get a hankering to have a house and then I think about all the things we would be responsible for. No thanks, not any more.

Bowling was above average on Monday. Thursday is our Travel League. I have been working very hard trying to persuade one of our buddies to join us. Won’t know if she does til the day.

I don’t eat sausage a lot these days, other than when I was in NC last, can’t resist Jimmy Dean sausage. However, this recipe peaked my interest so I decided to share/save it. It suggests bread for sopping up, I was thinking noodles would go well.

Sausages, Potatoes, and Artichoke Hearts in Tomato Broth

Source: Quick From Scratch - Italian
Serves 4
Rec Image
Simmering chunks of potato, Italian sausages, and artichoke hearts in a tomatoey broth meld their flavours into a savoury stew. Sop up the plentiful broth with crusty bread.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausages
3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5), cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 1/2 cups drained and rinsed halved canned artichoke hearts (one 14-ounce can)
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

In a large stainless-steel pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausages and brown well, about 10 minutes. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the garlic, potatoes, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced to approximately 3 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the salt, and the sausages. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the pepper.

*Rosemary for the thyme
*Red wine for the white wine
*Hot Italian sausage for the mild

Have a great day

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fish Sex, Weather and Dinner.

Midshipman FishHere’s a strange story. I found on Sunday morning. People in Hampshire, England have been complaining about a noise which is keeping some of them awake at night. After spending lots of time investigating this with no results, it turns out that, in all likelihood, it is being caused by mating Midshipman Fish. The article describes the noise as being like a dial tone which, if you play the video, you will find it really does. If you got a lot of them making that noise I would imagine it could really cause a problem.

The weather doesn’t know what it wants to do at the moment. Saturday morning it was snowing really hard for a while but luckily it didn’t settle on the ground. In the afternoon it was brilliant sunshine. We were slightly worried when we saw the snow as we had dinner Almond Rice Pudguests coming. However, it was fine. Despite a couple of goofs on our part, Matt forgot to put the potatoes in to bake and I, trying to turn up the crock pot actually turned it off, so when I put the dumplings in it wasn’t really hot enough. However, they weren’t too bad and I zapped the potatoes in the microwave for a while and then put them in the toaster oven to finish off. We served Pumpkin Soup, (no crackers, it drives me crazy if I make a soup and someone loads it with crackers, might as well have water), then Steak Elisabetta with Mustard Dumplings finishing off with Almond Rice Pudding. Nobody left anything so I presume they enjoyed the meal.

Here is a recipe which I found at My original recipe comes from a cookbook I have had for 50 years. Unfortunately the picture is black and white. I have published this recipe before but I am not sure when. The addition of the vinegar and mustard in the stew and the mustard in the dumplings gives it a very interesting flavour. I, of course, use Colman’s dry mustard.

Steak Elisabetta and Mustard Dumplings

Contributed By: Benjamin, CA

Yield: 4 Servings

Steak Elizabetta
2 lbs. Chuck steak or similar cut into pieces
2 tbsp. Flour
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 oz. Shortening (I used Canola oil)
2 Medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 Medium carrots, sliced
¾ pint Stock/red wine/water as preferred
1 tbsp. Vinegar
½ tsp. Dry mustard
4 oz. Self-raising flour
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Dry mustard
2 oz Shredded suet (or 1 oz. butter or substitute)

Coat meat in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and mustard.
Heat fat in a pan and lightly brown onions and then meat.
Add carrots, stir in stock/wine/water, vinegar and bring to boil.
Turn into a casserole and cook in a slow oven (180 ?) for 1½-2 hrs.
30 mins. before steak is ready, drop dumplings on top of meat, cover tightly and cook for a further 30 mins.
Sift together flour, salt and mustard.
Add suet or rub in butter.
Mix to a dry dough with 3-4 tbsp. cold water, then shape into small balls (they will rise and expand).

Have a great day

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kennedy, Hepburn Movie, Medical.

Colin McLarenHere’s an interesting take on the Kennedy assassination. An Australian, who is quite familiar with accidental gun deaths, according to the article, set out to investigate independents as he figure he had no axe to grind. McLaren figures that the whole thing was actually an accidental shooting. I wonder. It was certainly a shot heard round the world.

Friday I watched a movie on TV I had never seen before, Wait Until Dark Audrey Hepburnwith Audrey Hepburn playing a blind housewife. It’s an old film and I am not sure how come I had never seen it before. A pretty good story and I enjoyed every minute of it. I have always liked Audrey Hepburn, she was so lovely to look at. She was wearing fairly tight sweaters which emphasised just how slim she was, I should ever be that thin. If I tried for that these days, I would look like an old hag. LOL. I’m still losing by the way, albeit not very fast and it doesn’t show on the scales too much.

I got a call from the doctor’s office today. Having had my ultrasound last week they are now sending me for an upper GI exam. I guess that is the ‘oscopy’ the doc mentioned, but I still am not sure which ‘oscopy’ it is. I don’t yet know when either. Funnily enough, I have been feeling quite a bit better lately, so maybe I don’t really need this test.

Busy day today as we have 6 of us for dinner tonight. Will tell you what I cooked on Monday.

I came across this recipe in the LCBO’s Food and Drink and loved the sound of it. Not that Truffle Oil is something I keep handy although my mother used to. I have posted an asparagus risotto before but this has extra flavour with the pancetta in particular. I could never taste truffles myself I’m afraid, I am sure I was missing out on something but…

Asparagus Risotto with Pancetta and Truffle Oil 

Early Summer 2008
By: Lucy Waverman

A beautiful risotto studded with green asparagus and flecked with Asparagus Risotto with Pancetta and Truffle Oilpancetta. This tastes even better with the truffle oil giving it that final flourish.

1 lb (500 g) thin asparagus stalks, woody ends removed
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
4 slices pancetta, diced
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1½ cups (375 mL) arborio rice
5½ cups (1.375 L) hot chicken stock
2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
½ cup (125 mL) Parmesan cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) truffle oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Dice asparagus stalks into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths, reserving tips.
2. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and fry for 2 minutes or until fat has rendered. Add onion, garlic and asparagus stalks and sauté for 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in rice and cook until rice is coated with onion and oil, about 1 minute.
3. Pour in about 2 cups (500 mL) stock and cook, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another 2 cups (500 mL) stock and stir again and cook until liquid is absorbed. Add last cup (250 mL) of stock and asparagus tips. Cook until stock is absorbed. The rice should be al dente. If not, add up to ½ cup (125 mL) more stock. This whole process should take between 20 and 25 minutes.
4. Beat in butter, Parmesan and truffle oil and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Snow, Bowling, Decent Gesture.

I didn’t see it, but I am reliably informed by several people, that we had snow last night. One friend actually saw it falling Wednesday Snowingevening, and several people saw snow on the ground this morning. Guess I didn’t look out of the window, nor did Matt. It’s way too early for snow; when we first came to Canada we were assured that snow didn’t fall til November 15, that’s some way off yet. I don’t know if it portends a bad winter or what. Only one problem as far as we are concerned, next week is our Travel League and it is out of town; snow would put the kibosh on that, at least as far as we are concerned. It’s not that we are worried about driving in snow ourselves but we are concerned about the idiots on the road, some of whom don’t seem to remember how to drive in snow from one year to another.

Of the four of us bowling yesterday, only one got any really good scores and even she didn’t reach 200. Of course our little Thursday get togethers are for fun as much as anything and it doesn’t really matter what we score, but it is nice if you score well.

Today I have to start cooking and also do some housework between the pair of us. Hope I can cope. I don’t think our cleaning lady will be back any time soon. She emailed me and said apart from anything else, she feels dizzy. Not good to drive if you feel like that. Problem is, when you work for yourself, you don’t get financial support when you are unable to do so. Reminds me, read a great story on Facebook about a female cop who arrested a woman for stealing a load of food to feed her hungry children, the cop made a decision and bought the woman $100 worth of food on the condition when she got back on her feet, she would pay it forward. The story hit the news so another $700 worth of food was donated and someone offered the woman a job. Heartwarming. All because a cop made a humane decision.

I confess I am not big on apple desserts, but this one doesn’t sound too bad. Similar to a recipe Matt has made in the past which I didn’t dislike.

Apple Tart Tatin


10 servings
Rec Image
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
10 medium-firm red delicious apples (about 6 ounces each), peeled, cored, quartered
1 sheet purchased frozen puff pastry (thawed) or home made

Melt butter in tart tatin pan over medium heat. Add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally until sugar melts and turns deep amber coloured, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange a little less than half of the apples in bottom of pan, cut side facing up, spacing apples as close together as possible, forming one layer (bottom will be top of tart).

Arrange remaining apples, round sides up, over apples in pan, filling pan evenly. Cover with lid and cook slowly over medium-low heat until apples become juicy and tender at edges, about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer slowly (do not burn caramel on bottom of pan) until apples are very tender and the juices in the bottom of pan are reduced to a thick caramel (about 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep in pan), about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out puff pasty sheet to thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut circle of dough to fit over apples, about 9 1/2-inches in diameter. Tuck edges down covering apples completely. Bake until crust has puffed, is a very dark golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool tart in pan 5 minutes. Invert serving plate atop tart. Using hot pads, grasp plate and pan handles together firmly. Turn pan with tart and plate over. Remove pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Have a great day

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NOVA. Steelheart.

Just watched an incredible NOVA series and right now am unable to find the exact programme online. There was a discussion about Hagfish (horrible looking things) which produce a disgusting slime as Hagfisha self defense. It has been discovered this slime contains fibres which are excessively strong so scientists are working on producing these fibres synthetically. Then there were various robots which have been designed using animal movements to enable the robots to work more efficiently. One robot was designed based on the working of an elephant’s trunk another looked like an overlarge dog and can be used to cross terrain which is impossible for current vehicles. Another robot which is more humanoid in shape which can be used in places where humans couldn’t go. Yet more, tiny robots which can think individually but work in a swarm. One use for them was shown with them assisting in searching collapsed buildings for victims. Tomorrow I will try and search for the whole programme.

Today I finished Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, I gather there wSteelheartill be sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and can highly recommend it for a fast paced action series. The premise is that somehow certain people obtain super powers and super hatefulness as well. They (Epics as they are called) are all violent and appear to kill at the drop of a hat. Most humans have given up fighting them and just hope they will ignore them too. Life is hard everywhere. However, there is one rebel group and the book is about their fight together with one young man who’s father was killed by Steelheart 10 years ago.

Here’s some more Mummies for Hallowe’en. This was from BBC Good Food.

Sausage mummy dippers

Makes 12
Cut croissant dough into strips and roll around chipolatas for these spooky bandaged mummies. Serve with your favourite dip.Saussage mummy dippers


  • oil, for greasing
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp French's yellow mustard, plus a little extra to decorate
  • 12 chipolatas
  • tube of 6 ready-to-roll croissant (look in the chiller cabinets near the pastry in the supermarkets)


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and brush 2 baking trays with a little oil. Mix the honey, ketchup and mustard together in a bowl, then brush over the chipolata sausages.
  2. Unroll the croissant dough and divide into 3 rectangles. Pinch together the diagonal perforated seams, then cut into long thin strips – you should get about 16 per rectangle.
  3. Wind the little croissant strips around the chipolatas, leaving a little gap at one end to make a slit for the eyes. Place on baking trays and bake for 20 mins. Cool a little, then, using the mustard, dot a pair of little yellow eyes on to each mummy. Serve warm with your favourite dip.
Have a great day

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin, Cleaner and Comfort Food.

Wednesday I managed, with difficulty, to saw the top and bottom off Pumpkinthe pumpkin. Then I couldn’t get any further. Bit later Matt had a go and couldn’t get anywhere with it either, tried all kinds of cutting implements and saws, but no good. Ended up throwing it away and Matt went to the store and got me some canned pumpkin. They did have some in our local store after all. I have never used canned pumpkin before, but I think I will be doing so in the future; fighting with a pumpkin apparently made of cement just isn’t worth it. I have never known such a tough pumpkin before, how anyone manages to carve one of these things I don’t know. It’s always been a tough job, but previously we have managed to cut one up and cook it. Anyway, I have lots of soup in the freezer (made some tomato soup whilst I was at it, particularly as the basil is still growing strong) so I guess the freezer is a tad full. I have also run out of storage containers too. Matt is always complaining we have too many. We do?? Not one soup sized container left.

Bit of a problem, apparently our cleaning lady is sick. Don’t knoMrs. Mopw what with and when she will be able to come in. Meanwhile we have dinner guests on Saturday so I guess between us we will have to clean the place up a bit. Neither of us are much up to cleaning unfortunately. Too many aches and pains. At least Matt can manage to run the vacuum and I can flit around with a duster LOL. Flit, I should be so lucky.

Tina, at Life is Good was talking about comfort food in her last blog. Discussing it with Matt, we really don’t know comfort food. Possibly I might choose soup as a comfort food of sorts, chicken anyway, especially the Jewish variety. I am not really quite sure what comfort food is – something one’s mother cooked? If so, my mother was an outstanding gourmet cook and we rarely had repeats.  Other than that we both like most foods and what we want to eat depends on the moment, what is at hand, or what we have planned. We eat such a range of foods, I could never pick out one I consider to be comfort food. I’ve said it before though, I don’t like reduced fat foods or low sugar foods. I like my food to be fresh and normal and NOT messed with. If it is very high fat or high sugar I will decrease my intake accordingly,  Having said that, it’s just occurred to me, I have skim milk on my cereal, something I have been doing for around 40 years. Just got so used to I don’t normally think about it.

I saw this picture and couldn’t resist sharing although in fact this is more about decorating for Hallowe’en than actually cooking. if you go to the website you will have access to all the other cupcakes suggested below. There are a lot of instructions, but you can just pick one or two ideas.

Mummys  Monsters and Spiders Oh My! Cupcakes

By momaphet

Mummys, and Monsters and Spiders, Oh My! Cupcakes. Photo by momaphet
Photo by momaphet
I'm posting this to share decorating ideas. Mine are far from decorating perfection but oh, so fun to make and eat. Decorating like this takes time – you are warned - but well worth the effort! You can make it much simpler by only make one or two designs. These were a huge hit at our work Halloween party and kids love them! Use your favourite cake and frosting recipes, your frosting must be soft enough to squeeze through a cone and tip but firm enough to hold it's shape. My frosting was a basic buttercream with a little egg white added for firmness - egg white powder will work too. The bright blue frosting lost some of it's shape due to mixing powdered food coloring with extra milk to avoid grainyness, this is one reason I suggest using gel or paste food color. I went through the bulk candy section at the grocery store and picked out the items I thought most conducive to monsters and such - the assorted liquorice candies are fabulous and slice up easily; sour strips make great tongues : ) , and I loved the yellow Runts for making horns and fangs! I had mini baking M&M 's on hand; they were a good size for eyes, but regular ones could work too. I was looking for the skinny string liquorice but couldn't find any - it would be a nice addition as is edible glitter - Wilton makes it and you can find it at JoAnne's or Michael's, or where ever you buy your cake decorating supplies For frosting Decorating Tips - I used open star #18, plain round #7, a #68 leaf tip, Atteco 47 or 45 for the mummy, and a Wilton or Marpol 233/ Atteco 133 for the grass and some of the monsters . You may have similar tips but slightly different sizes. I make my own parchment cones, unless you do a lot of decorating and make your own to save money, it's much easier to buy the nice plastic bag cones. I always use couplers so I can change tips but you could make separate cones for each tip. The Mummy and Worm Cupcakes are the easiest and take the least amount of time to make. The spiders are the messiest and most time consuming. If I were to do this assortment again I would prep for the decorating ahead of time - slicing liquorice candies for eyes, cutting sour tongues, dipping the spiders etc., and bake the cupcakes the day before. Doing everything at once took hours.


Yield 24
  • 24 cupcakes, baked
  • 4 cups buttercream frosting (The frosting amount is approximate always be prepared to make more, See note below)
  • food coloring, gel type preferred


  1. Separate your frosting, and color as desired, place a damp paper towel over your bowls of frosting, this keeps a crust from forming which can clog your decorating tips.
  2. MONSTER CUPCAKES - let your imagination run wild!
  3. Runts.
  4. Liquorice Candy.
  5. Sour Strips.
  6. Assorted Coloured frosting Frosting.
  7. For fur/ skin fill a cone with frosting and tip of choice for the type of fur you want (see intro for #'s) - I used : green monster - star tip , white monster - round tip , teal blue - leaf tip , bright blue - grass tip . For the white fangs on the green monster I used the round tip squeezed a little frosting then pulled away to make the fang.
  8. Top with candies for eyes, tongues, fangs etc.
  10. Gummy Worms.
  11. Chocolate wafer cookies.
  12. Frost the cupcake ( I added cocoa to my butter cream just for these to start with a brown base). Crush a couple of Oreos, or other cookies without the cream, for the dirt, insert the worms, then added grass around the edges (Tip # 233) and a couple of flowers. I found it hard to get some of worms in whole, so cut them down before inserting. Another fun addition is to create tombstones or ghosts with vanilla finger cookies.
  14. Use a touch of frosting to put your mini M & M eyes in place.
  15. Use Tip 47 (ridges down) to create bands of white frosting for the mummy wraps, overlap and curve them a bit - mummy's aren't flat or symmetrical. Leave a tiny gap for a smile. Once frosted I used a dot of black gel food color for the pupils on the eyes.
  17. Chow Mein Noodles.
  18. Chocolate, Melted with a little shortening.
  19. Mini M & M's.
  20. Black gel, melted chocolate or black food coloring (for the spider's web.
  21. Black edible glitter.
  22. Dip small clusters of the noodles in chocolate - a fork helps, place on waxed paper, dip individual legs and poke into the cluster; add red m&m eyes. Make ahead and let them completely firm - you may need to pop them into the fridge. Make extras in case of breakage.
  23. Frost the cupcakes white, then to create the web, using black gel frosting from the store, or a small cone with melted chocolate (I dipped a tooth pick into my black gel food coloring) starting from the center make three thin concentric circles on top of the cupcake; take a thin knife or tooth pick and starting from the center to the outer edge drag through the circles spacing the drags about 1/3" - 1/2" apart. (You could also use chocolate icing and pipe with white glaze) . Sprinkle black edible glitter around the edges. Top the web with your chocolate chow mein spider. If any legs fall off, a little dab of melted chocolate will glue them back into place.
  24. NOTE:.
  25. A little egg white or egg white powder added to your frosting can give it a little extra firmness to hold piped shapes better.
Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phone Call, Current Book.

3:30 a.m. I was awoken by a phone call. I have to turn off the CPAP machine, remove my mask and walk round the bed to get to the phone all the time worrying what else had happened bearing in mind the bad news we had got the previous day. Turned out it was a wrong number and I got a very half hearted ‘sorry’ – at 3:30 in the morning!!! Checking the area code it was an Ontario number so she knew what time it was. I was not best pleased.

SteelheartI am currently reading Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Not very far into it but the action never stops, excellent story so far. I have never read anything by him that I didn’t enjoy. He seems to be involved in so many new books, travelling and Song of the Shiver Barrenssigning all those he has recently published and giving seminars on writing. A very busy man.  Another favourite author, Glenda Larke, has recently announced that her Mirage Makers trilogy is now available as ebooks. I already own print copies of these books but I might still indulge as one day I will probably have to part with my books. Downsizing. I am not quite sure where these ebooks are as I have been unable to find them on Great books though.

This recipe is from the LCBO’s (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) Food and Drink magazine. They have some wonderful recipes. I love Bouillabaisse although I haven’t had the dish for many years now, nor made i,t as I don’t have access to sufficient varieties of good fresh fish.

Bouillabaisse with Garlic Croutons 


There are many opinions on what makes the perfect bouillabaisse and they’re all correct! This version is light and flavourful and can be made in stages to simplify preparations for entertaining. Be sure to use the freshest seafood you can get and adapt with other types of fish and shellfish as you desire.

1 lb (500 g) jumbo shrimp with shells
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Pinch saffron threads
8 cups (2 L) water
1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
2 tsp (10 mL) salt

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green part only, chopped
2 carrots, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
9 small new potatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 clove garlic, minced
12 slices baguette
½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
1 lb (500 g) skinless firm white fish, cut into chunks
18 mussels
Juice of ½ lemon
Chopped fresh parsley or chives

1. To make broth, peel shells and tails from shrimp and devein, if necessary; set shells aside. Cover and refrigerate shrimp for soup.
2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat; sauté celery, carrots and onions for about 10 minutes or until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add reserved shrimp shells; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until pink. Stir in tomato paste. Add bay leaves, saffron, water and wine; bring just to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, or until volume is slightly reduced and flavour is fully developed. Strain through sieve, reserving broth; discard solids. Stir in salt. (Broth can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. To make soup, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add leeks, carrots, ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt and pepper to taste; sauté for about 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in potatoes and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Keep hot.
4. About 10 minutes before serving, preheat broiler. Combine 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the remaining oil and minced garlic in a bowl. Lightly brush over both sides of each baguette slice. Place on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.
5. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, in batches, and sauté just until pink and slightly curled. Transfer to a warm dish; set aside.
6. Add 1 cup (250 mL) of the soup and wine to pan and bring to a simmer. Add fish and poach for about 5 minutes or just until firm. Use a slotted spoon to transfer fish to the dish with the shrimp. Add mussels to the pan, cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mussels are opened. Discard any that do not open.
7. To serve, divide shrimp and fish evenly among warmed shallow serving bowls. Stir liquid left in skillet into the soup. Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup over seafood and float croutons on top. Garnish with mussels and sprinkle with parsley.
Serves 6

Have a great day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Loss of a Friend, The Inner Light.

We had some bad news from North Carolina today, a very good friend of ours died Sunday morning about 2:00 am in her sleep apparently. She was quite a bit younger than us, but had been somewhat sickly with one thing and another for years and recently having been treated for cancer she got a lung disease plus other illnesses returned. The coroner said congestive heart failure but I think that’s medical speak for ‘we don’t really know’. I am sorry we can’t be there for the funeral. So very sad, we are gradually losing our friends down there. I have a couple of pix from years ago which one friend had inserted in fridge magnet holders and there are 8 men in one pic and 8 women in the other. These days, not too many of us in the pictures are left.

This video from Youtube was recommended to me by a friend in NC – I don’t know if this was an actual episode of Star Trek – Next Generation or not, I didn’t see them all by any means. It’s the music which appealed to my friend apparently as well as the obvious story. In view of the above it is somewhat appropriate.

I must say I thought Picard’s makeup artist did an excellent job.

I love to use flank steak and so I was delighted to find this recipe at at WebMD. Not only that we both enjoy lettuce wraps.

Korean-Style Steak and Lettuce Wraps

WebMD Recipe from

These wraps should be served with lots of condiments: kimchee, for sure, but also nonfat yogurt and shredded carrots dressed with rice vinegar. Serve the various components of the dish separately and let your family or guests build their own wraps to Korean-Style Steak & Lettuce Wrapstaste.

1 pound flank steak
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup diced peeled cucumber
6  cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the steak for 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices.
  3. Combine the sliced steak, cucumber, tomatoes, shallot, mint, basil and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix sugar, soy sauce, lime juice and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over the steak mixture; toss well to coat. To serve, spoon a portion of the steak mixture into a lettuce leaf and roll into a "wrap."
To oil a grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.
Have a great day

Saturday, October 19, 2013

EU/Canada Tariff Deal. Fresh Air? Soup, This ‘n’ That

harper-barroso-eu-trade-dealIt’s all over the local news that our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has signed a very advantageous trade deal with the European Union this week. It involves the slashing of most import duties from food to cars. It will apparently increase the amount we can export as well as what we can import. Hey, no tariffs on European wines and cheeses, although there is consideration of compensation for Canadian cheese makers who might lose out on this deal. The picture shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) who signed the tentative agreement in Brussels on Friday, alongside European Commission president Jose Manual Barroso. Full ratification is likely two years away. 

Just heard a report on the radio saying the air we breathe on a 24 hour basis is more dangerous than second hand cigarette smoke. What a horrifying thought.

Friday we went out and bought a pumpkin which, in the next day or two I shall be turning into Pumpkin Soup. Hard work to cut it up and remove the peel. Couldn’t do it without Matt I don’t think. It’s worth it in the end though, the soup is delicious.

After I had seen the sleep management doctor, the pressure on my CPAP machine was increased to 12. 12 what? I don’t actually know. Anyway, I have been having trouble with the mask leaking and getting to sleep etc. so I got them to cut it back to 10 again and Thursday night I slept like a baby.

Friday we went out to hunt for ground flax which our local store doesn’t seem to carry any more. I was actually looking for a Bulk Bulk BarnBarn thought there was one close by, however, we were told where there is one and went there. Ii have never been in one before, what an incredible place. You can buy things in large or small quantities, they seemed to have everything. I also bought some wasabi peas, had tasted one before so bought a small amount to snack on. Very spicy but enjoyable. I understand a lot of people buy their dried herbs there in small quantities so they are always fresh. Good idea. We then went to the local Walmart and afterwards to Sobeys – a store we like but is generally a bit far away for regular shopping. There is a wine outlet there and we had a taste of their Pinot Grigio which we wanted to replace, it is on special at the moment. It was good. The special was two bottles for $20. We got two! Also tasted their ice wine which was also on special, it was very delicious, but ice wine is pretty expensive and we probably wouldn’t drink it anyway. For those who don’t live in Canada, our grocery stores do not, themselves, sell wine or beer, but some of the bigger grocery stores have a wine outlet attached to the premises. Our regular grocery store doesn’t, but the liquor store is just across the parking lot so not really necessary.

This recipe came from and I thought it sounded unusual. Only one problem, I haven’t been able to find canned pumpkin round here.

Gingered Pumpkin Flans

Source: © EatingWell Magazine
6 servings
Rec Image
A touch of fresh ginger adds dimension to these pumpkin flans.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar divided
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup evaporated nonfat milk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar melts. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until caramel turns amber, 5 to 7 minutes. (Watch so that it does not burn). Carefully pour caramel into six 3/4-cup ramekins and tilt to coat insides evenly. Set aside.
Whisk eggs, egg whites and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, ginger and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Stir in low-fat and evaporated milks. Pour into prepared ramekins. Skim off any air bubbles.
Place a folded kitchen towel in a roasting pan. Place ramekins on towel. Add enough boiling water to the pan to come halfway up the outsides of the ramekins.
Bake flans until a knife inserted in their centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove ramekins from water and let cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of each flan and invert into shallow dessert bowls.

Have a great weekend

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ultrasound and The Isles of Glory.

Well, I was a good girl and didn’t munch anything after about 7:30 p.m. and had just a little coffee too. Then couldn’t sleep and ended getting up at 5 a.m. with the result we were hanging around waiting to go for my ultrasound at 7. I felt a bit guilty as the girl who was doing the ultrasound said she remembered me from a previous visit, I’m afraid I didn’t remember her. Anyway, not sure how long before the results will be with my doctor. and hopefully something will be revealed so I don’t have to have the ‘oscopy’. One thing the technician asked, had I had my gall bladder removed, no I haven’t.

Last night, Wednesday, before going to bed early, I finisheAware Coverd proof The Awarereading the third book in Glenda Larke’s Isles of Glory trilogy. I had read the books some years ago, knew I had enjoyed them very much, but had forgotten so much. Glenda herself said she had forgotten a lot of what she had written. They are being released as ebooks, The Aware, Gilfeather and The Tainted. If you want a really good read, I cannot recommend them highly enough. I feel that way about all Glenda’s books mind you.  Glenda has a blog here as well. The cover on the left is one of the originals although the new books have the second one. On her blog there is a blurb about the Trilogy. I forgot to say they are being issued as ebooks too.

We bowled Thursday afternoon again, Matt and one of our friends were bowling really well whereas I and the other bowler were making a right mess of our games. I was at least getting my 100 and one game I got up to 170, but against Matt and Joy that was nothing. They were running neck and neck so Joy said they were necking!

I haven’t had a chance to catch up with all the blogs this week and there will be lots more tomorrow. However, I should be able to start catching up today. Apologies for being so behind.

This recipe comes from Kevin Lynch’s Closet Cooking. I thought I would share it with you. He really comes up with a lot of good dishes from his closet sized kitchen. Ours is not much bigger than a closet either I might add. I see he suggests a splash of ouzo. I wonder how many people stock ouzo, I used to love the drink, but certainly don’t stock it.
Shrimp Linguine in a Tomato and Feta Sauce (aka Shrimp Saganaki Linguine)
Servings: 4
A quick and easy shrimp pasta in a tasty tomato and feta sauce.

Shrimp Linguine in a Tomato and Feta Sauce 800 3083
  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • red chili pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes or 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook the pasta as directed on package.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the wine and simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and oregano and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes
  6. Add the shrimp and and simmer until cooked, about 2-4 minutes.
  7. Mix in the feta, dill and parsley, season with salt and pepper and serve over the linguine.
Option: Add a splash of ouzo or other anise liqueur along with the tomatoes or 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds with the garlic and chili pepper flakes for a hint of the exotic.
Option: Use 1 teaspoon dried dill instead of fresh and add to the sauce along with the oregano.
Tip: Serve with crusty bread to sop up any and all leftover sauce.

Have a great day

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Page Views,

You may notice I have removed the gadgets which count how many page views or reads I have had every day. I have it on very good authority that they are not really accurate and it is a fact I figured the figures I have been getting lately to be somewhat depressing. I am happy to get a few comments every day and I hope people enjoy my ramblings, I would certainly hate to get as many comments as some bloggers do, I could never cope. Alex J. Cavenaugh mentioned one blogger getting as many as 5,000. Horrors.

Well, sorry y’all I am off to bed early as I have to be up before dawn in the morning so this is it for today. Bowling in the afternoon.

Have a great day

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Congratulations Satima. Noise Problems.

I was thrilled to bits when I went on Facebook this morning to find Satimathat an Australian friend, Satima Flavell, had finally got a contract for her novel The Dagger of Dresnia. I am so very pleased for her. She realises, of course, that she has a long hard row to hoe before publication, but at least this is the first step. It has taken her quite a while to find her present publisher, but as she is very much involved in the industry as a professional editor, she knows very well what is involved in the next steps. Nevertheless, congratulations Satima and all the best of luck to you. Funnily enough Satima and I were both born in the same part of England although she and her parents emigrated to Australia long before we emigrated to Canada.

Tuesday was ostensibly a quiet day for us, but they seem to be rebuilding the apartment above us and what a racket, it’s been going on for nearly 3 weeks. Matt figures we should get a month rent free because of all the noise. It really is a pain if you are listening to something and right in the middle they start banging again. You end up missing what people are saying on the radio or TV. Plus some of the bangs are so loud that I jump every time. It really is a pain. They even worked a lot of the holiday weekend just past. It was worse today as we were not doing anything much. I was trying to proof a friend’s book and Matt was just watching football (soccer) on TV.

One thing I have to remember tonight is to begin a 12 hour fast as I have an ultrasound tomorrow morning at 7. I have a tendency to forget and suddenly around 10 or 11 in the evening it occurs to me I should not have been eating.

I love crepes and these look pretty good to me found on WebMD.

Mushroom and Spinach Crepes

Mushroom & Spinach CrepesWebMD Recipe from

Try these crepes, filled with spinach and meaty mushrooms topped with crumbled goat cheese, for a light supper with a salad on the side.

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, preferably white whole-wheat (see Tip)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3  large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons canola oil, or melted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, (about 3 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup seltzer water
6 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

  1. Process whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, eggs, milk and oil (or butter) in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping the sides once or twice. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallots, rosemary and salt and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft and have released their liquid, about 6 minutes. Stir in spinach a handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Slowly whisk seltzer into the batter. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Ladle 1/3 cup batter into the center of the pan; immediately tilt and rotate the pan to spread evenly over the bottom.
  4. Cook until the underside is lightly browned, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using a heatproof silicon or rubber spatula, lift the edge, then quickly grasp the crepe with your fingers and flip. Cook until the second side is lightly browned, about 20 seconds. Slide onto a plate.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batter, spraying the pan as needed and stacking crepes as you go. If the pan begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium. Cover crepes with a clean kitchen towel or keep warm in a 200°F oven.
  6. To assemble, place a crepe on a clean cutting board. Spread a generous 1/3 cup of the mushroom filling in the center, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border. Top with 1 tablespoon goat cheese. Fold in the sides to make a square shape, leaving a “window” in the center. Press down on the corners, as necessary, to help keep the crepe folded. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Garnish with rosemary, if desired.
White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at or Store it in the freezer.

Have a great day

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bowling, Weather, Disasters.

Bowling yesterday of course, and I actually had a good day with one Bowling Pin Placement 5very good game bearing in mind how long it has been for me to settle down to regularly bowling in a different alley. However, I didn’t find out til she had gone, but one of our close friends bowled really well and certainly beat me to a fare thee well with her scores. One of her games was 295 apparently, I didn’t get anywhere near that. Ah well, maybe next time. Bear in mind that for 5 pin bowling, a perfect score is 400. Yesterday's score could certainly earn her high single I think.

The weather was once again really sunny yesterday. I even saw sunshinepictures of people having their Thanksgiving dinners outside. Very unusual for October. However, we are told by the weather bureau that this is coming to an end today. Such a pity it has been delightful other than when I sit in my chair and try to use my laptop with the sun streaming in and I can’t see a damned thing. We always get lots of sun in the winter months, but it’s not usually so hot. In the summer we are lucky it doesn’t shine into our apartment.

Been a bad earthquake in the Philippines with, at the time of writing, 6 people dead. A friend reports on Facebook that there is india-cycloneextensive damage in the south. At least she and her family are OK. The cyclone Phailin appears to have accounted for 17 dead, last I heard, and also caused lots of damage. They say the massive evacuation kept many alive. However, it seems to have disappeared from the news reports already. Having gone through a bunch of hurricanes when we lived in North Carolina, I can very much sympathise with people who are hit by them. We were lucky in that we only lost 19 trees over the years and never sustained damage to our home unlike the picture above.

I have, over the years, made many a Hungarian Goulash. This recipe from seems very similar. I am very fond of all kinds of soups and I think this one sounds delicious.

Hungarian Beef-and-Potato Soup

Source: Quick from Scratch - Soups and Salads
Serves 4

Rec ImageTraditionally, this soup would be made with cubes of beef, but when you want a quick weeknight dinner, who can wait for meat to braise? We use ground beef instead. If you like your soup spicy, substitute hot paprika for some of the sweet paprika here.

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 pound boiling potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups canned low-sodium beef broth or homemade stock
3 cups water

Set a large pot over moderate heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring to break it up, until the meat is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the potatoes, paprika, cayenne, marjoram, caraway seeds, salt, tomato paste, broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Use one cup of wide egg noodles instead of the potatoes. You'll only need to simmer the soup for about five minutes, since the noodles don't take quite as long to cook.

Have a great day