Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday Recipe

I seem to be in a chocolate mood. So here’s another chocolate pudding. I have mentioned before that I don’t particularly like a hot chocolate drink but I have been reading how good it is for you and that it is full of antioxidants – more so than the much touted green tea. I found this one on Of course all you Americans who have been stuffing yourselves on Turkey and Pumpkin Pie, not to mention all the other goodies available on a Thanksgiving table, will probably not be interested.

Outrageous Warm Double-Chocolate Pudding

6 servings
Source: Cooking Light

Custard layer:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk
1 1/2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (such as Hershey's), chopped
Cooking spray

Cake layer:
3 ounces dark-chocolate candy bar (such as Hershey's), chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup applesauce
6 tablespoons frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 325°.
To prepare custard layer, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup egg substitute, stirring well with a whisk. Cook the milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; add semisweet chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts. Gradually add hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Pour the hot milk mixture into 6 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins in a baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven; cool in pan 30 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan; drain water.
To prepare cake layer, place dark chocolate in a small glass bowl. Microwave at high 2 minutes or until almost melted; stir after 1 minute. Set aside. Beat 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup egg substitute with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add dark chocolate and applesauce; beat until well blended. Pour evenly over the custard layer. Place ramekins in baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping.

Have a great weekend

Friday, November 28, 2014

Travel League Lunch and Bowling.

I am delighted to say that the snow held off and we were able to make it to Elmira on Thursday for lunch and then bowling. It was snowing pretty hard when we left the alley, but it didn’t last long. Lunch Carrot Cakewas pretty good, I decided to go for the buffet for a change and ate a little turkey in honour of the American Thanksgiving. Actually there was some cranberry chicken which tasted better. I also, of course, had some mincemeat tart with cream and a small spoonful of rice pudding which wasn’t bad. Needless to say, I bought a couple of mince tarts before we ate and was tempted by a carrot cake which looked fabulous. Whilst we were paying for our meal afterward, I couldn’t stand the way the carrot cake kept pleading for me to take it home, so I did. It is now resting in the freezer along with the mince tarts. I convinced one friend to buy a mince tart too, I hope they enjoy it although he has eaten it at the restaurant. They had apple dumplings and bread pudding with caramel sauce. I had to resist both of those. There were several other delightful looking items such as Mississippi Mud Pie but I didn’t try those either. The cake in the picture is frozen already so I guess it is not looking it’s best. Some of the icing had got pulled off by the lid so I took it off and fixed it. I accidentally got some on my finger and it was deeeeelicious. No really it was an accident.

Then on to the bowling alley. I had one really good game and two moderately good. Poor Matt had a bad day on all three games. After all that lunch we had donuts as usual and we both ate one, good friend said she had had too much dessert and was full.

Friday is another day for my exercise class. I am quite enjoying these at the moment. I am hoping all the movement for both hip and shoulder will help – so far, I think it is doing so. Getting old is really for the pits you know. Mind you one of the people we bowl with has Pins and Ballsjust turned 90 and he is pretty fit. The woman who was somewhat older has quit bowling for now, pity as she really loved to bowl. Talking of bowling, Matt is 80 next February and I am toying with the idea of throwing a bowling party in the downstairs alley where they can do “Cosmic” bowling, flashing lights and stuff. Never actually seen it in action. Thought it might be fun. It will be a surprise and shouldn’t be too difficult to do because we bowl on a Thursday afternoon anyway. Have to talk to the owners of the alley, don't know how this works yet.

To late for Thanksgiving, but this recipe can be used any time I guess. I am not sure I would add the sugar, but would taste it first I think. I also might use regular milk, depending on my mood.

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Mash

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Mash
WebMD Recipe from

The addition of delicious sweet potatoes gives a nutrient boost to mashed potatoes. Double it: Cook the potatoes in a Dutch oven rather than a large saucepan.


  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Place potatoes and sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until very tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes, then mash them in the pot to the desired consistency. Place milk and butter in a small bowl and microwave on High until the butter is mostly melted and the milk is warm, 30 to 40 seconds. (Alternatively, place in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the milk is warm.) Stir the milk mixture, sugar, salt and pepper into the mashed potatoes until combined.
Have a great day

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving, Exercises, Bowling and Lunch.

Wishing all my American friends a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all have a wonderful day.

I am feeling virtuous having just come from my exercise class. We virtually don’t stop moving for 45 minutes (give or take). I do in fact have to sit down occasionally as my hip hurts, but generally they are very easy exercises and designed for older people. These are classes run by Senior Service organisations in Kitchener (government funFitness Gym 2ded I assume) and the same group arranges for things like Meals on Wheels which we don’t need. Or at least not yet, I do hope we never do need them. I have been three times now (4 if you include the time I checked them out and joined in at the end) and I think it is doing me some good. Together with the bowling I only miss out on Tuesdays, OK I could do something at home I know, however, I just discovered one of the class would like to learn T’ai Chi so maybe I can teach her on a Tuesday. That’s me (in the red shirt at the front) doing T’ai Chi or Taijiquan as it’s mostly called  these days, when I was in N.C. The one on the left is my sifu, Rose, who used to tell stories of how some of the people she encountered in N.C. would raise hex signs against her and seemed to think she taught some weird religion or something. Nothing religious about it, philosophical perhaps.

Today we are off on our Travel league to Elmira, Ontario. The Crossroads giftsforecast says some snow in the evening, I do hope so, I want to go as much for the mincemeat tarts as for the bowling, plus it makes a nice day out as we have lunch first. The Crossroads, where we lunch, has a huge gift store attached with some delightful, but very expensive items. I don’t think I have ever bought anything there, but I love to look at the things they are selling, gorgeous ornaments and nick knacks, or course at this time of the year they have lots of Christmas stuff. I wish I could afford some of their stuff, just as well I can’t I would be broke in no time I think. This picture is only a corner of it.

I thought it was about time we had something with chocolate in it, haven’t done so in a while. So here is an English type pud. As I say, castor sugar is just fine ground and like our regular sugar here. Not sure about golden, probably the addition of some syrup, but I don’t think it will make a difference.

Squidgy Chocolate Pear Pudding


Serves 8

This hot, gooey chocolate pud, with dark chocolate and canned pears, can be made ahead and frozen - a perfect no-fuss dinner squidgy-chocolate-pear-puddingparty dessert


  • 200g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g golden castor sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 410g can pears halves in juice, drained
  • 100g plain dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 25g flaked almonds (optional)
  • cream or ice cream, to serve


  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Lightly grease a roughly 20 x 30cm shallow ovenproof dish. Put the butter in a large saucepan and place over a low heat until just melted. Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the sugar until well combined.
  2. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar, beating well with a wooden spoon in between each addition. Sift the flour and cocoa powder on top of the egg mixture, then beat hard with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour into the prepared tin or dish and nestle the pears into the chocolate batter. Put the chocolate on a board and cut into chunky pieces roughly 1.5cm with a large knife. Scatter the chocolate pieces over the batter and sprinkle with almonds, if you like. Can be frozen at this stage.
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 mins or until the mixture is crusty on the surface and lightly cooked inside. Do not allow to overcook, as the cake will become spongy rather than gooey in the centre. Serve warm with cream or ice cream
To freeze
Wrap the cooled, unbaked pudding tightly in foil, label and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, unwrap the pudding and bake from frozen as above in step 4 for 50 mins.
Have a great day

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cooking, Travel League.

Tomato SauceHaving made the stuffed peppers the other day, I had run out of tomato sauce so took some time on Tuesday afternoon to make up a batch. It’s basically something I do ‘out of my head’ I sauté a bunch of chopped onions, and a few chopped cloves of garlic. Throw in a couple of cans of tomatoes and some chopped peppers, a glass of wine and I also add some herbs and plenty of seasoning. This I can use for spaghetti or anything else that calls for tomato sauce. I basically don’t like the taste of the canned stuff.

We are crossing our fingers for Thursday now, we areAt Towne Bowl 3 due to go on our Travel league bowling to Elmira which is a few miles and out in the country somewhat and guess what, snow is predicted. I hope they are as wrong about that as they were about the freezing rain last Saturday. So do me a favour and cross your fingers for us too. This is a picture of me at the bowling alley last winter. Don’t know why I haven’t posted it before.

Dixie of dcrelief said she hoped I was going to post a recipe for Mincemeat Tarts – the best I can offer is from my old, old cookbook Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery – my copy is about 78 years old. Having made it, you can then put it into a pastry shell (puff pastry is Mrs. Beeton’s recommendation) and bake. I must confess I have never tried to make this myself and if I do want to do anything with mincemeat, I buy a good brand. The original mincemeat did, in fact, have meat in it I understand. When I was a kid, I hated mince tarts or anything with mincemeat. I guess my taste buds grew up. However, as I said, I buy the tarts from the Crossroads restaurant and they are delicious. It being a Mennonite restaurant, I am guessing the mincemeat is homemade. For suet in the States, I am afraid you will have to go to a butcher and request some which you will then have to prepare yourself. A gill,  by the way, is 5 fl. oz.


1 lb finely chopped suetMincemeat
1 lb. of currents
1 lbs raisins
1 lb chopped apples
1 lb sugar (it says castor but that is similar to sugar in North America)
1/2 lb sultanas
1/4 lb of shredded mixed candied peel
A lemon
1/2 gill brandy (see above)

small amounts of nutmeg, mace and cinnamon (she actually says half a salt spoon but although I have these, I have never seen anyone on this side of the pond who also has them) probably a quarter teaspoon.
Pare the lemons thinly, simmer the rinds in a little water until perfectly tender, then pound them or rub them through a fine sieve. Mix all the ingredients well together, press into a jar, cover closely and keep in a cool dry place for at least 1 month before using. Makes 4 to 5 lbs. mincemeat.

Have a great day

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Prize, Bowling, Blogfest. Supper.

Dragon of the Stars by Alex J CavanaughI won a bunch of books at Realms Faire a week ago, mostly ebooks, but today I got a review copy of Alex J. Cavenaugh’s Dragon of the Stars together with a few bookmarks, all marked with the Cassa books pictures. I have all these books already which is why I have got Dragon of the Stars. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be going to read this book shortly. Alex’s first three books were all excellent reads and I see no reason to suppose that this book won’t be the same. He tells us he is not going to write any more books, I and others like me, hope he will change his mind. His books fall under the classification of space opera and I personally enjoy space operas so it couldn’t be better as far as I am concerned.

Of course, it being Monday whilst I write, we went bowling today and I didn’t disgrace myself although my game was not one worth Mincemeat Tartboasting about either. Matt, after his brilliant showing last Monday dropped back to normal play this week. Thursday we go to Elmira with the Travel League (weather permitting) and have lunch at the Crossroads. Long time readers may remember that I buy mincemeat tarts from this restaurant, they are excellent and I bought two last year, popping them in the freezer until Christmas. I have been touting them to others so I think I had better call and make sure they will have enough.

SunflowersI was very flattered to be chosen, by L. Diane Wolfe, as one of the blogs she would miss in the Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest. The criteria was to choose three that have stopped blogging and three you would miss if they did so. Several people chose our beloved Tina Downey as one of the blogs they miss, we none of us can really accept that Tina is no longer with us. She was way too young to die. Tina loved sunflowers.

By the way, on Monday night I made the recipe for stuffed peppers which I posted last Friday. I changed it to use home made tomato sauce but other than that, it was the same. They were very good and we enjoyed them. Have two more for supper tonight.

L. Diane Wolfe talked about how she alters many of my recipes to make them vegan. Here is one I don’t think she will have to alter much if at all it is, after all, classified as vegan.

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

6 servings
WebMD Recipe

Sweet potatoes have all three of these antioxidants: vitamins A, C, and E. And they are the star ingredient in this side dish. You can make this recipe without peeling the sweet potatoes or the apples. Peel or don't peel, it's up to you.

  • 5 cups sweet potatoes or yams, thinly sliced (1 1/2 sweet potatoes)
  • 2 cups apples, such as pippin or Granny Smith, thinly sliced (2 small)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, or chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes, apple slices, and brown sugar together. Spoon into a 9x9-inch or similar-sized baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, blend syrup with cinnamon. Stir in the apple juice. Pour evenly over sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  4. Cover baking dish with lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 15 minutes longer (or until apple and sweet potatoes are cooked throughout).
Have a great day

Monday, November 24, 2014

Feed the Hungry, Pigtail Dinner.

Food Drive LinkThe blogging community is going to be holding a food drive on the web December 4-6, 2014 and it will be held in memory of our dear friend Tina Downey. Everyone who can is being asked to help spread the word and to do what they can to help food banks in their area. To read more about it go here. This necessitates finding out about food banks in our own areas, publicising them as much as we can and helping out if we are able. So please tell everybody you know whatever country you are in and join in during December. Posting the logo will also help very much. I must admit I posted information about this on Facebook and it was received like a damp squib. I also emailed our local foodbank.

Luckily the freezing rain never materialised on Saturday although the Pigtailsweather was cold, wet and extremely miserable. However, we were able to make it to our Pigtail dinner. Sadly our very good friends couldn’t make it because they had visiting relatives. Disappointing as they are fun people to be with. They tried to get extra tickets but couldn’t do so. It turned out there were lots of spaces and I am certain there was lots of extra food. Oh well. It was still a fun evening. I duly ate my three pigtails (two done in barbecue sauce and one with garlic and honey) with a good helping of sauerkraut. Got sticky as all get out and washed it down with red wine. They used to have a Newfie band but they have disbanded now which is a shame. I always enjoyed them although can’t say the same for Matt. The picture shows barbecued tails, most of the pix on line look most unappetising.

For those of you who are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, here’s a cute recipe from Giada de Laurentis on FoodTV. The recipe is rated as easy by the way.

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Thanksgiving Turkeys
Thanksgiving Turkeys
Makes 6 turkeys
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 30 candy corn candies, plus 6 white tips of candy corn
  • 6 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 6 mini peanut butter cups
  • 6 malt balls
  • 1 cup Red Frosting, recipe follows
  • 6 chocolate sandwich cookies with top cookies removed
Red Frosting:
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Red food coloring, as needed
Place the chocolate chips in a medium stainless steel or glass bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
For each turkey, push 5 candy corn candies, tip-side down, into the cream filling of a chocolate sandwich cookie to make the feathers for the turkey. Lay the cookie on a work surface.
Dip the flat, larger end of a peanut butter cup in the melted chocolate allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the peanut butter cup, chocolate-dipped end down, onto the sandwich cookie.
Dip a malt ball into the melted chocolate allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place the malt ball above the peanut butter cup to make the head of the turkey.
Dip the flat end of the white candy corn tip in the chocolate. Place on the malt ball, to make the turkey beak. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 10 minutes.
Place the Red Frosting in a piping bag. Using scissors, cut a small opening in the end of the piping bag. Pipe a small piece of frosting under the malt ball to make the turkey's beard.
Place a cookie (with top half removed) on a platter. Stand the turkey upright into the cream filling. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Red Frosting:
In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is smooth. Color the frosting by mixing in 1 drop of red food coloring at a time until the desired color is reached.

Have a great day

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday Recipe

This one turned up on My Recipes this week. I like polenta although I am sorry we cannot buy it made up here. Used to get it at Food Lion in NC; it came in tubes and one could cut off slices as required.

Smoky Shrimp and Parmesan-Polenta Cakes

Invite company over for this gourmet-inspired dish that's a snap to make. Serve with salad greens splashed with vinaigrette.

1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 17-ounce tube polenta, cut into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
Cooking spray
8 teaspoons marinara sauce 
8 teaspoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat broiler.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until done, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in wine, chives, juice, and paprika, tossing to coat. Keep warm.
3. Place polenta slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Top each slice with 1 teaspoon sauce and 1 teaspoon cheese; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Place 2 polenta slices on each of 4 plates; top each serving evenly with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.

Have a great weekend

Friday, November 21, 2014

Snow, Bowling.

Right now, it’s Thsnow 005ursday morning, it’s cold and it snowing. We are lucky we haven’t had the problems which have beset New York State, but just now I couldn’t see the park right outside our windows. Driving conditions are not good and still it snows which it has been doing, on and off, for several days. Please Mother Nature give  it a rest. Not even sure we will make the bowling alley this afternoon. Starting at the weekend they are predicting warmer temperatures for the week. I hope that’s so. Although this was taken last year it looks much the Snow Roofssame right now except in the picture it isn’t still coming down. Hm, looking at that date I thought it was September 2nd but it’s February 9th. I didn’t realise my camera dated pix in the American way and why not, I bought it in the States. Because I personally can never remember which way it is, I generally write the name of the month. Now, at the end of the day, it has been snowing all day and the roads were not very good when we went bowling. I just am so very glad we are not living in Buffalo who have over 5 ft of the white stuff and it’s still coming down. The reports say roofs are collapsing under the weight.

Talking of bowling, or maybe I would rather not – Matt and I both bowled as though My Ballwe had never done so before. We couldn’t believe it. My first game I didn’t even reach 100. I am so glad it wasn’t a league game. I was having some fun with the next lane though, a young American, who lives nearby and works at the University in Hamilton, had relatives visiting from Wisconsin and they had never been 5 pin bowling before. I explained that we had our own balls which they were happy about. Then the young man who lives here accidentally used one of my balls. I pretended to be angry and we were all laughing. Later he was pretending he was going to use one again. I hope he will come again even if his family won’t be here any more. They were from Wisconsin by the way. He sounded like he had a fairly high powered job in Hamilton too. It was funny, when they started, they had no idea that you got 3 balls in 5 pin (only 2 in 10 pin) and they couldn’t understand at first why the computer wasn’t going on to the next bowler. Another couple realised what was happening and explained.

I love stuffed peppers and haven’t made them in a long while. In fact I think the last time, we made the mistake of going out and leaving them on the kitchen counter (having eaten a couple first) and came home to find nothing but the caps on the back door mat. At such times the dog would disappear and when found would grovel at us as though we whipped her regularly. At such times we used to call her ‘sod dog’. Anyway, looking for a recipe, I lost the one I used to make, I chose this one from Betty Crocker as being the most like I remember.

Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers (any color)Stuffed Peppers
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
2 Tbs chopped onion
1 cup cooked rice
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 can (15 oz) Muir Glen™ organic tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)

1. Cut thin slice from stem end of each bell pepper to remove top of pepper. Remove seeds and membranes; rinse peppers. If necessary, cut thin slice from bottom of each pepper so they stand up straight. In 4-quart Dutch oven, add enough water to cover peppers. Heat to boiling; add peppers. Cook about 2 minutes; drain.
2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in rice, salt, garlic and 1 cup of the tomato sauce; cook until hot.
3. Heat oven to 350°F.
4. Stuff peppers with beef mixture. Stand peppers upright in ungreased 8-inch square glass baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers.
5. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Servings: 4

* For 3 grams of fat and 190 calories per serving, substitute ground turkey breast for the ground beef; use reduced-fat cheese.
* Substitute 1 package (12 oz) frozen veggie crumbles, thawed, for the ground beef; omit onion. Omit step 2. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook veggie crumbles, rice, salt, garlic and 1 cup of the tomato sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Continue as directed.
Source: Betty Crocker
Author Notes
Enjoy your dinner with peppers that are stuffed with ground beef and baked to perfection.

Have a great day

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Digital Puzzle, Princess Elsa.

untitledYesterday, part of my Christmas present from Matt, which I ordered, arrived. The DVD of Maleficent. So in the evening, I inserted it into my laptop and it wouldn’t play. Luckily Matt wasn’t watching TV and he is not remotely interested in such a movie, so I used the DVD and it played fine. Later I tried it on the desktop but it wouldn’t play there either. I was in a bit of a pother as I like to play movies on my laptop and couldn’t. Did a bit of research on line and discovered that a digital+DVD should be playable. I then looked at the leaflet that came with the DVD and decided to join the Disney site mentioned and sign in with the ‘magic code’. I did that and it said Maleficent was unlocked. Uh? I hadn’t had to insert the disc. Anyway, I tried it and lo and behold, it worked. Well, well, well. I also have How To Train Your Dragon 2 on the way. Don’t think that’s Disney though.

Talking of movies, sinlaw posted a picture of his daughter dressed aBeth as Princess Elsas Princess Elsa in Frozen. Apparently she was off to do a children’s party. She has trained at a drama school. Secret, she was wearing Uggs underneath in order to drive there. She is really a very lovely young lady. We are, of course biased, but I’m sure you would agree. Oh to be that young again. I hadn’t even realised she had a driver’s license. Matt is very pleased seeing what a lovely young woman she is.

This recipe is specially for Alex J. Cavenaugh or the Ninja Captain. He said Kung Pao Chicken is his favourite. I have posted a lighter version, but this is the classic recipe.

Classic Kung Pao Chicken

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups peanut oil
  • 6 dried red chilies
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted peanuts
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 5 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black rice vinegar
  1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, egg whites, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Mix well.
  2. Place a large wok over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil. When oil is very hot, remove wok from heat and immediately add chicken pieces, stirring to keep them from sticking. When the pieces are white on all sides, after 2 to 3 minutes, drain them and all the oil through a stainless-steel colander in a heatproof bowl. Reserve 5 tablespoons of the oil, and discard remainder.
  3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/3 cup water; mix well and set aside. Reheat wok with reserved oil. When very hot, add chilies and stir-fry until slightly blackened. Add peanuts, garlic, scallions and ginger, and stir-fry until lightly browned.
  4. Add chicken pieces, stock, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Mix well, and stir in cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low and let mixture sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix again, and serve.
Have a great day

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Typing Correcting and Typing Machines.

50s  typewriterWatching Matt reach for the whiteout when he wanted to correct something on his crossword, I started thinking about how easy it is these days. When I first went to secretarial college, many years ago, (1954 if I must confess) we had manual typewriters which were very heavy to use, I’m not sure I electric typewritercould type on one today. The only way to make corrections was with an eraser – not a very efficient method and if you had carbon copies, almost impossible. Later, typewriters improved and electric typewriters were introduced. I am talking about England here, they may have been around in the States for longer. After that there were correction pacorrectatape and ballpers, I don’t remember what they were called but you could place a piece over the error on all copies and type the mistake again erasing it with the white paper. By the time I got to Canada there was Correct-a-Tape which was fitted into the typewriter along with the ribbon. The next thing I came across was a typewriter whiline by linech had a small recording disc, in other words a word processor, it showed what you typed line by line only. It took me a long time to get used to that machine, at first I hated it. In fact Matt and my mother picked me up for lunch one day and I was in tears and threatening to quit my job. However, I persevered and learned how to use the thing. I then went to another company which had a complicated typing system; at the time we were all too naive to realise it was actually a very cumbersome computer – I was even sent to a week’s class in Toronto to learn the system, then finally I graduated onto a computer as we know them today.  You know what the look like. Now correcting what you type is so easy, and you never have to completely retype because the boss has changed his mind. To me computers are a definite blessing. I used to know a girl who could hit 140 wpm on the old machines. Never a mistake either, don’t know how she did it. I also learned Pitman’s shorthand when I was at secretarial college which nobody ever uses any more.

For some reason the picture of this recipe alone made me drool and  I am not a big pie eater. I found it on Food Network.

Goodwill Rainbow Pie 

  • serves 8 - 10 

This winter-herb-spiked pastry hugs the carefully favoured and individually celebrated layers of winter veg, while a grating of crumbly Lancashire cheese ties them together. A show-stopping pie that tastes even better than it looks.
Goodwill Rainbow Pie
Recipes from "A Modern Way To Eat" by Anna Jones.



600 g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked and very finely chopped
200 g butter or vegetable shortening
up to 250 mL ice-cold water

Sweet Potatoes and Vegetables

3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
a little butter or olive oil
a few good gratings fresh nutmeg
5 medium beetroots, peeled and cut into rough cubes
olive oil
splash red wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into little fingers
a couple sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked
zest of 1 unwaxed orange
1 Tbsp honey
25 g butter or olive oil
2 good-sized leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 heads winter greens, stalks removed, roughly shredded
grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
1 red chili, finely chopped
200 g Lancashire cheese
1 organic or free-range egg. beaten, or soya milk for brushing



1. First make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the chopped thyme. Cut the butter or shortening into small bits and rub these into the dry ingredients until you have a breadcrumb-like mix.
2. Add the water and knead to a smooth dough, but don’t overwork it. You could also use a food processor: pulse to breadcrumbs, then add the water and pulse until it just comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill while you get on with everything else.

Sweet Potatoes and Vegetables

1. Now get your veg on the go – all of this can happen at once. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
2. Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the beets and parsnips.
3. Pop the beets into a roasting tin, with a splash of olive oil and the vinegar, add the marjoram or oregano, and season. Cover with foil and roast alongside the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.
4. Put the parsnips into a roasting dish with the sage, orange zest, honey and a drizzle of olive oil, mix to coat, then cover with foil. Roast with the other veg for 45 minutes, until golden, removing the foil for the last 5–10 minutes. When all the veg are cooked, remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.
5. Meanwhile, cook the leeks. Heat the butter or oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the leeks and thyme and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, until sweet and softened, then set aside.
6. Add a little more olive oil to the pan, add the greens and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, until just wilted. Season, then add the lemon zest and chilli. Set aside.
7. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mash with a knob of butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a good grating of nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning for all the vegetable mixtures, if needed.
8. Take your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes. Then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin and use it to line a 20cm springform cake tin, leaving the excess hanging over the edges.
9. Now it’s time to start layering the pie. Start with all the leeks, then a grating of Lancashire cheese, then the beets, the greens, and another layer of cheese, then the parsnips and finally the sweet potato mash. Finish by bringing the excess pastry over the top of the mash, twisting the ends and laying them on the mash in a haphazard fashion – the little rough bits of pastry will crisp up and look beautiful. The pastry may not cover the whole of the top, but a little vivid orange sweet potato poking through is okay. Brush with the beaten egg or some soya milk.
10. Bake the pie at the bottom of the oven for 35–40 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes, then remove from the cake tin and place in the middle of the table. Serve with lashings of gravy.

Have a great day

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snow, Cosby, Movies.

View from BedroomAbout a month ago I posted a picture from my bedroom window of the park in f100_0903all, this picture is the park yesterday morning. You can’t tell but it was actually snowing when I took the picture.

Over the weekend we have been hearing a lot of accusations about Bill Cosby and rape or sexual molestation. I really don’t believe it because people in his profession get women throwing themselves at them so why the devil would he need to rape anyone. I think this woman is after money or notoriety.

The Theory of EverythingYesterday I was talking about a possible movie about the sci fi author Isaac Asmimov. He was also a scientist in his own right. Then I heard on Good Morning America that there are two more interesting movies in the works. One about Stephen Hawking the fantastic theoretical physicist and cosmologist called TheThe Imitation Game Theory of Everything which is a look at the relationship between he and his wife, and another about Alan Turing who is considered the father of computers. This one is called The Imitation Game. Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.  (IMDb).

This is what we had for supper on Saturday night, first time I have made this particular recipe and it was very good. A lot of people don’t like Gordon Ramsey because of his TV programmes and use of strong language. Matt derides him as a soccer player (which he once was) not a chef, no matter what, he comes up with some fabulous recipes and I use several of them. He runs successful restaurants in the UK and I wish I could eat there. Not my picture by the way, much as I enjoy French Fries, I rarely eat them.

Peppered Steak with Shallot Sauce

Source: Gordon Ramsey
Author Notes
A good steak doesn't want too much messing about with, so follow this easy recipe and enjoys yours with a rich shallot sauce.

Servings: 4

25 g  butterPeppered Steak Shallot Sauce
4 shallots, finely sliced
4 Tbs Cognac
200 ml  red wine
200 ml  beef stock from 1/2 stock cube, hot
Oil, for frying
2 Tbs crushed black peppercorns
4 rump or sirloin steaks

1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, to soften. Pour in the Cognac, boil for 1 minute, then add the wine. Increase the heat and boil for a few minutes to reduce by half.
2. Meanwhile, make up the stock and pour in. Boil until reduced by half again. Stir in the butter, season to taste, and leave over a low heat.
3. Meanwhile, brush a griddle or frying pan with a little oil and place over a high heat. Press the peppercorns all over the steaks. Place in the hot pan and cook for 2-5 minutes each side, depending how you like them cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside for 2 minutes to rest.
4. Divide between plates. Pour over the sauce and serve with thin-cut oven chips and grilled vine tomatoes.

Have a great day

Monday, November 17, 2014

Foundation, Starquake, Exhibition Entry. Snow.

FoundationThe other day I read that Isaac Asimov’s book Foundation might be coming to TV in the future. Now that is something I would like to see. Asimov was one of my most favourite authors, he is still very high on my list and many of his stories have been realised by modern science. He was a scientist himself of course. Foundation was the first in a whole series, I don’t know if the intention is to make all the books into a programme or what. If they don’t screw Starquakeit up, it will be well worth watching. Talking of books, I was raving about Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, I am now reading the second book, Star Quake. I think Forward’s imagination is incredible, this about a tiny neutron world that lives 1 1/2 years in one of our minutes, or 100 years in an hour. When found by an exploration spaceship they were savages whom humans began to teach, within a day and a half they had stripped human civilisation and become our teachers instead. The second book is about a major starquake which takes place on the neutron star and the human efforts to help at risk of their own lives.

RosesThis is a picture of an entry in an art exhibition in New Orleans, I think it is most attractive - Prospect, New Orleans’s biennial art exhibition, features work by more than 50 artists in locations throughout the Big Easy. Will Ryman’s three-story-tall Icon (pictured above) currently blooms in City Park. Catch the show through January 25, 2015. In this picture it doesn’t look 3 storeys tall though. I would love to see all the entries in this exhibition if this is anything to go by. There is an artist locally who makes metal exhibits some of which he puts along the roadside of his property. They don't really mean a lot and are really just lumps of metal welded together and then painted, however, I don't really know why but I like them, they are extremely unusual. If I had a yard, and presumably enough money, I wouldn't mind having one.

I forgot to mention it's been snowing off and on all weekend, flurries I guess, only once, so far, has it covered the road and that didn't last long.

I think these are a brilliant idea – I saw them in a soup recipe and couldn’t make out what they were at first. The are picture here on a bowl of very anaemic looking tomato soup. Mine is bright red.

Grilled Cheese Croutons

4 slices white breadGrilled Cheese croutons
2 tbsp margarine
2 slices cheddar cheese

For the croutons, spread margarine on both sides of bread slices. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and place 2 slices in the pan. Top each with 1 slice of cheese and place remaining bread slices on the cheese. Cook for 2 minutes, until underside is golden brown, flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from pan, cooling a few minutes before slicing. Cut into 1-inch squares and sprinkle a small handful on each bowl of soup.

Have a great day