Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve,

Of course we will be bowling this afternoon but we will be having a quiet evening ending it with a glass of bubbly for me at midnight. Not sure if Matt will drink beer or gin. How come I married a man who doesn't like champagne? My family all drank it at the drop of a hat. Although one time, my mother was presented with a couple of bottles of one of the world's top champagnes by the well known owner of the vineyard. She saved one for when we joined them in Malta and, sad to say, I didn't enjoy it. She was given a case of red wine as well and that was wonderful. Maybe my palate isn't sufficiently well educated.

Anyway, I do hope you all have a wonderful New Year and that it will be both healthy and happy. I expect you all to make this recipe for tonight of course.

I nearly forgot, to those of you who have been nagging  concerned about my health, I am doing pretty well. It wasn't my muscles that were involved so much as the bones being jarred by the fall. I think I might end up with a hip replacement in the not too distant future, but I have been expecting that to happen anyway, I just may have urged it along a bit. So, thank you all for your kind concern, but I am doing OK.

I couldn't resist posting this recipe. I only ever tried making a raised pork pie. It was moderately successful although we did have a bit of trouble with the jellied stock leaking through a hole near the top and had to keep topping it up when it cooled and jelled. It was delicious. These raised pies with hot water crusts are/were very popular in England. One of the classics being the Melton Mowbray Pie. We can buy these in Canada although they lack something. This recipe attracted me because of the cranberry topping. It looks so attractive.

Cranberry-topped raised pie

Cranberry-topped raised pie

Prep: 1 hr Cook: 2 hrs, 20 mins plus resting and at least 3 hrs chilling

For the keen cook

Serves 12 - 15

This raised pork, chicken and bacon pie, topped with festive fruit, makes for a magnificent centrepiece for a Christmas or Boxing Day buffet


    For the filling

    • 500g boneless pork shoulder, skin removed, chopped into 2cm/¾ in pieces (ask your butcher for 300g/11oz pork bones if you want to make your own stock)
    • 250g pork belly, skin removed, chopped into 2cm/¾ in pieces
    • 650g chicken drumsticks and thighs, skin and bones removed, chopped into 2cm/¾ in pieces – you should have about 375g/13oz (save the bones to make stock, if you like)
    • 100g smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
    • ½ tsp ground mace
    • 2 pinches of ground nutmeg
    • 1 tsp ground white pepper
    • 1 tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 fresh bay leaf, very finely chopped
    • 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
    • ½ bunch parsley finely chopped
    • 4 sage leaves, finely chopped

    For the hot water pastry

    • 140g lard, chopped into small pieces
    • 550g plain flour
    • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

    For the jellied stock

    • 300ml good-quality chicken stock
    • 2 gelatine leaves

    For the topping (optional)

    • 50g granulated sugar
    • 100ml dry sherry
    • 200g fresh or frozen cranberry


    1. Mix together all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and season with 1.5 tsp salt.
    2. Now make the pastry. Pour 150 ml water into a saucepan, add the lard and 1/2 tsp salt, and bring to the boil. Once the lard has melted, remove from the heat.
    3. Meanwhile, sift the flour and 1 tsp salt together into a large bowl. Pour over the hot liquid and stir vigorously to form a dough.
    4. Tip onto your work surface and knead for a couple of mins to develop the gluten slightly and create an even-textured pastry. (Once made, keep covered with cling film – see tips.)
    5. Remove roughly one-third of the pastry and set aside to make the lid later. Roll the remaining pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin (3.5 mm). You’ll need a 20 cm-deep springform cake tin to assemble the pie in.
    6. Line the cake tin with the pastry, pushing it well into the corners and up the sides of the tin (use a small ball of dough to do this). Leave any excess hanging over the top of the tin.
    7. Add the filling to the pie, packing it tightly – this will expel any air pockets and create a nice flat top for the cranberries to sit on later.
    8. Roll out the reserved pastry to the same thickness and lift it onto the pie to create a lid. Press into the pastry around the edges and trim off any excess. Crimp with 2 fingers if you like. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg. Cut a hole in the centre to let the steam out as it cooks. You can now chill it for up to 24 hrs or cook straight away. Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
    9. Bake for 30 mins, then reduce heat to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2 and bake for another 1 hr 45 mins. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the pie should be 75°C. If not, insert the end of a spoon into the centre of the pie and hold it there for 10 secs – it should be hot to the touch.
    10. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool, then remove the pie (see tips). Warm the stock and put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften for 5 mins. Squeeze out any drops of water, then add the gelatine to the stock, stir in until dissolved, and season well. Transfer to a jug.
    11. If there is no gap between the pastry and meat, you'll need to poke a skewer into the hole and wiggle it around to create space for the stock. Pour two-thirds of the stock into the central hole (use a piping nozzle as a funnel, if you have one), or as much as you can, but reserve about 4 tbsp for the topping. Chill for at least 2 hrs.
    12. Dissolve the sugar with the Sherry over a low heat. Once dissolved, bring to the boil and add the cranberries. Cook for 1-2 mins, but remove from the heat before the cranberries burst. Leave to cool. Once the stock in the pie has set to a jelly, top with the cranberries. Melt your remaining jellied stock in a saucepan over a low heat, then use it to brush the cranberries generously. Return to the fridge for 1 hr to set the topping. Enjoy within 3 days.

    Have a great New Year.

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

    Working on Line, Tomato Paste, Zinfatuation,

    I have often thought of doing some work online, but why is it everything in which I am interested turns out to need advance payment. I thought the idea was to pay me. Imagine going for an interview somewhere and they said pay us and  you can have the job. Several of them expect you to cough up with your credit card number too. You must be joking. Mind you I do wonder how many people actually get caught with this.

    Can't remember if I told you this; as you have heard me grouse, our local main street has been ripped up and it is not easy to get anywhere, including to one of my favourite stores, Vincenzo's. I needed some tomato paste in a tube. The small cans are fine for some things, but when you only want a tablespoon or even less, the tubes are much better. Our own grocery store has never heard of them although they have been around for years. So, I googled, and found has it. I also found another store in the States, where it was cheaper until I found out they wanted to charge something like $25 for shipping. I don't suppose it's as cheap to buy it online, but better than trying to figure out how to get to Vincenzo's.

    I haven't mention my latest disappointment. I have told you before about one of my favourite red
    wines, Zinfatuation Zinfandel. I have now been told they are no longer making it. I wrote to the winery, in California, to ask why but haven't had a reply. So sad, it is one of the best Zinfadels I have ever tasted. I cannot imagine why they would stop producing this excellent wine.  There are, of course, other Zinfandels around, but this, to me, was definitely the best.

    Having got a little tired of cold pork, I decided to turn it into something else. I found this recipe for 
    Pork Stroganoff. It actually wasn't intended for cooked meat but I adapted it and it tastes delicious. It is now all ready for tonight. Not sure I have any gherkins, but I suspect it won't matter. No, not dills. Quite a different flavour. I had a load of whipped cream (unsweetened) left so I used it and lemon juice instead of sour cream.

    Pork Stroganoff

    This delicious stroganoff recipe is really simple to make and forms a satisfying, creamy supper which all the family will love.
    430g pack low fat half pork fillets
    3tbsp olive oil
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    8 shallots, peeled and halved
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 x 150g packs baby button mushrooms
    200ml chicken stock
    284ml pot soured cream
    2tbsp coarse grain mustard
    1tsp clear honey
    Fresh thyme leaves
    Fresh parsley, chopped
    Gherkins, chopped, to garnish
    Fresh tagliatelle, to serve


    Slice the pork fillets into thin rounds. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and, working in batches, fry the pork for 1 to 2 mins on each side. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
    Add the onion and shallots and fry gently for 8 minutes. Add the pork, garlic, mushrooms and stock, then simmer over a medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes.
    Stir in the soured cream, coarse grain mustard and honey. Heat gently for 3 to 4 minutes until piping hot. Season well and scatter over thyme leaves, chopped parsley and gherkins. Serve with tagliatelle.

    Have a great day

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Bowling, Lamb

    I bowled yesterday. I hurt slightly so was probably favouring my left leg. My bowling was disastrous and someone suggested the bad leg was probably throwing off my balance. Thanks, that means it wasn't my fault, right? The only saving grace, I managed to get over 100 every game so I wasn't a total disgrace. I did hurt, but not as much as I had been, no way I could have bowled over the weekend.

    Actually I don't feel much like blogging tonight so, think I will find a recipe to share and call it a night. Gotta get up early to go for blood work in the morning, diabetes and all that so will be heading to my pit early.

    This one is for Ivy at Happy Whisk, she has recently discovered how delicious lamb can be. Don't know if she can eat everything listed, but knowing Ivy she can and will adapt.

    Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

    WebMD Recipe from

    Middle Eastern Lamb Stew


    • 1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb stew meat (shoulder cut), or 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder chops, deboned, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or canola oil
    • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large onion, chopped (or 2 medium)
    • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
    • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
    • 6 ounces baby spinach
    • freshly ground pepper to taste


    Step 1
    Place lamb in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Mix oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Coat the lamb with the spice paste and toss to coat well. Top with onion.
    Step 2
    Bring tomatoes, broth and garlic to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over the lamb and onion. Cover and cook until the lamb is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours on high or 5 1/2 to 6 hours on low.
    Step 3
    Skim or blot any visible fat from the surface of the stew. Mash 1/2 cup chickpeas with a fork in a small bowl. Stir the mashed and whole chickpeas into the stew, along with spinach. Cover and cook on high until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.

    Have a great day

    Monday, December 28, 2015

    Family News, Christmas, Fall.

    Whoopee, Matt is going to be a great-grandfather in August. Making me a step-great-grandmother.

    Christmas went very well all round. We went to Bingeman's for our Christmas meal. It was good but not as good as the Waterloo Inn which has now closed down I think. One thing I was disappointed about, they said Christmas Pudding on the menu, not a Christmas pudding in sight. They did have bread pudding which was pretty good with an excellent caramel sauce. Another thing which was available, a stir fry. I got one, you can choose what you want included then they add noodles, I chose rice noodles it was good. Boxing Day we cooked a large lump of pork together with English style roast potatoes, a dish of sprouts (disappointing sauce) and a carrot/parsnip dish I posted recently.   I was pleased with it although it was quite sweet, as carrots and parsnips can be. That is why I never understand people adding some kind of sweetening to such dishes, of course I also made gravy.   For desserts we had Mississippi Mud Pie which I bought a while back and a Mince Meat tart I made the other day with thick cream. It all went down very well. For a starter I decided to do the Convent Eggs posted a few days ago.

    Unfortunately, I have not been doing so well. It all started on Wednesday morning (4 am) when a chair in the bedroom jumped out in front of me causing me to fall. When I returned to bed I eventually managed to get back to sleep, however, the next morning I had quite a violent reaction. Later in the day I was better and on Christmas Eve I was able to bowl. Bruised and sore in many places, I was basically OK. Boxing Day morning my outer hip started to ache and has done so since although today, Sunday, I have been resting it most of the day and the pain has eased somewhat. Bowling on Monday? I don't know, we will have to see. I have been in the wars lately haven't I?

    I have never made biscuits although I have made scones which are very similar. These looked good to me today.

    Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
    10 to 12 biscuits

    To make theses biscuits into shortcakes, just split the biscuits, spoon on your favorite fruit (either sugared or plain), and dollop with whipped cream. Or just eat the biscuits for breakfast with butter. Classic and quick to bake; you can’t go wrong.


    230 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
    50 grams (about 1/2 cup) cake flour
    15 grams (about 1 tablespoon)baking powder
    8 grams (about 2 teaspoons) sugar
    6 grams (about 1 1/4 teaspoon)fine sea salt
    9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
    1 cup buttermilk, chilled


    Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
    In a bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, quickly cut in 8 tablespoons butter until it forms pea-size crumbs and is uniformly mixed it (for flaky biscuits you want the butter to remain cold). Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in buttermilk. Stir together until it just forms a moist, slightly tacky dough.
    Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 2 or 3 times, then pat out into a 3/4-inch-thick round. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut the biscuits. Twisting the cutter prevents proper rising; to prevent sticking, dip the cutter lightly in flour between biscuits. Do not re-roll the scraps, but pat them together and cut into rounds. Transfer biscuits to the baking sheet.
    Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Brush butter lightly over the tops of biscuits. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving

    Have a great day

    Thursday, December 24, 2015

    Christmas Eve, Fall.

    This is definitely my last post before Christmas. Just wanted to mention that I had a bad fall on Tuesday night and am not in the best of health. However, things have been improving all day and although I have bruises, I think I can manage Christmas OK.

    You will all have done your food preparations by now, I made my mince pie today and prepared some vegetables. Lots more to do though. Not posting a recipe, just writing to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous, not to mention Healthy, New Year.

    Have a great Christmas Season.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2015

    Overindulgence, Updraft.

    As you may have noticed, no post yesterday. Have to tell you that for once I bowled well on a Monday. We started early with lots of sandwiches and goodies together with Christmas card exchanges for some. I ate too many brownies and Nanaimo bars. Matt and I were given a whole load to take home so we didn't have to prepare supper last night. However, the scales punished me for my lack of control. I can put on weight so very easily if I am not careful. Of course at this time of the year it is so difficult not munch through all the goodies available. Matt is one of the lucky ones, he can eat what he likes with no adverse affects whatsoever.

    I have just finished a great book which I really enjoyed, a first novel by Fran Wilde called Updraft. It
    is about a world of fliers and people living in living bone towers (this part puzzled me, there are more books coming so maybe this will be explained) above the clouds, the ground being shrouded in mystery and legend. The story is full of secrets which have to be uncovered by Kirit a young woman who wants to pass her wingtest and become a trader like her mother. Unfottunately, she is a bit of a rebel too. Just to liven up the story there are flying monsters which cannot be seen, they have huge mouths and lots of very nasty sharp teeth. I had trouble putting  this book down. Last night, for instance, I had to force myself to bed at 1 a.m. The general consensus on Book Reads is that this is a book worth reading.

    Not sure how much I will be posting over the holidays. I will leave you with the recipe for Champagne Cocktails which we drink on Christmas Day.

    In a champagne glass, add a cube of sugar or equivalent amount of loose sugar.
    Add a few drops of Angostura Bitters
    1/2 a shot of brandy
    Top with chilled champagne or if it isn't French, sparkling wine.
    Squeeze a little orange peel over the glass and then drop it in.

    Drink and enjoy. These are pretty lethal so be careful with them.

    Have a great Christmas Week.

    Monday, December 21, 2015

    Snow, Christmas Lunch, Dinner Party,

    Well, we had a dollop of the white stuff on Friday night with flurries off and on all day Saturday. Everywhere is white but I don't think it will last very long. They are certainly predicting a green Christmas. Pity because it does look so nice with all the Christmas lights. However, it makes it better for anyone driving, especially any distance. I guess these days if I want a white Christmas I have to go somewhere like Colorado. No doubt we will pay for it in the New Year. Later on Sunday afternoon, looked out and the majority of it has already disappeared.

    Monday is our Christmas lunch at the bowling alley. Usually quite a lot of fun except I have to control myself. This season is bad for anyone with weight problems. People tend to say "let yourself go, it's only once a year" but they say the same thing for birthdays, Easter, etc. etc. and if one let oneself go every time, I dread to imagine the result.

    For my Saturday dinner party, I cooked Braised Paprika Chicken. Not as popular as I hoped, but I had quite a lot of the sauce left over as well as the rice I served with it. Sunday supper I amalgamated the two and it was delicious. The Convent Eggs went down well on Saturday. Haven't made them for a while and had forgotten how good they were. I cheated with dessert and bought some mini cheesecake cupcakes which were good. Getting lazy in my old age. One day this week, probably Wednesday, I have to make my mincemeat pie/tart. It seems I will have at least 2 if not 3 things for desserts on Boxing Day.

    I thought this sounded like a wonderful recipe although I suspect not many people would take the time to make it. I know I would try if I had a family to feed, it would probably be delicious.

    Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

    In this festive recipe, Dorie Greenspan reinterprets the classic French bûche de Noël, a Christmas cake fashioned to look like a Yule log. Instead of the usual chocolate cake filled with ganache, she bakes a fragrant lightly spiced sponge cake and fills it with pecan cream cheese filling, while billowing marshmallow frosting evokes a snowdrift. It’s a project to make and can take the better part of a day. Or split it up and make the components over a few days. Either way it’s time well spent. There’s no holiday dessert more spectacular than this.

    1 cup/120 grams pecan halves or pieces
    ⅓ cup/70 grams granulated sugar

    4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled, more for buttering parchment
    ¾ cup/100 grams all-purpose flour
    ¼ cup/30 grams cornstarch, sifted
    ¾ teaspoon/4 grams groundcinnamon
    ¾ teaspoon/4 grams ground ginger
    ¼ teaspoon/1 gram fine sea salt
    ¼ teaspoon/1 gram black pepper
    6 large eggs
    ¾ cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
    Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting and rolling

    8 ounces/225 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
    8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
    Pinch of fine sea salt
    ½ teaspoon/3 grams groundcinnamon
    2 teaspoons/10 milliliters vanilla extract

    ½ cup/120 milliliters egg whites(from about 4 large eggs)
    1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
    ¾ teaspoon/3 grams cream of tartar
    1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vanilla extract

      Heat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in center. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Spread pecans on sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir and set aside in a warm spot.
      In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup/60 milliliters water. Place over medium-high heat. Cook sugar, washing down sides of pan if needed with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until sugar turns a medium amber color.
      Remove pan from heat and add nuts. Stir with heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to coat nuts with syrup. Spread nuts on baking sheet and cool completely. (Praline can be made up to a day ahead; store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.) Finely chop 1/2 cup praline; coarsely chop the remainder.

      Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Butter the paper, dust with flour and tap out excess.
      In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper.
      Have a wide skillet about 1/3 full of simmering water on the stove. Using a stand mixer, whisk together eggs and brown sugar. Set the mixer bowl in the pan of simmering water. Whisk nonstop until mixture is very warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
      Using the mixer, beat sugared eggs until they have more than doubled in volume and have reached room temperature, 7 to 10 minutes. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour mixture in two additions. Pour melted butter into a small bowl, scoop a big spoonful of batter over it and stir. Pour butter mixture into batter in bowl and fold it in. Scrape batter out onto prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula.
      Bake until cake is golden brown, lightly springy to touch and starting to pull away from sides of baking sheet, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to cooling rack for no more than 5 minutes; you want to roll the cake while it’s hot.
      Lay a cotton or linen kitchen towel (not terry cloth or microfiber) on counter and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar. Run a table knife around sides of cake and invert onto towel. Carefully peel away parchment. Lightly dust cake with confectioners’ sugar. Put parchment back on cake, with the clean side against the cake. Starting at a short end, roll cake into a log; don’t worry about cracks. Return rolled up cake (still in towel) to rack and let cool, seam side down.

      Put cream cheese, butter and salt in bowl and, using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Beat in cinnamon and vanilla. If using immediately, stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped praline. If not, leave praline out, transfer filling to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (Whisk chilled filling to return it to spreadable consistency, then add praline.)

      Unroll log and carefully remove parchment; leave cake on kitchen towel. Beginning with a short end, gently roll up cake, peeling away towel as you go. Unroll cake onto the towel or a clean piece of parchment.
      Spread filling across surface of the cake, leaving a scant 1-inch border uncovered on the long sides. Starting from short side, roll up cake, trying to get as a tight a roll as you can. Place cake on a parchment-lined cutting board, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

      Put egg whites in clean, dry bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cream of tartar and 1 cup/240 milliliters water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and boil for about 3 minutes. Uncover and attach a candy thermometer to pan and cook until it reads 242 degrees. When sugar reaches 235 degrees, begin beating whites on medium speed. If you get to the point where the whites look as if they are about to form stiff peaks and syrup is not at 242 degrees yet, lower mixer speed and keep mixing until sugar is ready.
      At 242 degrees, with mixer on medium speed, stand back and carefully and steadily pour hot syrup into bowl. Try to get syrup between side of bowl and the whisk. Add vanilla and keep beating until frosting cools to room temperature, about 5 minutes. You will have a shiny marshmallow frosting, which you should spread immediately.

      Remove cake from refrigerator. Frost on the cutting board and then transfer to a serving platter, or put it on platter now. To keep the platter clean during frosting, tuck strips of parchment under the log, putting just a sliver of the parchment under the cake and leaving the lion’s share to protect your platter.If ends of log look ragged, trim them. Using an offset spatula, table knife or the back of a spoon, swirl frosting all over cake in a thick layer. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to set frosting and firm up filling. Sprinkle cake with coarsely chopped praline before serving.

    Have a great day

    Saturday, December 19, 2015

    Saturday Recipe

    I haven't had eggnog in years. Mainly because of the calories I guess. This one sounded really tempting. Pretty alcoholic too I think.

    Martha Stewart's Eggnog

    This eggnog's rich, cloud like texture is produced by separating the eggs and beating the whites before adding them to the milk mixture. The eggnog base can be made one day in
    advance; just beat in the stiff egg whites and whipped cream just before serving.

    26 servings

    • 12eggs, separated
    • 12cups superfine sugar
    • 1quart whole milk
    • 12quarts heavy cream
    • 3cups Bourbon
    • 12cup dark rum
    • 2cups cognac
    • freshly grated nutmeg
    • In a very large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to yolks. With a wire whisk, beat in milk and 1 quart cream. Add bourbon, rum, and cognac, stirring constantly.
    • Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture. Whip remaining 1/2 quart heavy cream until stiff, and fold into mixture, Sprinkle with nutmeg.
    • Note: Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised.

    Have a great weekend

    Friday, December 18, 2015

    Bowling, Christmas Lunches, Electricity Refund,

    I bowled on Thursday, whooppee. I played one game and hurt a little bit but then eventually it faded and it was fine. I attribute my cure to Elizabeth Seckman, thanks Liz. From comments received from sinlaw in the UK, his daughter is a dancer, ballet dancers (and other forms of dance) get shin splints too. Sinlaw wondered if I had taken up ballet. He figured I couldn't do the Grand Jete with a shin splint. Er, I couldn't do the move without a shin splint. A jump in which a dancer springs from one foot to land on the other with one leg forward of their body and the other stretched backward while in the air. When I felt the pain at the bowling alley I just flexed the shin muscle which helped it disappear, of course I had a great game today - after all it's Thursday.

    The league that are normally there on Thursday had their Christmas luncheon today and kindly
    offered some to us. Matt never has anything, but I took some cheese and a few other bits plus a glass of wine. Very kind of them. Today was their last day before Christmas. We have our Christmas lunch next week. Normally, the Christmas shindig is sandwiches and desserts made by the wives of the owners. However, one wife is still recovering from major back surgery and the other wife is working so I gather they are going to Costco for the sandwiches. From the pictures they make all kinds of good stuff so I guess we will be OK.

    I was pleased this week, to finally receive a cheque from the Electric company in North Carolina. They are a membership corporation and when you leave them, there are often monies in your account. We had $500 (this was about 15 years ago) but they won't give it to you in a lump sum, but have been paying it to us in dribs and drabs every year. I had forgotten about it until something reminded me so I phoned and made enquiries. Turned out that they had sent cheques but they were still floating in limbo uncashed. However, they said they would send them to me again. It turned out to be a decent sized cheque after being delayed a couple of years or so. Not only that, the exchange rate is very much in our favour. Mind you, if Matt shuffles off his mortal coil, they will then pay out the remainder.

    Pork Chops can be so boring. This helps I think. Might try it Friday night.

    Saucy Mushroom Marsala Pork Chop Casserole


    Upgrade to this tasty dish! These pork chops are simmered in a mushroom and wine sauce and then baked with a
    coating of crispy Parmesan.

    4 servings


    • 1 lb. pork loin chops
    • 1/3 C. flour
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • ½ stick butter
    • 2 T. olive oil
    • 2 C. mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 C. Marsala wine
    • ¼ C. Parmesan cheese, shredded


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Coat pork chops with flour mixture and transfer to a skillet with butter and oil. Cook until brown, add in mushrooms, and sauté briefly. Pour in wine, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes as sauce thickens. Transfer contents to a greased baking dish, top with Parmesan, and bake for 15 minutes.
    Have a great day

    Thursday, December 17, 2015

    Shopping, Road Works,

    No exercises for me again on Wednesday, not 100% OK yet so obviously didn't want to risk it. I think I will try bowling tomorrow though.

    Busy afternoon, went to Cambridge to deliver some Avon to a friend and had a glass of wine with them. What a rotten day, drizzly and cold. What happened to all our sunshine. Been a lousy week really. Came back and went to the store to buy the pork for Boxing Day (26th). Didn't want to leave it til next week as I figured the store might be crowded. Went in to our usual grocery store on Tuesday and had to stand in a long line to get checked out and that was in the "only 12 items" line. All the others had long lines too as did the self check out area. I was surprised it was so busy. I was also surprised at the price of the pork. Very reasonable I thought. A chunk of the leg with the skin left on which will be turned into crackling, yum. You can keep the pork for me, just give me the crackling. After the store, we had to come home on King St. that's the one with all the road works. They will be laying train tracks along there and you could see the rails waiting. A friend tells us when they first came to Kitchener, many years ago, they had just finished ripping out all the tram lines, now we appear to be getting a similar installation put back again. I cannot imagine who authorised it but I think it is one hell of a waste of money. I am told it is principally aimed at the students in Waterloo attending the universities. Waterloo being the next town and you don't really notice when you travel from one to the other, they are virtually one big city.

    Got friends coming in for dinner on Saturday. Hunting around for a starter and came across one which I have served to them before. Then decided it's too many calories for yours truly added to everything else. However, not sure if I have ever posted it before, but thought I would do so now. I usually serve them with Brie and Ham. I haven't tried Shu Chan's (a friend) options. They are very simple to make and very quick. I discovered I have posted it before, but it's worth doing so once again.

    Convent Eggs

    Butter for greasing ramekins
    2 eggs
    2 Tbs heavy cream
    salt and pepper

    ½ oz Brie
    ½ oz chopped ham

    Shu Chan's Options
    sautéed leeks
    Parmesan Cheese

    1. Butter the ramekins then put in cheese and ham if using. Slide an egg into each ramekin, season and add 1 tbs of cream. Bake for 8 minutes at 350F

    2. Alternatively add leeks to bottom of ramekin and sprinkle eggs with Parmesan

    Servings: 2

    Have a great day

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    Carols, Beer, Marijuana,

    Why do some singers/choirs make Christmas carols sound like dirges? I am just listening to Oh Come All Ye Faithful on the radio and it sounds more appropriate for a funeral than for the joyful season Christmas is supposed to be. Carols are supposed to be happy and sung in praise of the birth of Jesus. You can save the dirges til Easter.

    Today beer can be sold in grocery stores. The law prohibiting it has been in force since 1927. At the moment it is not in every store nor is it all makes of beer available but presumably this will change as time goes by. It was also made mandatory that some of the sales will be of craft beers which is a good thing locally as there is a craft brewery in the town. Not being a beer drinker, it doesn't  make much difference to me, but Matt drinks a beer now and then although as he generally buys what he wants when he is in the liquor store, I guess it won't make much difference to him either. Maybe once they sell wine in the grocery store, that will make a difference too us. I also heard something about selling medical marijuana in the liquor store. How ridiculous. That should be in the drug store if anywhere. They were talking about it on TV and saying it would help to get rid of the "gangs". I don't think so, the big money is in hard drugs. That too won't make any difference to us.

    'Tis the season - I love Brie anyway. I especially like it with fruit or fruit flavours. Also, this seems pretty easy.

    Brie and Cranberry Bites from The Hot Plate

    Amanda Riva - Food Network


    ¼ cup all purpose flour, for dusting
    1 package (17 ¼ ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
    ½ pound (225 grams) Brie cheese, cut into ¾ – inch cubes
    1 cup prepared cranberry sauce
    Rosemary Sprigs, for garnish (optional)
    salt and pepper
    1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
    2. Sprinkle a clean work surface with a little flour. Unfold the puff pastry on the floured surface. Roll out pastry sheet into a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Cut the pastry sheet into 24 (3-inch) squares. Press the puff pastry squares into the cups of a mini muffin tin.
    3. Drop a piece of Brie into the bottom of each puff pastry cup. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Bake for 15 minutes until puff pastry is golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving with fresh rosemary (if using).

    Have a great day

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    NO Bowling, Dentist,

    I had a really enjoyable afternoon at the bowling alley. I sat and watched everyone bowling and I couldn't. I was tempted to try a couple of times but everyone squashed that idea. Rotten lot. Actually a good friend, Elizabeth Seckman, told me to change my orthotics for newer ones and to exercise my shin by sitting with my leg up and bending back the toes in order to flex the muscle. Seems to have worked, my shin is a lot better this evening (Monday). Thanks Liz. Apparently, because her sons are very much into football, this is a condition they are very familiar with. How the heck I got it though I don't know. I sure don't go pounding round a football field or anywhere else for that matter. I can't honestly see me running anywhere any more. It might be something to do with the exercise class as we do a lot of marching on the spot although that is not quite what I do as I find my legs tire easily. I guess if it happens again when I go back to classes I will be able to pin down the culprit.

    Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. I have a dental appointment to check out my tooth. I figure as they mended/rebuilt it and it fell out, I shouldn't have to pay for it a second time, but somehow I don't think they will see it that way. I don't like dentistry at the best of times - are there any best times? Also we both need our ears lowered (hair cut) so hopefully we can get to the hair salon later in the day. I think I could braid mine.

    This recipe appeals to me. I would probably make it with chicken breasts which would need less cooking. I don't typically keep legs or thighs but I always have chicken breast in the freezer. Of course the dark meat has much more flavour and is moister too.

    Roasted Chicken Provençal

    Sam Sifton - New York Times

    4 servings

    This is a recipe I picked up from Steven Stolman, a clothing and interior designer whose “Confessions of a Serial Entertainer” is a useful guide to the business and culture of dinner parties and general hospitality. It is a perfect dinner-party meal: chicken thighs or legs dusted in flour and roasted with shallots, lemons and garlic in a
    bath of vermouth and under a shower of herbes de Provence. They go crisp in the heat above the fat, while the shallots and garlic melt into sweetness below. You could serve with rice, but I prefer a green salad and a lot of baguette to mop up the sauce.

    4 chicken legs or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    ½ to ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
    1 lemon, quartered
    8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
    4 to 6 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved
    ⅓ cup dry vermouth
    4 sprigs of thyme, for serving

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow pan, and lightly dredge the chicken in it, shaking the pieces to remove excess flour.

    Swirl the oil in a large roasting pan, and place the floured chicken in it. Season the chicken with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the lemons, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken, and then add the vermouth to the pan.

    Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, then baste it with the pan juices. Continue roasting for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through.

    Serve in the pan or on a warmed platter, garnished with the thyme.

    Have a great day

    Cecil and Africa, Weekend, Celtic Thunder,

    I came across this picture on Friday and I thought I would post it as a reminder. Everyone was in uproar about the shooting of Cecil a few months ago, now we hear little about the whole incident or the even more serious problem of African animals being killed to satisfy man's hunger to kill or to "cure" Asians.

    African animals, and others in different countries, do need help. The black rhino has recently been pronounced extinct, In this day and age, that is unacceptable, we know better. At the rate elephants and rhinos are being killed, they too will soon be extinct.

    Personally, I am having a delightful weekend. I had a problem with my shin last week which has now become continuous. I am pretty sure it's a shin splint which means I didn't go to exercise and I am not sure about bowling. Then Saturday the tooth I had repaired a few months ago decided to shed the addition made by the dentist.

    As you will gather, I have been feeling a tad down this weekend. However, my cousin sent this to us with a Christmas Greeting. I have always enjoyed Celtic Thunder and this was the original group. It is great and full of life and fun. I hope you enjoy it too.

    I love soups, I love Asian flavours and I really enjoy tofu. So......

    Loaded Miso Soup

    MARK BITTAN - New York Times
    Time 20 minutes
    Yield 1 serving

    Many vegan dishes (like fruit salad and peanut butter and jelly) are already beloved, but the problem
    faced by many of us is in imagining less-traditional dishes that are interesting and not challenging. Here are some more creative options to try.

    1 strip kombu (dried kelp)
    1 handful sliced shiitake mushrooms
    ½ cup miso
    1 handful cooked edamame
    ½ pound silken tofu

    Bring 6 cups of water to a bare simmer and add one strip kombu; let it soak 10 minutes, then remove it and chop; set aside.
    Meanwhile, sauté a handful of sliced shiitakes in oil until crisp.
    Whisk a cup of the water with 1/2 cup miso in a bowl until smooth.
    Pour the miso mix into the water and add 1/2 pound silken tofu along with some shredded carrots, turnip and ginger, the chopped kombu and about a handful of cooked, shelled edamame.
    Let stand long enough to heat the tofu through, about a minute. Add some chopped scallions and the crisp shiitakes and serve.

    Have a great day

    Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Saturday Recipe

    I have a pet peeve and that is carrot recipes which contain sugar or some other sweetening agent. Carrots do NOT need sweetening, they are quite sweet on their own, so when I came across this recipe from the NY Times I had to share it.

    Stovetop-Braised Carrots and Parsnips
    Mark Bittman, Sam Sifton - New York Times

    In this simple side dish, carrots and parsnips are simmered in a few pats of butter and a splash of water until tender, then hit with a dash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Use the smallest carrots and parsnips you can find; the smaller, the sweeter

    2 pounds carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved if more than 1/2-inch thick
    2 pounds parsnips, peeled, trimmed and halved if more than 1/2-inch thick
    4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt and black pepper
    Freshly squeezed lemon juiceChopped fresh parsley, dill, mint, basil or chervil leaves garnish (optional)

    Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and garnish in a skillet with a cover; add a quarter cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers gently. Check every few minutes and add more water if necessary.

    Cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is almost gone, about a half-hour. Uncover and boil off remaining liquid if necessary, then taste and adjust seasoning, adding lemon juice as needed. Garnish and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

    Have a great weekend

    Friday, December 11, 2015

    Computers, Il Volo,

    With my ISP service I get their TechXpert service too and they can take over one's computer and check out what is wrong etc. etc. which is what they were doing last night. In fact, when I checked at about 5:30 a.m. they had worked until shift end at roughly 2:30 a.m. I think. Not had any contact with anyone since, but it does seem that the things which were wrong have been fixed. It all started with lack of sound and escalated. Not sure what the problem was. I know the loaded a different driver for the sound system even though the one I had said it was the right one and up to date.

    As they used to be

    As they are today
    This evening we watched the last part of an Il Volo concert on PBS. They really are a fantastic group. They sing all kinds of songs not just classical Italian. The show tonight was from Pompeii and they sang Volare and Unchained Melody to name a couple. Both of those songs were popular when I was a young woman, so a loooong time ago. They appear to be popular world wide. They are going to be in concert in Buffalo on February 5, the day after Matt's birthday, but the tickets are only given out to a one time donation to WNED of $250 which is too rich for our blood, especially as we would then have to get down to Buffalo to watch it. So, I guess, CDs and DVDs are the things we have to use. I cannot believe the chubby faced young fellow, Ignacio, has turned into the young man on the right in the second picture. Pity, he was so chubby and popular there.

    Smoked Salmon is one of my favourite foods, as is avocado, so this recipe appealed to me instantly.

    Avocado and Smoked Salmon Salad

    4 oz. Applegirth cold-smoked salmon, sliced or chopped
    fresh spinach  or other greens
    1 avocado peeled and sliced
    1 red pepper , chopped OR
    12 cherry tomatoes, halved
    capers ( optional )
    purple onion,  sliced ( optional )
    herbed salad dressing

    This recipe came from a local seafood shop, T & J's. I am not sure why there are no instructions. However, I think, reading it, everything would be pretty simple to throw together.

    Have a great day

    Thursday, December 10, 2015

    Computer Problems

    Sorry, computer problems today so no time to write a proper blog.

    Christmas being on the way, here is a link to a BBC recipe page for Prosecco (champagne type wine) cocktails which look pretty good to me.

    Have a great day