Thursday, June 19, 2008

Symbols, Weight, Books and Asparagus

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I have noticed, since I have been writing this blog, that many people don't know how to form certain signs and symbols or to show accents on letters. This can easily be rectified by downloading a free programme called AllChars which can be found here. I use it a lot - a couple of symbols I can remember, but mostly I have to look it up every time and it is very useful. You can leave the programme in your toolbar or "put it away" until next time you need it.

I have been on a Plateau with my weight for the last 6 or 7 weeks. It was getting very frustrating, however, I persevered and today I am delighted to report I have dropped another 2 lbs. Its odd because my clothes are definitely looser and yet nothing was shifting on the scales. So if you too are on a diet, hang in there. I have been recording all my food intake at Weight Watchers Online and today something has shifted. I hope and pray that I won't stop again now, but its possible. Asparagus is supposed to be a good food for helping to lose weight. There is somebody out there who sells asparagus pills. Strawberries too of course, but I haven't had any yet, maybe I will pick some up today when we go shopping. Oh damn, I can't have cream, well not lashings of it like I prefer.

I have just finished reading Island of Exiles by I.J. Parker which describes itself as a mystery of 11th Century Japan featuring Sugawara Akitada. I heard about the book from someone on Recipe du Jour which is one of the cookery ezines I receive. I understand there are other stories about the same person: a small time government official who is good at investigating. It wasn't fast paced, but I enjoyed it. Akitada is a good man if not the most brilliant detective in the world. I will certainly look for some of the other stories about him. Of course my favourite book about Japan is still Shogun written by James Clavell. I have read that so many times and find something new every time I do so.

I have also recently finished The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith. The story is good, but I still find Wilbur Smith hard going. Not the kind of book I cannot put down. Last night I started a new Elizabeth Moon book, The Speed of Dark, which is about autism but in the future. There seems to have been a lot about autism lately, at least two different reports on TV plus someone recommending this book to me, which I already had, the first TV report was basically autistic people saying "we like who we are, leave us the hell alone". In the book, I gather, it involves an agonising decision by the main character as to whether to go through an operation to reverse his autism or not. He is pretty functional in his world, he can drive, communicate reasonably well, has a job which a non autistic person couldn't do, lives independently, why should he change when he is happy. Apparently Elizabeth Moon has an autistic son so she obviously has a good knowledge of what she is writing about.

I have been meaning to mention, whilst raving about asparagus as I have been lately, the Green Bags that I have been using to preserve those spears I buy. They are Debbie Meyer Green Bags and are sold on the internet at this site. I am very impressed with them, the other day I came across some mushrooms which I had bought a couple of weeks or so ago and forgotten I had, they were still in excellent condition and you know how mushrooms can spoil. I keep all my vegetables in these Green Bags, they are placed in them straight from the store each week. The biggest problem I have with these bags, you rinse them after each usage (you can use them up to 20 times) but in an apartment, setting them out to dry is a nuisance.

Here is yet another asparagus recipe for you from the Ontario Asparagus Growers' Marketing Board. I am really enjoying experimenting with these recipes. This one looks pretty good doesn't it?

Asparagus Strudel

12 oz (375 g) Ontario asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz (90 g) Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup (50 mL) sour cream

salt and pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 sheets phyllo pastry
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, melted

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
2 large roasted red peppers, seeded and peeled
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh basil

Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) pieces; steam or simmer just until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place in large bowl. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat; cook shallots and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Add to bowl. Add cheese, sour cream and salt and pepper to taste to bowl; mix well. In small bowl, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese; set aside. Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C). Lightly grease baking sheet. Place one sheet of phyllo on clean work surface with long side closest to you, keeping remaining sheets covered with waxed paper and damp tea towel. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the bread crumb mixture. Cover with another sheet of phyllo, butter and bread crumbs. Top with third sheet of phyllo; butter sheet. Cut in half crosswise to make 2 stacks. Place one-quarter of the filling along one short end of stack, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) uncovered at each end. Roll phyllo up and over filling to completely enclose it. Fold long ends over toward filling; continue rolling strudel. Brush all over with butter. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; brush with butter. Repeat with remaining stack. Make 2 more strudels with remaining ingredients. (The strudels may be prepared to this point and frozen for up to 1 month; bake frozen.) Bake strudels for 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is heated through and pastry is golden brown.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
In food processor or blender, combine red peppers, basil and 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the vinegar; process until smooth. Taste and add more vinegar if desired. Pour into small saucepan and bring to simmer over low heat. Serve under or beside strudels.

Yield: Serves 4

Have a great day.


  1. nice post , I adore something called sweet food

  2. When I need special characters, I just type them in MS Word and then do copy/paste.

  3. Seems a bit longwinded Hrugaar. If you download AllChars, it has it all there so you can type Alt 0233 and get é etc. I likes it, I likes it.