Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blog, Spring, Food Revolution, Quakes and Volcanoes.

A friend posted a link to a blog by Allie called Hyperbole and a Half - it was about internet grammar and one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. She is, of course so right about the way people use grammar or any kinds of phrases. The one which bugs me most is 'like' a lot of the young people of today are totally incapable of talking without using that word continuously. Or do I mean Alot (read Allie's blog). I don't know who drew her pictures, they were great. One can sympathise with people who use iPods to send messages, it must be difficult with two thumbs to have to spell everything correctly, but lots of people do it when typing on a computer keyboard and then there is no excuse.
The Icelandic volcano is still spewing ash and ice all over the place and European flights are still grounded. It occurred to me this morning that Glenda Larke (Tropic Temper) is in England at the moment and will probably not be able to get back. Another friend's sister is honeymooning in Barbados and is stuck there, I feel sorry for her, fancy being stuck in Barbados, I should be so lucky. Of course this is affecting planes from Canada and the US which cannot head into Europe either, making a bit of a mess of things. Mother Nature does cause us problems, or should that be Mother Earth.
Here it is spring and absolutely beautiful. The trees are mostly covered in that delicate green shade which is spring's herald and blossom is showing everywhere with tulip trees flowering their heads off (I call them tulip trees because that's what the flowers look like) then Matt looked out of the window this morning and said "its snowing hard", hunh? It was too; sheeting across the park so you could hardly see. Quite incredible although it has stopped now and didn't settle on the ground, however, the clouds still look as though they could contain more. I do think spring is the prettiest time of year, although I often say the same about autumn or fall. The colours are always so magnificent and nature spreads such a wonderful bouquet for us to enjoy, and enjoy it I do. I just hope we don't get too much cold which will spoil the blossoms and in the case of fruit trees, impede the growth of the fruit.
Watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution again last night. I received an email from Jamie's website which asked me to pass on the following "I have joined the Food Revolution and you should too! We need your help to change the way America eats. Every child in America has the right to fresh, nutritious school meals, and every family deserves real, honest, wholesome food. Sign the petition to save America's cooking skills and improve school food. Thanks and please pass this message on." As I very much believe in what Jamie is doing even if he is not doing it in Canada, I think this message applies. He has done a similar job in England where he met with considerable success and seems to be meeting more success in the States. I am not sure when this programme was filmed, certainly in the fall because of the tree colours, but which fall I don't know. If you are in the States or Canada do pass the message on to others.
There has been a bad earthquake in a remote town in the mountains of China (my geography isn't too good, but that may be in Tibet or certainly close to) where the death toll has already reached 1,000. I haven't heard of anyone asking for donations but I am thinking, if China didn't donate anything to help Haiti and others, maybe the rest of the world will say nuts to you China. Maybe China has enough money and resources to cope which Haiti certainly didn't, other than maybe in the pockets of its crooked presidents. A friend in Australia commented on Facebook that they had recently had tremors in her area (Adelaide). Another friend, at bowling, said he figured we lived in a pretty safe place, however, I have felt tremors here. I am not too sure anywhere is safe from everything if its not quakes and volcanoes, its hurricanes and tornadoes.
OK, I have been promoting Jamie's Food Revolution, so I thought one of Jamie's recipes would be a good idea this morning. I really like the look and sound of this one.
Aawesome Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Jamie's Dinners
serves 4
This is such a wonderfully light and super-tasty cannelloni, and again I've avoided making the frustrating, painstaking béchamel sauce and given you a much tastier and simpler version. All you need to make sure of is that you fill the cannelloni well with the ricotta and spinach mix, so it's not all full of air. And the lovely thing about it is that it goes crispy and golden on top, but remains soft and moist at the bottom. You'll love it! • 2 knobs of butter olive oil • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced • a large handful of fresh marjoram or oregano, roughly chopped • ¼ of a nutmeg, grated • 8 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed • a handful of fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped • 2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes, chopped • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper • a pinch of sugar 400g crumbly ricotta cheese • 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese • 16 cannelloni tubes 200g mozzarella, broken up for the white sauce • 1 x 500ml tub of crème fraîche • 3 anchovies, finely chopped • 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Then find a metal baking tray or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it's nice and snug. This way you'll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal tray or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of marjoram or oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it's all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don't lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water. After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes, then fill one of the empty tomato tins with cold water and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves. By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and a handful of the Parmesan, and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a sandwich bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy. Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, then loosen with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling
Have a great weekend

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