Friday, December 10, 2010

Snow, Traditions, Sage and Choirs

The snow never did arrive here, there seems to be a possibility of it on Saturday night, but even then, it doesn’t seem to be going to amount to much. I guess we’ll be lucky to see a white Christmas this year. Pity really, because all the external Christmas lights look so much prettier in the snow.

I posted a link to a rendering of the Hallelujah Chorus the other day and then heard an ad for a full programme of the Messiah in London, Ontario. It made me remember that when I lived in the UK, the Messiah was considered an Easter item, not Christmas, don’t know if things have changed. I know I was very surprised the first time I heard the Hallelujah Chorus sung at Christmas time.

Last night we were listening to Libera which I have on DVD, what fantastic voices those youngsters have. There are a lot of their performances on YouTube but my speakers aren’t the best in the world so it doesn’t sound as great as it should. I particularly like the Pie Jesu rendition by Oliver Putland who was one of their group. I think he is probably a young man by now. If you are interested, you can hear it here together with a brief interview.

I have been popping throat lozenges like candies this last week and now I find out that sage is excellent for sore throats. In particular sage tea. There are lots of hidden benefits in herbs and spices although I am not sure all of them work. Cinnamon is supposed to be great for lowering blood sugar levels, I conscientiously sprinkled it on my cereal every day for months (I went through two pots of the stuff) and nothing seemed to happen. Below is one of the many recipes Eating Well give which includes sage.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers over White Bean Salad

From EatingWell:  July/August 2010

Fresh herbs make all the difference in this light, summery bean salad that in turn makes an aromatic bed for the easy grilled shrimp. The shrimp and salad are wonderful together but you could also make them separately. Consider skewering and grilling scallops as another delicious option.

Makes 6 servings


1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Grilled Shrimp Skewers

1/3 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano, minced

2 tablespoons packed fresh sage, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 cup finely diced celery

24 raw shrimp (21-25 per pound; see Note), peeled and deveined

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, oregano, sage, chives, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a small bowl. Add beans, tomatoes and celery to the large bowl; toss well.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.
  3. Thread shrimp onto 6 skewers. (If using a grill pan, you don’t need to skewer the shrimp.)
  4. Oil the grill rack (see Tip) or the grill pan. Grill the shrimp until pink and firm, turning once, about 4 minutes total. Serve the shrimp on the white bean salad, drizzled with the reserved dressing.

Per serving : 239 Calories; 8 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 115 mg Cholesterol; 22 g Carbohydrates; 22 g Protein; 8 g Fiber; 575 mg Sodium; 298 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the salad and shrimp separately for up to 1 day. | Equipment: Six 8- to 10-inch skewers
  • Note: Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Look for shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as Wild American Shrimp or Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught. Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized. In recipes calling for a specific count, order by the count (or number) per pound to be sure you’re getting the size you want.
  • Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Have a great day



  1. Carols make me cry, so I avoid them when possible.I did though have to listen to Silent Night Holy Night a couple of days ago in my local shopping mall.

  2. They make me cry too, but I wouldn't miss them.