Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tournament, Dawn Chorus

By the time I got home yesterday afternoon, I was knackered, worn out, aching all over, you name it, that was me. I Bowling Pinswill never, but never try bowling 6 games in one day again. My scores in the afternoon made it look as though I had never bowled in my life before. In the morning, we came first, but there were still 5 more teams to play before we knew the true results, in fact we ended up second and the other team beat us by 7 points. Yay us. We are patting ourselves on the back. This now means we have to bowl in Chatham, Kent (yes in Ontario) at 10 a.m. on September 1. However, we have been asked for $42 each which includes the price of a banquet. Sorry, I am not hanging around in Chatham all afternoon just to attend the banquet (food usually isn’t that much good anyway at these things).

After all that exercise yesterday, I was up at 5 a.m. this morning with cramps in my feet. Ouch. At such times I drink a glass of tonic water which works wonders due to the quinine in tonic. I was sitting in the living room with the patio door open, and I could hear the dawn chorus. Long time since last I heard that. There must have been thousands of birds twittering, we do have a lot of trees outside our windows after all, and I wondered what makes them all twitter at that time of the morning, one never hears so many at any other time of the day. It lead me to start thinking about book 2 of Glenda Larke’s Isles of Gilfeather_cover_AusGlory trilogy, Gilfeather, with all the birds featured in it - until the magic ends – a very evocative scene that has definitely stayed with me. This is the cover from Australia. I think the Australians do a much better job on book covers than anywhere else. This trilogy is the only one of Glenda’s which I don’t own. I must remedy that.

This afternoon Matt has an appointment with the Secondary Stroke Clinic at the hospital which, in my opinion, is a waste of time. He has seen them all before, and done all the tests he has to do, before. We know what’s wrong, we know they can’t do anything about it, so why p*ss about. Which is, more or less what I am going to say to them this afternoon. He is taking all the medications they can give him, there is nothing more anyone can do we are told.

One thing I didn’t mention, at the bowling alley in Elmira they had brought in donuts and muffins for people in the morning. I have had these before when we have been therChocolate Chip Muffinse for travel league bowling. They buy them from a local baker and they are marvellous. At the end of the morning they brought in sandwiches – I assume from the same source – and they were absolutely wonderful sandwiches, moist and delicious. I wish we had a baker locally who could produce such results. I could pig out on those muffins, I don’t, but I could, easily.

Here’s something a bit different for a chocolaty food. That is, if you like spicy.

Mayan Chocolate Truffles

By The Nourished Kitchen WebMD Recipe from Foodily.com

Picture of Mayan Chocolate Truffles This recipe for Mayan chocolate truffles calls for chocolate with an 85% cocoa content, bitterly and wonderfully dark; you’ll find that the addition of other flavors such as orange, cinnamon, vanilla, and even chipotle chili powder enhances the complexity of the chocolate’s inherent flavor and aroma. You won’t miss that sugar one bit. Further, these Mayan chocolate truffles are more simplistic and rustic – they require no hand molding; rather, simply chill the chocolate in the refrigerator and cut away at it to form beautifully imperfect bite-sized pieces. Beauty lies in imperfection.

Ingredients

10 ounces chocolate with 85% cocoa content, chopped coarsely Zest of 1 orange 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder 1 vanilla bean Dash unrefined sea salt 1 cup full-fat coconut milk 1 tablespoon coconut oil Cocoa powder, for dredging truffles

Instructions

Toss chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl with the zest of one orange, cinnamon, chipotle chili powder, the contents of one vanilla bean, and a dash unrefined sea salt.

Bring coconut milk and coconut oil to a slow simmer in a saucepan over a moderate flame.

Pour coconut milk and oil over the chopped chocolate and seasonings then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and the mixture, or ganache, becomes thick, uniform and glossy.

Transfer the mixture to a plate lined with parchment paper, molding into a log as best you can, and allow it to harden in the refrigerator for eight to twelve hours, or overnight.

After the Mayan chocolate has hardened in the refrigerator for eight to twelve hours, remove it, unmold it from the parchment paper and carve it into irregular bite-sized chunks.

Toss the chunks with cocoa powder and serve.

Notes: Unless you live in a very hot climate, these truffles should keep at room temperature indefinitely.

Total Servings: 8

Have a great day

Jo

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tournament, Eating Meat.

This blog has been written over the weekend as we had to leave home early My Ballthis morning to take part in the Seniors Summer League bowling which this year is taking place in Elmira, about 30 minutes away from us. Wish us luck. There are five on the team.  Having finished that we have to rush back to Waterloo for our regular summer league bowling. I think I will be whacked out by the time today is finished.

Sadly our dinner party didn’t happen on Saturday as one of our friends was sick. As Matt had been interrupted last time I made it (he had a TIA) I decided to do another Steak Diane which, once again, was very good. However, next time we have steak, I think it will be a Steak au Poivre for a change.

On Saturday I meant to write about Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame (co founder), they were talking on the news about his new resolution never to eat anything he hadn’t killed himself. I am somewhat boiling lobstersupportive of this although I could never kill anything myself. I am assured that if I were starving, I could kill anything, but one is unable to imagine it and most of us try to forget about how our pork chops or beef steaks get to our stores, its something we don’t like to think about so we push it to the back of our minds. So good on yer Mark, wish I had the guts. He has already killed a chicken, pig and goat. He started by killing a lobster (dropping it in boiling water) - must admit I have done that, not the most pleasant experience. He says it has taught him a lot about sustainable farming and healthy eating. If you are interested there is an article from the Calgary Herald here http://tinyurl.com/3he65ub

Of course it is Memorial Day in the States today so on the golf course for the PGA Byron Nelson tournamentGolfing Marine this weekend they were flying the Stars and Stripes on the pin of the 18th hole and had a Marine standing there to remove the pin every time players got to the green to putt.

Asparagus season is well under way but I haven’t been posting lots of recipes as I understand some of my readers are not so keen on asparagus. If you have been reading this blog for long, you will know I love the stuff and I couldn’t resist this recipe when I came across it.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

From EatingWell: March/April 2009

These prosciutto-wrapped bundles of grilled asparagus are a delicious addition to a spring brunch or elegant dinner.

4 servings Asparagas Proscuitto Wrapped

Ingredients
  • 16 spears asparagus, (about 1 bunch), trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 very thin slices prosciutto, (about 1 ounce), cut in half lengthwise
Preparation
  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Wrap 1 length of prosciutto around the middle of 4 asparagus spears. Repeat, making 4 bundles. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the asparagus bundles, turning once or twice, until the asparagus is tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.
Tips & Notes
  • Tip: To oil the 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.

Jo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Movie, Angioplasty, Stupid Question.

I downloaded Billy Elliot from iTunes Billy Elliot(rental) as our granddaughter recently took part in the show. Of course what I actually saw was not the musical, so I will have to wait and see that later. Bearing in mind the progress of the film, I can’t imagine it as a musical – the background is of striking miners in the UK and consequently a fair amount of poverty plus a conviction on the part of most of the cast that if you wanted to be a ballet dancer you must be gay and all real boys should want to do was box, play soccer, wrestle or something, certainly not dance. I am not perfectly sure I hadn’t seen the movie before, but if so it was quite a while back. I was a tad disappointed at the end when Billy was shown at the Haymarket Theatre in London, I would have liked to have seen more of that performance. The musical is on in Toronto at the moment, hopefully it will be staged in Kitchener’s Centre in the Square and I can go see it.

I finally heard from the vascular surgeon yesterday, it is only 7 months since I saw him, bloody ridiculous, but Guelph Hospital only allows 4 angioplasties a month for vascular problems. Alright for them, but what about those of us who can hardly walk. I feel sorry for some people who have even more problems than I do not least of which are open sores which won’t heal. I don’t understand leaving the problem (blockages in the vascular system) until it gets to that stage. However, the upshot is, I am definitely scheduled for June 15 at 8 a.m. As a friend commented on Facebook, I might be able to walk along the beach when I go down to NC in September.

I heard a silly thing on GMA today, it was a father/grandfather being interviewed in a witness box. The lawyer asked if he had smelled an odour coming from the car, he replied yes. The lawyer then asked “was it the odour of a decaying human corpse?” How the heck would he, or anyone else, know? Have most of us ever smelled such a thing? I certainly haven’t so I wouldn’t have a clue if and when I did. Luckily when I worked in a funeral home, where you might encounter that odour now and again, I had lost my sense of smell, but for most people they would never come across such a smell. Stupid. I understand it is a very powerful odour, but if you had never encountered it before, how could you possibly know what it was?

Tonight we are going to a friend’s home for dinner so obviously I have no idea what we will be eating. Makes a nice change though, I sometimes think deciding what to eat is much harder than making it.

This side dish from Kraft looked appealing to me and is relatively simple to do. Vitamin C (obtainable in peppers) is also very good for the skin.

Zesty Grilled Veggies

Kraft Kitchens

Zesty Grilled Veggies recipe

8 servings

4 zucchini (1-1/2 lb.), cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

3 each red and yellow peppers (1-3/4 lb.), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1/4 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing

1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

HEAT grill to medium heat.

PLACE vegetables in grill basket.

GRILL 10 min. or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally. Place in large bowl.

ADD dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Grill Without a Grill Basket

Cover grill grate with large sheet of heavy-duty foil before heating grill as directed. Spread vegetables onto foil. Grill as directed, stirring occasionally.

How to Buy Peppers

Look for peppers with very bright colors and a firm thick flesh. Refrigerate unwashed peppers in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.

Have a great weekend

Jo

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pears in my Knickers, Movies, Gaga

Having posted the other day about how good pears are for getting rid of “belly fat” I Anjou Pearasked Matt to buy me some pears when he went shopping. Only trouble is, they are as hard as bullets. When Matt was a young man, his mother used to wrap unripe pears in blankets and put them in a drawer. So I wrapped mine in a towel and put them in my underwear drawer, I figured I wouldn’t forget them that way!!! That reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. They are frequently called d’Anjou pears in North America, which means ‘from Anjou’. It should just be Anjou on its own or even Pears from Anjou.

Last night we watched Apollo 13, I think that is the third time we have seen it. It’s a fantastic movie, we were staggered to find that the events the movie portrays took place 41 years ago. Apollo 13Jim Lovell, the commander, was played by Tom Hanks who is a brilliant actor. What is incredible to me, I have known since it happened what the end result was and yet every time I watch the movie I am on the edge of my seat the same as the participants, and the world, was at the time it occurred. Some of my readers may be too young to remember the events, if you are, I suggest you get hold of the movie and watch it with awe. The incredible thing is that when the space ship was launched, nobody really gave a damn, we were all too blasé about the whole business. To think that today, the American space programme is coming to an end.

This morning I watched Lady Gaga, Matt LadyGagareckons I must have heard her many times, but if I did, it was unconsciously. She is, of course, one of the tops at the moment, but I actually found I quite enjoyed the two songs I heard although they were a bit short on lyrics. Not sure I would want to go to a concert mind you, but I was surprised. I shouldn’t make judgements based on what I see and hear without actually seeing a performance. I didn’t even realise until this morning that she is an Italian New Yorker.

The following recipe is what we had for supper last night. A new recipe to us, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As it was for four people, we have leftovers for tonight. Would you believe we served it with asparagus? I noticed when copying the recipe here that it suggests rice and pasta as possibilities. Maybe tomorrow we will have some noodles. Of course we can still have asparagus with it as well.

Pork Tenderloin With Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

1 large or 2 small pork tenderloins, pork-tenderloin-caramelized-onions-2about 1 1/2 pounds 2 Tbs butter, divided 2 Tbs olive oil, divided 2 medium onions, thinly sliced 1 tsp sugar 8 oz sliced mushrooms 1/3 cup flour 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 1/2 cup dry white wine or Marsala wine 1/2 cup chicken broth

1. Slice the pork crosswise, about 3/4 to 1-inch in thickness. With the heel of your hand or a meat tenderizer, gently pound to make the medallions about 1/2-inch thick.

2. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the sugar and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the onion mixture and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and golden brown. Remove the onions and mushrooms to a plate and set aside.

3. Sprinkle the pork with the salt and pepper; dredge in the flour. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Cook the pork medallions over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Add the wine and broth to the skillet along with the onion and mushroom mixture. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low; cook for about 10 minutes longer.

4. Serve the pork tenderloin with hot cooked rice, potatoes, or pasta.

Servings: 4 Author: Diana Rattray Source: About.com

Have a great day

Jo

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asparagus, Energy, Local Food.

We finally managed to get to Barrie’s Asparagus Farm and Country Market yesterday, phew, like I said 4 days without asparagus right in the middle of the season, Aparagusunheard of. I also got myself some rhubarb (red asparagus, LOL) which I will cook for me, as I’ve said before, Matt doesn’t like it. It seems they are really doing a thriving business at their country market and people were there buying all their asparagus products such as Asparagus Salsa, Soup and Tortilla chips. They sell produce from all over the area although, in my case, apart from the asparagus, I can get many of the other things closer to home. I know I rave about fresh asparagus every year, but when its just been picked, you can eat it without cooking it – Tim Barrie gave me a spear to taste, they are extra sweet because of the rain. Another thing with fresh picked, you do NOT have to break off the ends of the spears, every bit can be eaten. Woodiness only happens when they have been hanging around.

There is a video on Barrie’s Facebook site Barrie'sshowing them picking asparagus which will be pickled within 24 hours. I haven’t tried pickling my own, but they really are delicious. They sell in large and small jars at the store. This picture shows several items in jars inside their store. Below is the Barrie’s recipe for Pickled Asparagus. I’ve never tried it because I don’t have a “hot bath”. I  used to borrow one in the States to do tomatoes.

Pickled Asparagus

Using 5 lbs of Ontario asparagus, wash well and soak in ice water while you are preparing the 6 pint jars. Place 1/2 clove of garlic, 1 tsp dill seed, 1 tsp mustard seed, and 6 peppercorns in the bottom of each jar. Place asparagus, tips up in jar. Don't waste tender ends. Can them also for bite size treats. Bring 8 cups water, 2-1/2 cups white vinegar, 3 tbsp pickling salt, 1/2 cup white sugar to a boil and pour over asparagus. Process in hot bath for 5 to 6 minutes.

I just Googled about canning in a water bath and I think I could probably do it in my humungous stock pot. Apparently it doesn’t need to be under pressurBarrie'se. So maybe…….. The picture, borrowed from our local paper, The Record, shows Tim in his asparagus field with his dog. If you want to see the article, go to http://tinyurl.com/3rpfxks

One thing I asked Tim Barrie was about his plan for solar panels on his farm. He has a field which has to lie fallow for 20 years. He said the local council had changed the laws and people can now do this, but not on arable land, so he is planning another area on his farm where he can get these panels stored. Tim already has solar panels on his property mainly for home use, but he is a big proponent of solar energy. Right with you Tim.

Because Barrie’s specialise in local produce I started thinking about the 100 mile rule (don’t buy things from outside that area) cocoa beanswhich is all very well, but it presupposes that, for a start, one would give up chocolate, coffee, whisky, wines other than Canadian (as far as I know there isn’t a Zinfandel made in Canada, my favourite), artichokes and so on and so on. Not only that, in Canada a lot of things only grow forCoffee Beans a very short season and I am not sure what we would do for vegetables and fruit if we couldn’t ship them in from other countries. I am therefore not convinced that it is a very practical rule. Locally made Reid’s chocolates are excellent but chocolate doesn’t grow in Canada. Same with coffee, organic or not.

Last night we tried a new and very simple little recipe for chicken breasts which was quite tasty and soooo easy. I did not leave the skin on, we don’t eat it, and the flavour would have disappeared with the skin. We ate asparagus with it, of course.

Delicious Baked Chicken

Baked Chicken

4 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin
1 Tbs olive oil
1 pinch garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Rub each chicken breast with olive oil, then place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour Worcestershire sauce over each breast. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Check chicken and remove cover if desired. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Servings: 4

Source
Author: Janet Schaufele

Author Notes
Basic baked chicken turns lively when soaked with a little Worcestershire

Have a great day

Jo

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Peregrine Falcons, Damned Car, Tornadoes.

A friend on Facebook drew my attention to a wonderful story about Peregrine Falcons in Baby PeregrineToronto and how these Falcons are proliferating in Ontario. Apparently they have just banded four babies who were born 43 stories up on the Sheraton Tower. The babies (properly known as eyeasses) will be watched carefully once they begin to fledge, or fly, to help prevent the strong mortality rate (80%) which occurs among baby falcons. Volunteers will take part in a fledge watch about 40 days after their birth. If you would like to read the full article from The Sun go here http://tinyurl.com/3js657z where you will also find a link to a photo blog. There are, apparently, another couple of falcons awaiting the hatching of their first egg. Also in Toronto.

Yesterday, we had a lovely day!! In the first place we had to rush and shower because they were turning off the hot water early. Then Matt took the car in to find that a strut in the back had gone and therefore both should be replaced, they told us a couple of hours, it was finally around 5:30 p.m. before we got the car back, together with a hefty bill. So absolutely nothing was achieved. Do you realise I have been 4 days without any asparagus. Talking of which, I was horrified to discover an Australian friend of mine doesn’t like asparagus. Oh what she is missing. There is a pretty good description of asparagus in this blog which makes me drool right now http://smotheredinbutter.blogspot.com/ look for the one called Aaaahsparagus!

Lots of dreadful pictures being shown from Joplin, Missouri which is bracing for, possibly, another tornado, meanwhile several more ripped through Oklahoma today.  Apparently President Obama is planning to visit there over the weekend when he comes back from his European trip. I’m not sure what good that will do, but I guess it shows he cares?

Amongst the many newsletters I get in my inbox is one from the BBC (Aunty BBC as we used to call it) with all kinds of interesting recipes. This vegetarian curry appealed to me. Because we were once very prominent in India (part of the British Empire) curry became a very popular dish in the UK and these days, due to the influx of Indian peoples into Britain, curry is, I’m told, more available than the proverbial fish and chips. For the people on this side of the pond, Aubergine is eggplant.

Spinach, Aubergine and Chickpea Curry

 

Spinach, aubergine and chickpea curry

This delicious vegetarian curry is packed full of flavour and is ready in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients

Preparation method

  1. Cook the spinach in boiling water for two minutes, then cool it under cold running water and squeeze gently to remove most of the liquid. Place in a food processor and chop the spinach to a coarse purée.

  2. Heat half the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion, chickpeas, garlic, chilli and spices for five minutes over a medium heat.

  3. Add the remaining olive oil and the aubergine. Cook for ten minutes, stirring often, until the aubergine is coloured.

  4. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the aubergine is soft. Stir in the spinach purée and serve.

Have a great day

Jo

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Holiday Weekend, Belly Fat,

What a weekend, first of all we have another massive volcano in Iceland spewing smoke and ash in all directions and closing airports then a monster tornado on Sunday night in Joplin Missouri. The present death toll is 117 people and this morning they are talking about the possibility of another tornado in the area. One scary comment I heard, the sirens went off but people ignored them thinking it was yet another false alarm and didn’t get off the streets. Bearing in mind what happened to the houses, I can’t see it made much difference. Other people complained there was insufficient warning – I heard 17 minutes quoted. From all one hears, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do with a tornado unless you have an underground shelter and not everyone does. I think if I lived in Tornado Alley in the States I would be sure to have one in my yard. We had one heck of a rainstorm here last night too, thought it might be a hangover from the Missouri storm.

This morning the water is being turned off in our building, so I have to go shower before they do so. Meanwhile, we had some really bad thumps driving the car home yesterday so Matt has to go have it checked out. Please cross your finger for us.

According to an article I was reading at the weekend, legumes of all kinds are helpful in Pear and saladreducing belly fat together with pears and plain popcorn. I am not quite sure how true that is, but this soup certainly looks delicious. I love beans anyway. The following is a quote from Real Age who send me a regular newsletter “All legumes are full of protein and fiber -- two well-known appetite crushers. And thanks to their dark color, black beans are also one of the highest in flavonoids of all the beans. And research shows that flavonoids may thwart the storage of excess tummy fat.” We had some at the weekend and it was very good. Didn’t have fresh cilantro of course, added some dried. Also a dollop of Greek Yoghurt.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

From Good Housekeeping

Canned beans make this soup a snap to prepare, and the right blend of spices gives it a Tex-Mex wallop of flavor.black-bean-soup

Calories 137 per serving

6 first course servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon(s) vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 clove(s) (garlic) finely chopped

2 teaspoon(s) chili powder

1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper

2 can(s) (15 to 19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cup(s) water

1 can(s) (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

1/4 cup(s) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

Directions

  1. In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, and crushed red pepper; cook 30 seconds. Stir in beans, water, and broth; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Spoon one-third of mixture into blender; cover, with center part of cover removed to let steam escape, and puree until smooth. Pour puree into bowl. Repeat with remaining mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with wedges of lime. Makes about 6 2⁄3 cups or 6 first-course servings.

Have a great day

Jo

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tornado, The Rapture, The Kid, Muffins

What a terrible monster tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The reports are coming in on the TV this morning. 89 dead so far, 2,000 buildings destroyed. The hospital lost its top two floors, a major part of the town was totally flattened. As Sam Champion of GMA said, it looked like an angry storm, things were not just blown around, but crushed into unrecognisable shapes. Work is now going on to try and rescue people who are trapped in buildings. My heart goes out to all of them.

On Saturday all my friends and I were waiting for the Rapture and discussing who, amongst us, would be taken and who lthe-raptureeft behind. However, once our Australian friends said nothing had happened, we decided it must be wrong!! I don’t really understand where these ridiculous predictions come from. There was a funny video on Facebook where a supposed minister was preaching from the book of the Lion King and he was telling people to get down on the ground and some actually did. Guess what, nothing happened. I am sorry if you really believed and were looking forward to going. There have been some extremely funny comments and cartoons on Facebook about this whole thing. This is one:

...ATTENTION ALL JUDGEMENT and DOOMSDAY BELIEVERS: Due to technical difficulties... The scheduled END OF WORLD event has been postponed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. If you've already quit your job, given away your life savings or liquidated all of your assets... Oops... We'll attempt another doomsday event in Dec, 2012. Please stay tuned. Oh & have a nice day

Saturday night I saw a movie I had never The Kidheard of before, Disney’s The Kid, with Bruce Willis. What a great movie. A soon to be 40 yr. old prick meets his soon to be 8 yr. old self and obviously gets to find out why he is unmarried, without a dog and no real friends, or to quote the kid, a loser. I cried at the end. Highly recommend it if you come across it. I forgot to mention Lily Tomlin is his secretary.

I love a good muffin, especially the big ones loaded with chocolate chips. However, I avoid them like the plague because they are so high in calories. I remember visiting a friend in hospital years ago and being able to buy the most gorgeous blueberry muffins. Our local supermarket sell some good muffins too, but they come in boxes of 6 so even if I were tempted, I wouldn’t because Matt wouldn’t eat the other 5 so guess who would? Having said all that, I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Muffins which is only 166 calories per muffin – there again, what happens to the other eleven muffins? I post the recipe below. I found a picture but the recipe didn’t come with one, I wonder if that means they are not that appealing to look at, not like the big luscious ones one sees most places. I also post a Nigella Lawson recipe – I don’t think she worries too much about nutritional values.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Source: Healthy Oven Baking Book, The

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

Nonstick canola oil spray

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into measuring cup and level top)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray twelve 2 3/4 by 1 1/2-inch nonstick muffin cups with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the buttermilk, applesauce, brown sugar, egg, oil, and vanilla until frothy, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Using a spoon, mix just until moistened (there should be a few traces of flour remaining). Gently fold in the chocolate until the flour is incorporated. Do not over mix.

Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed gently in the center, about 20 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes before removing from the cups. Serve warm or cool completely on the rack.

Nutrition Information Makes 12 muffins 166 calories each.

On the other hand here is a recipe from Nigella Lawson which doesn’t give any nutritional information – what does that tell you?

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins

Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson (Copyright 2004, Feast, Hyperion, All Rights Reserved)

Serves: Chocolate Chip Muffins
12 muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons best quality cocoa powder

3/4 cup superfine sugar

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling

1 cup milk

1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Special equipment: Muffin tin with paper muffin cases

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into a large bowl. Pour all the liquid ingredients into a measuring jug. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, remembering that a lumpy batter makes the best muffins. Spoon into the prepared muffin cases. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top and then bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are dark, risen and springy.

Have a great day

Jo

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oops, Asparagus, Cooking, Photography

Correction to yesterday’s blog. The Escargot recipe came from a friend who lives in the PhilippinLumpiaes, nothing to do with Singapore. Sorry about that. When she pointed out my mistake, I instantly started thinking of the dish a friend from the Philippines used to make for us – lumpia, a bit like Chinese spring rolls. I could eat some of those right now.

Because I was running late yesterday, I forgot to mention that Emeril Lagasse was doing asparagus recipes on Good Morning America. One was a risotto. To me it was a shrimp risotto with asparagus and was probably delicious, but an asparagus only risotto is delicious too. He started by making a stock with shrimp shells, I tried that and we didn’t think it tasted of anything much at all, very disappointing. He did come up with one dish which I liked the sound of, so I have posted it below.

Last night I made an asparagus risotto for us which was very good. We will have leftovers tonight, don’t tell anyone. You are definitely not supposed to re-heat a risotto. Also tonight, Matt is going to make the Asparagus Phyllo BundlesAsparagus Phyllo Bundles which I really like, the recipe for which I published on May 10 this year. It is a Paula Deen recipe and we have made it innumerable times over the years.

As for the risotto, I make it fairly simply. I cook a pound of asparagus until it is almost done, I then allow it to cool somewhat. Meanwhile I sauté 1 Tbs of finely chopped onion in about 1 oz. of butter and a little olive oil until translucent. I chop up the Asparagus risottoasparagus in 1“ pieces, reserving the tips. I add 1 cup of arborio rice and the asparagus to the onion. Allow them to sauté for a minute or two then start adding hot chicken stock slowly, about a ladle full at a time stirring constantly until the rice has absorbed 4 cups of stock. This takes around 25 minutes, do not add more stock until the previous addition has been absorbed. I then remove the pan from the heat, stir in another ounce of butter, 2 Tbs of Parmesan cheese and the asparagus tips. Check for seasoning and serve. Delicioso.

Been talking, on Facebook, about food photography. Must admit I don’t do a lot of it, I cheat and get pictures from the web a lot of the time, but I do take pictures of things I cook now and again. I am not a very good photographer unfortunately, whatever I am taking a picture of. I guess I will have to try a bit harder with my food pix. The viewer is supposed to want to eat what you show. It is an undoubted fact that a cookbook with good photographs is more inspiring than one without any. If you know what its supposed to look like it is more encouraging.

Emeril's Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

From the Kitchen of Emeril Lagasseasparagus_salad

Servings: 6

Can't figure out what to make for dinner? Give this salad a try.

Ingredients

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and steamed until just tender
1/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large bowl whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk, add the vegetable oil
in a very thin stream, whisking constantly. Whisk in the walnut oil.

Place asparagus on platter and pour dressing over asparagus. Garnish with walnuts and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.

This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.

Have a great weekend and for Canadians, happy Victoria Day.

Jo

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mulberry, Photo, Hotel.

A year or two ago, I don’t remember when, I bought some mulberry leaf pills which were good for reducing high blood sugar in diabetes. I have no idea why I didn’t take them, but I found them in my cupboard a few weeks ago and started taking them. By golly, they work. My sugar levels have been much better. Although it suggests taking two, I have only been taking one a day. I know I can buy them on line but now I need to check my local health store. Here is an interesting article about the benefits of mulberry http://tinyurl.com/5ugxg6t If only I had known, when I was around 9 we lived in a house with a mulberry tree in the back yard.

camelthorntrees

This is not a painting, it is a photograph of camel thorn trees. If you are interested to see the short article about this, go to http://tinyurl.com/6y9ffny to me it is an incredible shot. The orange is the rising sun on a sand dune in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. This was posted by a friend on Facebook, I just had to share it.

Oops, I am late posting this today, have Best Westernbeen messing around booking a hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Some friends and I are going to meet a very good cyber friend who is visiting the States and Canada from South Africa. Incredible, I tried phoning them and all the prices they gave me were very high, however, booking on line dropped the price to a reasonable level.

For a bit of fun, I was given a recipe from a friend in the Philippines for preparing snails or escargots. I was given some language amendments too, I might even try this recipe because I do like escargots. I am not sure how much a 1/4 tali is. Maybe a couple of dozen.

Kuhol sa Gata - Golden Snails Simmered in Thick, Spicy Coconut Milk

1 lb spinachkuholsagata

10 gms. garlic

20 gms. ginger

20 gms. onion

1 Tbs cooking oil 1 tsp salt

1 can coconut milk Some Long green chilis (to taste)

1/4 tali Snails or kuhol

1. Soak kuhol (snails) in water overnight.

2. Clean and wash the kuhol

3. Sauté garlic, ginger, onions, green chilis season with salt then add in the kuhol.(snails)

4. Simmer.

5. Pour in the coconut milk

6. Add the spinach leaves.

7. Let simmer until the coconut milk is well absorbed.

Source: Lutong Bahay

Have a great day

Jo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sexual Assault, Movie.

It would appear from the information I am getting, that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been behaving this way (sexual assault) for years but because it was basically in France, he has been getting away with it. You mean to tell me, rape is pDominiqueermissable in France. Women are too scared of the adverse publicity to report it. The accusations of “she asked for it” because she wore short skirts, tight dresses, showed cleavage, etc. etc. are appalling. I cannot believe that in any country, in this day and age, women’s rights are so blatantly ignored. In the current case, the poor maid was forced to have oral sex with an old stranger. Prostitutes abound, why did he feel it necessary to assault a maid? With his money he could have had a really high priced call girl, or several, but no, he has to attack a poor woman working in the hotel. Now I am told he is planning to sue people who write about him??? Also, on the radio yesterday, it said he is on suicide watch. Matt, who used to work in the prison system, said he wonders if he (Strauss-Kahn) is trying it on. Later I read the cops are cutting squares out of the carpet for forensic evidence. I bet the Sofitel loves that.

Last night one of the two movie choices was The Dirty Dozen. I wasn’t going to watch it but kind of got caught. It really is a The Dirty Dozengood movie with some very good acting by lots of well known actors. I love Telly Savalis as a religious killer of women. Donald Sutherland plays a slightly vacuous young man, Lee Marvin is their officer, then you have Charlie Bronson and Ernest Borgnine – oh and lots of others not so well known to me. If you have never seen it, Lee Marvin is told to interview 12 army prisoners in maximum security (several on death row) and persuade them to go on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines just before the invasion of Normandy.

This looks an interesting dish from Kraft Kitchens. Flank steak has become a much more popular meat than it used to be.

Deviled Flank Steak

4 servingsDeviled-Flank-Steak

1 beef flank steak (1 lb.)

1/4 cup A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce, divided

2 Tbsp.GREY POUPON Dijon Mustard2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp.soy sauce

2 Tbsp. ketchup

2 Tbsp.brown sugar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp.hot pepper sauce

HEAT grill to medium-high heat.

BRUSH steak with 2 Tbsp. steak sauce. Grill 16 to 18 min. or until medium doneness, turning after 8 min. Remove to carving board; tent with foil. Let stand 5 min.

MEANWHILE, mix remaining steak sauce with all remaining ingredients in saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat; simmer on medium-low heat 2 min. or until thickened.

CUT steak across the grain into thin slices. Serve topped with sauce.

Serving Suggestion

Serve with a baked potato and steamed vegetable to round out the meal.

How to Grill Juicy Steaks

Use tongs to turn steaks on the grill when the bottom is well browned. Piercing with a fork will cause the juices to run out, resulting in a less juicy steak

Have a great day

Jo

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Affairs, Cordless Phones, Supper Out

Is it because they are film stars or politicians, but now Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to a mistress and an illegitimate child. Silly man, especially as his wife is a member of the Kennedy family and therefore well connected. Why are these men such fools and end up ruining their careers whether it be political or otherwise? I suppose they think they will never be found out. Look what happened to John Edwards, he has faded into nothingness although I guess Arnold always has his film career to fall back on. Hollywood makes capital out of such publicity. They listed a whole bunch more well known men on GA this morning.

We had an irritating day yesterday, when I tried to dial 911 the other night our cordless phone wouldn’t dial it. I ended up using another phone. However, I phoned GE and it turned out that every number I pressed had to be pressed twice before it registered. Heaven knows why. I had always used speed dial on that phone so never noticed. GE no longer make cordless phones. So then we go to Staples and pick up an inexpensive phone which, it turned out, Vtechdidn’t allow speed dial. No good, Matt would never figure out how to get at the address book on the phone. Took it back and discovered that none of the cordless phones had a speed dial feature. Got our money back. Decided to go to Zellers and asked them about speed dial there, they assured me none of the phones had it. We ended up buying one anyway. Guess what, I was browsing the manual later and there is a speed dial feature for 10 numbers. Now how come the assistants don’t know that? We ended up with a Vtech which has quite a few other features – it can be expanded to take extra phones or something,  but obviously we don’t need more than one. So,  now it is charged I spent some more frustrating time trying to figure out the instructions in the manual to enter speed dials. Whoever writes these instructions is insufficiently explicit.

We both felt too lazy to cook last night after so much running around with the phones so we went down the road to Howl Caesar Chickenat the Moon and had supper there. Not a bad deal, not gourmet cuisine you understand, but good food, plenty of it. I had soup (potato and bacon) and then we both ended up with Chicken Caesar Salads, a small one for me, a full size for Matt. There was a lot of chicken on the salad.

I thought this cake looked easy and rather interesting. You can’t really go wrong with lemon flavours.

Lemonade Layer Cake

For the Cake:Lemonade Layer Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 Tbs frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
For the Frosting:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp minced lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon oil
Lemon zest for garnish

1. FOR THE CAKE:

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch-square nonstick cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; line bottoms with parchment paper; butter paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric stand mixer and paddle attachment, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally and beating until light. Beat in lemonade concentrate, zest and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down sides occasionally. Continue to beat until mixture is smooth. On low speed beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, until just blended. Divide batter equally between prepared pans.

3. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks.

4. FOR THE FROSTING:

5. Using electric stand mixer and whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in zest, vanilla and lemon oil until mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

6. TO ASSEMBLE:

7. Turn cakes out onto work surface. Peel off parchment paper. Place one cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

8. DO-AHEAD TIP:

9. Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.

10. OPTIONAL GARNISH:

11. Peel off long strips of lemon zest using zester. Sprinkle zest around edges of cake.

Servings: 12

Source: Cooking.com

Author Notes
This cake is lemony inside and out. The combination of frozen lemonade concentrate and fresh lemon zest give this cake a zingy flavor.

Have a great day

Jo