Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weekend Trip

When we got back home, we straightened ourselves out, put everything away and went out for supper. We have a diner and nightclub at the bottom of the road, Howl at the Moon and their food isn't bad at all. I wasn't very hungry so I just had some chicken wings, Matt, despite having had no lunch, only had a Rueben Sandwich plus French Fries. Quite filling, not that he ate all the fries and when he had finished put the plate well out of my reach. They do make good French Fries and I can't leave them alone.

Some of the best French Fries ever, were at the bowling alley we used to go to in Cambridge (next town) they were cooked from frozen in a machine, but they were wonderful. I would almost have liked to buy that machine when the alley closed down. I believe they never did sell it. My favourite fries used to be MacDonald's until I tried the ones at the bowling alley. Not that we eat in burger joints much, haven't really done so in years.

Talking of chicken, Gordon Ramsay was on Good Morning America today basically because he has written a coobook "Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food" which is about cooking really good food in a very short time. As he told Charlie Gibson, Gordon could cook the chicken dish he showed us in 15 minutes, it might take Charlie 25 minutes. It did look very good and as he said would have lots of child appeal. The segment wasn't long enough, but he had brought green beans which he said was essential and some mashed potatoes and finished off by making caramalised bananas by sprinkling them with sugar and then torching the sugar. If you want to read about it and get his recipe for quick Banana Split click here to read the article. I was disappointed he didn't give his lemon chicken recipe. As far as I recall, he put a little olive oil in a fry pan, chopped a bulb of garlic in half, skin and root included, then added seasoned chunks of chicken, still on the bone and sautéed them until they were golden brown. He then added some Soy sauce to the pan with quite a few thin slices of lemon and when that was fully absorbed and the lemon cooked, he added sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan then served it. But don't take my word for this, buy the book. If you don't know who he is; here he is known for his programme Hell's Kitchen. His language is foul, but from my experience with professional kitchens, language often is pretty raunchy. However, this morning he didn't use one cuss word, I was impressed. He apparently has 4 kids which I didn't know. He has several restaurants in England and used to be a soccer player. Matt doesn't have a lot of time for him, but I like him. He is a properly trained chef too which so many of the cooks we see today, are not.

I have just given you the source for one recipe and the information on another, so no more recipes today. Have a great one.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Port Dalhousie II - Wine Tastings - Lake Ontario

Sunday dawned bright and clear, sunlight flooding through our windows, so we descended for breakfast and Jennifer produced home made granola with yoghurt, fresh fruit, croissants and muffins, orange juice, peameal bacon, fried egg and lots of coffee. Quite a breakfast and I availed myself of most of it. The croissants, in particular, were very good and I discovered they come from Costco which is a big wholesale store found all over North America. I will hi me there as soon as I can to check out these delicious croissants.

Whilst stuffing myself with all this food, we were chatting to Jennifer who was talking to us about web sites where educators can travel to B & Bs all over the place for pretty reasonable prices. She also talked about the Henley Regatta which takes place in Port Dalhousie (as well as in England of course) and said it was the biggest regatta in North America. She herself rows regularly and is a retired teacher. It was very interesting chatting to her. If we want to go to the area again, we will certainly go to that B & B it was delightful and not expensive by any manner of means.

Matt had been sufficiently impressed with the wine we drank last night, we decided to visit the winery. Jennifer had also told us that Vineland Estates did lunches and a friend from last night had recommended Fielding Winery. We set off for Maliviore first - delightful drive along the Wine Route - and just as we arrived a notice was being hung saying tasters welcome, so in we went. The first wine we tasted was their 2006 Estate Gewürztraminer VQA which is a big award winning wine. It was a beautiful wine but just a little too sweet for our palate. We then tasted their 2006 Pinot Gris VQA which we liked very much and bought a bottle. We don't drink a lot of white wine but every now and again we enjoy it with seafood of one kind or another.

We then tasted the wine we had drunk the previous night, 2005 Pinot Noir VQA which was a very good wine and we found just as pleasant to drink on the Sunday morning as we had with dinner at Treadwell's. We ended up buying two bottles of that as we figured we would be disappointed not to have a second once we had drunk the first bottle, whenever that happened. We were discussing corks with them and discovered that they prefer real cork or screw tops for immediate drinking. They have found that plastic cork can allow just a smidgin of air to get into the wines and cause oxidation. Not enough space to lose the wine, but enough to allow just a breath to infuse and spoil the contents. I might say, at this time, that to us, this wine is not a cheap one, more than we usually spend, but we had decided to treat ourselves as it was so enjoyable.

We also bought a bottle of their 2005 Cabernet Merlot VQA, another very good one which we tasted and enjoyed. At this point Matt decided to stop tasting as he was driving. One only gets about and ounce in a glass, but that can mount up if you aren't careful. I then decided to taste their 2007 Chardonnay Musqué so he gave me some water as I was going backwards in my tasting. It was good but we didn't buy that, however, he showed us a half bottle of 2004 Estate Chardonnay which was also good and I thought the half bottle was a good idea so bought two of those. There isn't a picture of that particular wine. If you are interested in reading more about Maliviore and their wines there website is here where you can buy their wines if you live in Ontario, unfortunately it is a small and somewhat exclusive winery and does not sell very much outside Ontario. Their productions are limited. The LCBO (Ontario's liquor board) does occasionally have their wines apparently but not on a large scale. Having finalised our purchases they gave us a free wine carrier and we were, obviously, not charged for the tastings which is normally $5 a head. We saw one of the vineyards outside the tasting room where the Pinot Noir grapes were being grown. It was on a hillside which I found interesting, mostly you see vines being grown in flat fields. If you go on the website, you can read all their viticulture policies and practices.

We then headed to Vineland Estates which is quite a different proposition and, I think, much bigger.
We went into their tasting room where they were also selling very expensive glass of all kinds, some absolutely beautiful pieces. Matt didn't want to taste any more so I was going to but he wandered off so I ended up tasting their Pinot Gris and then leaving and we walked to the restaurant. When we got there we were seated and I hung my purse/handbag on the chair and looked at the menu. Interesting but not what we were looking for. Much too much, set menu, etc. so we left. I was followed by one of the staff waving my purse!!!!! Thank goodness. I felt such an idiot.

We drove a bit further and ended up in a Tim Horton's which is a chain restaurant throughout Canada. I ended up with a ham and cheese BLT which was not very interesting, but I have to eat three meals a day minimum. Matt didn't eat at all as he was not hungry. Nor, I guess, was I.

We then decided to drive back to Port Dalhousie where I was anxious to get near the water. I find that since we left England which is surrounded by water, I love to be near the coast or at least a lake or river. After a bit of driving down wrong turnings, one of which dead ended at Lake Ontario and I took a picture, see above, we finally came to a small port area where we strolled along the pier which was, for me, quite a long walk, I was very impressed with myself. It was delightfully sunny and quite warm. The only thing spoiling the walk was the flies. There were literally millions of tiny flies. I was wearing a white jacket which looked black by the time we had finished our walk. What a pain. We saw cobwebs absolutely thick with these flies and reckoned the local spiders knew a thing or two. Beyond the harbour one can see Lake Ontario, I wish I could convey to non Canadians just how huge these lakes really are. Ontario is the second smallest of the five Great Lakes and you could take the British Isles, chop off Scotland and Wales and just drop England into the lake without any trouble.

You will notice we were a bit nearer the lighthouse on the left. There was a second lighthouse beyond that. When we got there we saw a couple - he was obviously setting up for something, fishing maybe, not sure, however she was dressed in an extremely tight dress, flowing long hair and 6 inch heels. Just the right gear for walking a pier and spending the afternoon by the lake. Matt kept saying she had good legs!!!!!!
Having walked back to the car and shaken, brushed and generally dealt with all the flies, we drove into the village itself and decided to stop at one of the bars with an outside veranda. Matt had a beer and I had a strawberry martini. Wasn't bad. I had to ask the waitress where the washroom was and she turned her back on me!! If you can't read the shirt, click on the picture to increase the size. You can do that with any of the pictures of course. I thought it was extremely funny although she did make sure, verbally, that I knew where it was.

As, by now, it was getting late in the afternoon, we headed for the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) and our road home. Looking at all the blossom again on the way out of Port Dalhousie. It was such a pretty little spot, I am sure we will go back.

As Pickerel is one of the favourite fish pulled out of the Great Lakes, I thought I would give you a recipe for it although one of the favourites around Lake Ontario seems to be breaded or battered as shown in the picture. The pickerel at Treadwell's restaurant was certainly not battered. I am not sure how it was prepared.

Pickerel in Almond Butter Sauce Recipe

A recipe from an old edition of Chatelaine Cookbook. It is a very tasty fish dish.
by Allyoop
15 min | 5 min prep | SERVES 6
2 lbs of fresh pickerel fillets or frozen pickerel fillets

1/2 cup seasoned flour

salad oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Cut fillets into 6 serving pieces.
  2. Dip them in milk, then in seasoned flour (1/2 tsp mixed salt and pepper to 1/2 cup flour).
  3. Heat 1/4 inch salad oil in large skillet.
  4. Add fillets.
  5. Saute quickly on both sides until lightly browned; do not over cook.
  6. Place fish on a heated platter.
  7. Melt butter in a separate pan, add almonds and stir on low heat until lightly toasted.
  8. Remove from heat and add parsley and lemon juice.
  9. Pour over fillets.
  10. Garnish with lemon wedges.
© 2007 Recipezaar.

Have a great day.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Port Dalhousie

Despite the bad beginning to the day, we decided to go ahead with our plans. We drove to Port Dalhousie (they leave out the h) on the Saturday afternoon and arrived at the bed and breakfast just before 4 p.m. Then discovered I had been given the wrong number for the person who was looking after us this weekend. As it happened, she turned up shortly after we arrived, so no problem. It was a delightful house with a lovely yard. The whole of Port Dalhousie seemed to be in blossom - they are 60 miles south of us and the plants are a bit more advanced. There were Japanese Maples in flower wherever I looked. It is one of my favourites, I had one in North Carolina and was sorry to leave it behind. I call them tulip trees as the blossoms look very like tulips before they open. They are absolutely beautiful. It never occurred to me they would grow in Canada until we came back here to live. There were other blossoms visible, I know some were peach and others apple blossom, but I am not a good enough gardener to know which was which. We seemed to be in the middle of orchard country coming into the Port - we knew we were close to wine country, but this particular area is known as Fruitland I discovered.

Jennifer, at the Old Port B & B took us into the house and showed us around, a delightful lounge and a family room with TV which we were welcome to use. A kitchen where we could obtain ice and where she set a pot of coffee ready for me when we came back from the restaurant. Then we went up to our room which was very pleasant, light and airy, with a nice en suite bathroom. We were impressed with the whole set up. I didn't take any pictures inside but there are some here if you would like to look at them.

We then went to check out where the restaurant was located and found it just a few minutes away beautifully sited right on the water. Looked a very nice spot. We went back to the B & B and decided to have a drink before dins. Jennifer was still there setting out things for breakfast in the morning and pottering about with various jobs. Apparently she fills in for the owner quite a bit and some people have never even met the owner because she goes away with her son's sports team quite a bit.

Went back to the restaurant for 6 and met the owner and his wife, Stephen and Sue with their son James, all from the UK although they have lived here some 26 years. Steve is the owner/chef and his son is the sommelier. The maitre d' had also spent a lot of time in the UK so it was almost like old home week especially as my friend's mother is English originally although she has been here some 50 odd years.

After drinks and discussing the menu, we finally ordered what we wanted. The menu was prix fixé at $55 (3 courses) or $65 (4 courses) and there were various items one could add such as the foie gras at an extra $15. Once the meal was about to start they produced demi tasses with a spicy tomato soup covered with a cappucino foam (I think) for an amuse bouches. It was absolutely delicious. Also delicious home made breads, a multi grain and a sourdough. With the bread was a dipping sauce of oil and vinegar. I then began my meal with the foie gras which was sautéed and served on a brioche with a rhubarb sauce. The foie gras was delicious but I personally found the garnishing too sweet. Matt had a Prosciutto salad garnished with sliced pear and shaved Parmesan which he said was very good. My friend had both the foie gras and a Roast Beet salad which included golden beets. She gave me one and it was delicious. Another item which a couple of people had was Leek and Potato Soup garnished with lobster meat and a cheese straw. I was told that it, too, was wonderful, it certainly looked it. I have always liked Leek and Potato soup anyway, but with the lobster - yum - you know how I feel about lobster. There seem to be a couple of starters missing, there were eight of us altogether, but I am not sure what else anyone ordered.

For the main course several of us chose lamb. Matt and I had a lamb filled tortellini with ours and my friend chose a mashed potato with mustard. Her son had the venison with carrots which were cooked in sparkling water and carmelised with honey. No picture of the venison I'm afraid, but it did look good. Matt and I drank a glass of Pinot Noir, it was by a local winery called Malivoire. We only had one 6 oz. glass each as that was $18 a piece!! At least two of the group chose fish, my friend's English mom had Pickerel and another of us had Whitefish, both of which are delicious fish and as nothing was left, I assume they were good.

Last, but not least were the desserts. You remember I am a chocolate freak, so needless to say I chose a chocolate dessert, they had chocolate volcanoes similar to those we made last week; my friend assured us the only difference was in the shape. They were served with ice cream (coffee flavoured I think) and a cookie. Matt decided to have the Ginger Creme Brulée and then there was a lemon tart chosen as well as a local cheese tray which came with a couple of chutneys or jams. Nothing served in the restaurant contains ingredients which are not local. I did get a taster of some of the cheeses which were very good. Once we had finished the desserts, we were served coffees and teas and they produced a kind of ginger turkish delight, very sticky and sweet. Finally we got small, crunchy macaroons which were delightful. I ate two, (diet, what diet?). After that of course we got the only part of a meal which comes free, the bill, a lot of money. We certainly didn't expect it to be quite so high. I guess one doesn't do the addition as you go along. Still it was a delightful restaurant with a very pleasant view over the water and the service was superb.

Finally we went back to our B & B and everyone else wended their way home. I made my coffee and had a couple of cups plus we had a bedtime drink and then climbed the stairs and slept like logs.

I think you have had enough about food today, so I won't post a recipe. I will tell you about our Sunday tomorrow.

Have a great day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hi and Goodbye

Not writing much today. Matt had another suspected TIA last night and we are supposed to be going away for the weekend so not sure what's happening. Hope you have a great day.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The subject of vacations is hovering around us at the moment, where do we want to go, how much will it cost, blah, blah, blah. One place we are contemplating is Portugal, we liked it so much the first time we went. We had one complaint which was smoking, we couldn't go into the lounge bar at night because of the smoke which you could see sitting in layers in the air. Portugal, along with France and I am sure other European countries, has now gone "no smoking". To us this means we won't have to sit in our room playing cribbage because it is too cold to be outside at night (in November) and too smokey to be inside. The picture on the left is the beach at Sagres which is in the Algarve or the very southern part of the country. Portugal is a wonderful place to eat fresh fish, you can go to a fish restaurant and get fresh fish of different kinds, served to you as long as you can eat it. Absolutely delicious. The food we had in any restaurant or in our hotel was fantastic and we enjoyed all of it. I have tried to duplicate some of the recipes but never quite "got it" with some of them. I remember a pork stew we had one time, the flavour was incredible, but despite trying all kinds of recipes, I cannot quite duplicate it, close, but not exact. Some of their wonderful egg desserts too - mmm, I could eat those right now. Yes, I think Portugal would be a good choice again. I have a cousin living in the Algarve these days too which should give us a good place to visit, I haven't seen her in years. At least 40 years I would think, we've been in Canada since 1975 so haven't seen her since then at least, and not for quite a few years before that. When we left, she was living in Natal, South Africa. I don't recall what year she moved there. The photo on the right shows something of the countryside beyond the Algarve, we were driving about 300 miles north to see a friend. The road was absolutely fantastic with hardly any vehicles on it. Great driving.

Below is an egg dessert from Portugal, its great to eat, but I have never tried to make it.

Charcada Alentejana
Serves: 6
Source: Lurdes Pereira

300 gr sugar
1.5 dl water
6 egg yolks
1 egg white
zest of lemon

Mix sugar with water and lemon zest. Take to stove and when boilling, add egg yolks previously beatten with the egg white, through a funnel. Let boil a litle until it gets thicker but not hard. Serve in small plates and dust with cinnamon.

This is the only picture I have of the dessert which I took in a restaurant in Portugal. It doesn't show you the lovely lemony yellow colour - in fact when I first saw it, I thought it was scrambled egg, but it is very different.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marlee Matlin - Dancing With The Stars

This is Marlee learning to dance. See my blog below.

Spring, Famous people with Disabilities

I was out and about for the first time in a while and discovered that Spring is, indeed, springing, a lot of trees have a slightly green look about them and you can just see the beginning of the unfurling leaves. Spring never takes long to happen here once it starts. Surprisingly I saw lots of well developed daffodils and tulips which didn't seem to be that far advanced last week. They are so pretty aren't they? There are none in the park unfortunately, its not that kind of park. Lots of trees and grass, no formal flower beds.

I have been looking for information on the Good Morning America website on an incredible interview I saw yesterday, but I cannot find anything. Robin Roberts interviewed a woman who has been blind since she was 15. She appeared on the programme beautifully dressed and made up (she does her own make-up) and talked to Robin about the books she has written - several - and how her first books were written with pen and paper and lots of help, now of course there is computer software to help her but of course she had to learn that. She also plays the piano beautifully. Trouble is, I cannot remember what her name is which is why I have been looking for a report on the segment but am unable to find it. I was so impressed with her. One story Robin told was of the woman mixing up her eye liner and lip liner one day and her children commenting on it, she assured them this was the current fashion.

Talking of people with disabilities, we have a programme in North America called Dancing with the Stars which is very popular. We don't in fact watch it ourselves. However, one of the contestants was Marlee Matlin who is very well known over here, she is an Academy Award winner and is as deaf as a post. Everyone is staggered that she could have done all these dance routines when she can't hear the music. Unfortunately for Marlee and her partner, they lost out last night, but to see her dance, you would never guess that she is unable to hear. She has an interpreter with her all the time.

Well, once again I have a busy day, that's the way it is this week. North America loves Pasta, so here is a pasta dish for you.

Angel Hair Pasta with Herbed Chicken
Serves: 4

Source: Jeanne Jones
4 (1-3/4-CUP) SERVINGS

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 carrot, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (about
12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups small broccoli florets
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk
1 (9-ounce) package fresh angel hair pasta
3/4 cup (or about
2-1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: 1. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet. Add onion and carrot and saute over medium heat until onion is soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add some water if it seems dry.

2. Add diced chicken to pan and saute just until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil, oregano, thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Add broccoli, cover and steam for 5 minutes. Stir in milk and warm, but do not allow to boil.

3. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions; drain well. Stir pasta into sauce mixture, then add cheese. Cover pan for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. Serve immediately.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

I do hope everyone realised it was Earth Day and planned to do something to celebrate it. Good Morning America had quite a lot of segments about greening the earth, apparently 50% of the water we use is for watering gardens and flowers and there were loads of suggestions about how we could change the plants we grow for something less thirsty. For tips click here where you will find how thirsty hydrangeas are, for instance, and how you can replace them with viburnums which, according to Sam Champion on GMA this morning, had a wonderful scent.

Apparently car companies are now producing cars which are run on hydrogen; much greener than a regular combustion engine. They showed one from General Motors this morning and the only by-product is a few drips of water. In the New York State area they are looking for people to test drive their vehicle. Not in my area unfortunately, I would be only too glad to help. The engine looks so much cleaner too and it doesn't have many parts. No oil either. Only trouble with this is the fuel companies won't be too happy, they have had us by the short and curlies for so long and with gas prices in North America climbing rapidly this summer, everything is going to get so expensive for us. I am complaining about $60 at the gas pumps, imagine what truckers are having to pay - in the region of $600 and then imagine what that does to the cost of food.

It is easy for people to say "follow the 100 mile rule" in other words don't eat anything which is produced more than 100 miles from where you live. During a Canadian winter, this would be impossible. Nothing grows in the snow. Now, when the weather is getting better, it will be possible to buy locally. The markets will be full of local produce. In lots of other countries which are not buried beneath a blanket of white stuff, this is an excellent rule and one which is being followed in a lot of European countries.

GMA have tips on making your life more green and busting some myths. They are promoting CFLs or compact fluorescent bulbs which are much better for the environment than regular light bulbs as they use a lot less electricity to run. They contain mercury and need to be disposed of properly, but they last forever, I know this from our own usage. One friend complained about the quality of the light they give, yes, when you switch them on the light is not too good, but after a short space of time, they give off perfectly normal light. We have been using these bulbs for over a year now. Matt bought some beer the other day and got a freebie CFL with the box. Another tip is to turn off your computer, these days, it doesn't hurt to switch your computer on and off. Modern computers are designed to be switched on and off about 40,000 times. A third tip, saving paper by banking on line. People are worried about security, but actually statistics show that banking on line with the encrypted software used by banks, is much more secure than regular banking. Plus any frauds are shown up very quickly. If you would like to read these tips click here so anything you can do to help improve your carbon footprint is good.

Another feature on GMA this morning was Walking with Dinosaurs which is a travelling show which comes to local arenas. These critters are a blend of art and science and are incredibly lifelike. They had a baby one wandering around the set this morning, I say baby meaning relatively of course, the majority of these are life size and absolutely huge. The Brachyosauras being the biggest at 36 ft. tall and 56 ft. long. The anchors on GMA said it was even a little frightening to have the one on the set. They are operated by actors inside them; their eyes blink and tear, their skin is very lifelike and took hours to create. Again if you want to read more about them click here, I found it fascinating I must say. Who said dragons didn't exist!!!

Well here's a salad we picked up from Chatelaine Magazine quite a few years ago and only made once for some reason. I didn't even know I still had the recipe, it was very good.

Warm Tomato & Feta Salad
Serves: 2

8 med tomatoes
1 to 2 tbs olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce
2 whole grn onions thin sliced
1/3 c olive oil
2 tbs balsamic/red wine vinega
1 tsp dried oregano
generous pinches salt and
fresh ground black pepper
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil
or parsley (optional)

Preheat barbecue to medium-high and grease grill. Place whole tomatoes on grill over hot coals. Brush lightly with olive oil and turn frequently until tomatoes are well grilled and hot, about 10 to 12 mins. Tomato skins will break during barbecuing. Meanwhile, shred lettuce and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with green onions. Then in a small bowl whisk 1/3 C olive oil with vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use. When tomatoes are hot, remove to a cutting board. Coarsely chop or wedge. Scatter over lettuce. Immediately sprinkle feta over warm tomatoes so it melts slightly. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with basil. Toss and serve immediately.

Have a great day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Saturday Dinner, Elizabeth Moon

Well our dinner party on Saturday was very successful. One of the guests took pictures but judging by past performance, if I ever see them, I shall be surprised. Because my friend has eating problems these days, we did Goat Cheese Potato Purée which just slides down and is always popular. Our Romanian guest was very pleased with them too. It is a Bobby Flay recipe from way back which we have been using off and on for years. Everyone was delighted with the Chocolate Volcano dessert too. In fact, everyone liked everything which is always very pleasing to host and hostess.

Last night we had leftovers including one chocolate volcano which we split. When cold they turn into a fudgey consistency which is absolutely delicious. They are a real chocolate hit if you are a chocoholic like me. I serve them with a dollop of Double Devon Cream which just adds to the beauty of the flavours. Unfortunately, Chocolate Volcanoes are not a dieter's delight and contain a lot of calories, as does the potato dish of course.

I have just finished another Elizabeth Moon book Trading in Danger which I thoroughly enjoyed and have already started the next story, Marque and Reprisal. They are the start of a series called Vatta Wars about the daughter of a space trading company and I can highly recommend them to the spec. fic. buffs out there. I didn't realise I had read Elizabeth Moon before, but I actually own a book called Sassinak in which she collaborated with Ann McCaffery who is one of my favourites. Her blog is fascinating to read too.

Having talked about the Goat Cheese Purée I had better pass on the recipe - it is, as I mentioned, one we got from a Bobby Flay programme a few years back. I used to like his programme then, however, he has switched over to practially all barbecue which doesn't interest me nearly as much. I have quite a few recipes from his older programme.

Goat Cheese Potato Purée
Serves: 4

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces soft goat cheese
6 potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced and kept warm
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place goat cheese in a small food processor with 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and process until smooth. Rice potatoes into a large bowl. Mix in the butter and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Fold in the goat cheese mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste

I actually mash the potatoes and then whisk in the butter, cheese and finally cream. Either way, it has to be very soft, too many people try and make it like a mash, it isn't, its a purée and should be slightly runny.

Have a great day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weather Myths. France and Australia

We watched 20/20 last night, way too many ad breaks, but the bits in between the ads were very interesting. It wasn't just about tornado safety, but other forms of weather myths too. I had believed, along with millions, that if your car was hit by lightening it was the contact of rubber tires on the earth which saved you, apparently not, it is because the lightening shoots round the metal frame of the car and out onto the ground, this is what saves you. If there is a tornado, don't try and outrun it, you can't, get out of the car (which they described as a 4,000 lb. toy to a tornado) and try and lie down in a ditch. In a house, get in the basement. Don't bother opening the windows to equalise air pressure, the tornado will open your windows for you very quickly. Never drive through a flooded road however shallow you think it may be. Your car can be damaged very quickly and you could be stuck in a dangerous situation. Again, with lightening, you are likely to be safe in a wood so long as all the trees are the same size, but don't shelter under a single tree or the tallest tree in the wood, get out of the storm into proper shelter if you possibly can. They pointed out how often tall buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State building get hit frequently every year.

Talking of the Eiffel Tower, did you know you can walk up it. Daughter #1 did so, she is fit enough. When I was there, I took the elevators. I was very impressed with how the French decorated it for the Millenium celebrations, it was a mass of lights, quite beautiful.

I have been reading a blog by Glenda Larke (see Tropic Temper on this page). She has been visiting Western Australia and has published some of the most beautiful pictures of beaches in Cape Le Grand National Park at Esperance, they remind me of the Caribbean, but there are no people, no crowds, no giant hotel or vacation complexes, just gorgeous beaches and scenery. What a pity Australia is so far away, I would be on the next plane.

Well, the shrimp are being marinated for tonight, the pork tenderloins are presently defrosting, and things are well on their way. Matt is doing most of the rest, I just have to clean the place up a bit. I am not up in the ranks of good housewives unfortunateley, I consider it soul destroying to have to dust and vacuum etc. especially as it is a job that doesn't stay "done".

Here is a starter we have made on occasion, usually the version with cheese and ham in it. We enjoy it very much. You have to be a tad careful not to overcook the yolk because the cream can make it appear the egg is not cooked.

Convent Eggs
Source: Cordon Bleu
Serves: 4

4 Eggs
salt and pepper
4 tbs heavy cream
1 oz butter

2 oz Brie
2 to 3 oz chopped ham

Set oven to 350F. Butter the dish or individual ramekins. Add the ham and cheese to the bottom. Carefully slide an egg into each ramekin and season to taste. Spoon cream onto each dish. Set ramekins, or dish, onto a baking sheet and cook in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes until the whites are jellied and the yolks are barely set.

I use a bit more cream. You could also use tomato sauce instead of cream. And you could use shredded chicken, or sautéed sliced chicken liver on the bottom.

Have a great day

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tornadoes and Seafood

I just saw on GMA that there is a special on 20/20 tonight, for those of my readers who can get that programme, about Tornadoes. The special is about myth busting and one myth they busted today was hiding under an overpass. Although people have survived in them, the overpass acts like a wind tunnel and the tornado effects are worse than being right outside I gather. Showed one guy who had done just that because he was worried about his car. He, himself, was very lucky to survive, out of his car hanging on two rods and the car ended up as a total junk pile about a mile away. We are going to watch the report tonight, not, luckily that we get these twisters here much, but we could. I mentioned before about a big one north of us, so there is nothing to stop us getting one here. We had a small earthquake here once, I was one of the few who felt it. The map on the right shows the area of the States which is most likely to get tornadoes, and if you follow that due North, guess where we are? Tornado Alley is more in the centre though and we are located somewhat to the right of that. Being in a tall building, I have no idea what would happen if a tornado hit it and there are lots of buildings much taller in this area let alone anywhere else. They are not unknown in Europe, I once saw a waterspout travelling up the river Medway which is in the south east of England.

This morning I have to go peel a couple of pounds of shrimp which will be cooked and marinaded for the Japanese Gingered Shrimp recipe I posted the other day. Matt, having once had an allergic reaction to being stuck with the feeler of a shrimp when he was out shrimping in NC one time, won't have anything to do with peeling them, not even if they have been cooked before hand. My policy is, if you don't peel them, you don't eat them when it comes to peel and eat shrimp. We used to go to a friend's who had a shrimper and used to produce stacks of shrimp and back fin crabs. We would sit at tables covered in newspapers and pick crabs or peel shrimp to our heart's content. Matt would not do either. He likes the meat of the crabs, but is too lazy to pick them. He thought it wasn't worth it as there is so little meat on each crab. It was worth it to me and several others. I used to really enjoy those meals. This picture shows some crab, but we used to have lots more. I don't think I have any pictures of those times, too busy eating. I was just telling a friend about my father missing out on a piece of lobster claw which he thought still had shell on and was too lazy to crack and then I picked it up and popped it in my mouth.

I recently bought a can of crab and when I got round to eating it, it was pretty tasteless. Makes me long for the days of all those crabs which were so delicious. Along with the oysters I was raving about a couple of days or so ago of course.

A friend of mine and I used to go to the Maritime museum in Beaufort, NC (pronouced bofort, in SC its pronounced biewfort) where they had talks on local seafood of various kinds and showed us how to cook them. One time, of course, it was backfin crabs which they showed us how to shell properly and then what to do with them. From this I picked up one of the best crab cake recipes I have found. I could actually taste the crab in them, it is not overpowered by all the additions. JoAnne was one of the people giving the talk.

JoAnne's Crab Cakes
Serves: 6

2 C crab meat
1/2 t salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch cayenne
2 eggs beaten
fine bread crumbs
1 T mayonnaise
4 T margarine or butter

Melt butter in fry pan. Mix crab meat with seasonings, eggs and mayonnaise. Add bread crumbs to thicken to a soft moulding consistency. Spoon in to pan and sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve.

Looking at that picture, I could eat those right now. Yum.

Have a great day.