Saturday, January 31, 2009

Books, Yesterday, Grammar,

I am currently reading the most recent Jim Butcher novel in his Codex Alera series. This one is called Princeps Fury. I must admit I am not enjoying it as much as the previous books in this series. It seems a little more contrived. I usually enjoy Jim Butcher's writing very much. Especially his Harry Dresden books which although about ghouls and things that go bump in the night, are, nevertheless, hilarious. He really has a very good sense of humour. Tonight we are going to some friend's for dinner so we don't have to worry about cooking which makes a nice change. Yesterday, by the way, I tried bowling. Didn't really work. I stood at the base line and threw the ball down the alley, but the ball just didn't want to go anywhere I wanted. My hip is too painful to move like I normally do. Even all the walking up and down to the baseline (which was considerably increased by having to bowl all three balls practically every time) was wearing on it, so after the second game, I gave it up as a bad job. However, at least my wrist seems to be quite a bit better. When we got to the bowling alley, there were two great big beer trucks parked across the entry to the parking lot. We drove round back to the second entry to discover someone had parked a pickup across four spaces so no-0ne else could use them. We finally managed to find a spot as someone else pulled out. But how very inconsiderate people are. I have trouble with certain incorrect uses of English grammar, particularly when people talk of a criminal as being hung. A picture is hung on the wall, a man is hanged. It's an intransitive verb. Yesterday I talked to another bowler we have known a few years, he used to be an English teacher. I asked him about it, I wondered if kids are not taught this in North America. He assures me that they are. I drive Matt nuts when they say hung in TV movies and other programmes because I always yell out "hanged" - I wish they could hear me. I just found this cartoon entitled Bush Tortures English Grammar *g*. If any of you will be watching the Super Bowl tomorrow and enjoying snacks to go with it, here is one from The Best Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook. Mushroom Caviar The name caviar refers to the dark colour and texture of this dish of chopped mushrooms. Serve the mushroom mixture in individual serving dishes with toasted rye bread rubbed with cut garlic cloves to accompany. Chopped hard-boiled egg, spring onion and parsley, the traditional garnishes for caviar, can be added as garnish for this dish. Serves 4 1 lb. mushrooms, coarsely chopped 5-10 shallots, chopped 4 garlic cloves, chopped 3 tbs olive or vegetable oil. 1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Season with salt, then continue cooking until the mushrooms give up their liquor. 2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the liquor has evaporated and the mushrooms are brown and dry. 3. Put the mixture in a food processor or blender and process briefly until a chunky paste is formed. Spoon the mushroom caviar into dishes and serve. Extras: For a rich wild mushroom caviar, soak 1/2 oz. dried porcini in about 1/2 cup water for about 30 mins. Add the porcini and their soaking liquid to the browned mushrooms in step 2. Continue as in the recipe. Serve with wedges of lemon, for their tangy juice. Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 30, 2009

On Becoming Canadian, Extreme Texting, Octuplets

As I am writing this section, it is Thursday night and I have just heard a report on yet another school, this time in New Brunswick, which has stopped playing the Canadian National Anthem at assembly because of the protest of some parents. I, along with many, many others, am sick and tired of this kowtowing to people from other countries and other religions who have emigrated here and persist in trying to change the beliefs and practices of Canada. Basically, if you don't like it, go back home. If your home is too dangerous, sorry, (isn't that why you came here?) adapt or go somewhere else. Why should Canada change to suit you? Matt and I are immigrants and we did everything we could to behave as Canadians and to follow the practices of Canada, we did NOT try and dictate how people should live. If you want to practice another way of life, you are free (to a lot of immigrants that is a strange word), yes FREE to do so in your own homes, but do not inflict your beliefs and practices on our schools or anywhere else. We are Canadians first, foremost and finally. Let's face it, if any one of us tried to go live in some of the originating countries, we would get short shrift trying to enforce our religions or practices there. Canada is exceptionally tolerant with its immigrants, but take the hint, this is Canada, nowhere else. Today there was a segment on Good Morning America about kids and texting - there are some who are 'extreme' texters and send something like 28,000 texts a month. One kid racked up a $700 phone bill until her parents bought her an unlimited plan - I am surprised the parents paid it. I know what I would have done, farewell allowance. They swear it doesn't affect their school work or get in the way of their lives in general. I don't see how that can be true. If you'd like to read the story click here for the GMA segment. Another item in the news at the moment is the woman who has just given birth to octuplets and has now been discovered to have 6 children at home already. Read here, she is apparently unmarried and lives with her parents. I wonder where all the money is coming from to bring up these children. Another simple recipe this morning from The Best Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook. Beef Cooked in Red Wine Shin of beef is traditionally quite a tough cut that needs long, slow cooking and marinating the beef in red wine gives a tender result. Sprinkle the stew with rosemary and serve with mashed potatoes. Serves four to six. 1 1/2 lbs. boned and cubed shin of beef (any stewing beef) 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 bottle fruity red wine Salt and ground black pepper Put the beef in a casserole dish with the garlic and some black pepper and pour over the red wine. Stir to combine, then cover and chill for at least 12 hours. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F. Cover the casserole with a tight fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve piping hot. Variation: Marinate the beef in a mixture of half port and half beef stock instead of the red wine. Port cooks down to produce a lovely rich sauce, but be sure to dilute it with stock because it can be quite overpowering on its own. A half and half mixture will give the perfect balance of taste. Have a great day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

White Rabbit

I'm late, I'm late For a very important date No time to say Hullo, Goodbye I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.
I won't be bowling today, but Matt will and I slept in this morning. Sorry guys. We have to be at a restaurant at 11:30 for lunch with bowling at 1:00.
African Tomato-Avocado-Buttermilk Soup 3 lb Tomatoes, peeled and seeded 2 Tbs Tomato paste 1 cup Buttermilk 1 Tbs Olive oil 1 Avocado, mashed to a puree Juice of 1 lemon 2 Tbs Finely minced fresh parsley Salt and pepper to taste Hot pepper sauce Garnish: 1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced, sour cream, plain yogurt, or creme fraiche 1 Purée tomatoes in a food processor or food mill, then press through a sieve to remove seeds. In a large mixing bowl, beat the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, buttermilk, and oil. Toss pureed avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice to hold the color. Add the avocado, remaining lemon juice, and parsley to the tomato mixture; stir to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and a generous number of drops of hot pepper sauce. Refrigerate several hours before serving. 2 At serving time, taste soup for seasonings. Ladle into individual bowls and have guests garnish their portions with cucumber and sour cream. Pass hot pepper sauce around to add more piquancy. Servings: 8 Recipe Source Source: Sankofa Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Travelling Butterflies, Wall-E, Bowen Therapy

Last night we watched a fascinating programme about the migration of Monarch Butterflies. A lot of it I knew about, such as their 2,000 mile flight from Canada and the Northern States to Mexico. Apparently a lot of the area where they spend their winter in Mexico is being destroyed by illegal logging. One day there may not be any more Monarchs. They use the large trees on which they congregate for warmth; less large trees, less warmth. Then they set off in the spring and make it as ar as Texas where they mate, lay thousands of eggs and then die. The Texas butterflies then head north once they are hatched and stop again to mate and lay. They do this about 4 times with the last hatching taking place in Canada and the Northern States. These then start the cycle again, flying back to Mexico in one hit. An incredible story. If you want to check on the Nova site click here where there is some video from the programme. The village in Mexico close to the mountain areas where they winter, depends on the influx of the butterflies to make a living by attracting tourists to see the huge swarms of the insects (see picture, that's butterflies not snow). I remember, years ago, a woman I met, telling me she had been in one of the forest areas and when the butterflies all lifted from the trees, she had been quite scared. I forgot to mention, yesterday, that I had rented Wall-E on Monday. I watched and enjoyed it, but not enough to purchase the DVD. Matt, having decided it was kid's stuff, went and played a game on the computer! I thought it was a cute movie. Of course I like movies about little robots with human characteristics. One thing I wasn't too sure of, he had a pet cockroach, sorry, me no likee cockroaches. I went to have Bowen Treatment yesterday too, it is so relaxing apart from anything else. I think my hip is somewhat improved, I was certainly walking a bit better last night. I have another appointment next week, but as I am supposed to bowl Thursday, Friday and Monday, I think I may be giving it a miss. Especially as I am having wrist (carpal tunnel) problems as well. The Let It Heal clinic had a go at that too. It is better, but again not yet 100%. I'm really in the wars this week. Another recipe from Food and Drink magazine. This again is actually an advertisement for Real Cream, but I thought it looked cook. I love scallops and when we lived in North Carolina I used to buy a gallon of bay scallops every year, split them up into meal sized portions and freeze them. Seared Scallops with Baby Spinach and Potatoes Scallops make a stunning centrepiece for a special meal yet they're very simple and quick to prepare. The light cream sauce provides a lovely finishing touch. 12 baby red or white potatoes 1 1/2 lbs. large sea scallops (about 16) salt and pepper 1 tbs butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 cup 35% whipping cream 3 cups fresh baby spinach Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. In a saucepan cover them with cold water; bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1/2 tsp salt; reduce heat and boil gently for about 20 mins. or until fork tender. Drain; cut potatoes into thin slices, keeping the shape intact. Keep warm. Meanwhile, rinse scallops and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and swirl to coat pan. Add scallops and brown for about 2 mins. per side, turning once. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Reduce heat to medium-low; add garlic and sauté 1 min. or until fragrant. Add wine and simmer; stirring, until reduced by about half. Add cream and return to a boil, stirring. Boil gently, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return scallops to pan; turn to coat in sauce. Simmer for 1 minute or until just slightly firm at the edges. Fan 3 potatoes in the centre of each serving plate; top with spinch. Arrange scallops around spinach; drizzle with sauce. Cooking Tips: Be sure not to over-cook scallops to keep them nice and tender. They should be well browned and firm just around the edges. You can substitute 18% table cream whisked with 1 tbs flour for the 35% cream if desired. Have a great day

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicken Wings and Superbowl. Hips and Bowen

I haven't had chicken wings for ages and have recently been having a bit of a craving for them. However, in the States the Superbowl is coming up at the end of the month and someone on the radio was talking about snacks for a Superbowl party. She mentioned that 7 chicken wings is equal to 1,000 calories. One thousand calories!!!! I guess I won't be giving in to my craving after all. I once went to a Superbowl party at a friend's home and thoroughly enjoyed it. He was an American football nut and I actually understood what was going on for the first and only time. Actually today's recipe would also be good for a Superbowl party. A warning - I may not be around much for a while. My hip is beginning to give me a lot of pain so I might have to have something done. I don't want to right now as it is in the middle of our bowling season and just having got my own bowling balls, etc. etc. plus tournaments coming up. However, I am going to Let It Heal for some Bowen Therapy and noon today and hopefully it will help. I have a lot of faith in Bowen Therapy which helped me a lot last time I went to them. This pain came on very suddenly after bowling yesterday, I was fine whilst I was actually playing, but about an hour later, ow. Not only that I was playing really badly so I have no consolation whatsoever *g*. Some of you may not know that I already had one hip replaced about 4 years ago. I am not as bionic as Matt who has had two hips and a knee replaced. Hips are basically a doddle, knees are NOT funny however. I always enjoy Bruschetta (pronounced Brusketta by the way) and the Food and Drink magazine has a nice one. Focaccia Bruschetta with Roasted Red Pepper and Bocconcini Warm, substantial nibbles with drinks add to fireside relaxation. Fresh basil is an indulgence as is focaccia and combined they make these toasts memorable. The focaccia pieces should be sliced 3/4 inch thick and about 4 inches long. Topping 3 large sweet red peppers 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 1 tbs olive oil 1 tsp balsamic vinegar 1 large clove garlic, minced 2 tsp dry leaf oregano 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper 5 oz bocconcini 2 tbs toasted pine nuts Bruschetta 12 to 16 slices focaccia 2 tbs olive oil Roast peppers under broiler, turning frequently until skins are bubbling and blackened in places. Cool; then peel and seed. Slice peppers into strips, place in a bowl. Stir in basil, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper,until well mixed Dice cheese; there should be about 1 cup. Stir cheese and pine nuts into red pepper mixture (if making ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to a day). When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Rub focaccia on both cut sides with olive oil. Toast each side 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Top each slice with some of the pepper mixture, pressing gently to secure atop focaccia. Return to the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until topping is hot and cheese is melted. Transfer to a warmed serving platter; serve immediately. My note: If you are unfamiliar with bocconcini, they are the small round buffalo mozzarella cheeses. Makes 12 to 16 nibbles. Have a great day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

TV Ads, TV Movies,

Watching TV this weekend, I decided that nothing is sacred any more. They were advertising his and her KY Jelly and ExtenZe for increased sexual gratification. Some of this during movies with Parental Guidance classifications. I suppose if you are allowed to watch a PG movie you are considered old enough for the other stuff. When I was younger, anyone who advertised a bra in a magazine was looked at askance - how things have changed. Talking of TV, we watched The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) with Sir Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and William Holden. Its still a good movie although the TV ads were breaking it up very badly and making it very slow going. Alec Guinness in particular was brilliant in the part. Jack Hawkins I always loved. Unfortunately both he and William Holden are no longer with us. Some of it I remembered, a lot of it I had forgotten. It is many years since I saw that movie and I only ever saw it the one time. We have a channel called Turner Classic Movies which shows nothing but old films, some of which are great to see once again, or to see for the first time. I had never seen Casablanca until quite recently. This is a recipe which was part of a Campbell's Soup ad in Food and Drink which I liked the sound of. I personally would probably add some salt to this recipe but obviously it is a matter of preference. Coarse Carrot and Ginger Soup 2 cups coarsely chopped carrot 3/4 cup each coarsely chopped onion and potato 1 tbs butter 1 carton Campbell's Chicken Broth 1 1/2 tbs minced fresh ginger root 1/8 tsp ground black pepper 1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro Cook and stir carrots, onion and potato in heated butter in large saucepan over medium heat until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes Stir in broth, ginger and black pepper. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook at a gentle boil for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat Blend mixture in saucepan to desired smoothness with a hand blender. Return soup to heat, stir in cilantro and heat mixture through.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Crime Story,

This morning I got caught up in a report written by Marilyn Tomlins of French Marilyn's Blog (see link this page) her article on the Austrian Ogre, click here is about an incest and rape case with a monster who kept his daughter imprisoned from the time she was 18 for 24 years. Do read it, a very interesting article, but a horrifying story. Lots of the blogs I follow had new posts today so this took me some time to catch up. The other day we picked up a new Food and Drink from the Liquor Board. I haven't had time to read it yet, but the cover picture really appealed to me so I looked up the recipe and am going to pass it on to you. Cider-Braised Ontario Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic Heritage breeds of pork, like Berkshire, reveal just how good pork can tast. The chops often have a good layer of fat: leave it on for cooking as it adds to their flavour. 4 Berkshire pork chops, (or whatever is available to you) cut 1 inch thick. Seas salt and freshly ground pepper 1 to 2 tbs lard or olive oil 1 head of garlic, broken into cloves but not peeled 1 cup hard dry cider 2 cooking apples, cored 12 fresh sage leaves Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Pat the chops dry and season. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat melt half the lard and then brown the chops, in batches, and add more lard if necessary, 2 or three minutes per side. While the chops are browning, place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, pour in the cider and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Cut each apple crosswise into 4 slices Place the apple slices in a baking dish and then place the browned chops on top. Remove the frying pan from the heat and pour in the garlic and cider, stirring to deglaze the pan. Pour this mixture over the chops; there should be just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the dish. Top the chops with the sage leaves and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the juices from the chops just run clear. Serve each chop with two apple slices, then spoon over the liquid with 3 sage leaves per chop and divide the garlic between the plates. To squeeze the garlic out of the skins, just press with your fork. Serves 4. Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Roadside Statues, Trailers and Whitefish

Not to be outdone by Glenda Larke's post today about a big sheep statue in Western Australia (Tropic Temper link, this page) I thought I would add a couple from Ontario. The Wawa Goose is particularly well known and is seen upon entering town. Wawa is considerably up North from here and above the shores of Lake Superior. A little further south is Sudbury where they have the Sudbury Nickel. A nickel, by the way, is a 5¢ piece. In Sudbury they have nickel mines as it is the site of two meteor strikes, one which left the rich nickel and metal deposits and the other formed Lake Wapiti. On our one trip up to this part of Canada, we saw both these statues. We did this trip as our first major voyage around Ontario and rented a camper trailer something like the one in this picture although not as big. I enjoyed it, but it annoyed me that you had to pack stuff away every time you moved in order to wind down the tent part of the trailer. When we finally bought a trailer, it was not that kind but a regular trailer, or caravan in the UK. We had a lot of fun travelling with it and in a way, we are sorry we don't still have it. One thing that always stands out in our minds is our stop at a trailer park quite near to Thunder Bay. We borrowed a small rowboat and went off pretty early in the morning to a recommended lake, Jessie Lake, fishing rods and lunch in hand. Having launched the boat we trawled for a while with nothing happening and then decided to stop rowing and just cast our lures over the side. Suddenly we got bites and ended up catching 7 huge fish. We had no idea what we had caught until we got back to the camp site later and were told they where Whitefish which we had never heard of. We gave two of them away and grilled the on our little Hibachi. They lasted us a couple of nights. They were delicious eating. Had we had the right equipment we could have caught more, not that we needed them, but we were not geared up for such big fish. It was probably on that trip that we first heard Loons. I have mentioned them before, but on Jessie Lake that morning, with the mist still clinging to the water, you could hear them calling all around you. It is an incredibly haunting sound. I wish I was as lyrical a writer as my son-in-law (Scolopax Chronicles) he would have made that sound as wonderful as it was. The loon is such an archetypical sound of Ontario. We even have one pictured on our $1 coin. Which is known, funnily enough, as a Loonie. We used to have paper bills for both $1 and $2 but not any more. The $2 is a Toonie and you never hear either coin called anything else. How about something for breakfast? From the Three and Four Ingredient Coobook. Crunchy Oat Cereal Serve this tasty crunchy cereal simply with milk or, for a a real treat with yogurt and fresh fruit such as raspberries or blueberries. Serves 6 1 1/4 cups jumbo rolled oats 1 1/4 cups pecan nuts, roughly chopped 6 Tbs maple syrup 6 tbs butter Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F. Mix all the ingredients together and spread on to a large baking tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. Leave to cool then break up into clumps and serve This crunchy cereal will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Store in a cool dry place. You can use other types of nuts if you prefer. Try roughly chopped almonds or hazelnuts, or a mixture. Have a great day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vacation, Oscars,

How annoying, I booked up two weeks in a cottage on Emerald Isle, North Carolina yesterday, then went looking for 'out of country health insurance'. Not one company will sell it to me this far ahead, so now I have had to cancel our cottage reservation. Once upon a time the insurance coverage Matt had from his employment used to cover us when we travelled, but not any more. The current employees would rather have that money in their pockets, along with several other benefits which used to be available and aren't any longer. At our ages we daren't travel without such insurance. The only place we can go to is the UK where we are still covered by National Insurance, thankfully. Or, of course, we can travel in Canada. Its a big country. Its also not as inexpensive as travelling in the US. This morning the Oscar nominations were announced. One film, Milk, got a lot of nominations, I am not a big movie follower admittedly, but I had never heard of this one before. Wall-e got a nomination in the animated category - I still have to rent that one - as did Kung Fu Panda which I enjoyed. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button got a lot of nominations. Although The Dark Night was expected to be nominated in the Best Film Category, it wasn't. If you are interested in the details click here and see who was nominated for what. Here is another fish recipe, fish being so very good for you, particularly wild caught salmon which is the most healthy fish around due to its high content of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is a very simple dish from Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook. The original recipe calls for a whole salmon which you then proceed to clean and dress. I wouldn't bother and I suspect most of my readers wouldn't. Baked Salmon with Caraway Seeds. This classic Czech way of cooking salmon is very easy and gives excellent results. The fish cooks in its own juices, taking on the lovely warm flavour of the caraway seeds. Serve sprinkled with flat leaf parsley and lemon wedges for squeezing over the fish. 4 salmon fillets or steaks 1/2 - 1 tsp caraway seeds 3 Tbs lemon juice From the store cupboard 1/2 cup melted butter Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place the salmon, skin-side down, in a lightly greased roasting pan. Brush with the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle over the caraway seeds and drizzle with lemon juice. Cover the salmon loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, lift off the foil and test the fish. (The fish should be opaque and flake easily. Return to the oven if necessary). Remove the foil and lift the fish onto a serving plate. It may be served hot or cold. Serves 4. Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Obama's, The Longest Day

I didn't know if we would, but we watched the inauguration - they made a bit of a botch of the swearing in didn't they. However, his speech was excellent. Apart from the subject, he is very impressive in his ability to talk for a half hour without reference to one bit of paper. His speech didn't hold any punches either, I haven't seen (and don't want to) any of the thousand of analyses which I am sure have been on TV, but I can imagine quite a number of political fat cats will not have liked it. Michelle Obama's outfit was attractive. It is described as being lemon grass yellow, but it looked gold in most lights. It was made of lace backed by wool and layered with some sparklies around the neck. Watching Obama himself, I was fascinated by the lapel pin of the American flag which was flashing in the sunlight. I was wondering what it was made of. The way it was catching the light, it could well have been diamonds. I can't find anything which tells me about its composition, just political stuff about his wearing it or not wearing it. Michelle Obama's ball gown wasn't widely featured this morning although I managed to find some pictures of it. It was a creamy satin appliquéed with white flowers in a one shouldered design. The pictures of them dancing together show them both looking very happy as I guess they should. He has made the top job in the country after all. I hope he will continue to look as happy as his term progresses. I wouldn't want to try and sort out the mess he has inherited. Last night we watched The Longest Day which is about D-Day on June 6, 1944. We have seen it several times before but it is an excellent movie. Absolutely everyone is in it - well as far as male actors go, there aren't too many females in the cast. The cast list must read like a who's who in the cinema. I am not sure how long the film really is, but it went on for four hours which, of course, included lots of advertising. If you've never seen it, its worth watching and will tell you what your parents and grandparents or even great grandparents, went through on that day. I forgot to boast about my bowling on Monday, I got four strikes in a row. For me that is totally unheard of. I was thrilled to bits. In fact out of three games, only one wasn't very good. I don't understand why this happens, nor does anyone else of course. If you watch the top bowlers on TV they too end up with stupid things happening to them. I found this soup in my United Nations cookbook. I thought it looked an interesting soup and that is always something I enjoy. Finnish Summer Vegetable Soup (Kesäkeitto) Serves 6 4 small carrots, diced 6 oz. green peas 1/2 small cauliflower, broken in small florets 3 small new potatoes, diced 4 oz. French beans, sliced 4 radishes, cut in half Boiling water 2 level tsp. salt 1 1/2 level tbs sugar 3 oz. chopped spinach 3/4 oz. butter 1 1/2 level tbs flour 1 egg yolk 3/4 pt. milk 4 Tbs cream 6 oz. shrimp, cooked and deveined. Combine all prepared vegetables, except spinach, in a large pan. Cover with boiling water; add salt and sugar and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Combine melted butter and flour in a second pan; combine egg, milk and cream then stir into butter and flour. Add cooked vegetables and some of the liquid (not more than 3/4 pint). Add shrimp and heat through. Serve hot immediately. NOTE: These measurements are for an English pint which is 20 fl. oz. Have a great day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

South African Dinner, Dutch Skating, Snow

Here are some pictures from our South African Dinner Around the World on Saturday. It was all pretty successful I am pleased to say. This is Matt tucking into his Avocado Ritz which was very good. We ate that course with a very nice Canadian Special Reserve Chardonnay. You will notice I still have my Christmas Poinsettia. The main meal of Bobotie and Yellow Rice was eaten accompanied by a bottle of Stormy Bay Cabernet Sauvignon which came from Western Cape in South Africa. Our friends brought this wine. I also did a salad of tomatoes and onions which really went well with the Bobotie. We had enough left of the main course and the dessert for supper last night. The dessert (I posted a picture on Saturday) was very good too although I was a tad disappointed in some of the texture. I may have goofed somewhere. Everyone else really enjoyed it so that was the main thing. In fact everyone enjoyed the whole meal which was the object of the exercise. I now hear from my friend in South Africa, that she usually makes her Bobotie with ground beef as lamb is so expensive. Its not cheap here. I look really serious in this picture don't I? Don't get many pix of me these days since I got a digital camera. I was still cooking so I had my apron on. I wasn't expecting my friend to take the picture quite so quickly. I actually think I look half cut in this picture, but I assure you I wasn't. Even the leftovers were fine and we still have some Milk Tert for tonight. It didn't seem quite so wrong last night as it had on Saturday. But I think I would like to make it again one of these days to see if I hadn't quite nicked the nick the first time. Yesterday a friend sent me a link to some interesting pictures in the Netherlands where everything is apparently pretty well frozen and people are skating on the canals and rivers and vendors are selling drinks and hot dogs etc. I thought I would post one picture as it is so typical of the area with the windmills in the background. If you would like to see the rest of them click here. It is many years since I was last in Holland which is what we always used to call it although my friends assure me that Netherlands is the correct term and Holland is the name of a county. I have fond memories of both their food and their chocolate, both of which were very good. It has been snowing most of the weekend, we sure are getting a healthy dose of it this winter. It seems to go in cycles - maybe of 10 years. It occurs to me I didn't post the recipe for Avocado Ritz as shown above. So here it is courtesy of Recitopia UK. Avocado Ritz Avocado's are a favorite South African fruit and are often used in starters and salads. This dish is quick to prepare and is always well received when the weather is hot. 3 ripe avocado's 300g of shrimps, well drained Seafood sauce (see my recipe below) Juice of 1 small lemon Salt Cayenne pepper Iceberg Lettuce Leaves Chopped parsley 1 Cut the avocado's in half and remove the stones. Dip the edges in lemon juice. Season with salt and Cayenne pepper. 2 Place avocado's on a bed of lettuce leaves. Fill with shrimp and spoon seafood sauce on the top of each one. 3 Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Servings: 6 The seafood sauce I used is the one I use for Shrimp Cocktails and is as follows: Cocktail Sauce Cookery in Colour 3 Tbs thick mayonnaise 1 Tbs tomato ketchup or thick tomato purèe 1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce 1 Tbs lemon juice 1 tsp finely chopped onion 1 tsp finely chopped celery salt to taste Mix together all of the ingredients. If you wish, you can substitute the lemon juice with a Tbs of brandy. Have a great day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Savants and Heroes

Last night's programme Mysteries of the Mind, was all about savants. It was called Brain Man. There is a young man from England, Daniel Tammet, who is able to do incredible math in his head. They showed him reciting the numbers of Pi or π for 5 hours, most mathematicians stop at about 10 places, you can see this incredible young man at where there is a video about him. He learned Icelandic in a week at the end of which time he was interviewed on Icelandic TV and was able to converse easily with the interviewers. He reckons he doesn't actually do calculations, he just sees pictures and gets the answers. Scientists are really delighted with him as he is totally coherent unlike so many savants who's social skills are not good. They also showed him meeting the savant, Kim Peek, in California who was the model for Dustin Hoffman's Rainman. Kim Peek, who has another incredible brain, is able to absorb 2 pages of a book in 10 seconds and then to retain whatever he reads. Do watch the video, it is absolutely fascinating. There is a lot of news coverage at the moment about the plane which went down in the Hudson river. The pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, is being praised as a hero because of his excellent handling of the ditching. They interviewed one woman this morning who texted her husband with the message "my plane is crashing", she said she didn't have time to write "I love you" or anything else but she just wanted her husband to know she was definitely on that plane. Yesterday I made my Melk Tert for tonight. It seems to have worked very well although obviously I won't know until we eat it this evening. Later on I will be making the Bobotie with Yellow Rice and the Avocado Ritz. This picture shows it just out of the oven. The recipe I used for the Melk Tert was as follows: South African Melktert (Milk Tart) Author: TWAKMUIS "My 'ouma' South African grandmother's legendary milk tart. It is lipsmacking. The recipe is a real winner. It is a traditional South African tart that is very easy to prepare." 3 Tbs butter, melted 1 cup white sugar 3 egg yolks 1 cup cake flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 4 cups milk 3 egg white 1 Tbs cinnamon sugar 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Coat a 9 inch deep dish pie plate with vegetable oil cooking spray. 2 In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and milk. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric mixer. Fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pie plate, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top. 3 Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center is set when you gently jiggle the pie. Serve hot or cold. Servings: 8 Have a great day.