Thursday, April 30, 2009

Voyage of the Courtesans, Rollovers and Spring.

Last night we watched a fascinating programme called Voyage of the Courtesans. Part of Public Television's series called Secrets of the Dead, it detailed the known histories of the ship The Lady Juliana which transported some 200 women to Sydney in 1789 to assist in the establishment of the colony which had been begun a few years earlier. All these women were either thieves, prostitutes or con artists. Their story is absolutely fascinating and they were the saviours of that early colony. If you would like to read the full story and see a video click here and see how the women turned the whole thing around and became successful business women both on the ship and in their new country. Many of the details of their histories have been unearthed by the descendants of these women. One 11 yr old child who was deported on the Lady Juliana died at 84 being the ancestor of 300 people, so was a real pioneer. Funnily enough there is a story in Matt's ancestry of a female (Annie I think) criminal shipped to Australia and who was married to an ancestor of his. She never had children though; her husband didn't get a divorce but lived with another woman for many years until he heard Annie had died - he then married his mistress. I have heard, in the past, that having a criminal in your background has become something of a cachet for Australians. I just heard a frightening statistic, apparently there is a car roll over every hour in the States. Not sure if that applies to Canada as well. They were talking about strengthening the laws regarding how strong the roof of a car is, many are so flimsy that in a roll over they crush easily killing the occupants. I remember someone we knew doing this when we were in Spain many years ago, they were young friends of my parents and we had all been out to dinner and having a few drinks, he had had too many and we tried to stop him driving, even getting his keys and giving them to his wife, unfortunately she gave them back to him. Luckily they ended up with bumps and bruises, but it could have been much worse. The best safety tip on this was "don't get into a rollover". Although the weather isn't very warm or particularly sunny yet, spring has certainly sprung around here. Looking at all the trees at the front of our building, I can see new growth appearing and the grass is now very green once more after being buried under snow for so long. I love that delicate, soft green which appears only at this time of year. There is lots of Forsythia in flower too; on one street when we drive to the store, there are several bushes and it looks so lovely driving past. However, Tim Barrie of Barrie's Asparagus says they need some more warm days before the asparagus will be ready, so I have my fingers crossed for the sun to put in a more regular appearance. We got a new Food and Drink magazine yesterday and there are some good recipes which I will share later, right now, time is somewhat limited as I have a busy day, Travel League bowling this afternoon and then a bowling banquet this evening. However, I got an ezine from Hershey's yesterday and saw a recipe which appealed to me. Easy Butter and Peanut Chip Pie Ingredients:
  • 1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips, divided
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 1 cup (1/2 pt.)cold whipping cream, divided
  • 1 packaged chocolate or graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 1. Beat cream cheese and lemon juice in medium bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes; set aside. 2. Place 1 cup peanut butter chips and sweetened condensed milk in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 45 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. 3. Add warm peanut butter mixture to cream cheese mixture. Beat on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Beat 1/2 cup whipping cream in small bowl until stiff; fold into peanut butter mixture. Pour into crust. Cover; refrigerate several hours or overnight until firm. 4. Just before serving, combine remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Beat until stiff; spread over filling. Garnish with remaining peanut butter chips. Cover; refrigerate leftover pie. 6 to 8 servings.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flu, Old Movies, Asparagus

The airwaves are still filled with talk about swine flu although now we hear that the pigs are very healthy in Mexico so why is it being called swine flu? There has been one death reported, a 23 month old child. One doc this morning said sadly there were likely to be more. Another doctor said unless you are in the medical profession and therefore dealing with patients all the time, she didn't think wearing a mask was necessary. The general advice seems to be the same as for any flu, wash your hands a lot and sneeze into your sleeve or a Kleenex which you should immediately throw away. In other words practice good hygiene. Watched another old movie last night, this time with Jimmy Stewart and Audie Murphy. Night Passage, a cowboy movie. I am not usually very keen on cowboy movies but quite enjoyed this one. I do like Jimmy Stewart although I could never get on with his film Harvey about an imaginary giant bunny. I have tried to watch that two or three times but always end up switching it off. We do enjoy a lot of the old movies, there were some wonderful actors around, most of whom have left us now. Isn't it great that we have film to remember them by? Nothing very interesting happening in my life at the moment I'm afraid. I am just sitting around waiting for the asparagus to grow *g*. Although with the lack of sun, that may not happen too soon. I recently found this recipe which I am planning to try once the fresh produce is out. Sole is an excellent fish and combined with asparagus, what could be better? SOLE WITH ASPARAGUS Source: Produce for Better Health 1 lb Asparagus 1 lb Sole fillets (4 pieces approximately the same size) 1/4 tsp Salt 1/2 tsp Grated lemon or lime peel 4 Tbs Lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed 1/8 tsp Black pepper 1 Tbs Chives, finely chopped 1 tsp Your favorite mildly flavored mustard 1 Cut asparagus into 3 inch lengths. Cook in 2-quart saucepan in lightly salted water for 5 minutes, drain. Set aside. 2 Season the skin side of the sole fillets with salt and lemon or lime peel. 3 Place asparagus spears at one end of each fillet. 4 Roll up fillets with asparagus spears inside and secure with plain round toothpicks. 5 Place in a 2-quart oven-save casserole dish liberally sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. 6 In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients and pour over fish. 7 Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. 8 Baste fish every 7 minutes. Servings: 4 Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu, Movies, Books

The main topic on the news at the moment is Swine Flu. What, I asked myself, is swine flu? Then I got an email from WebMD talking about it and giving me information. If you would like to read it click here. Basically it says swine flu is influenza which affects pigs and normally does not affect humans. However, for some reason this virus is affecting us. As far as I can see, its spreading rapidly. Sort of "yesterday in Mexico, tomorrow the world" scenario. The WebMD site gives you information on how to diagnose it and what to do about it. On TV you see lots of people wearing masks. If you go this route, do make sure you have a proper mask. There are masks and then there are masks - I remember during the SARS scare discovering that some of the masks available to the public are not worth using and are not effective at all so make sure from your pharmacy that you are getting one which will really do the job. Last night we watched Sabrina on TV - the original was one of my favourite movies and starred William Holden, Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. The one on TV was a remake and had been done very well. The principle name was Harrison Ford who was excellent with Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. Matt enjoyed it although it is a love story and I would think very much a chic flic. It was made in 1995 so I guess it is already classified as a classic movie but we had never seen this version before. I am reading an unusual fantasy book at the moment, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett. So far it is basically Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters with magic thrown in. I gather that is the author's premise, what if those books had been written with magic. At first I didn't like it, but now I am enjoying the story - I believe it is intended as a trilogy. The first section has strong flavours of Pride and Prejudice, then we go onto flavourings of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I have just started the third section. Yesterday was our last bowling for the Monday Senior League, we have one more for the Friday group and then next Monday we do some fun bowling, have a few awards handed out and end up having a 'banquet' at 4:00 which we have paid for during the season. On Thursday this week is our last Travel League and Thursday night our 'banquet' for the bowling alley which doesn't exist any more. It is still a fun get together for us and we all bowl in the travel league anyway. Eating Well are currently promoting low cost healthy meals which are always a good idea. In their new ezine I liked the look of several recipes, this being one. I like risottos, I like barley and I like fennel so where can I go wrong.
Barley Risotto with Fennel Eating Well

Makes 6 servings, generous 1 cup each


2 teaspoons fennel seeds 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds 1 cup pearl barley or short-grain brown rice 1 small carrot, finely chopped 1 large shallot, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or �no-chicken� broth 1-1 ½ cups water, divided ⅓ cup dry white wine 2 cups frozen French-cut green beans ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese ⅓ cup pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest Freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a saucepan. Combine the fennel seeds, diced fennel, barley (or rice), carrot, shallot and garlic in the slow cooker. Add broth, 1 cup water and wine, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the barley (or rice) is tender, but pleasantly chewy, and the risotto is thick and creamy, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours on high or low. 2. Shortly before serving, cook green beans according to package instructions and drain. Turn off the slow cooker. Stir the green beans, Parmesan, olives, lemon zest and pepper into the risotto. If it seems dry, heat the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir it into the risotto. Serve sprinkled with the chopped fennel fronds.


Prepare fennel, carrot, shallot and garlic. Combine broth, 1 cup water and wine. Refrigerate in separate covered containers for up to 1 day.

Have a great day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Brilliant Singer, Lavender

Britain's Got Talent once again. A 10 yr. old singer with an incredible voice. She stunned the panel who just accepted her as another little girl who wanted to be a ballerina, then she started singing I Could Have Danced All Night. Hollie Steel, is her name, Simon Cowell said she should leave out the ballet dancing bit. I agreed with him although her father said he was so proud when he watched her dance. There are now three big contenders for first place. I missed one but Susan Boyle was anohter of them. If you haven't seen any of these performances, you should check them out on YouTube. Talking to friends at the weekend about lavender which I consider one of the greatest perfumes of the world. This made me think of Herbes du Provence which is - to us - an almost essential seasoning to have available. There is argument about whether it should contain lavender or not, to me, without it, it just isn't Herbes du Provence. As for making soaps and such, I personally would leave it to Yardley's who make the most wonderfully fragrant lavender products - I tried making soap once, it is a pain in the butt. Here is a recipe from The Epicentre Herbes de Provence.

1 tablespoon thyme 1 tablespoon chervil 1 tablespoon rosemary 1 tablespoon summer savory 1 teaspoon lavender 1 teaspoon tarragon 1 teaspoon marjoram 1/2 teaspoon oregano 1/2 teaspoon mint 2 powdered or chopped bay leaves

Prepartion: Mix together all of the ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container. Makes about 1/3 cup herb mix.

I then searched and found Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm. They have several interesting recipes on their site click here including the one below plus links to more recipes. All I need now is some nice fresh lavender. Fresh Lavender Ice Cream * 2 1/2 cups of milk * 1 cup sugar * 4 cups light cream * 1/4 tsp. salt 1 tsp vanilla extract * 1 handful fresh Lavender angustifolia flowers* *The deeper the colour of your Lavender flowers, the more colour your ice cream will have. I use our deepest coloured "Hidcote " Sweet Lavender. Pick when just freshly opening, not older over bloom for the freshest taste. 1. Gently heat the milk and fresh Lavender together. Do not boil. 2. Strain out the Lavender & stir in the salt & sugar while still hot. 3. Stir in vanilla extract & cream. 4. Chill immediately, minimum 2 hours. 5. Churn or process as your ice cream maker directs, then skip to step #8. OR by hand follow steps #6 & #7~ 6. Pour mixture into a stainless steel bowl and place in your freezer. 7. Every 15 minutes, whisk or beat until icy or thickened. 8. In the last few minutes or just before you remove from the ice cream maker: sprinkle in a few fresh florets of Lavender! Fresh raspberries an option or Lemon peel zest. PS: Dried angustifolia Sweet Lavender can be used, try 3 Tbsp. and add when milk is already heated, time 5 minutes, strain immediately. Then follow as above. Over steeping with dried Lavender makes the taste bitter & the colour grey. If you like a stronger Lavender flavour, use 4-5 Tbsp. dried Sweet Lavender. Have a great day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lyuba, Coffee Pots, Flying Mullet

Dunno where I have been lately, but last night on Jeopardy they had a whole category devoted to Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth. How absolutely fascinating, she was discovered in the perma frost a couple of years ago in Russia in excellent preservation and scientists have now established she drowned in mud some 40,000 years ago. There is a National Geographic Special airing on Sunday all about Lyuba. Unfortunately we don't get that channel. I understand that because she still has some hair left on her, this is an excellent source of DNA. Some scientists are even talking of cloning her. Not sure about that. Wonderful science, but what for? The only one of her species - where would the clone live, in a lab, a zoo, how would they feed it? There would be numerous problems not least of which would it be fair to the cloned animal? Its one thing cloning a sheep - there are lots of sheep around, but a woolly mammoth??? Here is a link to the National Geographic page Waking the Baby Mammoth which refers to their upcoming programme. Major disaster in our home this morning, our brand new coffee pot has gone kaput. Matt never touches the stuff, but I drink it by the gallon, decaf of course. We have had this pot only just over a month so I am not very pleased. Matt is being a love and taking it back for me. Glenda Lark (Tropic Temper see link this page) was talking about flying fish, or accidents caused by them. It reminded me of when we lived in North Carolina and had a boat. We joined a bunch of friends with their boats and went to a local yacht club. The day hadn't been very successful due to rain so after supper we all launched again and went out in the dark heading for a beach where we liked to congregate with a beer or two. We had seen mullet earlier in the day, the waters appeared to be boiling, however, by now, it was dark and the mullet were jumping (no they were not jumping mullet, different fish) I suspect they were reacting to the running lights on the boats. We all ended up with several fish in our boats; having 'been attacked' by at least one fish, which hurt, I was cowering down behind the windshields. One friend was hit in the back and had quite a bruise to show for it. I guess this lasted for around an hour and we were all pretty staggered. When we told our tale later, I am not sure anyone believed us. Tonight, at long last, we are going to have the recipe I mentioned which Matt found in the local paper this week. This will use up the last of our North Carolina shrimp which is very sad, we find the shrimp we can get here tastes very washed out having been on ice for so long lets face it, the nearest ocean is at least 1,000 miles away. Still, with any luck we can pick up some more in September. Only thing, this means we cannot try the recipe I posted yesterday (Mafe Cuomo) until we have resh shrimp. Pasta with Leeks, Shrimp and Lemon 1 lb peeled, deveined shrimp 2 Tbs olive oil 3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed 1/2 cup white wine - split into two parts 2 leeks 2 Tbs butter 1 tsp dried oregano Juice of one lemon Spaghetti or linguine for four people (smaller portions) or two people (large) 2 tsp lemon zest Chopped parsley for garnish 1 Boil salted water in a large pot for the pasta. While water is coming to a boil, heat olive oil in a large frying pan and fry shrimp just until they become white-pink in colour. Add garlic and stir a minute, until it turns pale gold. Add 1/4 cup of wine and let it sizzle. Stir, cook another moment until wine is a thick glaze. Turn off the heat. 2 Cut off the green part of the leeks and trim the root end. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and separate layers under cold, running water to remove every trace of grit. Chop leeks into bite-size pieces and fry in two tablespoons butter on medium heat. 3 After a few minutes, throw in the rest of the garlic, let it get pale gold, then stir in the remaining white wine and let it sizzle. Add lemon juice and oregano, stir, cover the pan and turn down the heat to a simmer. Add a little water if necessary. 4 Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. When it's almost ready, drain and add to the sauce with the leeks. Stir to coat pasta with the sauce (pasta will absorb flavour as it cooks). Gently stir in the shrimp mixture and lemon zest. Toss, season to taste and serve with green salad and white wine. Servings: 2 or 4 Author: Liz Monteiro & Luisa D'Amato Source: RECORD Can serve 4 people or 2 hungry ones Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fires in Myrtle Beach, $15 Dare, Bowling

It seems like South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, is having a very bad time with fires now. Lots of film about it on GMA this morning. People running from their homes with fires in their back yards - some quite devastating stories are coming from the reports. No rain expected for at least a week. For those of you who don't know the area, Myrtle Beach is a big vacation spot in the States with a particular emphasis on golf. We drove through there once, very touristy area; very popular with families and golfers. At last reports some 70 homes have been destroyed with no end in sight and over 19,000 acres destroyed. We have been involved in fires in the Carolinas, there are pine trees everywhere you look and once they start burning, its very difficult to stop them. After today there will only be one more Friday Senior League Bowling until the winter season starts all over again. We have a 'banquet' for the Monday and Friday senior leagues on the 4th and what bowling takes place that day will not be serious stuff (if any of it is that serious) with bingo bowling, which I think is great fun and other fun stuff. We will be awarded a few cash prizes, never a lot of money, $5 here and maybe $10 there and end up eating around 4:00. However, some of us will continue bowling in the summer league starting the following Monday, May 11. This goes on til mid July, I think, and then we have a few weeks break with the leagues starting in September again. We will not be here for that of course as we will be in North Carolina for a couple of weeks at the end of September. Can't come soon enough (at least once the asparagus season is over LOL). I was really looking forward to getting some of the African recipes made by Cat Cora on the $15 Dare segment of GMA. In particular there was a shrimp dish which she called Mafe Cuomo (Chris Cuomo being one of the anchors). I don't know what a mafe is, apparently a very African dish, but it looked good and I am hoping to make it in the near future. I was going to give you another shrimp recipe, but we didn't get round to making that last night, decided to leave it til the weekend, so I will share it on Monday if we think it is good. Wolfgang Puck's recipes are up on the website too this morning and we will certainly be having a go at them as well. In particular I think the pork and oranges sounded delicious. Mafe Cuomo
  • 4 tbsps. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 carrots, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 tsps. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
  • 12 oz. bag of a fresh vegetable medley (pre-cut cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots)
  • 2 c. chicken stock, plus 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery, and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add thyme, coriander, cumin, ginger and chili flakes along with the vegetable medley and cook for three minutes. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and simmer just until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.

    In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine 1 1/2 cups water and the reserved shrimp shells. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Strain liquid into stew.

    In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add shrimp and sauté for 3 minutes. Shrimp should not be fully cooked. Add shrimp to stew to continue cooking.

    In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter and the 1/4 cup of chicken stock with a wire whisk until incorporated. Stir in to stew.

    Bring stew to a boil and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes.

    Serve immediately.

    *Recipe courtesy of Cat Cora

    Have a great day.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Cousteau and the Orcas, $15 Dare and Wolfgang Puck

    Last night on PBS Matt and I watched a fantastic programme, Jean Michel Cousteau's Ocean Adventures: Call of the Killer Whales. At the end of it we both felt it should be mandatory to show such this programme in schools everywhere and also to adults (particularly politicians). The programme described in detail the harm we have done and are still doing to our oceans with emphasis on salmon farming which needs a lot more regulation as, in its current form it is causing so many problems. If you would like to read more, and I urge you to do so, go to Jean Michel Cousteau where there is a video advertising the programme. We actually watched for two hours. If you get the opportunity to do so, please watch it, it is so important for the health of our planet. They linked a lot of what they showed to Keiko the world's most famous killer whale (Free Willie) who was released at the urging of the children of the world. They carried out some health tests on the Cousteau team who are fairly representative of regional upbringing and diverse diets from Jean Michel who eats everything to one crew member who is a vegetarian together with her son who eats the same food. They traced the presence of PCBs in their systems and another chemical which I'm ashamed to say I don't recall. Even though PCBs have been banned for a long while now, there are still heavy concentrations in both the oceans of the world as well as on land and appeared in the subjects tested as shown on the video which is quite horrifying. The biggest concentrations were in the mother and son who are vegetarians which concerned her very much as you would expect. I am hoping to buy a copy of the programme in the near future but as usual they will not ship to Canada. This morning it was Wolfgang Puck who was given the challenge on Good Morning America and his recipes will be on their web site tomorrow. This morning you can see yesterday's African inspired recipes from yesterday. They sounded really good so I shall be taking a close look at them. Wolfgang had pork chops to work with and a load of fruit and vegetables as well as pounds of potatoes. The recipes are being posted at GMA Recipes where you can find all the information. As you know, I get lots of ezines on food, cooking and health. Yesterday I picked up a recipe on DLife which is a diabetes ezine. I thought it looked good so I made it for supper last night and we enjoyed it. I somewhat increased the ingredients when I made mine. I have never heard of grapeseed oil spray, so I used Pam instead. If you go to the DLife website at this address there is a section on the left called Cooking with DLife where you can pick out the video of the chef making this recipe. Below it talks about making it in the microwave, he made it in a fry pan which is what I did as you can see from the picture. Tonight we are trying out a recipe from the local paper which I will post tomorrow if we enjoy it. Spicy Egg Casserole 1 grapeseed oil cooking spray 1 Tbs minced onion, heaping (or frozen) 1/4 cup fresh mushroom slices (about 2 button mushrooms) 1/2 cup canned unsalted diced tomatoes, drained 1 tsp capers 4 eggs 1/8 tsp minced garlic 1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce (to taste) 1 pinch kosher salt 1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground 1 Spray a microwave-proof casserole dish with cooking spray. Cook the onion and mushroom, covered, for 1 minute on a high setting in the microwave. Add the tomatoes and capers and cook for another 3 minutes on a high setting. 2 Mix in the eggs, garlic, and hot pepper sauce, and cook uncovered for 3 minutes on a medium setting. 3 Season with pepper and salt (if desired). Let sit for 2 minutes before serving. Serves 2 Have a great day.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Earth Day, Health, $15 Challenge

    Today is Earth Day and I hope everyone will remember to do something to celebrate that fact. Not just today, but for the rest of the year. Replacing light bulbs with CFLs (the curly ones) is one of the easiest changes to make and so very effective plus helping your pocket by not having to buy bulbs so often. On GMA this morning there was a segment about Upcycling click here with a very enterprising young man, Tom Szaky, has found a way to use garbage and turn it into something else. He will also pay kids for collecting garbage. This young man is going to make a lot of money and all power to his elbow, I wish him much success and anyone else who tries to do something which is so ecologically sound. OK, I admit it, I'm a scaredy cat. I had never, but never had a mammogram. I was told that if I wanted to know what it was like, to close my boob into the fridge door or lie down on the garage and let someone drive over it. What a lot of nonsense, yesterday I had one and it wasn't bad at all, so if you are like me and have been scared witless about what people tell you, hie you to your nearest lab and get one done. it really is nothing much at all. Would you believe it was a doctor who first scared me away from it. This morning I finally found the collection of recipes which are being made from the $15 worth of groceries being provided to well known chefs. Today it was Cat Cora with whom I am not familiar although I gather she is on Iron Chef. The ingredients she was given were:
  • Eat Smart Vegetable Medley (Cauliflower/Carrots/Broccoli)
  • Gold Quality White Fresh Button Mushrooms
  • Fresh Grapes
  • 2 Pears
  • Fresh Shrimp
  • America's Choice Pasta
  • Vanilla Ice Cream Breyer's
  • and she basically cooked African food with what she was given. Her recipes, which looked really good, are not yet posted, but they will be soon on where you will also find the recipes from the other challenges. Tomorrow it will be one of my favourite chefs, Wolfgang Puck, so I will be interested to see what he comes up with. Emeril Lagasse came up with a delicious salad yesterday which he called Emeril's Organic Tomato, Spinach and Pinto Bean Salad a la Champion (Sam Champion being the chooser of that day's groceries) and I thought I would steal his idea for you today. Emeril's Organic Tomato, Spinach and Pinto Bean Salad a la Champion *Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse
  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoonss red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Rinse and pick through beans. Soak overnight.

    Rinse soaked beans and put into a 3-quart pot. Add one quart of water and one quart of chicken stock, simmer beans until tender, but not breaking apart. About one hour.

    In another 3-quart pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and saute over high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour cooked beans with cooking liquid into the pot with the vegetables. Add cumin and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. Drain beans, reserving the liquid for another use, if desired.

    Meanwhile, wash and dry spinach. Place half of the spinach on a large serving platter.

    Put remaining spinach in a large bowl and fold hot beans into it, to wilt. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss with tomatoes.

    Serve immediately.

    serves 8 as a first course

    Serves 4-6 as a main dish

    My Note: Not being part of the challenge, we can use canned beans to make this dish.

    Have a great day.

    The Queen, Missing, $15 Challenge

    Matt just came to me and said "The Queen is 83 today if you want to put it into your blog" so here you are. Today is her real birthday although her official birthday is in June. Probably too damned cold to troop the colours in April. It is also my cousin's birthday today. I can remember staying with them in 1952 on the morning of April 21 and hearing the anthem being played for the queen's birthday, for the first time and my cousins trying to convince me that it was being played for them. I wasn't that dumb a 14 yr. old although I am sure my cousins thought I was. To me they were muuuuch older. Missing children are very much in the news at the moment, although the body of the little girl, Sandra Cantu, in California was found. Linda Huckaby, a Sunday School Teacher, has been charged with the crime. It now appears that something similar happened to another little girl in the same vicinity a couple of months ago although no-one was ever charged with anything, they think it was Huckaby. That child came home safely. There is another little girl missing closer to home and so far there are no clues whatsoever as to what has happened to her. This time it is 8 yr old Victoria "Tori" Stafford who is missing from the Woodstock vicinity after having been seen on a video accompanying an unknown woman. There have been flyers and emails distributed about her, but so far absolutely nothing apart from thousands of leads which have all been useless to date. What the parents are going through I cannot imagine. I mentioned last week that top chefs were going to be challenged to produce a dinner for four from $15 worth of groceries. Yesterday it was Mario Batali and today it was Emeril Lagasse. The recipes they produced can all be found on the GMA website - this is the list of ingredients Sam Champion bought for Emeril
  • Fresh spinach
  • Red tomatoes on the vine
  • Yellow onions
  • Empire apples
  • Dry black beans
  • Dry pinto beans
  • Creme fraiche
  • Someone twittered to say how could you cook dry beans without soaking, which was my question too, but Emeril explains how to quick cook beans. As the chefs are working, they have someone there writing down the recipes as they go along. Each chef is also provided with a pantry and it seems a lot of use is being made of said pantry. This morning we got black bean soup, what looked like a south western bean salad and an apple bread pudding. There was lots of joking because Emeril had been given no meat of any kind. Jack Hanna, the Director Emeritus from the Columbia Zoo had rabbits with him today and someone joked that Emeril was after them for his meal. The recipes are not actually up for today yet. In fact I can't find the recipes for yesterday either. I know Mario made his white grape juice into a sangria and made a risotto with the chicken and rice which Diane bought. Maybe they will have all the recipes at the end of the challenge. I know there are people who don't enjoy cold soups, I happen to love them, even if its only opening a can of beef Consommé which has been in the fridge and got jellied. I always keep 4 cans as I love it. Once upon a time the only soup around seemed to be Vichysoisse, but these days you see more and more recipes for cold soup. When we were in David's the other day I picked up a booklet from them which included a recipe for Cool Cucumber Soup which came from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers web site. Cool Cucumber Soup Serves 6 This soup is simple to prepare and the ingredients are very easy to find year-round. Recommended with a glass of white wine. 4 Ontario Greenhouse seedless cucumbers 1 medium onion 1 small clove of garlic 1/2 Cup fresh parsley, stems removed 2 drops Worcestershire sauce Dash of lemon juice 1 Tbs each, thyme and oregano 2 Cups sour cream salt and pepper to taste In a blender or food processor, combine the cucumbers, onion, garlic and parsley in small batches. (Hint: pre-chopping makes the first 3 ingredients blend better). Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, herbs and sour cream. Purée and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving. Garnish with a few chopped chives, parsley and/or a slice of lemon or cucumber. Have a great day.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson, Europe, Whiteout, Piracy

    Saturday I was both pleased and disappointed to finish my last book in the Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson. What an excellent trilogy. I didn't expect the ending to be the way it was. If you like fantasy or spec fic as it is also called, I highly recommend these books to you. The one I just finished is called The Hero of Ages. Talking on Sunday to a friend who has just been visiting England and France made me feel somewhat nostalgic. She went to the Louvre in Paris and apparently took a photo of the Mona Lisa, not my most favourite painting by far. Except for its financial value, I wouldn't give it house room and if I did it would be only whilst I auctioned it. Talking of things I don't like, the new pharmacy campus they have built in Kitchener is, to me, a monstrosity. It is so bitty, glass here, stone work there, no rythm to any of it. We pass it four times a week going to bowling and I moan about it every time. Personally I would be suing the architect. I'm no architect but I could design something better than that. Also, having watched the construction since day one, I am not sure it will be that safe anyway. I'm not going to be studying there so I guess I don't need to worry. Funny, I heard on the news Sunday, the British MI5 are advertising for a new Q - I trust you remember Q in the James Bond movies. Read about it here - of course what they are really looking for is a new head of their scientific division. I just returned the Whiteout (Liquid Correction) to my husband who uses it for the odd mistake on his crosswords. I occasionally use it to change stuff on my calendar. I then started thinking about typing errors and how easy it is today. When I first started typing, if the boss wanted 6 copies you had to use one top sheet, several carbon papers and flimsy paper in between for the copies. If you did make a mistake, you had to put a bit of paper between each carbon so that when you erased the copy above it, there wouldn't be a dirty mark. A long, laborious and frequently inefficient method of correction. Now no-one even uses typewriters - or not much anyway and even if they do they have corrector tapes built into them and who ever types anything with copies any more, so simple to just run 'em off the computer or even email them around the company which obviates the use of paper at all. When I was at secretarial college learning shorthand and typing, I couldn't imagine a day when secretaries would not be required. Trotting into the boss' office and taking dictation - how could they ever do without that. I guess that's why I would never be able to fill Q's shoes *g*. The typewriter in the picture is the type I learnt on and I was thrilled to bits to start using an electric typewriter - that was when I worked for DuPont in London. Computers were around of course, but not like the ones we have today. Been a lot about the pirates on the news too. Apparently the Canadians caught a bunch after a 7 hour chase in the Gulf of Aden. They had tried to pirate a Norwegian ship and several other ships took part in the chase. Saw pix of the shooting on TV and so on. They chased 'em, shot at 'em, caught 'em, disarmed 'em and released 'em. Seems a bit pointless. The Americans are saying the Canadians don't have a law which covers such situations, the Canadians are saying there is no law - internationally - nor is there an efficient Somali government to deal with these pirates either. Maybe pirated countries should unite to invade Somalia and set up a proficient government. I found this recipe at the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetables Website and thought it sounded delicious. Salmon is something we can obtain very easily and so eat a fair amount of. Salmon With Cucumber Peach Salsa For those of you looking for new ways to prepare salmon, this is a delicious and nutritious dish. 1 Peach, diced 1/4 Ontario greenhouse cucumber, diced 1/4 Red onion, diced 1 Tbsp vegetable oil 1 Tsp lemon juice 1/4 Tsp hot sauce or chili flakes 4 Salmon fillets Salt and pepper to taste In a bowl, combine peach, cucumber, onion, oil, hot sauce and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat ovenproof sautee pan over high heat. Rub each salmon fillet with oil and salt and pepper. Pour 2 tbsp of oil in hot pan. Place salmon in pan and sear—do not touch it while searing. Turn salmon over, remove from heat and put into oven for 5-6 minutes. Spoon salsa over salmon and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Have a great day.

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Pickles, Bowling, Asparagus

    I mentioned people being a few pickles short of a jar the other day, I have found more from that category. On GMA weekend today, they were talking about two disgusting idiots who filmed themselves in Domino's kitchens sticking cheese in their nostrils, etc. and then posted it on YouTube. Surprisingly they were fired!!!! How stupid can you get? First doing something revolting like that, secondly filming it and thirdly posting it on the net, what did they think would happen? The report said it wasn't the first time something like this had occurred. Maybe restaurants should test the IQs of the people they hire before they let them lose in the kitchens. One note at the end of the segment, cooking kills most of the germs, yeuch. I have heard, over the years, of kitchen staff doing all kinds of stuff to get revenge on unpleasant customers, but none of them have ever been stupid enough to be filmed doing it. I am hoping the weather will improve today, yesterday it was sitting on the balcony with the sunshine, right now it is very dull so we have our fingers crossed. By the way, I bowled up a storm yesterday, I was so pleased with myself. I got a 570 triple which is very good for me and I also won the Friday group's female Bowler of the Year. Funnily enough Matt won for the men although he didn't play as well as I did yesterday. It was one of those days when I almost couldn't bowl wrong. The women bowled better than the men yesterday anyway. I normally don't know this, but keeping the statistics for the Bowler of the Year, it was obvious. We cooked some of our purple, brown, asparagus last night and surprise, surprise, it turned green with cooking. It didn't taste any different either so what's the point? I remember many years ago a friend grew some "Black" runner beans and they too, when cooked, went green. I just read that it has a fruitier flavour, well ours sure didn't. What a pity it doesn't retail the colour which would make it culinarily more interesting to serve. Anyway, less than a month now til Barrie's Asparagus Farm will be selling the luscious, fresh green spears. I've been drooling in anticipation since last year. I just picked up this recipe from a regular email I receive. This dish came from Eating Well again and I thought it looked good. We are going to be going through a few days this week where I have to "avoid" red meat so new chicken dishes hold a lot of interest. Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas & Spring Herbs Source: © EatingWell Magazine Quick-cooking chicken cutlets are paired with an elegant but easy light sauce. This dish can be made without the sprouted beans, but is especially delicious with them. Make it a meal: serve over pan-seared rounds of prepared, store-bought polenta and open a bottle of sauvignon blanc. INGREDIENTS 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided 1 pound thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 8 ounces sugar snap peas, cut in half (2 cups) 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed 1/4 cup sprouted beans, optional (see Ingredient note) 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon or dill 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar Tip: Sprouted beans, not to be confused with bean sprouts, are beans that have just barely sprouted—they look like a bean with a tiny fiber attached (rather than the more fleshy-looking sprouts commonly used in Asian cooking). Eat raw in salads or add to cooked dishes; they're an excellent source of fiber and protein. Look for them in the produce section near other sprouts. DIRECTIONS Whisk broth, mustard, salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons flour in a small bowl until smooth. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in two batches, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to high; stir the broth mixture and add to the skillet along with snap peas, artichoke hearts and sprouted beans. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the snap peas are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the vegetables, and simmer until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in herbs and vinegar. Have a great weekend.