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.


  1. Low cost eating is very much the topic here in France. There is even a best-seller book here all about how to eat well but inexpensively.

    Swine flu. Well, it's in the UK and in Spain too now. How do these things start I wonder.

  2. From what I read, from being around pigs, but the incredible thing is how this has spread.

    Low cost eating is big over here too. If the French can't do low cost but delicious meals, nobody can. If I win the lottery I'll be there for a visit.