Monday, August 31, 2009

Stirling Castle Mystery, Where in the World, Longford.

Interesting snippet on GMA Weekend yesterday about a carving on the ceiling in the king's bedroom in Stirling Castle, Scotland - there appeared to be an error on the carving looking a bit like random marks of ones and zeros; in 2004 a master carver called John Donaldson, now 62, was employed to copy the series of carved wooden portraits mounted in roundels on the ceiling of James V's bedroom in Stirling Castle.To see what followed and how a 500 yr old mystery musical score was discovered read here . To hear the music itself go to GMA Weekend. This is the first known example of binary music - the article is absolutely fascinating to read.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Missing, Shuttle Discovery,

A wonderful story in the news at the moment, a young girl, Jaycee Dugard, abducted 18 years ago has been found. I am sure you have heard about it. But it just staggers me that for once a missing child has returned home albeit having had a dreadful life for 18 years. In fact I was lying in bed thinking about this last night and wondering why we don't castrate sexual offenders. Surely it would be a lot simpler. I mean, this guy was a known sexual offender and yet he has been raping this young woman without discovery for close on two decades. Obviously this is going to give hope to others who's children have gone missing and never been found. I remember in 1969 all the excitement about man going to the moon and hearing the broadcasts when they first stepped onto the moon - you know "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". Yesterday Shuttle Discovery was blasted into space and it hardly makes the news. We have become so blasé about space discovery. I have heard people say we shouldn't be funding such discovery in this day and age of recessions and economic woes, I understand where people are coming from, but to fund such scientific research is much better than all the wars which are being funded at the moment. I believe one day earth will be so overcrowded we will have to disperse into space and how can we do that if space hasn't been explored. OK, so unfortunately it won't happen in our lifetimes and I guess we could say "what the hell" in that case, but provision for the future is, I believe, important, whether it be in space or in preservation of our own planet. I just wish I could be part of the exploration, but at my age, that is no longer possible. Go to this page to read more. There are only 6 more shuttles to be launched it says, I wonder what will come next? Having give you a recipe by Jacques Pepin yesterday, I remembered the Chicken Chasseur recipe of his which we have cooked and enjoyed many times. However, taking the lazy way out, I researched it on the net and came across Bobby Flay's recipe which I am giving you here. Bobby Flay uses a whole chicken, we have always used chicken breasts. Chicken Chasseur (Hunter-style Chicken) Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay 4 servings Ingredients * 1 (4-pound) chicken, quartered * Salt and pepper * Clarified butter * 5 ounces cremini mushrooms, emincer (thinly sliced) * 1 large shallot, ciseler (fine dice) * 2 ounces Cognac * 2 ounces dry white wine * 1 1/2 cups enriched chicken stock * 1/4 cup tomato concasse (peeled, seeded, and diced tomato) * 1-ounce cold butter * 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves * 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chervil leaves or flat-leaf parsley Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Season chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of clarified butter in a Dutch oven over high heat. Place chicken in skin side down and cook until golden brown. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and bake in the oven until just cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute until golden brown. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Cognac and cook until completely reduced. Add the wine and cook until completely reduced. Add the stock and tomato and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon ("nappe") and then swirl in the butter ("monter au beurre"). Once the butter is added, the sauce can not be further reduced because it will break. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tarragon and chervil. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the breastbone from the breast. Cut each breast into 2 even pieces on the bias. Cut the legs into 2 pieces at the joint and on the bias and remove the thighbones. Serve 1 leg piece and 1 breast piece. Make sure only 1 piece contains a bone. Serve on hot plates, napped with the sauce. Have a great weekend.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Laptop Battery Fires, Buffalo Firefighters,

Pretty scary news yesterday about Laptop battery fires. Maybe you knew about it, but I certainly didn't. A lot of serious fires have been caused by laptop batteries and some people have been killed because of it. From all I read, a lot of it is carelessness or lack of knowledge on the part of the owner, putting the laptop on a soft chair for instance which stops the air getting at the battery and keeping it cool. There is an article here telling why laptop batteries overheat and what to do to prevent it. If you own a laptop, I urge you to read it. Talking of fires, there are two funerals taking place today in Buffalo for the two firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty recently. If you saw the movie Ladder 49, the whole situation reminded me very much of that story although this, obviously, is NOT a story. A very tragic occurrence. One thing that has Matt and I slightly puzzled; they died of smoke inhalation according to the medical examiner, we were both under the impression firefighters used breathing apparatus.

Last night Matt made a recipe we haven't had for a number of years and both enjoyed very much. It is from Happy Cooking by Jacques Pepin - he used to be a good friend of Julia Child.

Potato and Spinach Galette

This main course vegetable dish is prepared in a non-stick skillet or omelet pan so it will release easily when inverted onto a plate for serving. The word galette denotes a flattish, dish-shaped pancake (crêpe) here; this one is really a "sandwich" of potatoes panfried in a skillet with a filling of garlic-flavoured spinach. This galette is especially good in summer with a green salad accompanying.

1 lb. spinach
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes (3 or 4), preferably Yukon Gold 3 Tbs virgin olive oil
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced (1 1/2 Tbs)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

 If you will bake the galette immediately after preparing it, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove and discard the tough stems and damaged leaves of the spinach and wash the remaining leaves. Wash the potatoes, peel them and cut them into very thin slices by hand or in a food processor fitted with a slicing disk. (Matt and I use a mandolin). Wash the slices, drain them and pat dry with paper towels. In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet (preferably an omelet pan), heat 1 Tbs of the oil and the butter until they are hot. Add the potato slices and season them with 1/4 tsp of the salt. Sauté over high heat for 2 or 3 minute, gently stirring the potatoes, until all the slices are coated with oil and butter and are just starting to soften and become transparent. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet (unwashed) heat 1 Tbs of the remaining oil until it is hot. Add the garlic and sauté it for 10 seconds. Then add the spinach, the remaining salt and the pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and most of its liquid has evaporated. Transfer the spinach to a plate and set aside. Place the remaining Tbs of oil in the same skillet and arrange a layer of potato slices in an attractive pattern to cover the bottom of the pan, extending about 1/2 inch up the sides. Place another layer of potatoes on top, using half the potatoes for the two layers. Spread the spinach on top of the potatoes and cover it with the remaining potatoes (the recipe can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead). When you are ready to serve the galette, bake it in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove the skillet and place it on top of the stove over medium to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the bottom layer, shaking the pan so the bottom of the galette doesn't stick to it. Invert the galette onto a large plate or platter and cut into wedges to serve.

Have a great day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cards, Books, Fall, Dead Zone.

Unfortunately our Tuesday game had to be cancelled due to sickness, hopefully we can reschedule next week. However, last night we played Cribbage with our new neighbour - played for several hours in fact, it was nearly midnight when we broke up. We ended up with two games each, fair but at one point I was winning and wanted it to stay that way *g*. Nobody got a perfect hand although our friend nearly did. I finished Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer and thought it was a very good book. There have been accusations of plagiarism, I don't know if they are valid, but I thought the story fitted in very well with everything else that had happened in the previous books. Its funny, I had trouble picking up every one of the four books in this series and when I finally got round to it I thoroughly enjoyed them. I wonder what the movie Twilight is like, movies tend to ruin the original stories. I don't know if I will ever see it or not. I got two more books from the library the other day and I have three more to pick up. I have to get them all finished before we go away on Sept. 11 so I have a lot of reading to do. Luckily, any more I have on hold I can freeze until I get back. I can't believe its almost September and the leaves have already started turning colour. We have had such a lousy summer this year, it seems like we have been cheated. There was a red leaf on the ground when we left the bowling alley the other day and the burning bushes at the library, which end up a real fiery red, are well on their way to turning colour. Don't get me wrong, I like Fall or Autumn, but not so soon and not when we have had no summer to speak of. Sad to hear this morning, a report on the 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico. It is caused by chemical run off from the farms along the Mississippi River which empties into the Gulf. It is ruining the fishing industry in the area and apparently 40% of America's seafood comes from that area. The fisherman must be absolutely devastated. I once tried making lettuce soup and wasn't very impressed with it, but then I didn't follow any kind of recipe. Here is one from Recipezaar which sounds as though it would be good. I love chilled soups anyway, so I think I will be looking for lovage in the stores. Chilled Summer Lettuce, Lovage and Garden Pea Soup A delightful and refreshing chilled soup for summer - this savoury soup takes its flavour from freshly chopped lovage leaves, which impart a savoury, lemony and celery-like taste. I like to serve this pale green soup in clear glass bowls for maximum impact, with a few chopped leaves sprinkled on top and a swirl of cream. This soup makes an elegant starter for any summer event or a light luncheon dish. Do not be tempted to add more lovage then is suggested, it is a very strong flavoured herb and can be overpowering if used with a heavy hand! by French Tart SERVES 4 4-5 medium spring onions, trimmed and chopped butter or olive oil 1 large cos (romaine) lettuce or 2 large butterhead lettuce 250 g fresh garden peas or frozen peas 1 liter vegetable stock 5-6 leaves fresh lovage, leaves (plus 4 more to garnish) salt and pepper cream, for garnish (optional) 1. Sweat the spring onions in the oil or butter until soft, then add the peas and lettuce. Pour over two-thirds of the stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender. 2. Remove from the heat and add the lovage leaves then blend the soup with a hand blender or in a liquidiser. Thin the soup to your preferred texture with the remaining stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 3. Place the soup in a container and chill in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours. Serve chilled with chopped lovage leaves and a swirl of cream. Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy, Python Death, Kimono

The news was full of the death of Ted Kennedy this morning at 77. Not unexpected as he had been suffering from cancer. He was the grand old man of American politics, famous because of his two brothers as well as in his own right. However, although Good Morning America was full of his biographical information no-one even mentioned Chappaquidick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969. It may have been conveniently forgotten by most and never known about by younger generations, but it is something that has stuck with me for many years. He ran his car off a bridge causing the death of Mary Jo and was accused of leaving the scene of the crime. It was also said, at the time, that he was drunk - they had been at a party. He received a suspended sentence. If you want to read more about it read here - I am not sure why this incident stuck with me, probably because I was so disgusted about it at the time and it was such a big scandal, well reported in the British papers. It will, no doubt, be said that he has made up for it since by being a devoted Senator working for his country. I wonder what Mary Jo's family think about all this? About a month ago, a 2 yr old was suffocated by a python kept as a pet. The mother and her boyfriend have now been charged with manslaughter, third degree murder and child abuse. What, I ask you, were they doing with a baby and a python in the same house. I don't understand keeping a python at any time, but when there are little kids around, its ridiculous. I didn't pursue the story, but I suspect the python was put down. I hope it was taken to a zoo - whether I like pythons or not, it wasn't the snake's fault, it just assumed the toddler was food. On a pleasanter note, Matt's Yukata Kimono arrived yesterday, I had intended to save it for Christmas, but the mail man took me by surprise as he needed custom's duty and I wasn't dressed so Matt had to go downstairs and pay it. Unfortunately the parcel showed exactly what it was so that was the end of that. I was a bit ticked off at nearly $30 duty I might add. Matt says, with justification, that I am not the best photographer in the world. However, the Kimono looks pretty good on him and is more of a change from the one he has been wearing than I anticipated. Matt never smiles in a photo!! Another great recipe from Eating Well for those who want something vegetarian for a change. Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers We steam brightly colored bell peppers in the microwave to save time and then stuff them with orzo, spinach and feta. This basic recipe will work with almost any filling—try substituting different types of cheese, herbs or beans. Serve with whole-wheat pita bread and cucumber salad. Makes 4 servings Ingredients 4 yellow, orange and/or red bell peppers ½ cup whole-wheat orzo 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese, divided ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), chopped 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar ¼ teaspoon salt 1. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving the stems attached. Remove the seeds and white membrane. Place the peppers cut-side down in a large microwave-safe dish. Add 1/2 inch water, cover and microwave on High until the peppers are just softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool slightly, drain and set aside. 2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. 3. Mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork, leaving some whole. 4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and oregano and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the orzo, chickpeas, 1/2 cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook until heated though, about 1 minute. Divide the filling among the pepper halves and sprinkle each pepper with some of the remaining 1/4 cup feta. Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Liberation, Bowling, Monitor, Cards.

As I was just reminded by Marilyn of French Marilyn's blog (see link his page) today is the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Paris. There are so many people today who don't even know what this means any more, mostly because they are too young and it was only a brief incident in their history lesson at school. I didn't realise the French marked this anniversary every year and I am glad that they do. They also put wreaths on all the plaques marking those who were shot in the streets of Paris fighting for Liberty. Although it was the Americans who rolled into Paris, there were many nations who fought the war and helped pave the way for this liberation, not least the Canadians who's part is very little recognised. I read an article from a British newspaper the other day about the Canadian's part in all the wars both then and since and how little their sacrifice has been recognised by the rest of the world. We went bowling again yesterday, there were 5 of us this time. If the summer had gone on much longer, we might have ended up with our own league. The other three were there just for fun but we wanted to record our games ahead in case we couldn't play a league game at any time during the winter season. We already have bowl aheads for our vacation period so this was an extra. Both Matt and I bowled really well and for us, got good scores. Matt's highest yesterday was a 244 and I bowled a 200 (I did last week as well, 204) but all three of my games were excellent although Matt did have one weak game in the middle. It feels so great when you bowl well, the same in any sport I guess. I must have really put my all into it as I feel a bit stiff this morning especially around the chest muscles. Talking of chest muscles, I finally get rid of this stupid heart monitor tomorrow - I will be so pleased, it has been nothing but a nuisance to me. I suppose I shouldn't complain, at least two people have told me about the monitor they had which had to hang round your neck. I think that would have been even more of a nuisance. Tonight we are going to play cribbage at a friend's home and I hope this will be a regular thing. We used to play cards a lot with them when we both had places in NC, but we haven't played back in Canada much at all. No idea why. This picture, by the way, is of a perfect crib hand, 29 points, I have never had one unfortunately, Matt has nearly had it with a 28 a couple of times but I never did get near it. Well of course you don't know how to count it if you can't score a cribbage hand!!! The score you can never get in crib is 19 so if you hear someone say that, it means they have an empty hand. I have now finished the first two books of the Enduring Flame Trilogy The Phoenix Unchained and The Phoenix Endangered. I was then very upset to find out that the third book doesn't even get released til next month. Waaah, I want to read it now, I mean now. As you will see from this cover, this series involved dragons and those of you who have been with me for a while, know how much I love dragons. Although in this last book they seem to have carelessly lost one of them. I have a sneaking suspicion they won't find it again until right at the end of the third book too. 'Sall due to magic doncha know. The following recipe came from yet another ezine I get regularly. I am actually not a devotee of pulled pork as served in the Southern States although it is a very popular item. I prefer my pork in slices not shreds so whenever we did a barbecued pig, we carved off the meat. Nothing wrong with the flavour though. Barbecued-Pork Burritos with Chopped Salad Source: Quick from Scratch - One Dish Meals by Permission of Food and Wine The pulled pork popular in the South takes hours, even days to prepare; starting with digging a pit. Our barbecued pork has a similar flavor, but takes just minutes to make. INGREDIENTS 2 1/2 tablespoons wine vinegar 1/4 tablespoon dried thyme 1 1/4 teaspoons salt Fresh-ground black pepper 1/4 cup olive oil 1 pound pork tenderloin 2 tablespoons cooking oil 1 cup bottled barbecue sauce 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 6 ounces cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups) 4 9-inch flour tortillas 1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped (about 2 cups) 3 tomatoes, diced 2 green bell peppers, diced 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and diced DIRECTIONS In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the thyme, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pork into 1/4-inch slices, and then cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil over high heat. Add half the pork, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and sauté until cooked through and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon cooking oil and cook the rest of the pork, seasoning it with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Return all the pork to the pan. Stir in the barbecue sauce, cumin, the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, and two thirds (about 1 cup) of the cheese. Spread some of the pork mixture in a line just below the center of each tortilla. Roll up the burritos and put them seam-side down in a small baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese melts and the filling is hot, about 2 minutes longer. Meanwhile, put the lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumber into the bowl and toss.Put the salad on plates and top with the burritos. Have a great day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hydro, Lakes and Falls and Hurricanes.

Woke up on Sunday morning and discovered we had no electricity (called hydro here) in the building, it was certainly off before 6:30 a.m. and didn't come back on til about 9:45. I hope there was no-one in the elevator when it went. At least we have water here when we have no power, in the States all our water was pumped from a well so that made it doubly difficult. Not only that, our portable radio's batteries were dead. As I said, it is referred to as hydro here and the first time I heard that some 34 years ago, our neighbours asked if we had hydro. I went into the house and turned on the taps, water came out, so I went back out and assured her that we did have hydro. I then started wondering where all our hydro comes from in Ontario, I know it is generated in Niagara Falls by the falls themselves, but this is a big province. Looking it up I find that Ontario Hydro have 56 hydro electric, 5 fossil and 3 nuclear power stations and is one of the biggest producers of electricity in North America. If you want to know more click here I found it interesting reading. Its amazing what we take for granted and how little we can manage without it. I never thought of it but I asked Matt to go get some batteries for the radio and he reminded me we couldn't open the garage door without power. (Actually when he did go out later, the door had been opened, probably manually by the Super). Once the power came back on an Avon customer came to collect her order and said she had been nervous about using the elevator in case the hydro went out again. At least one woman in this building moved to the first floor because she had been stuck in an elevator a couple of times, not sure if it was here or elsewhere. Reading more about Ontario Hydro, I discover they are building a new tunnel under the city of Niagara Falls which will carry enough water to generate enough power to service a town twice as big. You can find information about that at the same link as above. I like their header "Just Add Water and Serve Ontario". Apart from the Great Lakes, Ontario has 3,899 lakes which are greater than 3 square KM. That's a lot of water. Now I've just discovered there are lots of waterfalls in Ontario too. I knew of one other in the north west, but it turns out there are 100 waterfalls in Hamilton alone and that is quite close to us Wikipedia on waterfalls - I'm beginning to wonder what else I don't know about this area. Hamilton is right on Lake Ontario and in fact we pass by it when we go to Niagara or head for Buffalo on our way south. Its a pretty big town with an international airport - not as big as the one in Toronto, but.... Mind you, you could say we have an international airport here too, small planes fly to the States and the Caribbean. Newfoundland got lots of wind and rain from Hurricane Bill yesterday, but at least it wasn't the big storm it had been. A PGA tournament was swamped on Saturday in North Carolina, part of the effects of the hurricane on its way past. I got this recipe from Recipe du Jour on Saturday, one of my regular ezines, I thought it sounded really good so copied into my cook book programme to be saved, maybe for our next dinner party. Orange Brined Pork Loin 3 cups water, divided 1 1/2 Tbs grated orange rind 4 cups fresh orange juice (about 12 oranges) 1/2 cup kosher salt 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce 2 cups ice cubes 1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed 1/4 cup orange marmalade 2 Tbs fresh orange juice 1 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce Cooking spray Orange slices (optional) Parsley sprigs (optional) 1 Combine 1 cup water and rind in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 2 cups water, 4 cups juice, salt, sugar, and 1/4 cup soy 2 sauce, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and pork; seal. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning bag occasionally. 3 Combine marmalade, 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 10 seconds or until marmalade melts. Remove from heat. 4 Preheat oven to 450F. Remove pork from bag, and discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Place pork on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F (do not remove pork from oven); bake an additional 45 minutes. Brush glaze 5 evenly over pork; bake an additional 5 minutes or until thermometer inserted into thickest portion of pork registers 155F (slightly pink). Place pork on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Garnish 6 with orange slices and parsley sprigs, if desired. Servings: 10 Have a great day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Writing, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Lockerbie Bomber.

Yesterday I started reading The Phoenix Unchained. On reading the flyleaf I discovered that the world I was about to enter had originally been created in a series called The Obsidian Trilogy which I thought I had missed. There are references to the previous story which was supposed to have taken place 1,000 years ago and gradually I realised I had read the trilogy. However, what fascinates me is that the stories referred to are quite a bit different to what actually happened in those previous books, just as history becomes distorted after 1,000 years so have the memories of the current society and I am impressed with the way Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory have done that. A very interesting exercise in story telling. Especially when one tends to think "oh no, that's not quite how it happened" and then recall the proper story. I never would have been as observant about such story telling artifice if I hadn't been reading a lot of what my author friends are telling me. I never really thought about the art of writing before, just about whether the story was good and well told. I am now much more aware of the skill which is employed in good story telling. One of the things recently discussed on Tropic Temper by Glenda Larke was the use of names to convey backgrounds. Something I had certainly never thought of - maybe I had unconsciously registered that a character had a specific background because of the name, but I certainly never thought about it before. I didn't mention the storm in Ontario on Thursday, there were at least four tornadoes reported, mostly north of us, although we did catch the edge of the storm, but for us, thank goodness, it was only the edge. There was a lot of storm damage and there are some excellent storm photos on this site. Unfortunately one person was killed. I am not sure where you hide from tornadoes in Ontario. A basement would be the best place I guess and most houses have those. In this building I suppose we would head to the underground garage although how sturdy that would be I wouldn't like to guess. Hurricane Bill is due in the Atlantic Provinces on Sunday, but by then it should be well and truly downgraded. Its the warm water which tends to speed up a hurricane. It can still do a lot of damage but earlier it was a category 4 which is not a very nice storm at all. So, they've released the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds because he has cancer. He has since received a hero's welcome when he landed in Tripoli. He showed a lot of compassion when he killed a plane load of people (270), I see no reason why he shouldn't have lived and died, in jail. I am not surprised the relatives of the dead are upset, I know I would be. On GMA they talked about forgiveness, I don't see how you can forgive someone like this, whoever you are. Maybe put it behind you and let it go, but forgive? No way. Of course he still protests his innocence, but there isn't a person in any prison who isn't innocent according to them. I might add that, being in a British prison, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi would have had the best treatment available to anyone in Scotland, better than a great many British themselves would have available to them. Easting Well are emphasising the importance of starting your day with a good breakfast and the following is one of their recipes for doing just that. I get a tad tired of the same ol' same ol' for breakfast although I try and add as much variety as I can. These sound to be something which would make quite a difference and I will certainly try them. I think I might need to buy a new muffin pan though. Mini Mushroom-&-Sausage Quiches These crustless mini quiches are like portable omelets. Turkey sausage and sauteed mushrooms keep them light and savory. Small and satisfying, they’re also a good finger food for your next cocktail party. Makes 1 dozen mini quiches Ingredients 8 ounces turkey breakfast sausage, removed from casing and crumbled into small pieces 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced ¼ cup sliced scallions ¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 5 eggs 3 egg whites 1 cup 1% milk 1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Coat a nonstick muffin tin generously with cooking spray (see Tip). 2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Add oil to the pan. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the sausage. Let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in scallions, cheese and pepper. 3. Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk in a medium bowl. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the sausage mixture into each cup. 4. Bake until the tops are just beginning to brown, 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a rack on top of the pan, flip it over and turn the quiches out onto the rack. Turn upright and let cool completely. Individually wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, remove plastic, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on High for 30 to 60 seconds. A good-quality nonstick muffin tin works best for this recipe. If you don�t have one, line a regular muffin tin with foil baking cups. Nutrition Information Per quiche: 90 calories; 5 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 105 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 0 g fiber; 217 mg sodium. Have a great weekend.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vacation, Books.

The cottage, Sugar Shack, we are renting in NC has a King Sized bed and we don't so we have to borrow sheets from our friends. Yesterday they popped in quickly to bring us a set. Early days yet, still a few more weeks to go. However, we are gathering stuff together in our spare room that we don't want to forget. We haven't yet bought ourselves any US dollars which we need on the way down there sometimes. We pay for a lot of things on our credit card, but one often needs cash for and it somehow disappears. One thing we are taking is a radio. There is a TV but we tend to play the radio all day long if the TV is not on. A lot of people tend to leave their TV on all day long, but that would drive me nuts. I have just got hold of the last book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer - Breaking Dawn. Just looking for the cover picture I see Stephenie Meyer is being accused of taking ideas from Jordan Scott's The Nocturne for this last novel. If you would like to read more about it click here. Never having read The Nocturne and not yet having read Breaking Dawn, I have no idea of the truth behind these allegations of plagiarism. Of course its a good way to get people to read Scott's book isn't it? I also got hold of a couple more Mercedes Lackey Books which I haven't come across before, The Phoenix Unchained and The Phoenix Endangered which are part of her Enduring Flame Trilogy. I am not sure why I haven't come across these before, I usually end up devouring her books. I have been rereading a lot of her writings lately, particularly the Heralds of Valdemar Series which I really love and am thoroughly enjoying reading again. Just finished a couple of the Gryphon series, Black and White Gryphon, haven't got hold of Silver Gryphon yet. You will gather I don't read a lot of books which are not fantasy or sci fi any more. Having said that, I have got my name down for the latest Michael McGarrity book at the library, Dead or Alive. This is the most recent in his stories about a cop, Kevin Kerney, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. They are set in New Mexico and the area sounds fantastic, especially if you ride. Amongst the many ezines I get on a daily basis is Recipe du Jour which is published by Richard Rowand , Simply Tim and Walt Mills. They not only have recipes but little stories or daily thoughts about everything and anything which are always great to read. Today they published the following salmon recipe which I borrowed for my blog because I know at least one of my readers is very fond of salmon. Spiced Roast Salmon 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 1/4-inches thick) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon olive oil 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt 4 lemon wedges Heat oven to 400°F. Combine first 8 ingredients in a shallow dish. Sprinkle fillets with salt; dredge fillets in spice mixture. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets, skin sides up; cook 5 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Turn fillets over. Wrap handle of skillet with foil; bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove skin from fillets; discard skin. Serve with yogurt and lemon wedges. Yield: 4 servings. Have a great day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cards, Storms, Queen and Presidents.

We went to a neighbour's apartment last night, to play cribbage and had a most enjoyable evening, especially as I won!!! She said she enjoyed our company and we certainly enjoyed hers. Maybe its going to become something of a regular evening, perhaps once a week if we are all in town. Crib is basically the only game Matt and I play any more, I used to play Bridge once upon a time and we have played Eucre with friends but I couldn't remember the rules without help. Through the years I have gone through Canasta and Rummy plus lots more which I have now forgotten. Our neighbour was talking about some game last night where you use several packs and end up with 30 cards in your hand, seems like too many to me. I would be dropping them all over the place. I have an idea Pinochle is like that. Looks like Hurricane Bill has ended up as a near miss in the States. Giving nasty conditions on all the beaches but not actually hitting land. No doubt some idiots will be out surfing on the storm surge. They always do. Matt is keeping a close eye on the weather as we will be heading to North Carolina soon and don't really want to be evacuated. Mind you, I don't think evacuation is always necessary when you think some of the properties have been there for years and years surviving all kinds of hurricanes. A friend sent me an email the other day pointing out that Queen Elizabeth II has lived through 11 presidents starting with Harry Truman. It showed pictures of her, through the ages, with all of them. Made it quite interesting - I have copied eight of the pictures below. The emphasis of the email was the permanence of the queen and the transience of Presidents. For those of you who are still working or have kids who need to take lunches, Eating Well has published a number of lunches. The following is one of them. Curried Chicken Pitas Makes 4 servings Ingredients 6 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise 1 tablespoon curry powder 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast (see Tip) 1 ripe but firm pear, diced 1 stalk celery, finely diced ½ cup dried cranberries ¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted (see Tip) 4 4- to 5-inch whole-wheat pita breads, cut in half 2 cups sprouts 1. Combine yogurt, mayonnaise and curry powder in a large bowl. Add chicken, pear, celery, cranberries and almonds; toss to combine. 2. Fill each pita half with 1/2 cup chicken salad and 1/4 cup sprouts. Cover and refrigerate the salad (Step 1) for up to 2 days. Tip: If you don’t have cooked chicken, poach about 12 ounces chicken breast for this recipe. Place boneless, skinless chicken breast in a medium skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water (or chicken broth) to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 minutes. To toast sliced or slivered almonds: Place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paypal, Blogger, Cousin,

I've had a Paypal account for years, I rarely use it mind you, but once in a blue moon I have to - every time, I have to close my old account (or get them to) and open a new one. What a pain. I've been messing around with it all for the last half hour or so and all because I wanted to buy Matt a yukata. What is that you ask, its a Japanese men's lounging kimono. He's had one for a number of years which was given to him by a very good friend who, being a Marine at the time, was stationed in Japan for a while. He has used it as a robe, dressing gown, whatever you like, for years, but now it is getting a tad thin where he sits - and being Matt, fidgets. Nope, the guy doesn't come with it. I have still to go back and open a new Paypal account in order to buy it. Why they can't use Visa like anyone else I don't know. Interesting story this morning about or its parent Google being sued in order to get the name of a person blogging defamatory remarks about a model, Liskula Cohen. Click here for the story and video. I don't know if this court case will actually put a stop to such things, it does seem to me that Blogger and Google are something of a law unto themselves, but this time they had to divulge the information. Mind you there are some nasty people out there, Karen Miller just blogged about someone attacking her because she pointed out they were parked in a wheelchair spot and were perfectly 'able' and presumably had no sticker or plate. Luckily she managed to lock herself in her car before the person got to her. I was delighted, this morning, to get an email from a cousin I haven't heard from since 1987. She and her two sisters were brought up by my parents once they became orphaned. I didn't realise she lived in Portugal and was certainly there when we visited the country. If we'd known we could have visited. At the moment she and her sister live there, the third sister lives in the UK these days. She is the middle one of the three little girls here who were my bridesmaids in 1962. That is such a long time ago. Another newsletter from Eating Well and I just couldn't resist this recipe, it looks so delicious in the picture and of course the recipe contains chocolate, well cocoa. Swirled Cheesecake Brownies Makes 24 bars Ingredients Cheesecake topping 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel) ¼ cup sugar 1 large egg 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt ½ teaspoon vanilla extract Brownie layer ⅔ cup whole-wheat pastry flour ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ¼ teaspoon salt 1 large egg 2 large egg whites or 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (see Ingredient note), reconstituted according to package directions 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar ¼ cup canola oil ¼ cup strong brewed (or prepared instant) coffee or black tea 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch brownie pan or baking pan with cooking spray. 2. To prepare topping: Place cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg, flour, yogurt and vanilla; beat until well blended. 3. To prepare brownie layer: Whisk whole-wheat flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place egg, egg whites and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat with the electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add oil, coffee (or tea) and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until well blended, stopping once to scrape down the sides. 4. Scrape about half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Slowly pour the topping evenly on top. Drop the remaining brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters to create a swirled effect. 5. Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Coat a knife with cooking spray and cut into 24 bars. The brownies will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (Alternatively, bake brownies in an 8 1/2-by-12 1/2 -inch foil pan, wrap well and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.) Bring to room temperature and cut into bars shortly before serving. Ingredient Note: Dried egg whites are convenient in recipes like this one because you don't have to figure out what to do with 4 egg yolks. Look for powdered brands like Just Whites in the baking aisle or natural-foods section or fresh pasteurized whites in the dairy case of most supermarkets. have a great day.