Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Doubt, More on Our Trip, New Laptop!!

Last night we watched Doubt with Meryl Streep and the young actress Amy Adams whom I believe plays Julie in the movie Julie and Julia. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, have wanted to watch it for a while now, but we both found it very slow in the beginning so Matt gave up on it, pity because it ended up being a very good film. Meryl Streep has always been one of my favourites except maybe in Mama Mia (more on that later). Friends assure us that Julie and Julia in which Meryl plays Julia Child, is also brilliant. Now we are at September 13 and I dragged Matt into Morehead City's Wal-Mart store - on the way we called in at friend's to see if they would be in later, they were just off to church but said call about 3 and they would give us dinner - to buy me a new laptop. You have to understand that Matt is basically anti computers, he doesn't use them (except for one game) himself and doesn't see why I need or want to. If anything happens to me he will keep accounts in a book once more etc. etc. However, he didn't know what to buy me for my birthday, he knew my old laptop, which a friend had given me a couple of year's ago, was now defunct (well the mouspad was) which isn't bad after 11 years I guess, so agreed we should purchase a new one which, as he now says, is my birthday and Christmas present for the next 10 years. I don't think so!!! I hadn't planned on spending so much, but they showed me some cheaper ones which didn't take a CD so one would have to buy peripherals, then they showed me a Toshiba Satellite L355 which was around $430 on special; we decided to go for it. It is actually a more powerful machine than my desktop back home. It has a 250 GB Hard Drive which to me, who once used a computer without a hard drive at all, is quite incredible. The very first HD I had was something like 500 megabytes. Of course it has wifi and a DVD player and is loaded with Windows Vista which I guess is already outdated, but it is fine by me. We went back to the cottage and dropped into Food Lion to shop for some more "stuff" and bought a couple of sandwiches. Had them with a beer at the picnic table which was very pleasant although there seems to be more traffic this year than before. I can shut my ears to it, but Matt doesn't seem to be able to do so. For some reason I was very, very tired so decided to nap before going to our friend's and nearly overslept as Matt fell asleep watching some TV. Got to their home and they were so very welcoming it was wonderful. We went out to their screened porch and sat talking and it seemed like eating continuously as well as drinking a beer or two. He drives for Frito Lay so I asked for some plain chips (just what I need) and then they brought out veggies and dip, followed by cheese and crackers, then tiny clams in a sauce which were wonderful, I pigged out. I didn't think at the time, but in the days when Matt used to clam regularly, he would have been fined for the smallness of these clams, I wonder how they got away with it. I just came across something called fingernail clams - seems they are an Asian clam and threatening the clams of North America. These could certainly have been fingernail clams. After all this eating we went in to dinner!!!! We had barbecued salmon with linguine in a clam sauce, broccoli and garlic bread and by now were drinking wine. Finished up with a chocolate cake with 7 candles (bit short) which they lit and sang Happy Birthday to me after which I blew them out. Don't think I remembered to wish. They also had a card and a gift for me, what great friends. Even their pets remembered us and were all over us. On Tuesday we have arranged to go for lunch at a new place called MacDaddy's which was designed and now managed by their daughter. It also includes a 10-pin bowling alley. We invited them to come and have dinner with us on Saturday. Appropriately, here is a recipe for grilled salmon which I found on Mexican and Barbecue Recipes. Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Dill 4 salmon steaks or fillets Serves 4 Marinade 1 large lemon, juiced 1 teaspoon lemon zest 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 teaspoon dried dill 1 clove garlic, minced Directions: Place salmon in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Combine marinade ingredients and mix well; pour over salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Turn salmon over halfway through marinade time. Grill salmon directly over medium coals, basting with marinade, for about 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily. Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travelling to North Carolina.

We got going around 9 and then arrived at the Peace Bridge a couple of hours later. We were asked, at US Customs, who owned the car, new one on us, never had that question before. The Peace Bridge is one of the major crossings between Fort Erie, Canada and Buffalo, NY in the States. It has been the subject of much news lately, particularly in view of the increase in armed border guards. Even on the Canadian side they are armed apparently. We were lucky with our crossings apparently, delays have been really bad with people being backed up for 4 hours and more due to a strike recently. When we got to the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were major road works for the first 40 minutes, they must be spending millions on widening the road. I was fascinated because they have cut into rocks at the sides of the road and the striations now apparent were very attractive. Like an attractive rock wall. I wish I had been able to take pictures. The Turnpike crosses some of the most attractive country and I wish it were possible to take reams of video along the trip as the scenery is absolutely fantastic at times. There was a lot of rain in Pennsylvania, it really chucked it down. We didn't get out of the rain until we were in Virginia. Gas prices in the States seem to be running in the $2.60's to the gallon, of course a US gallon is 4/5 of a European gallon.Funny, we passed a house somewhere along the road, and I thought they had deer ornaments in their front yard, then I realised they were moving. There were about half a dozen red deer. I just hoped they wouldn't head out onto the hiway. There was enough road kill anyway. I love to see deer, almost as exciting as seeing dolphin. There are lots of them all over the place, but they are pretty shy and you don't normally see them a lot during the day in particular. Arrived in Winchester and put up for the night. I had mentioned visiting Sky Meadow state park but we didn't after all. I realised we were in the area of the Luray Caverns in VA, we visited those many years ago, there are some fantastic shapes visible in the caves, I have all kinds of pictures at home, but not available now. Heading down one of the Interstates, we happened to notice a flight of three bi-planes. We wondered what that was about. Haven't really seen bi-planes much since World War II. Also saw lots of flocks of birds planning to migrate. Heading down Hiway 70 which leads to Morehead City and the area where we will be staying. We saw more deer at the side of the road, I don't think I have ever seen so many live deer by the roads. I asked in the office and ask about the $100 grocery voucher - I thought we should have two for two weeks. However, they said I shouldn't have even got one. We went to the cottage and unpacked the car then started to make the bed. A knock on the door was an inspector from the company to see if everything was OK. We told her the barbecue was pretty disgusting, she said she would report it. Went out to dinner but first gasssed up, it is $2.39 or so in this area. We also bought some booze - it is still really cheap here, we got two pint bottles for the price of one in Canada. Went to the Fish Trap for supper. Been there before. We ended up with a delicious dish of Mahi Mahi which had been blackened and was served with a home made pineapple salsa and a few shrimp over a bed of rice and black beans. It was great. After dinner we headed over to Lowe's grocery store and did some shopping. I bought a couple of turkey breasts for home and a couple of bottles of wine, so the $100 didn't last long. Whilst we were in the store, the heavens opened. Luckily it wasn't raining quite so hard when we actually left. Made it a tad difficult to see exactly where the cottage is. Luckily Emerald Isle has mile markers and our cottage is just past 17 so we managed to find it. That is the beginning of our trip to North Carolina. More tomorrow. I forgot, we did go bowling after all. This recipe came from Joe Barkson's World Wide Recipes and being a lover of lamb, I thought it sounded really good. Italian Lamb Stew with Olives (Spezzatino di Agnello alle Olive) 2 Tbs (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil 2 lbs (900 g) boneless shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch (3 cm) cubes Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 tsp (5 ml) finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbs (15 ml) dried 1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine 1 can (15 oz, 425 g) whole tomatoes, chopped, with their liquid 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley 12-18 kalamata olives, pitted if desired Heat the oil in the bottom of a large, heavy pot over high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and, working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides in the oil, transferring it to a plate when it is browned. Lower the heat to medium and saute the garlic and rosemary in the same pot for about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir to dissolve the brown bits in the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and meat to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the parsley and olives and cook for 5 minutes. Serves 4 to 6. Have a great day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Quickie About Rain

Got home around 6 then had to go our for supper and get some milk for breakfast. We had been driving through swamping deluges for the best part of two days, absolutely terrible conditions where frequently you couldn't see much past the hood of the car. I guess the rain followed us up as it was chucking it down here through the night. I am knackered and I am not sure we are even going bowling today, I just don't feel up to it. I have laundry up the kazoo, Avon to collect and deliver and so on. Holidays are great aren't they? No recipe again. I promise to get back to where I should be tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Still Here With a Picture of Bogue Pier

No recipes I'm afraid. Just a quick hello and a picture. This shows Bogue Pier and the beach off Emerald Isle, NC.
Will be home soon and hope to blog on Monday.
Have a great week

Friday, September 11, 2009

Travelling, Buying, Eating.

Today we are on the road travelling through Buffalo, NY, then into Pennsylvania past Pittsburg where we pick up the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We then head into Virginia and end up for the night at Winchester. We've never really explored the town of Winchester although some of the countryside once we leave there on Hiway 17 is absolutely gorgeous. I am actually hoping that this year we will have time to visit Sky Meadow State Park which name has drawn my attention for years. We have a bit of extra time as we can't check into the cottage in NC until about 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. tomorrow and from Winchester to the coast of North Carolina doesn't take too long. I always take a shopping list to the States with me as there are a number of things we can either not buy in Canada or can buy a lot cheaper in the States. I also have a short shopping list for some friends. The main thing we tend to buy is fresh shrimp, we get it straight from the boat. I also buy frozen turkey breasts which are incredibly cheap there. Another thing I buy, which I have mentioned before, are jars of pickled Nopalitos which I can find in Piggly Wiggly in North Carolina. Nopalitos being cactus leaves and to me, absolutely delicious. Here's an interesting pasta recipe from Eating Well, I would probably use canned cannelini beans for this, I rarely ever bother to cook beans. I like to buy cans of cannelini beans in the States too, I am told that the beans we get here are the same, but they aren't sold as cannelini and they just don't seem quite the same to me. Zucchini, Fennel & White Bean Pasta From EatingWell: September/October 2009 Turn humble pasta and beans gourmet by adding roasted vegetables, fresh mint and tangy, salty aged goat cheese. When making a pasta dish with beans, you can use some of the bean-cooking liquid to give the sauce silky body and help it cling to the pasta. If you’re using canned beans, use some of the pasta-cooking liquid or just water. 4 servings, about 2 1/4 cups each Ingredients * 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed * 2 medium zucchini * 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided * 1/4 teaspoon salt * 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat penne or similar short pasta * 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped * 1 cup cooked cannellini beans, plus 1/2 cup bean-cooking liquid, pasta-cooking liquid or water (see Tip) * 2 plum tomatoes, diced * 3/4 cup crumbled hard, aged goat cheese, or fresh goat cheese * 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves * Freshly ground pepper to taste Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 2. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Quarter zucchini lengthwise. Toss the fennel and zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. 4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. 5. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Add the vegetables, beans and bean-cooking liquid (or other liquid) to the pan with the garlic and place over medium-low heat. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan. Toss thoroughly and add tomatoes; toss until just warm. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and mint. Season with pepper. Tips & Notes * Tip: How to Cook a Pot of Beans * 1. Pick over 1 pound dry beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours. * 2. When you’re ready to cook the beans, heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped celery stalk (optional). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the liquid can be used in some recipes.) * Makes about 6 cups. Have a great day - maybe even a great two weeks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Act Like a Lady, DUI, Laptops.

This morning I caught a segment about Steve Harvey who was/is a stand up comic but has now written a book called Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man all about financial problems in marriages. The theory being that the majority of divorces are caused by marital problems. He said he thinks a couple should have four accounts, one general account where they put all their pay and from which mortgages, household bills and such are taken. A second account should be a savings account into which you put a regular amount every payday and which needs two signatures to withdraw anything. The third and fourth accounts should be individual ones for each spouse to give them a certain amount of independence. Matt and I have been married for 37 years this month and have always had a general account and more recently a savings account. We have never had any problems as either of us can withdraw money at any time. However, if one of the couple indulges in uncontrolled spending, I can see that would be a problem. I know of friends who have personal accounts so they can use that money however they wish. We have never found it necessary. Anyway, Steve was giving financial advice to couples this morning, most of which I thought was very sound. As he says, he has messed up marriages twice and thinks he has now got it right. One thing which used to happen in some households was that the wife would have to ask her husband if she needed money, I think that is dreadful. A piece of advice I personally would give to people would be to use financial software. Once I started to use Quicken - before that Manage Your Money - I could keep an eye on where our money was going and control our expenditures if and when necessary. There are probably other financial programmes out there, but I don't actually know of them. I can't believe the latest news on drunk driving, a Québec man, Roger Walsh of St-Lazare, has had 18 DUI convictions and last year struck and killed a woman out with her dog. She was in a wheelchair. He has been given a life sentence with eligibility for parole in 7 years. What's the betting they let him out at that time. There was an argument because the crown wanted to declare him a dangerous offender but he wasn't so declared. Seems like a dangerous offender to me. Today it will be packing and loading stuff into the car and all the last minute stuff one has to do before vacationing. Not so bad this end, but I hate coming home and having to unpack everything. There's a difference in the anticipation of heading out and the finality of returning. Oh, keep it quiet, but I think I have persuaded Matt that I need a new laptop as a birthday present next week. As I mentioned, the mouse pad in my old one has gone kaput and as I am assured it will cost me a small fortune to repair it, I have been moaning and groaning about it plus saying "What are you getting for my birthday". So guess where we will be on Sunday when we get to the States. The other day they had Wolfgang Puck of Spago fame, one of my favourite chefs, on GMA and the following is one of his recipes. I guess as this was intended for Labour Day I should have posted it last week. Wolfgang Puck's Mediterranean Grilled Chopped Vegetable Salad With Feta wolfgang puck From the Kitchen of Wolfgang Puck Servings: 4 Labor Day might be a day off for most, but at least one person will be working hard: the master griller. Luckily, another master griller, Wolfgang Puck, dropped by "Good Morning America" to share some of his best Labor Day dishes. So strike up the grill and get ready for some delicious fun. Ingredients 1 medium eggplant 1 medium zucchini 1 medium yellow squash 1 medium fennel bulb 1 small red onion 8 asparagus spears 3/4 cup (180 ml) extra-virgin olive oil Salt Freshly ground black pepper 30 organic green beans, trimmed 10 organic baby carrots, trimmed 1/2 cup (125 ml) pitted and halved Kalamata olives 1 cup (250 ml) mixed organic baby lettuces 1/2 cup (125 ml) organic crumbled feta cheese, plus 1/4 lb (125 g) block 3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1/2 cup (125 ml) Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe follows) 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh parsley leaves Directions Cut the eggplant, zucchini, and squash diagonally into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Trim the fennel and cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Peel the onion and cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Trim the asparagus. With 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the olive oil, coat all the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Set the vegetables aside. Build a fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill, for indirect-heat cooking. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a mixing bowl with ice and water. Add the green beans to the boiling water and, as soon as it returns to the boil and the beans are bright green, use a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer them to the ice water. Add the baby carrots and boil until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to the ice water. Drain the vegetables and set aside. When the fire is hot, place the vegetables on the cooking grid not directly above the heat. Cook, turning as necessary to prevent scorching, until are nicely browned and tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes total cooking time. As they are done, transfer the vegetables to a platter and leave to cool. Cut the grilled vegetables into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces. Cut the carrots and green beans on the bias into 1/4-inch (6-mm) pieces. Put all the vegetables, olives, lettuces and crumbled feta in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Divide the 1/2 cup (125 ml) of vinaigrette among 4 large salad plates, spooning it around the edge. Mound the salad mixture evenly in the middle. Using a cheese plane or swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, shave the block of feta over each salad. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Busy Day, Hubble Telescope, Linville Gorge.

Do you ever feel you are running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off, that's how yesterday felt to me - or at least in the morning. Especially as when we went to the cleaners for my Kimono it wasn't ready although the woman had promised me it would be when I took it in a week ago. We did get some US dollars at an excellent rate and I made my periodic visit to my foot nurse. Then Matt got his hair cut and I shopped for a few last minute things we needed, dropped books off at the library and then came home. Once home I had to make a number of phone calls and so on and so on. Then later Matt discovered that a car wash he had paid for a while back expired yesterday so he had to go down after supper to get the car done. Just one of those days I guess. Some wonderful new pictures from the Hubble Telescope on GMA today, click here to see a video. It has now been repaired and it is like having a new telescope. There is one picture which shows a spiral galaxy, this light left its galaxy 6,000,000 years ago which is almost inconceivable. There is an article about the repairs and the telescope at Hubble's Cosmic Comeback which makes interesting reading. I am not sure if I will be able to do my blog at all whilst I am away. I have an old laptop which was given to me a couple of years ago and it is now playing me up, the mouse pad causes the cursor to jiggle and getting it to point at something specific is a pain in the rear end. So I may end up taking the two weeks off anyway. Go on cry, I know you will miss me!!! I will tell you all about it when I get back. I have just made a discovery about the existence of the Linville Gorge in the mountains of North Carolina. I lived in NC for 12 years and I never heard about this before even though we visited the mountains several times; we had friends in Blowing Rock. Here is an article about Linville Gorge click here which I think is too far for a short trip from the coast apart from which I would never cope with the walking, what a pity. We have been saying for years that North Carolina is a great state neglected by most tourists who drive straight through on their way to either South Carolina or Florida. Linville Gorge is yet another reason to visit. Here is a recipe suitable for my friends with celiac disease - a gluten free dessert from Eating Well. Vanilla Bean Flans with Agave Syrup & Caramelized Walnuts From EatingWell: January/February 2009 This melt-in-your-mouth custard is delicately flavored with vanilla bean and lightly sweetened with agave syrup. Crunchy caramelized walnuts are an addictively delicious topping. Adapted from Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World-Famous Spa (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008) by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider with Chef Jesùs González, Chef of La Cocina Que Canta. 6 servings Flans * 1/4 cup agave syrup, (see Note) * 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk * 1 fresh vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract * 3 extra-large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks * 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar Caramelized Walnuts * 6 tablespoons chopped walnuts * 1 tablespoon agave syrup * 1 tablespoon brown sugar Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. 2. To prepare flans: Put 2 teaspoons agave syrup in the bottom of each of six 6- to 8-ounce straight-sided ovenproof ramekins. Refrigerate the ramekins for 15 minutes to thicken the syrup. 3. Meanwhile, pour milk into a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean and, with the tip of a sharp knife, scrape all the black paste inside into the milk. Add the pod. (Or add vanilla extract to the milk.) Heat over medium heat until the milk is very hot and bubbles form around the edges of the pan, but do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 4. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add 1 cup of the hot milk, whisking constantly as you pour. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk a little at a time. 5. Strain the custard back into the pan through a sieve; carefully skim off any foam. Divide the custard among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan. Carefully pour 1 inch of boiling water into the pan, being careful not to splash water into the custard. Cover the pan with foil. 6. Bake until the custards no longer jiggle in the center, 25 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of the ramekin). Carefully remove the foil and let the flans cool in the water bath for 1 hour. Cover the ramekins and transfer to the refrigerator until chilled, about 1 hour. 7. To prepare walnuts: Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 8. Toss walnuts with agave syrup and brown sugar until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 6 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. Spread out on wax paper to cool. 9. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and invert onto a plate. Top each flan with about 1 tablespoon of the walnuts. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the flans for up to 2 days. Store walnuts (Steps 7-8) in an airtight container for up to 3 days. | Equipment: Six 6- to 8-ounce straight-sided ovenproof ramekins * Note: Agave syrup or nectar is the naturally sweet juice extracted from the agave plant. It has a lower glycemic index and is lower in calories than table sugar, but is even sweeter. Use it in moderation when substituting for table sugar. Look for it near other sweeteners in natural-foods stores. Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


funny pictures of cats with captions see more Lolcats and funny pictures Got a busy day today and not a lot of time to do anything. Thought I would share a Lolcat picture with you instead. Flank steak is no longer the inexpensive meat it used to be unfortunately, however it is still a delicious piece of beef. Here is a good recipe from Eating Well. Tomato-Herb Marinated Flank Steak From EatingWell: July/August 2009 In this recipe, we make a dual-purpose sauce from garden-fresh tomatoes, shallot, marjoram and rosemary. We use half the sauce to marinate the steak and use the other half as a basting sauce. Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is gentler on the environment, free from growth-promoting hormones and typically lower in fat and calories than grain-fed beef. Marinating grass-fed beef for a full day helps make it tender. Look for it at natural-foods markets or find it online. 6 servings | * 1 medium tomato, chopped * 1 shallot, peeled and quartered * 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar * 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram * 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary * 1 teaspoon salt * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper * 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, preferably grass-fed, trimmed Preparation 1. Puree tomato, shallot, vinegar, marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup, covered, in the refrigerator. Scrape the remaining puree into a large, sealable plastic bag. Add steak and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours. 2. Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade). Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the steak 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or 6 to 7 minutes per side for medium, turning once and brushing the cooked side with some of the reserved sauce. When the steak is cooked, turn it over again and brush with more sauce. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak crosswise and serve with any remaining sauce spooned on top. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Marinate steak for up to 24 hours. * Kitchen Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) Have a great day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day, Vacation, Dinner Party

So in Canada and the States at least it is Labour Day today. I understand from reading Tropic Temper, Glenda Larke's blog, that it is a long weekend in Malaysia too - she tells me it is a state holiday for a Koran Reading competition. Only problem with holiday weekends to us is that we are more or less on holiday all the time so it doesn't mean a lot any more. We had a friend over for dinner last night and we were kind of expecting some fireworks but maybe they are saving them for tonight. We usually get a pretty good view of fireworks from our balcony. There is apparently a movement to call it International Worker's Day - why? Labour Day has been OK for a long time, what's the point of changing it? Apart from which, that is something of a mouthful. If you go to this page on Wikipedia you can join a discussion on the name change. Friday we leave for North Carolina so this week is going to be busy doing some last minute things, not the least of which will be dealing with Avon before I go. Then there's trying to use up all the perishable foods in the fridge and out of it and making sure the things we need to take with us are all ready to be packed. At our ages we have a special bag for pills and potions, we have so damned many of them. Not quite as bad as the picture, but that's what it seems like sometimes. Last night we cooked the Marmalade Chicken recipe I posted on September 2. It turned out very well although there was rather more sauce than I expected. I made the Heirloom Tomato and Basil Tart posted on May 20th and the Almond Rice pudding from September 4. All pretty filling I might say. I am still stuffed this morning. With the chicken I decided to serve a cole slaw. I have a recipe I picked up from a friend in the States several years ago which is one we both liked very much. It isn't loaded with sugar, nor does it get too soggy like a lot of slaws. A lot of that is due to the fact that everything is hand shredded, not put in a machine to slice and chop. I forgot to take a picture last night so this is leftovers. Selma's Cole Slaw 1 head cabbage, hand shredded 2 sticks celery, shredded 1 cucumber, chopped 1 green pepper, seeded, chopped 1 med carrots, grated 1 large onion, or more, chopped 2 Tbs Mayonnaise 1 Tbs Vinegar salt and pepper Prepare vegetables in a large bowl. Mix mayonnaise, vinegar and seasonings. Toss vegetables in dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More About Elephants, Latest Book.

Last year, I think, I read Water for Elephants, which was a great book. A major part of the story was that the elephant had killed one of her trainers who was cruel to her. This morning there was a news story about Pittsburg zoo having hired a horse trainer to teach them to train elephants with kindness instead of making the elephants fear the trainers. They had a trainer stomped on by one of the elephants. I must say, I didn't know any elephant trainers used cruelty any more, I thought people in the animal training business had all "wised up". Naive of me I guess. You can view the video on GMA Weekend here together with some lovely pictures from Pittsburg Zoo. I wrote before about the breeding programme at Rockton African Lion Safari in Ontario, not that far from us. In fact Matt worked security there for a while a few years ago. I asked him about it and he says the elephants all appeared happy and got on well with their handlers there. This is a not very clear picture of the elephants at Rockton going for their twice daily swim. If you would like to know more about African Lion Safari click here we have enjoyed going there ever since we emigrated to Canada, its a great place to visit and they have one of the best elephant breeding programmes in the world. I know I mentioned Dollie the sheep dog who herds the elephants and lives in the barn with them. Matt made great friends with her. I have just finished reading The Prodigal Mage by Karen Miller. I didn't think it was as good as the original books in the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker Series there was too much fratching; if you don't know what that means, read the book. Nevertheless I am chomping at the bit for the next book which she hasn't even started, unfortunately. Karen is an incredibly prolific writer and last year wrote 5 books, don't know how many she has achieved this year - among them are a number of Star Wars books plus another trilogy which she is working on at the moment, Witches Inc being the next in that series. Hard to keep up with her. I love Crêpes whether they are for dessert or savoury. This is a really nice sounding recipe from Eating Well. Summer Vegetable Crêpes From EatingWell: July/August 2008 Crêpes aren't just for dessert—they make a quick and savory weeknight dinner. Here they're filled with ricotta cheese, green beans, zucchini and corn and topped with a chive-cream sauce. Don't skip the step of placing a piece of parchment or wax paper under each crêpe as you fill it—without it, the crêpes are tricky to roll. Serve with: A tossed salad. 4 servings 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish 3 tablespoons low-fat milk 2 teaspoons lemon juice 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 cups chopped zucchini 1 1/4 cups chopped green beans 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (from 1 large ear; see Tip) 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 4 9-inch “ready-to-use” crêpes, (see Tip) Preparation 1. Stir sour cream, 1/4 cup chives, milk, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined. Set aside. 2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in ricotta, Monterey Jack, the remaining 1/4 cup chives, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. 3. To roll crêpes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper (or leave it on the piece of plastic separating the crêpes in the package). Spoon one-fourth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about 3/4 cup) down the center of the crêpe. Use the paper (or plastic) to help you gently roll the crêpe around the filling. Place the crêpe seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling. Serve each crêpe topped with 2 tablespoons of the reserved sauce and more chives, if desired. * Tips: To remove kernels, stand a cob on its stem end in a bowl and slice them off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. * “Ready-to-use” crèpes are fast and convenient. Look for them in the produce section of the market or near refrigerated tortillas. Have a great weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stye, Bowling and Microwave Meringues,

I have a stye, I haven't had a stye in years and now I have one. I am mightily fed up and that's being very polite. Just discovered the proper name is hordeolum. The old wive's tale is to rub the stye with a gold wedding ring several times. I don't know if it really works, but they used to sell Golden Eye Ointment in Britain many years ago. I'm not sure why a 'wedding' ring but I do rub a gold ring across it and it does seem to help. Must be something in the chemical composition of gold I suppose. No, that's not my eye!!! I am now wondering what else, I don't think I mentioned I bruised my finger badly on Monday when a bowling ball came back on the ball return and I had my hand in the way - stupid me, I wasn't watching what I was doing. I don't know if you can see this on the picture, but the returning balls come rolling along the return at considerable speed, enough to get them up the ramp onto the ball collector at the back. When they get there they are still moving pretty fast and slam into one another. If you have your fingers in there, it can be bloody painful I assure you. So I'm wounded!!! More bowling again today, its the Friday section of our senior league and this is the first day of their season. There's only a few of us and from what we hear, there will be even less than last year. Yesterday I made some almond rice pudding - haven't made it for a while. I now have two egg whites to use up. I don't know whether to sling them into some scrambled egg or to make some meringues. Did you know you can cook meringues in a microwave? I have a recipe and the first time I tried it I burnt them horribly. They cooked for far too long. However, after several tries, I finally achieved something edible. I can't find the recipe I originally used, it was sent in by a friend to our recipe group, but this one came from the Good Food Magazine. Microwave Meringues in Minutes 300g icing sugar 1 lightly beaten egg white Sift 300g of icing sugar over 1 lightly beaten egg white. Stir until the mixture is a thick, pliable icing and roll into balls. Line a plate with kitchen paper. Put 3 balls at a time on the plate and microwave them on high for 1½ mins and watch, in amazement, as the balls balloon and puff into meringues.When they are cool, use the meringues in desserts. They're perfect for sandwiching together with whipped cream and sliced tropical fruit. I thought I had given the recipe for Almond Rice Pudding too, but it appears not, so here it is. Two recipes for the price of one. I particularly like this recipe because it is all cooked in a saucepan which makes life very easy. Almond Rice Pudding 1 cup (250 ml) water 1/2 cup (125 ml) long-grain rice, rinsed A 3-inch (8 cm) piece of orange rind A pinch of salt 4 cups (1 L) milk 1 cup (250 ml) sugar 1/4 cup (60 ml) ground blanched almonds 2 egg yolks, well beaten Ground cinnamon for garnish 1 Combine the water, rice, orange rind, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Discard the orange rind and add the milk, sugar, and almonds. 2 Cook uncovered over low heat until the milk has been absorbed, 55 to 60 minutes (I suggest you stir at least once). Stir in the egg yolks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls or cups. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature, garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Servings: 6 Have a great day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Watches, Varicose Veins, Pecked by Ducks.

I had to buy a new watch yesterday. For years I have been wearing a Cassio men's water resistant watch which had a number of functions I didn't use. However, part of it snapped off the day before. I have an Omega gold watch which I have had for centuries (well seems like) but I don't wear it a lot any more as it is a) not water resistant b) not digital and c) doesn't show time and date. Matt thought I should start wearing it again, but you can bet your bottom dollar it would have been in the shower with me before you could spit. Plus I am not used to having to actually wind up a watch any more!! So off we went to Zellers (big chain store in Canada) to get me another cheap watch. I ended up with a Sportek which also had 25% off so I was pleased. It is cheap and cheerful and not too many bells and whistles which I don't need on a watch. Once my other watch broke, I pulled out three watches which turned out not to work any more and yet my Omega and another watch which was the first Matt ever bought, work like a charm. As a general watch though, Matt wears a Seiko diving watch although he hasn't dived in years. Surprisingly the weather has actually been very nice for the last two days. Not too hot, but pleasant for sitting out and yet pretty cool at night dropping to temps like 9°C. This morning there was a segment of great interest to me about varicose veins. There is a new procedure called VNUS ClosureFAST which can be done in the doctor's office in 15 minutes or so. It is available in the States, whether it can be done in Canada I don't know. There is an article and a video at this site for those of you who wish to check this procedure out. Heredity plays a part in causing varicose veins as does pregnancy, standing and last, but not least, overweight. I just came across a blog called Pecked By Ducks, I think the author, Marina, is so funny, I added her to my blog list - do check her out. Because we are soon heading to North Carolina my mind is turning towards shrimp dishes. I just came across this one on Shrimp Asopao (Shrimp Stew) Burt Wolf's Table 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 cup chopped onion 2 1/2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes 16 large uncooked shrimp, peeled, cleaned, and deveined 1/4 cup recaito (see Note) 5 cups warm chicken stock 3 cups cooked white rice 1 cup cooked asparagus tips 1 cup cooked peas, fresh or frozen 1/2 cup chopped stuffed olives DIRECTIONS In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil until hot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until opaque, about 3 minutes. Stir in the recaito. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir well. Bring the stew almost to a boil, then serve at once. NOTE: If recaito is not available, combine equal parts of chopped onion, chopped jalapeño peppers, and cilantro, and add a little olive oil. Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Flight of Elephants, Big Cats, Big Weather.

We watched a fascinating programme on Public Television last night called The Flight of the Elephants. The basic premise is that Asian Elephants in Thailand are in major trouble due to loss of habitat. 10% are OK due to tourism but otherwise the rest are not doing so well. Australian zoos decided to import 8 elephants into special habitats built in both Sydney and Melbourne in order to help preserve the species. The elephants were quarantined for 3 months in Thailand whilst Australians fought about whether this should take place or not. Finally, after two years a decision was made to accept the elephants into Australia. The elephants were loaded into crates to be taken to a special plane to be flown, four at a time, to another quarantine on the Caicos Islands but Thai protesters turned up during the journey and showed such concern for the animals that they ended up being in cages in the boiling sun for 24 hours. Finally they went back to their camp in Thailand whilst the two governments talked it out. Eventually it got sorted out and they loaded the elephants at night hoping the protesters would be asleep. Despite more troubles they finally got the animals shipped out for their 3 months in the Caicos and eventually to their beautiful new homes in Australia. One of the principal elephants in the documentary was Thong Dee who was originally a street elephant in Bangkok. You can read about her here. Thong Dee has also had a baby since being in the Taronga Zoo in Australia click here. I really enjoyed this programme last night. In fact, we had been to a friend's home earlier in the evening to play cribbage. Gals against guys and the guys won by one game, you should have heard the crowing that went on, Grrr. A lot of talk was bandied around about male superiority and so on. Yeaaaaah. Tonight we go to a neighbour's apartment for a game. Not sure about next week as we might be too busy getting ready to travel. We turned GMA off early this morning as they had Whitney Houston on, her first concert in years, 7 I think. Sorry but I haven't the remotest interest in her and intensely dislike some of the wailing noises she makes. Not my thing at all. California and the Baja Peninsula are having a bad time of it at the moment what with fires and a hurricane. Unfortunately they don't think the rains of the hurricane will reach the fires. There is a video on the GMA website click here about the Shambala Preserve in California which is home to 64 rare big cats, a lot of which people had tried to make into pets and then gotten rid of when they realised their mistakes. Two tigers, Thriller and Sabu, were owned by Michael Jackson. The video explains why, at the moment, they are not planning to evacuate the Shambala Preserve although they are right in the middle of the fires. Several other zoos have been evacuated - they lost a couple of chimps for a while during their evacuation. I was discussing with Matt, yesterday, about the wild animals though, not a subject anyone ever mentions. Here's a quick dish from Eating Well today. Sounds like a good one for supper tonight. Marmalade Chicken Makes 4 servings 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar 2 tablespoons orange marmalade 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 pound chicken tenders (see Note) ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 2 large shallots, minced 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest 1. Whisk broth, vinegar, marmalade, mustard and cornstarch in a medium bowl. 2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. 3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and shallots to the pan and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Add the chicken; return to a simmer. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in orange zest. Note: Chicken tenders are the virtually fat-free strips of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of chicken breasts. They can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.” Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bowling, Repairing, Rapist, Bloody Tears.

As I mentioned, we had our first day of our Winter league bowling and we both bowled like people with no arms. Matt had one good game, I had one fair game and that was it. Bummer. Lucky we have some good games stored for when we are away. We will also be bowling on Friday which is the extra branch, as it were, of the Winter league. This morning I have someone coming to give me an estimate on refinishing our dining table. Unfortunately, through the years, it has got damaged by bracelets, watch straps, general use, etc. Matt thinks it will cost more than a new one to fix it, we shall see. I must be in the mood to get things repaired, I fished out a Kimono I bought in San Francisco in 1988. It was supposed to always be dry cleaned, I had washed it over the years and it had suffered somewhat on the hem - I tried to fix it without much success, I have always been domestically challenged - so the hemline and one seam badly need fixing, plus it wants cleaning. We shall see what they can achieve. It is a delightful garment and has been stuck in a closet for a number of years. The colour is something of the blue in the picture only with dragons on it - does that surprise you? What, I wonder, is the matter with the legal system. This morning a previous victim of Phillip Garrido's was interviewed. After raping her repeatedly and her ultimate rescue, Garrido was sentenced to 50 years for rape and 100 years for kidnapping. He was released in 10 and subsequently abducted Jaycee Dugard whom he kept in his back yard for 18 years. What idiot parole board, judge or other authority made the decision to release him. If I were Jaycee's family I would be hopping mad. Turns out that Jaycee's kids are 15 and 11 which means she would have borne the first one when she was 14. I said it before, he should have been castrated although Matt thinks it wouldn't get rid of the whole problem. Another odd story I heard on GMA today, a young man who has tears of blood. The doctors are totally baffled and can't seem to do anything about it. They describe it as a medical mystery. It happens to him some 3 times a day and the family is at their wits end. If you want to read the article click here where there is also a video clip. The publicity on GMA is a cry for help if there is anyone anywhere who can assist them. I had my regular newsletter from Hershey's yesterday and I thought these Mini Cakes looked rather scrumptious, apart from which we haven't had anything chocolatey for a while. Espresso Filled Mini Cakes 2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup boiling water ESPRESSO CREAM FILLING (recipe follows)OR apricot preserves or other flavor of your choice COCOA GLAZE(recipe follows) Directions: 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour fourteen 6-ounce custard cups. 2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in water (batter will be thin). Fill each prepared cup with scant 1/2 cup batter. Place custard cups on cookie sheet. 3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes on wire racks; remove mini cakes from cups. Cool completely. Cut mini cakes horizontally about 1 inch from top. Spread bottom with FILLING or preserves; replace top of cake. Drizzle with COCOA GLAZE. Refrigerate until serving time. Refrigerate leftover cakes. About 14 mini cakes. ESPRESSO CREAM FILLING: Combine 1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons powdered instant espresso (or powdered instant coffee) in small bowl; beat until stiff. About 2 cups filling. COCOA GLAZE 1/2 cup whipping cream 1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon butter 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract Stir together whipping cream and corn syrup in small saucepan. Stir together cocoa and sugar in small bowl; add to cream mixture, stirring well. Add butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Do not boil. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to desired consistency. About 1 cup glaze. NOTE: Glaze may be stored in airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat over low heat, stirring constantly. VARIATION: CUPCAKES: Line muffin pan (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Fill 1/2 full with batter. Bake at 350°F. 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Fill and glaze as directed in recipe. About 3 dozen cupcakes. Have a great day.