Saturday, October 31, 2009

H1N1, Books I'm Enjoying.

IF YOU ARE IN NORTH AMERICA DON'T FORGET YOUR CLOCKS TONIGHT We have now had our shots. Talking to the doctor, even she doesn't really know who should or should not have the shot. Basically she understands that people with chronic conditions need them, people working in the medical field, obviously, and children, but whether or not people over 65 need them, she cannot say and according to her, the advice changes almost day to day, so she has come down to "if you ask, you can get". Matt is in the 'don't really know' category as he doesn't have a chronic condition; he had one anyway. The warning is that one is likely to get a very sore arm, the secretary warned us and the doc confirmed it and asked if we were right or left handed, giving it to us in the opposite arm. It seemed to me that she was drawing fluid from three different bottles for this vaccination. Not being a pharmacist, I don't know what all three were. No doubt you will now hear me crying for a while because I have a sore arm. I haven't told you about the books I have been reading lately, through a newsletter I take, I got a recommendation for these books of Maria V. Snyder, the first one is Poison Study which I read and now Magic Study which I am half way through. I am really enjoying them. The first book is about a young woman in prison for murder who is given the opportunity to either be executed or become a food taster for the Commander of the country. Death by execution or death by poison. Her first job is to learn to recognise all the poisons - one of which is a real killer and not many survive. If you enjoy spec fic (there's lots of magic) you will enjoy these books. I am racing through them and have the third book on order from the library - Fire Study. I also see she has other books which I will check into next. Looking for cover art to show you, I find there are several different versions. I chose the one's I saw. I have also been reading, but not yet finished, Washington Square by Henry James. It is the book from which the play and movie, The Heiress, were adapted. It is slowish going as it was written in the 1800's and the prose is very flowery and not all that exciting to read although I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. The characters in the book are really not quite as portrayed in the play, it makes me want to be involved in producing the play again just to get it right. One of the other foods (chocolate and lobster being two) I will sell my soul for is Carrot Cake. I have already posted at least one recipe for a full on luscious cake, this recipe from Eating Well is a healthier version than usual, but I still don't think its that free of calories. I'm not too sure about 16 servings either, not in my house. Carrot Cake From EatingWell Carrots give carrot cake a health-halo effect—people think it's health food, but it's usually very high in fat and calories. But our version has about 40 percent less calories and 50 percent less fat than most. First, we use less oil in our batter. Then we skip the butter in the frosting (don't worry, it's still light and smooth). To ensure the cake is moist, we add nonfat buttermilk and crushed pineapple. 16 servings Ingredients Cake * 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple * 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient Note) * 2 teaspoons baking soda * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon * 3 large eggs * 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar * 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip) * 1/2 cup canola oil * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * 2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium) * 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut * 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip) Frosting * 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel), softened * 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted * 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract * 2 tablespoons coconut chips, (see Ingredient Note) or flaked coconut, toasted Preparation 1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. 2. Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice. 3. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and 1/4 cup coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. 4. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. 5. To prepare frosting and finish cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Tips & Notes * Ingredient Notes: Whole-wheat pastry flour, lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large super markets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer. * Large thin flakes of dried coconut called coconut chips make attractive garnishes. Find them in the produce section of large supermarkets or at * Tips: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk. * To toast chopped walnuts and coconut chips, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes. Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This video shows a young man named Declan who wrote and composed this song at the age of 13. I just had to share it with you.

Tim Hortons, Medical Stuff.

The donuts were good (well I only had one) but the bowling wasn't the greatest for me. Matt had one very good game. However, the main thing, we had fun, with both lunch and the bowling. Lots of laughs and nice to be with good friends whom we haven't seen for a while. Weather was slightly foggy and very dull all day, but the maples in their golden glory brightened up everything as we passed. Talking of donuts (we don't even spell them the same way in North America) there is a well known and very successful chain of coffee shops here called Tim Hortons. There is practically one on every corner. They do excellent coffee and obviously, donuts, but they also have quite a variety of other foods available these days including things for lunch. Tim Horton was a hockey player once upon a time (that's ice hockey for Europeans) and started the chain in 1964. If you are interested click here for the full story. When I first came to Canada I was surprised to eat a Tim Hortons donut which is quite different from those I was used to in England. The texture is not the same at all, these are more cakey if you know what I mean. Of course I haven't had an English donut in over 30 years, so I have no idea what they are like today. I was actually not too keen on the Canadian version when I first tasted one. Unfortunately I changed, now when there is a box full available, I am one of the first in line. This morning I went to have my bloodwork done at a local clinic, very convenient, its just down the road. I couldn't believe it, I got there just before 7 and there were 18 people before me (they give us numbers). I guess I will have to start getting there earlier. There wasn't a seat to be had, but luckily one young man offered his to me - something which doesn't happen very often these days - I was very grateful as I am not good at standing any more. This afternoon is our regular Friday bowling leage and then we go for our H1N1 shots at the doctors. There is something of a row taking place at the moment, one of the stations, sorry I forget which, is showing a revealing description and video of how a woman should self examine for breast cancer. There are people saying a woman's breast should not have been used and a model should have been substituted. Particularly on TV. There are, in fact, several such instruction videos on the internet; many women do not know how to properly self examine for cancer and the feeling is that showing such a video on TV will help such women and maybe save lives. Personally I agree. As one woman pointed out, if you really want to see women's breasts sexually there are many other places you can do so, not least on the internet. If you are a dumb cluck like me, who never went for a mammogram until recently and certainly never knew how to properly examine myself, you will check out these videos. This recipe came from Joe Barkson's World Wide Recipes, however, the picture came from a different source so it shows the truffles covered in ground hazelnuts instead of chocolate. Obviously you can do this if you prefer. I will NOT be making these, I would have trouble keeping my hands off them. The box of Ferrero Rocher I can, kind of, forget, but having these sitting around would be way too much temptation for me. Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles 6 oz (180 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped 8 Tbs (120 ml) unsalted butter 4 Tbs (60 ml) cream 2/3 cup (160 ml) sifted confectioner's (powdered) sugar 4 Tbs (60 ml) finely ground hazelnuts Cocoa, chocolate pastilles, or chocolate shot for covering Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or in a heavy pot over very low heat. Stir in the cream. Add the sugar and hazelnuts gradually, stirring to eliminate lumps before adding more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Form individual balls by rolling about a teaspoonful (5 ml) in between the palms of your hands. The warmth of your hands will melt the surface just enough for the covering to adhere. Roll in the covering and refrigerate. For best flavor, remove from refrigerator 2 hours before serving. Makes about 6 oz (175 g). Have a great day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall, Wipes and Bowling.

I've been meaning to mention the colours around here. They are absolutely beautiful this year. All around us we are driving through avenues of golden trees with the leaves on the ground carpeting the roads and grass with gold as well, it is the prettiest sight. My camera is not good enough to do it all justice unfortunately, but this is an idea of what it looks like. Although we have more golden in the streets at the moment. Outside the local library, they have three bushes which turn a fiery red. I tried to take a picture but unfortunately they look almost pink - this was taken on my mini camera which I carry in my purse all the time. Doesn't really do it justice. It was funny, whilst I was taking this picture, a mother walked by with her littlie and on seeing me taking pictures, the littlie wanted a picture taken too - I obliged. Matt took the picture I printed back to the library in the hopes that the mother or someone will recognise the youngster and she can get the picture. Its nice to see someone so young with a book. The librarians recognised the child and will pass the picture on to the mother.

I had a response from Loblaws who own most of the supermarkets round here, you may remember I wrote to them about disinfectant wipes for cart handles. They basically said their health department had looked into this and had decided the disinfectant was unhealthy to ingest and that very young children riding in the carts have been known to chew on the handles. Also adults could touch the disinfected handles and then their mouths. I don't know - personally I would prefer disinfectant to someone else's germs, wouldn't you?

Today is the first of our monthly Travel Leagues with Seniors 5-pin bowling. We will be going to New Hamburg where we join some of the other bowlers for lunch and then go bowling for fun. Once upon a time there were several alleys involved and we travelled to a different one every month, but now everyone seems to have dropped out except for two alleys and a team from an alley that no longer exists. We have fun though. We also get donuts!!!

 The following recipe came from a recent Eating Well newsletter. A reader had written to suggest serving this with wholewheat pasta and fresh spinach thrown in with the shrimp. Thought I would pass that on for what its worth.

Lemon-Garlic Marinated Shrimp
From EatingWell: December 2006
Marinating precooked shrimp in garlic- and lemon-infused oil is a simple yet elegant appetizer.

12 servings
 Ingredients *

3 tablespoons minced garlic *
 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil *
 1/4 cup lemon juice *
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley *
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt *
1/2 teaspoon pepper *
1 1/4 pounds cooked shrimp
1. Place garlic and oil in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss with shrimp in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nostalgia about the Dominican.

Messing with my new laptop and browsing through photos I have on the internet, it made me very nostalgic for the Dominican Republic where we had such a fabulous time even though I got fairly sick whilst there. The scenery in particular was spectacular and mostly the food was great. My biggest complaint were the toilet facilities outside the resort. They did leave a lot to be desired. I remember the best place for such facilities was in Puerta Plata and they didn't have any doors!!! Unfortunately if I went back there I would probably be confined to the resort as I am no longer able to do the traipsing around that we did last time. One thing we did see which we found interesting was the area which was used in the movie Jurassic Park when some of the smaller dinosaurs were running across the landscape. If you enlarge the pictures I am sure you will remember the scene. I certainly did when I saw the area. Another thing I remember with pleasure is one day we went on a trip and we were the only ones there, long story, we ended up on the Rio San Juan beach which turned out to be just 10 minutes or so from the resort by taxi. We had lunch there, there was an elderly couple who ran a kitchen and bar on the beach, not very impressive, but they produced a wonderful meal of red snapper for Matt and Langoste for me which as I recall cost us peanuts even for the island which wasn't that expensive anyway. Their Piña Coladas weren't too shabby either. Rum is so very cheap on the island and like any islands in that part of the world, its the mixes which become expensive. Once upon a time, flank steak was a very inexpensive meat to buy, but these days it has gained in both popularity and price. Nevertheless, it still makes a good meal. Garlic-Chile Flank Steak From EatingWell: June/July 2005 Serve this great-tasting, tender steak as part of a taco party or with a mixed green salad and sliced avocados. 8 servings Ingredients * 2 cloves garlic, minced * 1/4 cup white vinegar * 2 tablespoons canola oil * 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper, (see Ingredient note) * 1 teaspoon dried oregano * 1 teaspoon ground cumin * 1/4 teaspoon salt * 1-1 1/4 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat Preparation 1. Whisk garlic, vinegar, oil, ground chile, oregano, cumin and salt in a small bowl. Place steak in a shallow baking dish and pour marinade over it, turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, turning once, or overnight. 2. Preheat grill to high heat. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the steak until desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steak very thinly across the grain. Serve warm or chilled. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Marinate steak in the refrigerator for up to 1 day and/or refrigerate cooked steak for up to 1 day. Slice just before serving. * To oil a grill: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray. * Ingredient note: Ancho chile peppers, one of the most popular dried chiles used in Mexico, are dried poblano peppers. They have a mild, sweet, spicy flavor. Ground ancho chile pepper can be found in the specialty-spice section of large supermarkets, or substitute ground chili powder with a pinch of cayenne. Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Movies, H1N1,

I have been enjoying myself lately by watching movies which I have either bought or rented from iTunes. Sunday night I watched The Dark Crystal which is a youngster's story I guess, told you Matt says I am the biggest kid on the block, and I thoroughly enjoyed it once again. All the elements of magic and mystery with a bit of a love story thrown in, what more could I want - well maybe a dragon. I have also downloaded The Dark Night, I have never watched a Batman movie and this was highly touted by everyone so I thought, why not? The other day I watched Prince Caspian which was one of the Chronicles of Narnia - I am now wondering if they are going to make another - and also the second Ice Age movie. The other day, when I called the ambulance for Matt, one of the ambulance guys recommended 'ovguide' for movies, the only problem there, you have to decide when you want to see them and then start them streaming, with the iTunes rentals you have 30 days to watch. Of course if you buy them, you have forever. I have just Googled and the next Narnia film will be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It is due out in 2010 so I will be looking out for it. They are doing a pretty good job on these stories and sticking to the books quite well. It appears that the clinics giving Swine Flu shots yesterday were very full with thousands lining up for theirs, particularly parents bringing their children. One of the 'at risk' criteria is having diabetes; my local clinic is taking place on Nov. 3 you can be sure I will be there, Matt too. We have apparently ordered more vaccine from Australia, so I hope you guys in Oz have enough for yourselves. Marilyn (French Marilyn) in Paris tells me she doesn't know anyone who is having the shot. As for side effects, in china four out of 39,000 had some muscle cramps and/or headache. I get muscle cramps all the time, so ........... Anyway, I think it is probably safer to get the vaccination. I haven't published any potato recipes for a while, so here is one I found on yesterday. I've always enjoyed baked potatoes but I don't eat them very often. Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Caramelized Onions Source: Food & Wine INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes 1 teaspoon canola oil 1 teaspoon olive oil 2 medium onions, thinly sliced 1 small garlic clove, minced 1/4 teaspoon minced rosemary 1/4 teaspoon minced sage 1/4 teaspoon minced thyme Vegetable oil cooking spray 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces) 3 large egg whites plus 2 large whole eggs 3/4 cup skim milk 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg DIRECTIONS In a steamer basket, steam the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then peel and cut them into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Meanwhile, heat the canola and olive oils in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 15 minutes; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if the skillet is dry. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray. Arrange half of the potato slices in the pie pan, overlapping them slightly, and season with salt and pepper. Top with the onions and half of the Parmesan cheese. Cover with the remaining potato slices. In a bowl, combine the egg whites, whole eggs, skim milk, dry milk and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard over the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Bake the gratin for about 45 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is golden. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving. Have a great day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dinner this Weekend, Laptop Batteries.

On the 17th I posted a recipe for Baby Beef Wellingtons, last night we had them for supper, they were delicious. However, if you like your beef rare, I would recommend not cooking them prior to wrapping them in Phyllo pastry and baking them. But they were enjoyable and we will certainly do this recipe again. On Saturday night, I watched Prince Caspian on my laptop which is actually 147 minutes long. Eventually the laptop told me I had only 11 minutes left on my battery, oops, I had assumed the battery lasted for four hours, I guess it doesn't. No problem, I just plugged it into the power, but it wouldn't be much good if we were travelling and I didn't have a source of power. Will have to investigate batteries now. I did discover that it is recommended that I have a second battery and swap the two periodically, it is also recommended one drains the battery occasionally and then recharges it. Since writing this, I Googled batteries, boy are they expensive!! Periodically I get fed up with plain vegetables and want something different. I found this recipe over the weekend and was going to do it with the Wellingtons, I forgot!!! Brussels Sprouts in Mustard Sauce 2 tsp cornstarch a little water 1/3 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth 5 oz Brussels sprouts 3/4 tsp prepared Dijon-style mustard 3/4 tsp lemon juice 1. Dissolve cornstarch in a little water, and set aside. 2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts, and cook until tender. Strain, reserving chicken broth, and place Brussels sprouts in a warm serving dish. 3. Return chicken broth to stove, stir in mustard and lemon juice, and return to boil. Add cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until thickened. Pour over Brussels sprouts to serve. Servings: 2 Have a great day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grocery Stores, Q2C, H1N1,

I've only been back from vacation a month and I finally remembered to write to our local grocery company, Loblaws, who own many different grocery chains, to mention to them something I thought was brilliant in North Carolina, bearing in mind the present health climate, disinfected wipes for the handle on your shopping cart. When you see what happens to some of those handles, not least when you have kids riding in the carts, particularly those with colds, not to mention what adults can be like sometimes, I think it is a stupendous idea and one that all groceries should follow. I suggest you campaign in your own area - unless you are in NC where they have them already, lucky you. I have been passing a large tent in Waterloo with signs all over it and around town about Q2C or Quantam to Cosmos. I kept forgetting to look it up and have finally done so this morning. Now the whole this is just about ended, I wish I had gone to see some of the events, it sounds absolutely fascinating. I must check out the TVO station to see if they are still showing anything about the programme. If you want to read about it click here, it sounds very interesting with new thoughts and ideas on science. It finishes tomorrow so I have basically missed the whole thing. Watching GMA weekend this morning, they were concentrating a lot on the recent book Super Freakonomics and what it had to say about hospitals and disease. The thrust being about going to hospital for a simple operation and ending up seriously ill with something contracted in the hospital, such as flesh eating disease (or Necrotizing fasciitis to give it the proper name) or any other disease which can be picked up there. There is an article, click here which concentrates on washing of hands by doctors. They also mentioned how germ laden ties are and how they have been banned from British hospitals. Something you would never think about. How often do ties get cleaned? With all the H1N1 scares around, the Catholic churches are banning the communion cup and the shaking of hands. I wondered why they couldn't serve the wine in Dixie cups or something similar. Of course Matt was saying that despite all the efforts in hygiene and hand washing, you can't prevent a baby from sucking its thumb or touching things all around it. I guess that means you should put extra effort into keeping the area germ free. One argument against that, the baby would then be unable to build up its own immunities. I now have a new modem for my computers which enables me to wander around the apartment with my laptop or at least sit in the living room and be on the internet whilst Matt is using the desktop machine to play word games. Funny; I exchanged the modems and set the new one up but had problems so called tech support. First he set up the laptop for me, easy peasy, then we worked on the desk top and absolutely nothing he suggested was working - he was probably tearing his hair out, I was getting there. I kept referring to my router and then I said I really didn't need it anyway. He suddenly clicked that I had my new modem plugged into my own router. Turns out the new modem has a built in router and mine was unnecessary and the reason why things were not working. I unplugged it; lo and behold I had the internet. Phew. The instructions were not very clear on the paperwork and it certainly didn't tell me it was a router in its own right. Another good sounding soup for using up turkey leftovers which many Americans will have next month. This came from dLife News once again which as I mentioned before is a Diabetic newsletter. Turkey Gumbo Soup Hearty Cajun style vegetable and turkey stew. Source: dLife Servings 9 Ingredients 4 cup low fat unsalted chicken broth 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 medium green bell peppers, chopped 2 Celery, stalk, fresh, medium, thinly sliced 14 1/2 oz Tomatoes, red, stewed, canned, crushed 8 oz Sausage, kielbasa, polish, turkey & beef, smoked, diced 2 bay leaves 1 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning 1/2 tsp ground thyme 8 oz skinless cooked turkey breast, diced (or chicken) 1 Okra, frozen, 10oz package (I would use fresh) 1 cup Rice, brown, whole grain, instant Directions 1 Mix the broth, onion, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, sausage, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, and thyme together in a 3-quart pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. 2 Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. 3 Mix in the turkey or chicken, okra, and rice, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. 4 Remove the bay leaves from the soup, and throw away. 5 Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls and serve. Have a great weekend.

Pilots Asleep? This Rough Magic.

I saw it on the news last night and again on GMA this morning. About the plane which travelled 150 miles past its destination because, the experts think, the pilots were asleep. What a lovely thought, I am travelling in a plane from a to b and my driver(s) is/are asleep!!! The pilots themselves said they were involved in some a heated discussion about airline policy, yes sure. If you want to read what GMA has to say click here - apparently pilots do fall asleep at the controls, well, maybe that's OK if there are two of them and one stays awake, but......... Not a lot happening in my life at the moment, we go bowling as usual this afternoon. I am currently reading a book called This Rough Magic - which title was used by Mary Stewart years ago and has now been used by Mercedes Lackey and two co-writers, Eric Flint and Dave Freer. I am enjoying the story but it is somewhat slow going. In both cases the book is written with the main story set on the island of Corfu in Greece, however, in Mary Stewart's novel it was referring to the Shakespeare play The Tempest and the time when Prospero drowned his magic books "This rough magic I do abjure" and the theory that Corfu could have been the setting for the Tempest. In Merecedes Lackey's book it refers to the ancient magic which purportedly exists on the island. Well its a spec fic book after all. There is an excerpt from the book here if you would like to check it out. I also very much like the Mary Stewart book which was written in 1964 which is more romance than anything. Eating Well has published a number of comfort food recipes, I wouldn't have thought of Beef Stroganoff as being comfort food, but it is a dish I enjoy. Here is their healthy version of this classic dish. Beef Stroganoff A little tender beef goes a long way when it is supplemented with flavorful mushrooms and enriched with a robust sauce in this healthy stroganoff. 6 servings * 1 pound whole-wheat egg noodles * 8 ounces filet mignon or sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced across the grain * Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste * 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided * 1 onion, sliced * 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (3 cups) * 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour * 1/4 cup dry red wine * 3/4 cup reduced-sodium beef broth * 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard * 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream * 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley Preparation 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. 2. Season beef lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef in 2 batches until browned, 1 to 3 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. 3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add onion and sauté until softened and lightly colored, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add mushrooms and sauté until they are just beginning to give off their moisture, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Stir in the wine and let evaporate, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in mustard, sour cream and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the reserved beef and cook just until heated through. Serve over the cooked noodles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogs and Tea Chests.

I am definitely considering a new blog as I don't seem to be able to change anything on this blog once Blogger has made its decision. The fact that Blogger is mostly run by computers and not humans doesn't help. As I mentioned before, I can't use labels even though I have deleted lots. It knows I reached 2,000 and can't register the fact that I reduced that number. Labels may not seem important, but it is a way for new readers to find me when they are Googling for a particular subject. So, when I finally do start a new one, I will make the announcement here and I hope all my faithful readers will move to my new blog. Having written all that, it would seem that I can use labels again after all, so we shall see. On Good Morning America, Sam Champion does a segment called Just One Thing. This morning it was 'Green Your Move'. The indications are that people in America (and presumably North America) are regularly on the move and using cardboard boxes to pack their belongings. The advice is to get special storage boxes which last forever and then can be recycled into something else. Read here which seems like a good idea except, I was wondering, in England we used to use tea chests for moving and they lasted forever. These are the chests in which tea was shipped from tea growing countries into the UK. Presumably they are still used. I know I had some tea chests for years and certainly used them to come to Canada from England. Storage becomes a problem but if people are moving that much, you can always pass them on. Recipezaar are doing a section on Hallowe'en drinks for adults saying "don't let the kids have all the fun" this one was posted to Recipezaar by Alia and sounds a goodie to me, I am a fan of champagne, so would definitely stick to the recipe. Black Shadow Recipe #258256 This turns out a nice dark colour and is a sweet fruity drink. I like to make it with sparkling wine as I'm not a huge fan of champagne. by *Alia* SERVES 1 * 1 ounce blue curacao * 1/2 ounce creme de cassis * champagne 1. Shake together Blue Curacao and Creme De Cassis in a cocktail shaker with ice. 2. Pour into flute glass and top up with chilled Champagne. Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sardinian Diet, Pumpkin Soup.

On Good Morning America they were promoting the diet of the people of Sardinia which is basically the same as the Mediterranean Diet which is so widely talked about. However, it appears they don't have meat more than once a week and don't even eat much fish. To read just what they do eat, click here. In fact a shortage of meat probably comes from poverty originally, meat was generally unavailable and still is in many Mediterranean areas, unlike more wealthy modern societies where we stuff meat down ourselves most days of the week. Local bread, wine and cheeses were recommended. Also mentioned was a cheese which prolongs the life of Sardinian men and which is full of maggots!!!I might try their pecorino sardo, but not the maggoty one, yuk. Also the Sardinian wine was highly recommended being such a dark red it is called 'black wine' - you should drink the wine with your food too as that produces a very healty effect of scrubbing the arteries apparently. I'm all for that. I spent most of yesterday afternoon making Pumpkin Soup. Haven't made it in some years. Matt cut up the two small pumpkins and ended up blistering his hands they were so tough to cut and peel. We don't remember it being so difficult in previous years. Matt has said never again, but hopefully next time he won't remember how hard it was. I now have a freezer with a load of pumpkin soup amongst other soups of course. It turned out to be delicious despite the effort it took. I have posted the recipe before, but if you would like to give it a go and have a chain saw to cut the pumpkin *g*, here is the recipe I use. I originally got it from Time Life Foods of the World, but adapted it to make it more convenient for me. Because this came from an English version of Time Life Cookery Books, the pints are English ones which are 20 fl. oz. - I told the story about the first time I had pumpkin soup in the island of Malta at a barbecue held by the local yacht club. The soup was served inside a pumpkin which insulated the soup and kept it warm. It was wonderful and I have since done exactly that. Later I took the flesh from inside the pumpkin and made it into more soup. This recipe makes a good thick, stick to your tummy, soup. Pumpkin Soup 1/2 oz butter 2 Tbs finely chopped onion 2 Cups cooked Pumpkin 1 UK pt chicken stock 1 UK pt Half and half 1/8 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp sugar 1 tsp lemon juice 2-3 drops Tabasco 1/2 tsp salt 1. If using fresh pumpkin, cook it til mushy. If using canned, drain. 2. In a heavy 5 pt. saucepan, melt butter over mod. heat. When the foam subsides cook onion for 2 to 3 mins, stirring, until they are transparent but not brown. Add the pumpkin, stock, cloves, sugar,. lemon juice, Tabasco and salt. Stir thoroughly to blend all the ingredients 3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to its lowest point and cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins. Then purée the soup. Stir in the half and half and return the soup to a pan to reheat without boiling. Taste for seasoning. 4. Can be garnished with croutons and served hot, or served chilled with slices of chilled, peeled orange. Servings: 4 - 6 Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Comments and Greece. Shame on Us.

Having to check on my labels for my blogs, I have been discovering comments people have made to which I never replied. My apologies, I guess I wasn't as careful checking such things in the early days. I found one note from the son of people we met in Corfu many years ago and who had some interesting anecdotes to relate about my parents. Neither of us actually remember meeting one another although we remembered each other's parents. This contact came because I had mentioned Pamara, the last yacht my parent's owned and lived on and which, one year, they sailed through parts of Greece ending up in Corfu - I was with them a lot of the time - at Kouloura Bay in the North East, where these people lived and with whom my parents struck up a friendship. I clearly remember the bay as being a delightful spot and my contact's parents as very nice people. If you don't remember me talking about Pamara, here is a picture of her in Corfu and another of her to give you a better picture of the yacht itself. My parents lived on her for a number of years, first in the UK, then in Malta and finally in Alicante, Spain where they eventually sold her and 'came ashore'. I have no idea what became of her after that although I have a vague notion she was taken to the States. I don't see it happening some how, but I would love to visit Greece again it was a wonderful country and I really fell in love with both the country, the people and the history. Not to mention the wonderful scenery and the incredible ruins. I remembered that I had written a poem to Greece, I just found it and read it again, but wasn't as impressed with it as I was with the country. However, at the same time I found another poem I wrote about Pamara's Bell. Every ship has a bell and sometimes on a stormy night they ring all by themselves. Pamara's Bell The threnody of wind in the rigging The eerie clang of the bell This is a warning, you sailors, Sent on a night of hell. We died on a night like this, men Pounding a stormy shore. Hark to the bell we're ringing A warning to you, before.... you sail on a night like this, men When the sky and the sea are one. Our ghosts are trying to stop you Heed us or you'll be gone Down in our watery graves, men Our bones dance the rythm of storm But our spirits are watching o'er you Tolling in ghostly form. Beware!!! I must admit, I had forgotten this poem. I used to write a lot of poetry as a young woman, much of it full of angst, some of it just for fun, occasionally I would write poems on people's names or other kinds of names like one I wrote about a thatched cottage with the name Smuggler's Cottage. Maybe I will include that one day. Do read Tropic Temper (link this page) where Glenda Larke has a link to some very scary pictures of young Albatross who have consumed some of the garbage we humans accidentally (or purposely) throw away. One of the major points on these pictures, they are taken at a bird sanctuary which is 2,000 miles from human habitation. Check these pictures out if you dare. This is what the birds should look like, now go see the dreadful pictures caused by we unthinking humans. I bought a couple of small pumpkins yesterday for making soup, however, this morning I found this recipe from Recipezaar which I thought sounded interesting particularly if one is entertaining. Pumpkin Cheese Fondue Recipe #72105 This a a great Halloween treat,Thanksgiving Appetizer or just a nice way to spend a Autumn Day. And yes you can eat the pumpkin. Keep the fondue warm over as low heat as possible to avoid scorching the cheese. by ~Rita~ * 1 small pumpkin * 2 tablespoons butter, melted * 1 pinch nutmeg, for baking the pumpkin * 1 pinch cinnamon, for baking the pumpkin * 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil * 3 scallions, finely sliced * 2 cloves garlic, minced * 8 ounces emmenthaler cheese, grated * 8 ounces gruyere cheese, grated * 1 cup sherry wine or dry white wine * 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed to a smoothpaste with some water * grated nutmeg * 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon * paprika 1. Cut a slice off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out seed. 2. Use to make Spicy Roasted Butternut (the butternut seeds can be replaced with the pumpkin) Seeds recipe #50958 or your favorite recipe. 3. Brush the inside of the pumpkin with melted butter season with nutmeg and cinnamon place on cookie sheet with tops on and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 4. Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan saute scallions and garlic for 2 minutes add wine or sherry, and cornstarch paste heat and then add the cheeses to the simmering wine, stir in a zig zag rather than circular motion to help break up the cheese. 5. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. 6. Heat gently stirring till melted and combined. If to thick can add some water or chicken broth to thin. 7. Pour into baked pumpkin sprinkle with paprika and serve with apple, pears, celery, peppers, cubes of crusty bread cooked shrimp, cooked chicken, and or cooked potato skins . 8. Instead of making the paste you can also dust the cheese cubes with the cornstarch then add to the warmed wine. Have a great day.