Monday, November 30, 2009

La France, Shrimp, Decorations, Google Chrome.

I just was checking out the countries reading my blog. I was surprised so many were in France - I know a lot of French people are fluent in English, but nevertheless its surprising. Personally j'adore la France. I miss you France and wish I could visit you once more but I am an awfully long way away. I spent many hours in France, most of them, but by no means all, in Paris which despite a lack of paint, is still a great lady. I am now referring to 40 years ago of course. Things have probably changed. I have visited many areas of France and always enjoyed being there. I never had a bad meal anywhere, be it south, north or in the middle although I never went east. The food was always superb. I very much envy Marilyn of French Marilyn's blog (see link this page) who lives in Paris. In those days, we lived pretty close to France (the pink bit at the top of the map is England) so it was never very far to go. Saturday I made the Shrimp Saltimbocca with Polenta (see blog from Nov. 24), it was great, we both enjoyed it very much. Its very simple and easy to cook. I have to confess I scorched the polenta a tad, I had an Avon phone call right in the middle of cooking. However, it was OK when we ate. We drank a nice white Mouton Cadet Bordeaux with it which really complemented the dish. The decorations are up. Hoorah. We got through it once again without murder and mayhem. Matt is saying never again will we put up a tree, but it does look good once it is up. We vaguely thought about buying one which has lights on it already, but a size big enough for our room would cost a small fortune I think, plus, I wonder how long the lights actually last. If its anything like the tree lights, we usually end up buying those every year. Have you investigated Google Chrome? I started to the other day. Apart from anything else, they have books on line. I am reading Little Lord Fontleroy by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - an old classic which had never come my way and which I had always wanted to read.. But they have all kinds of other books too. There is another section where you can write notes which can then be posted to your blog. It has access to the calendar too which I am using more and more these days as I can pick it up on my laptop if needed. We buy pork tenderloins at our local Costco (a retail warehouse chain) and find they are excellent. This recipe from Eating Well is one we will definitely try in the near future. Almond-Crusted Pork with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce From EatingWell: March/April 2009 Sliced almonds add a delectable, almost-like-fried-chicken crunch to the breading for these tender pieces of pork. We slice the pork thinly to keep the cooking time quick. The resulting pork “fingers” are great dipped in this surprisingly simple, delicious honey, soy and mustard sauce. 4 servings Ingredients * 1 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Note) * 1/2 cup sliced almonds * 1 teaspoon garlic powder * 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt * 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper * 1 large egg white, beaten * 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices Dipping Sauce * 1/4 cup honey * 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce * 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray. 2. Place breadcrumbs, almonds, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse until the almonds are coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. 3. Place egg white in another shallow dish. Dip both sides of each pork slice in egg white, then evenly coat with the almond mixture. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the pork on the prepared rack and coat on both sides with cooking spray. 4. Bake the pork until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 16 to 18 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, whisk honey, soy sauce and mustard in a small bowl. Serve the pork with the honey-mustard sauce. Tips & Notes * Note: We like Ian's brand of coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets. To make your own breadcrumbs, trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry and crispy, about 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs. Have a great day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cats, Toys and Leftovers.

A comment about the Lolcat picture I posted the other day, reminded me about a cat we had once in the UK. Something frightened her, I have no idea what it was, and she jumped across the fire and up the chimney. There being a small platform there. Frightened the life out of me; then, of course, we had to coax her back down. I know she was singed and the skin of her paws got burnt when she had to put her paws on the hot coals to get back down, but nothing major thank God. What a terrifying experience that was. Sadly I don't have any pictures of her. We called her Fancy after a cop in a programme on TV we missed the day we picked her up. She was a tortoise shell very like the cat in the picture. Later we called our first German Shepherd after Zebedee in The Magic Roundabout; a children's programme which a lot of adults watched and thoroughly enjoyed, it was very well done - I certainly rarely missed it. This reminds me, a friend sent me a link to a British video made for a charity, Children in Need, with all the children's toy characters they could use, including Paddington Bear in shades, click here to enjoy I had some trouble identifiying all the toys but I could name a few of them. For supper tonight, I am going to try the Shrimp Saltimbocca with Polenta which I posted the other day (Nov. 24). Seems simple enough to do, once I have peeled the shrimp that is. For those of you who have lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving, Recipezaar have a load of recipes on this site which you might find useful. I usually end up chucking everything into a large saucepan and making soup, the soup is considerably improved if you have stuffing to add. The following recipe from Eating Well specifies chicken but obviously you could use turkey. I love things in pita bread pockets. Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas From EatingWell: May/June 2009 Make a perfect summer supper: grill spice-rubbed chicken breasts and tuck them into whole-wheat pitas along with fresh vegetables and a tangy yogurt sauce. Serve with: Grilled vegetables and a pilsner. 4 servings Ingredients * 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed * 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala , (see Tip), divided * 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided * 1 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber * 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt * 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro , or mint * 2 teaspoons lemon juice * Freshly ground pepper , to taste * 4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas, warmed * 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce * 2 small or 1 large tomato, sliced * 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion Preparation 1. Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. If grilling, oil the grill rack (see Tip). If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. 2. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place the chicken on the grill rack or prepared pan and cook until no longer pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 4 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the size of the breast. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, combine cucumber, yogurt, cilantro (or mint), lemon juice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Thinly slice the chicken. Split open the warm pitas and fill with the chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion. Tips & Notes * Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2. Refrigerate the chicken in an airtight container for up to 2 days. * Tips: Garam masala is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking. It is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. * 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 weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thai Food and More Bowling.

I seem to have developed insomnia over the last two nights, with the result that this morning I don't feel much like anything, so this will probably not be much of a blog. Thoroughly enjoyed our Travel League bowling yesterday although one group didn't turn up for some reason. Our bunch started with lunch at the My Thai and almost everyone really enjoyed what they ate. One of our number was not happy with the crispy vegetables which is something of a surprise in this day and age. Matt had the ginger chicken and I had a seafood and noodles soup which was pretty spicy and way too much really. I felt full to bursting when I had finished it. I suppose it was Tom Yum soup although they don't use Thai labels for their food. It was very good, but I think I would ask for less if I had it again. I have a Thai cookbook which I have never used, I really should do so one of these days. Then, the bowling itself was great fun, there were only 14 bowlers in the end and they mixed us up - everyone was cheering for everyone else and we all had a very good afternoon with one exception, we always get donuts and these were stale. I bowled pretty well and one of my group bowled a 300 game so he was very pleased with himself. As more and more alleys seem to be dropping out of the travel league, we are planning to maybe just form a group and tour round to different alleys anyway. Our 'leader' if you like to call her that, is the ex proprietor of a bowling alley which they sold, but she still organises us to go on the travel league once a month. As she said yesterday, there were more bowlers there from an alley which no longer existed. Today, of course, is our regular senior league bowling. Here is a somewhat different version of Tom Yum Soup from Easy Tom Yum Soup with Coconut Milk ("Tom Khaa") Source: Darlene Schmidt Aside from being one of the most popular soups in Thailand, Tom Yum Soup has many health benefits, due its potent combination of herbs and spices. In fact, this Thai soup is currently under scientific study, as it appears to have immune-boosting power as a natural remedy for cold and flu viruses. In my version of the soup, I've included coconut milk (officially "Tom Khaa") which I find adds both richness and flavor while still keeping the soup super healthy. ENJOY! Ingredients: * 3-4 cups chicken stock (this makes enough soup to serve 2 people - double the recipe for 4 or more) * 1 stalk lemongrass, lower 1/3 minced (for instructions on how to prepare lemongrass, see link below) * 3 kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores) * 12-14 medium or large raw shrimp, shelled * 2 Tbsp. fish sauce * 1-2 small red chilies, minced OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (to taste) * 3 cloves garlic, minced * optional: a handful of cherry tomatoes * generous handful fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly * 1 green and/or red bell pepper, sliced * 1/2 can coconut milk (or more to taste) * 1/3 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped * optional: additional red chilies, OR Nam Prik Pao Chili Sauce (1-2 tsp.) * optional: 1 tsp. brown sugar, and a sqeeze of lime juice Preparation: 1. For instructions on how to buy, prepare, and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass. 2. Pour stock into a deep cooking pot and turn heat to medium-high. 3. Add processed lemongrass to the pot, including the parts of the lemongrass stalk you didn't slice. Boil for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. 4. Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. 5. Add shrimp, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes (if using). Cook 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and plump. 6. Turn down the heat to low and add 1/2 can coconut milk plus fish sauce. Test-test the soup for spice and salt, adding more chili and/or fish sauce (instead of salt) as desired. If too sour for your taste, add 1 tsp. brown sugar; if too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk if you want your soup richer/creamier, or if it's too spicy for your taste. 7. Serve in bowls with fresh coriander sprinkled over. Enjoy!! (See below for more variations on this recipe.) Variations: * If you prefer chicken over seafood, substitute chicken breast for shrimp (cut the chicken into bite-size pieces). * Rice noodles can also be added for a delicious noodle-soup version of Tom Yum. Have a great day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers. Don't stuff yourselves too much on the turkey today. I saw President Obama pardoning one turkey yesterday, I had forgotten they did that. Funny. Apparently it is now being shipped to a zoo or something. Lucky bird. A friend who was born in the States was wondering how many turkeys had applied for witness protection. We won't be eating turkey today unfortunately, I do so enjoy it, but we will be going to the My Thai for lunch as I mentioned and finishing the day with hot pot for supper. That was very good last night I am pleased to say. Today is also the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade which is mostly giant balloons. Not my favourite parade, but kids love it. I heard one little guy on TV say he was looking forward to seeing Spiderman. Our local Santa Parade took place on November 14. I have never seen it. Even when I worked at a funeral home which was right on the route, I never watched either the Santa or the Oktoberfest Parade. Being a part timer, if I was there at all, it was because there was work for me to do, so I never had time. I could actually still go there and watch even though I don't work there any more, however, I don't bother. Neither of us much like doing things when there are crowds of people. There are lots of places to get tips for cooking turkeys today including Good Morning America. The morning's funny was apparently someone asked how to get a cat out of the turkey cavity!!! Can't imagine it can you? I used to really enjoy Thanksgiving in the States, they do make such a big thing of it. Plus we had lots and lots of friends to share it with. funny pictures of cats with captions see more Lolcats and funny pictures Just thought a Lolcat picture would be good this morning. To get away from Thanksgiving recipes, I thought this one from the Crisco newsletter sounded pretty good. Onion Cheese Pie Makes: 8 servings CRUST 1 recipe Classic Crisco® Pie Crust (or any other bought pastry crust) FILLING 1 tbsp (15mL) Crisco Canola or Vegetable Oil 4 cups (1L) thinly sliced onions (approx. 2 large onions) 8 oz/2 ½ cups (250g/625mL) white cheddar cheese 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp (5mL) salt 1. Crust: prepare Single Classic Crisco Pie Crust as per package directions. 2. Filling: Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. 3. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). 4. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to fit a 9” (23cm) pie plate, leaving a ¾” (2cm) overhang. Fold edge under. Flute dough as desired. 5. Spread alternate layers of cheese and onions in uncooked pie shell starting and ending with the cheese. 6. Combine eggs, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Gently pour over the top. 7. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes or until filling is firm. TIPS: • Pies are not just for dessert. Here is a delicious savory pie. Serve it for brunch, lunch or dinner with a salad. • Onions can be cooked up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. • Serve with soup or salad. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writing, Carpet, Hot Pots and Thanksgiving.

I used to think I would like to write a book. The more I read of author's blogs (see links on this page), the less I want to do so. As far as I can tell its damned hard work. Then, if you are a first timer, you have got to find yourself a publisher - read what Glenda Larke (Tropical Temper) has to say about it all. She is talking of the 10 myths about authors. No, I don't want to write a book thank you. We now have a lovely clean carpet. I paid extra to have a silicone coating which is supposed to protect it and stop it getting dirty too quickly. We shall see. I looked it up, last time I had it done was June 2008 so that is about 17 months. I wonder how long it will last this time. Certain areas get it worse than others of course. The area from the kitchen to the dining table is the worst of the lot. Funnily enough I used to hire carpet cleaners in England who called themselves Canadian carpet cleaners, not sure why. Today I am going to be making a hotpot which is lamb, potatoes and onions in a kind of stew. I was talking about red cabbage the other day, traditionally that is an accompaniment to hotpot as it 'cuts the fat'. Matt prefers to eat hotpot without it though. I have had the lamb in the freezer for a while so I figured I had better get on and make it. There are dozens of recipes for hot pot on the internet, some with beef and some including lamb's kidneys, but the one I make is a very simple one with simple ingredients. As tomorrow is a Travel League with our bowling, we have to do our main shop of the week today. I am taking everyone from our old league to the My Thai restaurant I mentioned the other week. I hope they all enjoy it. We got fed up with the other local restaurant, very mediocre food. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US so many people will be doing their best to produce a huge meal, generally starring turkey and pumpkin pie. Emeril Lagasse came up with a good way of serving Brussels sprouts. However, when I copied the recipe it also said courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. I will certainly be trying this in the near future as I do get fed up with plain veggies. Emeril's Brussels Sprout and Cheddar Cheese Bake From the kitchen of Emeril Lagasse | Servings: 4-6 Only Emeril Lagasse can think of such a tasty way to make brussels sprouts! This dish will be a nice touch to your Thanksgiving Day table. Ingredients # 4 slices thick-cut apple smoked bacon, diced # 1 cup onion, small diced # 2 cloves garlic, minced # 3 tablespoons unsalted butter # 1 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 1/8-inch) # 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme # 1/4 cup chicken stock or water # 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper # 1/4 teaspoon salt # 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper # 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar Cooking Directions Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a 12" saute pan over medium high heat, render the bacon until crisp and golden, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon to a heat proof bowl. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 4 minutes or until wilted and beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan to the same bowl with the bacon. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter to the pan along with half the Brussels sprouts and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Cook the sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes on one side or until they begin to brown. Add 1/2 the chicken stock, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Flip the Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for another minute. Remove them from the pan to the bowl with the bacon and onions. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and cook the remaining Brussels sprouts in the same way, adding the remaining 1/8 cup of stock after they've browned, and seasoning them with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss all of the Brussels sprouts with the bacon and onions. Pour the mixture into a 10 by 6 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top of the dish with the cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 to 6 servings To all my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am assuming a lot of you won't have time to read blogs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birthday and Clean Carpets

Before we started bowling yesterday, we had a little birthday celebration. One amongst us is 95 years old today so she was given a cake and a Poinsettia plus a card which everyone in the seniors group signed. She really is an incredible woman. I bowled with her daughter at one time and she told me that her mom bowled twice a week, played ping pong and also line danced. She is absolutely petite too, not very tall and very, very slim. A tiny person all round. Quite incredible. By the time anyone thought of pictures, the cake had definitely been "got at"; interesting, it was half chocolate and half white cake. I took several pictures on my miniature Oregon Scientific camera which I carry all the time. This morning we have the carpet cleaners coming so I can't spend very long blogging. Considering there are only two of us and no pets, I don't understand how our carpet gets so dirty. So, I'll talk to you some more tomorrow. We love Saltimbocca, we love shrimp, we love Polenta, so the following recipe from Eating Well could have been designed specially for us. Shrimp Saltimbocca with Polenta From EatingWell: November/December 2009 Saltimbocca is an Italian word that literally means “jump mouth,” presumably because of its bold flavors. The dish is traditionally made with veal and seasoned with sage and prosciutto. We love these flavors in our simple version made with shrimp. Store-bought polenta turns golden brown under the broiler for an easy accompaniment. Serve with: Sautéed green beans and red peppers. 4 servings Ingredients 1 16- to 18-ounce tube polenta, cut into 8 rounds 1 thin slice prosciutto (about 1/2 ounce) 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (21-25 per pound) 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons finely diced onion 3/4 cup clam juice (see Note) or reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 3/4 teaspoon dried rubbed Preparation 1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat broiler. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 2. Place polenta rounds and prosciutto on the baking sheet. Broil on the center rack until the prosciutto is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a plate. Continue broiling the polenta, turning once, until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes per side. 3. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp just turn pink but aren’t cooked through, about 2 minutes. Pour in clam juice (or broth), bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes more. 4. Whisk the cornstarch mixture again and add to the pan along with sage and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Top the polenta with the shrimp and sauce, crumble the prosciutto over the top and serve immediately. Tips & Notes * Note: Check sodium carefully when using clam juice because the amount of sodium can vary dramatically among brands. We use Bar Harbor clam juice with only 120 mg sodium per 2-ounce serving. Have a great day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Floods, Books, Red Cabbage,

As you have probably heard on the news, there has been lots of flooding in the north west of England, the area is Cumbria, commonly known as the Lake District. A friend, who lives in the area, sent me a link to the online page of a BBC Cumbria and I thought you might like to see the pictures, some of which are the aftermath of the risen waters. Click here to go to BBC Cumbria's web site. There are stacks of pictures taken by people and submitted to the BBC for this page. This is one of them. This has been the worst rain in the area for 1,000 years, which is quite a long time!!! Of course there has been flooding in several other areas as well as in Ireland. Now I hear there is flooding in British Columbia, Canada, too. Yesterday I finished The Phoenix Unchained which is the last book in The Enduring Flame Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I very much enjoyed the three books and have discovered there is another called The Obsidian Trilogy which I shall have to investigate. I have always loved books by Mercedes Lackey since I first discovered the Valdemar series so I always pick her books when I find them. However, it appears James Mallory is a well established author so I must check out some of his books too. As I mentioned, we went to dinner at the home of some friends on Saturday evening and had a good time with a delicious meal. The main course was a schnitzel with mushrooms and our hostess served red cabbage which I love, but cooked some beans for Matt as he is not so fond of red cabbage in the German style. I was offered seconds but hadn't got the teensiest bit of room left. The German red cabbage is a different thing altogether from the brined red cabbage we have in England and eat as a relish with things like lamb hot pots. I have never actually made the German version, I should ask for a recipe. I have made the other kind, my mother and Matt made it for me once as a surprise and later I tried making it myself. I have asked my friend for a recipe but she doesn't have one, just one of those prepared by taste. Usually the best kind. However, here is a recipe I found on Allrecipes which sounds as though it would be pretty good. German Red Cabbage Submitted By: Ardis Stauffer Photo By: cookin'mama Servings: 6 "If your family likes the sweet-tart flavor found in many German dishes, they'll enjoy this recipe. The cabbage, apples and onions are cooked with vinegar, sugar and a variety of spices-the end result can't be beat!" Ingredients: 1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced 2 large tart apples, peeled and sliced 1 medium sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings 1 1/2 cups water 1 cup cider vinegar 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon salt 6 whole peppercorns 2 whole allspice 2 whole cloves 1 bay leaf 2 teaspoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons cold water Directions: 1. In a Dutch oven, toss cabbage, apples and onion. Add water, vinegar, sugar, butter and salt. Place the peppercorns, allspice, cloves and bay leaf on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and stir with kitchen string to form a bag. Add to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/4 hours. 2. Discard spice bag. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir in cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Have a great day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oprah, Handling Turkeys. Christmas.

Oprah Winfrey has announced her show will no longer air after 2011. Personally I don't care, but thousands, if not millions, do. But why announce it now, surely closer to the actual date would be more sensible? She says her audiences have enriched her life, cynically Matt and I both commented that rich was certain. Today she is one of the richest women in the world, some of it through excellent investments. The story goes that she was given a pair of Reeboks and liked them so much she bought shares in the company which started her fortune. She has done a lot of good with her money, particularly helping impoverished areas in Africa. I don't follow her so I am not sure of all the things she has done, but you can't live on this continent without hearing her name mentioned frequently. I don't know what kind of impact she has made on the rest of the world. Tonight we are going to friend's for dinner which will be fun. Also means no cooking and washing up for us. Not to mention the good company of friends. Yesterday on Good Morning America, Sarah Moulton, a regular contributor to the programme, had some very good tips on safe turkey handling. If you go to this site you can see the video and read the article. Food was never such a risk factor in my younger days, salmonella and ecoli weren't heard of. I remember hearing about that once, but I really don't know the details. I am pretty sure that ecoli is a totally modern problem, not sure about salmonella. But it sure pays to be careful these days or you can get very sick and even die from such contamination. I am emphasising this at the moment as, quite soon, many houses in the US will be cooking turkeys and its as well to be cautious and well informed about the risks. I wouldn't mind cooking some more turkey, but Matt thinks I am nuts as we had lots of it last month for our Thanksgiving and will soon be cooking Christmas turkey. I bought my Poinsettia yesterday by the way, I use a small plant as the centre of a table decoration for Christmas. Its still a bit early for us although all kinds of places already are fully decorated, the stores in particular, there is even a place for Santa in our local mall although I am not sure if he has arrived yet. The lobby of our building is decorated as are several of the apartments here. We probably won't do anything til the beginning of December, I think Christmas is coming earlier every year but Matt says not. Having said that, I mailed all my overseas cards the other day. The recipe today is particularly for Matt's youngest daughter. When she visited us in Canada many years ago, she was 15, and went nuts about chocolate pies. We were buying them for her all the time. Kept several in the freezer ready. I just figured this recipe would be right up her street. Classic Chocolate Cream Pie Hershey's Kitchens. Ingredients: * 9-inch baked pastry shell or crumb crust, cooled * 5 sections (1/2 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into pieces * 3 cups milk, divided * 1-1/3 cups sugar * 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour * 3 tablespoons cornstarch * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 3 egg yolks * 2 tablespoons butter or margarine * 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract * Sweetened whipped cream(optional) Directions: 1. Prepare pastry shell; cool. 2. Combine chocolate and 2 cups milk in medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture boils. Remove from heat. 3. Stir together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl. Blend remaining 1 cup milk into egg yolks; stir into sugar mixture. Gradually add to chocolate mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. 4. Pour into prepared pastry shell; press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Cool; refrigerate until well chilled. Top with whipped cream, if desired. 8 to 10 servings. Have a great weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

GPS, Oasis of the Seas, Baby Horse.

Whilst we were driving to the doctor's appointment yesterday I checked my GPS system again, having got it sorted in between trips, lo and behold, it works - she talked to me too, although it wasn't very loud. We have decided that it wouldn't be easy to use the system on your own though - well Matt would never be able to set it up anyway, but if you had the laptop on the passenger seat, I don't know that you would hear it very well. I left the little yellow GPS gadget in the glove pocket for any time in the future. We will definitely need it when I go bowling in Hamilton in February. A lot about Oasis of the Seas again this morning. They have a team on board including Sam Champion the weatherman - he walked around deck 15 and it took him 14 minutes. Passing several pools on the way I might say. I don't remember everything they have on board, surfing was one thing they showed this morning There's lots all about it on the GMA website and also here. Matt and I have both decided we would NOT want to cruise on her. There's just too much and it wouldn't be like being on a ship at all, let alone over 6,000 other passengers. It would be like floating in a city and I would prefer going to sea in a ship if you can understand what I mean. Being that top heavy, I can't help wondering what would happen in a really good storm too. I don't know what her draft is (how much water she needs to float in) but I know they had to deepen her home harbour and some of the other places she is expected to visit. 72 m or 236 ft. according to Wikipedia, that's one hell of a draft. If you are interested in the technical details go to this site and read all the statistics plus they have more pictures. One of the TV people described her as a floating city of fun. I received an email yesterday about a teeny tiny horse born on a stud farm in Australia. I just had to show you the pictures. Isn't that just the cutest little critter you ever did see? Even the breeders didn't know it was ready to be born and one morning they called the mother, Bliss, and she came out of the stable with the baby in tow. Eating Well are promoting healthy holiday breakfasts and this is one of them. I love smoked salmon in any form so this is a good one for me. Egg & Salmon Sandwich From EatingWell: July/August 2008 Smoked salmon and egg whites on a toasted whole-wheat English muffin is the perfect power breakfast. For a more substantial meal, pair it with a piece of fruit or a glass of 100% juice. 1 sandwich Ingredients * 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil * 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion * 2 large egg whites, beaten * Pinch of salt * 1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped (optional) * 1 ounce smoked salmon * 1 slice tomato * 1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted Preparation 1. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add egg whites, salt and capers (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until whites are set, about 30 seconds. 2. To make the sandwich, layer the egg whites, smoked salmon and tomato on English muffin. Have a great day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hiring a Hit Man.

News story floating around at the moment about a woman and her daughter trying to hire a hit man to kill the husband/father. I was thinking about it earlier and wondering how on earth you would go about hiring a hit man. You can't exactly advertise for one in the want ads or ask your friends and neighbours. To me that's a bit of a puzzle. Matt was due to go have a stress test on New Year's Eve, yes I thought that was a funny time too, then they called yesterday afternoon and said the doctor wouldn't be there that day so could he come tomorrow morning i.e. today. So this is a drive by posting. Here is a flourless cake from Hershey's which will be good for all the celiacs I know. Classic Chocolate Flourless Cake Hershey Kitchens * 2 cups whole almonds * 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided * 1-1/2 pkgs. (4 oz. each) Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bars * 10 large eggs, separated and at room temperature * 1/4 teaspoon salt * Hershey's Cocoa or Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Directions: 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch springform pan. 2. Spread almonds on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant; cool completely. Place almonds in food processor with 1/2 cup sugar; process until finely ground. 3. Break chocolate into pieces; place in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred. Set aside. 4. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar in large mixer bowl with electric mixer at hedium-high speed about 8 minutes or until very thick and pale. (The mixture will form a ribbon when the beaters are lifted.) Fold in chocolate mixture; set aside. 5. With clean beaters, beat egg whites and salt in large deep bowl just until soft peaks are formed. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar just until stiff peaks form. 6. Gradually fold almond mixture into chocolate mixture. (Mixture will be very thick.) Gradually fold in egg white mixture, just until blended. Gently spoon mixture into prepared pan. Level top with rubber scraper. 7. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake center comes out clean, but moist and cake is pulling from pan sides. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely in pan on wire rack. As the cake cools the center will sink. 8. To serve, run table knife around edge of cake; remove pan sides. Place on serving plate; generously dust cake top with cocoa. Cut into wedges; garnish as desired. 8 to 10 servings. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breast Cancer, Olympic Torch,

Well today there is a lot of hoo ha about Mammograms, when should people have them, why they think its not as necessary as it used to be??? Several doctors on GMA weighed in on the other side and said women should proceed as they always have. The new recommendation suggests women should have far less screening than was the previous norm. If you would like to see the video and read the article click here. If you haven't heard anything about this, I highly recommend you do go to GMA and see what is being said. If you have never had a mammogram you should do so and not be put off by all the tales of pain. I did, for years and years and recently had my first mammogram, it didn't hurt at all. Right now, the Olympic Torch is being run around Canada. It is presently in the east and will gradually make its way west to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. All kinds of people are given the chance, selected by lottery I believe, to carry the torch for their province. Some of the runners will include well known people like hockey players. There is an interactive map of the route here which shows you where it currently is travelling and where it will be going. This recipe came from Eagle Brand and being chocolate, I couldn't resist it of course. Once again, I am not sure about 16 servings!!!! Double Chocolate Chip Cheesecake An impressive chocolate finale, our chocolate chip studded creamy cool cheesecake is baked with a chocolate wafer crust. Freezes well too (if you can manage not to eat it all right away!). 16 servings Ingredients: Crust 175 mL (1 ¼ cups) chocolate wafer crumbs 50 mL (¼ cup) sugar 50 mL (¼ cup) butter, melted Batter 250 g each (3 packages) cream cheese, softened 300mL (1 can) Eagle Brand® Regular or Low-Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk 3 eggs 125 mL (½ cup) sour cream 10 mL (2 tsp) vanilla extract 250 g (8 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled 375 mL (1 ½ cups) milk, white or semi-sweet chocolate chips Preparation: 1. Preheat oven to 300F (149C). Grease a 9” (23cm) springform pan. 2. Combine ingredients for crust in a bowl. Stir with a fork to combine well. Press into bottom of prepared pan. 3. Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add melted chocolate. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. 4. Bake in preheated oven 50-55 minutes, or until cake is crusty on top but still slightly jiggly when gently shaken. Cool on rack and refrigerate overnight. Tips: Cake can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated or can be frozen for up to 3 weeks. Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ćevapčići, Books and Bowling.

Last night we ate the Ćevapčići which I had bought at David's on Sunday. They were hot and spicy. They shouldn't be. I ate them all round Yugoslavia (as it was then called) and not one of them was hot and spicy. I have also eaten them made by Croatians or Serbians living in this country. The ones we ate last night weren't bad, but they certainly were not Ćevapčići. Another thing, they had skins on like sausages. Never seen that before. Oh well, I won't be buying those again. The problem is, I can buy them at a local meat market, but they no longer have the lamb variety we like, only beef and pork and we don't enjoy those so much. Apparently nobody makes the lamb variety any more. It is possible to make them at home, but it calls for a lot of mincing and quite a bit of work. Maybe I had better look into the recipe I have. Bowling yesterday went well for Matt, thank goodness, he tried something different apparently and it seemed to work. I hope it continues to do so. I had a reasonable game, guess I bowled myself out on Sunday LOL. Well that's my excuse anyway. Today we can relax for a bit - we seem to have been on the go for days. I finished my book The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. A lot of reading there, but a great book. I really enjoyed every page of it. I will now be chomping at the bit until the next book is published. I am already chomping at the bit waiting for Glenda Larke's next book in her current series The Watergivers. I really much prefer coming to a series or trilogy once its been written, this starting at the beginning is very wearing on the nerves, LOL. I am now reading a book called The Perk by Mark Giminez. Seems excellent so far. I have read all his books so far and thoroughly enjoyed them. Although I see there is a new one, The Common Lawyer which I shall have to get hold of. Just spoke to the library and there is also another due out in 2010. They are going to order the latest one for me. I decided to see if I can find a recipe for Ćevapčići and I have - I have been hunting through several recipes and not one of them was for lamb only. Also I found several recipes which included hot spices, so it would appear I am wrong about them these days. They certainly weren't hot and spicy when I was in Yugoslavia in 1969 but maybe they changed when the rest of Europe found them. I also used to buy plain lamb but now I can't get those at all. In Yugoslavia they were always served on a bed of chopped onions. No buns, but I don't see why not if that is your preference. Ćevapčići (Grilled Lamb & Beef Sausages) * 1 Tbsp. lard (or butter) * 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped * 1 garlic clove, finely chopped * 1 lb ground lamb * 1 lb ground beef * 1 egg white, lightly beaten * 1 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika * 2 Tbsp. onions, finely chopped Heat the butter or lard in a small frying pan and when it starts to foam add the onions and garlic. Fry, stirring occassionally, until soft, around 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the lamb, beef, egg and spices in a bowl. When ready, add the onion and garlic mixture. Mix well. Shape into small cylinders, approximately 1" x 2" and arrange in a plate. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper or a towell and refrigerate for one hour to one day, to let the flavors settle and the mixture become firm. Arrange the Ćevapčići on skewers about 1/4" apart from each other. Grill or pan fry in medium heat until done to your preference. Serve sprinkled with chopped onions and accompanied with pita bread. Have a great day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Weekend, My Win.

Well, that was a good weekend. We went to our pig tail dinner on Saturday and enjoyed ourselves very much. I was fairly good, I only ate one pig tail and two small schnitzels, some of our table ate nothing but pig tails which aren't the healthiest thing you can eat. With it they served sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. I had the kraut, not the potatoes. The pigtail I had was good as was the schnitzel. They had a Newfie band, same one every year, and people were dancing. Unfortunately, my dancing days are over. I enjoyed some of the things the band were playing, one or two really down east songs from Newfoundland which I enjoyed, but not really the best tunes for elderly folks to dance to. Sunday morning we had our bowling tournament, we got there at 10 as we had been told, but it turned out it should have been 10:30 a.m. A whole bunch of people didn't turn up apparently which delayed us as they were trying to locate them. They never did arrive. Matt and I were teamed up with a couple of guys we didn't know and bowling commenced some time after 11. The game was pins over average, and the three bowlers with the most POA would go on to Hamilton. Shortly after the second game my friends arrived so they watched what was happening and checked the scores. I was lying third apparently. Poor Matt was having a lousy day and wasn't a happy camper at all. We played one more game and guess what, I kept my third place, so now I am due to go on to the next round in February. Whoopee. My American friend whom I had never met f2f with before, was very interested in 5-pin bowling which is, of course, a totally Canadian game. She does bowl in the States, but not league play I don't think. At the end of the game we were given all our paperwork. The Ontario 5-pin Bowlers Association pay for me to have one night in a hotel room in Hamilton (where the next round takes place) and for my banquet after the tournament. We register at 8 a.m. so a hotel would definitely be a necessity as we would have to leave home before the crack of dawn to get there in time. I am very excited about the whole deal although I could wish we bowled in the afternoon as I am not sure what we are supposed to do with ourselves for the rest of the day until the banquet in the evening. My two friends and I then went to the My Thai restaurant just down from the bowling alley. I had wanted to try the place for a while, so now was my chance. Matt went home, he didn't want to be with three gossiping women!! We ended up with two of us having a small bowl of soup, mine was a vegetable soup. Then we shared a mango salad. Afterwards one of us had beef with red peppers, the other friend had chicken and cashews and I ended up with Emerald Curried shrimp (green curry by any other name) which was very good. I had a glass of Thai wine with it which reminded me of Chardonnay. Finally one friend ordered banana fritters which I wasn't going to share, but we did having a quarter banana a piece, pretty good stuff. Thoroughly enjoyed it as did my friends. Needless to say, we yapped the whole time. We know, by internet if not face to face, a lot of people in common and we were catching up. The friend from Texas had been out of the loop for a while too, so there was a lot to catch up on. On the way home I suddenly remembered a local gourmet shop, David's, which I have mentioned before and took them there. Big mistake, I didn't think I would ever get them out of the store, *g*. There is certainly a lot to check out. I had told my American friend about the Lindt chocolate mousse so when we found a bar, she bought it. My other friend also bought a few things and I bought some Ćevapčići which are made of beef, pork and lamb. I thought we would try them. We actually prefer all lamb. The picture is a somewhat ornate display of the sausages. Home and the girls headed out as my one friend is in a regular performance called Haunted Hamilton and had to be there that evening. Here is a recipe for Thai Green Curry. The first time I ever ate it was in England where a friend in my cookery group had made it for our big meeting where we all met for the first time. The two women I had lunch with are from the same group. We made it ourselves some time later but as we used commercial curry paste, the colour wasn't the same. My UK friend apparently grinds her own spices to make it. Thai Green Curry Food TV from Crash My Kitchen Yield: 6 * 1 tbsp peanut oil * 2 x shallots, finely chopped * 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste * 3 x skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed * 6 x skinless chicken thighs, cubed * 3 cups coconut milk * 1 cup water * 3 tbsp fish sauce * 1 tbsp sugar * 2 x lime leaves * 20 x whole Thai basil leaves * 1 cup snow peas * 1 x large red pepper, julienne * 1 bunch cilantro 1. Place oil in wok set over medium heat allow this to heat 10 – 20 seconds. Add shallots and curry paste. Cook shallots until opaque, do not brown. 2. Add chicken followed by milk, water, fish sauce, sugar and lime leaves. Stir ingredients together. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Reduce heat and continue to cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and chicken to cooked through. 3. Reduce heat to low add Thai basil, snow peas and red pepper. Let cook for 2 – 3 minutes and serve. 4. Serve over Jasmine rice