Saturday, January 16, 2010

Giant Pandas, Movie and a G & T.

Adelaide Zoo have obtained some giant pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, which are now on view to the public. This is part of a conservation effort on behalf of the Chinese and Australian governments. An Australian friend of mine posted a link on Facebook and I have just been looking at the videos which I found fascinating. I love Pandas anyway. What I also found interesting was the development of biogas (basically methane from animal and human wastes) which they are introducing into Chinese homes to be used in stoves and for heating instead of wood in order to encourage them not to use the trees from the Panda habitats which have been shrinking badly. If you would like to see how they take a Panda's temperature go to There is a little video of how a white bear became a Panda and then several other videos following. Last night we watched a movie I hadn't come across before called 16 Blocks. It starred Bruce Willis as an aging cop and Mos Def as a fast talking witness. It was basically about a) getting a witness against the police to court and b) bent cops of which Bruce Willis turned out to be one. It was a very good story and one I recommend you see if you ever get a chance - it was made in 2006 and when it started I didn't think I wanted to see it after the first few minutes. I'm glad I persevered. As usual, of course, it was spoiled by too many advertising breaks. Some TV Channels are better than others in that regard. Some nights on TV there are several things I want to see, other nights there is nothing. Pity it can't be spread around more. Matt will be celebrating today, he has finished his antibiotics so can now eat dairy products plus have a gin before din. He was telling everyone at the alley that he couldn't remember anything about last week. Really I could tell him anything couldn't I? Funny looking for a picture of a Gin and Tonic they were nearly all pictured with lime, most people drink a G & T with lemon - at least most of the people I have ever met. Matt has drunk it with lime when no lemon is available, but he much prefers lemon. Me, I don't drink it at all unless there is nothing else around. The only time I drink tonic, horrid stuff, is when I have cramp. The little bit of quinine works, surprisingly. I'm a scotch drinker myself and I drink it with a little water and definitely NO ice. I should be able to make the Avocado Soup today, I checked the avocados and they are no longer like bullets. Talking of soup, here is another soup from Eating Well which would make a very satisfying meal. It reminds me of a Barley Casserole I have made many times and which I published in my blog on March 5, last year. Cream of Mushroom & Barley Soup From EatingWell: January/February 2007 This sophisticated take on creamy mushroom soup is rich with earthy porcini mushrooms and has the added goodness of whole-grain barley. 4 servings Ingredients •1/2 cup pearl barley •4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or mushroom broth (see Shopping Tip), divided •1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms •2 cups boiling water •2 teaspoons butter •1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil •1 cup minced shallots, (about 4 medium) •8 cups sliced white mushrooms, (about 20 ounces) •2 stalks celery, finely chopped •1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried •1/2 teaspoon salt •1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper •2 tablespoons all-purpose flour •1 cup dry sherry, (see Ingredient Note) •1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream •1/4 cup minced fresh chives Preparation 1.Bring barley and 1 1/2 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. 2.Meanwhile, combine porcinis and boiling water in a medium bowl and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Line a sieve with paper towels, set it over a bowl and pour in mushrooms and soaking liquid. Reserve the soaking liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop. 3.Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add white mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they start to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the porcinis, celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until most of the sherry has evaporated, about 1 minute. 4.Add the soaking liquid and the remaining 3 cups broth; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened, 18 to 22 minutes. 5.Add the cooked barley and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in sour cream until incorporated. Garnish with chives. Nutrition Per serving : 343 Calories; 10 g Fat; 5 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 22 mg Cholesterol; 38 g Carbohydrates; 14 g Protein; 7 g Fiber; 501 mg Sodium; 975 mg Potassium 2 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 fat Tips & Notes •Make Ahead Tip: Prepare soup through Step 4. Cover and refrigerate the soup and cooked barley separately for up to 3 days. To serve, combine (Step 5) and reheat. •Shopping tip: Look for mushroom broth in aseptic containers in well-stocked supermarkets or natural-foods stores. •Ingredient note: Sherry is a type of fortified wine originally from southern Spain. Don't use the “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, purchase dry sherry that's sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store. Have a great day


  1. I love G&T but it must be plain, no lime or lemon. Bombay Saphire is THE ONE!!! Good choice.

  2. I'll pour one for you right now Lurdes. Matt started drinking Bombay Sapphire after Siobahn talked about it, but he does prefer it with lemon. He enjoyed his last night.