Friday, February 26, 2010


Right now it is Friday evening, we made it to Hamilton OK, the roads were "bare and wet". We are staying in a Sheraton Inn which is not an inexpensive place to stay. Everywhere is fairly luxurious, but you have to pay for everything. To get wifi you have to go to a special area - it is not available in the room, however, you can use cable at a cost of $10 a day!!!!!! They charge you for breathing here. We have just been down for dinner, having described the hotel to you, we found the dining room had a very mediocre selection on the menu. They have a cafe/bar where you can also get food, so why, do you suppose, are they serving burgers in the restaurant? The most exotic fare was lamb shanks and they were very expensive. More so than the fillet steak I ended up having preceded by a Caesar salad which really wasn't. Instead of croutons (which I forgot to cancel anyway) there was a small bruschetta with tapenade. Not bad. However, the dressing on the salad seemed to be oil and one received a huge piece of lemon to add the juice. The garlic seemed to be almost non existent and the Parmesan was shaved slices of cheese. My steak however, which I requested blue rare, was good as were the accompanying vegetables, the sauce and the baked tatie. I had a very expensive glass of wine, paying more for the wine than I would for the whole bottle in the liquor store. Finished up with a crème brulée which wasn't bad. However, for such an expensive hotel, I was very disappointed in the whole restaurant experience.
Saturday: Well I had a good morning bowling and ended up with plus 49 pins above my average so I don't need to hang my head in shame. However, the winners all had more than 100 pins above average, 7 of them??????? Very unusual to say the least.What a huge bowling alley, they must have had something like 48 lanes, they had our tournament on one side of the building and another tournament on the other side. Its been snowing all morning, wet stuff not laying but making the roads wet and its kind of damp and chilly more like England than Canada. We ended up going next door to the alley and getting a Sub at Subway for lunch. We are in the city of 100 waterfalls, I wrote about that once before. However, it isn't the kind of weather for that kind of sight seeing. No access to recipes today so that's it for today.
Have a great weekend.

Tillikum the Orca, Weather and Bowling.

Now I am hearing people say something should be done to the Orca Tillikum because he drowned his trainer. Why? He was captured and confined by humans, you can see by his bent dorsal fin that he is not a very happy camper, and we expect him to go against his nature. He saw his trainer lying on the slipway (not a recommended thing for trainers to do) her hair touched his rostrum, he instinctively thinks 'prey' and grabs. That's what Orcas do. Normally with baby seals or something, but the instinct is there and cannot be got rid of. Nor can you, as I heard suggested, just let him go; that has to be done very slowly and carefully as in the case of the whale from the Free Willy movie. Took several years and a lot of money. Obviously they can still get Tillikum to perform, just don't be stupid and lie on the slipway. Oh, and cut your hair. The picture shows Tillicum doing what they call a slideout which is where Dawn was lying down. Sounds like I have no sympathy for the tragic death, I do, but it sounds like she was putting herself in a very vulnerable position and should have known better.
We are still watching the weather and I have everything crossed. Mks typg dffclt. LOL. We got quite a lot of the white stuff over night, but nothing like the east coast. The skies still look as though they have more up there though. Its a 1 1/2 hour drive to Hamilton and we are hoping the ploughs and salters will have done their job. By the way, there may not be a blog tomorrow as I will be bowling in my tournament. I hope you too will have your fingers crossed for me tomorrow morning. The tournament gets under way at 9:30 a.m. We went on our travel league get together yesterday, meeting friends at the My Thai restaurant in Waterloo where I decided to have Pad Thai and Matt asked for barbecued beef salad. When it came, there was no salad as such, just a pile of very spicy beef. We ended up having a doggy bag and bringing it home, Matt found it too hot for him. He filled up on a couple of donuts later at the bowling alley. The travel league always gets donuts.
Well, I'm off for today. All I can really think of is the tournament and whether we will get there and how I will bowl.
I found another quick recipe from Kraft Kitchens for a carrot cake which is one of my favourites. Maybe I will give it a go later. For a dinner party maybe, I guess I really don't need the sugars.
Short Cut Carrot Cake 1 pkg. (2-layer size) spice cake mix 2 cups shredded carrots 1 can (14 fl oz/398mL) crushed pineapple in juice, drained 1 cup toasted chopped pecans, divided 2 pkg. (250 g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened 2 cups icing sugar 3 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping 1. HEAT oven to 350°F. 2. PREPARE cake batter as directed on package; stir in carrots, pineapple and 3/4 cup nuts. Pour into 2 (8-inch) square pans sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 25 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centres comes out clean. Cool 10 min.; remove cakes from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 3. BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Whisk in Cool Whip. 4. STACK cakes on serving plate, spreading 1-1/2 cups cream cheese mixture between layers. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Keep refrigerated. Servings: 18 Tips Substitute yellow cake mix plus 2 tsp. ground cinnamon for the spice cake mix. Extra For a special decorative design, use a toothpick to draw 4 diagonal lines across top of cake; sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pecans along the lines.
Have a great day

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shaggy Dog Story, Killer Orca,

Delightful story last night on the NBC Olympics programme. Mary Carillo, a reporter, had spent time in northern Manitoba and amongst other things she went 'mushing' however, one of the dogs on her sled team was blind. Apparently the dog, Isabelle, had started to go blind some years ago; many friends said the owners should shoot her; they tried to make a pet of her but she was just wasting away, pining. Finally Isabelle showed them in no uncertain terms that all she wanted to do was run. The other dogs give her the direction, but the rest of it is all Isabelle. She has now been pulling a sled as a blind dog for 5 years. There is a video about this story at
Now, not a nice story, an Orca, otherwise known as killer whales, called Tillikum, lived up to its nickname yesterday and according to audience members, grabbed a trainer off the deck and ended up causing her death. This particular whale has been involved in three incidents over the last 20 years or so, this latest, in front of a crowd. The picture shows Dawn Brancheau who was an experienced trainer and fully aware of the dangers of her job. The story is here: It must have been a pretty horrifying experience for those who saw it. As pointed out, these are still wild animals no matter how much training they are given - if they see something to grab and either play with or kill for food, they revert to that behaviour very easily. We saw pictures on TV the other night of Orcas beaching themselves using the waves to catch seal pups and then floating off again on the outgoing waves. Same type of behaviour. This tragedy occurred at the Shamu Stadium in Sea World. I have been there, glad I wasn't there when this happened. This morning they are saying that Dawn had a pony tail and the whale grabbed it when it brushed his rostrum (nose/beak) and pulled her in shaking her violently and pulling her under water.
Update - As of last night we had 15 Olympic medals, 7 of which are golds. Way to go Canada.
Today we are off to the My Thai restaurant in Waterloo to have lunch with our Travel League bowling group and then bowling afterwards. Always a fun day. Tomorrow we are supposed to leave for Hamilton after lunch and there is a storm brewing in the South. Please keep it there.
I had an email this morning from offering me Glenda Larke's new book for £5.99 which is £2 off. Not a bad deal. If you would like to read the book, you could order it from them although presumably and will have it available soon if not now. Books always used to be cheaper in the UK, I am not sure whether this still applies, but you still have to pay shipping. I think this is a wonderful book and it has had rave reviews from all kinds of places including well known authors. It was shortlisted for the Aurealis awards and is on other award lists too. I personally am waiting impatiently for the second book which is due out in Australia next month. One thing I noticed at, they call it the Stormlord Trilogy, Glenda calls it The Watergivers Trilogy.
Salmon is quite plentiful in this part of Canada if not particularly cheap. However, we both like fish and it is very good for you. here is a recipe I thought looked particularly good. You know, writing this blog and finding new recipes has improved our variety of food greatly. I hope it has done so for you too.
Blackened Salmon Sandwich From EatingWell: April/May 2006,
Blackened salmon is great in a sandwich with a spread of mashed avocado and low-fat mayonnaise plus peppery arugula leaves, cool tomato slices and zesty red onion. We grill our Cajun-style salmon so there is no need for any added cooking oil. Catfish makes an excellent stand-in for the salmon but you'll want to use a grill basket if you have one to keep the fish from breaking apart. 4 servings
Ingredients •1 pound wild salmon fillet, (see Ingredient Note), skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions •2 teaspoons blackening or Cajun seasoning •1 small avocado, pitted •2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise •4 crusty whole-wheat rolls, split and toasted •1 cup arugula •2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced •1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion Preparation 1.Oil grill rack (see Tip); preheat grill to high. 2.Rub salmon on both sides with blackening (or Cajun) seasoning. Grill until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. 3.Mash avocado and mayonnaise in a small bowl. 4.To assemble sandwiches, spread some of the avocado mixture on each roll and top with salmon, arugula, tomato and onion.
Nutrition Per serving : 414 Calories; 14 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 65 mg Cholesterol; 43 g Carbohydrates; 33 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 775 mg Sodium; 756 mg Potassium 2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 4 lean meat, 1 fat (mono) Tips & Notes •Ingredient note: Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific (Alaska, California, Washington and Oregon) is considered the best choice for the environment. For more information, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ( •Tips: To skin a salmon fillet, place salmon on a clean cutting board, skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long, sharp knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding the skin down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either. •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.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray.
Have a great day

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ski Cross Gold, Cross Speed Skater,

Woo hoo, another gold for Canada, Ashleigh McIvor won the women's ski cross which was the first time this event has been held at the winter Olympics. She was a very excited young lady when she had finished her run. Another Canadian came 5th. Norway's Hedda Berntsen took silver and France's Marion Josserand the bronze. I wonder if the French stayed up for that one? Apparently Ashleigh wrote an essay recently on why this event should be included then she went and won the first one. Great job. Tuesday evening was the short programme for the women's figure skating; I am less interested in that part of the sport, I like the free programme. Mind you I prefer to watch the men as their jumps are so high. However there were two young Asian girls who gave excellent performances, Yu Na Kim from Korea who came first and Mao Asada from Japan. In third place there is a Canadian girl, Joannie Rochette. It would be fabulous if she could medal. I notice I've picked up the phraseology, since when was 'medal' a verb?
Then there was the story of Sven Kramer of Holland who skated in the 10,000 metres event yesterday and was told by his coach to change lanes, Kramer hesitated, but did as he was told and was disqualified because he shouldn't have been in that lane. Matt says the coach should be fired, I think he should be shot. Kramer was so mad, so would I have been, he won the race in record time and never got a medal. I am surprised he didn't throttle the coach then and there. Matt says Kramer should have known as he is an experienced enough skater to be aware of which lane he should be using. I disagree, if you are used to taking direction from your coach, that is what you do. At least he knows he would have won, but doesn't have anything to prove it. Mind you Robin Roberts on Good Morning America told a story about Kramer which gives the impression he thinks rather a lot of himself and deals with people in a superior manner.
I was going to tell you about a new fuel cell which has been unveiled today and which was discussed on Good Morning America, however, their web site is unavailable; I have found a page which talks about it at - there isn't a picture on this article, but it is a very thin cell and produces cleaner electricity than anything to date. It was a product developed of NASA technology.
I am very worried at the moment, the weather forecast for Friday is not good and that is when we have to drive to Hamilton for the bowling tournament on Saturday. Please keep your fingers crossed for us.
I love frittatas and this sounds a good one for breakfast.
Potato, Salami, and Cheese Frittata Source: Quick from Scratch - One Dish Meals Food and Wine Serves 4 Fortified with sautéed potatoes, strips of salami, and bits of goat cheese, this robust egg dish makes a fine breakfast or dinner. Add a salad and you're all set. Though we like them warm, frittatas are traditionally served at room temperature. INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons cooking oil 1 1/2-pound baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1/4 teaspoon salt 8 large eggs 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 3 ounces sliced hard salami, slices halved and then cut crosswise into thin strips 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 pound mild goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled DIRECTIONS In a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof frying pan or cast-iron pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the potato and salt and sauté until the potato cubes are brown and just done, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the pepper and Parmesan. Stir in the salami and the potato. Add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Melt the butter over moderate heat. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the top. Cook until the eggs are nearly set, 6 to 7 minutes. Heat the broiler. Broil the frittata 6 inches from the heat, if possible, until the eggs are set, about 2 minutes. Loosen the frittata with a spatula and slide the frittata onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve. Test-Kitchen Tip If the handle of your frying pan isn't ovenproof, protect it from the heat of the broiler with about four layers of aluminum foil.
Have a great day

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ice Dancing Gold, Snow and Toaster Ovens.

Canadians were thrilled to watch the ice dancing last night and to see a young Canadian couple win the gold medal. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave a perfect performance in their free skate which was absolutely beautiful to behold. They had a 5.8 point lead over their competitors from the States, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who also turned in a wonderful performance. The bronze medalists, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin from Russia, were not, in my opinion, as good as the Americans who came fourth, but of course I am not a judge. One thing which was so exciting, the Russians in particular as well as the Europeans have been dominating ice skating for years, so it was particularly great to see two couples take the gold and silver medals, the first time these two medals have been won for ice dancing by North American skaters. These two medalists train on the same ice with the same coach and choreographer in Michigan so a lot of credit will be going to that team. Virtue and Moir have been skating together since they were 7 and 9 yrs. old at which time they didn't talk because they were too shy. The arena where they skated last night went wild when the Canadians skated, and if possible, even wilder when they won the gold medal. The couple come from quite near to us, from London, Ontario and from Ilderton which is quite nearby. Canadians were very disappointed that the hockey team was beaten by the US, a friend at the bowling alley said they shouldn't have boasted so much, however, other friends assure me the women's hockey team is much better. Tonight the women's single figure skating starts so yet more treats to watch. I always like the end of games performances by all the medalists.
Well, we had snow yesterday, first time for quite a few weeks, it was forecasted we should have 10 cm. of the stuff, I think the forecasters may well have been right. Today we are supposed to get rain and Wednesday more snow. The roads were a mess yesterday as it appears they don't bring the plows out until it has stopped snowing. No salters either as far as I could tell. We only drove to the bowling alley which is about a 15 minute drive and the roads were a mush of dirty snow. When we came out after bowling we had to clean the car of quite a lot of snow. In fact Matt did OK, I got him start the car whilst I and our team leader (also a woman) brushed off the car.
Once home, we discovered our toaster oven had decided to give up the ghost, so Matt went out again to get a new one. He did well, a $50 toaster for about $25. Canadian Tire were having a sale again. That's $600 saved on the treadmill and another $25 on the toaster. This morning I was trying to figure out how to use it, it appears somewhat more complicated and I ended up with a piece of dry bread instead of a piece of toast. Back to the drawing board.
I love rice puddings and here is an easy one to make. Something of a blast from the past.
Currant Rice Pudding Food Network
Yield: 6
Ingredients 3 cups milk 2 cups water 4 pared peels from a lemon 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract 3/4 cup short grain rice 1/3 cup dried currants 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted 2/3 cup sugar 1 egg yolk (optional) cinnamon, for garnish Directions
Heat milk and water with peelings from lemon and vanilla to just below a simmer and stir in rice. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lemon peels. Add the currants, almonds and sugar and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more, testing rice for doneness. Remove from heat, let cool for 15 minutes then stir in egg yolk. Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon. Rice pudding will set further as it cools. It can be served warm or chilled.
Have a great day

Monday, February 22, 2010

Books, Library, Roast Beef and Lapland.

Not having the best memory in the world any more, I can't remember if I told you about the short story I read the other day by Tanya Huff called Nothing Better to Do which was one of the funniest tales I have read in a long time. I had previously not read anything by this author so I am busy getting hold of her books. I just finished one called Stealing Magic which was a collection of tales about a wizard and a thief. The wizard stories were priceless with a young woman, Magdalene, who is the "best wizard in the world" just living quite casually and refusing to wear wizard robes but nevertheless doing all kinds of incredible things as well as taking to bed all the handsome men she comes across in her many years of living. I loved these stories. The ones about the thief, Terazin, were also enjoyable but I loved Magdalene more. I just saw a review which called the stories charming and funny which is a very apt description. Turns out Tanya Huff is a Canadian author, I wonder why I haven't come across her before?
For my treadmill walking, I have a new set of CDs from The Cat Who series, this time The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern and I have just started book six of the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. I have been very much enjoying these stories along with his Harry Dresden tales. The book I am now reading is called First Lord's Fury and from what I have read so far, appears to be up to par with all his previous books in this series. I am glad I started writing about this because I have just discovered another Harry Dresden book I haven't read, Changes. I am now on the list to get it from the library.
I having nothing but praise for the local library system. They really do make a terrific effort to get what I am asking for if they don't happen to have it in house. They do inter-library loans and will occasionally buy a book for me if they don't happen to have it although mostly they can get it from another library system.
I cooked a roast of beef (English style) on Saturday evening which made a nice change, we don't have roast beef very often. However, I discovered my gravy doesn't freeze, unfortunately it separated. Maybe we could have whisked it back into the correct emulsion, but I didn't know until it was too late. The beef was great though. We followed it with some Borgonzola cheese which is a favourite of ours. I have talked about it before, it is kind of an amalgum between Brie and blue cheese. The original was a German cheese called Cambazola but this is a Canadian copy and we like it better. The picture doesn't pick up the blue that well - it is not heavily veined, but enough to give it a good flavour. Sunday night was cold roast beef and more Borgonzola which has now all gone sadly although I think we have another meal of beef yet.
An English friend just posted pictures of their trip to Lapland, looks like they had a great time, however, I thought you could have transposed a lot of the pictures to Canadian ones (well normally, we haven't had much snow this winter) but I was fascinated by the huskies pulling their sleds, they don't look a bit like the dogs we have in North America and I'm not talking about Malamuts. We used to have a dog, Chinook, who was part husky and looked just like the dogs from up north. My friends got to 'mush' in other words drive their own sleds. Must be great fun although I think I would prefer to sit there all wrapped up whilst someone else did the work. Lazy? Me??
I had never really heard of cheese soups before I came to Canada, now I have come across one called Dutch Cheese Soup so maybe the Dutch were making them and I just didn't know.
Dutch Cheese Soup Source: Burt Wolf's Table
Published by Doubleday
Makes 8 servings INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons butter 1 cup sliced leeks 2 cups peeled, cubed new potatoes 1 bunch broccoli, stalks sliced and florets kept separate from the stalks 6 cups chicken stock or broth 1 cup milk 1 cup grated Gouda cheese or Edam cheese, plus extra grated cheese, for garnish DIRECTIONS In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, potatoes, broccoli stalks, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the broccoli florets and cook for 3 minutes. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan. Add the milk and reheat the soup until hot. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Serve hot, garnished with extra cheese.
Have a great day

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I don't usually post two blogs in a day but recently I have been drawn to the plight of tigers, in particular, and protected species' smuggling in general and today I discovered this website which I hope you will look at. Warning, it shows pictures of dead tigers slaughtered for their body parts. The site is Malayan Tiger where they are not only telling you of the problems but asking for your support which I hope some of you may be in a position to give, even if you only buy a T shirt or a car sticker. Of course the tiger is a romantic or appealing animal but there are many species of lizards and other exotic and rare animals such as pangolins which need our help and vigilance. The Malayan Tiger site has a phone number to report crime, but for the rest of us, our local World Wildlife would be a good place to report such crimes. Most of us will never come across any, but if you can at least support the work of those who are fighting against such abuses it will be very much appreciated. I mentioned the other day that there are less tigers in the wild than there are in captivity in the U.S. Zoos fine, but the fear is that many of these captive tigers will be used for 'parts' smuggling too. Have a great day

Sinking Ships, Olympics, Bowling,

I didn't know a lot about it yesterday but caught the headline that a Canadian tall ship, SV Concordia, had sunk somewhere off Brazil and that everyone was OK. Today it appears that she got caught in some very rough weather and capsized. Sounds very odd to me, ships like that don't usually capsize easily, so I wonder just what happened. I am glad that everyone ended up OK though, especially as the ship was full of students. Strangely enough, I once knew a young man who died in very much the same way, although I was young myself and never really knew all the details. I know he was part of the crew on a tall ship which sank, but again, I don't know why. But when you think these ships were being sailed all over the place without sinking for many a long year, it makes one (well me anyway) question the competence of the skipper and his officers. For the most recent story go to

Canada is thrilled to have won another gold medal with Jon Montgomery winning in the men's Skeleton which I had never heard of but I understand is one of the sled races. Last night we started watching the ice dancing. It was the compulsory tango which is lovely to watch at the beginning, but after you have seen it danced 10 or 12 times it does tend to get somewhat monotonous. However Saturday should be better with the original dance. Whenever I see ice dancing I automatically think of Torvill and Dean who were so marvellous in the 1984 Olympics dancing to the Bolero. Talking of skating, we saw an interview with Evan Lysacek who won the gold for men's figure skating. Considering all the noise his competitor, Evgeny Plushenko has been making along with the Russian leader and Russians generally, I thought Evan was very gracious. The row centres on the ability to do a quad jump, well Plushenko didn't land his very well anyway.

Talking of athletic disasters *g*, I had a lousy day at bowling yesterday - no idea why, I just couldn't do anything and had trouble making 100 points let alone getting my average. I was not a happy camper. Bearing in mind that I soon have a tournament coming up (Feb 27) I am hoping I don't do as badly then.

The health pundits are always saying one should eat more beans - the Mediterranean diet is supposed to be very strong on beans and therefore very good for you - that I thought I would pass on this Eating Well recipe which I think I might well try for us although tonight I am cooking a roast of beef. I have never heard of salad beans which are apparently a mixture of different types, but if you can find them good, if not, any beans would do I am sure. One thing I have never understood in North America is serving bread with pasta, maybe it is done in Europe nowadays, but to my way of thinking you don't need both and especially not when you have beans. Now the arugula salad I approve of.

Bean Bolognese
From EatingWell: December 2006
Fiber-rich beans stand in for the beef and pork in this surprisingly rich-tasting vegetarian take on pasta Bolognese. Without the meat, the dish has only a third of the fat and 80 percent less saturated fat. To make the perfect meal, serve with a peppery arugula salad and warm, crusty Italian bread. 4 servings
Ingredients •1 14-ounce can salad beans, (see Shopping Tip) or other beans, rinsed, divided •2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil •1 small onion, chopped •1/2 cup chopped carrot •1/4 cup chopped celery •1/2 teaspoon salt •4 cloves garlic, chopped •1 bay leaf •1/2 cup white wine •1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes •1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided •8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine •1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preparation 1.Put a large pot of water on to boil. Mash 1/2 cup beans in a small bowl with a fork. 2.Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add wine; increase heat to high and boil until most of the liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices, 2 tablespoons parsley and the mashed beans. Bring to a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining whole beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. 3.Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. 4.Divide the pasta among 4 bowls. Discard the bay leaf and top the pasta with the sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining parsley.
Nutrition Per serving : 443 Calories; 11 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 9 mg Cholesterol; 67 g Carbohydrates; 19 g Protein; 14 g Fiber; 707 mg Sodium; 281 mg Potassium 3 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat Tips & Notes •Shopping tip: A can of salad beans, a mixture of chickpeas, kidney and pinto beans, adds depth and variety to this recipe. Look for it in the natural-foods section of larger supermarkets or natural-foods stores. If you can't find it, substitute a can of your favorite beans.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Skating, Tiger and Tigers.

The men's figure skating last night was a joy to watch. Evan Lysacek won with an absolutely flawless performance which was really fabulous. Evgeny Plushenko didn't land his quad perfectly although otherwise he gave an excellent, if not so inspired, performance and was obviously very disappointed not to win although he didn't take it all that well and proceeded to criticise the marking sytem. Lysacek had to skate first in his flight and I have often debated how good or bad that is, at least you don't know how well the others have done, but then because you don't know, you don't know what you have to compete with. Evan Lysacek skated his heart out and it paid off.
Well Tiger Woods made an unrevealing statement to the world - to me this business of "sexual addiction" is a cop out. Now every man who is unfaithful (or every woman I guess) can say, so sorry darling I am addicted to sex. Balderdash and I am actually thinking something a lot stronger. None of it has really got anything to do with golf, if he is going to continue to play, get out there and do it and sort your marital problems out on your own.
Something I was surprised to learn this morning, there are more tigers in the US, not all of them in zoos, than there are in the wild. In fact only 6% of the 5,000 tigers in the US are in regular zoos. Below is a web site from World Wildlife which talks about the tiger distribution in the US. I, among many, love to see these animals and would hate for them to disappear, but I am certainly not sure private ownership is advisable. I recently saw a programme about a guy who owned a stack of tigers and who had quite a few taken from him - I don't remember all the details but it was considered unsafe - he said he had a better safety record with tigers than a lot of zoos. There was another man who fought for his right to keep tigers last year and then ended up being killed by one of them. I wonder what he thought when it was happening "oops I was wrong". World Wildlife Fund are concerned that privately owned tigers contribute to the world wide market in tiger parts for medicinal purposes amongst other things. Something I read a lot about in a recent article in National Geographic. I wrote about it at the time, regarding a lot of animal smuggling which is headed by a syndicate based in Malaysia.
I didn't watch much of Good Morning America today, but Matt was particularly interested in this cauliflower dish which Emeril Lagasse did as an accompaniment to his pork loin recipe. I am always interested in different vegetable recipes. For Matt as much as anyone, here is Emeril's recipe.
Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Roasted Shallot-Garlic Butter A Veggie Dish Your Family Will Love From the Kitchen of Emeril Lagasse Servings: 4 "The caramelized edges bring out a sweet, nutty flavor and theshallot butter that it's tossed in at the end. ... Oh, baby, don't make me talk about it." -- Emeril Lagasse Ingredients 4 large shallots, halved lengthwise 3 tablespoons olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 large cauliflower, cut into large florets Directions Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a small baking dish with aluminum foil. Place the shallots in the prepared baking dish and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast until they are soft and caramelized, turning them if necessary to promote even browning, 15 to 20 minutes. Set the shallots aside to cool. When they have cooled, finely chop the roasted shallots and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the butter, garlic, lemon juice, 1 /4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 /8 teaspoon pepper, and mix well to combine. Set the shallot-garlic butter aside while you grill the cauliflower. Brush the cauliflower with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and place the florets on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the florets are golden on the bottom edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking, turning occasionally, until they are evenly browned around the edges and crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and add the shallot-garlic butter. Toss to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper, and serve either hot or warm.
Have a great day

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Women's Heart Attacks, Valdemar, Pancake Day, Julie & Julia,

They, as in the health pundits, are always telling us that women's heart attack symptoms are different from a man's. Fine, but just what are the symptoms, say I? I have just found a list which details the main things. Bear in mind that heart disease is considered the number one killer of women these days and women need to be a) informed of this fact and b) to know what to do to try and prevent one. The latter includes exercise and healthy eating. However, should anything happen, the list of symptoms is as follows, and bear in mind that women often get no chest pain whatsoever:
Symptoms Prior to a Heart Attack Unusual fatigue - 70%
Sleep disturbance - 48% Shortness of breath - 42% Indigestion - 39% Anxiety - 35%
Major symptoms during the heart attack include: Shortness of breath - 58%
Weakness - 55% Unusual fatigue - 43%
Cold sweat - 39%
Dizziness - 39%
I am currently reading an ebook called Changing the World which is a series of short stories written by different authors about the Heralds of Valdemar, or other stories set in the same world. One story is called Nothing Better To Do by Tanya Huft. I laughed myself silly, Matt was getting a bit teed off with me I was laughing so much but he wouldn't have appreciated the story - it is fantasy after all. But if you have ever read and enjoyed any Valdemar stories, and if you can get hold of this one, I am sure you will enjoy it too. Its about a young Herald, his Companion and a baby they are rescuing. A really good laugh.
I forgot to mention, yesterday, that it being Shrove Tuesday, and Pancake Day in England, I suddenly bethought me of pancakes by which time it was too late to make any. I cheated and used bought ones. Let me also explain that to me the word pancakes actually conjures up what north Americans call crèpes. In England we call them pancakes we also have an event called a Pancake Race which meant people had to race with a frying pan tossing the pancake as they ran. I used to be able to toss pancakes, once upon a time, but I doubt if I could now; I am too scared to try. Anyway, we had ready made crèpes with melted butter and sugar with some of the chocolate ganache I made the other day. Delicious. Matt said he thought the crèpes themselves were a bit tasteless, well maybe they weren't as good as home made!! Maybe I should whip up a batch and freeze them, they do freeze very well.
Last night I finally got to see Julie and Julia - I rented it from iTunes. What a wonderful story and what a great movie. How sad that the two women didn't meet and that Julia apparently didn't think much of what Julie was doing. Meryl Streep was absolutely brilliant as Julia Child, in fact I forgot it was Meryl which to me is the sign of a great piece of acting. Friends had told us we should see this movie because of our interest in cooking and I am so glad I now have done so. Now I am thinking I should do something similar, but I am not as young as Julie and wouldn't have the energy I'm afraid. I have one book of Julia Child's, In Julia's Kitchen With Master Chefs, which is introduced and annotated by her, but I do not have her original Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Of course when we first came to Canada Julia Child meant absolutely nothing to us, and I always remember my mother visiting us from England and watching TV one day whilst we were at work and being absolutely staggered to see Julia drop some dish on the floor and carry on - my mother thought she was nuts. Later, we understood what Julia was all about. My mother, by the way, was a brilliant cook, I think she had probably worked her way through Mrs. Beeton's cookery book which used to be the cooking bible in the UK once upon a time.
Here is an adaptation of Julia's Beouf Bourguignon which is featured so prominently in the film. I have made Boeuf Bourguignon several times although not using this particular recipe. There are many steps but it really isn't as complicated as it sounds and the results are well worth the effort.
Boeuf Bourguignon à La Julia Child
This is the classic, adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." A wonderful dish, raising the simple stew to an art form and quite simple to make--even though the instructions look long. Use Simple Beef Stock, the recipe for which is posted on this site. Use a wine which you would drink--not cooking wine. And the better the cut of beef, the better the stew. As the beef is combined with braised onions and sauteed mushrooms, all that is needed to complete your main course is a bowl of potatoes or noodles and lots of good bread for the sauce. by Chef Kate 5 hours | 1 hour prep SERVES 6 For the Stew 6 ounces bacon, solid chunk 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1 onion, peeled and sliced 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground 2 tablespoons flour 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti) 2-3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted) 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more) 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme) 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh For the braised onions 18-24 white pearl onions, peeled 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup beef stock salt & fresh ground pepper 1 bay leaf 1 sprig thyme 2 sprigs parsley For the Sautéed Mushrooms 1 lb mushroom, quartered 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve. Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" think and 1 1/2" long. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes. Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed. For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat. To Finish the Stew:. When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve). Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley. If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator. 20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Have a great day

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gold Plated Car, Olympic Skating.

Its nice to know that in these days of rising prices, shortage of jobs and money, there is someone who is not feeling the pinch Here is a picture of a white gold car made for an Arab billionaire. I guess the word recession hasn't impinged on their consciousness in Abu Dhabi and if they want a Mercedes Benz in white gold, they go out and buy it. To see the rest of the pictures - it doesn't actually say who's car it is, it may well be the same billionaire who had a car covered in diamonds a couple of years ago. I guess if you have the cash, why not? The fact that people in Haiti are suffering doesn't appear to have any impact on that part of the world, which I understand has made no contribution to the relief of the island at all.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time glued to the TV watching a Canadian girl, Maëlle Ricker win the snowboard cross event - a second gold for Canada at home. In the evening we watched the men's short programme in skating and were disappointed in Canadian Patrick Chen's performance, he had been touted as a possible medaller. However, the performances by both the Russian, Evgeny Plushenko and the American, Evan Lysacek were wonderful to watch. The Japanese, Daisuke Takahashi, also gave an excellent performance. I don't know who I will root for during the freeskate programme, although we hope Patrick Chen can pull out all stops. I think of all the performances I enjoyed Evan Lysacek's the most, it was absolutely beautiful and he is a joy to watch. As you can see from this picture, he is so long legged, a very tall young man. I am also rooting for Plushenko - the come back kid - so I don't know who I want to win the most. There were quite a few stumbles by other well known skaters and there are more young skaters for whom this was a first time Olympic performance and who will probably be on the podium in future years. I always wanted to skate, but was too old when I started to try and learn. I can remember, as a kid, playing The Skater's Waltz and gliding (as I thought) across the carpet as though I were skating. My parents met on a skating rink, but they were living in Birmingham which is a city, ice rinks in Britain are (or were) few and far between when I was a youngster. I remember we did have a well known skater, who's family lived close by and who had to go to London in order to practice so spent most of her life living with her grandmother so that she could be near the rink. That's one thing we are not short of in Canada, skating rinks.
I've always enjoyed stuffed peppers and I thought this one sounded a very good version. I shall be off to buy the ingredients - well maybe tomorrow which is our normal shopping day.
Smoky Stuffed Peppers Source: © Eating Well Magazine 6 servings Turkey sausage and smoked cheese give a flavorful boost to this versatile, somewhat retro dinner. We've speeded it up by microwave-blanching the peppers and using instant brown rice. If possible, choose peppers that will stand upright. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. INGREDIENTS 6 large bell peppers, tops cut off, seeded 12 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage links, removed from casings 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 4 plum tomatoes, chopped 2 cups instant brown rice 1 cup chopped fresh basil 1 cup finely shredded smoked cheese, such as mozzarella, Cheddar or Gouda, divided DIRECTIONS Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Place peppers cut-side down in a large microwave-safe dish. Fill the dish with 1/2 inch of water, cover and microwave on High until the peppers are just softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain the water and transfer the peppers to a roasting pan. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes and rice; increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is softened but still moist, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, until the rice absorbs the remaining liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir basil and half the cheese into the rice mixture. Divide the filling among the peppers, then top with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3minutes. Have a great day

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dick Francis, Canada Critics,

I have just discovered through reading Karen Miller's blog that Dick Francis has died. He is one of my all time favourite authors and I have every book he ever wrote and re-read them now and again. There is an article about it in the BBC news although there doesn't seem to have been much coverage here. Apparently he was 89 which, in this day and age, is not that old you can read more here. His son will be carrying on the tradition, but the flavour won't be quite the same especially since, as far as I know, Felix Francis hasn't lived and breathed the horse world as Dick Francis did. One thing emphasised in the article is the fact that he wrote all his books longhand. To me that is incredible, but I guess if you never learned to type, a typewriter wouldn't be much use. Maybe his son uses a computer these days but of course in the original days of Dick Francis' novels, there were only typewriters. I gather they lived in the Cayman Islands, so that is at least one author who made it 'big". I do hope some of my friends, who are authors, will also hit the big time.
I actually intended to write about an article I came across yesterday in which Britain is slamming Canada's hosting of the Olympics. I was very distressed to read that the Brits are blaming Canada for the death of the young luger (investigations already having cleared the organisers) and saying we are treating it very casually. One thing Canadians never do is treat death casually, and a service was held for the young man before his remains departed for Georgia. As for our hype about dominating the podium, it is a way of encouraging our athletes and giving them a sense that the coountry is behind them. I am not sure we actually do enough for our athletes but that is not something I really know enough about. As for "thirst for glory" and "perversion of the Olympic movement for national gain; made by a culture of worthless aggrandizement and pride”, isn't that a distorted reflection of the way most countries feel about hosting the games. Maybe the games are held for profit reasons, but that is certainly not exclusive to Canada who really, really want their athletes to do well for a change. We are usually not very high in the medal stakes. As an ex pat Brit, I was very upset to read such criticisms.
Last night we watched the Free Skate programme of the pairs figure skating which was all such a sad fiasco until the end. Every couple we saw had at least one fall which marred their otherwise flawless and beautiful performances. Even the couple who got the bronze, a German pair, fell although their skating generally was a delight to watch. However, the silver and gold were won by Chinese skaters who did deliver flawless performances and were wonderful to watch. As the commentators said at the time "Happy New Year" China - Gung Hai Fat Choy. It is the first time China has gold medalled in the pairs apparently and then they got the silver too. They certainly deserved the accolades. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo were the gold medallists. One of my favourite skating segments is the men's singles although I guess I love to watch all the figure skating.
I have always loved Jambalaya although the recipe I use for a cold Jambalaya may not be truly authentic as I got it from a local paper. Mine uses shrimp and ham. The following one is for chicken and shrimp with the addition of andouille sausage which is not readily available everywhere - however, any spicy sausage would do if not giving quite the same flavour.
Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya Source: America's Test Kitchen Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Because andouille varies in spiciness, we suggest tasting a piece of the cooked sausage and then adjusting the amount of cayenne in the jambalaya to suit your taste. If you can’t find andouille, try tasso, chorizo, or linguiça; if using chorizo or linguiça, consider doubling the amount of cayenne. The onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic can be chopped by hand instead of in the food processor. The shrimp don’t need to be deveined, but you can do so if you prefer. If you’re serving only four people, you may choose to skip the shredding step and serve the chicken on the bone.
1 medium onion, peeled, ends trimmed, and quartered lengthwise 1 medium rib of celery, cut crosswise into quarters 1 medium red bell pepper, stem removed, seeded, and quartered lengthwise 5 medium cloves of garlic, peeled 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 8 ounces andouille sausage , halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (10 ounces) 1 teaspoon table salt 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme , minced 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note) 1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2-ounce), drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved 1 cup clam juice 1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 2 bay leaves 1 pound medium shrimp (31 to 35 shrimp per pound), or large shrimp, shelled 2 tablespoons fresh parsley , minced DIRECTIONS In food processor, pulse onion, celery, red pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Do not overprocess; vegetables should not be pureed. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and cook until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, add vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice, salt, thyme, and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to pot; stir to combine. Remove and discard skin from chicken; place chicken, skinned-side down, on rice. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping chicken on top, skinned-side down. Replace cover and continue to simmer until chicken is no longer pink when cut into with paring knife, about 10 minutes more; transfer chicken to clean plate and set aside. Scatter shrimp over rice, cover, and continue to cook until rice is fully tender and shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more. While shrimp are cooking, shred chicken. When shrimp are cooked, discard bay leaves; off heat, stir in parsley and shredded chicken, and serve immediately.
Have a great day

Monday, February 15, 2010

Games, Books, Valentine's Day.

I've spent a fair amount of time watching the Olympics. On Saturday afternoon watching the young Dutchman, Sven Kramer, win the 5,000 metres speed skating event. I love to watch speed skating, but I didn't realise just how involved the Dutch are with that sport. The Dutch prime minister was even there to watch. Much to everyone's surprise, a young south Korean, Lee Seung-Hoon, came in second with a Russian, Ivan Kobrev, in third place. We also caught a bit of women's hockey, the Canadians were matched against a brand new Slovakian team and on Sunday I heard the score was 18-0 to the Canadians. I felt a bit sorry for the Slovaks. Sunday morning we heard the first Canadian medal had been won, a silver for Jenn Heil in the moguls. Canada is really, really, hoping for a good medals count this time. We should be good at winter sports after all. Now, Sunday night, everyone is so excited because Canada won the gold in the men's moguls. Alexandre Bilodeau was first with a young Australian who was actually born and raised in Canada, taking the silver and the Americans taking the bronze. It is Canada's first gold medal in these games and the first time a gold medal has been won by a Canadian on home soil, this being the third games we have hosted, Montreal first, Calgary second and now Vancouver. So far we have one medal of each type with a speed skater, Kristina Groves having won a bronze. I haven't mentioned my reading lately, I have just finished a couple of books by Chris Evans. A Darkness Forged in Fire and The Light of Burning Shadows. I enjoyed them both but they were slow going. Obviously there is intended to be at least one more book, I am not quite sure if I will read it or not. I am not usually so ambivalent about the books I read, but these two I was. There was lots of magic and lots of odd critters and basically a pretty good story, but it was all about an army called The Iron Elves and the writing was not fast paced, so..... I have also been reading Suzanne Collins' Overlander Chronicles, I think they are classified as young adult fiction. I am enjoying them nevertheless. They are a light read and definitely fast paced. Full of giant rats (baddies) and cockroaches (goodies, cockroaches as goodies???) together with bats who fly their bonded human friends all around the place. The one I have just finished is called the Prophecy of Bane and I have another one to read. I am still listening to The Cat Who Turned On and Off, but I only listen to that when I am using my treadmill. I am gradually using the treadmill for longer and longer periods so I am listening to the book longer too. Its a good murder story. Monday is Family Day in Ontario a relatively new holiday here, the first one was in 2008. However, the bowling alley is usually packed so we are going to be bowling at 10:30 a.m. to avoid the crush. I don't remember this happening last year, I wonder what happened then? However, I am writing this blog in advance so I can publish it early on Monday even though I won't be here. In fact, I am writing this on Sunday, Valentine's day. I have had some lovely roses and a sentimental card from Matt and he got a funny card from me!! Tonight we are planning a fairly simple meal but nevertheless a good one we hope. We are starting with a tomato Bruschetta, then a fillet steak with Portabella mushroms and asparagus followed by a plain cheesecake. Matt does NOT like anything on his cheesecake, I am thinking of making a chocolate ganache to add to mine. Talking of the Bruschetta, I cannot, for the life of me, find my recipe. I know I posted it here once but I can't find it here either. I have found several on the internet, but somehow they don't seem exactly the same. The search will continue. By the way, here is the Chocolate Ganache recipe I plan to use. Looks good dunnit? It tasted good too. Chocolate Ganache AllRecipes Submitted By: INGRIDEVOGEL Servings: 16 "This is a rich, dark chocolate topping or decoration that has lots of uses. It can be whipped as filling or icing, or just poured over whatever cake you like." Ingredients: 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional) Directions: 1. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired. 2. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy. I found a recipe for the Bruschetta which I liked the look of. Whilst hunting around, I came across a couple of Gordon Ramsey recipes, one for Steak Diane which is one of my favourites, but not really right for fillet, and another for Peppered Steak which works very well with fillet steak although it isn't specified in this recipe. Peppered steak with shallot sauce Source Gordon Ramsey 25g butter 4 shallots, finely sliced 4 Tbs Cognac 200ml red wine 200ml beef stock from 1/2 stock cube, hot Oil, for frying 2 Tbs crushed black peppercorns 4 rump or sirloin steaks 1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, to soften. Pour in the Cognac, boil for 1 minute, then add the wine. Increase the heat and boil for a few minutes to reduce by half. 2. Meanwhile, make up the stock and pour in. Boil until reduced by half again. Stir in the butter, season to taste, and leave over a low heat. 3. Meanwhile, brush a griddle or frying pan with a little oil and place over a high heat. Press the peppercorns all over the steaks. Place in the hot pan and cook for 2-5 minutes each side, depending how you like them cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside for 2 minutes to rest. 4. Divide between plates. Pour over the sauce and serve with thin-cut oven chips and grilled vine tomatoes. Servings: 4 Have a great day