Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Malware,Odds and Ends.

I have been hit with the Advanced XP Defender Malware which I cannot seem to get rid of. I phoned a computer guy but he hasn't got back to me yet. My security programme doesn't seem to be able to find it and remove it. Oy vey as a friend would say. I think it may well be my fault opening something I shouldn't have. If you receive an email from UPS with an attachment and you have had no dealings with them, DO NOT open it. I was a tad nervous, our cribbage playing friend asked me to do her taxes for her. I do mine but I wasn't sure I could do hers, however, I signed her in to UFile and it all worked - how about that? I was impressed. That really is a good site. I have used it several times over the years. It was using the laptop which made me extra nervous and I did, in fact, enter one income figure wrongly and ended up showing she needed to pay the government $20,000 - I don't think so. At the moment I am using my laptop which I don't find easy to type on. I am used to a low keyboard so if this is full of errors, please accept my apologies. I'm not sure about pictures either, seems to be a problem.
Because of my problems, I have gone to Kraft Kitchens for an easy recipe for me to share and for you to cook. I looked at this recipe before and thought about making it.
Banana Sour Cream Cake
Kraft Kitchens
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
3 eggs 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 pkg. (250 g) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped
HEAT oven to 350°F. BEAT first 5 ingredients with mixer on low speed just until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 min. POUR into greased and floured 13x9-inch pan. Bake 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool completely. BEAT cream cheese and butter with mixer until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. REMOVE cake from pan; cut crosswise in half. STACK cake pieces on serving plate, spreading some of the frosting between layers. FROST top and sides with remaining frosting. Carefully press nuts into frosting on sides of cake. Kraft Kitchens
Tips How to Neatly Frost the Cake Freeze cake layers about 20 min. before frosting. This helps to set the crumbs on the cut edges of the cake layers so they don't pull up into the frosting. And don't worry if the frosting does not look perfect on the sides of the cake--the nuts will cover any imperfections.
How to Make Stacked Cake Layers Even If baked cake is uneven, rotate the top cake piece, when stacking the cake, so that the narrower end of one cake is stacked over the thicker end of the first piece.
How to Cut the Cake For ease in cutting, first cut the layer cake lengthwise, then crosswise 8 times. Have a great day


I have security problems on my desktop. I use Antivir which for some reason hasn't been scanning regularly and suddenly I am getting all kind of messages about PC attacks, malware, etc. etc. which seem to be coming from a copy of some MS programme. The result being that although I have the laptop to use, as I am doing now, I will probably be too involved fixing this for a while. My apologies. Have a great day

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stormlord Rising and Other Books, Medical Advice Sources.

Woo hoo I've got it, I've got it. What? Stormlord Rising. Book 2 of Glenda Larke's Watergivers Trilogy. Unfortunately I am in the middle of a time sensitive library book so can't start it right away but I am really, really looking forward to reading this book. Thank you so much to my friend in Australia who bought it for me and mailed it. It is somewhat thicker than I expected so it might last me a reasonable amount of time, but not, sadly, until I can get hold of book 3 which Glenda is still working on, doing the final polishing bits before it gets to the publishers. All takes time and then more time to actually get to the book stores. Glenda's is not the only book I am waiting for, the final stories of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books which are being written by Brandon Sanderson, then there is a Peter Hamilton book due out about now - The Evolutionary Void. It is apparently not yet out. I read months ago that it was due for publication but on the web site it says no details are available.
After my exciting bowling on Friday, I bowled like an idiot yesterday and didn't hit my average once, close to, but not on or past it. I just couldn't get anything going at all. Meanwhile I have been working on my blood pressure - popping pills like there was no tomorrow. I have to see my family doc about it today and then the specialist tomorrow (seems like a bit of overkill) at least I have gone from 225/90 to 136/67. Tomorrow is an early appointment so I'm not sure if I will have time to blog before I go.
Talking of medical things, I was horrified to hear that people take their medical advice from sites such as Twitter and Facebook - I know you have to pay for doctors in the States, but what a stupid place to get free advice. There are several good and reliable sites on the internet where you can find the information you seek but you do have to know which ones are good - the best idea is to check several and see if the information you get is consistent. That is one of the beauties of social medicine - you don't have to pay. However, that also means people go to the doctor when they don't really need to, crowding the system. The same with emergency departments. One thing mentioned was antibiotics which should never be saved, but completely finished whenever prescribed although I have met people who do save them. It is a medical no no.
Another nice looking chicken recipe which I found on the picture alone makes me want to try it.
Braised Chicken with Scallion Purée Source Saveur Magazine/World Publication RECIPE INGREDIENTS 2 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 chicken, cut into 4 pieces Salt and freshly ground black pepper 5 bunches scallions, trimmed and thickly sliced 1/3 cup white wine 3 cups chicken stock 2 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered 2 tablespoon heavy cream DIRECTIONS Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook, skin side down, until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken, add two thirds of the scallions, and brown chicken on other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter. Continue to cook scallions until just soft, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add wine, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, and reduce by half. Return chicken to skillet, and add stock and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium low, and braise, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 50 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter, and loosely cover with foil. Strain braising liquid into a small bowl. Transfer potatoes and scallions to a medium bowl. Return braising liquid to skillet, and reduce by half over high heat. Add remaining scallions, and cook for 30 seconds. Mash reserved potatoes and scallions with a fork; then stir in heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put potatoes on a serving platter, arrange chicken over potatoes, and spoon scallions over chicken.
Have a great day

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gigi, Death Book, Bird Watching,

I hope everyone remembered to turn off their lights on Satuday night. We certainly did. Meanwhile I watched Gigi on TV. I don't know how many times I have seen that movie but I rarely fail to watch it when it comes on. It is one of my all time favourites; guess I'm a sentimental sap, but I really enjoy the story. I particularly enjoy Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold - as a young woman I saw several Chevalier movies on TV (they were even before my time) and always liked them. I also find the music of Gigi particularly delightful. The movie was made in 1958 and I think it has really stood the test of time with Leslie Caron playing the lead and Louis Jourdain as the leading man. In its day, it won 9 Oscars.
I have just finished the latest Death book by J.D. Robb, Fantasy in Death. It is particularly enjoyable to me as it centres around computers and gaming (albeit in the future). Not that I play games other than solitaire, I guess at my age I am too slow, I had a free one once and couldn't get very far at all. There is always a fair amount of 'computer stuff' in these books anyway - well if you look at how we use computers for so much today, in 2060 we will no doubt rely on them even more. I am staggered to see this is the 37th book, I didn't realise I had read so many or that J.D. Robb had written so many. Actually it says 37 in one place and 30 in another, I don't know which is correct. I have certainly enjoyed the books and love the main characters, Eve Dallas the police lieutenant, her fantastic and wealthy hubby, Roarke, her sidekick Peabody and several other characters who appear in all the books. One feels very familiar with all of them.
Glenda Larke was talking about birds in her back yard in her blog Tropic Temper, we used to spend a lot of time taking pictures of birds in our back yard in North Carolina, it is one of the things we both miss. There are lots of birds in the park outside our windows here, but you can only see them from a distance. In NC we had feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes and spent hours watching them. I made lists of the birds which visited and ended up with quite a number although one or two only visited in passing, like the one year we had an invasion of cuckoos, not the kind we get in England, and had no idea what they were. They were chasing something in our yard for the best part of the day, dozens of them, then they left and we never saw another one. Another brief visitor was the Fox Sparrow - one winter we had lots and lots of snow (unusual at the coast in NC) so we kept our bird feeder full. The fox sparrows visited the feeder which they don't normally do and it was fascinating to watch them scrape at the seed with both feet in an instinctive movement which would allow them to uncover food on the ground. We tried putting up a bird feeder on our balcony here, but were told to take it down as the people below us were getting seed all over their balcony.
A friend sent me an email today showing another problem caused by deforestation, I just had to share it with you.
This following recipe is a classic one from France who do the most wonderful stews and this one in particular is a favourite.
Coq au Vin Source: Dutch Oven Cooking/Longstreet Yield: Serves 6
Literally translated "chicken in wine," this is classic French bistro cooking at its best. A simple cheese and fresh fruit course with crusty French bread would be a delightful way to complete this meal.
RECIPE INGREDIENTS For the Chicken: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 (4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper For the Sauce: 1/3 cup brandy 3 cups red wine 2 cups chicken stock 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon-style mustard About 36 red or yellow pearl onions, peeled 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes with their juice 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 pound baby carrots, scraped 3 ribs of celery, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch pieces 3 cups sliced button mushrooms 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley DIRECTIONS FOR THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a 5-1/2-quart Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until sizzling. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and then place 3 or 4 pieces in the hot oil, skin side down. Brown the chicken in batches, turning, until lightly browned on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan with chicken or you will not get a nice browning of the skin. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. FOR THE SAUCE: Immediately return the Dutch oven to the heat and add the brandy to deglaze. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that have accumulated in the pan. Stir in the red wine, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, mustard, pearl onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, add the chicken to the pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven. Bake, gently stirring every 20 minutes or so, for 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. TO SERVE: Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Place the Dutch oven on the stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce on top of the stove until it is nicely thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Ladle the sauce and vegetables over the chicken and top with the chopped parsley. Serve at once.
Have a great day

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Time Travel, Travel League, Sex Scandal,

Last night I finally got round to my last movie rented from iTunes, The Time Traveler's Wife. I read the book some time ago and as far as I remember the movie stuck pretty well to the book. I loved the movie and felt a tad weepy at the end. Its a really good love story as well as being a fantasy. Not a very long movie either which was quite surprising. Its about a New York librarian who time travels quite involuntarily and meets his wife, originally, when she is about 6 years old and continues to meet her through the ages until they meet properly in the library one day at which point he doesn't know her because he hasn't yet travelled to where he met her. Confusing, yes, delightful, yes. Do watch it.
I really bowled up a storm yesterday and was very pleased with myself. One game I bowled a 273 and might have done better but let myself get distracted in the last frame. Was I chuffed. Matt bowled pretty well too so we were both patting ourselves on the backs. I discovered that one of the Friday bowlers is going to the same tournament in Oshawa and he will be my partner. I didn't even know we had partners. It appears we are scored both individually and together. I must check this out with the alley staff on Monday. Thursday we went to New Hamburg, Riverside Lanes, with our travel league much to the astonishment of the proprietor who was not expecting us. Apparently they withdrew from the travel league and no-one had bothered to inform us. Luckily he had space for us all and we had a good afternoon. It now turns out that the only alley involved in travelling is Waterloo Lanes where we usually bowl, and the most active league is from Playfair Bowl which no longer exists, but a whole bunch of us, who used to bowl there, still go to all these different alleys once a month. We have decided that the ex proprietor will arrange for us all to bowl at a different alley every month (during the winter season) so we can continue our get togethers. There is only one more this season, so it will be up to her next winter. We even have a bowling banquet although as I said, Playfair Bowling Lanes no longer exist.
I mentioned the sex scandals involving Catholic Priests the other day, but the scandal seems to be escalating and even includes the current Pope who, whilst a cardinal in Germany, was involved in a cover up of a case where a priest was accused of molesting over 200 deaf kids. People are talking about his resignation, and there is an article which is titled "Only God Can Fire the Pope" which makes me wonder, the College of Cardinals elected him, why can't they vote him out again? I am not religious and certainly not a Roman Catholic, but this scandal is assuming alarming proportions and turning catholics away from their own priests, wondering if they too are involved in pedophaelia. What a disaster for everyone involved and the Catholic church in particular.
I frequently make Shrimp Creole which is a delicious way of serving shrimp, this recipe from Kraft Kitchens looks like an easy way of preparing it which normally takes quite a bit of time. It would certainly save lots of that commodity which appears to be in such short supply in many households. In my case I would use the shrimp I brought up from North Carolina which are not peeled. Quick Creole Shrimp
Kraft Kitchens 1 lb. (450 g) frozen uncooked cleaned large shrimp, thawed
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning 1/4 cup Kraft Extra Virgin Olive Oil Sun Dried Tomato Dressing 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
TOSS shrimp with seasoning. HEAT medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add dressing and garlic; cook and stir 1 min. STIR in shrimp; cook 2 to 3 min. or until done. Top with parsley.
Serve with hot cooked brown rice and peas.
Shortcut When every minute counts, substitute 1 Tbsp. bottled minced garlic for the minced fresh garlic.
Have a great weekend

Friday, March 26, 2010

Coyotes in NY City, Elephants in the Lobby, Silicone in the Kitchen.

Seems animals are hitting the headlines lately. The cops have finally caught a coyote which was running loose in New York City, there were shots on TV of horses running through town, somewhere else there was a monkey and there are rumours of a big cat. Watch this clip I was also sent an email showing a lodge, built in Zambia, accidentally crossing an elephant trail so now once a year the elephants of one tribe amble through the lobby in order to get at the ripe mangoes. Apparently the guests are kept well away from the elephants, they are wild after all and can be very dangerous, but it is quite a sight to see. Must have been a bit unnerving the first time it happened. There are more pictures of elephants at Mfuwe Lodge here although it doesn't give any details I just received my silicone pinch grips from Avon. These are instead of oven mitts or pot holders of picking up hot plates, casseroles, etc. I saw Sarah Moulton on Good Morning America and she said they were very good so when I saw Avon selling them I ordered a pair. Haven't really tried them out yet, but I practiced picking things up with them. I am very impressed with silicone in the kitchen. I have a silicone baking dish in which I have made several cakes, I love it, also a silicone spatula which is good and now these pinch grips. There are various other silicone goodies available but I haven't tried them and probably won't do so, but pot holders are always a nuisance and get burned so easily or dirty with food; the pinch grips are obviously washable. I received a copy of Kraft's What's Cooking yesterday and just browsing through it I came across an easy way to make an Alfredo sauce, for every 1/2 lb. of pasta you cook 6 oz. of cubed Philly cheese with 3/4 cup of chicken broth in a skillet, stirring constantly, until its all creamy and then add the noodles and toss adding any veg or sea food which appeals. What a good idea. We both love Caesar Salad and I am always looking for ways of serving Avocado which is so good for the heart so here is a recipe which should be a hit with us. Bacon and Avocado Caesar Salad Kraft Foods 8 cups coarsely chopped romaine lettuce 1 cup croutons 3 green onions, sliced 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 avocado, sliced 1/4 cup Kraft Creamy Caesar Dressing 2 Tbsp. Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese 2 Tbsp. Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits PLACE lettuce on platter. TOP with remaining ingredients. SERVE immediately. Kraft Kitchens TipsVariation Prepare using Kraft Calorie-Wise Creamy Caesar Dressing and Kraft 100% Parmesan Light Grated Cheese. Have a great day

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour, Bowling, Warning, Jaime Oliver.

I was delighted to see an Earth Hour poster on the door of the liquor store yesterday, however, it is the only one I have seen. Earth Hour is on Saturday, March 27, between 8:30 and 9:30 when you should turn your lights out to support this international recognition of climate awareness. World Wildlife Canada has a web page about it all here and they are hoping more and more of you will join in. This has been happening for the last three or four years and the numbers of people, businesses and cities participating has been increasing greatly. The more aware we are, the more we will do something about it and the more governments will take notice. Today we go on our travel league bowling in New Hamburg with lunch first. I think there will only be one more of these this season. Pity they are a fun get together. One thing I discovered, I have been taking my blood pressure regularly (three times twice a day) since seeing the specialist, luckily I have just been using my left arm and the muscle is now quite sore (I assume that's what's doing it) so I am pleased I didn't use my right arm otherwise I would have a problem bowling. Of course, some people might say I have a problem bowling anyway LOL. Not that it really matters a damn on travel league days, its all for fun. That is often when you bowl best - the first time I ever had a 600 game was when I was bowling for charity and it wouldn't have mattered if I had bowled really badly. There was a warning on GMA about telling everyone on Facebook that you are off on a trip from now til then. This also applies to Twitter and any other social networking groups on the internet. You are not just informing your friends, you are telling thieves and such people as well. Also there is a device on modern gadgets which will (if you turn it on) display a map of where you are, be it at home or in the mall, if you forget to turn it off, you are giving the world access to your home information and there are people out there you don't want to have such information. There is an article on their web page detailing a lot of the things we are doing wrong with the technology available today Jamie Oliver was on GMA too today, introducing his new Food Revolution programme where he is trying to do for the States what he did for the UK by changing the food schools serve for lunches, pressuring the government to upgrade the financial allocation. He said they are considering adding $4 billion to the programme and its not enough. They are spending $7 billion a day in Afghanistan and the kids deserve it more. I do so agree. His programme starts tomorrow night at 8 p.m. I for one will be watching. I have a lot of respect for Jamie and what he is trying to do for the children of England and North America so, if you have kids, I hope you too will be watching. Here is one of Jamie's recipes with Prosciutto and chicken or as the name says, posh ham. Looks pretty good and will soon be appearing on our menu. Jaime Oliver's Parmesan Chicken Breasts With Crispy Posh Ham From the kitchen of Jaime Oliver Servings: 2 Difficulty: Easy Cook Time: 1-30 min This is a great way to prepare chicken breasts. The texture of the crisp cooked prosciutto goes brilliantly with the tender chicken. Bashing the chicken out thinly before you start cooking means it cooks much faster than a regular chicken breast. If you can't get hold of prosciutto, then any kind of thin ham, such as Parma ham, or even smoked streaky bacon, will work just as well. Ingredients 2 sprigs of fresh thyme 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably free-range or organic Freshly ground black pepper 1 lemon 1 1/4 ounces grated Parmesan 6 slices of prosciutto Olive oil Cooking Directions Grate your Parmesan. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks. Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion with a small knife. Season with a little pepper (you don't need salt as the prosciutto is quite salty). Lay your breasts next to each other and sprinkle over most of the thyme leaves. Grate a little lemon zest over them, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Put a square of plastic wrap over each breast and give them a few really good bashes with the bottom of a saucepan until they're about 1/2 inch thick. Put a frying pan over medium heat. Remove plastic wrap and carefully transfer the chicken breast, prosciutto side down, into the pan. Drizzle over some olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through, giving the ham side an extra 30 seconds to crisp up. Either serve the chicken breasts whole or cut them into thick slices and pile them on a plate. Serve with some lemon wedges for squeezing over, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Lovely with mashed potatoes and green veggies or a crunchy salad! Have a great day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Actors and Youngsters.

I am somewhat disappointed. Actor Liam Hemsworth was on Good Morning America. He is starring in The Last Song with Miley Cyrus. He is a young Australian actor and when being interviewed, he used 'like' in most of his sentences. I had naively assumed this was a North American phenomenon that kids of today were totally unable to hold a conversation without using the word 'like' constantly. We once asked a young friend to talk without using it, she was stymied. We all get stuck with words or phrases, one of mine is "I must admit" but this business with the word 'like' is really bad and when you end up with the inteviewee using um as well as like, grrrrr. Apparently Liam Hemsworth is Miley Cyrus' love interest both on and off the screen.
Another group interviewed on GMA were three youngsters from a new series called The Middle which is supposed to be very funny. However, I was struck by the youngest star, an 11 yr old called Atticus Shaffer - talk about precocious (did you know that word actually means early ripening?) who had everyone smiling this morning. He has been acting for quite a while by the sound of it and has worked with Betty White for whom he had lots of praise plus praise for the mom figure in this new series.
I was quite chuffed last night, I won three games in our weekly session of Cribbage. Haven't done that well in a while.
Chicken Cordon Bleu is a very popular dish in North America and Eating Well have come up with a quick recipe to fix for a weeknight meal. I notice the tips talk about small chicken breasts, if you live near an M & M Meats, the frozen breasts they sell are just about the right size.
Quick Chicken Cordon Bleu for Two From EatingWell: November/December 2009
To make traditional cordon bleu, you layer prosciutto (or other ham) and cheese in between thin slices of chicken or veal, then bread and sauté the whole stack. This quick, easy version keeps the flavors the same, but skips the fussy layering and breading steps. Serve with: Delicata squash and broccoli. 2 servings Ingredients •2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (10-12 ounces), trimmed and tenders removed (see Tip) •1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided •1/8 teaspoon salt •3 tablespoons shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese •1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese •2 tablespoons coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip) •1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or thyme •2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided •2 tablespoons chopped ham (about 1/2 ounce)
1.Preheat oven to 400°F. 2.Sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon pepper and salt. Combine cheese and cream cheese in a bowl. Combine the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper with breadcrumbs, parsley (or thyme) and 1 teaspoon oil in another bowl. 3.Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium, ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Move the chicken to the center so the pieces are touching. Spread with the cheese mixture, sprinkle with ham, then top with the breadcrumb mixture. 4.Bake until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F, 5 to 7 minutes.
Nutrition 280 Calories; 13 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 98 mg Cholesterol; 4 g Carbohydrates; 34 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 331 mg Sodium; 260 mg Potassium Exchanges: 4 1/2 lean meat, 1 fat Tips & Notes •Tip: It can be difficult to find small chicken breasts. Remove the strip of meat from the underside of a 5- to 6-ounce breast—the “tender,” about 1 ounce of meat—to yield a perfect individual portion. Freeze the tenders and use them in a stir-fry. •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 on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.
Have a great day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Half a Century, Books,

I forgot to mention yesterday that Matt's oldest daughter hit her half century. Makes him feel old. They were talking on the phone and she is moaning because her baby reaches his quarter century this year, Matt's response was "now you know how I feel". These days, 50 is nothing; once upon a time you could figure your life was almost over at that age, thanks to medical science and health knowledge, 50 is really nothing much any more. Mind you there are times when Matt and I both feel we are about to topple into our graves. They say age is a state of mind and I do believe that to be true. When I was young, older people believed they were old and acted accordingly. They didn't do very much to counteract the affects of aging. It is a very different case today. Also, when we first came to North America I found the attitude towards age to be very different. We soon met people in their 70s who were at least as active as we were in our 30s and who travelled all over the place camping and exploring. At that time people in the UK were not like that. Today I don't know, I don't live there any more. Throughout time people have been trying to reverse the aging trend and to find the elixir of youth. We certainly are a lot closer to it today than when I was a youngster. I know many people a lot older than I who are very active, some well into their 90s. Matt has yet another doctor's appointment this morning to see a urologist for the results of his tests to ensure no damage was done to his kidneys during his recent problems. Trouble is, not being able to take Warfarin, he is still at risk for TIAs so that will involve more appointments. I have just finished a trilogy of books by Trudi Canavan - it was called The Age of the Five. I enjoyed them. The first book was called Priestess of the White, followed by Last of the Wilds and Voice of the Gods. Another series of hers doesn't seem to be available in my library so I have requested it. I started reading her books because she beat one of my favourites, Glenda Larke, for the Aurealis Awards. I have not yet read the book which won her the award, not sure if its available over here yet. After the first trilogy, I personally prefer Glenda, but its all a matter of choice. I have another of her books to start, Magician's Apprentice, plus I also have J.D. Robb's latest Death series, Fantasy in Death. I have nearly finished listening to The Cat Who Went Bananas and have the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins to keep me company when I use the treadmill. That is a very good story and I am looking forward to hearing the next book. I must say it does make half an hour on the treadmill pass very quickly. The following recipe came from Food TV Canada this morning. I am assuming it is an adaptation of a classic dish from Portugal which is made from salt cod which is something you don't see a lot of in North America although, because there are lots of Portuguese in Cambridge, you can buy salt cod fairly easily. Cambridge is "next door" to us and a fairly short drive. Portuguese Cod Casserole Ricardo Larivée Yield: 6 Ingredients 2 onions, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 clove garlic, finely chopped 4 cups potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin 3 plum tomatoes (such as Roma tomatoes), sliced 1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, drained, pitted and finely chopped 2 pounds fresh cod fillets 1 cup chicken broth salt and pepper Directions 1.Soak a 3-litre (3-quart) terracotta baking dish and its cover in water for about 15 minutes. If you are not using a terracotta dish, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) with the rack in the middle position (see note). 2.In a skillet over medium heat, caramelize the onions in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Set aside. 3.Remove the terracotta dish and cover from the water. 4.Cover the bottom of the dish with one quarter of the potato slices. Add half the tomatoes and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with another quarter of the potatoes. Cover with the onion and garlic mixture. Cover with another quarter of the potatoes, and then lay the fish on top. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with the remaining potatoes, tomatoes and olives. Add the broth. Adjust the seasoning. 5.Cover the dish and place it in the centre of the oven. Turn the oven on to 200°C (400°F). Bake until the potatoes are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Let stand for 15 minutes and serve. 6.*Note: If you do not have a terracotta dish, you can use any ovenproof covered baking dish. In that case, preheat the oven and reduce the cooking time to about 1 hour. Have a great day

Monday, March 22, 2010

Celibacy, Silly Me, 50th Anniversary,

There is, as you may be aware, yet another scandal concerning catholic priests (from Ireland this time) and sexual abuse. It made me think about the whole business of celibacy; where did the idea come from that Roman Catholic priests should be celibate? In my opinion it is a very unnatural state for men. So Saturday evening I did a search on the net and came up with this information which is a brief summary of what happened in the church over the centuries. It turns out the whole thing is a man made rule and it has not been adhered to totally even in recent times. If you are interested, and I found it quite revealing, there is a page of information here which shows even modern day priests have been married, several popes have been and there have been popes who were the sons of previous popes. So, I ask, why on earth to the Roman Catholics cling to this outmoded and frequently ignored, rule that priests should be celibate. Surely if they were permitted to marry, it would help to do away with all these abuse scandals which have been cropping up more and more often lately. Talk about a dumb bunny. A couple of weeks ago a woman called me and said her name was Sue. I assumed Sue who lives in the building and is an Avon customer of mine. She said it was her parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary and they were holding a secret celebration at the Golf Steak House, locally. I wondered why she would invite us, but I accepted and thanked her politely. A few days ago I spoke to her sister who said she didn't know what I was talking about and her dad had been deceased for some years. I got back to Sue who said it wasn't her either. I then used my brain and realised a couple of very good friends were about to celebrate their 50th by going away so it must have been their daughter Sue, or Suzie to us, who had phoned. I called her and was assured that it was her who invited us. We had been puzzling what to get as a gift for complete strangers too. Anyway, we went on Saturday and joined in the celebration and had a very pleasant evening with lots of their family there and lots of the people Matt used to work with as well. I had soup and a delicious piece of salmon, Matt had the salad bar and a strip loin steak. There was also prime rib and chicken cordon bleu on the menu - a special one chosen and printed for the occasion. There was an anniversary cake which was served adorned by a ball of ice cream which had been rolled in chocolate powder. Being an idiot, I also discovered, on Sunday, that I had ordered the wrong version of Windows 7, my laptop needs a 32 bit and I had a 64 bit. No, I am not very up on what this all means but they are incompatible, that much I do know. I am hoping I can exchange it OK. Guess my brain is too busy with other things, that's my excuse anyway. So the health bill finally got passed in the States. There are dozens of people on TV saying what a terrible thing this is and how the country doesn't want or need government interference - OK for them, but what about the thousands who are helped by this reform. There are many people in the States in major debt through medical bills. I don't pretend to understand the whole thing, but any improvement has got to help people without coverage. One of the latest emails I had from Eating Well was promoting salads which were relatively low cal. This one sounded really good to me, I am very fond of beets (in the UK we always called them beetroots, took me a while to get used to the shortened version) so I will have to get myself a few and try this recipe. I eat salad for lunch most days. Spring Salad with Beets, Prosciutto & Creamy Onion Dressing From EatingWell: March/April 2010 Tender mixed salad greens (mesclun) from the garden or farmers’ market along with baby beets, crispy and salty prosciutto and a creamy dressing make a fabulous salad. 6 servings Ingredients •1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided •4 very thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces) •1 bunch beets (about 12 ounces), preferably baby-size, stems and greens removed •1 medium sweet onion, sliced •1/4 teaspoon dried thyme •1/4 teaspoon salt •1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper •1/4 cup nonfat or low-fat buttermilk •2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar •2 tablespoons mayonnaise •1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives •14 cups mixed salad greens Preparation 1.Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush 1/2 teaspoon oil over a large baking sheet. Cut prosciutto into 1- to 1 1/2-inch squares and place on the baking sheet. Brush the prosciutto with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Bake until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully transfer the prosciutto “chips” to a wire rack with a spatula. (If you leave them on the baking sheet, they won’t be as crisp.) 2.Meanwhile, place beets in a large saucepan with enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes. (If using larger beets, they will take up to 40 minutes.) Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle. Trim both ends of the beets and rub off the skins. Cut into wedges. 3.While the beets are cooking, combine onion with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the onion is very soft and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more. (If the onion begins to brown before it becomes very soft, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.) Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. 4.Stir the onion, scraping up any browned bits. Set aside 1/4 cup and transfer the remaining onion to a food processor or blender. Add buttermilk, vinegar, mayonnaise and chives; puree until smooth. 5.Toss salad greens, the reserved 1/4 cup onion and the dressing in a large bowl. Divide among 6 plates. Top with the beets and prosciutto chips. Nutrition Per serving : 134 Calories; 7 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 12 mg Cholesterol; 13 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 424 mg Sodium; 601 mg Potassium 1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat Tips & Notes •Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate cooked beets (Step 2) for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Have a great day

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brain Surgery, Winter Life, Cell Phones,

An incredible story on Good Morning America yesterday, a professional violinist, Roger Frisch played his violin for the surgeons whilst they operated on his brain. In fact, Frisch had been suffering from essential tremors which made violin playing impossible so the surgeons needed to see what happened when they stimulated different parts of his brain. Once they were satisfied they planted an electrode in his brain which will send out stimulating signals and allow him to resume his concert career. If you want to read the story follow this link. There are several videos about the operation too. This was of particular interest to us because of the tremors Matt has been suffering from. No-one really knows what causes them, they just happen two or three times, disappear and then come back again several weeks later.
On GMA weekend, they feature various areas of the States and one picture which really captured me was the one of Grand Teton National Park, the sunset on the snow was so beautiful. North America as a whole has such beautiful areas. If you live in a town, you tend to forget although we are lucky overlooking a park and we see some gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, but we don't have any mountains in this area and they make a scene so majestic. Of course, now we don't have any snow left although there are murmurs of snow this evening, I really hope not. Talking of snow and weather, we have been having very warm temperatures lately hitting double digits regularly this week. This morning there was a news report of people having to be rescued from a lake because they had been ice sailing. Surprise, surprise, the ice wasn't thick enough any more. In fact I am surprised it has been thick enough at all this winter. Then another report of more snow mobilers being killed in an avalanche in the back country of B.C. Don't they read reports, do they think it can't happen to them? What is the matter with people? There have been several people killed already in avalanches in B.C. this winter and notices are posted about unsafe conditions. Not only do these people kill themselves but cause danger to other people who have to go and try a rescue.
There is now a new medical condition, text rage!!! A youngster beat a girl he didn't know, almost to death because of something she texted. The story was, his girlfriend didn't have a cell phone so he texted her best friend, said best friend didn't approve of the relationship and made some comments I gather so he went and found her to - in his words - kill her. According to a psychologist this kind of thing is happening because people are no longer in contact f2f which apparently he said would diffuse the situation. I don't pretend to understand it all, but it seems to me all wrong the way people live these days constantly texting rather than actually communing with one another.

Mother's Day is coming up fast in this part of the world, and Emeril Lagasse is planning his breakfast in bed for some lucky lady. One has to send in entries explaining why your mom should qualify. So, Emeril was on GMA weekend this morning cooking breakfast - this is one of the recipes he prepared today, I thought they looked pretty good. Biscuits are very similar to scones as served in England.

Buttermilk-Scallion Biscuits with Eggs and Griddled Ham Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients For the biscuits: 2 cups self-rising flour 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk 1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar 2 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper For the eggs: 8 large eggs 2 tablespoons whole milk 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the ham:
8 2-ounce slices honey baked ham 4 teaspoons butter Cooking Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl add the flour and the butter. Using your fingers, a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix gently just until it comes together into a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and knead for 1 minute. Roll the dough out to ½ inch thickness, using your hands form the dough into a rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with the cheddar cheese, scallions and black pepper. Fold the dough into thirds just like a letter. Roll the dough out to ½ inch thickness and fold into thirds again. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle and, using a sharp knife, cut into 8 equal size square biscuits. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet; brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Transfer the biscuits to the oven and bake until puffed and golden brown on top, about 12 minutes. While the biscuits are baking, prepare the scrambled eggs by whisking together the eggs, whole milk, chopped chives, salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the butter. Swirl the butter around the pan and then add the eggs. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the eggs are soft and creamy and just set in large curds, 1 1/2 minutes for soft scrambled to 2 minutes for a hard scramble. Remove from the heat. Heat a griddle pan or large skillet over medium high heat and add 2 teaspoons of the butter. Once the pan is hot and the butter has melted, add 4 slices of ham to the pan and cook for 1 ½ minutes per side, or until the ham is a golden brown. Remove the ham from the pan, fold into quarters and repeat with the remaining ham slices. Split the biscuits in half and place on a large serving platter. Spoon the egg mixture onto the bottom portions of the biscuits, top with a slice of ham, and arrange the tops to make sandwiches. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 breakfast "sandwiches"
Have a great day

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Movies, Logbooks,

Last night I watched Inglourious Basterds. I loved it, what an excellent movie. A fairy story in as much the German high commend were all killed at the end of the film, which did not happen so that was a bit silly, but the movie itself was good and very well done, I did so want the baddie, Col. Hans Landa played by Christopher Waltz, to get his comeuppance and I sure didn't want some people to die, but I thought it was very well done and a film I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone. However, that being said, Matt couldn't get on with it as there are lots of German and French scenes necessitating subtitles and Matt hates subtitles. It helps that I speak French anyway, albeit somewhat rustily these days, but I didn't find the subtitles distracting at all, which I have to say, I usually do. I tried to watch the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ and there was no way I could get on with it, mainly because of the subtitles. I rented Inglourious Basterds from iTunes which I am finding a great way to see movies. I have one more current rental to see, The Time Traveller's Wife. I read the book a long time ago, so will be interested to see what they make of it. Hey, we don't have a doctor's appointment today, what went wrong. Just got bowling this afternoon which is pleasure not duty. So far we only have one medical appointment next week although at the end of the month I have two appointments and both really for the same thing, blood pressure. However, it has tumbled to very low numbers so I am a happy camper. Do you know, we bought our monitor some time ago and the logbook provided is almost full up so I had to phone around everywhere I could think of plus search the web, can I find a source of new long books, no way. How ridiculous, what are you supposed to do once the log book is filled up, buy a new monitor? I don't think so. I can get log books all over the place for my glucometer but not, apparently, for our BP monitor. In the end I downloaded a little programme, for free, from SoundTells where I can chart the results and print up graphs as and when I want to. Actually this seems to be a good site to get all kinds of charts, glucose monitor charts and weight trackers amongst them. I have a secret I want to write about, but can't do so until Monday. Matt will tell you, I'm not good at secrets. There is also a bit of a funny about me being a tad stupid. Well, if I plan to go bowling I had better get on this morning. Eating Well are promoting salads in their latest email and as I love spinach in salads I thought I would share theirs with you. They have also been promoting TexMex which I find pretty boring, such recipes are usually all fire and to us, not all that enjoyable. Bit like all Greek recipes have to have Feta!!! Spinach Salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing From EatingWell: September/October 2008 This spinach salad tossed with spunky ginger dressing was inspired by the iceberg salads served at Japanese steakhouses across the U.S. Add shrimp for lunch or a light supper. 4 servings Ingredients •3 tablespoons minced onion •3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil •2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar •1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger •1 tablespoon ketchup •1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce •1/4 teaspoon minced garlic •1/4 teaspoon salt •Freshly ground pepper, to taste •10 ounces fresh spinach, (see Note) •1 large carrot, grated •1 medium red bell pepper, very thinly sliced Preparation 1.Combine onion, oil, vinegar, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until combined. 2.Toss spinach, carrot and bell pepper with the dressing in a large bowl until evenly coated. Nutrition Per serving : 135 Calories; 11 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 9 g Carbohydrates; 3 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 407 mg Sodium; 559 mg Potassium 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 fat Tips & Notes •Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the dressing (Step 1) for up to 5 days. •Note: Baby spinach is immature or young spinach—it's harvested earlier than large-leaved mature spinach. We like the sturdy texture of mature spinach in cooked dishes and serve tender, mild-flavored baby spinach raw or lightly wilted. Baby and mature spinach can be used interchangeably in these recipes (yields may vary slightly); be sure to remove the tough stems from mature spinach before using. •Weights & Measures •10 ounces trimmed mature spinach=about 10 cups raw •10 ounces baby spinach=about 8 cups raw Have a great day