Monday, May 31, 2010

Storm, Nature at Risk,

We had a summer league bowling session yesterday and then headed to Barrie's for asparagus replenishments. On the way there, the heavens decided to open and there was lightening as well as thunder. I managed to get from the car to their store without getting more than damp, but jumped sky high on my way back when there was a terrific crack of thunder right overhead. Matt was laughing and asked why I was ducking, dunno, silly isn't it? You see people in war films doing the same thing when there is an explosion or bullets firing. If its going to hit you, ducking is way too late. On Sunday Matt was watching golf which was taking place in Texas and they had thunder storms there, the players were called off the field twice, but the gallery just stayed there some of them standing under trees which is the worst place in the world during a thunderstorm.
Today on Good Morning America they had Jack Hannah, Director Emeritus of the Columbia Zoo, with his usual animals, this time all babies, there was one little Egyptian cat which didn't like Jack at all, a baby leopard, etc. etc. However, one thing he mentioned which hadn't occurred to me, he talked about the Gulf oil leak and how it was so very much worse at this time of year when animals are breeding, fish are spawning, birds are nesting and so on. He mentioned the Manatee which is very much endangered anyway and lots of them have been lost recently anyway - this will certainly not do them any good (this picture is from Turtles are another endangered species he mentioned as being at high risk as they will be climbing out on the beaches, the oily beaches, to lay their eggs. He said that the zoos and Audobon society were all pitching in to help as much as they can, but with such a major disaster, how much can be achieved.
On the news last night, it was reported that a popular swan named Angela, had been killed and her eggs stolen. This happened in Stratford, Ontario. They don't think it was an animal that killed her as there were no signs of struggle or loose feathers, etc. the swan was found floating on the river Avon near her nest. There is a very sad picture of her mate, Nick, grieving on the nest. Swans mate for life. for the article. Swans have always been one of my favourite birds, they are so beautiful to watch. If it was vandals, as they are assuming, I just wish we could retaliate. Apparently the birds do get killed by raccoons or other critters now and again, but usually by humans.This picture appeared in the Beacon Herald on line today and is one of the saddest pictures I have ever seen. People have been placing memorial flowers on the nest too.
I don't know if you read the comments on these blogs, but I got a comment yesterday regarding potato salads which talked about adding avocado and bacon. This sounds like an unusual combination of flavours. Definitely one to consider.
OK, talking of avocado, here's one combining asparagus and avocado. I always smile when it says to trim off the tough ends, if you are lucky enough to get them straight from the farm, you never need to do that. If you have to do that with your asparagus, you know they have been travelling for a while since being picked.
Avocado and Asparagus Salad
2 lb of asparagus.
2 medium avocados.
Juice and zest of 1 lemon.
2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley.
1 tablespoon of fresh coriander.
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
½ tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
1 teaspoon of castor sugar.
1 teaspoon of fresh mint.
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus, then steam until just tender and bright green. Plunge the asparagus into cold water to halt the cooking time and drain well. Set aside. Peel the avocados then dice the flesh. Toss with the lemon juice and lemon zest, then add to the asparagus. For the dressing, whisk the white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, castor sugar, mint and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour over the asparagus. Toss lightly, then spoon into a suitably sized starsol bowl. Refrigerate, then serve.
Have a great day

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Top Kill, Carbonite, Books,

Oh dear, Top Kill failed. I am very distressed to hear this. They now have other plans in the works including drilling relief wells which won't happen til August, imagine just how much more oil will pump into the Gulf!! I hope and pray something is going to work soon because the Gulf of Mexico will soon be too badly damaged to repair and hundreds of people will have lost their livlihoods. What also distresses me is that there is talk of drilling in Arctic waters and they are already drilling in deep water off the Eastern coast of Canada. There is a video about the next plan of BP's to slice into the broken pipe and then cap it. The riskiest of all it is said. To see the video go to
I mentioned having lost a load of data from my calendar programme. I have been working on and off with Carbonite which is the company which stores my backups, usually an excellent system, but for some reason this time, it has failed. I have managed to collect some information, but in some cases I don't even know what I have lost. I have been using this programme for at least 15 years and thought it was safely being backed up.
I am just starting a book by an author I had never heard of. Glenda Larke (Tropic Temper this page) mentioned her and called her Celine (Moorhawke) Kiernan, Moorhawke being the last name of the character in the story. The book is called The Poison Throne and I am looking forward to reading more of it. It is book one of a trilogy. I am not sure if the second book is available here yet or not and I know book three is written although not yet published. Celine Kiernan has a blog site too. Glenda Larke has also been working on her third book in the Watergivers trilogy; this morning she writes that she has finished her second polishing and sent it to the publishers, etc. However, there is a lot more work to be dealt with between now and publication. She is bemoaning the fact that nothing else in her life is being dealt with. I am not surprised. Even I would begin to worry about the housework if I had had to ignore it so long.

I have been thinking about potato salad, which I generally do not enjoy, for a dinner party coming up and this one below doesn't look too bad. I actually prefer my potato salad to be very simple and in the UK when I did make them, I just added mayonnaise, onion and seasonings. I don't generally eat those salads which include all kinds of pickles and/or hard boiled eggs or lots of other stuff. There was a place in North Carolina where we could get a good potato salad but they don't exist any more sadly. The upshot of this is I think I might try this one. As for home made mayonnaise, since I discovered Hellman's tasted exactly the same as the home made mayonnaise I had been making for years, I have never bothered to make it. Hellman's is full of fresh ingredients not chock full of chemicals. Spike Mendelsohn was on GMA this morning basically making burgers which I found way too overloaded but one of the GMA hosts said she didn't eat potato salad but liked this one, 'nuf said. Spike Mendelsohn's Farm-Fresh Potato Salad From the Kitchen of Spike Mendelsohn

Servings: 4 Who doesn't love potato salad? If you raised your hand, we can't be friends. Here's a fresh, basic recipe that goes with any meal. You can make this one day ahead. Ingredients 5 pounds Red Bliss potatoes, washed and each cut into eighths Sea salt 2 cups Homemade Basic Mayonnaise (I will be using Hellman's) 1 cup sherry vinegar 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 1 small red onion, diced 2 stalks celery, chopped 5 garlic cloves, crushed 1 bunch fresh thyme, chopped 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped Freshly ground black pepper Directions Put the potatoes in a large pot over high heat, cover with water, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, oil and mustard until well combined. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and mix until well combined. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cube them and add to the bowl. Add the thyme and parsley, season with salt and pepper and toss. Serve immediately.

Have a great day

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day, Obama and Top Kill, Dandelions,

Happy Memorial Day to my US readers. Hope you have fun and if it is lovely weather where you are, don't get sunburnt. They were in fact recommending SPF 50 on TV this morning, I have never used one that high before, we always go for 15. For my non US readers this is when America particularly remembers her Veterans, frequently referred to as Vets which to an ex Limey like me means people who doctor animals LOL. You have to learn to say veterinarians when you are living in North America. Churchill said it first, two nations divided by a common language. For us Canadians it was Victoria Day (not Labour Day as I wrote) last weekend - commonly called May 24th weekend as it so frequently falls on that date. I mistakenly thought the two holidays were on the same weekend, but realised my error later. We had fireworks banging outside our windows for three nights last weekend. I was busy reading so I didn't bother to look, but I wasn't happy with them still banging at midnight although they did seem to stop at that time. You never see them at any other time, but Holiday weekends there are stands set up all over the place to sell you fireworks both here and in the States. One year we had guests staying for July 4th weekend so we all bought some and with some neighbours, set them off in the street. It was fun and the adults, as well as the kids, enjoyed it.
President Obama visited Louisiana yesterday to check on the situation with the oil gusher. There is a CBC article here which talks about his visit and the Top Kill process which they still are not sure has worked, but I guess everyone has everything crossed. BP is now admitting they didn't do enough to prevent oil reaching the fragile shores of the Gulf and contaminating the wetlands. The CBC picture shows the President picking up tar balls off the beach. I believe the beaches of that area used to be wonderful with white sand and pristine waters. Not at the moment that's for sure. Mind you I remember tar balls on English beaches when I was a kid.
Yesterday our hot water disappeared. I wasn't sure if it was just us, but it was the whole building and our super was out at the realty offices of the people who manage this building. I spoke to one woman on our floor (checking about the hot water) and she said she was sitting in her night attire waiting for the hot water. Matt and I at least threw clothes on. I am not sure when the hot water came back, but it did eventually. One of the things about living in an apartment building, we may have to wait around, but we don't have to fix anything ourselves. That reminds me, I was thinking we don't have to mow lawns, apparently there is some new law banning the use of chemicals to kill weeds with the result that everyone's dandelions have been allowed to grow and seed. The area is a mess now, what it will look like in future years I dread to think. We passed a field on the way to the asparagus farm which was totally white with Dandelion heads. I actually love to see Dandelions in flower against green grass, it looks so pretty, the green and gold, but boy do they look messy once they have seeded. I used to believe each seed was a fairy flying on a fairy parachute. There must have been a hell of a lot of fairies flying around this year. I stole this picture from
I am sending Matt to shop at M & M's Meat Shops today, they are giving out a free chocolate fudge cake with purchase. Enough said!!
Here's a simple little recipe from - oh dear, I will have to go buy more asparagus!!! No picture so this one is from Barrie Bros. Fresh Food.
Asparagus in Wine
2 lbs of asparagus.
Boiling water.¼ cup of butter.
¼ cup of white wine.
½ teaspoon of salt.
¼ teaspoon of pepper.
Wash the asparagus and snap off the ends.Lay the asparagus spears in a shallow pan and cover with salted boiling water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain and turn into buttered ramequins. Melt the butter and stir in the wine. Pour over the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes.
Have a great day

Friday, May 28, 2010

Teed Off, Top Kill, The Law!!

I hate cars and I hate computers. Yesterday Matt went to Canadian Tire to check on a clinking noise we have been experiencing lately. They charged us almost $30 to tell us we would need to spend $800 on a major repair. Heeeelp. Then they referred us to another garage where they said this same repair might only cost us $500. Matt promptly went there and they said they thought it was only an adjustment that needed doing and that would probably cost about $100. Phew, I hope they are right. Then this morning it suddenly occurred to me that my regular date reminder programme hadn't popped up lately, so I checked, it appears to have lost all of its information. I have relied on this programme for years, but suddenly it is totally empty of data. How the hell has that happened? I have a backup programme which runs constantly, Carbonite, so now I am trying to get it to restore what was lost. Otherwise, I am lost and have no details on family and friend's birthdays, anniversaries, or anything else. What is doubly aggravating, a lot of my most important programmes, I have copies running on my laptop, but not this one.
It seems the Top Kill programme instituted by BP has been partially successful and they are in a wait and see mode right now. Matt heard a report this morning about oil company violations and it appears that BP is notorious for all their infringements of codes with hundreds of violations in their records. Exxon has the best record with only one violation to its name. President Obama is visiting the Louisiana coast today to see what's going on. He is being blamed for a lot of what's happened. Er, why? Its not his fault. I was also pretty staggered that the locals have to obtain permits to do anything, like building berms to hold back the oil. How ridiculous, I realise some oversight is required, but just get on with it for goodness sake.
Another story that shook me somewhat this morning, a known criminal has confessed to the murder of a little girl and the DNA test confirms this. Six years ago the father was grilled for 14 hours until he confessed to the crime and was put in jail, luckily, the lawyer managed to get him released because of DNA testing. The man's son was also interrogated and asked the same question continuously until he was upset and crying. They have video of it. As though the child was not traumatised enough by the death of his sister without being grilled. I can't find the information on this story at GMA yet, it will presumably be published later, but it is incredible in this day and age that a person can be so battered by interrogation that he ends up confessing to the murder of his child which he didn't commit. Cops going gung ho just to clear their books and damn the consequences. For 6 years the father has been suspected even though the courts cleared him. The actual murderer lived close to the family, was a known burglar and a burglary was commited across the road the same night, yet he was never questioned. He is currently in jail for something else.
Before we came to Canada, I was under the impression cops did what they wanted in North America and I remember being stopped because I had a smoking oil leak in my car; I was so frightened. I have since discovered my ideas were wrong, but it is a fact, there are some cops out there who think they are above the law and do what they like. I feel so sorry for the father in the above case. A similar thing happened to an uncle of mine, he woke up one morning to discover his 23 yr. old wife lying dead beside hime, the kids were jumping on the bed to wake up Mummy and Daddy. For three weeks, they went through his home with a tooth comb looking for poisons or anything else incriminating. He was in major distress having lost his beloved wife and having to go through all this which of course, included interrogation. Finally they discovered she had died of a very rare heart disease, at the time there were only a few know cases, and only young women of her age group died from it. I think this episode destroyed him.
Last night, I had defrosted a couple of skinless, boneless chicken breasts and I covered them with onion flakes and a mixture of half a bottle of Catalina dressing and two large spoonsful of Barrie Bros. Salsa. Then I covered the dish and baked them for about 50 minutes in a 350°F oven. Delicious. I was quite pleased. I had the Catalina dressing left over from another recipe which I posted and wanted to use it up and I figured the Salsa would give a good taste, it did. Slightly spicy without burning one's tongue off. Its amazing what you can do with a little thought and ingenuity.
Have a great day

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top Kill, Fat Freeze, Health News,

The only thing one hears this morning about the BP Top Kill is that is proceeding according to plan. They are broadcasting pictures on TV but say they won't know until this afternoon how successful this has been. If you are religious, please pray, if you are not, please cross everything you can and send all your best vibes to ensure this works. I still think adding some rocks to this would have been a good idea. Also a report stated that they won't know even today if it has been successful because the oil could still break through at a later date. The Top Kill idea is to choke the source with mud and then pour concrete on top of that??? Another report I heard today was that the original pipe was selected because it was cheaper to buy than other pipes (no wonder it broke). I guess if you are not in the US you might find my concern boring, but if this isn't successfully capped, the oil could eventually end up in various currents and be distributed all over the world. As far as I know it hasn't been found on the east coast of the States yet, but it is only a matter of time. Sam Champion said that there is better video on GMA of his dive, you can now see it in HD. (High Definition) on line at although I couldn't find anything different from the original diving video clip.
There is another report about freezing fat? I gather it is a very expensive procedure ($4,000 was mentioned) and not recommended for people who have a lot of fat to lose. There is another video on GMA showing the report. Also, it is now being said that the pill Alli which has been touted for weight loss for months is causing some severe problems with a small percentage of patients. It seems to me these pills are not sufficiently tested and pressure makes the FDA release them too soon perhaps. More health news is the extremely high risk of skin cancer from sun tan beds. They now have much better information about the risks which are compounded by the cumulative effects of visits over a period of years. One thing I have never understood is the presence of tanning salons in places like North Carolina where it is quite easy to get sun tanned anyway. We rarely sat in the sun as such, but because we were out and about and sitting on our back deck, albeit under an umbrella, we were always tanned. Even so Matt got skin cancer. He did spend more time in the sun when he went clamming, etc. which I guess didn't help. However, some exposure to the sun helps supply Vitamin D which is something a lot of us are short of. There is a web site by Canadian Cancer about indoor tanning which can tell you a lot about the risks read here - it is worth taking note of, skin cancers are NOT funny.
I have a picture of Beaufort waterfront, NC on my laptop as a background. Matt took the picture last year when we were staying in NC and I thought I would share it with you. We love to spend time on the boardwalk in Beafort and watch the boats.
Yesterday I made more asparagus soup for the freezer. I am not sure I was careful enough about adding the sour cream, but it tasted good anyway. I should make some Asparagus Pest too, I haven't done that yet. I keep it in the freezer and it is absolutely delicious to serve as an appetizer or even as a snack. For those of you who don't know the recipe, which I originally got from the LCBO's Food and Drink, here it is again.
Asparagus Pesto Toasts
1 lb trimmed green asparagus
1 cup toasted walnut halves (I used pecans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
1. Cook asparagus until just tender. Refresh in cold water, then drain and dry well. Place asparagus, walnuts, garlic and salt in food processor. Process until blended. 2. With motor running, gradually add olive oil, then add cheese and pepper. Blend together and check seasoning. Place in covered bowl. 3. It shows the recipe served on crunchy toasted French or Italian bread with a curl or two of parmesan on top and some asparagus at the side. 4. We freeze this in ice cube trays, then wrap the cubes in pairs (separated by Saran, and put in a bag in the freezer until we need them.
Source: Food & Drink
Have a great day

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Europe and Food. Not So Holy Crap.

Yesterday I was exchanging emails with another member of World Wide Recipes who is planning a trip to Munich, Switzerland and Rome some time this year (lucky woman). She asked for input on her trip to Rome where I have never been, but I have spent a fair amount of time in Southern Italy in Calabria (the toe) and St. Maria de Leuca in Puglia (the heel). As I said today, from my experiences in Italy then (a long time ago) pizza and pasta were definitely not the main items on the menu. It is always one of my gripes that Italy has some of the best food in the world and that pizza or pasta are all some people know about their food. They have so many things to offer the culinary world - in fact when Catherine de Medicis married Henry II of France, she apparently found the food in France to be appalling and imported Italian chefs to improve the situation. Some of the classic dishes of France actually originated in Italy. Subsequently the fame of French food surpassed the fame of that produced by Italians, but Italy still has a wonderful and varied cuisine. Many of the dishes of villages or regions don't get any further and never ende up on the tables of the rich and famous but nevertheless they deserve to be there. However, in some areas, what is done in one village to prepare food is frowned upon in the next village. This was very much emphasised during Jamie Oliver's touring visit in Tuscany as shown on TV in the last couple of years.
As I said, my new friend is also going to Munich and Switzerland. Once again, I am very familiar with the coastal towns of Germany, Switzerland has no ports so I have never been there although Matt went long before I met him. One of my warnings to anyone going to Germany is to watch the quantities - there again, assuming nothing has changed. When we were in Germany and Holland too, anything we ordered for two was often more than enough for four. I have never fogotten as a youngster going to one of the German Friesian islands (don't recall which one any more) and having to take a train from the port into the town. When we got there, we found a restaurant and ended up pointing and saying we would have the same as someone else was eating. There were actually 6 in our party and the meal, which turned out to be Schnitzel Holstein, began to arrive. A huge serving platter with all kinds of meat and vegetables on it together with a soup tureen of French fries. We were staggered and though what a mountain of food and we would never manage it. My mother started to serve it to us and realised there were only three schnitzels on the serving platter, just about when this had occurred to us, another huge platter and another tureen of fries was delivered to our table. We couldn't believe it. Someone even dropped a load of food on the floor and there was still way too much. Actually, Matt had similar food quantity stories to tell of his trip to Switzerland.
I wonder if somewhere along the way my perceptions have changed, because I certainly find the majority of restaurants in North America serve way too much as well, although these days we have doggy bags which one had never heard of in those days. I assume they too have started providing those for customers. Maybe I would not find their servings so large in this day and age, I am unlikely to be able to go back and check I'm afraid. Talking about sizes of food servings reminded me of a time in France with my parents and maybe one or two others in our party. We ordered a meal which was delicious and then we saw one man come in and order the same thing. His one serving was almost as big as we had been given for several of us. As I was the main French speaker, my father insisted I complained to Madame the owner. I always remember her response - in French of course - "not just gourmets but gourmands too". I am not certain I knew exactly what gourmands meant at the time, but I certainly found out later. I remember I was somewhat embarassed so I must have had some idea.
Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about the Gulf oil leak and the pictures of Sam Champion and Philippe Cousteau diving in the waters and it occurred to me that if you were from certain parts of Europe, the UK included, you may well remember waters, particularly rivers, that looked a bit like that when you swam in them. I know the River Medway where I swam regularly, was christened the River Mudway, and Gawd only knows what was in it. I am pleased to say it is much better these days. However, then I expanded my thoughts somewhat and thought about all the pollution which gets into the world's waterways. After all, Polar Bears don't have toilets and Penguins don't use latrines yet these animals are considered to live in pristine parts of the world. I know locally that wherever you get Canada Goose, you get goose faeces to go with them, lots and lots of it. This too will eventually get washed into the local lakes and rivers along with waste from every life form that exists. Not to mention the fish and mammals themselves. In fact when you think about it, the world is a pretty dirty place and its not all caused by us humans although we probably do as much damage as everything else put together.
For a while, fondues were all the rage and everyone had a fondue pot. I personally still have three which I haven't used in a long time. For most of the oil based fondues I used to spread an old plastic shower curtain on the table to protect it. I don't know why I don't still do them as we always enjoyed it. I served two pots with hot oil and one pot with a Swiss cheese fondue. Its a fun way to eat. Here is a somewhat different one using asparagus.
Asparagus and Bacon Fondue
4 tablespoons of butter.
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
2 cups of milk.
16 ounces of asparagus spears, drained and chopped.
2 slices of bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled.
French bread, diced into one-inch cubes.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
In a fondue pot, melt the butter. Add the flour, mix thoroughly and cook while stirring for 90 seconds. Gently stir in the two cups of milk. Heat, while stirring, until mixture becomes thick. Stir in the bacon and the asparagus. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve with diced bread.
Have a great day

Diving in the Gulf, Viagra for Women, Soups,

I tried very hard to "share" a video clip with you this morning which came from Good Morning America but it wouldn't work properly.. It shows Sam Champion and Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of the well known Jacques Cousteau, diving in hazmat suits into the Gulf of Mexico. Phillipe describes what they found as a nightmare. They came up out of the water covered in oily, sticky substances and had to be washed off. Do go see the video, it is worth watching I didn't actually get up early enough this morning to see it on TV, but Matt told me about it and then I watched it on my laptop. BP are about to try a new effort which they don't give a very high chance it is called Top Kill and they will be pouring a mix of concrete and cement on top of the leak. You know the word leak isn't accurate, spill is certainly not correct, it is an oil gusher. If we weren't so dependent on oil, I guess this would never have happened. They were talking this morning about a "Viagara for Women" but according the the consulting doctor, Dr. Marie Savard, this has not been tested long enough and although not yet released, shouldn't be so for a while. The pill is designed to stimulate a woman's libido, but in tests it made a 2% difference. Not a lot. But they have no idea what the long term effects could be. It sure won't be on the market tomorrow anyway, they are only just starting to look at the pill. Yesterday I went on my weekly trip to Barrie Bros. Asparagus Farm. Tim Barrie was handing out tasters of both their crackers and their new salsa which I thought was delicious and promptly bought some. Quite a large jar for $5.50 - we actually made some bruschetta with it for supper last night along with some asparagus soup. It was good. Although the temps are a bit high at the moment for a warm soup. Talking of soup, I copied a chilled orange soup from World Wide Recipes this morning, I thought it sounded great. I love chilled soups, the first one I ever tried was Vichysoisse which is the definitive cold soup, and have never looked back. One thing I do is keep cans of consommé in the fridge so I can have jellied consommé whenever I wish, to me it is absolutely delicious although I served it to one friend who promptly took it to the microwave!!! One can also serve it as a warm soup too and improve it by adding a splash of sherry. But at this time of year when the temps are beginning to soar, I find a cold soup to be deliciously refreshing. Last year I tried Asparagus Vichysoisse which I'm afraid I found disappointing. Another favourite is Gazpacho which I had temporarily forgotten. Here is a recipe for Gazpacho which emphasises how cold it should be, in fact when the Spanish peasants made this, fridges and such were not available and it was left out under a tree whilst the people were working in the fields. If you serve this too cold, you will lose all the wonderful flavours. North Americans tend to refrigerate everything, including tomatoes, and the flavour of these ingredients completely disappears. The first time I ever ate this soup, in Malta oddly enough, we were served small chips of ice to add as a garnish if desired. Traditional Gazpacho Andaluz Spanish cold tomato soup which is the perfect starter to a Summer meal. Gazpacho is easy to make and although ingredients may vary according to region, this is the basic Andalusian Gazpacho recipe. Ingredients (for 4 people): 1 Kilo tomatoes (preferable plum tomatoes) 1/2 small onion (60 grams) 1 small green pepper 1 small cucumber (the small chubby Spanish type) 1 small cup of olive oil 2 desert spoons of vinager 200 grams of bread from the day before, soaked in water Small portions of diced tomatoes, red and green peppers, cucumber, onion and bread or croutons to sprinkle on top. Steps: 1: Put the tomatoes, onion, pepper, cucumber, vinager, oil and bread into a liquidizer. If you want to dilute it, add a glass of water. Tip: if you want to go for a tangy garlic taste, add a small amount of fresh garlic to the mixture before liquidizing. 2: Put the mixture into a bowl, add salt and pepper and leave the gazpacho to chill for at least an hour. If you want to eat it straight away, you can put some ice cubes in to cool it down. Gazpacho is a Summer dish which is meant to hydrate and cool down your body. So the colder the better!! 3: Serve the gazpacho en soup bowls, with the portions of diced tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion, croutons etc on the table, so that everyone can add them to their bowl as they prefer. Tip: you can also sprinkle diced serrano ham or hard boiled egg. Use quality ingredients: Spain produces excellent fruit, vegetables and salad foods, so try and buy good quality ones. Go to the local market instead of your nearest supermarket, where you can get the freshest (and cheapest) produce. If it isn't Summer and you can't get plum tomatoes, go for the ripest and juciest ones available. Tips/Secrets: Make sure you have enough time to put it in the fridge so that you can serve your gazpacho really chilled. Use quality produce. Vary the ingredients according to your personal taste. Gazpacho makes a delicious starter to a meal. Have a great day

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Covers and Books. Oil in the Gulf,

Happy Labour Day.
We have been having a discussion on Glenda Larke's Tropic Temper (see link this page) about book covers. I just learnt today that a book seller can also dictate the cover of a book "if you change the cover I will buy 2,000 copies". This seems ridiculous to me, but if you want to sell I guess you have to do what the buyer wants. I know I have been complaining for years that so many book covers have absolutely nothing to do with the book itself. Witness some of the covers of Glenda's books which show horses and even things that look like pterodactyls, none of which are in here stories. I suppose, unconsciously, I am influenced by a book cover, although I think mostly I am interested in the blurb, but I guess I wouldn't even pick up a book unless the cover attracted me. I, of course, am a sucker for books with dragons on the cover, but even there I have been caught because dragons don't come in to the story much if at all. Maybe that comes under 'truth in advertising'. This weekend I have been re-reading some of Catherine Asaro's books. One from her Skolian Saga I knew I had read before, it is probably one of my favourites in the Saga - it is called The Last Hawk. The other two I have been reading are from her Lost Continent series which, I confess, I didn't remember having read before. I am enjoying them, but I feel stupid for not realising I had read them when I ordered them from the library. I must say I do love the Skolian Saga, I think it is an excellent series and if you like spec fic (it doesn't really classify as sci fi or fantasy) I am sure you will enjoy these books. I am very surprised too, to discover on Goodreads that people are reading some of Lois McMaster Bujold's stories about Miles Vorkosigan - I read and enjoyed those books years ago. How come they have only just been discovered by the people who are members of
This morning I heard a statement that President Obama and his government are fed up with BP's ineffectual efforts in the Gulf of Mexico and might push BP aside - and do what I ask? I am sure BP are doing everything they can, I wonder what the American government think they can do and if anything, why, after 35 days, haven't they already done it? In factI know read that they have already taken charge and are, at present, working on building sand barriers to help prevent the oil washing ashore. Good Morning America is working hard on obtaining pictures to show people what is being lost and what damage is being done. BP themselves have been told to find a less toxic dispersant although they said on TV that the dispersant they are using contains products which can be found in regular household items such as shampoo.
Last night we had a new shrimp recipe, it was similar to one we had a couple of years ago, but I couldn't find that for some reason. I have no idea where I saved it. However, this one I found on line yesterday was very good. Tragically I didn't eat any asparagus yesterday, I have none left. Boo Hoo.
Stir-Fried Green Beans with Shrimp and Garlic 2 Tbs vegetable oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 lb large shrimp-shelled, deveined and cut into 1-inch pieces Salt 1/2 lb green beans, thinly sliced 1/4 inch thick on an extreme diagonal 1/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth 1 Tbs Asian fish sauce Freshly ground pepper 1. Heat a wok until very hot. Add the vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the shrimp and a pinch of salt and stir-fry until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and 2 tablespoons of the stock and stir-fry until the beans soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock along with the fish sauce and a generous pinch of pepper and stir-fry until the shrimp are cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Serve right away. Servings: 2 Source Author: Eric Banh and Sophie Banh
Have a great day

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Making Yourself Sick, Pilots and Guns, Oil and Asparagus.

Amongst the many ezines I get to do with health, WebMD is one and this morning there is an article on 6 things we do every day which could be making us sick. One of those things is using pillows and mattresses. They explain why. Its enough to make one sick just reading about the amount of skin cells a human sheds every day and the dust mites which accumulate in our beds because of it. Pity you can't pick up your bed and shove it in a freezer for a while, that would kill off the little buggers. If you want to read this article on the things we do regularly, its here. Vacuuming is another - I think I have this licked by using a Hepa filter with a sold dust bag. Not that vacuuming gets done very often in our apartment. With only two of us, the place doesn't get very dirty anyway. Heres's a new one, 'gethomeitis'. Discussing the air crash in India they are considering that this is why the crash occurred. Apparently it is something pilots often get, they are so anxious to land their planes at their home airports, that they make mistakes, this is one of the advantages of co-pilots who can often stop this happening. I also learned, this morning, that some pilots now carry guns since 9/11 and that so far no pilot has had to use it although one pilot did shoot out his windshield during landing - er, what was he doing with his gun out during landing anyway?? This came out because of a row between a pilot and his flight attendant girlfriend and she reported him as possibly being suicidal. He was stopped when just about to board the plane with his gun which he was carrying quite legally, but... they are apparently given psych tests before being permitted to cary one. Not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. The oil spill continues pumping barrels and barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. BP are now talking of stopping it with mud?? Won't that dissolve and float away? I have only one serving of asparagus left, so guess where I will be going shortly? Although the weekend is probably not the best time to go any more as they are so busy these days. There is a video of Tim Barrie talking about the asparagus farm and their store here on the Local Harvest Site. You have to scroll down the page a bit to see it. This recipe comes from the Asparagus Growers of Ontario. Asparagus Sukiyaki 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/2 lb round or sirloin steak 1 clove garlic 1 tsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup water 1 medium green pepper 1/4 cup celery 1 small onion 1 lb fresh Ontario asparagus Cut beef into diagonal strips with a sharp knife. Brown in hot oil with garlic for 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Add soy sauce, salt and water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut green pepper into strips, cut celery in diagonal slices about 1/4 inch thick, and chop onion. Add to meat and cook 10 minutes. Wash and break off woody ends of asparagus stalks. Cut asparagus in 2-inch diagonal pieces. Add, after the other vegetables have cooked 10 minutes, and continue cooking 5 to 8 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are just tender. If the liquid is too thin, thicken with a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water. Cook until clear. Serve with rice or Chinese noodles. Yield: 4 to 5 servings Have a great day

Friday, May 21, 2010

Walking the Amazon, Sunshine, Oil Leak,

The Good Morning America series on inspirations finished today with Bill Weir in the Amazon. Apparently even in this day and age, no-one has ever walked the Amazon river from start to finish. There is a young Brit named Ed Stafford who is attempting to do just that. He started by setting aside a year, he has now been walking for two years and still isn't at the end. He has been video blogging as he travelled and Bill Weir joined him for a couple of days or so. to read the article and see the film clip from Bill Weir's visit. I wish I had been following Ed Stafford's video blog but this is the first I have heard of it. There is a link to his video blog in the article which I will check out later. He apparently had sponsors who ended up backing out and is now managing with small subscriptions from private donors, he refused to let his mother sell her home. He has been in some pretty stick situations in his two years. This is certainly something that inspires me, not that I would ever want to emulate this particular trip. The weather has decided to be kind to us the last couple of days, however, this weekend is a holiday weekend so it is supposed to rain. Matt tells me we are supposed to get more good weather next week. It certainly isn't before time. It makes one feel so much better to see lots of sun and warm temps. When we were out and about yesterday, people were in summer clothing which is such a change from all the dark winter stuff. I wonder why we dress so drably in winter? Of course the Gulf Oil leak is still one of the major headlines at the moment. Now BP are admitting a lot more oil was gushing out than they originally said. That was obvious the minute we saw the pictures. Despite millions in money, time and effort, they still seem no nearer to finally stopping the problem and the oil continues to spread. I don't know but would have thought they could use bathyspheres of some kind to work on the pipes - however I assume there is a reason they haven't done so. It really is too depressing for words. Just how far is this going to spread before they ever stop it, and will it ever get stopped. I am feeling very pessimistic about the whole thing this morning. There is a video clip from one of BP's officials on GMA again this morning. GMA started their summer concert series, held in the park, with the Jonas Bros. today. Talk about screaming. I don't know how any of them stand it. They were trying to talk to them on stage and no-one could hear anyone else. Bit of a waste of time.
I found this recipe on BBC Good Food and thought it would make a change. Of course, me being me, I would probably have a side of fresh asparagus *g* West Indian Chicken Curry This punchy dish is under 500 calories, but you won't notice you're being healthy Recipe by Jennifer Joyce Serves 4 1 large onion , chopped 2 garlic cloves , chopped 2 tbsp curry powder 1 large sweet potato , peeled and cut into small chunks 4 skinless boneless chicken breast fillets , cut into chunks 400g tin coconut milk 100g whole cherry tomatoes fresh coriander , to serve 1.Cook the onion and garlic in a tsp of oil for 5 minutes. Season, then stir in the curry powder. Cook for another minute, then add the potatoes and chicken. 2.Pour in the coconut milk. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 2 minutes. 3.Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander. Have a great day

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saved by a Cooler, The Travoltas, Sir Ben.

An incredible story this morning of a trio out fishing - stormy seas and their boat capsized. They survived more than 48 hours by hanging on to a cooler. Their life jackets were lost in the accident (er, why weren't they wearing them?) so the cooler saved them. They had no water or food and were being stung by jelly fish as well as trying to paddle and were finally found by another boat. If I were the manufacture of that cooler, I would be inclined to make capital out of that story.
GMA were delighted to report that the Travoltas were going to have another baby. The wife, Kelly Preston, is 47 which is not young to have a baby. They have had one hell of a year from everything that was said starting with the loss of their 16 yr old son, then someone trying to extord $25 million from them, ending with the loss of two of their dogs which were killed by a service vehicle at an aiprot. Of course this pregnancy has sparked a media frenzy about "replacement" children and should they or should they not do such a thing. Everyone has to get their pennyworth in. Travolta is already on record as having said he would like a large family. Shut up all you analysts and let them get on with their lives.
Sir Ben Kingsley was interviewed today too, there is a new film with him in it, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I had no idea he had changed his name from Krishna Pandit Bhanji. He did it just before he played Ghandi in 1982, which he described as somewhat ironic. He has always been one of my favourite actors and I thought he was absolutely brilliant as Ghandi.
I have been thinking about something different to do with shrimp for supper tonight and on they have two, a risotto with asparagus and shrimp, and a salad. Here is the salad.
Asparagus Shrimp Salad
1 ½ lb of asparagus, cleaned.
1 lb of shrimp, shelled and cleaned.
1 oz of grated Monterey Jack cheese.
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced.
¼ cup of green onion, sliced.
2 tablespoons of parsley, minced.
One slice of lemon
Lettuce leaves.
½ cup of salad oil.
4 tablespoons of vinegar.
1 tablespoon of parsley.
1 tablespoon of basil.
1 tablespoon of oregano.
¼ teaspoon of salt.
Dash of cayenne.
Pinch of pepper. DRESSING
Combine all of the dressing ingredients.
Cook the shrimp; drain and set aside. Cook the asparagus until crisp-tender; drain well. Place the shrimp, asparagus and slice of lemon in mixing bowl. Pour the herb dressing over all, cover and refrigerate, stirring once or twice. Combine the red bell pepper, onion and parsley. To serve, drain the shrimp asparagus mixture and arrange on plate with lettuce and cheese. Serve with the pepper/onion/parsley mixture.
Have a great day

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wifi Security, Kidnap or Not? Oily Humour.

On Good Morning America today they were talking about WEP encryption for one's wifi router. Saying if it was not encrypted your computer traffic was freely available to the world. I thought I had better check, turned out that not only do I have an encryption on my router, but it is a more advanced system than WEP (military grade I was told). So now I feel pretty safe and secure. However, if you have wireless internet, I suggest you make sure you too are covered. The easiest way is to check with your ISP as I did. Of course if your router didn't come from your ISP then you probably need to check in your router's manual. There is a web page here which tells you all about it. Certainly worth looking into.
Very odd news story last night, a kidnap was reported, someone apparently saw a woman walking along the road, a car stopped someone got out and put a blanket over her head and pushed her into the car. However, no-one is reported as missing, so the reporters weren't sure and called it an alleged kidnapping. I haven't heard any more this morning.
A newspaper in Baton Rouge, LA (think Gulf of Mexico) is publishing a column Laughing to Keep from Cryin' File with jokes about the situation, they have announced new recipes such as:
- Blackened Any Fish
- Char-oiled Oysters
- Oiled Shrimp
- Shrimp Tar Tar
And now instead of asking "Baked, grilled or fried", it's "Regular, unleaded or premium?". I originally read this in World Wide Recipes published by Joe Barkson. Typical human response to tragedy to try and laugh instead of cry. The present fix is not coping with the oil 100% so I don't know what they are thinking of doing nex. I read one comment appended to a newspaper article suggesting truck loads of rocks be tipped on top even if a mountain was built. He figured aircraft carriers could transport the trucks to the site. I thought it wasn't a bad idea. The contributor also suggested piles of rocks should be kept in the vicinity of all oil rigs for future problems if there are any.
Here is another recipe from which sounded pretty good.
Fried Asparagus in Beer Batter
One 12 oz can of beer.
2 lbs of asparagus.
1 cup of flour.
Salt Pepper.
Garlic powder.
Seasoned salt. Italian seasoning.
Olive oil.
Mix the flour and seasonings together. Add the beer to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until thick enough to cling to the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces. Heat the olive oil, then deep-fry the coated asparagus in 2 inches of olive oil until golden brown, turning once.
Have a great day

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Movies, Bowling, Tar Balls,

Been seeing a few old movies lately, the other day it was The Man In The Iron Mask with Leonardo di Caprio as the king. Its not a bad movie but I am not sure how closely it ties in with the original story. di Caprio plays a suitably nasty little bugger as the original king and a suitably nice young man as the missing twin. Then last night it was Four Weddings and a Funeral. I know we saw it before, but didn't remember much about it. Hugh Grant was very young when he played the part. It is generally a frothy little tale of young bachelors. We enjoyed watching it although there was another movie that I thought I would like to see, maybe another time.
Monday is, of course, our summer league bowling and we were allocated to our new teams for the first time. It is all done by our averages and as I bowled so very badly last week, I was placed on a team with the top bowler in the group, only he didn't turn up yesterday. I was a tad concerned as that is unusual for him to not turn up and not tell anyone why. We also got our banquet ticket for our tournament in June in yesterday's meal. This year they have given us a paper bracelet to wear (for the tournament or the banquet?) plus a map of where the banquet is being held.
Do you use Facebook? I know many people do these days, we have been having fun changing the language. You can get UK or US English, or Pirate!! The pirate version calls me a saucy wench and uses lots of other standard piratical terms. It is quite funny. I haven't seen 'shiver me timbers' yet, but no doubt it will crop up eventually.
Finally the weather seems to be improving with expected high temps later in the week. We had such a lousy summer last year, I hope we will get a better one this year.
I was dismayed to hear they have been finding tar balls on the beaches in the Florida Keys, they are being tested for origin. I wonder how they can tell? The assumption is that its from the Mexican Gulf of course, but ...... It seems to me that when we go down to North Carolina for our vacation, shrimp will not be something we come back home with this year. Matt heard that BP are paying the local fishermen although some of them are helping with the clean up anyway.
Here's a somewhat different recipe for Asparagus. I came across a recipe yesterday using canned asparagus, when fresh is so plentiful, I don't know how anyone could even consider using canned.
Asparagus Onion Casserole
1 lb of fresh asparagus. 1 medium onion, sliced.
5 tablespoons of butter.
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
1 cup of milk.
3 oz (1 package) of cream cheese.
1 teaspoon of salt.
Pinch of pepper.
½ cup of mild Cheddar cheese, shredded.
1 cup of fresh bread.
Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.In a skillet, sauté the asparagus and onion in 1 tablespoon of butter until crisp/tender. Transfer to an ungreased 1 ½ quart baking dish. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook until thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over the asparagus and onion.S prinkle with the shredded Cheddar. Melt the remaining butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F (175°C) for about 40 minutes or until heated through.
Have a great day

Monday, May 17, 2010

Painting, Gulf Oil, Autism,

I had a miserable day yesterday, I woke up with allergy symptoms and could not get rid of them so spent the day sniffing and blowing. Saturday I spent most of the day loading Windows 7 and then re-loading all the programmes I had on my laptop. Gynie of Once Upon a Time in France has now started a new blog about her painting called Daily Way of Painting. I will check in on her, but it is not totally my scene. I can appreciate the end result and I enjoy most of her pictures, but the way of getting there is not a thing of major interest to me I'm afraid. Sorry Mike and Gynie. It seems that the latest method of plugging the oil leak has been partially successful but is not apparently the final solution. There is an article here which is interesting to read and also says that the oil may have, already, reached the loop current in the gulf which could eventually take the oil into the Atlantic and on up the coasts of eastern America. This would really mess with the fishing industry not to mention all the wetlands and aquatic animals which would be affected. BP are reiterating that they will pay for everything, as I understand their costs so far are equivalent to something like 6 day's profits, I guess they aren't going to run out of money any time soon despite the millions of dollars this is costing. The picture of the oil gushing out of the broken pipe is a really scary one in my book. I have just seen a headline saying Offshore spill won't happen to Canada, huh!!! Our prime minister says it couldn't happen because of the federal government's strong offshore drilling rules. I just hope he is right, but sounds a tad cocksure to me. GMA has a good picture of the pipe insertion too by the way. Talking of GMA they are doing segments on who inspired them (the hosts that is) and this morning, Sam Champion talked about his sister who has an autistic son and has been working hard all his life to raise money to assist with autistic children. However, the main problem there seems to be that at a certain age, all the programmes cease and older people with autism are not looked after - there are no programmes in place for them. Apparently autism is on the rise, a lot because of improvements in detection, they are not yet sure if there is an actual rise in the disease. There is some talk of heavy metals, pesticides and childhood vaccines, but at the moment there is no definite answer as to why autism occurs. Such discussion reminds me of a lovely book by Elizabeth Moon called The Speed of Dark which is about people with autism. She knows, as she has an autistic son. There was also the wonderful movie Rainman with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. I have to go to Barrie Bros. Farm today as I am out of asparagus. That will never do. Here is yet another recipe I have found. But as usual from this source, no pictures. Asparagus Almandine Asparagus Recipes 2 lb of fresh asparagus. ¼ cup of slivered almonds. ¼ cup of butter. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook the asparagus; then drain. Melt the butter in a skillet. Cook the almonds over a low heat, stirring frequently, until they turn golden brown (takes about five mins). Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and the salt.P our over hot asparagus. Serve. Have a great day

Saturday, May 15, 2010

US Cut Backs, Child Dancers, Jessica Did It, Geezer Bandit,

I am disgusted with US politicians at the moment. First the New York bunch who are cutting back on school programmes and laying off people one day a week, now Governor Schwartzenegger has announced cut backs in California including school programmes and mentally handicapped. The reports say this is likely to happen across the rest of the States. Excuse me, you are not going to educate your kids properly? This is bullwhipple. These are tomorrow's leaders we are talking about, they need money to provide a good education which is more important than financing wars. Get out of the Middle East, let them sort out their own problems and teach your children as well as providing for your poor and sick. Bring the troops home. I think Canada should bring their troops home too, we have no business being in Afghanistan. Right now there is a row going on in the States about some kids in a dancing competition who are only 8 yrs. old and were dancing like adults in skimpy costumes. I gather someone posted video of them on UTube and it has now been all over the air waves. I don't think most 8 yr. olds care about being sexy, just about being good dancers. However, GMA got 1,000 emails about the subject, the majority saying it was totally inappropriate for young kids to perform such a dance. Others saying people are imposing adult views on children. If you want to see what I am talking about there is a video on Actually I found their dancing to be pretty good and if anything, somewhat athletic. I don't personally find there is anything remotely sexy about it. So Jessica, on Pink Lady, made it; sailed round the world from Sydney, Australia and back again. How wonderful: she was greeted like a heroine. I am so sorry Abby didn't make it and is still held up in Cape Town although she intends to carry on once repairs are effected. There are detractors now saying that Jessica didn't really sail round the world as she was too far south, hunh??? She sailed through some of the worst weather areas in the world - if she had gone north she would have had to go through canals and locks and also some of the worst areas politically. Some people are never satisfied. A somewhat amusing story this morning, there is a guy in California known as The Geezer Bandit. He has held up 9 banks (Jay Leno says he will go on until he finds one that has money in it). He looks to be in his 70s and points a gun at the tellers. However, there is some suspicion that he may be a younger person disguised. Either way, as pointe out, he is a dangerous criminal, he points a gun at people and if apprehended will be sent to the same jail no matter how old he is. He has become extremely popular on Facebook according to reports. There is a surveillance video shown on GMA as well, Matt says his hands look old, I can't tell. Eating Well are promoting foods that are good for one's vision, avocados being one of them. I love avocados and they are good for many other things including cholesterol problems ao I never feel I shouldn't eat them even though they are not a slimming food. I couldn't figure out a way of using asparagus as well although I might serve pickled asparagus on the side *g*. Avocado-Corn Salsa From EatingWell: April/May 2006, EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook, EatingWell Serves Two A fresh salsa of avocado and corn is great with simple sautéed fish or just about anything Mexican-inspired—huevos rancheros, a quick quesadilla or atop rice and beans. 4 servings Ingredients •1 medium avocado, diced •3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed •1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes •1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro •2 teaspoons lime juice •1/4 teaspoon kosher salt Preparation 1.Toss avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

La Cage aux Folles, Gulf Oil Leak,

I keep thinking today is Saturday which of course, it isn't. Makes life very confusing. I couldn't understand why Good Morning America was on so early (weekends they don't start til 8). They had a segment about La Cage aux Folles, apparently there is a new version with Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge playing the leads. I still think the film version, The Bird Cage, with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane was one of the best versions of this I have ever seen however they did an excerpt of a song and dance which was good and quite funny. It has apparently been nominated for 11 Tony awards, so they are doing very well. There are a couple of video clips on including the song and dance.
Oil is still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico although it seems the news has kind of dropped the story although you can find updates. Reports are saying there is more oil than we know, it has been referred to as an oil spill, it isn't, that makes it finite. This is a well we are talking about and unless it is plugged it will continue to gush oil into the Gulf until the well runs out and God knows how long that would take. There are pictures on showing the oil gushing out under water. In fact there are two videos there which are really worth watching. I gather the latest idea is to insert a smaller pipe, with a stopper around it, into the larger one to try and siphon the oil onto a tanker that way. It is now some 25 days this has been going on, I hope and pray something is going to be successful soon. Experts are quarrelling about the amount of oil which is flowing into the seas. At the moment, that seems somewhat unimportant, stopping it is what should be the primary focus although it is a fact that experts say there has been more oil than 4 Exxon Valdize spills put together and that was a major disaster in itself.
Last night I made the quick Alfredo recipe which I gave you a few days back, it came from Kraft, and added chopped, par boiled asparagus to the sauce. It was really good. We served it over Barrie Bros. asparagus pasta and it made a good meal. The recipe calls for Parmesan which I have run out of, so I used grated cheddar cheese instead. In case you don't remember, here is the recipe again. Do not add the par boiled asparagus til almost the last minute or it will end up very overcooked. I forgot to take a picture, so I am using the original recipe picture.
Philly Alfredo with Asparagus
based on a recipe by Kraft Kitchens
1 tub (250 g) Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread
1 cup milk
1 cup Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese (I used cheddar)
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
12 - 14 asparagus spears
HEAT 1 tub (250g) Philadelphia Spreadable Cream Cheese with 1 cup each milk and Kraft Grated Parmesan in a nonstick pot. Bring to a boil. Season with a dash of ground nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile cook the asparagus until just tender. Drain and allow to cool enough to handle. Chop into bite sized pieces. Add to the sauce just before serving to reheat.
POUR over hot cooked pasta and top with additional Kraft Grated Parmesan.
Servings: 8
Have a great day

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tournament, Ontario Roads,

Sorry no post yesterday, but as I said, we went off to Oshawa for my bowling tournament. I thought we weren't going to get there at one point. About half an hour into the journey we were in stop and go traffic with more stop than anything. We still don't know if there was an accident although suspect that may have been the problem. The traffic was flowing fine on the other side of the median. I was getting anxious figuring we wouldn't even get to Toronto, let alone Oshawa. Eventually we came to the toll road, 407, and had been dithering about taking it, we decided to do so - never used it before - a surprising amount of traffic but boy did we move along well, seemed we reached the end in no time whatsoever. It will cost us about $19 but it was worth it. They figure out who owes what with cameras. That surprises me because I have seen lots of license plates which are indecipherable by human eye when you are right behind them, let alone by cameras. We were both surprised by the speeds of the vehicles. The speed limit is 100 Kms an hour and even a cop vehicle passed us going a lot faster than that. Matt set our cruise control at 110 Kms and we were being overtaken as though we were standing still. I was curious as to when the road was begun because when we went to the States in 1988 it wasn't there. Turns out it was started by a private contractor in 1999 and isn't finished even now, there are plans to extend it to Orono wherever that is! I looked it up on the map and I am still not much wiser. The picture shows all the electronic equipment which is used to photograph license plates or presumably ping responders in those vehicles which have them. If people are regular users of 407 they do have transponders installed. We finally got to the bowling alley about 10 minutes late but thankfully I still had lots of time to register and get myself sorted out. The other bowler who was my partner was already there with his girlfriend; they had stayed in Oshawa over night and said the accomodation was terrible. I had wanted to do the same, maybe just as well we didn't. My first game was good, over my average, my second game was bad, way below and my third game was excellent, a 222. In the middle of bowling I realised I had lost my 300 pin which I was given a week or two ago, that upset me. Luckily someone had handed it in but the back was missing. Later I found the back but someone had trodden on it. Not that it is irreplacable (in fact I have another back on it already), I was just glad to get the pin itself returned. Once we had finished bowling we all trooped into the dining area for lunch. We started eating a tad earlier than expected, we had salad, turkey with all the trimmings and pie. Not too bad, not gourmet either my biggest criticism was the mixed veg which were like mush, I didn't have potato but Matt said the mashed potato was some of the best he had ever had away from home. Then they gave out the prizes. We figured that after the prizes available at my last tournament (6 trips for 2 to the sun plus luggage), the digital camera, kitchen scales, hors d'oeuvres trays and cookie jars were somewhat meagre. However, I was thrilled to win 2nd prize in my group and got some kitchen scales (they are actually better than I presently have) and a timer. I had a pins over average of 61 which wasn't bad at all. Particularly after the way I bowled on Monday. Our trip home, once we found our way onto the 401, was pretty quick and uneventful. The 401 is supposed to be the busiest road in North America, it certainly lives up to its reputation. Traffic is constant and continuous. However, we were before the rush hour so it wasn't as busy as in the morning.
For a change I thought I would share a fish recipe from Eating Well. They suggest spinach with this dish. I would use asparagus at the moment - naturally *g*. Roasted Cod with Warm Tomato-Olive-Caper Tapenade From EatingWell: October/November 2005, The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook (2006) The Mediterranean flavors of a warm tomato tapenade will brighten all kinds of white fish as well as chicken. Make It a Meal: Orzo and sauteed spinach will round out this meal. 4 servings Ingredients •1 pound cod fillet, (see Ingredient note) •3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided •1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper •1 tablespoon minced shallot •1 cup halved cherry tomatoes •1/4 cup chopped cured olives •1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped •1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano •1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preparation 1.Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 2.Rub cod with 2 teaspoons oil. Sprinkle with pepper. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. 3.Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 20 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add olives and capers; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Stir in oregano and vinegar; remove from heat. Spoon the tapenade over the cod to serve.
Tips & Notes •Ingredient Note: Cod: Overfishing and trawling have drastically reduced the number of cod in the Atlantic Ocean and destroyed its sea floor. A better choice is Pacific cod (aka Alaska cod); it is more sustainably fished and has a larger, more stable population, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Have a good day.