Wednesday, June 30, 2010

$300 Million Roof, Canadian Distances, Celebratory Weekend

Yesterday I came across a story about a proposed $300,000.000 roof for the Olympic stadium in Montreal. Yes, that is three million dollars. They say the original one rips several times a year and is costly to repair. The 1976 Olympics in Montreal were infamous for the graft and cost overruns and now they want to spend all that money on replacing the roof. I guess they haven’t heard about the financial crisis in the world at the moment. Montreal-olympic-stadiumIt is something of a catch 22 situation, if they don’t replace it they will continue to shell out money on the repairs, or if they do they will shell out all that money in these difficult financial times on something which is, in the scheme of things, a totally unnecessary adjunct to the city. Politicians never seem to be able to get their priorities right. I bet there are lots of hungry children in the Province of Québec.That is not something which is exclusive to third world countries. Not to mention that there are probably lots of seniors who could use a boost to their pensions, but no, a 3 million dollar roof is more important. If I were living in that city or that province, I would be up in arms about this. I don’t live there but I am up in arms anyway. Matt has just commented “I wonder how much money they have spent on repairs to the existing roof since 1976”. They say they have to repair it 60 times a year.

That is one of the things which points up the incredible distances in Canada. The year before the ‘76 Olympics we emigrated to Canada and I was excited to think I would be close to the games and maybe get to see some of them. Ha!! At the time we lived in Cambridge (quite close to where we are now) which is in Ontario, not in Québec and is close to 400 miles away. Not to mention that the cost of staying there would have been prohibitive. Since that time Canada has hosted the winter Olympics in Calgary, 1645 miles away and Vancouver, 2046 miles away and that’s only going west. Montreal is east of us but going even further, if they ever had the games in St. John’s, Newfoundland for instance that would be another 1300 odd miles east. In fact only yesterday I was looking at a weather map on TV and commented how small the Great Lakes looked – Lake Superior is in fact 350 miles x 160 miles, a very big chunk of water, and that is only one of five Great Lakes. Did you know their names spelled HOMES, Matt’s dad told me that one, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.

As many of my readers know, Sunday is the Fourth of July and many Americans will be celebrating Independence Day with all kinds of feasts, picnics and barbecues. Only Canadians seem to know that on July 1st it is Canada Day and we do the same kind of things. In either case, here is a more typical North American recipe for potato salad. I admit straight off that it is not one I would probably enjoy and would likely steer clear of, but it seems I am very much in the minority in this part of the world.

Grandma's Potato Salad

Source: Quick Cooking magazine

Yield: 8 Servings


Grandma's Potato Salad Recipe at

6 to 7 medium red potatoes (about 2 pounds)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 to 3 dill pickle spears, chopped

4 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash onion salt

Dash garlic powder

4 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped


Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender; drain and cool slightly. Slice potatoes into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, onions, pickles, mustard, horseradish, garlic and seasonings. Pour over potatoes and toss to coat. Gently stir in eggs. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Have a great day.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dollywood, Statins, Movies and Books.

This morning, on Good Morning America, one of their guests was Dolly Parton. I have always liked her, she is a very clever woman apart from being a big singing star and making successful movies. She is celebrating 25 years of Dollywood which has turned out to be as successful as she predicted. She is also celebrating 44 years of marriage which in her world is pretty incredible. I had to look it up and she herself was 64 last January. She sure doesn’t look it. She sang a new song, Celebrate, in honour of the 25th anniversary of Dollywood, she also sang Jolene which is one of her all time favourites. There are three video links on the GMA website at HTTP://

I now learn doctors have been giving cholesterol busting drugs to people without high cholesterol. Seems daft to me, but there is a study out which says they are probably not a good idea – the following URL from GMA shows an interview with Dr. Besser who talks about this latest study. You can also contact the doctor on the GMA website and ask for information on reducing cholesterol without taking statins or similar drugs Our doctor says reducing cholesterol any other way is like walking somewhere instead of taking the car, you will get there eventually but its pretty slow.

Last night I watched a movie which used to be a great favourite of mine Desirée which was a romantic version of a story about Napoleon Bonaparte’s old love who eventually became Queen of Sweden having ended up marrying Field Marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. The actors were Jean Simmons playing Desirée, Marlon Brando as Napoleon and Michael Rennie as Jean Baptiste. It is still a good movie to watch and still ranks as one of my favourites. Brando played Napoleon a couple of times I believe and always does a good job.

I have also now finished the remaining Deverry books by Katherine Kerr, The Shadow Isle and The Silver Mage both of which were excellent. I am now reading a collection of short stories called Irresistible Forces which are romantic sci fi stories. Included are stories by Lois McMaster Bujold set in her Miles Vorkosigan world and Catherine Asaro set in her Skolean Empire.

Whilst looking at the GMA website this morning, I came across the following recipe for depudged pigs in a blanket. I have a feeling that being “pigs” they should be pork but I suppose that is more fatty than beef.

De Pudged Pigs in a Blanket

Recipe Courtesy of Hungry Girl

De-Pudged Pigs in a Blanket

Servings: 8

  • 8 fat-free or nearly fat-free franks about 45 calories each (like Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks or Hoffy Extra Lean Beef Franks or your favorite hot dog brand)
  • 1 package Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent refrigerated dough
  • Cooking Directions

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Cut each hot dog into 4 even pieces. Set aside.

    Take one of the eight triangle-shaped portions of the dough and stretch or roll it out slightly, making it into a larger triangle.

    Then, cut this piece of dough into four long, narrow triangles.

    Beginning at the base of each of these triangles, roll one hot dog piece up in each until the point of the triangle wraps around the center. Place your blanketed pigs on a large, ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients, so that you have 32 pigs in a blanket. Be sure to evenly space them, as the dough will expand while baking.

    Place sheet in the oven, and cook for about 12 minutes, until dough appears slightly browned and crispy. Enjoy!

    Per serving (4 pigs in a blanket): 134 calories, 5g fat, 652mg sodium, 16g carbs, 0g fiber, 3g sugars, 8g protein

    Makes 8 servings

    Have a great day


    Monday, June 28, 2010

    G20 Riots, Ice Cream, World Cup

    I was disgusted about all the riots taking place in Toronto this weekend – riots which ended up in major violence due to what is described as the Black Bloc. clicking on this link will take you to a series of riot pictures showing people dressed all in black with their faces hidden of course, they don’t want anyone to know who they are, later apparently they divested their black clothing and merged in with the crowd.. The whole thing made me ashamed to be Canadian there were other protesters who were at least peaceful until all this happened.

    Yesterday I saw an ad for an ice cream maker and I have a friend in the States who has one. However, it made me think of when I was a kid. My mother used to make ice cream in freezer trays from the very small freezer section of the fridge. In those days the trays had removable dividers. It was delicious stuff. I have an idea she may have got the recipes from Mrs. Beeton’s Family Cookery, which I have. I must check it out although I don’t have that kind of freezer trays of course. I seem to recall one had to keep stirring it well to stop it crystalising too.

    Sunday was the Germany-England match in South Africa. Germany won 4-1 although there was one goal which was incorrectly called which would have given England 2 goals, but they lost anyway. I lost $5 because of them LOL. Our German Canadian friend was over the moon because they had one. No, I didn’t watch. The only time I ever watched soccer was when Matt played many years ago. I was once taken to a big match in Birmingham, England, but who was playing I have no idea. I actually enjoyed the match but I never went to another. My uncle was a big fan, but we didn’t live close by and no-one else I knew was remotely interested until I met Matt. His two eldest grandsons are/were big soccer players. I say were as they are both working nowadays and may not have much time. Grandson #4 plays 5 aside.

    Ma Beeton Cookbook I looked through my old Mrs. Beeton cookery book (as shown in the picture) which was published in 1935. The book is, as you can see, a bit battered as it was well used by my mother who was a fantastic cook, in fact, I think she was a bit like the Julie in Julie and Julia and worked her way right through it over the years. I found that most of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes for ice creams start with a custard.  I have made a couple of alterations or added notes for non UK cooks. These recipes are more for interest than anything although if you like trying such things you might want to give it a go. I remember I loved my mother’s ice cream.

    Custard for Cream Ices

    1 UK pint of milk (20 fl. oz.) Custard for Ices

    1/2 pint of whipping cream (or thicker if you can get it)

    4 oz. castor sugar (sugar in North America is just about as fine as castor sugar)

    4 yolks of eggs

    Bring the milk nearly to boiling point and pour it over the beaten egg yolks, stirring meanwhile. Return to the pan and stir by the side of the fire (on low heat) until the mixture thickens, but do not let it boil or the eggs may curdle. Stir in the sugar, strain and when cool add the cream. Makes about 1 3/4 pts. (Again the UK pint is 20 fl. oz.)

    After this, you can proceed to make more or less any kind of ice cream you want by adding whatever flavours appeal to you. There are even some adding fruit jams or, me being a chocaholic, Chocolate Cream Ice.

    Chocolate Cream Ice

    4 oz. chocolate (I recommend best quality you can buy)

    1 UK pint (20 oz.) Custard as above

    1 gill of milk (5 fl. oz.)

    1/2 gill of cream (2.5 fl. oz.)

    sugar to taste

    Prepare the custard as above. Dissolve the chocolate in the milk, sweeten to taste and strain it into the custard. Let the mixture cool, then add the stiffly whipped cream and freeze the usual way.

    My note: Freeze the usual way means put in a container in the freezer, and periodically, whilst the mixture is freezing, whip it up so ice crystals don’t form, replacing it in the freezer each time until it is cold enough to be ice cream.

    Have a great day


    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Summer in Ontario, Hurricane Alex? The Royals.

    Someone commented to me that my blogs give them an insight into life in this neck of the woods. Yesterday I was listening to the radio and heard the camp site report which I have never heard anywhere else before. They list each camping area and say how many serviced (i.e. with electricity, water and sometimes sewage) and unserviced (no facilities) there are available at the time of the report. I have only ever heard it on our local station, not on any other we listen to. However, quite recently there was a flash flood on a camp site which caused several people to lose their lives; I would think that would be a bit discouraging if you were thinking of going camping, especially in a tent. Even a camper/trailer could be pushed around by flood waters. I haven’t heard any report saying camping site usage is down though.

    The news from the US today is full of the storm which could become Tropical Storm Alex and maybe even a hurricane and which may, or may not, cross the Yucatan Peninsular and head into the Gulf of Mexico. If it did go there, everyone involved with the oil spill would have to pack up and leave, and BP would have to lift the cap which they are using at the moment allowing the full gusher to pump away as long as the bad weather lasted. Er, its not fixed??? I thought it was. We are getting distressing pictures on the news of baby dolphins dying because of the oil, it is, of course, breeding time for them as well as lots of other species. In fact it has been posited that this disaster will destroy some species forever as they are only found in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Also in the news today is Prince Harry’s visit to New York in order to discuss co-operation between the States and the UK regarding assistance to wounded veterans and their families. Its the first time I have ever heard that the Americans play polo, Harry is going to be playing a game with a US team. I remember going to polo matches as a kid and loving to watch and then stomp down the grass clumps between chukkas.

    We have lots of protests taking place in Toronto this weekend – not so much against the G20 itself as the security measures being taken by the police to ensure the safety of all the world leaders. There is a big fence around the area of the city which is being used for the meeting and you’d better have a good reason and the right paperwork to approach this fence. I am surprised people are protesting all this. Its only for a few days for goodness sake.

    Next week we have the Queen visiting us in Ontario, although I am not quite sure when. I don’t envy her the trip at her age although I am sure everything is done to make it easier for her. I know flying to and from England is pretty tiring which discourages us from making the trip. OK when you are young and the Queen has quite a few years on us.

    I wrote about John Isner’s record breaking tennis match in Wimbledon, the next day he was beaten in just over an hour by another unseeded player. Sad really. I would guess he was pretty whacked after his marathon game which finished the day before.

    A simple and refreshing salad from Crisco Canada this morning.

    Honey Citrus Salad

    Makes: 12 cups (3 L), approx. 8-10 servings

    1/2 cup (125 mL) Crisco® Canola or Vegetable OilHoney Citrus Salad
    1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
    3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 tbsp (15 mL) honey
    1 tsp (5 mL) salt
    1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
    8 cups (1 L) chopped lettuce
    2 cups (500 mL) arugula (optional)
    2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
    8 mushrooms, thinly sliced
    2 ripe avocado, diced
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries
    1/2 cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds
    1/2 cup (125 mL) pumpkin seeds

    1. Place all the ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake until combined. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
    2. Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Toss with desired amount of salad dressing. Serve immediately.

    • Use vinaigrette as a marinade for salmon or halibut. Marinate fish for 10 minutes before baking.
    • Replace the seeds with toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, etc)
    • Swap lettuce for spinach and increase your daily intake of calcium, folic acid, vitamin K and iron. A great addition to any family meal.

    Have a great weekend.


    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Wimbledon, HST, More on Gulf, Soccer Rivalry,

    The longest tennis match in history finally finished up with John Isner beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68. The match took 11 hours and 5 minutes. Sadly, we couldn’t find it on TV yesterday; we would love to have seen the finish. Here is a picture from Voice of AmericaIsner Mahut showing the pair of them beside the final score board. Isner from the US is the taller of the two. Mahut is from France. He sure has nothing to be ashamed of, it was a stupendous exhibition of skill and stamina. Oh if only!!!! I cannot imagine how the pair of them felt, especially on Wednesday when they had been playing for so long.

    I mentioned HST or Harmony Sales Tax before, today we got a notice of just what is going to happen. There are two items which will affect us personally, one being gasoline which is going from a 5% tax to 13% and the other is ISP services – same increase. Maybe I can’t afford to write blogs any more!!! Home heating is also going up which may mean a rent increase. I’ve been saying I don’t care because we have to pay it anyway, but of course I do care that it is going to make a bigger hole in our not very deep pockets.

    There was mention on the news about how much money BP had already spent on the Gulf disaster which made their stocks plummet again. They still haven’t stopped the leak though. In fact I understand the cap they are presently using shifted the other day and allowed the leak to flow fully for a few hours until they got it in place again. I saw a video the other day of a youngster with a proposal on dealing with the leak. His idea is that a robot should undo a few nuts and then insert an iron plate. His dad is an engineer and says its feasible. There was a video demonstration which I cannot find any more, showing him stop a water leak from a similar device to a well head. The family have informed BP of the idea but they have thousands of ideas being sent to them all the time.

    I don’t actually follow soccer even at the level of the World Cup, however, there has been a bit of joking between Matt and a German friend as there is a match between our two birth countries on Sunday, not only that, there was a headline that the British PM and the German leader would avoid one another on Sunday at the G20 conference.

    In yesterday’s World Wide Recipes written by Joe Barkson there was a Canadian Bacon recipe which appealed to me. I, in fact, only buy Canadian bacon which I sometimes eat for breakfast. It is the nearest thing to English back bacon although it isn’t quite the same, processing I imagine. Its so long since I have eaten back bacon in the UK that I don’t really remember the differences properly.

    Canadian Bacon in Sherry Sauce
    World Wide Recipes

    1 Tbs (15 ml) vegetable oilCanadian Bacon
    1 Tbs (15 ml) all-purpose flour
    1 cup (250 ml) beef stock
    2 Tbs (30 ml) sherry
    1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried thyme
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 - 1 1/2 lbs (425 - 675 g) Canadian bacon, sliced

    Heat the oil in a saucepan over moderate heat and stir in the flour. Cook until medium brown in color, stirring frequently. Stir in the beef stock, sherry, thyme, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, broil the Canadian bacon
    until lightly browned around the edges and heated through. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

    Have a great day


    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Earthquake, Tornado, Wimbledon.

    About 1:30 I had an appointment to have my hair cut, not long after, we got back to the apartment building to find several people in the lobby, one couple holding their cats, there had been a tremor in the building and the whole place shook apparently. In fact it took place at 1:41 p.m. according to the news. It was a 5.5 magnitude quake and its epicentre was along the Québec/Ontario border although it was felt as far away as Montreal, Boston and Cleveland (not forgetting little ol’ Kitchener. There were no injuries. Quite a little drama. I remember years ago it happening when I was at work in Cambridge a town nearby. Matt was 10 minutes away and never felt a thing. We didn’t feel anything today either – we would have been driving at the time. A preliminary report I read another report this morning which said fleeing from buildings was a mistake there is also a good map showing the area that was affected by the quake. I knew all those people in our lobby were doing the wrong thing.

    To top it off, we ended up yesterday with a suspected tornado in Midland, ON. CBC Canada has the story and pictures. Not sure how they decided a suspected tornado was a real tornado, but obviously there were some pretty lethal winds.

    An incredible tennis match taking place at Wimbledon, two young men, John Isner from the US and Nicolas Mahut from France, have been playing for a total of 10 hours and at the moment are 59 all in the 5th set. Play was finally called off last night because it is too dark. It will be interesting to see what happens when they start again today. I must say, watching it yesterday, John Isner looked really wiped and I was surprised how well he kept on going. Nicolas Mahut didn’t look quite as tired somehow. to read more. They have been setting all kinds of records, the longest match, the most aces, etc. etc. Oh, and not a vuvuzela in sight. I used to be a devoted watcher of Wimbledon every year when I lived in the UK, now I may or may not see any of it. I see a note on the web today that the Queen is going to Wimbledon for the first time in 33 years. I wonder if she will get to see the rest of the historic battle between Isner and Mahut.

    I thought this looked delicious. I see they specify bought crêpes, however, the only ones I have ever found tend to be a tad sweet. They are really very easy to make and you can cook up a large batch and freeze them (don’t forget to put wax paper in between each one though).

    Summer Vegetable Crêpes

    From EatingWell: July/August 2008

    Crêpes aren't just for dessert—they make a quick and savory weeknight dinner. Here they're filled with ricotta cheese, green beans, zucchini and corn and topped with a chive-cream sauce. Don't skip the step of placing a piece of parchment or wax paper under each crêpe as you fill it—without it, the crêpes are tricky to roll. Serve with: A tossed salad.

    Summer Vegetable Crêpes  Recipe

    4 servings

    • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish
    • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups chopped zucchini
    • 1 1/4 cups chopped green beans
    • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, (from 1 large ear; see Tip)
    • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 4 9-inch “ready-to-use” crêpes, (see Tip)
    • Preparation
    1. Stir sour cream, 1/4 cup chives, milk, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.
    2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in ricotta, Monterey Jack, the remaining 1/4 cup chives, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
    3. To roll crêpes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper (or leave it on the piece of plastic separating the crêpes in the package). Spoon one-fourth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about 3/4 cup) down the center of the crêpe. Use the paper (or plastic) to help you gently roll the crêpe around the filling. Place the crêpe seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling. Serve each crêpe topped with 2 tablespoons of the reserved sauce and more chives, if desired.
    Tips & Notes
    • Tips: To remove kernels, stand a cob on its stem end in a bowl and slice them off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
    • “Ready-to-use” crèpes are fast and convenient. Look for them in the produce section of the market or near refrigerated tortillas.

    Have a great day


    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Jason and the Camels, G20, Inmate Credits, Home Security.

    I was so pleased to hear they found Jason, the tiger and the two camels, Sean and Todd, alive and well – someone had obviously given Jason water at least, the camels were not in such urgent need. Police actually received a tip on Monday night apparently. A very odd business. Obviously I was wrong about my animal smuggler or trader suspicions, and very glad I am that I was wrong. It puzzles me that the thieves abandoned the truck in one place and the trailer in another.

    This weekend Ontario and in particular Toronto, is gearing up for the G20 summit. Millions of dollars have been spent in preparing for this and the security is horrendous. One of the biggest complaints is the building of a fake indoor lake which has cost around $1.9 million. However, now its getting down to the wire, people are having trouble moving around their own city and many of the roads travelling near the city are restricted. I was told people can’t get to their cottages because of this security. Many Torontonians are up in arms about the whole deal and there will be lots of demonstrations. I wonder whether its worth it just to be the host country.

    The US Government seems to have made a bit of a gaffe about their new home buyers credit. They haven’t been asking for proof of purchase, so babies have received these credit cheques as well as prison inmates. What with Canada paying inmates pensions and now the US sending them credit cheques, it pays to be a prisoner.

    Talking of inmates there were some horror stories about crooks getting into your home by posing as repair men of one kind or another. GMA were emphasising that you should check on the people you employ to do work whether it be odd jobs or contracting, particularly check the contractor has a license. They also say don’t let a worker wander around in your home on his own and don’t leave out easily lifted pieces of jewellery or other valuables.

    Another shrimp recipe which sounds good and will shortly make its appearance on our dinner table especially as we have some nice fresh Tarragon growing on our balcony.

    Sautéed Shrimp with Buttery Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

    Source: Fine Cooking - Issue No. 29

    Serves four Try serving this dish with orzo tossed with butter and grated Parmesan and a salad.


    For the Shrimp:

    1 3/4 pounds large shrimp in the shell or abRec Imageout 50 frozen, cleaned large shrimp, defrosted

    7 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Sauce:

    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

    2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon, and flat-leaf parsley

    Lemon wedges (optional)


    FOR THE SHRIMP: If using shrimp in the shell, peel and devein them. If using cleaned, defrosted shrimp, skip this step. Either way, dry the shrimp well with paper towels and set aside.

    Put a colander or large strainer in a bowl and set it beside the range. In a large skillet set over high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter froths, add the shrimp and season well with salt and pepper. Stir several times as the shrimp cook - they may brown slightly, which is good. They’re done as soon as they’re just cooked through and opaque, 3 to 5 minutes; cut one in half to check. Remove the pan from the heat; transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to the colander. Cover the shrimp loosely with foil and set aside to keep warm while making the sauce.

    FOR THE SAUCE: Pour off all but 1 or 2 teaspoons of liquid from the pan. Set the pan back over high heat and add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, swirling the pan once or twice until the butter turns light nut brown, about 2 minutes (Any brown bits that have stuck to the pan will become even browner, but they shouldn’t burn.) Immediately pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan and start scraping up the brown bits. Continue to scrape and cook until the sauce thickens somewhat and starts to appear glaze-like, about 2 minutes. The sauce will reduce to a scant 1/2 cup.

    TO SERVE: Turn off the heat and stir in the drained shrimp (discard any accumulated liquid in the bowl) to coat them lightly with the sauce and briefly rewarm them without cooking any further. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and serve immediately with lemon wedges, if desired.

    Have a great day


    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Health, Montenegro, Books,

    Having shot off to the therapists yesterday for Matt, and yes I sat in the car, much comfier and although a beautiful day, not too warm with the windows open, I then went to our family doc for my regular diabetes check which is all lovely with lots of good numbers. I am now told I have to have a pneumonia shot once every 10 years and to see an opthalmologist periodically, just because I have diabetes which isn’t, I am glad to say, a very major problem in my life, whether because I am pretty careful or because I really don’t have a serious diabetic condition, I don’t know. At the moment I pop pills and watch what I eat.

    Lying in bed last night I thought about something I wanted to write today; now I cannot for the life of me think what it was. A friend reminded me of Bette Davis’ quote, “Growing Old Ain’t for Sissies”, that is so very true, memory is something which suffers a big hit. One of these days I will remember to have a pad and pencil by the bed. Of course, the minute I post this blog, I will recall what it was.

    On Sunday Matt told me the treadmill wasn’t working properly and he couldn’t fix it. After spending an age on the phone with Tempo, we ended up getting in a repair man who sorted it all out for us. Here again, a lot of the problem is old age, we can’t bend and go down on our knees with ease like this young man could. Turned out he was born the year we came to Canada and I assure you that makes us feel old. He was born in Montenegro so we talked a bit about my visit to the area in the late 60’s. He wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye in those years. He did say the communists killed his grandfather. I wonder if that was in recent years or not, we didn’t ask at the time. They have had so much strife in that part of the world. When I was there it was all relatively peaceful with Tito in charge. It, Yugoslavia to me, is a beautiful country with lots of wonderful castles built by the Franks. However, the power kept going out at all kinds of odd times of the day, and the service at that time was likely to be pretty poor although this young man told me the service situation hadn’t changed a lot in some areas. I said I had been to Budva on the Adriatic coast and he told us that was a place for singles these days, very crowded and certainly not a place to take your family. I do remember the beach there and the snake we saw on it. Kind of sticks in your memory. My cousin trod on a sea urchin too but that can happen anywhere in the world. So, I suppose, can the snake, just I have never seen one on a beach before. It was a lovely beach though.

    By the way, no sign of those missing animals. I think I would be talking to the truck driver if I were the cops.

    I have been reading some Katharine Kerr books lately, I have read most of her Deverry series before and in fact I have also read the four I have got now (I am not certain about the last one) but I am enjoying them. I have finished The Gold Falcon and have nearly finished The Spirit Stone, with two more to go. If you like fantasy, I can recommend the Deverry series, especially now its all finished so you don’t have to hang around for the next book.

    In an email from they had several shrimp recipes – the following one came from Eating Well and looks delicious. Shrimp being one of my favourites. Apologies if you live on the Gulf coast where shrimp is now expensive and in short supply.

    Grilled Shrimp with Melon & Pineapple Salsa Eating Well Yield: 4 servings Grilled shrimp is perfectly accented by this light, summery pineapple-melon salsa. The flavors are bright and fresh, just right for a hot day. Use just one melon or any combination of melons—including watermelon—for the versatile salsa. For best flavor marinate the shrimp overnight.

    Make Ahead Tip: Marinate the shrimp (Step 1) for up to 24 hours. Cover and refrigerate the salsa (Step 2) for up to 4 hours. | Equipment: Four 8- to 10-inch skewers


    1 pound raw shrimp (16-20 per pound), Grilled Shrimp Melon Pineapple Salsapeeled and deveined (see Note)

    2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

    2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, divided

    2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño, divided 2 cups finely diced firm ripe melon 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper 1/4 cup finely diced red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus 4 sprigs for garnish 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 4 large lettuce leaves, such as Boston, romaine or iceberg 4 lime wedges

    Note: To devein shrimp, use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp. Under running water, remove the tract with the knife tip.


    Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon jalapeño in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

    Combine melon, pineapple, red and green bell pepper, onion, vinegar, chopped mint and salt in a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

    About 20 minutes before serving, preheat grill to high.

    Thread the shrimp onto skewers, piercing each twice, once through the tail end and once near the head end. Grill the shrimp until pink and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. When cool enough to handle, slide the shrimp off the skewers.

    To serve, arrange one large lettuce leaf on each dinner plate. Spoon salsa onto the lettuce and top with shrimp. Garnish each serving with a lime wedge and a mint sprig, if using.

    Have a great day.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Snowbirds, Stolen Animals,

    Sadly I didn’t get to see much of the Snowbirds as they were mostly on the other side of our building. Saw them whiz by a a couple of times.

    As of the time of writing, they found the truck stolen the other day but not the trailer containing the missing animals. There is a little bit about it here together with a funny picture which I am guessing is a Lolcats pic. I wonder if the thieves woulTiger Tummy Rubd dare give Jonas a tummy rub. It is just to be hoped that they at least have given the animals air and water although they must be pretty hungry by now. Its been pretty warm here and I gather it has been even warmer in Québec. Its funny they abandoned the truck, makes me wonder if they were not car thieves after all. Unfortunately, tigers in particular, are worth one hell of a lot of money, dead or alive, probably more dead.

    We both have to leave early this morning to go see the physio therapist for Matt and the doc for me. I am not going to wait for Matt in the therapist’s waiting room though, this time I will stay in the car. I wrote about their chairs the other day. I also wrote about London Broil on Saturday which we had for supper that night and thoroughly enjoyed. Followed by strawberries and double Devon Cream. Last night we had the London Broil cold with the Potato Salad I posted a couple of weeks ago, I really enjoy that. First time I have enjoyed potato salad in a long time.

    The following recipe was intended as a Father’s Day recipe, sorry, I am passing it on too late for that occasion, but being chocolate, I thought it sounded just my cuppa tea.

    HERSHEY'S HUGS and KISSES Candies Chocolate Cake


    • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, Hugs & Kisses Cake softened
    • 1-3/4 cups sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S Dutch Processed Cocoa
    • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/3 cups water
    • COCOA FUDGE FROSTING(recipe follows)
    • HERSHEY'S HUGS Brand Candies and HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates


    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
    2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute on medium speed of mixer. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add alternately with water to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost with COCOA FUDGE FROSTING. Remove wrappers from candies; garnish cake as desired with candies. 12 to 15 servings.

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
    1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
    3-2/3 cups (1 lb.) powdered sugar
    1/3 cup milk, heated
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat; stir in cocoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat; pour into small mixer bowl. Add powdered sugar alternately with warm milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Spread frosting while warm. About 2-1/2 cups frosting.

    Have a great day


    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Snowbirds, Stolen Trailer.

    The Snowbirds are here. What, you may ask are the Snowbirds? They are a demonstration team composed of serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Snowbirds 431. They wiSnowbirdsll be performing at the Waterloo-Wellington Airport air show this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, we saw them overhead on our way back from the asparagus farm, presumably practicing which I assume they do all the time. We are hoping we can see some of it from our balcony as the airport is not far from us. Unfortunately the show is likely to be way too crowded for us, they have parking set up miles away, I am guessing they are using buses to take people to the show.  I have never really seen an air show and I found seeing them yesterday to be quite exciting. The nearest I ever got to an air shoSnowbirds2.w was once in North Carolina when there was one at a local Marine base and we got to watch some of it from our boat anchored near the end of the runway. Being planes, they cannot concentrate themselves just in the space above the airport so we might be lucky enough to see something today and tomorrow.

    An odd story in the news last night and this morning, a driver was transporting some animals from a circus to a zoo and stopped for a few hours rest. When he went to get his truck and trailer it had been stolen. The trailer actually contains a tiger and two camels. It would be funny except they are now worried about the animal’s health – they will of course need water, more so because it is pretty warm out there at the moment. One hopes the thieves will leave the trailer somewhere and maybe call in its location as soon as possible.

    Yesterday I mentioned the various recipes Emeril Lagasse had for Father’s Day. Below is one for lamb kebabs which didn’t win, but sounded pretty good to me. Sorry if you are amongst those who don’t like lamb, but I love it. Actually, tonight we are going to have Matt’s specialty of Marinated London Broil – I have posted the recipe here before.

    Emeril's Greek-Style Lamb Kebabs

    Servings: 6-8

    Father's Day is just around the corner. Celebrity chef, TV host and author Emeril Lagasse offers this great meal for idea for Dad's special day.


    1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

    feta spread

    1 tbs grated lemon zest

    1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

    2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1/4 cup olive oil

    2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes (with some of the fat still attached)

    8 to 10 bamboo skewers

    8 pita breads, warmed, for serving

    Feta spread, for serving

    Cooking Directions

    1. In a large bowl, combine the onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, mint, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, and olive oil. Stir well. Add the lamb and toss to coat it with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

    2. Soak the skewers in warm water for about 1 hour before assembling the kebabs.

    3. Pre-heat your grill to high, and lightly oil the grate.

    4. Thread the lamb onto the soaked skewers, and place them on the grill. Cook -- turning frequently to promote even browning -- for 12 to 14 minutes.

    5. Wrap a pita bread around the meat on a skewer, and while holding the bread firmly around the meat, twist the skewer out of the meat. Drizzle the meat with feta spread to your liking. Repeat with the remaining pitas and skewers, and enjoy!

    Feta Spread

  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion tops
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste (depending on the saltiness of the feta)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cooking Directions

    Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and stir to blend well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight to allow the flavors to blend.

    About 2 cups

    Happy Father’s Day and have a great weekend (Mike, if you are reading this, tell Tina it didn’t arrive LOL)


    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Helping or Abducting. Souvenirs, Strawberries, Gulf of Mexico.

    I forgot to mention a story yesterday about a young black teenager, Edwin, in Florida who mistakenly thought a little girl was lost in a store and that her mother had just left the store. He took the kid outside, his mother followed and then so did the child’s mother. Everything was fine; however, the store security phoned in a child abduction story to the cops (a wise precaution maybe) half an hour later, a cop arrived and arrested the young man (14 yrs old by the way). By this time the whole event was all over anyway. It turns out that the arresting office had a history of controversy involving race, he had arrested an off duty Miami black police major and also shot and killed an unarmed black man. It makes me wonder, why such a cop is still employed. You can read the story and see the video here. I figure Edwin will be very careful about trying to help in future. His lawyer is trying to get everything expunged, particularly his arrest record which would hang round his neck like a millstone.

    Vuvuzelas (the stress is on the second vu I understand) have definitely arrived in the US. George Stephanopoulos had his with him on Good Morning America, brought by Robin Roberts who has just returned from South Africa. I also heard an announcement that they have been banned at Wimbledon. Guess they are getting the announcement out before it starts. I wonder how many will actually be brought home as souvenirs. Matt says someone will start making them and make a killing.

    The other night we pigged out on fresh local strawberries and

    Double Devon Cream

    Double Devon cream – I have mentioned Devon cream before, it comes in a pot and isn’t cheap but in our opinion, it is the only thing to have on strawberries over here. We then got to discussing strawberries and how sweet they used to be once upon a time, one didn’t need to add sugar at all. Same with raspberries which were also very sweet. I can remember going to the Derby (a major British horse race) and sitting on the grass eating strawberries, bought there, without anything on them and just savouring their sweetness. I then went on to think about if I could have a dream fulfilled, I think I would like to attend the Derby and visit someone’s private box and eat strawberries and cream whilst sipping champagne. Of course, then I would have to buy clothes for the occasion, maybe they could be bought for me as part of my dream. Dreaming apart, I will ensure we have more local strawberries and cream before the season is over, what a pity it is so short. I bought some US berries last week, they were like large sour, bullets. I guess they are picked too soon. Some of the best berries we have ever tasted in North America were from one particular farm in North Carolina and they were sweet enough to eat without sugar. Unfortunately, we are never there in berry time any more.

    This morning I heard for the first time that not only is oil gushing into the Gulf, but so is methane and natural gas. I am not sure how much worse that is for the ecology, but I have heard it said that it is going to take 100 years for the Gulf to recover. That, presumably, is if they ever manage to stop the well.

    On Good Morning America, they invited people to vote for a Dad’s Day meal from a list provided by Emeril Lagasse. Apparently a marinated flank steak recipe won and I thought it looked pretty good on TV this morning so I have grabbed the recipe to share.

    Emeril's Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

    Tasty and Easy to Prepare

    Recipes are courtesy Emeril Lagasse, from "Emeril at the Grill", Harper Studio Publisher, New York, 2009, courtesy MSLO, Inc.

    Servings: 4-6

    Father's Day is just around the corner. Celebrity chef, TV host and author Emeril Lagasse offers this great meal for idea for Dad's special day.

    IngredientsFlank Steak
  • 1 1/2 cups dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • One 1 1/2- to 2-pound flank steak
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Chimichurri Sauce (recipe follow below), for serving
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Cooking Directions

    1. In a shallow non-reactive bowl that is large enough to hold the steak, combine the sherry, sherry vinegar, red onion, garlic, and olive oil. Stir to blend well. Lay the steak over the marinade and turn so that it is coated on both sides. Wrap the bowl loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning the steak occasionally.

    2. Pre-heat your grill to high.

    3. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade), and season it with the salt and pepper. Grill the steak for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice the steak across the grain, and serve it with the chimichurri sauce.

    How to Make Chimichurri Sauce:

    1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, basil, garlic, shallots, and oregano in a food

    processor, and pulse until well blended (do not puree).

    2. Stir in the kosher salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

    3. Transfer the sauce to a non-reactive bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it aside for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours at room temperature. (The sauce will keep in an airtight nonreactive container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.) This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

    Have a great day


    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Celtic Thunder, Reading, Technology,

    NO - this is really Thursday June 17 - Lately I cannot change the dates any more. If you don't follow the comments on my blog, there was a response to my puzzlement about a scene I saw in the interview portion of my Celtic Thunder DVD. It was apparently a scene from an upcoming release, end of 2011, called Storm. Thanks to Jojo who let me know. I thought I read a lot and got through heaps of books, however, I have been reading the comments on Glenda Larke's blogs when she asked all of us how we became readers. Some people seem to get through a mountain of reading, much more than I achieve, and I am retired. Dunno how they do it. I just finished my latest book The Misted Cliffs by Catherine Asaro, one of the books in the Lost Continent series. I have a feeling I have now come to the end of these unless she is planning to write more of them. I particularly enjoy her sci fi books about the Skolian Empire, but I have been enjoying these lighter fantasy stories for a change. We finally broke down and bought a new coffee pot yesterday. We have been struggling with the two we have, one is technically a spare, but for some reason, although we use filtered water, they seem to get slower and slower until it takes so long to brew you have to plan to drink coffee hours ahead. Matt doesn't drink coffee anyway unless he is in a country like Portugal where he enjoys their very strong and delicious brews, and I only drink decaf these days, but I do drink a lot of it. I wonder how long this coffee maker will last me. Grrr, turned on my laptop this morning and there was an error message saying Audio Services not working. I ended up searching on the web and on recommendation downloaded a programme which was supposed to fix it. It didn't. In the end I found another tip, so simple, all I had to do was move the slider in the volume control and the red cross and error message disappeared!!!! I then have to make phone calls to discover how to get my money back. Hopefully that is all OK now. What a pain. I get annoyed with these "FREE" programmes which scan, tell you what's wrong and then want you to buy before they can fix it. Admittedly the laptop is fairly new and I guess I am super panicky about it. New being a relative term in the computer world of course.

    Yesterday, my newest internet friend sent me a delightful little recipe which she tried and said was delicious. It looks good to me so I thought I would share it with you, I got permission of course. She also said both she and her hubby virtually finished it on their own so she is not sure about the serving size. I never used to like Watermelons very much because of all the seeds, however, now they produce seedless ones, I can eat and enjoy.


    Recipe By: ????

    Serving Size: 5

    4 cups watermelon, cubed

    1 cup blueberries

    1/4 cup white grape juice

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1 tablespoon grated lime zest

    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    Combine Melon and berries in a bowl. Combine grape juice and next 3 ingredients and pour over fruit mixture, toss gently. Cover and chill. Says it serves 5 and 1 cup is 1 point on Weight Watchers®.

    Have a great day

    Shrimp, Lunch, Stratford, Celtic Thunder

    Something that doesn’t augur well for our vacation in September, shrimp in the Gulf has gone up $2 a pound, I am, in fact, surprised you can get shrimp at all any more bearing in mind how much oil has poured into the waters. There has been a commission set up to check on the quality of seafood coming from the Gulf. I don’t think I would fancy buying it right now, or for the foreseeable future. As yet I haven’t heard the oil has reached the Atlantic but there has been lots of talk about it and I have my suspicions that by the time mid September comes it will be there. I know, its being so cheerful that keeps me going!!

    I forgot President Obama was making a speech on TV last night about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In a way I wish we had watched it. However, we ended up watching DVDs of Celtic Thunder who are one of our favourite groups at the moment. The first DVD we watched was the latest one I bought, Its Entertainment, and we ended up watching the interviews. Young Damian McGinty is quite comprehensible when he sings, but I am damned if either of us can understand his Irish brogue when he is being interviewed. During the interview there were scenes from either a pirate act or Matt said it could be castaways, whichever, we hadn’t seen it before and have no idea where it came from. I can’t find anything about it on the web either. Very puzzling. If you don’t know the group (I actually posted video from YouTube in previous blogs) there is masses of their stuff on YouTube where you can get a taste of their performances.

    I went with Matt to his physio appointment yesterday and sat in the waiting room in one of the most uncomfortable chairs I have sat in for a long while. There was one chair there which might have been OK but it was occupied, there was also a sofa which when sat in felt so low I thought I was sitting on the floor. However, having sat in the chair for a while, I wished I had taken the sofa seat, by this time it was occupied. Ah well!!! Afterwards we went to Café 13 for lunch. It is in downtown Cambridge (Galt) and has been there for years. It has apparently changed hands many times. We met my friend who was returning my books and had a good natter. I had a chowder and Caesar salad, Matt had a Caesar on its own and my friend had fish and chips made with pickerel. Not the best food in the world, but certainly not a bad lunch. We discussed The Tempest which is now on in Stratford, Ontario with Christopher Plummer playing Prospero. I really want to see this production. I do wish Matt was interested in theatre.

    In the ezine I get from World Wide Recipes, a woman had written requesting cold soup recipes and saying she wasn’t interested in Gazpacho because it tasted like canned tomatoes to her. Horrors. Gazpacho is one of the classic and most delicious cold soups to be found and should definitely NOT taste like canned tomatoes. I sent her one recipe I have, her is another. These days people blend gazpacho but the secret to really good soup is to chop and use a sieve. I admit, I cheat and use my blender but just don’t get it too smoothe.

    Andalusian Gazpacho

    Mediterranean Cooking for Pleasure

    2 gloves garlic

    4 green peppers

    5 large tomatoes (seeded)

    3 oz. bread with the crust on, soaked in water. This needs to be French or Italian bread.

    2 Tbs olive oil

    2 Tbs white wine vinegar

    5 cups water

    salt to taste

    Pound the garlic and peppers in a mortar. Mince the other solids into a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients; mix well and strain through a cloth or fine strainer. Put the liquid in the fridge to chill, serve the soup very cold, accompanied by separate little dishes of sliced green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and toasted bread cut in small dice. Serves 6.


    1 onion

    4 cloves garlic

    2 tomatoes (ripe)

    1 canned red pepper

    1/2 cucumber (preferably seedless)

    salt and pepper



    1 thick slice of white Italian or French bread without crust

    4 tbs olive oil

    5 cups water

    Chop all the ingredients together except for the bread which you soak in water. Pound all the ingredients together (or blend) mix in the olive oil then add the water, gradually, whisking well. Serve very cold – if you like add an ice cube to each plate.

    Here again it is optional to serve little dishes of garnishes. Serves 6.

    Have a great day.


    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Books and Bowling, BP, New York, Asparagus.

    Last night I finished The Infinity Gate by Sarah Douglass. This was the final book in a trilogy called Dark Glass Mountain and was part of a series of ongoing tales by Sarah Douglass featuring the Icarii a race of people with wings. Reading the final paragraphs, she has left herself lots of room for at least one more trilogy. I enjoyed this latest one and will look forward to her next series. I now have another Catherine Asaro romance to read – these are a series of magical stories about a lost continent and I have been enjoying those too. This one is called The Misted Cliffs.

    I had a good three games bowling yesterday, and Matt managed to bowl too although on Sunday he had thought he might not be able to. However, he saw his physio therapist again on Monday morning and whatever she did this time seems to have improved matters. He has yet another appointment this morning and I am going with him so we can join a friend for lunch afterwards. I loaned her some of my books which she has now finished. We are going to a place called Cafe 13 in Cambridge, I think I may have been there many years ago, but certainly not recently.

    The last I heard from BP was that they were hoping to trap more oil, but whether they have had any success I don’t know. They are now running ads about a department set up specifically to deal with people who have claims for loss of income or other pertinent injuries against BP. A lot of fisherman are employed in clean up duties as are a lot of people on shore. Whether they are paid enough to compensate, I don’t know. This disaster just goes on and on and will continue to do so until they finally manage to stop the gushing oil, if they ever do.

    I just heard on the news that the government of New York has averted closure by cutting yet more funding this time to social services and addiction clinics. Good job, first they hit the seniors who have no way of replenishing their income, and now social services – of course they already reduced funding to schools. However, I haven’t heard anything about proposed salary cuts for the inefficient government of New York.

    Barrie Bros. sell a pesto which contains asparagus. There is nothing wrong with the pesto, it is delicious, but the asparagus is totally lost. I have been inventing a pesto in my head which I have yet to try out. We shall see, I haven't got long because asparagus season will soon be over.

    Here is another asparagus recipe from the Ontario Asparagus Marketing Board. The picture is from Barrie's Farm. Now I have decided to like potato salad (well the one I made the other day) I thought I would try this one.

    Ontario Asparagus and Potato Salad

    3 cups cut (1-inch/2.5 cm pieces) Ontario asparagus 3 lb new potatoes (unpeeled), scrubbed 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp coarse-grained Dijon mustard 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 2 roasted red peppers, cut in 1/4-inch (5 mm) dice 1 bunch green onions (white and pale green parts only), cut in 1/4-inch thick slices 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

    Steam asparagus until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Refresh under cold running water. Set aside. Cut potatoes into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes; steam until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and place in large bowl. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper; add about two-thirds to hot potatoes and toss gently to coat well. Let cool to room temperature. Add red peppers, green onions and dill along with remaining dressing; toss gently to mix well. Garnish with chives. Serve at room temperature.

    Yield: 12 servings

    Have a great day.


    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Dinner Party, World Cup, Wild Eyes,

    As I mentioned on Saturday, we had a dinner party that evening which turned out to be very enjoyable. With our pre-dinner drink I served Barrie Bros. asparagus flavoured tortilla chips and asparagus salsa which seemed to go down well. For a starter we had Paula Deen’s recipe for Asparagus Phyllo Bundles which I posted here recently. We then followed it with Chicken and Snow Peas with Peanut Sauce. I thought Matt did Our Chicken and Snow Peasan excellent job with the snow peas all around the dish which makes it look so attractive.

    We accompanied with the Farm Fresh Potato Salad our Potato Salad together with Pear, Cucumber and Pecan Salad as shown below. The recipe actually calls for walnuts but I chose pecans as I find walnuts over on this Our Pear and Cucumber Saladside of the pond to be somewhat bitter. I have posted both these recipes within the last week or so. As our guests went back for more of all these items they apparently found the salads as good as I did. I followed this with Strawberry Cloud which I forgot to take a picture of. But which is a light dessert made with Jello, Berries and Cool Whip. I have actually wondered about making it with real cream but that doesn’t ‘hold’ too well and I didn’t think it would work. With English cream it might be safer.

    Most people know what I think about cream over here and Matt and I were holding forth about it last night. We were trying to describe the ice cream which can (or could) be found in Devon and Cornwall made of the local cream which is almost as yellow as custard.

    The US fans are thrilled to bits with their draw on Saturday. They were playing England. Once upon a time England was one of the top soccer teams, but I don’t think they are these days. I gather the goalie let through one ball which he should have stopped with ease. Don’t watch myself but this is what has been said on the news. Vuvuzelas seem to have caught the imagination over here though, there have been lots of articles about them in the papers and on TV, so yes, to my friend in South Africa, I am afraid they probably will breed over here, just as my South African friend warned. Having just written that, I heard vuvuzelas blasting away on the radio, a whole bunch of them. We are doomed!!!

    I am, to put it mildly, somewhat puzzled. Abby Sutherland, the 16 yr old who wasAbby's boat trying to sail round the world, has apparently abandoned her boat Wild Eyes in the middle of the ocean. I can’t understand why the French fishing boat didn’t try and tow her in for the salvage at least. I see there is now a movement on her blog page to help restore Wild Eyes to Abby. I certainly don’t understand why they would leave the boat out in the ocean to become a hazard to shipping apart from anything else. Nor do I understand why Abby having lived on board for so long allowed it to be abandoned in that way. Don’t think the insurance company will be very happy about it. OK, the mast was broken, but masts can be repaired. Been a bad weekend especially for the poor souls out camping who got caught in a flash flood where the river rose some 8 ft. I don't think they yet have the full total of deaths. What a terrible thing to be asleep at your camp site and suddenly you are woken by rushing water all around you, if you are woken at all.

    Silly me, I thought it was Father's Day last weekend, but it appears I was wrong and so I have at least a week's more asparagus to avail myself of. Here is another recipe from AsparagusRecipes. Here again, I personally will probably change the walnuts to pecans.

    Asparagus with Walnut Dressing

    ½ cup of walnuts. ¼ cup of soy sauce. 1 tablespoon of sugar. 1 tablespoon of sake. 1 lb of asparagus. Crush the walnuts in a food processor, leaving small chunks. Add the soy sauce, sugar and sake and blend for 10 seconds, just until well combined. Trim and discard the woody bottom portions of the asparagus stalks, then cut them into 1 ½ inch pieces. Steam the asparagus for no longer than 2 minutes. Rinse the asparagus with cold water and drain. For each serving, arrange stems and tips in a mound, with tips aiming upward. Drizzle with the dressing. Serve. Have a great day

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    HST, Taxes, World Cup.

    We are about to have a new tax in Canada called the Harmony Sales Tax. This combines Purchase Tax and Value Added Tax and is causing much aggravation to everyone. I personally cannot see why, but then I am not very 'up' in these things, but at the moment those two taxes amount to 13% and the HST will also be 13%. I believe there are more things which will carry this new tax however, but I don't know what. That being said, to compensate us all for the burden of this new tax, the government are being kind enough to give us all a benefit to tide us over this new tax!! We got our first installment today and are due for another in December and a third next June. Well and good, thank you, but what about our income taxes - I assume we have to declare it as income - and then pensions, it will be considered income so in our case at least, will mean a reduction in the supplements we receive. In fact, I think it is all a bit of a waste of time. Its rather like the system several years ago when everyone was laid off for one day each week and the government paid you for the extra day. This was supposed to help the economy. I am not sure how much it helped, but I know I gave every bit of that money back when I did my taxes at the end of the year. (I have now been told that in fact we do not have to declare this money. I think I had better check it out officially though). This makes me think of all the budget mess they have in New York State, so what are they doing? Reducing money given to schools and seniors, closing parks, several other things, but does anyone actually working in the State government suffer for the mess up they are making? No of course not. This is of no personal concern to me of course, being in Canada, but we get the news about it all the time and I find it pretty disgusting; but don't get me started on what I think about politicians or we will be here all night. I assume there must be some honest, straight arrow guys in politics, but if so they are well hidden in the background of any government I know about. We are having some friends in for dinner tomorrow night so I have been working on preparations and so has Matt. Lot more to do yet of course, and no, the menu is not being listed because at least one guest reads my blog. I don't know why I like to keep it secret, but I do. It will, of course, consist of foods we enjoy so we hope our guests will too. Something I heard on the radio made me smile, apparently the referees for the World Cup soccer games have had to learn the four letter words which could be used towards them along with the gestures. I don't know whether its true, but I understand that it is only in the English language that we have swear words, other languages have ways of expressing the same thing, but not in one word. This may not be so any more, but 40 years ago I was told that was so. But I guess if a player swears at you in his own language, as a ref you have to know what he is saying so you can send him off.

    Last night I finally got round to watching Avatar on my laptop - I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can imagine what it would have looked like in 3D, sorry I missed it now. I can highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys such stories. You can click on this link to buy it from Amazon if you are interested in getting it. I am certainly planning on buying it. Which reminds me I received my copy of Stardust yesterday too. I only ordered it on Monday, I think that is great service.

    Here is another strawberry recipe from Eagle Brand which sounds good to me. I wish I hadn't planned my dessert for tonight because either yesterday's recipe or this one would have been great. Strawberry Summer Delight

    Eagle Brand A strawberry lover’s version of tiramisu, with orange juice instead of coffee (so perfect for the whole family, including kids). Serve with additional fresh succulent strawberries. Prep Time: 20 minutes Serving: 12-14 servings Freezing: not recommended Ingredients: 1 lb (500g) container mascarpone cheese, room temperature 1 can (300mL) Eagle Brand® Regular or Low Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk 1 cup (250mL) whipping cream 1 tbsp (15mL) orange zest (optional) 1 tsp (5mL) vanilla 2 cups (500mL) strawberries, sliced 2 cups (500mL) orange juice 36-40 Italian ladyfinger cookies

    Preparation: 1. Beat mascarpone and sweetened condensed milk until well combined. Reserve. 2. Whip cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Add orange zest and vanilla. Gently fold into reserved mascarpone mixture until combined. Fold in sliced strawberries. 3. Dip both sides of each ladyfinger cookie into orange juice. Line bottom of 9” x 13” (3L) baking dish with 18 ladyfinger cookies in 3 rows, trimming edges if necessary. Spread half the filling (3 cups (750mL) on top. Dip remaining ladyfinger cookies in orange juice and arrange over filling in pan. Spread with remaining filling. 4. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, at least 4 hours or overnight. Tips: Serve with additional sliced strawberries. Have a great day

    World Cup, Oil, Wild Eyes.

    My sympathies go out to the Mandela family who just lost their 13 yr. old great grandchild in a car accident yesterday which means Nelson Mandela will not attend the opening of the World Cup today. Making it a double tragedy as he was instrumental in bringing the Cup to South Africa.
    Robin Roberts from Good Morning America is in South Africa for the World Cup and this morning she was broadcasting from Soccer City! My South African friend has been telling us all about the noise of vuvuzelas and this morning I finally saw, and heard, them so I really understand what she is on about. Robin is bringing some back as souvenirs she says. The reports she was making were certainly noisy enough and trying to hear what she said was not easy. There are opening ceremonies taking place quite soon and then the first match will take place later today. Apparently the first match for the US is against England. If you follow soccer I have no doubt this will be an exciting game. The photo came from
    According to reports, 16 yr old sailor, Abby Sutherland, (her boat is Wild Eyes), was out of touch for a while, much to her family's distress. However, she has now been spotted alive and well in the Indian Ocean - her mast is down and she has lost radio contact. That poor girl. Everything has gone wrong for her on her bid to sail round the world. Jessica, from Australia, seemed to have fair sailing the whole way except for in the waters at the bottom of South America, Cape Horn gave her a pretty rough time, but other than that, she did pretty well without too many hitches, Abby has had nothing but. She had to pull into Cape Town for technical repairs and then her boat has now been damaged in a bad storm in the Indian Ocean. There is a fishing vessel on its way to help her.
    One of the main reports this morning was the astounding figures of the oil actually gushing into the waters of the Gulf. 87 million gallons of oil so far and it is still gushing despite all efforts to stop it. Some people are blaming Obama. What the hell it has to do with him I am not sure. Just because it happened "on his watch". I wonder just how big this oil field is, it seems there is no way to stop it emptying its contents into the sea which will eventually spread to the oceans of the world. Don't think that because you don't live there, you won't be affected, because at this rate, I don't think there is anywhere that won't be damaged by all this oil. They showed one company shucking oysters, today was their last day after over 130 years of business. I don't know if oysters will ever recover.
    Amongst the many foodie emails I get is one from Eagle Brand. They have several strawberry recipes and this one particularly appealed to me. Strawberries are now out locally and Barrie's has them in their store along with their asparagus.
    Strawberry Panna Cotta Eagle Brand One bite of this beautiful dessert will bring you right into strawberry heaven! Each serving has a whopping two thirds of a cup of sweet juicy ripe strawberries. Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 13 minutes Serving: 6 servings (1/2 cup/125mL each) Freezing: not recommended Ingredients: Panna Cotta 2 cups (500mL) strawberries 1 can (300mL) Eagle Brand® Regular or Low Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk ½ cup (125mL) Carnation® Regular, 2% or Fat-Free Evaporated Milk 1 pkg (1tbsp/15mL) powdered unflavoured gelatin 1 tsp (5mL) vanilla Topping 2 cups (500mL) strawberries, quartered ¼ cup (50mL) sugar 1 tbsp (15mL) lemon juice
    Preparation: 1. Purée strawberries in food processor or blender. Strain mixture to remove seeds. Reserve. 2. Combine sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over and let it sit until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Whisk mixture constantly over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves and mixture is lukewarm, about 3 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat. 3. Whisk in strawberries and vanilla. 4. Divide mixture among 6 ramekins or custard cups. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight. 5. Topping; Combine ingredients for topping. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Run small sharp knife between panna cotta and ramekins to loosen. Dip bottom of ramekins into bowl of hot water to loosen. Invert onto plate. Spoon topping over and serve.
    Have a great day

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Oil Damage, Dolphins and Pelicans.

    Matt has another physio today, hope it goes well for him. I was thinking I might do the same thing, but bearing in mind how much he was aching on Tuesday, I am having major second thoughts. Although the doc who sent him swears he will eventually feel very much better.
    I heard briefly on the news this morning that the dolphins are hanging around in the bays of the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to escape the oil. Trouble is, unless their food is doing the same thing, that won't help. Maybe humans could feed them from other sources. This tragedy continues to escalate and although BP swear the oil spill is cut back considerably, it hasn't stopped and there is already one hell of a lot of crude in the gulf. It seems to me there are a lot of little efforts taking place, but nobody really knows how to deal with it. They report that there are twice as many oiled up birds this week as there have been over the last several weeks. What a major blow to the ecology of the region apart from the effect on the residents of the area. There are over a million articles and videos on the web showing birds, pelicans in particular, covered in oil. Pelicans are such an integral part of the south I hope this doesn't decimate them beyond recovery. This picture was taken from in order to emphasize the importance of these birds in particular. Today, too, they were talking to the families of the people who lost their loved ones in the explosion on the oil rig. There were 11 people killed and so far no-one has done anything for them other than send flowers and attend funerals. One poor woman was pregnant as well as having a young child. She has since had the baby who will grow up without ever knowing his father. If you want to see any of this it is all on GMA at there are also some spectacular videos of the actual explosion.
    I have to get cracking today as I have lots going on. If you have friends or contacts in Portugal, it is their National Day today, so my best wishes to my friends and everyone else who is Portuguese. That reminds me of course, at the beginning of next month we have Canada Day and then American Independence Day, everyone knows about July 4, but only Canadians appear to know about July 1.
    This is a chicken salad from a Reader's Digest book - it is a recipe we are very fond of. I like Reader's Digest cookbooks, we have several and enjoy cooking from them.
    Chicken with Snow Peas and Peanut Sauce
    Reader's Digest Great Recipes
    ½ lb fresh snow peas, ends trimmed, or 1 package (6 ounces) frozen snow peas
    2 Tbs peanut butter
    2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
    2 Tbs cider vinegar
    1 tsp Oriental sesame or peanut oil
    1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (fresh tastes so much better)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
    2 cups cooked chicken cut into matchstick strips
    1/2 cup sliced radishes
    1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
    2 Tbs sliced green onion
    1. In a large saucepan, cook the snow peas in boiling unsalted water for 3 minutes or until the peas are tender but still crisp. Drain well and arrange attractively on a medium size platter. 2. In a large bowl, whisk the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil until smooth. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Add the chicken, radishes, and water chestnuts; toss lightly to mix. 3. Spoon the chicken mixture over the snow peas and sprinkle with the green onion
    Servings: 4
    Have a great day