Thursday, September 30, 2010

ECGs, Weather, Tony Curtis,

Today, for some reason, we are both having ECGs. Our doctor periodically comes up with a test which she can get done easily, and decides we should have them. Both of us have had lots of ECGs over the years although I can’t quite remember when I had my last one.

At the moment I am trying to read Palimpsest by Catherine M. Valente which was highly recommended by readers at Goodreads (are you a member?) but I am not sure about it at all. It seems a very odd kind of book to me. As of now I am faint but pursuing.

I arose this morning to pretty heavy fog. Yesterday was a gorgeous day with lots of sun but not terribly warm, as it chucked it down the previous couple of days, I suppose the fog is the result. I wonder if the sun will be strong enough to burn it off later.

No longer do I have to watch the hurricane situation carefully, we were lucky, none of them came near us whilst we were in North Carolina, in fact we had perfect weather the whole time we were there. Wall to wall sunshine. However, I was keeping my eye onIgor Damage my hurricane software Tracking the Eye.NET and was delighted to see Igor head away from us. The people of Newfoundland were not so thrilled though. Apparently Igor did a lot of damage there and the army has been called in to help. One guy was swept out to sea. One wonders how that happened, was he one of these idiots who surf during hurricanes?

Tony Curtis Oh dear, I just went on the net and discovered Tony Curtis had died yesterday of a cardiac arrest at 85. Not very old these days. He was one of my favourites years ago, he seemed to appear in everything. Just looking for this picture, I saw some pictures of him as he was today and am quite surprised at the changes time had wrought in him.

Matt went out shopping early this morning and I asked him to add ground beef to his list. Maybe I knew I would come across this recipe.

Hamburger Potato Casserole



Hamburger Potato Casserole Recipe at

1 Lb hamburger

1/4 tsp. paprika

5 medium potatoes

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 medium onion

Salt and Pepper to taste


Marble Jack cheese - about !/2 to 3/4 cup


Lightly brown hamburger and onion, drain. Add salt, pepper to taste, add soup and paprika and mix.

Pare and slice potatoes in bottom of buttered casserole, can use cooking spray. Cover potatoes with meat mixture, another layer of potatoes. Poor enough milk until shows just barely around the edges of the casserole. Top with Marble Jack cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until potatoes are soft, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Have a great day


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Flu Shots, Dental Apron, Noni.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, flu shots. Everywhere we went in Carteret County, they were offering flu shots, not just in pharmacies. To me it seemed a tad early, but then on GMA Dr. Richard Besser suggested the sooner the better to get a good year’s protection. I don’t know what the shots cost elsewhere, but I saw a price of $21 in one place and thought that would mount up for a family. I am so glad I live in a land of social medicine. We bumped into a Canadian who lives in NC and his comment was “nothing in Canada is free, you pay high taxes”, maybe, but I would rather spend a few bucks each tax period than find thousands of dollars when I need a major operation. Needless to say, we get flu shots free.

dental_collar Continuing on the medical theme, we watched the Dr. Oz show last night, first time for a couple of weeks. I sometimes think his programme should be compulsory viewing. His medical help and advice, together with a ton of information, is a great boon. Last night he was particularly concerned about thyroid cancer which is very much on the rise among women and one possible reason is radiation. For instance, how many times has your dentist taken an X-ray of your teeth? He advises a lead apron which also covers your neck area which is where your thyroid is located. The picture just shows the neck protection and is labelled a dental collar, Dr. Oz demonstrated an apron which had the neck attachment as well. Not just for dentistry of course, but any time you have an X-ray for anything, your thyroid should be protected.

Much to my surprise he was also touting Noni Juice which has been sold all over the place for a long time. I tried a bottle once. On the show they said it was good for you and contained anti-oxidants and anti-inflamatories etc., the only trouble is, its damned expensive and you need to consume 2-4 oz. a day for it to be of benefit. One thing they did say was that Noni Juice is over hyped on the internet and other advertising, it is not the cure all which it is often purported to be.

This recipe from Eating Well reminds me of the dishes I used to savour in France or to occasionally make at home and were absolutely delicious, lots of long slow cooking and lots of flavours married and bound together with a rich, red wine. Just writing about it makes me drool.

Slow-Cooked Provençal Beef Stew

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

10 servings

The flavors in a slow-cooked beef stew improve as it sits for a day or two, so it is a perfect make-ahead for a dinner party. Buy nicely marbled meat, such as chuck, for this recipe.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 8, let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat at a gentle simmer on the stovetop for about 30 minutes or in a 350°F oven for 1 1/4 hours before serving


For Bouquet Garni:

2 large green leek leaves (about 6 inches long)

1 bay leaf

1 stalk celery

2 sprigs fresh parsley, with stems

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 2-inch-long strip tangerine or orange peel

For Stew:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 pounds beef stew meat, such as chuck, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

2 medium yellow or red onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1-inch rounds

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound button mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if large

1 bottle (750 ml) full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Freshly grated zest of 1 tangerine or orange


Preheat oven to 250°F.

To assemble bouquet garni: Place one leek leaf on the counter. Top with bay leaf, celery stalk, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and tangerine (or orange) peel. Place the second leek leaf on top and tie the bundle together in four spots with kitchen string. Set aside.

To prepare stew: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta (or bacon) and cook until barely brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving any drippings in the pot.

Add beef in batches (do not crowd the pot) and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the beef.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Pour wine into the pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return the browned beef, the carrot mixture and the reserved pancetta (or bacon) to the pot along with the bouquet garni. Press down on the beef and vegetables, making sure to submerge them completely in the wine; if necessary, add just enough hot water to make sure they are covered. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the pot and press it directly on top of the stew, covering it completely.

Transfer the stew to the oven and cook, with the lid off, until the beef is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 3 hours. Check every hour to be sure the ingredients stay submerged in liquid during the entire cooking time. If too much wine evaporates, add a little hot water to make up for the loss. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the reserved mushrooms.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Combine chopped parsley and tangerine (or orange) zest in a small bowl and scatter on top of the stew just before serving.

Have a great day


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rain, The Vine That Ate The South, Cell Phones, Shoes Which Lace Themselves, Hypnotic Gastric Bands

Yesterday, we awoke to rain, rain, and more rain. We left the hotel in Virginia around 9 – bit later than we attended thanks to a very slow waitress – and headed north and it rained and rained and rained. What a miserable day and miserable weather for driving. OK I do appreciate that some areas needed rain badly, I know Ontario does, but maybe the weather gods could have saved it for another day when we were not on the road. Particularly as so many drivers seem to assume that it is perfectly safe to drive as they always do in these dreadful conditions. We did see a couple of accidents, both times the vehicle had gone off the road and in one case was high up on a bank. Some people are such fools.

The Vine That Ate the South is oneKudzu name given to kudzu which does, literally, appear to be eating the south and covering everything in sight. There are acres of the stuff and it is also called foot-a-night vine or mile-a-minute vine. Some places are worse than others, but this is a pretty typical picture. I didn’t know until I was just researching it, that it actually has quite a pretty flower and must look most attractive in the spring or whenever it blossoms.

Cell phones – I am surprised that there doesn’t seem to be any ban on using cell phones whilst driving in the States. Either that or people are ignoring the ban. They are so ubiquitous all over, people don’t seem to be able to live without them. Is it that people feel more important being in touch all the time or that their lives will not continue to run if someone cannot get hold of them for an hour or two? We watched one woman at dinner on Saturday night, she had three or four kids (my  back was towards their table) and left them to get on with things at the dining table whilst she went into a closed section of the dining room to chat for ever. Nothing is that important. When she returned, she still was not “with” her kids because she took – or made – another couple of calls. In my view it is important to “be” with the people in the room with you.

Had a little panic sorting out my plethora of medications last night, thought I had left my Plavix behind (could only have been in the rental residence) and I had visions of a child walking into the place and thinking they were candies. Plavix being a blood thinning medication. Luckily we found them between us. Phew.

I haven’t yet had a chance to look at recipes, still sorting out from our trip (I’m at the stage of needing a vacation) will do so tomorrow. Hey, I can now scan recipe pictures again although have had to completely re-arrange my desk in order to accommodate the new machine.

Forgot, I heard a story on GMA today that there is a clinic in the US offering a European developed hypnosis therapy which in four sessions, convinces the patient that they have had lap band surgery and therefore they lose weight. Lead me there. Admittedly it costs $3,000 but oh the joy of believing you have had the surgery done and you cannot eat the vast quantities of whatever was causing your problems. They also hypnotise you about food choices too I gather. It is called The Gastric Mind Band. Read about it here

Another snippet I caught: self tightening shoes, for those who are arthritic and generally elderly or infirm. and idea developed from the Michael J. Fox movie Back to the Future apparently.

Hope you have a great day


Monday, September 27, 2010

Saturday and on the way home

What a day – it started out reasonably well, we exchanged anniversary cards and had breakfast. Then did a few packing type things and washed a few items. Finally our friends came to collect us at 11:30 and they gave us a card and a couple of nice bottles of wine – then we headed off to The Country Squire which is at least 1 1/2 hrs drive, didn’t actually time it. I was not too comfortable in the back of their SUV sitting with my legs tucked up for all that time. We finally arrived at the restaurant only to discover, first no cars in the parking lot and secondly the one day of the week they do not serve lunch is Saturday. We asked where else there was, I think our friends were thinking of staying for an early dinner at 4:30 but we had to get back and start packing plus, having diabetes, I cannot wait all that time to eat. As it was I had had a couple of cookies before we set off. The owner, a Scotswoman, who has been in North America 2 years more than we have, directed us to a couple of places including one she talked of as a fish restaurant. This is where we ended up – what a dump! They did have some fried fish and fried shrimp, not bad not good, fried chicken, pretty awful, vegetables which had been cooked for at least a week and a reasonable salad bar. It was all buffet style. However, by this time I was starving so I ate. Not exactly the food of which Anniversaries are made. We then drove 1 1/2 hrs back home, our friends dropped us off and for some reason I was so exhausted I dropped asleep. My feet felt as though I had walked there and back. The evening was basically leftovers and packing with a few games of cribbage thrown in. Happy Anniversary!!!

One thing which puzzled us, there were thousands of motorbikes on the road being led in style by escorts of cops – never did find out what that was about. We also saw lots of new roads and bypasses they have built since we left NC, most impressive.

Yesterday we ended up being a bit late leaving as I decided to do a bit more wash so we have very little to do when we get home. We then did the trip from NC to Winchester, VA, in pretty quick time and ended up at the hotel around 4:30. Not very prepossessing supper at Perkins and had a hand or two of cards then went to lie on our rock hard beds!!!

Today we head home to Canada and our own nice little bed. More tomorrow I hope. Nothing much more at this point to say.

Have a great day


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Olive Garden

As the French would say, chacun a son gout, or each to his own taste. Yesterday I read some very unenthusiastic reviews of the Olive Garden, last night we went there with some friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our food. All four of us had an excellent meal.

Olive Garden1

To start with, I had Mussels di Napoli: Mussels in the shell, simmered with wine, garlic-butter and onions. These were absolutely gorgeous and to my mind were like Moules Marinières that I used to get in Belgium many years ago. Not only are the mussels themselves delicious, but the soup is to die for as well.


I followed this with Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo: Grilled beef medallions drizzled with balsamic glaze, served over fettuccine tossed with spinach and gorgonzola-alfredo sauce. The beef was again delicious and very tender, cooked just as I like it, good and rare. The pasta was tasty, but way too much for me having also had a bowl of salad and one of the bread sticks. I liked the salad, it wasn’t over dressed which a lot places do and one could taste the ingredients. The bread sticks didn’t turn me on but our friends were woofing them down with gusto.steak_gorgonzola_alfredoMatt’s choice was Parmesan Crusted Bistecca: Grilled 8 oz center cut sirloin topped with parmesan-herb breading, baked golden brown. Served with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and asparagus drizzled with balsamic glaze. He assured me he thoroughly enjoyed this and it too was cooked just right. He said the asparagus was a bit of a waste of time, not surprising after all the gorgeous asparagus we get in Canada.

parm_bistecca We followed this with desserts, much to my surprise Matt had one too. Knowing I am a chocoholic, he chose his on purpose. A Triple Chocolate Strata. Which he wouldn’t share.


I stuck to a Dolcini which was a small chocolate moose which again was delicious Piccoli Dolci "little dessert treats", layered with cake, mousse, pastry creams and berries. The chocolate one in the front is the one I had.

dolcini With the meal Matt and I had a very nice Zinfandel, full bodied red, although Matt only got one glass as he was driving. Before we went into the restaurant I had a giant Margarita too.

Our friends had Seafood Pasta for one and Lasagne and Minestrone, which should been served first but was brought at the same time, pity, that was the only really bad note about the whole meal. I really don’t know why the reviewer I read yesterday had such a bad meal. The service was excellent, our waitress, Theresa, was very good and fun to be served by. She and Matt were flirting so maybe she wasn’t so nice LOL. I certainly would recommend a visit there to anyone.

Today of course we are going out to lunch and as its our 38th anniversary, we will no doubt be somewhat celebratory, or not!!!! Sadly when we get home we have to pack and tomorrow head back to Canada.

Have a great weekend,


Friday, September 24, 2010

Matthew, Restaurants and Wedding Anniversary

There is a new storm in the offing, down below Cancun, which is called Matthew, people are already telling my Matthew to stay away. There have been two storms named Josephine over the years, but I don’t recall a Matthew before.

Fox Sparrow I got up pretty early this morning in the hope of seeing all the birds again, but no luck, I am thinking I looked too intrusive so they stayed away. I think I caught a glimpse of a Fox Sparrow and I could certainly hear lots of birds  never of all kinds but didn’t see any closely enough to try and take a picture.

This afternoon we are going bowling again and I hope I do betterOlive Garden than last week. This evening we are going to The Olive Garden which is new in Morehead City. It is part of a big chain of Italian restaurants although we have never eaten in one before.  

We tend to chose more family style Italian restaurants when we are going out to eat.

Country Squire Tomorrow we are travelling for a while to go for lunch at The Country Squire to which we have also never been but a couple of friends are very enthusiastic and really want us to go there with them. It will be our Anniversary celebration. 38 years tomorrow.  You can see their page at and check out the menus.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gas. Dinner, Secret Garden

I finally got round to figuring it out – we are paying 67¢ a litre for gas at American prices. There isn’t a whole lot of disparity between the US and Canadian dollars at the moment. At home we have been paying something like 99¢ and even, in some cases, more than $1. A lot of this is due to the new Harmony Tax which has been levied in Ontario. But even so, gas has always been cheaper here in North Carolina.

Our dinner party went well although I think our female guest was in a lot more pain than she let on. The London Broil was a tad more done than we like it but was still enjoyable. We did barbecued onions too which we love.

This morning Secret Gardenwatching Good Morning America I noticed there was a lot of activity in the front yard, I eventually turned to look and discovered it was alive with squirrels, fox sparrows, cardinals, blue jays and blackbirds, not to mention butterflies. I haven’t seen fox sparrows for years, I had almost forgotten about them. We have seen and certainly heard, mocThe Secret Gardenking birds here, they are very active all day long but the other birds seem to hide during the extreme heat of the day. This morning, however, it made me think of the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I didn’t catch any of the activity this morning, but maybe early tomorrow I will sit out on the front deck quietly with my camera and see what I can see. Mat’s camera is probably better for that type of photo though.

Only thing I have for you this morning is my barbecued onions.

Barbecued Onions

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion per person

1 large knob of butter per onion

Salt (and if you want, pepper)

Clean the onions but do not completely cut the stem off. Cut each onion from the top into four quarters, but don’t cut right through. Insert knobs of butter into the cut and sprinkle with salt. Wrap in tin foil, double wrap if the foil is thin. Cook on the barbecue for up to one hour, half an hour on the high heat, then push to the sides to finish off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Of Birds and Fish,

My apologies, in my treatise about eastern North Carolina, I Ponymisnamed the bird which was in the picture of the wild pony. As our sinlaw Mike (bird expert that he is) told me, it is, in fact, a White Ibis. Thanks for pointing this out Mike. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can definitely see it is NOT an Egret.  Coincidentally, we went to Beaufort again on Monday and saw a pony grazing on the banks of Carrot Island right across the water from where we were sitting. He was wandering and grazing at the same time kicking up splashes of water as he walked. I love to see them. I say he, could have been a mare I suppose.

We actually didn’t do a lot of anything the last couple of days. We did go to Bogue Pier partly to see the waves rolling in from Igor but we were apparently too late to see the best of them. We were also too late to see a lot of fish being caught. The Mullet had been running and when they do the waves are absolutely black with fish. We saw them the first time we ever came to North Carolina in ‘78, thousands of fish. Sometimes there are more than others of course. I love to sit on the pier and gaze out to sea or look at the beach and occasionally catch sight of a pod of dolphins. We used to fish as well but don’t have rods any more. A friend told me that a lot of effort had been put into saving Bogue Pier by the locals. Developers had bought and pulled down several piers. What a pity, they are/were such a feature of the island. Emerald Isle that is.

Last night we had some Trigger Fish for supper. That is such a tastyTrigger Fish fish although it is an absolute swine to skin. I retold the story of when Matt and a friend went out on the Carolina Princess fishing and caught a lot of fish including Trigger Fish. Matt skinned the Triggers for our friend and found it so difficult to do he buried his own in the back yard. Later he cooked some of the friends Trigger Fish and we discovered what gorgeous fish it is. I could have murdered Matt who had buried 5 large fish. Subsequently he learned the proper way to skin them, but never had a catch to practice on. The skin is so tough you can barbecue the fish right on the coals. Some of them come quite a bit bigger than this picture. Las night Matt just dipped the fillets in egg and breadcrumbs and sautéed them in olive oil. Gooood.

Today, hopefully a couple of our friends will be over for supper. They missed the party last Tuesday because of illness, so I hope the woman of the pair will be well enough to cope with the visit today. Matt is doing a London Broil for supper, it is already in the marinade – we bought it during our first shop down here. I talked to the butcher and discovered that the butcher we get this cut of beef from in Canada is, in fact, using the same cut as is used down here. In case you have forgotten it, I give the recipe for London Broil below, it is Matt’s specialty. We got the recipe originally from some neighbours in NC. The picture shows it marinading in the fridge.

London Broil

5 Cloves garlic, crushedLondon Broil 001
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup veg oil
1/4 cup of oregano
6 slices ginger, slivered
2 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper
4 lb London broil 2" to 3" thick

1. Mix up marinade. Marinate meat for several hours, minimum 8 hours,  the longer the better, store in fridge and turn frequently.

2. Light barbecue and get it good and hot then reduce heat to medium to cook. Suggest you  remain with meat initially to reduce flare ups. Give it 10 mins on the first side, baste and then turn , then 5 a side until you have cooked for a total of 25 mins.


4. Let the meat stand 10 - 15 mins before carving. Carve at a bias across the grain, not straight up and down.

Have a great day.


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Crystal Coast,

We spend a lot of time here in North Carolina, but don’t say much about the place. Considering we lived here for 12 years I guess I don’t know as much as I should. This is a very historical area for the Americas and Beaufort (just up the road from us) is one of the oldest American towns. The third oldest in NC.

Crystal Coast The whole of the mainland is sheltered by barrier islands which are a great help when there is a hurricane assisting in preventing floods. We are, of course, on the east coast although the coast should run north and south, it actually runs east to west. A lot of the islands are really dunes which are sown with sea oats in order to protect the sand from erosion. In fact the barrier islands stretch from New York State to around Jacksonville, Florida.

The Beach in NC

It is illegal to pick the sea oats but strangely it is not illegal to build on the dunes. There are several monstrosities built high up on the dunes here which I keep hoping a hurricane will knock down. In my opinion they should never have been allowed in the first place.

Pony There are several islands which have wild ponies on them. The rumour says they were left by the pirates, of which there used to be many, including the famous Blackbeard. Unfortunately they are very prone to equine diseases and have to be culled every so often to keep them healthy. The ponies can only drink seawater, so when they occasionally round them up and sell them, I am not sure what the new owners give them. In the picture you will notice an egret, these birds are numerous here, fortunately no longer hunted for their plumage to adorn women’s hats. Other birds which proliferate here are brown pelicans which you can see all along the coast. Occasionally one gets a glimpse of hunting Ospreys but they are not as numerous.

Because the islands are low and difficult to see, they are also home to a number of lighthouses, such as the one in the picture which is Cape Lookout.LighthouseMost of them seem to be painted black and white but each with different patterns. There are, or were, seven active lighthouses on the North Carolina Coast. One of them at Cape Hatteras had to be moved a few years ago because of the erosion of the land and the danger of it falling into the sea.

Cape HatterasThat was quite an undertaking as you can imagine and took months to move the structure a relatively short distance on a kind of dolley which was specially constructed and which ran on tracks like a train. We visited this particular lighthouse before they moved it. I couldn’t manage the climb beyond the first floor but Matt and the other friends (dad and kids) got to the top although their mother didn’t even try.

One thing about the Outer Banks, which is a specific area of the barrier islands, there are still descendents living there from the original settlers with names like Smith, Jones and Guthrie all of which came from the UK. I believe a lot of the Outer Bankers have now been moved because of the storms, and in some cases their homes were floated across the waters to a safer location.

My Birthday Cake I had another birthday party yesterday. Went to some friends for the afternoon ending with supper. She has unfortunately been unwell and still is not better so I think it is courageous of her to have people in to dinner. Mind you, hubby did prepare most of it which helped. I think we ate and drank from 2:00 to 7:00 am without stop. We had shrimp, stuffed clams, cheese and crackers and then later salmon with rice and salad and finally a dessert turned up with a bunch of candles on it which I had to blow out of course. Luckily they didn’t have enough candles!!! It was chocolate, caramel and pecans, all good for diabetics, but delicious. I had trouble not having seconds. Just to add to the damage we had some Lindt chocolates, the round balls in different flavours, to finish off.

After all this, my sugars were very much up. I really must stop eating so much sweet stuff. Following that theme, here is a salad I picked up from a friend. I didn’t take a picture, but it was a very good salad.

Mona's Salad

1/2 cup hot water
3 Tbs sugar (or Splenda)
1/4 cup cider or wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper
Italian Seasoning to taste
Squirt of Lemon Juice
Crushed Garlic clove
Sliced cucumber, chopped onion, tomatoes, kidney beans, chopped peppers

1. Rinse and drain beans. Mix first 9 ingredients, put all vegetables in a dish and pour mixture over top. Let stand for a while to absorb flavours.

Have a great day.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Smuggling Tigers, How We Spent Our Day

Tiger Cub As most of you know, the smuggling of wildlife, any kind of wildlife, really upsets me, and this latest is even more upsetting – a poor little 2 month old tiger stuffed into a suitcase. Authorities at Bangkok  Airport made the discovery – go to to read the rest of the story and see some more pictures.

Yesterday was a bitty one for us. We had lunch at the Dock House inGazingouttoSea Beaufort which is one of our favourite places around here. You sit almost right on the boardwalk and can enjoy the sea breezes whilst lunching. We had the specials which was a soft shell crab sandwich for me and a Mahi Mahi po’ boy sandwich for Matt. A side for Matt was fried beans. That’s a new one on us. They were a bit like fried onion rings. We then headed out to Marshallberg which is a delightful spot and one can sit and gaze out to sea (well the sound really) and watch the pelicans either just sitting around on posts or diving for fish. Last year there were Ospreys as well but not yesterday. We did see a Cormorant and lots of gulls. I have never figured out the different type of gulls and for some reason I am not interested. No pix as I didn’t take any and Matt’s camera isn’t digital. This is one from last year.

After Marshallberg we headed home stopping at various stores. I got us a mattress cover from K-Mart and then a cable for the printer from Wal-Mart – I was so pleased with the price of the printer, this pushed it up another $15. So much for saving money. Also got myself some more pills which were definitely cheaper than at home.

Hope you have a great day


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Presents and Bowling

Here’s a picture of my new earrings, as I promised yesterday.Earrings 001

The ones on the left are sapphires and opals, the ones on the right are freshwater pearls and aquamarines. None are the colours one normally associates with these stones, but of course all stones come in many colours, something that a lot of people don’t realise.

10 pin ball Yesterday we went 10 pin bowling as we did last year. We went to MacDaddy’s and met a friend for lunch, then we bowled. As it turned out Mac, who is the owner, was there and we chatted to him too. Matt won one game, our friend won the other two, and poor little me didn’t even make a 100. I did exactly the same as last year and ripped my thumbnail off, this time it didn’t bleed but was damned painful. Maybe next year I will remember to cut the nail right back 5 pin ball beforehand. It really is incredible the difference between 5 pin and 10 pin. Not just the size of the ball – like 3 lbs to 9 lbs for me – heavier for the guys – but also the method of throwing which I do find Pretty difficult as the ball is so heavy and we only play once a year LOL. If you compare the two pictures you can see the difference in the sizes of the balls in the first place. Plus the delivery method is quite different and not easy to adjust from one game to another.

No recipe today, I wasn’t sure I would be blogging at all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birthday Party, Beaching It.

Had a fun evening with some of our friends, unfortunately one couple unable to make it. The food was relatively simple as I mentioned yesterday, although we did have a couple of additions, one being a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, the other being a pineapple dessert, both delicious. I forgot that we also had a recipe which we have been enjoying around here for years, an hors d’oeuvres which is basically a spread on tiny slices of bread topped with a piece of cucumber and sprinkled with dill. Ate too much, drank too much, had fun. I nearly forgot to mention the two pairs of earrings I was given. They are delightful and made by the son of one of our friends – in fact he joined us last night, we had none of us seen him in years as he has not been living locally. I will take pix of the earrings later.

We hadn’t thought of it before, but I do enjoy a glass or two of bubbly on my birthday (other times too of course) but we didn’t want a whole bottle. In Canada we can buy small bottles which are about a glass size each. Having phoned a few stores they all assured me they didn’t have any, so I settled for a beer. In the afternoon we decided to go out to a few places including our garage as we had a rattle. We ended up at Lowes Foods which was one of the stores I had phoned, guess what, I found packs of 4 bottles of Korbel. Not a bad bubbly. Needless to say, I bought them. The rattle in the car, by the way, was a muffler clip which has broken, nothing major.

We also checked out the private access to the beach. We didn’t actually go down on to the beach, lot of steps but sat on the bench and looked around.Bogue Pier 

The pier is Bogue Pier which has weathered quite a few storms over the years although it has occasionally had to be repaired.Our Beach

This is looking the other way. Seems like a nice spot to go.

Having mentioned the starter we had last night, I thought I would share the recipe.

Dilled Cucumber Bread
8 oz cream cheeseDilled Cucumber Bread
1 pkg dry Italian salad dressing seasoning
mayonnaise added until spreadable
dill weed
small rye or pumpernickel  loaf

Instructions:  Mix first three ingredients. Spread on slices of bread. Top with a slice of cucumber. Sprinkle with dill weed.

Have a great day.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


 Burke Cottage

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me. Well no-one else is around to say it, Matt is sound asleep!!!

Yesterday we had something of a shopping day, stocking up with groceries, etc. I think we bought the store. We came back and sat on the deck in the sun and had a couple of beers. Very pleasant. After lunch we decided to go look for a scanner and a face cloth,  mine turned out to be grungy. I thought I could buy a new one in a pharmacy, silly me. Finally found one in the linen dept. at Wal-Mart. I also found that some of the supplements I take – such as Co enzyme Q10 – are way cheaper in Wal-Mart here than at home. Wish I could really stock up. I also bought two very large turkey breasts on the bone for a little over $10. Thinking of getting another couple. Can’t get those at home at that price.

We then went to several stores to check on scanners. All I wanted was a plain old flatbed scanner, only found one at almost $100 although several people had scanner/printer/copiers – this included Wal-Mart, Staples and Best Buy. Ended up going back to Wal-mart and buying a Hewlett Packard Deskjet 2050 for $49 which is an incredible price. When I got it home, I discovered it needs a USB cable (to attach it to the computer), er, this is like selling a car without the keys. Guess I have to go back and buy a cable. I might also get some paper and then I can use it here if I want. There is actually a computer desk in the bedroom.

Tonight we are having a few people over for a barbecue. Unfortunately one couple who were going to stay here for a bit, are unable to come as she has major back problems at the moment. Not doing anything fancy, just pork chops, baked tatie and Caesar salad. At least two people have said they are making a cake so I might be somewhat overloaded with cake. Already had my birthday present from Matt, my computer. I had the laptop last year which was supposed to last me 10 years LOL.

artichoke1 I forgot to mention that our first night, we went to a local fish restaurant and both had flounder pan fried in butter. It was pretty good. All good for anti-angiogenesis. I bought a couple of artichokes too. Matt can’t be bothered with them, picking off each leaf individually, but I love them. There was, however, a time when I didn’t like them, when in France, I have regretted that occasion ever since and its ages ago, like 50 odd years *g*.

Talking of artichokes, I mostly like to eat them with a good vinaigrette as taught to me by a French woman around about the same time. All measurements are approximate.


2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp sugar (or a little more to taste)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or red but I prefer white)

about 3/4 cup good olive oil EVOO!

Whisk it all up and enjoy on a salad or dipping your artichoke leaves.

Have a great day.


Monday, September 13, 2010


9 am to 6:30 pm. Kitchener to Winchester VA, not bad travelling. We stopped for lunch in New York state. As we joined Hiway 190 leaving the customs at Buffalo I saw a whole bunch of buffalo at the sides of the road, not real ones, but they look pretty impressive. I have seen them before but had forgotten them. I would love to take a pic but they are only in one place so I won’t see them again this year.

Something I forgot to mention before, the other day we saw a  truck line called Fluke. different name we thought. Then on the back of the truck we saw “If it arrives on time, its a FLUKE” – good one.

We were batting along quite merrily and suddenly a heron took off from the side of the road, he only just missed us. Scary for us I don’t know about the heron. I also saw a tiny Bambi at the side of the road, no sign of its mother. Hope it didn’t get run over.

Well now its Monday, we got here last night. Quite a big place but I couldn’t find the barbecue. Phoned the realtor who were all at home so left a message. Later spoke to the owner who said he had hidden it under the deck and it was only a small one. Considering we need to feed around 8 tomorrow that might be a problem.

Not only that, Igor is following us – Hurricane Igor that is!!!

One thing I have been thinking about in the last two days. North Americans need to learn how to cook baked potatoes properly. They always wrap them in foil so the skins come out all soggy. The proper way, in my opinion of course, is to prick a  wet (washed) potato with a fork, salt the skin well and then cook it in the oven as is. Everything will come out perfectly and the skin will be nice and crispy and edible – after all the best nutrients are in the skin.

Anyway, I am on vacation so talk to you all later.

Have a great day,


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vacation, Reading, Starving Cancer Cells.

By the time you read this, we should be well on our way. I am hoping the pastor kept his word and isn’t burning the Qur’an today otherwise I shall feel almost nervous about being in the States.

I have booked our hotel stop in Winchester, VA for tomorrow night and also for the Sunday night we come home. I thought I had better phone and make sure, they had us down for two rooms!!! I assured them we only needed one LOL.

I finished all my reading – I never read on vacation, even in the days when I was working and didn’t have so much time to read at home. I didn’t want any library books as I might not have had time to read them so I have been re-reading some of my Dick Francis books, think I have every one he ever wrote. In fact in some cases it was so long since I had read them, it was like having a new book. I have always enjoyed his stories and am sorry he is no longer with us to write any more. The one I just finished was Hot Money. A good story.

Once again we watched Dr. Oz last night. A fascinating programme. It has now been verfied that we all have cancer cells growing in us all the time, but they do not all develop into a problem. The researchers headed by Dr. Li have discovered these cancer cells can be starved by eating certain foods, the five best foods being: Bok choy, Tomatoes (cooked are better than raw), strawberries, Flounder and artichokes. for the article about the show segment. Guess who will be eating lots of flounder on vacation? Strawberries aren't much good at this time of the year, but the other items are certainly readily available and it appears something like 3 servings a week is the recommended anti-angiogenic (killer of cancer cells). The article gives the recommended sizes and amounts. I don't know if I mentioned, artichokes are one of my favourite foods, they are expensive, but now I am able to justify their consumption LOL.

Here’s another pork chop dish. In many ways I think I prefer pork to beef although roast beef takes a lot of beating. Brining is a wonderful way of treating meat of any kind before cooking it. I frequently brine turkey before roasting.

Cider-Brined Berkshire Pork Loin Chop

Recipe from Boulevard:The Cookbook

Ten Speed Press

Yield: Serves 4

Texture plays a really important role in any dish. In the relish, the jewel-like seeds of the pomegranate are visually appealing, but they’re really there to provide a crunchy sweetness that complements the pork. To get the amount of pomegranate seeds required for this recipe: Cut the pomegranate crosswise in half. Hold one of the halves over a bowl with the cut side facing the bowl. Bang the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon, which should release most of the seeds almost entirely intact.


For the Brined Pork Chops:

3 cups hot (150° F) water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup apple cider

2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1 bunch thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

4 double-cut center loin Berkshire pork chops (10 to 12 ounces each)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

For the Braised Bacon:

1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cider Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup sliced shallots

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup apple cider

5 thyme sprigs

6 black peppercorns

Reserved liquid from braising bacon

1/2 cup dark chicken stock

For the Pomegranate Relish:

2 tablespoons pistachio oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup finely diced (1/4-inch) celery

Reserved braised bacon

1/4 cup pistachios, toasted

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Brussel Sprouts:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 pound brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed, and very thinly sliced on a mandoline

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


TO BRINE THE PORK CHOPS: Combine the water, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl or glass measuring cup, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the cider, peppercorns, mustard, thyme sprigs, and rosemary. Refrigerate the brine until cold, then put the chops in a large zippered bag and pour the brine over. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Place the bag in a bowl (just in case it leaks), or just place the brine in a bowl and add the pork chops. Let the chops brine in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

FOR THE BACON: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the bacon out in a small rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. Add the water and butter to the pan, place in the oven, and braise, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the bacon is slightly rendered and soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and strain any liquid in the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Reserve the braising liquid for the sauce and the bacon for the relish. The bacon and the braising liquid can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

FOR THE CIDER SAUCE: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Add the cider and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the thyme sprigs, peppercorns, reserved bacon liquid, and chicken stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, skimming several times to remove impurities and ensure a clear sauce. When the liquid has reduced and thickened, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan or container. Refrigerate for up to 2 days and rewarm before serving.

FOR THE POMEGRANATE RELISH: Whisk the pistachio oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pomegranate molasses together in a small bowl until blended. Stir in the pomegranate seeds and celery. The relish can be made up to 1 hour ahead to this point, but the reserved bacon and pistachios should be added right before serving.

TO COOK THE PORK CHOPS: Preheat the oven to 375° F. Remove the pork chops from the brine, wipe off the herbs, and pat the chops dry with paper towels. Season the chops lightly with salt and pepper (they will pick up salt from the brine). Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the pork chops and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Turn the chops over and cook for another minute or so. (Don’t be too aggressive with the heat because brining quickens the browning process and the chops will burn if the heat is too high.) Put the pan into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the temperature on an instant-read thermometer reads 140°F to 150°F. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, during which time the internal temperature of the pork will rise 5°F. You want the final temperature to be no more than 155°F; there will be just a hint of pink in the pork.

FOR THE BRUSSEL SPROUTS: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the shallots and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the water and the butter and cook for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the Brussels sprouts are tender but haven’t lost their bright color, adding another 1/4 cup water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE: Meanwhile, to finish the relish, warm the bacon in a small skillet and stir into the pomegranate relish along with the pistachios. Place equal portions of the Brussels sprouts on each of 4 warm dinner plates and top with a pork chop. Spoon the sauce over the chops and around the plates. Finish with a generous plop of relish on top of the pork.

Have a great weekend, see you soon.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Qur’an, Vitamin C, Big Fires, Vacation.

Phew, the pastor has finally agreed not to burn the Qur’an on Saturday after all. Thank goodness, I personally was pretty worried about that. Maybe it was the death threats, or maybe it was the fuss which had been stirred up worldwide. I have now heard another report that he is rethinking!!! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed otherwise 9/11 will spark a conflagration around the Muslim world. This morning he appeared on Good Morning America and stated he would definitely not burn the Qur’an and was therefore heard by thousands.

Big gas explosion near San Francisco has caused a huge fire. At least one person already killed and destroyed more than 50 homes. In Colorado they have a huge forest fire which has destroyed lots of homes too and is approaching the city.

Yesterday morning we went to the bank and got some US cash. The rate of exchange wasn’t bad, better than when we lived there when we were paying a small fortune for our Canadian dollars.

On the late news last night I caught a report about mega doses of Vitamin C being good for halting the progress of brain degeneration and Alzheimer’s. Because relatives in my family tree had senile dementia at least, this is always something I have been worried about, but apparently the dosage is so high they are worried about possible side effects.

One Day More, that was the title of a song in Les Misérables, one day more and we are off on vacation, whooppee. I will certainly be glad to get out of this joint, haven’t been anywhere at all lately. I will try and write a blog before I go, if not, I am not sure when I will blog in the next two weeks. Matt doesn’t really like me to spend lots of time on the computer when we go away, so we shall see, if not, see ya when I return.

We eat quite a few pork chops and I received an email with a whole bunch of recipes for them, this is one I liked the sound of.

Ginger Pork Chops

Source: Healthy Cooking Magazine


2 bone-in pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick)

Ginger Pork Chops Recipe at

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

1 garlic clove, minced

Dash ground ginger or 3/4 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot

1 tablespoon sliced green onion


Broil pork chops 3-4 in. from the heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and soy sauce until smooth. Stir in the honey, garlic and ginger. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Drizzle over the pork chops. Sprinkle with green onion.

Have a great day