Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscars, Snow, Books.

Speech OscarWoohoo, The King’s Speech was chosen as Best Picture and Colin Firth was chosen as Best Actor in a Leading Role. I was so pleased as I was beginning to worry when so many other awards were being given to other movies. Tom Hooper who directed the movie got Best Director as well although I was sorry Geoffrey Rush didn’t manage to get the Best Supporting Actor and Helena Bonham Carter missed out on Best Supporting Actress. My favourite animated movie, How To Train Your Dragon did not get chosen, Toy Story 3 got that nomination. The actress in Black Swan, Natalie Portman, got the Best Actress award. I have to say we were very disappointed in Colin Firth’s acceptance speech, it was full of ums. He was not alone mind you. I cannot understand why these actors can’t learn a speech in readiness and spare us all the hesitations. The Oscar show ended with a choir of children from a Staten Island school in New York. The name of the choir is PS2 and they were apparently flown to Hollywood by Good Morning America once they had been invited to perform. They san a version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and were excellent, harmonizing beautifully. Very impressive. There are YouTube puck_sushi_platter_videos of them and I understand they have sung in the whitehouse. The one place I would like to have ended up visiting was the Governor’s Ball which is catered by Wolfgang Puck and his minions. One of the star attractions was his sushi platter of which I have included a picture. I could make a mess of that. If you want to see the rest of the pix and article go to Check out those desserts on page 2.

February has certainly made up for the lack of snow in January. We got another good dollop on Saturday night and as it was wet snow, it clung to the trees making everywhere look very pretty. Of course enough wet snow can break branches too. Then yesterday we got some drizzle so the snow started to disappear.

Eye of the WorldI began reading Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Having recently read the couple of books written by Brandon Sanderson, I found after so many books, I couldn’t really recall everything that had happened so I decided to go back to the beginning. I think this is going to take me a fairly long time.

Now here’s something a bit different. This is from a newsletter I get full of diabetic hints and recipes. I think I would use fresh garlic rather than powdered.

African Fried Spinach

Source: dLife

Makes 4 servingsAfrican Fried Spinach

A fresh tasting dish with meaty mushrooms, onion, and garlic.


10 oz fresh baby spinach 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms 1 yellow onion 1 tbsp olive oil 0.25 tsp garlic powder 1 pinch salt 1 pinch black pepper


1 Pull stems from shitakes and discard. Stack shitake caps and cut into quarters. 2 Peel and coarsely chip onion. 3 Rinse spinach and shake to remove water. 4 In large skillet or wok over medium high, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil. 5 When oil is hot add mushrooms and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and liquid from mushrooms has evaporated, about 7-8 minutes. 6 Add spinach to pan and cover. After 1 minute, remove lid and turn spinach. Add garlic powder. 7 Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until spinach has wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Have a great day


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diane, Cancer, Libya, Oscars.

OprahLast night I discovered that Oprah Winfrey is starting a new network which will be launched on March 1. It will be called the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN. We were given a sneak preview, an hour long documentary about Diane Sawyer. I have always liked Diane, she hosted Good Morning America for years and is now the anchor woman for World News, one of the top jobs in television in the Diane SawyerUS. Unfortunately we don’t see that programme as we are usually preparing and eating supper around the time it airs. The documentary made us both realise what an incredible woman she is and gave us a sense of appreciation and admiration of all she does because of her programmes and her life’s philosophy.

This morning, sadly, we heard of the death of yet another friend from cancer. She was only 59. What a pernicious disease that is. Its amazing that after all the money which is poured into cancer research, nothing has yet been found to eradicate this disease. Yes, I know a lot has been done and more people survive than once did, but……

gaddafiLibya is still very much in the news of course, what is taking place there is horrifying, but I cannot see that sanctions will achieve anything. The people who are rebelling against the government of Muammar al-Gaddafi (according to Wikipedia that is the correct way to spell it) will suffer from sanctions whilst Gaddafi himself probably won’t notice them. There have been murmurs of military action, I don’t really see how the US can afford to send in their military – everyone is already so committed to wars in the Middle East anyway. Our gas prices came down 1 penny a litre yesterday, whoopee!!! Considering we have our own gas, I am not sure why we are being penalised at the pumps.

In common with millions, I will be watching the Oscars tomorrow night. Unusually I have actually seen two of the nominations, The King’s Speech, which I thought was a brilliant film and really well done. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it again. The other is How to Train Your Dragon which I bought from Amazon a while back, I love it, Viking type characters with Scottish accents!!! I am not sure which category it is nominated for, but it has my vote.This is the trailer.

For Oscar night itself, Jamie Oliver is recommending a Nini Belline. I actually think I might prefer this with champagne. I am not too sure what “flat” peaches are, I have certainly never seen them round here, but as Jamie points out, canned peaches can be substituted. It would be wonderful to be able to obtain the canned whole peaches one could buy in Spain. Marvellous things.

Nini Bellini

I've named this beautiful cocktail after Leo Caplan’s wife, Janine (or 'Nini' as she’s known by her nearest and dearest). Leo made a really generous donation to a charity called Help a London Child, and in return I said I’d name a recipe in this book after his lovely wife!

Serves 6Nini Bellini

• 2 ripe peaches, flat ones if you can get them • 1 x 750ml bottle of chilled prosecco

A peach Bellini is the classic Venetian cocktail, and my mate Arrigo serves loads of them in his world-famous establishment, Harry’s Bar. Arrigo’s grandad, Giuseppe Cipriani, opened Harry’s in 1931, and because he was a bit of a genius he ended up inventing not only this beautiful cocktail but also another thing I absolutely love — carpaccio. The story goes that when Giuseppe first made this cocktail the sun was setting and the colors in the drink were the same as the colors in his favorite Bellini painting…you can work out the rest! You can also get nice results using tinned peaches if you can't find beautifully ripe flat peaches. I think this is best made just before serving, in front of your friends. Halve your peaches, remove their stones, then pop them into a liquidizer and blitz until smooth. Add a splash of water if needed and put the purée into a jug. If you don't have a liquidizer just use your hands to squeeze, mash and really push the peaches through a sieve so you get as much as possible of their wonderful flavor and the color from their skins into the purée. You can get the purée as fine as you like, but I don't mind the thickness…it's quite rustic. discard (or eat!) whatever is left behind in the sieve, then pour your prosecco into the jug and gently mix together. Divide between six glasses right away, and top up with a little more prosecco if need be, and enjoy! P.S. The spirit of the Bellini isn't exclusive to peaches — nectarines or berries are also lovely used in the same way. There could easily be a Bellini for every month of the year.

Have a great weekend


Friday, February 25, 2011

Funny Plane, Travel League

Kulula Airlines, South Africa’s favourite low cost airline, have just announced their new plane. I hope you can enlarge these pictures, the comments written on the plane are very funny. This is the same airline whic is sending a herd of cows to Catherine Middleton as lobola (SA bride gift).kulula_flying_101_01_thumb


As I told you the other day, we went to the Crock and Block for lunch, I had Curried Chicken Soup which was very good and a turkey sandwich (specials) however, the bread for the sandwich was unpalatable. I couldn’t make up my mind if it was stale or just something I didn’t enjoy. Matt had the same sandwich and he agreed later it wasn’t very fresh. Several people had fish and chips which they said was very good, I tried a few chips which were certainly excellent. We then went to the bowling alley where I proceeded to demonstrate that I didn’t know how to play. Doesn’t bode well for my tournament on Saturday.

Sorry no recipe, bit of an emergency this morning. All over. However, I will not be going to my tournament tomorrow.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gasoline, Knees Up.

I couldn’t believe it, when we went out yesterday morning, we discovered gas had gone up 9¢ a litre. Apparently oil is now $100 US a barrel. Thank you Moammar Gadhafi et al. Apparently electricity (hydro) prices have also risen sharply too. I am not quite sure why electricity is always referred to as hydro around here, I don’t know if all our power is generated by water, but I don’t think so. The first time anyone asked me if our hydro was off, I went and turned on the taps and came back to report that it was OK. I learned. I guess Europeans would laugh at me complaining about another 9¢ a litre when they have been paying much more for gasoline for years. Air flights have been increased already, I begin to think we will never travel by air again. Apart from all the hassle which I can’t be bothered with, it is getting too damned expensive for anything.

Another thing I couldn’t believe, we got down to the clinic where I have my blood test at 6:40 and there were already 11 people in front of me. Incredible, what time do these people get up I wonder. However, I was out by 7:30 so not too bad.

This morning on GMA they were talking about the Knees Uppub owner who has been invited to the wedding of William and Catherine. His pub, The Old Boot, has been visited by her family for years and is their local. William has also been there on several occasions. John Haley, the pub owner, was interviewed and he talked about attending the wedding and getting back to his pub for the “knees up” he would be holding that evening. The GMA team immediately asked for a translation of “knees up” which  has actually come to mean a party although the original phrase came from a Cockney song “Knees up Mother Brown” in which Mother is normally pronounced Muvver. In this case, knees up refers to lively dancing.

  Looking for a picture I came across explanations which referred to sexual activities, I assure you, it has nothing to do with that, not originally anyway, and not in the UK vernacular. Oh, and in case you don’t know what a Cockney is, officially they had to be born within the sound of Bow Bells (a church) in London, England.

Now I am off to lunch as I told you the other day and then bowling.

The following recipe was in my Kraft newsletter this morning.

Low-Fat Chocolate-Banana Parfaits

Low-Fat Chocolate-Banana Parfaits recipe 

4 servings, 3/4 cup each

What You Need

1 pkg. (1.4 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding

2 cups  cold fat-free milk

2 bananas, sliced

3/4 cup  thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping or COOL WHIP Sugar Free Whipped Topping, divided

Make It

BEAT pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min.

SPOON half the pudding evenly into 4 dessert glasses. Cover with layers of banana slices and half the COOL WHIP; top with remaining pudding and remaining COOL WHIP.

REFRIGERATE at least 1 hour before serving.

Kraft Kitchens Tips


Looking to make just one? Try using a JELL-O Sugar Free Pudding Snack layered with 1/2 a banana, sliced and 2 Tbsp. COOL WHIP Sugar Free Whipped Topping.

Have a great day


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Morning, Useless Weight Tips, Ice Bergs

Ugh, its nearly 6:30 a.m. and I am ready to go out and get my blood work done which I do every three months or so to check on my diabetes A1C. I now have to go and stand outside the clinic in the cold, it is -15°C, to  be one of the first in line to go into the place when it opens. I am not good at standing at the best of times, and having to stand outside in the cold is NOT my idea of fun.

Something I get really teed off about is all the tips one gets on weight loss. One that springs to mind is cut out sugar and use a substitute and you will lose 10 lbs a year, I don’t take sugar. There are dozens of tips like this on TV and the internet every one of which I already do or don’t do and yet I don’t lose weight. It is really annoying.

Did you hear about the 30 million tons of ice which broke off the Tasman glacier as a result of the earthquake in New Zealand, can you imagine that, 30 million tons. It fell into a lake causing 3.5 meter waves to spread back and forth for a while, glad I wasn’t on the lake.

The Oscars are on Sunday so now I am getting recipes which are designed to be served on that festive occasion. This one appealed although of course I personally would prefer fresh shrimp which I cooked myself and then chilled.

Habit Forming Shrimp Dip

By TeresaS on January 17, 2006

Shrimp Dip

Photo by Andi of Longmeadow Farm

 Servings: 12

About This Recipe

"This is always a request during the hoilday season. Those who are allergic to shirmp need to stay away!!! There was a girl at the office who ate lots of this and blew up like a balloon. She thought she had a small allergy to shrimp. Spent the next day in the hospital. But!! still it is always in high demand."


1 (10 ounce) cans cream of shrimp soup

16 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces cream cheese ( lowfat works too)

1 (20 ounce) packages frozen baby shrimp

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt


  1. Mix softened cream cheese with soup.
  2. Pat excess water from thawed shrimp.
  3. Chop into small pieces.
  4. Add to cheese mixture, blend in garlic salt.
  5. Serve with veggies or crackers.

Have a great day


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Travel League, Restaurants, Earthquake.

Yesterday, I mentioned that our Travel League was taking place on Thursday, we will be bowling “just along the road” from us at Towne Bowl and we are meeting at The Crock and Block on King Street. We have never been there although the restaurant has been in existence forever. I decided to look them up and found their lunch menu here which doesn’t look too bad. I also found some criticisms and some Boa Novapraises on line, so I am not sure what we will end up with. We were talking restaurants with our team captain on Monday and I was telling her about Boa Nova where I took Matt for his birthday last year (the Portuguese/Brazilian restaurant). She had never heard of it, I recommended it. Wouldn’t mind going back there again.

I am a little bit concerned about the earthquake in New Zealand as I know my cousin was intending to be in NZ at some point in time, but whether she was Going to be in the Christchurch area or not, I don’t know. It was quite a bad one with 65 people dead, and at least 100 people thought to be trapped. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake. It occurs to me, we have enough trouble with nature without us humans causing all the trouble such as is happening in the middle east at the moment. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was condemning the Libyan government yesterday and calling for them to cease firing on their nationals.

Now here’s something really different for breakfast.

Ham, Gruyere and Spinach Bread Pudding

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

Active Time:  30 Minutes

Total Time:  1 Hour 45 Minutes
6 servings

High-quality smoked ham is worth the cost. It Ham, Gruyere and Spinach Bread Puddinginfuses the pudding with a smoky flavor that complements the spinach, peppers, rosemary and Gruyere.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the pudding through Step 3; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed in Step 4.

For Custard:

4 large egg whites

4 large eggs

1 cup skim milk

For Seasonings:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

For Bread & filling:

4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)

5 cups chopped spinach, wilted (see Tip)

1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers

1 cup diced ham steak (5 ounces)

For Topping:

3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Tip: To wilt greens, rinse greens thoroughly in cool water. Transfer them to a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in the wrap. Microwave on high until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the greens before adding them to the recipe.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish or a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

To prepare custard: Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Add mustard, pepper and rosemary: whisk to combine.

Toss bread, spinach, roasted red peppers and ham in a large bowl. Add the custard and toss well to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.

Bake until the custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until the pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Have a great day


Monday, February 21, 2011

Shootings, Medical, Bed Bugs and Bowling.

I am somewhat puzzled and very horrified about these government troops firing on people; Libyan troops have fired on mourners, killing some, and Bahraini forces have fired on wounded people. I guess the idea is to terrify the revolutionaries into submission. I hope it doesn’t work, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be out there risking death myself.

Sorry about no blog on Saturday. Had a lovely day!! Matt was picked up by the ambulance at about 7:30 a.m., I followed along later after having my breakfast (diabetics have to eat regularly). Much to my surprise he was already in Emergency, previously we have had to wait in Reception for hours (maximum 8 so far). Otherwise situation normal, they took blood, gave him a CT scan and later an ultra sound on the Carotid arteries but kept him in overnight so the stroke specialist could read the results. We thought he would be there til Tuesday (Monday being a atrial-fibrillation-lg-enlgholiday) but in fact she (the specialist) came in on Sunday morning and they phoned (whilst I was showering of course) to say I could collect him. He has apparently to go for more tests in the future, but he has had every test they can do, so unless they can give him something new, not much point in my opinion. We know what is causing the problem, atrial fibrillation, and as far as I know nothing can be done. I decided to look up the spelling for atrial fibrillation, just as well, I was way out, I now read that the Mayo Clinic in the States has all kinds of cutting edge treatments available. I wonder if these treatments are available in Canada? Guess we will find out.

I was just reading another bed bug story, it appears since pesticides such as DDT were banned, bed bugs have become a major problem in North America. A Manitoba landlord has found the answer for his apartment block, he bakes them to death. Seems quite a long process, but if it works, way to go. I am not surprised to hear bedbugs infest furniture as well as bedding, but electronics such as TVs, that does surprise me.

Got a busy week coming up. We have our travel league on Thursday and then on Friday head to Hamilton for my bowling tournament on Saturday. Staying the night there and bowling at 9:30 a.m. This year we decided not to bother with the banquet as that would mean hanging around Hamilton all day. Last year we booked two nights in the hotel, but we decided not to waste the money this time. One night is refunded, not two. Anyway, keep everything crossed for me on Saturday.

I joined the South Beach Diet briefly recently and then decided I would be spending most of my time in the kitchen to follow their regimen. They said there were lots more options and I didn’t have to do so, but I didn’t pursue it anyway. Ever since I get a regular email from them and this morning I got this recipe which I like the look of, I love Cannellini or white beans, also called Navy beans, in fact when I was on my own Saturday night, I made myself a bean soup for supper, delicious. I found a picture which looks similar to the ingredients.

Cannellini Bean Salad 

Source: South Beach Diet 

This quick, easy bean salad is great cold or at room temperature, making it a good take-along dish for work or a potluck. Serve it as a side with grilled chicken or fish. You can substitute 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs for dried and try dried basil in place of oregano, if you wish.

Cannellini Bean SaladMakes 4 (1-cup) servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced red onion
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together oil, vinegar, onion, and oregano in a large mixing bowl. Add cucumbers, beans, and bell pepper; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Nutritional information
Per (1-cup) serving:
180 calories
8 g fat (1 g sat)
22 g carbohydrate
7 g protein
5 g dietary fiber
80 mg sodium

Have a great day


Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Blog

Sorry, no blog today, Matt has been taken to Emergency as he is having a TIA and I have to follow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Watson, Bahrain, Military Medical.

Yesterday I forgot to mention that the supercomputer Watson beat out its two human competitors, then I got a link on Facebook from a friend,63023649 to an article written by Ken Jennings who was one of the two humans. Good article and worth reading I thought. He implies (tongue in cheek) that Jeopardy contestants may be the first ‘jobs’ to disappear due to Watson, but I think it will always be more fun to watch humans pit their wits against one another although I was absolutely fascinated to watch Watson’s performance. Having been a reader of sci fi for many years, I can’t help wishing that one of my favourite authors, Isaac Asimov, was alive to see Watson. So many of the things he wrote about long ago are beginning to come true and I think Watson is the forerunner of a lot more of his ideas. Of course many other sci fi authors have written about artificial intelligence systems since, one of my favourites being Anne McCaffery’s AIVAS in her Dragonriders of Pern books. With Watson, I was impressed by some of the ‘humanness’ added to its programme. It didn’t just give an answer, it said things like “lets try….” and “same category” or “lets finish the category” same as a human competitor would. I have just had to go back and change what I wrote, I was referring to Watson as he, *g*. Last night Alex Trebek commented that it was nice to be able to talk to all three contestants instead of only two the previous nights.

It sounds like the middle east unrest begun in Egypt is spreading, much as was feared by the governments in this part of the world. Yesterday people were killed in an attack by the Bahraini military – the Bahrainis are calling for their king to step down – I guess they want to be a republic. I am not a ‘political animal’ so I don’t pretend to understand a lot of this unrest, but I know I was impressed the Egyptian military would not fire on its people although the Bahraini military did so. Political unrest is always a scary matter though, it spreads like wildfire.

I just read a report stating the military are going to get extra medical attention from Canada’s government. Millions of dollars are being set aside to treat current and former Canadian Forces personnel. In this country with our medical system I wonder if that is really necessary. In the States they have veterans hospitals but in the US they don’t have a state funded medical system.

I always enjoy Coconut Shrimp when I get the chance in a restaurant, The Outback are one of the places which serve them. This is Kraft’s version of the popular dish.

SHAKE 'N BAKE Coconut Shrimp

Kraft Kitchens

Make 8 servings.

What You Need

2/3 cup BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut, toastedShake-n-Bake-Coconut-Shrimp

1 pkt. SHAKE 'N BAKE Chicken Coating Mix

1 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 egg

2 Tbsp. water

1 lb. uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined

Make It

HEAT oven to 400°F.

COMBINE first 4 ingredients in pie plate; set aside. Beat egg and water in separate pie plate with whisk until well blended.

DIP shrimp, 1 at a time, in egg, then in coconut mixture, turning to completely coat both sides of each shrimp with egg before coating with coconut mixture; place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press coating mixture firmly onto shrimp to secure.

BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until shrimp are done.

Kraft Kitchens Tips


For best results, make sure each shrimp is well coated with the egg mixture before dipping in coating mixture.

Serving Suggestion

Try serving coconut shrimp with Orange-Curry Dip or Mango-Ginger Dip.

How to Toast Coconut

Heat oven to 350°F. Spread coconut in shallow pan. Bake 7 to 10 min. or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Have a great day


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hackers, Circus Lions,

A report this morning says the Canadian government has been hacked and some highly sensitive information accessed forcing some government departments off the internet. One report says the hackers are from China, another says they are not!!!  It appears that it is possible the hackers are part of the Chinese government who are hacking into the Canadian government – i.e. cyberspying. If you would like to read more about it here

Rescued LionessAnother report on TV was about a number of lions which have been rescued from Bolivia. It appears the Bolivian government were persuaded to ban animal acts in circuses because the animals were so badly treated. This left 24 lions needing new homes. They have been airlifted to Colorado where they are being placed in a large biosphere to enable them to acclimatise to the Colorado winter. Bob Barker from The Price is Right has helped with the funding for the airlift.

Here’s another from the Grab and Go Breakfast series by Eating Well. In this case, I don’t think you can actually “go” with this recipe, but it is a healthy and simple way to start your day. I am always looking for new things to have for breakfast, I shall certainly try this.

Breakfast Parfait

From EatingWell:  The EatingWell Diet (2007)

A little low fat dairy and some vitamin-rich fruit and you've just started your day right, nutritionally speaking.

1 serving 

Breakfast ParfaitIngredients

3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese, or low-fat plain yogurt

1 cup pineapple chunks, papaya chunks or cling peaches

2 teaspoons toasted wheat germ

  1. Place cottage cheese (or yogurt) in a small bowl. Top with fruit and sprinkle with wheat germ.

Per serving (with cottage cheese, pineapple) : 248 Calories; 2 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 7 mg Cholesterol; 35 g Carbohydrates; 23 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 24 mg Sodium; 414 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 fruit, 3 very lean meat

Nutrition Note: Per serving (with yogurt, papaya): 185 calories; 3 g fat (2 g sat, 0 g mono); 15 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 3 g fiber; 132 mg sodium; 404 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (150% daily value), Vitamin A (40% dv), Calcium (35%

Have a great day.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blogging, Royal Visit, Jigsaw Puzzle

I caught a segment on Good Morning America today, a teacher has been suspended for what she has been writing about her students. The basic premise is the right of free speech and there is nothing to prevent her saying, or writing, what she thinks and the school is, maybe, wrong to suspend her. However, on TV this morning she said that she didn’t think anyone but her friends would read her blog and that it was difficult to find. Sorry, you must be pretty dumb. If you want to blog, it is open for perusal from anyone who wants to find it. Ain’t nothing private about blogs. I don’t know if she mentioned to her students that she was writing, but searches frequently bring up blogs.

Canada is delighted because it has now been officially announced that the first official visit by Royal Couplethe newlywed Royals, William and Katherine (not Kate please) will be to our country. They are scheduled for a June/July visit so you know the flags will be out. They will be spending Canada Day (July 1) in Ottawa as the Queen did last year and their itinerary covers a cross country tour.

One of the things I do most days is a jigsaw puzzle on line. So much easier as you don’t have to sort out all the pieces and turn them right side up etc. etc. One puzzle I do enables me to put it in my blog. Not tried it out, so I am about to do so. Hope it works. Click to Mix and Solve

These muffins are recommended for a Grab and Go healthy breakfast, I don’t approve of grabbing and going, you should sit down and eat properly, not eat on the run, however, I still think these muffins sound pretty good.

Honey and Goat Cheese-Filled Fig Muffins

From EatingWell: January/February 2010

Sweet figs and a filling of tangy goat cheese give a surprising twist to these hearty breakfast muffins. Make a batch of these on the weekend and enjoy them for breakfast all week long. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try them with cream cheese instead.

1 dozen muffins Honey & Goat Cheese Fig Muffins

  • 3/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 cups white whole-wheat flour (see Note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat or nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped dried figs
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado (see Note) or granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
  2. Thoroughly combine goat cheese (or cream cheese), honey, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk flour (see Measuring Tip), baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Lightly beat eggs and egg white in a medium bowl; add brown sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in buttermilk and oil until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in figs.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Add 1 generous teaspoon of the reserved cheese filling to the center of each muffin, and cover with the remaining batter. (The filling should not be visible.) Sprinkle the muffins with sugar.
  5. Bake the muffins until the edges start to brown and the tops spring back when gently pressed, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Per muffin : 272 Calories; 9 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 39 mg Cholesterol; 44 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 239 mg Sodium; 184 mg Potassium

3 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1 1/2 other carbohydrates, 1 1/2 fat

Tips & Notes
  • Make Ahead Tip: Individually wrap the muffins and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, remove plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on High for 30-45 seconds.
  • Ingredient notes: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available in large supermarkets and at natural-foods stores. (Or find it online from or Store it in the freezer.
  • Turbinado sugar is steam-cleaned raw cane sugar. It’s coarse-grained and light brown in color, with a slight molasses flavor. Find it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or at natural-foods stores.
  • Measuring tip: We use the “spoon and level” method to measure flours. Here’s how it is done: Use a spoon to lightly scoop flour from its container into a measuring cup. Use a knife or other straight edge to level the flour with the top of the measuring cup.

Have a great day


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lobola, Books, Watson.

A South African airline, Kulula, are going to give Katherine Middleton a herd of cows because of an African tradition of giving Lobola which is explained in the article This is a very innovative airline, they apparently have all kinds of marketing ideas, not least of which is a sign underneath the cockpit window which says “pilot sits here”. The picture of a herd of cows being driven up Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace is absolutely delightful, I will be interested to see what happens.

I have Stormlord UKjust re-read Glenda Larke’s book The Last Stormlord as a prelude to getting the third book in the trilogy some time in August – we are promised. I had forgotten what a powerful book it is and how very enjoyable. It is the story of a country which is water deprived and where they rely on stormlords who can take water from the sea and turn it into rain falling over the hills, filling the waiting cisterns. I have just started the second book,stormlord rising Oz cover-1 Stormlord Rising which should then enable me to remember everything by the time I get the last of the series. The second cover picture is the Australian version, which I have, but the cover was changed for the UK and US markets. Dunno why, this cover depicts something which happens in the story and is much more pertinent than so many covers designed for stories. I get the feeling that this designer actually read the book which I don’t think is true of many cover designers. One of my pet peeves.

Something discussed on Good Morning America today, the fact that Facebook sparked off the revolution in Egypt. I hadn’t registered that before although I do remember that their government tried to ban Facebook. Really, the power of the internet, in one way or another is absolutely incredible. The power of computers too, last night we watched Jeopardy, as we always do, however, for the first three days this week, two of Jeopardy’s top players are cwatsonompeting against Watson, a super computer, an incredible piece of machinery which is represented by an avatar. After last night, when they played the first round, Watson was tied with Brad Rutter at $5,000 while Ken Jennings who has beaten Watson before, was lying third with $2,000. Even Matt, who thinks nothing of computers, watched the programme. Read more at As I said to Matt, I would love to get hold of that computer, what one couldn’t do! They were careful to point out that, for the game, Watson has no connection to the internet.

Lasagna is a staple dish in North America, everybody, but everybody makes it over here, this is a slightly different way of preparing and presenting such a favourite dish.

Lasagna Spirals

Source: Food.comLasagna Spirals

Serves 12.

12 lasagna noodles, slightly undercooked

2 large eggs

2 1/4 cups chopped fresh spinach, stems removed

2 cups ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

4 cups pasta sauce

1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese


Beat eggs with fork in large bowl.

Add next 5 ingredients. Stir well.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) filling.

Spread 1/3 cup (75 mL) filling on 1 lasagna noodle and roll up, jelly roll-style, from short end.

Repeat with remaining filling and noodles.

Spread 1 cup pasta sauce evenly in greased 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) pan.

Arrange spirals, seam-side down, in single layer on top of sauce.

Spoon remaining pasta sauce onto spirals.

Cover with foil and bake in 350ºF (175ºC) oven for about 40 minutes until heated through.

Discard foil.

Sprinkle second amount of mozzarella cheese over top.

Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Have a great day


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine’s Day, Saturday, Egypt, Oil,

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

Pooh Vakentine

I had a lovely card from Matt today with the message he keeps falling in love with me all over again. Aaaaah. My card to him wasn’t nearly as nice.

On Saturday I made my “chuck everything in and call it a Bolognese sauce” for spaghetti and invited a friend for supper. Of course a genuine Italian Bolognese sauce isn’t like anything most of us make in North America, it doesn’t contain garlic or herbs of any kind. I really got lazy and bought a loaf of garlic bread (not bad but a bit short on the garlic) DulceCheesecakeand a frozen dessert (Cheesecake with dolce du leche) which wasn’t bad but I found the topping a tad too sweet which is surprising since I have such a sweet tooth. Both Matt and our friend enjoyed it and considering Matt doesn’t like his cheesecake with anything on it, that too was a surprise.

So Egypt finally got rid of Mubarek – let us hope they will form a new government soon and everything can settle down again. I must say, it was a pretty non-violent revolution, more power to both the people and the army. I hope the operators of the Suez Canal will resume work so that tankers can pass through although the super tankers have to go round the bottom of Africa anyway. It seems the revolution hasn’t spread to the other Arab countries in the area which was a big fear here, we envisioned it causing the price of gasoline to go sky high if that happened. Its high enough as it is, thank you very much. This morning I hear the army is well in control and have told foreign reporters they are no longer welcome. That scares me a bit. What is the army planning that they don’t want to world to know about?

We were talking about the oil sands in Alberta which are causing a big furore at the moment. Our friend told us that one of the Avon big wigs in the States criticised the oil sands and so now the people in Alberta are boycotting Avon. I understand their point, but for the ‘little’ people who are selling the product it is very hurtful for them as they are depending on the sales for their livelihood. I believe Avon Canada is very much a separate entity anyway. As for the oil sands, there has been a lot of publicity on TV about how they are handling the whole thing a lot better and more favourably from an ecological point of view. Hopefully this will improve things.

I can’t pass up one last chocolate recipe for this romantic day. Which reminds me, both of Matt’s daughters now have chocolate fountains. I think his oldest daughter is as big a chocoholic as I am as she was using the fountain all on her own when Matt spoke to her recently. Yummm!!!

Godiva Chocolate Fondue


Serves: 4, Godiva Chocolate Fondue

4 godiva solid dark chocolate bars (3.5 oz each)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Fruit for dipping


  1. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over low-medium heat until hot but not simmering.
  2. Add chocolate and stir until melted.
  3. Add vanilla and stir.
  4. Transfer to fondue pot and serve with fresh fruit and pound cake.
  5. Substitute vanilla with orange liqueur, kirsch or framboise for extra flare.

Happy Valentine’s Day


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine’s and Snow

On Friday Matt had to go out for a couple of things and when he came home guess what he got me?

Valentine Roses

What a gorgeous colour, I know, not the traditional red, but I don’t particularly like the traditional colour anyway, these are lavender roses. Apparently when Matt was in the store the other day they had some gorgeous carnations but they had sold out when he went back. These are lovely though and I was delighted to receive them. Funnily enough they had a segment on Good Morning America about saving money by buying flowers in a supermarket and then arranging them, etc. The presenter then listed a whole bunch of gadgets you would need, shears, strippers, etc. etc. all of which would have cost another $30 or so then there were ways of presenting them, some in various containers which would have cost, or in bottles and cans which had to be spray painted, so you had to buy the paint, right?

I’ll tell you one thing, Mother Nature has definitely decided she was too kind to us in January and has been making up for it since. We had lots of snow last night and it is stillX Country snowing on and off this morning. The snow banks are beginning to look like normal winter conditions round here, I just wish we were fit enough to go cross country skiing like we used to, its so much fun and also a very healthy pursuit. Matt used to come home from a night shift, years ago, and then go out skiing once I had gone to work. He spent hours one morning chasing fox tracks but never did find it. I really miss being able to ski. I think all our pix are on slides, I really must get them put onto a CD. I have discovered our local store will do them for a few cents per slide, i.e. a whole CD with 200 slides would cost around $24. Not a bad deal. I tried scanning a slide myself, but the picture came out way too dark, insufficient light in my scanner I suppose.

Here’s a nice, simple recipe for a Valentine drink.

Champagne Love Shots

Champagne Love Shots

Servings: 1



2 tablespoons fruit purée (raspberry, passion fruit, blood orange, peach, pomegranate)


Spoon the puree into a champagne flute and pour champagne on top. How easy is that!

Have a great weekend