Saturday, June 30, 2012

Canada Day, Doctor, Power, Changes on Canada Day,

To all Canadians, Happy Canada Day on Sunday. The flags are already flying everywhere.

Canadian Flag2Matt got the all clear to bowl when he saw the doctor at the fracture clinic yesterday which will make him happy.

The night before that, we had electrical troubles in our main bedroom again. I alarm clockhadn’t been in bed very long when I heard a popping noise. It turned out to be the answering machine being turned on and off by the electricity, weird. It also turned out that the alarm clock was playing up as well which concerned me as we had to get up early to be at the fracture clinic. Eventually I rousted out an old hand cranked travel alarm and set that, but then I lay awake for a long time worrying about whether it would wake us. It also occurred to me that there could be an electrical fire. I had unplugged everything of course. Electricity is known as hydro here by the way. With the result by the time 6 a.m. turned up I had had very little sleep and am now dying on my feet. It turns out that because it’s a holiday weekend the electrician had already gone away for a long weekend so no clock until next week. I wondered what would happen if the power in the whole building went out? At least this time the lights are still working, no idea why. The whole thing is very odd.

There is no way I can plug in the answering machine anywhere else, no room, so I have ended up getting one set up through the phone company. I’ll see how that works. Maybe when they fix the power in the bedroom I’ll go back to the machine, I’ll see. Its those vicissitudes again!!!

Ooh, whoopee I have just discovered we pensioners get an increase of $4.86 a Canadian Flagmonth on Canada Day, in fact there is a scale of fees listed as happening that day. I wonder if the retired ministers who get very large pensions, get these increases as well? Oh yes, the MP’s pension fund is going to increase considerably by $23M. There are some new rules on refugees and immigration which will be coming into effect that day too. There have been lots of protests about benefits paid to immigrants compared with pensions from people who have worked for them.

Here’s something a bit different. Might try this, I tend to enjoy things which are pickled.

Pickled Salmon and ShrimpPickled Salmon
Recipe du Jour

Serves 8

3 teaspoons pickling spice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large lemon, sliced
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet
36 small shrimp (about 1/2 pound), peeled
1 small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon capers
25 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Pour water into a large saucepan to a depth of 2-inches. Add 1 1/2
teaspoons pickling spice, salt, and lemon; bring to a boil. Cover,
reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add salmon and shrimp; simmer 7
minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and the
shrimp are done. Drain fish mixture, discarding cooking liquid and lemon
slices. Let cool.
Remove skin and bones from fish; break fish into bite-size pieces. Layer
fish, shrimp, and onion rings in a 1-quart jar.
Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice, vinegar, vermouth, sugar,
capers, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce
heat; simmer 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Pour over fish mixture
in jar. Cover and chill several hours or up to 5 days. Serve with salad
greens, crackers, or other vegetables on an antipasto platter. Makes 8
Serve with marinated vegetables, cheeses, olives, breads, and/or

Have a great holiday weekend.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Doctor, Scam, Here Lizard, Snake, Bomber Drops Poppies.

Having seen the neurologist yesterday, Matt has now to go for an MRI on his brain – I forebore to make the crack that he didn’t have one. They really don’t seem to know what is wrong with him and there is doubt being cast on whether his TIAs were actually TIAs.

In common with most people, I get emails telling me I have a lot of money coming my way in scamone form or another. However, yesterday I got a bit of a laugh from the one telling me the courier carrying $2.5 million US dollars was stuck at an airport with the box of money because he had lost my address and his ticket was about to expire. Poor fella.  Do they think people are that gullible? In fact are there people out there who are that gullible? I hope not. This picture reminds me of the Taco Bell Chihuahua who was trying to catch Godzilla. Did you see that ad? Used to crack me up.

snake on the arm
Weird, driving home from the doctors’ yesterday I saw a man on a bicycle holding one arm in front of him, he had something wrapped around his wrist, I figured he had hurt it until I got closer. He had a snake curled round his wrist, I couldn’t believe it. Obviously I have no idea what kind of snake, but how very odd to go cycling down the road with a snake. Not as big as this one mind you.

Yesterday in London, there was a Lancaster bomber flying over and droppingLancaster and poppies thousands of poppies in Green Park, escorted by Spitfires. It was the a way of memorialising the 55,573 members of Bomber Command who died in the Second World War. Oddly enough there was a programme about Lancasters on TV last night as well. Matt obviously was keen to watch it. I have mentioned before, they have a working Lancaster in Hamilton at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum – it costs a small fortune to ride in it though.

I thought this picture looked yummy and will certainly be trying it fairly soon.. I am not sure the combination of chicken and shrimp will appeal to Matt, but it sure does to me.

Chicken XimXim With Ground Peanuts

WebMD Recipe from
In African dialect, ximxim means "stew." Using ground peanuts, shrimp andchicken_ximxim_with_ground_peanuts coconut in stews is distinctly African. Enjoy spooned over brown rice.

Servings: 8
Recipe Ingredients:
  1. 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  2. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  5. 1 large onion, chopped
  6. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  7. 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
  8. 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  9. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  10. 1/4 cup dried shrimp, or 3 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
  11. 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  12. 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  13. 3/4 cup “lite” coconut milk
Recipe Steps:
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring often, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley and garlic, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place dried shrimp (if using) in a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl. Add peanuts to the processor and process until finely ground. Combine the ground shrimp (or fish sauce), if using, with the ground peanuts.
  4. Add broth, coconut milk and the peanut mixture to the pot. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Have a great day

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google, Portugal, Doctors, Belviq, Licenses.

Google announced its tablet Nexus 7 yesterday in San Francisco, there is an 8 GB version and a 16 GB version and will sell in the low $200s. There are so many new things out there that unless you are very flush Nexus 7in the pocket it seems its impossible to keep up. My Kindle is very outdated these days as are most forms of computers almost as soon as you buy them. It is a fact, within a couple of months of getting my Kindle, Kindle Fire was announced, I wasn’t a happy camper. In fact I am very happy with my Kindle and have no actual need for anything better. However, need and want are two different kettles of fish. I guess if I had the wherewithal I would be a technology junkie. I feel a tad envious of a friend who works in a technological environment and is able to purchase all the new toys as they come along.

I am also envious of some of my English friends, two have spent a few days in Douro Valley2Lisbon, a city we never really got to see, and another has been doing a charity bike race in Burgundy. Not that I would, or could, do the bike race, but I would love to spend time in Burgundy and we both loved Portugal. It is a beautiful country and well worth spending time in. Of course we enjoyed the Douro valley where both port and many fine wines are produced. It is a very lovely area of Portugal.

Today Matt has to see a neurologist at the Secondary Stroke Clinic. We are not perfectlBowling Pinsy sure why, but obviously it is as a consequence of his many TIAs. Friday, hopefully, he will finally see the surgeon who did his kyphoplasty – his follow up has been put off twice so far. He is hoping to be allowed to bowl. He has only two more opportunities this season. I thought we bowled into August, I was wrong, we finish on July 10 with our banquet on the 17th. Between the pair of us, we spend a hell of a lot of time at doctors’ offices these days.

The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is all set to approve a drug obese-mancalled Belviq for overweight and obese adults with health problems such as diabetes. In trials it was shown that Belviq helps fool the patient that they are full and don’t want to eat any more. However, the figures are not that convincing and the weight loss results are not stupendous. When I heard about this on World News last night I got excited, reading about it, not so much. Any weight loss is good of course, but anyone who is overweight is hoping for a magic pill and as I have always said, the only way to lose weight is to take your own eating habits under your own control and knuckle down to it. I was just offered a weight loss plan with counselling for $100 a week. For that much money, I have a lot better things I want to do than lose weight.

Oops, just got renewals in the mail for my drivers’ license and for the vehicle license both due in September. That’s $75 for the drivers’ and either $74 (1 year) or $148 (two years) gonna be an expensive month.

As I promised:

Asparagus Pesto Toasts

1 lb. trimmed green asparagusAsparagus Pesto

1 cup toasted walnut halves (I used pecans)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup olive oil

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1. Cook asparagus until just tender. Refresh in cold water, then drain and dry well. Place asparagus, walnuts, garlic and salt in food processor. Process until blended.

2. With motor running, gradually add olive oil, then add cheese and pepper. Blend together and check seasoning. Place in covered bowl.

3. It shows the recipe served on crunchy toasted French or Italian bread with a curl or two of parmesan on top and some asparagus at the side.

4. We freeze this in ice cube trays, then wrap the cubes in pairs (separated by Saran, and put in a bag in the freezer until we need them.

Source: Food & Drink

Have a great day


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Soups, Ontario Amethyst, End of Asparagus.

I have been making lots of soups over the last few days, so many in fact that I had to get Matt to pick me up some more freezer containers. One of my original ones actually split. Tomato SoupGuess it must have been getting old and when the soup froze it didn’t resist enough, luckily it was good and solid so I just wrapped it in foil and plastic. Usually the soup expands upwards. Asparagus season is running down so I want to make another batch of asparagus soup – I make it for the freezer and then we keep eating it LOL. I also want to make some Asparagus Pesto which we both enjoy as a snack now and again. Just in case you don’t remember the recipe I will post it again tomorrow. It really is a great recipe and can be frozen very successfully.

Sia having talked about amethysts yesterday I decided I had better wear one of Amethyst 001mine so I fished it out. Then I tried to take a photo of it, almost impossible to get a clear, unblurred photo. Matt says its out of focus. Anyway, maybe you can get an idea of my ring from this picture. It is quite a large stone set in silver. I bought it from a work colleague, many years ago, he was into making jewellery and I couldn’t resist this ring I liked it so much. He had another set in gold but that was a but much for my pocket at that time. I also  have a smaller ring Amethyst pendantand some earrings which Matt bought me in Northern Ontario at the Amethyst Mine in Thunder Bay, which we visited many years ago. I loved that place. The mine itself goes underneath the lake and you used to be able to do a bit of mining yourself – for a fee of course. We had a largish lump which we kept in one of our aquariums for years. I have no idea what happened to it. I have just discovered that the Amethyst is Ontario’s official stone, I didn’t know that. The pendant is much more like the colour of my stone, you can see what a lousy picture it is. Not sure why I can’t take pictures of that colour, it was the same when I was trying to photograph my bowling bag and balls, they came out blue.

After bowling (mediocre) we went over to Barrie’s Asparagus farm and I bought a raspberriesdouble whack of asparagus as this is the last I will be able to get this year. Picture me weeping. In fact, I bought about 7 lbs. but as I need at least 2 and for soup, plus another pound or so to make Pesto, it won’t leave me a lot for stuffing down my gullet LOL. They were selling raspberries yesterday, so I bought a punnet and we had them for supper, they were delicious. I want to check on a more local farm which sells strawberries. Barrie’s is a long way to go when there are places closer.

As you know, I am always on the lookout for different ways to serve vegetables. I get tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol.  I came across this one from Web MD so had to share it with you. I love satay sauces but had never thought of using them for veg.

Vegetable Satay

WebMD Recipe from

Although usually made with strips of chicken or beef, this Indonesian-style satay vegetable_sataycan be made with fresh broccoli and cauliflower florets. Hot Madras curry has a bit of a kick; use regular curry powder if you just want the flavor of curry but not the heat. To save time, look for broccoli and cauliflower already cut into florets in the produce section or at the salad bar of your supermarket.

Servings: 12

Yield: 1 dozen skewers

Recipe Ingredients:

  1. 24 broccoli florets, (about 10 ounces)
  2. 24 cauliflower florets (about 10 ounces)
  3. 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  4. 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  6. 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or ginger juice
  7. 1 tablespoon smooth natural peanut butter
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. 1 teaspoon hot Madras curry powder
  10. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Recipe Steps:
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add broccoli and cauliflower; cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain; rinse under cool water.
  2. Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, oil, ginger (or ginger juice), peanut butter, garlic, curry and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add the florets; gently toss to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  3. To serve, thread 2 broccoli and 2 cauliflower florets onto each skewer. (Reserve marinade.) Arrange the skewers on a platter in a single layer and drizzle with the marinade.

Have a great day


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Power Cut, Bacon, Proms in UK, T’ai Chi.

Sunday morning when I got up, I realised we had had a power cut. Power CutOnly problem was, nothing in the main bedroom was now working. For some reason all the power to everything was now out. Alarm clock, answering machine, lights, etc. etc. We tried changing fuses but that didn’t alter anything. Called the super – assistant was on this weekend, he came up and looked at it and couldn’t figure anything out so he will have to report it and eventually they will have to call in an electrician. Meanwhile, we have to go to bed in the dark. Bloody nuisance. I guess we could use candles. Monday morning the super came up to check things out. he unplugged a few things and put in a tester, he changed fuses, every one was changed round, nothing except for resetting clocks etc. etc. He went away to call the landlords and half an hour later Matt went into the bedroom and everything was working again. We have NO idea why nor does the super.

Planning to make some more quiche and also talking to a CanadianBacon friend who now lives in England, Canada wouldn’t let her husband move here!!! Anyway, we were talking food I miss even after 27 years. One which occurred to me was bacon. Here the regular bacon is what we call streaky bacon in the UK. That would be OK, but when you fry it, it produces a load of water, not fat, so you kind of end up boiling the rashers. Weird. It is very difficult to get crispy.

BethThis weekend our UK family posted pix of granddaughter Bethany in a prom dress. Prom dress??? We don’t have Proms in England – wrong, apparently we now do. Been going on for about 3 years I am informed. Sarcastic comment from sinlaw that England was, after all, the 51st State. It is a fact that an incredible amount of US customs are eventually adopted by the UK. I had to phone and talk to her dad to find out all the details, especially, of course, who is the young man? Turns out he is an acting friend amongst other things, in fact he is playing Jesus Christ to Beth’s Mary Magdalen in Jesus Christ Superstar this week.

It was interesting yesterday to see the response to Sia’s guest post on my blog. She certainly sparked up some conversation with her discussion on gems for healing. Made me think I had better get all my stones out and carry them around T'ai Chiwith me. I certainly have some amethysts and some jade which are recommended as healing gems, then crystals, I have those. Of course, practicing T’ai Chi also helps – I have proof of its healing powers, for instance one instructor – before he learned T’ai chi - was told  he had only a short time to live. He took up T’ai Chi and became a devotee as well as one of the top instructors in the States, he lived to a healthy 80 years old (40 years after being told he was dying) and might still be with us if he hadn’t been killed in a car accident. There are many tales like this which have been verified. I have let my practice drop somewhat and have been trying to get back into it lately.

When I was looking for a suitable recipe to go with Sia’s post yesterday, I came across a new blog, to me that is, where I found a Jade Chicken recipe. I asked if I could borrow the recipe and was told that I could. The blog is called Island Vittles  and is written by Theresa. I love the blog name and it looks as though there are some interesting recipes. Theresa also goes into detail about preparation of a recipe and includes pictures. Theresa queries if one has ever had fried spinach, for me the answer is yes, some of you may remember I discovered it at Chinese New Year in our local Mandarin restaurant and loved it.

Jade Chicken

Yield: 2 servingsJade Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts, boneless & skinless, in small cubes
3 Tbs Soya Sauce
1 Tbs. Chinese Cooking Wine or Sherry
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 bunch Spinach, washed, dried, stems trimmed
4-6 Cups Vegetable or Peanut Oil for deep frying
1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Sesame Seeds for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Marinate the chicken in the soya sauce and cooking wine. Season lightly with pepper and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, mix the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a deep amber caramel. Remove from the heat. Slowly and carefully stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

In a wok or saucepan, heat the oil for deep frying to 350°F. Fry the spinach leaves in small batches that don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook until crisp and translucent, and still green. Do not allow to brown.

Remove the spinach with tongs and drain well on paper towels. When all batches are done, season lightly with s+p.

As the last batch of spinach cooks, heat 1 tablespoon veg oil in a frying pan or wok over med high heat until smoking. Add the chicken to the pan – do not overcrowd. Immediately pour the caramel over the chicken, and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, until the chicken is browned. Turn chicken and cook another 2 minutes, or until cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Arrange spinach on top of rice, and pile chicken in the centre. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Have a great day


Monday, June 25, 2012

Sia McKye–Gemstones for Healing

SiaToday I am hosting one of my favourite bloggers, Sia McKye from SIA MCKYE OVER COFFEE. Sia hosts lots of authors on her blog and I thought it would be fun to host Sia on mine. I particularly asked her to write about gems as she seems to know a lot about them. Having read the article, I am fascinated by what she has written. It is something I am familiar with, in particular having learned T’ai Chi which is basically an exercise in directing and controlling the Chi in your body. The meridian chart is the same as one I was given by my T'ai Chi Sifu (teacher) many years ago.

On her own blog Sia describes herself thus:

I'm married and we have a ranch out beyond the back 40 where I raise kids, Great Danes, horses, cats, and have been known to raise a bit of hell, now and then. I have a good sense of humor and am an observer of life and a bit of a philosopher. I see the nuances--they intrigue me.
She writes contemporary and para romance and loves taking her readers on an adventure. She has also written articles about marketing/promotion, writing and publishing. Sia, I welcome you to my blog today. Thank you for your guest post.


Jo has enjoyed my articles on gemstones and asked me to do a guest article for her on the subject. I’ve written quite a bit on gemstones and their power in April of this year for A-Z blogfest. I decided to do one on the perception of gemstones ability to heal—is there any validity to it?

Since ancient times there has been a fascination for gemstones. The beautiful stones have adorned many military armaments, religious places of worship, clothing, tableware and utensils, clothing and hair ornaments, and jewelry of all sorts. Some stones, like lapis lazuli were ground and used as eye make up. Gemstones have also been used for protection against evil, or to give added power to the body to ward off illnesses.

amethyst_gem(1)In today’s world of modern medicine, the idea of gemstones having healing properties stretches the imagination. Or the idea is laughed at outright. Is there some validity to it?

I’m not an expert and this is a rather simplistic explanation of how gemstones work medicinally.

We live in a universe made up of energy. The earth and even our bodies have an energy signature. Since gemstones are taken from the earth (which, if you want to get technical is one big magnet) their magnetic fields come into play. Even when we don’t see those fields with our naked eye they can be monitored with devices that do see them. All matter resonates on an electromagnetic field and that includes us. That basically means our bodies react to the magnetic fields found in gemstones.

For example, holding a chunk of amethyst quartz (or even standing near it)Quartz(1) is ( capable (theoretically) of increasing the size of your biomagnetic field by 100% within seconds. In theory, at least, it is capable of replenishing lost energy of depressive episodes or even physical harm, or increases your energy levels beyond what they are currently.

Magnetic fields are circular. So if you put a certain gem in someone’s hand (which has a small magnetic field of its own), the body reacts to the electromagnetic field of the gem and it changes the field a bit there in the hand and passes it through the body. The current flows from the hand through the body and back. Changes and reactions are made along the way through the ground structure of our body and in the nervous system. You could say the gem communicates with our body. How, you might ask?

There is ground system of liquid crystal structures in the connective tissue between the cells throughout our body—it determines what enters and exits the cells. There is a communication system in place via chemicals and electrical signatures as a result and those signatures, or currents, react almost immediately to anything that happens to the body. Then there is the independent nervous system, which also uses electronic energy and chemicals to communicate. Our bodies are really like an electrical circuit board.

meridians2The ancient Chinese, for example, believe the body communication is based on physical (yang) and subtle energy (yin). Physical energy is slower to move through the body but subtle energy can move through the body at the speed of light and can both can have an effect on what happens on a cellular level. The Chinese identified twelve meridians within the body. Meridians are merely pathways of negative and positive energy flow (just as magnets have negative and positive, but these are a bit more subtle). These meridians have been measured and mapped by modern technological methods—electronically, thematically, and radioactively. Acupressure and acupuncture are recognized forms of healing, even here in the west. There are certain pressure or puncture points (like over 500 of them) along the meridians that can be used to adjust the body. Each point has its own electrical characteristics. The adjustment is manipulating that unique electrical force.

A good analogy would be comparing the body’s ground structure, meridians, and nervous system to an electronic circuit board. You test it with electronic devices. Those devices can detect altered fields where the flow of electricity is weak, stopped, or not working properly. Adjustments have to be made so the circuit powers correctly whatever it is attached to.

So it is with the body and the premise behind acupressure, acupuncture, and use of gems. Theoretically, placing therapeutic gemstones in contact with the body’s electromagnetic field, one can alter the body’s frequency (the Chinese would call that the Ch'i) and return it to physical, emotional, and mental health.

There is a science to healing with gems, much like the science behind healing with acupuncture and acupressure, or using herbs. The knowledge of any healing takes time to develop, but those skilled in those disciplines know how to use gems (or whatnot) to adjust and heal.

So perhaps those ancient beliefs in the power of gemstones aren’t so far-fetched as they might seem.


And now a Chinese New Year’s dessert as a suitable complement to an article on gems. Because I was too lazy to type out the recipe I already have I went to Egg Wan’s Food Odyssey to copy the recipe. The recipe in The Joy of Wokking is similar, but maybe not quite as rich.

Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

Handful of sugar glazed cherries
Handful of black raisins
Handful of yellow raisins
Handful of sugar lotus seeds (available in Chinese supermarket)
1 dried apricot
2 cups of “round” glutinous rice
100g red bean paste (available in Chinese supermarket)

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
¼ teaspoon salt

Ingredients for sugar syrup:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup water

2 tablespoon potato starch water (1/2 teaspoon potato starch with 1 tablespoon water and mix evenly )
Couple drops of rose or any kind of flower essence or syrup, see below.

In some traditional eight treasures rice pudding recipes, it says use “sweet-scented osmanthus sauce” but it’s very difficult to get in UK so I use rose essence to replace it.

  1. Soak round glutinous rice in cold water for 1 hour at least. Cook it in a rice cooker or steamer. Mix the cooked rice with sunflower oil and salt when it’s still hot.
  2. Brush some oil on a medium size bowl and cut the sugar glazed cherry in half. Place the dried fruits and sugar glazed cherries as shown in the photos.
  3. Put half of the cooked glutinous rice in the bowl and press down a little bit then put 100g red bean paste in the middle.
  4. Use a little bit of glutinous rice to cover the red bean paste and place the sugar lotus seeds and sugar glazed cherries around the bowl.
  5. Put all of the glutinous rice in the bowl and press down. Steam for 30 minutes.
  6. Use a small pot to boil all the ingredients for the sugar syrup. Stir in potato starch water to thicken the syrup.
  7. Flip the rice pudding on a plate and brush sugar syrup on top. Ready to serve.
Have a great day

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gas Prices, Losing It

Hooray, gas prices have been dropping all over the continent lately. This surprises gas pumpme as the summer season of travel is about to get under way, but I heard one report say that people just aren’t buying as much gas any more. Not surprising, particularly in view of the gas guzzlers so many people drive. SUVs seem to be the most popular vehicle around these days. I’m glad we only have a small, if somewhat old, car. Mind you, I don’t see how we could get a newer car, Matt would never cope with all this computerised stuff. He is definitely not into computers and electronics generally. I don’t actually know what kind of computerised dashboards are out there, I have never even sat in such an up to date vehicle. Going back to gas prices, I just saw a report that in the States they could drop by $3 a gallon by the fall. Usually Canadian prices follow. Alberta has its own gas, but it doesn’t make it any cheaper for the rest of us probably because they sell it all to the States anyway.

OK where were you Alex, I was expecting you for dinner. The fondue went down very well, our friends thoroughly enjoyed as did Matt and I. The meatballs were delicious as was the fillet and the shrimp, not everything was consumed by any manner of means. Soup maybe?

So, sorry, now I am tired and will be posting this. Talk to you on Monday.

logoA friend has been posting pictures of her mom on Facebook as she has recently lost 120 lbs. through Losing It for Canada, which weight loss has also cured her diabetes. Needless to say I am looking into it.

For those of you who don’t live on this continent and get Mario Batalito see our TV chefs, Mario Batali is of Italian descent (father was Italian) and many of his recipes have an Italian background. He is an expert on Italian cuisine. His signature is always wearing shorts and orange crocs. Being the asparagus freak that I am, when I saw this one yesterday, my eyes popped open. Very unusual sauce. This will have me rushing to the kitchen as soon as I can. I saw a heading ‘more asparagus recipes’ too so I will be hunting them up.

Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione

Contributed by Mario Batali

Mario Batali chars his asparagus on the grill, then serves it with a superrich A091211_FW_Batali_zabaglione sauce spiked with black pepper.
  1. 3 large egg yolks
  2. 1 large egg
  3. 3 tablespoons vin santo or other lightly sweet dessert wine
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  6. 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  7. Kosher salt
  8. 2 pounds large asparagus
  9. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the egg and vin santo. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water and vigorously whisk the eggs over moderate heat until the sauce holds firm peaks, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl of sauce from the heat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the butter with the heavy cream and pepper. Whisk the cream mixture into the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Season the zabaglione with salt and keep warm.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt. Grill the asparagus over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to plates.
  4. Set the bowl of sauce over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk over low heat until thick and just heated through, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the asparagus, sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Asparagus Poem, Dinner, Gold Exhibition

I have been familiar with the works of this humourist since childhood, but I had never seen this monologue before. Being a devotee of asparagus, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. Its quite long, but I do hope you will read and be amused by it.

Asparagus by Marriott Edgar

Mr. Ramsbottom went to the races,
A thing as he'd ne'er done before,
And as luck always follers beginners,
Won five pounds, no-less and no-more.
He felt himself suddenly temptedasparagus
To indulge in some reckless orgee,
So he went to a caffy-a-teerer
And had a dressed crab with his tea.
He were crunching the claws at the finish
And wondering what next he would do,
Then his thoughts turned to home and to Mother,
And what she would say when she knew.
For Mother were dead against racing
And said as she thought 'twere a sin
For people to gamble their money
Unless they were certain to win.
These homely domestic reflections
Seemed to cast quite a gloom on Pa's day
He thought he'd best take home a present
And square up the matter that way.
' Twere a bit of a job to decide on
What best to select for this 'ere,
So he started to look in shop winders
In hopes as he'd get some idea.
He saw some strange stuff in a fruit shop
Like leeks with their nobby ends gone,
It were done up in bundles like firewood-
Said Pa to the Shopman, "What's yon?"
"That's Ass-paragus-what the Toffs eat"
Were the answer; said Pa "That 'll suit,
I'd best take a couple of bundles,
For Mother's a bobby for fruit."
He started off home with his purchase
And pictured Ma all the next weekasparagus
Eating sparagus fried with her bacon
Or mashed up in bubble-and-squeak.
He knew when she heard he'd been racing
She'd very nigh talk him to death,
So he thought as he'd call in the ' Local'
To strengthen his nerve and his breath.
He had hardly got up to the counter
When a friend of his walked in the bar,
He said "What ye got in the bundle?"
"A present for Mother," said Pa.
It's 'sparagus stuff what the Toffs eat "
His friend said "It's a rum-looking plant,
Can I have the green ends for my rabbits?"
said Pa "Aye, cut off what you want.
He cut all the tips off one bundle,
Then some more friends arrived one by one,
And all of them seemed to keep rabbits
Pa had no green ends left when they'd done.
When he got home the 'ouse were in dark ness,
So he slipped in as sly as a fox,
Laid the 'sparagus on kitchen table
And crept up to bed in his socks.
He got in without waking Mother,
A truly remarkable feat,
And pictured her telling the neighbours
As 'twere 'sparagus-what the toffs eat.
But when he woke up in the morning
It were nigh on a quarter to ten,
There were no signs of Mother, or breakfast
Said Pa, "What's she done with her-sen?"
He shouted "What's up theer in t' kitchen?"
She replied, "You do well to enquire,
Them bundles of chips as you brought home
Is so damp... I can't light the fire."

In fact the poems of Marriott Edgar were often read by Stanley Holloway (he playedStanley Holloway the father in My Fair Lady – Get me to the church on time, see the picture). When I was a youngster, I used to do Marriott Edgar monologues as kind of party pieces. One of the most famous to the English used to be Albert and the Lion which I can still recite after all these years. Another one I loved was about the Magna Carta and yet another about the Battle of Hastings. If you are interested in following them up, they are here.

Fondu SetWe have friends coming over for dinner this evening, so I have lots of preparation to do. We have decided to do a fondue which entails a lot of chopping although not actual cooking. I decided not to do a cheese fondue as one of our friends is not a big eater and with everything else there should be plenty to eat. Steak, fondue meatballs, shrimp, mushrooms, cauliflower and a side salad and then a dessert of cheesecake and strawberries. I am tossing up whether to do the Triple Hot Coleslaw (June 14, 2012 blog) or a regular salad of lettuce and tomatoes etc.

Funny, making the meatballs, one needs to mix them by hand. I wear a Medic Alert bracelet and was worried about getting it in the meat – I am unable to take it off – so I Scotch taped it higher up my arm so it wouldn’t fall down.

Hilary Melton-Butcher wrote about a gold exhibition which is taking place in Polly-Gasston-Still-Life-1London at the Goldsmith’s Hall through the summer, the link will take you to her blog and the next link to an article in the London Evening Standard which also has a video about the exhibition. There are pieces on display which are around 4,000 years old. To quote the Evening Standard, "Gold, Power and Allure" aims to tell the rich story of Britain and its relationship with gold, through a display of more than 400 gold items and artifacts. They have some wonderful items many of which are on loan from various places including private ownership which have never been on display before. There is a mechanical mouse in gold and pearls amongst other delightful pieces. The piece in this picture is a modern tiara depicting gold ivy leaves interwoven with buttercups. Beautiful. The video is really worth taking a look at. Thanks Hilary for drawing my attention to this. I just wish I could go to the exhibition, it sounds fabulous and enough to tempt any enterprising thief. Oceans Eleven anyone? Hilary also mentioned that it was Prince William’s birthday yesterday, I had forgotten. 30 yrs. old, oh to be so young.

I mentioned the meatballs I have made for the fondue tonight. I got this recipe from a friend many years ago and although I am not a big fan of meatballs, I have always enjoyed these fried in a fondue pot. They are simple enough to make although for fondue it is advisable not to make them too big. I think it’s the Worcester (pronounced Wuster) sauce which gives them their special flavour.  Hmm, looking at this picture, I wonder if I made them too big. There are two layers by the way.

Fondue Meatballs

1 lb ground beefFondue Meatballs 001
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 med onion finely chopped
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcester
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Mix, shape, refrigerate. Take out of fridge 15 minutes before serving for Fondue.

Servings: 4

Have a great day


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Yucca, Amazon, Drinking, Costco, Bowling.

YuccaSaw a Yucca plant in flower the other day, we were driving by having been to the asparagus farm. I wanted to stop and take some petals to try them. If you don’t know what I’m talking about see my blog of Tuesday 19th, 2012.  I have always thought they were a very attractive plant, when in flower anyway, although the spiky leaves can hurt.

I am, once again, very impressed with I ordered a watch from them on the 18th, they said it would arrive on the 20th, it actually arrived on the 19th. I think that’s fantastic service. Meanwhile, I paid an ambulance bill on June 4 and am still awaiting a receipt. They could take lessons from

Danish research is now saying light drinking during pregnancy will nored winet harm the child. I gather this has not been endorsed by any other sources as yet. Matt’s youngest daughter stopped drinking when she was pregnant and hasn’t drunk alcohol since. Matt disowns her, she is the only one in the family who doesn’t have the odd tipple now and again. Useful for her husband though, never has to worry about drinking and driving. I don’t know how dangerous it was supposed to be, but prior to the experts saying pregnant women shouldn’t drink, thousands did so, I wonder how many had children damaged by that fact. I guess there are statistics.

Roast lambYesterday we went to Costco for 2 things, we did fairly well, we only ended up with four items. Not too bad. All meat. Last time there we forgot to buy a roast of lamb which we like to have in our wide flat beansfreezer, also forgot some ground beef and had none at all in the house. That was one of the items we actually intended to buy. Also, Matt found some flat beans at the grocery store early in the morning, they were very wide ones, unusual here, but they still taste good. I think they will be saved for Saturday, we have friends coming to dinner on Friday but the beans “don’t go” with the planned meal.

Pin_Animation1Oh, don’t tell anyone, but I did so badly on Tuesday you would think I had never bowled before. I swore I would never go back. I will of course. That reminds me, Matt’s appointment with his back doctor has been postponed once again. However, they say he is unlikely to be allowed to bowl before 8 weeks is up anyway, this week is only 6. He is not a happy camper. Summer league finishes early August, so he won’t get much in, if any. He’ll have to wait til the winter league.

A discussion with a friend on FB made me think of this recipe. I only ever made it once, don’t know why, it was delicious. Today I would probably cheat and buy both my mincemeat and the pastry ready made. Much better if you have the time and ability to make your own. The mincemeat, for a start, would probably taste so much better. Do you remember Graham Kerr (pronounced car) The Galloping Gourmet? I used to watch him regularly for years, then his wife, Tina, had a heart attack and he went tee total and the programme was never as good nor was the food IMHOP. I think he might have been somewhat inebriated, to put it politely, in his earlier programmes but they were always such fun. By the way, the ground pepper on the berries really works, its delicious.

South Australian Strawberry Pie
Author: Graham Kerr creation for an Australian Christmas

SA Strawberry Pie
1/2 lb beef suet
3/4 lb raisins
1/2 lb sultanas
3/4 lb granny smith apples
3/4 lb currants
3/4 lb brown sugar
1/2 lb mixed lemon and orange peel
1/4 lb blanched almonds
rind of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1 vanilla bean (grated)
5 fl oz oz brandy
1 tsp each of Nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, ginger—all ground

1 lb plain flour
1 2 oz butter
1 Tbs castor sugar
1 egg yolk
8 Tbs iced water

A punnet of strawberries to garnish
10 fI oz cream

First prepare the Mincemeat. Mix all ingredients for mincemeat together and moisten with brandy. Place in jars and seal. Make 1 month ahead (at least).
Cut butter into small cubes, measure flour and sift. Separate egg.
Now assemble
Make well in the sifted flour and place the butter in the well. Add egg yolk, sugar, salt and 2 tbsp water. Combine all ingredients except flour with fingertips, then work in flour, adding iced water as needed. Knead several times and place pastry on plate and let it rest for an hour or so in the refrigerator.
Roll out half pastry to fit a 10-in, pastry ring. Prick with a fork and cut round of greaseproof paper, place in pastry case, fill with dried peas or rice. Prick base once again and bake pastry blind in 400°F. (Reg.. 5) oven for 15 minutes. Remove paper and rice and allow pastry case to cool.
Fill cooled pastry shell with mincemeat. Roll out remaining pastry for cover, crimp edges and glaze with egg yolk. Place in 400°F. (Reg. 5) oven for 30 minutes until golden-brown.
Remove pie from oven and cool. When cold cover with whipped cream and cover the entire surface with strawberries.
Servings: 8-10
Try a little freshly ground pepper on the strawberries. Helps to bring out their flavour.

Have a great day