Friday, November 30, 2012

Hospital, Travel League

NurseBy the time you read this I shall probably be under sedation, or just about to be. Last time Matt hung around the hospital all day, but really that is a silly waste of his time, so he is going to come home for the day. I am not terribly sure there will be a blog tomorrow, lots depends on how I feel tonight. Probably pretty dopey. I didn’t know, until I talked to the foot nurse (she is a registered nurse who now specialises in foot care) that the sedative actually slows down the body and all bodily functions. This nurse, who is also something of a friend, is a very useful go to person for things I want to know. Some of her stories of being in hospital as a patient are quite funny, especially as she doesn’t always let on that she is a nurse herself. Mind you, these days, I always have trouble figuring out who are nurses and who are aids and even who are cleaners and assistants as they all tend to wear pretty much the same things. I prefer the old days of nurses in white with starched caps, there was no mistaking then. The pre op nurse I saw the other day was in regular clothes, no uniform of any kind. For all I knew she wasn’t really a nurse at all LOL.

Had a good day yesterday, went out to lunch with the gang first of all. We were bowling in Elmira so we went to the Crossroads restaurant. Matt and I Bowling Pinsalways have Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches which are made with their home made bread, they’re good. Most people choose the buffet but we aren’t too keen on that. I decided I would like some dessert and as I was in an awkward spot, a friend offered to get me some, I chose mince meat pie with cream. It was delicious. On the way out I saw they were selling the pies for $9.99 each so I bought one which is now in the freezer. The bowling wasn’t too bad either, Matt was on a different team but I could see he was doing very well, I did fairly well too. Was playing on a team with a close friend so we had lots of laughs. That is the last Travel League this year, we start again in January.

Not sure if I will be posting a blog on Saturday, if not I should be back again on Monday.

I thought this recipe looked delicious, just the kind of thing I would pig out on LOL.

Chocolate Peanut Butter BallsChoclate Peanut Butter Balls


Makes 3 dozen

Click here to find out more!INGREDIENTS

2-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2-3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

6 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter

2 cups peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium bowl mix together sugar, butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Dough will be loose. Form 1-2 inch balls from the dough. Refrigerate balls for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Dip balls in chocolate with either a toothpick or a fork. Set on wax paper and cool.

Have a great day


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fire Retardants, Travel League, Plastic Bags.

Well, that’s delightful news, apparently the flame retardants used on furniture and such don’t actually do the job and in fact are more of a health hazard to people instead. The following picture shows two chairs set on fire, both burning equally well although one has retardant materials and one does not.
Do read the article, it covers a wide field of health concerns and the chemical industry’s ‘blatant falsehoods’.
Today we are off on our Travel League bowling in Elmira. I wasnMy_Ball’t planning to go mainly because I am spending the next day in hospital where I have to arrive so very early, but no real reason not to, I’ll be in bed all day. From reading the stuff I have been given, I may not be bowling Monday, I just don’t remember what happened last year or how quickly I was back to normal. I do remember I had a bruise to write home about think I posted a picture on here, certainly on Facebook. We were talking about some of the changes on medical science with our foot nurse and I was commenting about how they plugged the entry point into my artery last year whereas in ‘04 someone had had to maintain pressure until it stopped bleeding. As the nurse pointed out, somebody got tired of doing that and invented a better way. Never thought of it in that light before. Logical though.

I am sorry to hear that Toronto’s proposed ban on single use Plastic bagsplastic bags has been suspended for the moment as it has come under fire from several sources. Locally plastic bags in our food store, Zehrs, are sold at 10 cents a piece, not sure what other stores do, but so many end up in landfills and they do not biodegrade and are causing a big environmental problem. I personally do use the ones I get, not many we have our own bags, for several uses, such as garbage bin liners, but that doesn’t alter the fact that I am still using these bags and they will eventually end up in a landfill. I think the onus is on the user to not do so otherwise the plastic bag manufacturers won’t bother to find a way of making them biodegradable.

By the way, I made the cassoulet recipe which I posted a few days ago, we had it for supper last night. Delicious. I have never made a real cassoulet which is supposed to contain Duck confit. Maybe one of these days. Forgot to mention, I got a phone call from Vincenzo's that my Turron was in so I asked them to put two chocolate and two white ones aside for me. I have to be good and not open them before Christmas though.

I like mushrooms, and I certainly like wild mushrooms so I thought this would be a nice recipe to try.

Wild Mushroom Tart


Serves 10

Wild Mushroom TartINGREDIENTS
For the Filling:
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 3/4 cups whole or 2% milk
12 ounces (3/4 pound) mixed wild and domestic mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitake, cremini, etc.), woody stems ends trimmed.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large leeks, halved lengthwise and well rinsed, and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

Other necessary recipes:Gruyere Pastry Dough

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you begin to roll. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 14- by 10-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Drape over the rolling pin and transfer to a 13- by 9-inch ceramic tart dish or a 12-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Without stretching, ease the pastry into the corners of the dish. Fold any overhanging dough back over itself and press together to build up the rim about 1/4 inch above the top of the dish (this will compensate for shrinkage). Prick the base with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the dish with parchment paper or foil and fill with ceramic pie weights, rice, or beans, pressing them gently into the corners. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges begin to shrink away from the dish. Remove the paper and weights and bake for about 4 minutes more, until the base appears dry. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. (Or, you could cool the crust on a rack for up to 2 hours before proceeding.) Do not fill the pastry until just before cooking.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk up to just below the boiling point. Remove from the heat, add the porcini, and swirl to cover all the mushrooms. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms firmly, draining the milk back into the pan. Chop the porcini and strain the milk to remove any grit; set both aside. Slice the fresh mushrooms.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, if it is not already hot from cooking the pastry. In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Saute the shallots over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring, until softened, Add all the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and all their liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. In the same pan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté over low heat, covered, until completely tender but not browned, about 12 minutes. Stir in the tarragon, season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook for one minute more.

Spread the base of the pre-baked crust evenly with the mustard and then spread the mushroom and the leek mixtures evenly in the crust. In a bowl, quickly but thoroughly whisk together the porcini-soaking milk, cream, eggs, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour the custard over the vegetables and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until all but the very center is set and lightly browned. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Cut into squares or wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Do not refrigerate after baking or the crust will become soggy.

Have a great day


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pre-op. Jalapeño Jelly, Twilight, Parking.

Went for my pre-op and this time it went by quite quickly. I had forgotten last year I had to wait forever to get bloodwork done, this time she came and did it in the nurses office where I was already somewhat stripped from when she took my blood pressure. She hurt too, worse than the girl who took my blood at the lab last week. Had an ECG as well plus I was told all the usual stuff, don’t eat, don’t wear makeup or jewellery, etc. I had one question though, one pill cheese pepper jellyhe specifically wanted me to be sure and take has to be taken on a full stomach – she didn’t have the answer so suggested I phone the surgeon’s office to ask them. Parking only cost us $3, not too bad. In the hospital lobby they were selling home baked goodies. They asked if I liked carrot cake, I said yes, and was given some jam/jelly on a cracker. Didn’t taste like carrot cake to me. However, I saw they had some jalapeño jelly so having been assured it was pretty spicy, I bought a jar as a party dish. I love cream cheese with spicy jelly.

Here’s another article on Billy Wagenseller my friend’s Billy Wagenseller2grandson. I know his parents too, but not very well. He is certainly a delightful looking child, I just hope all this early publicity won’t ruin him for life. I see he isn’t too keen on signing autographs, says his arms hurt, not surprised. His favourite was travelling by plane. His dad says, despite everything, bed times still have to be observed and milk has to be consumed. Billy was actually 3 1/2 when the Twilight film was shot, that’s 18 months ago.

It occurred to me later, I am always on about free medical services here, they get you back in the hospital parking lots. Mind you, there are a bunch of surgeons we visit in Cambridge and if you remember, they will give you a token for the machines which saves a couple of bucks. It all mounts up when you visit all these places as often as we do. There should be a special rate for seniors. I will have to start campaigning.

Here is another chicken dish, this one is a one pot meal and so is very useful for a quick winter dish. I’m all for that, taking a break from cooking now and again is a good thing.

Braised Paprika Chicken

From EatingWell: January/February 2009

Sweet Hungarian paprika gives this creamy braised chicken the best flavor. This is a good “pantry dish” since you should have the basics on hand and only need to purchase the chicken. You may vary the recipe by using cubed veal shoulder instead of chicken and mushrooms instead of peppers. Serve with whole-wheat Braised Paprika Chickenorzo flavored with minced parsley or dill.

6 servings

  • 3-3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, (thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts), skin removed, trimmed (see Tip)
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups finely diced onions
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley, dill and/or chives
  1. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and light brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in bell peppers, tomato paste, paprika and crushed red pepper. Add the chicken and stir it gently into the onion mixture. Sprinkle with marjoram and add broth. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is very tender, about 50 minutes.
  4. Just before the chicken is done, whisk sour cream, flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until smooth.
  5. When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate. Stir the sour cream mixture into the sauce; return to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce coats the spoon. Reduce heat to low, return the chicken to the sauce and reheat, about 1 minute. Serve garnished with parsley, dill and/or chives, if desired.

Have a great day


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chilly, Bateman’s, Vincenzo’s.

Monday morning it was as cold as charity. 1°C. Although I guess that isn’t terribly cold for this part of the world, but after the lovely weather we have been having, it comes as a bit of a shock to the old bones. Most of the snow has disappeared, but I have no doubt we will be seeing more of it before long. My golfing friend did not go out today!

Bateman's£9,300 in 1902 was one hell of a lot of money. That’s roughly equivalent to £650,000 today or over $1 million Canadian. According to Hilary Melton-Butcher’s latest blog, that is what Rudyard Kipling paid for his home, Bateman’s, when he bought it. I never knew he had that kind of money. Hilary frequently introduces me to things about the country of my birth that I didn’t know. Makes me want to go back and look, sadly, the likelihood of us getting back to England any more becomes remoter as the time passes. Of course I have no doubt that if the house didn’t belong to the National Trust, it would sell for a lot more money than that these days. I have mentioned in previous blogs, some time back, the Queen Anne house where I used to live before we emigrate, and that, a few years ago, was up for quarter of a million pounds.

Having decided over the weekend that we will stay home for Christmas dinner, we Turrondropped into Vincenzo’s on the way home from bowling (I can think of another name for it) as I wanted to check if they had a Christmas pudding. I always made my own but haven’t done so for a few years and it’s a tad late to start now as they need to ‘enjoy life’ and have time to mature. We found a brandy pudding which looked good, studying it later it appears to have been made with vegetable suet, never tried that, supposed to be healthier which actually wasn’t the reason for selecting a pudding. We also, asked about Spanish Turron, they had heaps of Italian, to me its not quite as good; the assistant went off and found me some, from last year I would guess, which was very nice of her. Anyway, my name is down for when this year’s comes in. I did buy one bar anyway, same as in the picture. I want to get some more chocolate, I really enjoyed that last year. Too much so maybe, (g).

Today I have my pre-op in preparation for my femoral by-pass on Friday. Will give  us a chance to check on timing for getting there although at that time of the morning there shouldn’t be much traffic. Want to check out the parking meters too. Hope they take toonies ($2 coins).

There was a point today when I would really have enjoyed some chicken soup it was so cold. We did have soup, just not chicken which I would have liked.This is a recipe for a somewhat different chicken broth recipe but sounds rather interesting. I personally would freeze the resulting broth but storing in jars would certainly work. You could then use the resulting broth as a base for many other soups.

Fresh Chicken Broth

By The Nourished Kitchenfresh_chicken_broth
WebMD Recipe from


  • 1 whole pasture-raised chicken, rinsed, cleaned with organs removed
  • 2 chicken feet, peeled with talons removed (if you can find them)
  • 1 gallon miscellaneous vegetable scraps (onions, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, leeks)
  • 2-3 dried bay leafs
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • filtered water to cover


  1. Add the whole chicken to a heavy-bottomed stock pot, cover with vegetable scraps, bay leafs and peppercorns.
  2. Cover with very cold filtered water into which you’ve stirred two tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for four to six hours – skimming off any scum or foam that appears at the surface.
  5. After four to six hours of slow, gentle simmering, remove the pot from heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve or a colander lined with 100% cotton cheesecloth into jars or bowls to store.
  6. Refrigerate and cool until the broth sets into a firm gel.

Have a great day


Monday, November 26, 2012

Pay, Snow, Nana. Stolen Toys Recovered.

Comment I heard on the radio. A person wearing a military uniform and fighting to protect one’s country should be making a lot more money than a person wearing a hockey helmet. Makes sense to me.

Winter is dSnowefinitely here, we got a couple of inches of snow on Friday night a lot of which disappeared because there was so much sun on Saturday. Matt said the roads were clear when he went out in the afternoon then Sunday morning we had a light continuous snow which started covering everything up again. Of course from our window it looks very pretty. No fun if you absolutely have to go somewhere and in the first place you have to clear your driveway and secondly clean your car. Basically something we never have to do any more as we have underground parking. I hate it when we visit someone in the winter and come out to a frozen or snowed in car. I guess I have become spoilt. Of course I have just thought we have to go to Guelph twice this week once for my pre-op and once for my op itself. I do hope the roads will be clear for that trip particularly as the Friday one we have to be at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. and if its been snowing the roads won’t be clear. Have to keep our fingers crossed.

I have been reading a book by David Weber set in the Honorverse, or the world ofStorm from the Shadows Honor Harrington. I started reading the books in ebook form many years ago but missed a few which were written later, I am now catching up. Quite exciting space stories, the only trouble is he does get a bit carried away by the armaments and designs of space warships. I plough through the descriptions but I don’t pretend that I grasp all of it, guess I am insufficiently interested and I certainly can’t grasp the tremendous distances involved when he talks about how far the ships are apart in a battle and where the missiles are etc. etc. I was never any good at math. The stories themselves are great though and I am enjoying reading books set in that world once more. If you like space fiction and have never read any of these books, I highly recommend them. The first one is On Basilisk Station. Amazon doesn’t seem to have ebook versions, but that’s how I first bought them.

Just listening to a CD of Nana Mouskouri – not sure how many are familiar with her any more. She has sold between 200 and 300 million records worldwide (odd figure, with a gap of 100 million) and we have always liked her. I just Googled to see if she was still with us, she is, she is 78. I didn’t know til I Googled that her voice, which they describe as an angelic soprano, is attributed to the fact that she was born with only one vocal chord. She was born in Greece, but sang songs in all kinds of languages and had a long and distinguished career. She recently gave back her pension to Greece in order to assist their financial woes. Obviously hoping to inspire others to do the same. This is one of her very well know songs.

The police have found the toys stolen from the Salvation Army. They are being inventoried right now, the story doesn’t say if all the $2 million’s worth was recovered but it mentions 146 skids of toys, strollers and food. The story also mentions that the theft was discovered in August!!! August, how come we have only just heard about it? As yet there is no good news about the missing $240,000 missing from an Ottawa branch.

I love lentils although I don’t actually eat them very often, not sure why. I am very fond of the Indian dish dahl which is made with them. This is a lentil soup which sounds good and I will be trying this winter. If you are unfamiliar with Garam Masala, it can be obtained in a good grocery store with an international aisle, or in a store specialising in Indian foods, or you can Google it and make your own. It doesn't say how many this soup is for, but I guess it depends on when and how you are going to eat it. By the look of it, it should feed at least 6 for one sitting.

Curried Lentil Soup With Cilantro Yogurt

By A Nutritionist Eats
WebMD Recipe from Foodily.comcurried_lentil_soup
Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 55 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons hot curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 8 cups broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 1 head kale, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 carrots, cut on a diagonal
To Prepare Soup:
  1. Heat olive oil in large pot. Add onions, garlic and carrots, sautéing for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add spices and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add lentils and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add kale to soup and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
To Prepare Cilantro Yogurt:
  1. Combine yogurt, cilantro and coriander.
  2. Set aside until serving.
Have a great day

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Books, Movie, This ‘n That.

Woods of WindriNot sure what started me looking but I was checking out some books of which I have a few and would love to have the rest. They are children’s books by an English author, Violet Needham. Stories I loved such as The House of the Paladin and The Woods of Windri. I think I actually read most of them as a child, but don’t have more than about 4 of them. I couldn’t believe the prices, on Amazon. In most cases they are second hand books and yet they are asking $40 or $50. I checked Amazon.UK and they too are asking high prices with the exception of one used paperback which is going for a penny. Wonder what’s wrong with it? I just looked at Amazon Canada and they too are charging fantastic, to me, prices. Maybe I should be selling, not buying! Just checked on another children’s favourite, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge and I can buy that for a penny. I had my original copy of that book for many years, I coloured the pictures and read it from cover to cover a million times. Somewhere along the way, I lost it which was very sad to me. I bought a new copy, but it wasn’t the same as my original book.

Just watched My Fair Lady, hadn’t seen it in a number of years. Rex Harrison is My Fair ladybrilliant. I did enjoy Audrey Hepburn too, but just discovered a few things tonight, not least of which, her voice, singing at least,was dubbed. Apparently Warner Bros. didn’t think Julie Andrews, who created the role on stage, had a film presence so wouldn’t hire her for the movie. The movie won all kinds of awards except for Audrey Hepburn who lost out to Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. No screen presence eh? Of course I ended up in tears at the end, I always do. I have never seen the play Pygmalion from which My Fair Lady was adapted, but from what I have been reading, I am not sure there is a love interest between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle.

Friday bowling turned out pretty good for me and once again I hadn’t planned on going. I am not looking forward to my angioplasty on the 30th, but if it will stop my legs hurting and let me walk again, well more than a few footsteps, I shall be more than pleased. It was damned cold today and on the way home we had spots of rain. They have been talking snow, no sign of it yet, but we shall see.

Gt. Barrier ReefGot our first Christmas card on Friday. The friend who sent it is local, but she is swanning around Australia at the moment and won’t be back til almost Christmas so I guess she mailed them early or got someone to mail them for her. Probably her sister. She posted on FB that they were going to the Barrier Reef today which made Matt green with envy, that’s a place where he has always wanted to dive. Not likely to happen now though, even if we got to Australia I don’t think either of us are fit enough. Cousteau made it through late in life, but he was diving all the time. Matt hasn’t been in the water for many years now although he continues to exercise with small weights.

I love Pecan Pie. I don’t make a lot of pies, but that I have made a few times. This recipe is apparently the French version.

Pecan Tart

Source: Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection - Tarts & Pastries

Serves 8

Click here to find out more!This French version of the classic Southern pecan pie uses a rich, sweet pastryPecan Tart baked in the distinctive tart pan. The filling, however, remains the same - simply superb - especially when served with whipped cream.

3/4 quantity Sweet Pastry Dough

For Filling:

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup light corn syrup

2/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

Other necessary recipes: Sweet Pastry Dough


Preheat the oven to 325° F. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick and line a 1-inch deep, 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.

FOR FILLING: Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the salt, butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Sprinkle the pecans over the base of the pastry shell, then pour in the filling. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling has just set. If the filling puffs up too much, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Leave in the pan for 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

CHEF'S TIP: The pecans can be left whole or use almost any nut, such as walnuts, hazelnuts or macadamias.

Have a great weekend


Friday, November 23, 2012

Lab Appointment, Toy Theft, Get Out of Jail, Crayons.

Blood TestI had to go to the local lab to get my quarterly blood test done. I got there before the crack of dawn and normally there is a line up of people although I actually managed 2nd place. I wondered why there were only a few of us and then heard the staff say most people booked their appointments these days. When I got home I discovered I had signed up to do that last time and completely forgotten about it. Duuh. I will still have to go early as I have to fast so by the time I get home I am dying for my brekky and a cup of coffee. It turned out one of the tubes wasn’t full enough so she had to ‘stick’ me again!!!! Never had that happen before, she apologised but I wasn’t very happy.

Pretty awful story in the news at the moment, the Salvation Army have discovered Sally Annthey have lost $2 million’s worth of toys from their warehouse. They say this theft occurred over 24 months, like how did no-one notice that that many toys had been removed from storage? A staff member has already been fired, but it seems to me there is a lot more to it than one staff member. Then it turns out the Sally Ann in Quebec is missing funds – they too have fired someone but so far no arrests have been made in either case. Matt says if they catch the perpetrators and jail them, they will not be very popular as the Sally Ann do a lot for prisoners and their families many of whom are poor. These thefts are particularly bad at this time of the year, just before Christmas and it may be they will not be able to recover in time which means a lot of kids won’t get their presents this year thanks to these thieves. Theft is bad, but such a theft as this is appalling.

RJ or Randolph J. Johnston on the local radio station (guy I talk to when I do recipes) came up with a story this morning. Apparently if you are a wealthy person in China you can hire a double to do your time when you have been sentenced for a crime. Finding a double must be a bit of a problem but once you have done so, you have to pay him/her and support the family whilst he/she is doing your time.

CrayolaI just heard an astounding statistic. Something like 5 million Crayola crayons are produced every year. Who the hell uses all those? Apparently the first Crayolas were produced in 1903 with just a few colours in a box whereas today – as you can see from the picture, there are at least 64 in some boxes. I think of crayons as being used by kids, but it would appear I must be wrong for that amount to be produced every year. I have a friend who does portraits in coloured pencils, but I am sure they aren’t the same thing at all.

Cassoulet is such a wonderful hearty dish for winter weather which we are heading into in the Northern Hemisphere. This one is from the Hairy Bikers (such great names, reminds me of Two Fat Ladies) and has been tweaked so that it isn’t so overloaded with calories.

Our Special Cassoulet

By The Hairy Bikers 

Cassoulet is a hearty dish but with a few little tweaks we’ve reduced the calorie count while keeping the big flavours. Choose really meaty sausages and gammon, take the skin off the chicken and use a very small amount of oil – it alour_special_cassoulet_05208_16x9l helps. They specify gammon which is something I have never seen in Canada, or the States come to that, so that one would have to substitute ham. For caster sugar, use the sugar you buy regularly, it is much finer than the granulated sugar sold in the UK.

464 calories per portion.

Serves 6 Takes about 30 mins to prepare andt 1-2 hours cooking.


For the garnish
  • handful fresh flatleaf parsley

  • ½ large orange, zest only, finely grated

Preparation method

  1. Brush a large non-stick frying pan with the sunflower oil, using the tip of a pastry brush. Add the sausages to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, turning every now and then until nicely browned on all sides.

  2. Meanwhile, trim the celery and peel the carrots and cut them into diagonal slices about 1.5cm/½in thick.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

  4. Add the onions to the frying pan and cook with the sausages for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly until softened and lightly browned.

  5. Trim the chicken thighs of any visible fat - we find a good pair of kitchen scissors does the job well - then cut the thighs in half.

  6. Add the garlic and chicken pieces to the pan with the sausages and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning the chicken twice until coloured all over.

  7. Transfer everything to a large flameproof casserole dish.

  8. Stir in the gammon, celery, carrots, tomatoes, red wine and 300ml/½ pint cold water, then sprinkle over the caster sugar and chilli flakes. Stir in the bay leaf and thyme and season with lots of ground black pepper.

  9. Bring the cassoulet to a simmer on the hob (burner), then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 45 minutes.

  10. Take the casserole out of the oven and stir in all the beans. Cover with the lid again and put the dish back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

  11. Just before the cassoulet is ready, prepare the garnish. Chop the parsley roughly and toss with the orange zest in a small bowl.

  12. Serve large portions of the cassoulet in deep plates or wide bowls with a good sprinkling of the zesty parsley garnish on each one.

Have a great day


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, CIPD, Fog, Damaged Goods.

Happy ThanksgivingTo all my American friends and readers, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

Ever since I read the article on pain which I linked to yesterday, I have been fuming Painabout the word unpleasant when associated with chronic pain. In the end I emailed The Canadian Institute for Pain and Disability and expressed my opinion. I wanted to be really impolite, but I restrained myself. I just said whoever wrote that article obviously knew nothing about the subject. I was going to say “unpleasant” my arse (ok ass over here) but didn’t. It really angered me the more I thought about it. Silly I suppose but there you are.

We have been getting lots of fog lately as I mentioned the other day, but today it was frost as well. When Matt went out on his early shopping trip he said the grass was white. When we first came to Canada, we were told snow started on November 15th. Luckily it hasn’t yet this year although they are predicting flurries at the weekend.

BraceletI don’t think its my week. I received my travel wall plug cord for my Kindle and the USB plug was broken. I have emailed the supplier. Then, I don’t know if you remember the crystal bracelet I was so thrilled about earlier this year, I obtained one for a friend and hers has already lost 4 crystals. I bought them from Great Buy Online Store whom I have now phoned twice and emailed twice with no luck. So far my own bracelet is fine. I bought a couple of pairs of earrings from them too. One for a friend in the States, perhaps I had better phone her and see if her earrings are OK. I am not a happy camper. I am getting a refund for the cord, but I don’t really want one, I want the cord itself. I told them but no notice has been taken, so I guess I will have to re-order. Like I said, not my week.

If you are in a last minute crisis, here is a starter which will take you five minutes to prepare – hopefully there is a corner store where you can get the cheese and that you have some spicy jelly to put over top. I love spicy jams and jellies with cheese. Often have spicy jam with Havarti for my lunch.

Jalapeno Jelly and Cream Cheese Spread

By Pam-I-Am on June 15, 2006

"This is a classic appetizer that is great for last minute unexpected guests. In fact, Jalapeno Cream CheeseI'm surprised it's not posted yet! I've made this for years. The sweet and hot taste on crackers is so wonderful!"


    • 1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
    • 2/3 cup jalapeno jelly ( red or green)
    • crackers


  1. Open the brick of cream cheese and place it on a plate.
  2. Spread the jelly evenly over the top. Serve with a small knife for spreading or use a hearty cracker that will not break.

Have a great day


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More on Pain, Doctors, Thanksgiving, Radio.

PainTalking about pain and doctors, Helen Venn commented on yesterday’s  blog about needing more research on the subject. She is very right and it reminded me that our family doctor commented to us one time that there were many family doctors who were really not happy being family physicians and would be much more at home doing research except that research doesn’t pay. What an indictment on our times. We need to pay researchers more for both medical and other kinds of research. Without them, nothing will advance. It seems sad that brilliant minds are being wasted because they have to go into the wrong fields in order to provide for their lives and families. There are, of course, pain specialists but when Matt went to see one he could do nothing for him because he was on a blood thinner. So you either suffer debilitating, chronic pain or give up blood thinners and have a stroke or heart attack or something. What a choice. Doing a little research I just found an article on pain which says 1 in 5 Canadians are living with chronic pain. It also describes pain as an ‘unpleasant’ experience, I’ve got news for them, it’s a damn site worse than unpleasant.

I am not too happy with the medical profession anyway at the moment. Last time I went to the family doctor the nurse sent off a sample to the labs to get a culture done. I then phoned 3 weeks later and another nurse phoned the lab and discovered that they couldn’t do the culture because the first nurse didn’t label the sample!!!!! Honestly, and its them taken all this time to find out. Then I queried the fact that I thought doctorsa doctor I had seen early in September had sent off a sample for a culture, oh yes, they said and they had had the results and had given me Macrobid (which I had had once and which proved useless). No-one had told me this had definitely happened nor that any results had been received. I have had several more antibiotics and I still have problems. I am booked for a cystoscopy in Dec. but I need an effective antibiotic between now and then, I hurt (see first paragraph). The nurse I was talking to spoke to the doc who was right there and between them and their own pharmacist they have come up with something and are faxing it to my pharmacist. An hour later I check, no fax, phone doctor again, oh no she is doing it now. Soon their office will close and with my luck there won’t have been a fax. Its enough to drive you to drink; now that’s a good idea. OK it came through. Sorry to be ranting about this but I was very miffed to say the least.

I received the MP3 of my most recent radio broadcast – I was giving the Hallowe’en recipe for the Broken Fingers. What a mess I made of that broadcast, I couldn’t even remember my blog address, duuuh.  I stumbled through the recipe and couldn’t find the time in the oven either. Lack of preparedness all round. I am ashamed of myself. Matt said I was bad, he was right. Will do better next time. All the others I have been much better and sounded pretty good I thought.

Wishing all American friends and readers a very happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Don’t eat too much LOL.


For those of you celebrating tomorrow, here is an interesting side dish which its not too late to plan to serve.

Pear and Red Onion Gratin

Source: © EatingWell Magazine

8 servings

Click here to find out more!Bosc pears are strong-flavored and hold their shape when cooked, making them well suited for this savory side dish. It's a terrific accompaniment for a glazed ham or grilled sausage or most any roasted meat or poultry.
INGREDIENTSPear and Red Onion Gratin

1 large red onion

3 ripe Bosc pears

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Note)

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Ingredient Note: We like to use the Ian's brand of coarse dry breadcrumbs, labeled "Panko breadcrumbs." Find them in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets.
To make your own breadcrumbs: Trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice makes about 1/3 cup. Spread the breadcrumbs onto a baking sheet and bake in a 250°F oven until dry and crispy, about 15 minutes.


Fill a large bowl three-quarters full with water; add a handful of ice cubes. Cut onion into 16 wedges, place in a strainer and lower into the water. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Halve and core each pear; cut each half into 6 slices. Drain the onion wedges well and place them in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish along with the pear slices, 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, salt and a grinding of pepper; toss to combine. Cover with foil.

Roast for 30 minutes, stirring twice.

Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs and cheese in a small bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil; stir to combine. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the gratin, return to the oven and roast until the breadcrumbs are well browned, 20 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Have a great day


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fog, Cheers Alex, Cheese

CominFog 001g home from the pig tail dinner Saturday night, it was pretty foggy, but not too, too bad. Sunday night and into Monday morning it was even foggier, still thick at 9 in the morning. We don’t usually get fogs like this, but we have had so much sunshine in the last few days I guess it’s not surprising. We were lucky it wasn’t as thick on Saturday night or we would have had some trouble getting home. This picture is looking over our balcony wall at 9 a.m. My friend is going golfing at 10 today, I think she might be out of luck. I love digital cameras. Matt couldn’t do that with his camera, take a shot and put it on the computer.

I know that I have written a minimum of 1421 blogs, but without laboriously Cavanaugh Blogfest LIVEcounting I don’t know the full total as I deleted a lot of the early ones because Blogger said I had run out of space to put categories so I have an idea there are at least a two or three hundred more, bit of a nuisance because I don’t know exactly. ( I do have hard copies by the way). However, I used to get very few comments from anyone until I joined the A to Z Blogfest this year. My readership increased but not dramatically but it was nice to see. A lot of this was due to Arlee Bird and Alex J. Cavanaugh who regularly comments on my blog, thanks so much Alex, and now there is going to be a Blogfest all about Alex. I will not be taking part as I don’t really know enough about Alex, I haven’t known him a full year yet. But he really is a wonderful person and does his level best to help bloggers and writers everywhere. Not only that, he has written two great books, Cassa Star and Cassa Fire, great space stories and there is a third one on the way.

Today we checked out my favourite store, Vincenzo’s and talked to the catering Borgonzolastaff about doing a cheese tray which I actually had already seen online, guess I could have ordered it there, but I didn’t know if they were more or less set pieces. You can change the selection a bit. For instance, neither of us like Cambazola but we do like Borgonzola, so changed that. Whilst there we picked up a few different kinds of crackers to go with the cheeses. Plus I bought myself some Mascarpone – shouldn’t surprise you – and some more gherkins, primarily for making Tartar sauce to go with fish, dill pickles just do not work. The tray will be picked up on the afternoon of the day we are entertaining. We are planning a wine and cheese get together in December for some of our bowling friends.

A friend posted this recipe on Facebook last Sunday. I was fascinated and decided to share it with you.

Strawberry Santa's

Strawberry Santas1 lb large strawberries
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tablespoons powdered sugar (or sugar substitute - to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Clean out the whole strawberry with a paring knife, if necessary (some of them are hollow already. Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.
3. Once strawberries are filled, top with the 'hats.' Decorate according to photo. (Black candy sprinkles for the eyes.)
4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

Have a great day