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



  1. The Crayola crayons have stood the test of time. They even appear on a USA stamp which I showed in one of the Sunday Stamps posts.

    1. I think I saw that one Bob. I was surprised at the statistics

  2. Stealing from the Salvation Army? That is just so wrong.

  3. Frankly, I think anyone who steals from the Salvation Army and Sally Ann should be arrested, not just fired. That's appalling given the work these organizations do for so many.

    Crayolas are my favorite coloring crayon. The colors maintain well and produce a good color--some others are too waxy. Yes, I still love to color and I've done artwork with them. My mom still has my portraits I did of some of my siblings. Crayola does make a great set of colored pencils too.

    1. I agree Sia, but they haven't yet got to the bottom of it. We aren't sure if the guy who was fired was let go because it happened on his watch or because he had anything to do with the theft.

      Didn't know Crayola made pencils too. You should see the pictures an English friend does with coloured pencils, Fantastic portraits. I would love to see your portraits.

  4. That is awful about the Salvation Army's toys! Shame on whoever did this to needy children!!!!!!

    I don't know what year it was, but I remember the excitement of getting my first box of 64 crayons. We usually could only afford the 24 boxes. It was such a good feeling to have all of those colors. :)

    1. Shame indeed.

      I don't remember crayons as a kid, but I guess I must have had them.