Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introducing Myself

This is a blogfest hosted by Stephen Tremp at Welcome To Author Stephen Tremp's Website where his blog today tells us something about who Stephen is. The intent is for all of us to tell something about ourselves which is what I hope to do.

I wrote my first blog on October 25th, 2007 and then the next day I wrote a post called Who Am I?

Thames BargeI am a Canadian and have been since 1978, however I started life as a mewling infant in Cheshire, England. They gave me World War II for my first birthday – you can work out for yourself how ancient I am. After that war, my parents went to live in the South of England, in Rochester of Charles Dickens’ fame; we eventually moved onto a Thames Barge called Iota. It was a wonderful craft. They were built to carry goods (bricks, straw) up and down England’s rivers and coastal waters, in particular the Thames which flows through London: someone got the idea of converting them to residences. The barges had flat bottoms so could go into the shallowest waters. They had leeboards on either side to prevent them drifting in the wrong direction. Most had a mainsail, topsail, and foresail. Some had a mizzen sail aft (at the back) as well and were usually operated by a man and a boy although I knew at least one married couple who operated a Thames barge for many years.

This was an incredible place to live. We had fitted carpets and a fridge (pretty European Coastlineluxurious in a boat) not many appliances available in the UK those days. I remember the fridge was a pain in the butt as it was propane fired and had to be kept level. Keeping a fridge level on a boat of any kind is difficult. I remember lots of problems and swearing about that fridge althougSunfishh I was only about 9 or so at the time. My father loved to sail so we took Iota to France, Holland and Belgium on many occasions. This was how I learned to love food and how my mother improved her skills as a gourmet cook. When she first got married, she literally couldn’t boil an egg. In later life she used to say that actually that is a difficult thing to do well. I am not quite sure at what age my father bought the second boat on which we lived, it was a converted MFV (Motor Fishing Vessel) but had never been used for fishing, in fact, during the war it had been used for mine sweeping. She was called Sunfish (registered as Silver Sunfish) and was a much better vessel for sailing where my father wanted to go, she could manage practically any weather the North Sea could throw at her. She was the last of my parent’s boats on which I lived, I went to live in the big city (London) in a bed sitter to live the glamorous life, ha!!

BecauseRiddlesworth of the war, we moved around a lot as my father was in the Air Force. I went to nine different schools, so maybe that’s where I got my taste for travel. Must admit, I always disliked school, I found it very boring. Guess I was a poor student. I have the distinction of having attended one of the the same schools as Princess Di, Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk, England. Some several years apart of course.
My father was also a very good cook, I suppose he taught my mother a lot about food, and, lucky me, my husband is also a good cook. You could say that good kipperfood is in my blood. Before I went to boarding school, I wouldn’t eat, especially stews which, because of the war, we had a lot of. I would sit for hours holding a mouthful and not swallowing. I think I improve a bit, then when I went to Riddlesworth food was adequate, but not enough. They used to serve us half a kipper for breakfast – I love kippers but had never been served just half a fish. My letters home were always full of requests for food. My mother would send me fruit cakes and such to put in my tuck box [a box for storing eatables (especially at boarding school)]. We were allowed to open our tuck boxes at weekends as far as I remember. We also had make and mend classes at weekends, I got away with pulling off a button from my pajama jacket and sewing it back on for the longest time, I was finally caught and was forced to repair them properly. I hated sewing, I don’t ever remember being taught although my mother could certainly both knit and sew. In my life I managed to knit one sweater and make one skirt and that was my lot. I used to embroider a lot, once upon a time. My paternal grandmother won prizes for embroidery, maybe I got it from her.

Anyway, that’s enough to let you know where I came fom. There’s more ‘stuff’ at the side on this page if you want to know more.

On Saturday my group of cooking friends and I are planning to prepare an Italian meal, we are spread around a few countries, and everyone seems to be doing something different although once upon a time we all used to try and cook the same thing. I was quite determined we would not do pasta, and I’m not, but one friend is doing a lasagna. This is my dessert choice assuming I can find unsalted pistachios.

3 cups milkbolognese_rice_cake-256x188
3/4 cup Arborio rice
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp grated orange or lemon zest
2 Tbs rum
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the rice, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is very soft and creamy. Stir often to prevent sticking.  Remove from heat and cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
3. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan.
4. Stir the eggs into the rice.
5. Add sugar, nuts, raisins, vanilla, butter, and zest.
6. Pour in the prepared baking pan.
7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Remove from the oven.
9. While the cake is still warm, pierce the top in several places with a fork.
10. Pour the rum over the cake.
11. Cool to lukewarm.
12. Invert the cake to remove from the pan and invert again to a serving dish.
13. Cool completely.
Yield: Makes one 10-inch round cake
Author Notes
Bologna is the capitol of the northern region of Emilia Romagna in Italy.  Bolognese rice cake is served as a celebratory cake and is very typical during the Easter season. The cake is prepared with rice cooked in milk which is then mixed with sugar, nuts, and raisins, baked, and flavored with rum.  Rice cake is very dense and is usually served cold.  If you are looking for a gluten free dessert, Bolognese rice cake is a delicious choice.

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - you've had a very interesting life - seen the world go by as such .. and have many interests .. this was a fun read ... I quite like the idea of the rice cake - though I usually stay away from cakes, biscuits et al .. but enjoy that Italian meal ...

    Cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. My schooling suffered, but I visited lots of coastal towns along the European coast and encountered all kinds of cultures.

  2. How cool to live on a boat! I can see how traveling around so much would give you a gift and appreciation for a wide array of tastes. And thanks for participating in Re-Introduce Myself!

    1. Morning Stephen. Actually, at the time I didn't appreciate it, but looking back I can see how great it was.

      Glad to join in.

  3. Hi Jo!!!! I just wanted to tell you that you have the wrong link on Stephen's blog. You have and it should be I figured out it was you, but you might want to change the link. Your rice cake looks DELISH!!!!! And I'm always glad to re-meet a fellow Canuck!

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks - I guess I will have to get Stephen to fix it. I don't think I can.

      Nice to meet you too.

  4. Hi Jo. You lived on a barge?
    Wow, that sounds so cool... especially for a kid... and you've travelled to so many different places too!
    I love sardines, mixed with a finely chopped onion and green chilli, add a dash of salt&pepper for taste and serve on toast... yummy! Along our coast we have an annual "sardine run", when millions of silvery sardines are washed ashore and hundreds of predators partake in a feeding frenzy...

    1. Which coast Michelle, sounds great. From the Portuguese I learned to eat the large sardines cooked on a barbecue which we love. We can buy them frozen here, it would be3 great to have them fresh.

  5. Living on the boat sounds wild! What an adventure. Funny, I was a military brat, and after moving so much, I just wanted to stay put in one place.

    1. Sort of stuck in one place these days Alex, although we would both like to move more and more.

  6. It must have been mighty interesting living on a barge. That fish looks like a mackerel, which makes me wonder if kippers are the same thing. Nice to meet you, Jo!

    1. Actually no, a kipper is a smoked herring. A specialty of the Scots originally.

      Thanks for dropping by, nice to meet you too.

  7. You've lived an interesting and adventurous life. I enjoyed reading about it very much. I'm glad your participated in this blogfest. And I love hte picture at the top ofyour blog. A beautiful place. Christy

    1. Hi to you and thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed my blog. The picture at the top was taken in North Carolina at one of our favourite spots.

  8. What an adventurous life!

    I get seasick, couldn't do it, but I do love watching the boats on the water, as well as the air planes in the sky (don't fly either)

    Gosh, I'm boring! :)

    Nice to meet you Jo!

    1. I used to get seasick too Yolanda, but I grew out of it. I cannot imagine not being able to fly either.

    2. I'd return your visit but can't find your blog. Sorry.

  9. It'd be neat to live on a boat. I used to take a ferry to work. It was fun for awhile. Then it got tiring. Great to meet you.

    1. When I lived in NC for a while, I used to love using the ferries when we could, but a daily ride could get boring I imagine.

    2. Same thing, M Pax, can't find a blog of yours to visit.

  10. Replies
    1. Yep for 12 years Diane, loved every minute of it.

  11. HI, Jo,

    Really fantastic to meet you. What a fascinating story! I'm with Renee.... I could never live on a boat either for the same reason. BUT i do love being by the sea. Water is so calming to me. I have never lived more that a few blocks from a body of water, whether it be the ocean, a lake, or a canal. Presently I live in Chicago across the street from the north pond which is directly in from to LAKE MICHIGAN. About a five minute walk for me. LOVE it in the summer.... HATE it in WInter. LOL.

    1. On a little island like Britain, its kind of born in bred into us to be seafarers. We had a boat in North Carolina too, just a runabout, and one friend who went with us but was scared the whole time. Thanks for visiting.