Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter, A 2 Z, North Korea.

If you celebrate, I hope Easter is going well for you. Unfortunately, it Easter Eggs UKturned out that we couldn’t bowl on Friday because no-one was prepared to work the time. Later, but not whilst we would have been there. Bummer. I was asked to call those that were going to be there and one woman was mightily ticked off. However, just ‘cos we are on vacation all the time, I suppose others need to have their breaks. It’s just disappointing for us. Had to show English Easter Eggs, haven’t seen one like this in years. I loved them, they were so pretty. Of course if half a Lindt Bunny is 270 calories, I dread to think what the calorie count of these eggs would be. I don't suppose it would stop me eating them.

This is my last post before the A to Z Blogfest Challenge. The work is not just writing the posts, but visiting other people’s blogs. We are asked to try and visit 5 other blogs a day, more if possible. Gonna take a lot of work for everyone. As a minion, or Spunky Soldier, I  have been assigned a bunch of blogs I have to keep an eye on. It just occurred to me that I will have a month’s rest from blogging because of the A to Z blogfest for which I have completed all my blogs. Of course I will have to do a lot of reading so it won’t be a complete break. I quite like doing a letter a day. Gives me a leg up on ideas. Sometimes I go to write and haven’t a clue what I want to write about. Giving me a letter is some kind of inspiration.
North Korea has got me in a tizz again. What with all the marching north Koreaand shouting. I would love to know if the man in the street supports their president or whatever he is called. I can’t believe anyone wants to go to war or to risk being bombed out of existence by the US. I gather a load of dummy bombs were dropped on them which pissed them off even further. Not a good move. I suppose it’s possible that the government have not informed the populace about what is going on in the world just told them what they want them to know. Anyone in this day and age who is not scared of war is a fool.

Lamb is a traditional Easter food in Europe. I would love to do this recipe, but it would be a bit ridiculous for two of us. We actually had lamb chops last night and I am planning turkey for tonight.

Rice Stuffed Crown of Lamb

Tianna Robinson | March 28th, 2013

Create a royal feast for your family this holiday with a crown roast of lamb. Stuffed with an asparagus and shiitake mushroom rice pilaf and topped with an easy to make beurre blanc sauce, this roast contains two dishes in one. Serve with a green salad to complete your majestic table setting
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp each, coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 crown of lamb, made from two 8-rib racks (approx. 4 lbs [2 kg])
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tsp each, coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1-1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups chopped asparagus
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp butter
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper to make a paste. Arrange roast in the centre of a roasting pan. Rub paste all over roast. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day.

Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots, stirring often, until tender, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook stirring often, until golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in rice until well coated with butter and starting to make a popping sound, about one minute. Pour in white wine and let it reduce until almost all absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer; cook until almost all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

In a small pot of boiling salted water, cook asparagus for 30 seconds. Rinse quickly under cold water until completely cooled. Gently stir asparagus, lemon zest and mint into the rice mixture. Set aside.

Roast lamb in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 minutes. Spoon rice mixture into the centre, and
return to oven until lamb reaches desired doneness, about 15 minutes for medium rare 160°F (70°C) (time will vary significantly, depending on the size of the lamb).

Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

While lamb is resting, in medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook shallots, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add broth and chives and cook down until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon sauce over servings of lamb alongside rice.

Makes 8 servings.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter, Travel League, Red Lobster, Blackberry Turnaround.

It being Good Friday I take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy Easter. We will be cooking a turkey breast on Saturday as well as chomping on Lindt Bunnies on Sunday.

Sweet Chilli ShrimpAs I mentioned on Thursday, we went on our Travel League bowling outing and before went for lunch at the Red Lobster. Normally I am not that keen on that restaurant, but a friend recommended Sweet Chilli Shrimp, it was delicious. Best thing I have ever eaten there. It was fairly spicy and my tongue was tingling pretty well eating it. Matt had the same dish and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. I do like their cheese biscuits too and was very careful to allow myself only one. Just as well as I later found out they were 160 calories a piece. As for the bowling itself, the less said about that, the better. We have one more travel league this season and that’s it til September. We are starting in a different alley next season as no-one is yet quite sure where Waterloo Bowling Lanes (our personal home alley) will be with their new place. They talked about opening it about mid September.

I was glad to see a report that Blackberry’s profits are up again after their latest Blackberryintroduction of smart phones. Being a local company, it is obviously good for the area if we have such a successful company in our midst. Their shares really went down for a while but with a $94 M profit I think things will improve immensely. I wish I were still in the job market with all the computer companies in the area, I would love to be involved. In some ways I envy the younger people of today with the technology opportunities they have.

Carrot Cake is, of course, one of my favourite desserts, so I couldn’t resist posting this. I will NOT be making it myself, I am trying to lose, not gain. In fact M & M’s Meat Shops do a very good frozen carrot cake which I keep in the freezer and allow myself a small piece of once a week. But I would like to try this one. Several years ago I asked someone at work who made a lot of cakes to make one and bring me a small piece, she brought me the whole cake. I tried it and left the rest for my colleagues, hard to do, but…..

Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Contributed byJodi Elliot
  • SERVINGS:8 to 10
Carrot cake, that 1970s favorite, has a new audience at luxe restaurants like Manhattan's Le Bernardin. At the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon, pastry chef Jodi Elliot prepares the ultimate version: moist and not too sweet.carrot-cake
  1. 1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
  2. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup vegetable oil
  8. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  10. 4 large eggs
  11. 2 cups sugar
  12. 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded


  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  2. Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  3. 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners' sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour. Slice and serve.
Have a great day

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Laptop, Fire Dept., Glass Smasher, Bowling.

Toshiba SatelliteI have been without my laptop for a couple of days now. There was something serious wrong with it, so I understand. Trouble is I have become accustomed to being able to use it whilst sitting in my lounger with my feet up which is a necessary evil for me since my last vascular operation. Takes quite a time before my ankles settle down and stop looking like footballs if I don’t prop my feet up.

The Fire Department were supposed to come and inspect people’s apartmentsChandelier 001 Tuesday and Wednesday. Apparently they got as far as the second floor and said its bad, fix it. Many of the fuse boxes had  fuses which were more than 15 amp which is a no no so I guess the super now has to go round checking everyone. He removed one from us a few months ago, we didn’t know it was there. He also repaired our chandelier for us again. I thought we were going to have to get a new one, but not this time. I guess they will replace it one of these days whether we like it or not. He also was telling us about damages he had seen from propane tanks exploding in apartments which is another no no. We suddenly remembered we had a propane lamp. Decided to jettison it, just in case. We have only ever used it a couple of times here during a power cut. Guess it will just have to be candles in future.

Following my blog about getting out of a car, I was going to order a glass breaker from but the s & h was prohibitive so I guess I will check one of our local stores. We have a Canadian Tire nearby which will probably sell them as they are principally an automotive company.

Today we have our Travel League Bowling with lunch at the Red Lobster beforehand. Being just before Easter, not sure how many will be there. We also have bowling on Friday which is Good Friday when quite a lot of people will be in church so I don’t suppose there will be many at our league bowling that day either.

The moment I saw this recipe my taste buds just jumped up and yelled at me.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

12 cupcakes

Double Choc Cupcakes

1/2 cup (125 mL) low-fat (1%) buttermilk
2 teaspoons (10 mL) instant coffee
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) cake flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup (60 mL) non-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 mL) semisweet mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup (125 mL) light cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (30 mL) SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 tablespoons (30 mL) non-fat, plain yogurt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin or cupcake cups with liners, set aside. In small saucepan, heat buttermilk until warm. Add instant coffee and whisk until coffee granules are completed dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add SPLENDA® Granulated and whisk to blend. In another bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add oil and whisk to blend. Add buttermilk mixture, sour cream and vanilla extract, whisk to blend. Make a well in dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and fold just until flour is incorporated. Add chocolate chips and fold to blend. Fill prepared cups and bake until skewer inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 12 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool on rack.

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Have a great day

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sinking Car, Blitz, Google Reader.

A to Z Countdown: 5 days.

There was a very good piece on TV the other day about how to get out of your car Escape-from-a-Sinking-Car-Introif you get into trouble driving into water and sinking. The idea is to get out instantly. Roll down the window and get out. Any passengers in the back have to follow you out as most back windows don’t roll down. I personally didn’t know this, I thought you waited til there was water all around to even the pressure on the doors, this IS NOT SO.  There is an escape plan in this article. You can also buy a little gadget for shattering glass which is useful to have in your car for such emergencies. What reminded me of this was the story of a car driving onto a ferry and not stopping, ending in the water at the Cape Breton Ferry. So far they haven’t found anyone.

Yesterday we did our first Blog Blitz (see badge at the side) for P.K. Hezro and as there are now 187 signed up for these Blog Blitzes this blog will have received one hell of a lot of comments. I wonder if I would really want to cope with all those especially if at work and then to come home to endless comments which have to be dealt with.

I personally have never used Google Reader, but I know a lot of people who do and I came across this article from How to Geek which I thought was anGoogle Reader interesting one and tells you what to think about when planning on using another app after the demise of Google Reader. The main thrust of the article is to ensure you can easily transport all your data to another programme if this should happen to you again and, according to the article, it is very likely it will.

Talk about easy peesy, lemon squeezy, these individual Chicken Pot Pies are absolutely in that class. One of North America’s favourite dishes simplified.

Creamy Chicken Potpie

From EatingWell: January/February 2012
An irresistible crisp (but easy) phyllo crust tops these homey individual chicken potpies. Make a double batch and freeze extras to have on hand anytime. Serve with a butterhead lettuce salad with red onion and white-wine vinaigrette.

4 servings  Chicken Pot Pie
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 10- or 12-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables (2-2 1/2 cups), thawed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 sheets 9-by-14-inch phyllo dough, defrosted (follow package directions)
  • Cooking spray (olive oil or canola oil)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring often, until it turns white, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and shallots, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in vegetables and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until hot, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour in 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a boil. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup broth and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the pan. Return to a boil and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the chicken, sour cream, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among four 12-ounce ovenproof baking dishes.
  3. Make 2 stacks of 3 sheets of phyllo each, coating each sheet lightly with cooking spray before stacking. Cut the stacks in half crosswise. Drape one half over each baking dish. Tuck in any overhanging edges.
  4. Set the potpies on a baking sheet. Bake until the tops are golden and the filling bubbly, 18 to 20 minutes.
Have a great day

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cartoon, Bowling, Pandas

I saw this cartoon and thought it was perfect for some of us bloggers who do not attract that many visitors, or if we do, they forget to tell us they have been there. I borrowed this from How to Geek who send me a daily email. It tickled my sense of humour.
Geek Comic

I’m glad to say bowling went fairly well on Monday, I actually had a 200 game, haven’t done that for a while. Thursday is our Travel League which is local with lunch at the Red Lobster. Not our favourite, but everyone else enjoys it.

Toronto Zoo now has a couple of Pandas living with them for a while. They have Panda in planethe Pandas for 5 years and then Calgary will have them for another 5 years. If the Pandas manage to have babies, when the time comes, they will all go back to China. Always seems such a pity to me. I often wonder how these animals take to flying, but this photo shows Da Mao looking very comfortable, as it is captioned, enjoying the in flight catering. His female partner is Er Shun. They were even met at the airport by Prime Minister Harper!

Today L. Diane Wolfe introduced all her Spunky Soldiers of which I am one. Next week we begin our duties in the A to Z Blogfest. Luckily I have completed my own blogs so that will leave me time to assist her. Do join us in the A to Z blogfest.

I love smoked salmon, amongst other things of course, and so this salad appealed to me. I have never liked canned tuna (exception Matt’s Tuna recipe) so the idea of this change should be good.

Smoked Salmon Salad Niçoise

Source: © EatingWell Magazine
2 servings

This twist on a classic salade Niçoise uses smoked salmon in place of tuna and adds extra vegetables in place of hard-boiled eggs and olives. Lovely served as an untraditional brunch, special weekend lunch or light supper. Rather than using belly or nova lox, look for Scottish smoked salmon—it’s particularly lean and more flavorful.

Make Ahead Tip: The potatoes and beans (Step 1) will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days.

INGREDIENTSSmoked Salmon Nicoise
8 ounces small red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
6 ounces green beans, preferably thin haricots verts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 small cucumber, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
12 small cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces

Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place potatoes in a steamer basket over the boiling water, cover and steam until tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Add green beans to the steamer, cover and steam until tender-crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the green beans with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Transfer the potatoes and beans to a towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, dill and pepper in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and green beans, salad greens, cucumber and tomatoes; toss gently to coat.
Divide the salad and smoked salmon between 2 plates.

Have a great day

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lunch, Great Lakes,

Saturday we drove to Burlington, ON, to have lunch with friends. Burlington is on Lake Ontario. A Burlingtondelightful lunch it was too, nice to see them, haven’t done so in such a long time, mostly because they are still young enough to work all the hours God sends so just don’t have a terrific amount of spare time. It was an absolutely beautiful day with blBurlingtonue skies. Still a little chilly, but made you think of spring at least. Of course we do have a lot of snow on the ground in places.  Later, I had intended to shut off the lights for Earth Hour, but I completely forgot until someone mentioned it on Facebook. First time I haven’t done so since the idea began.

Funny thing about The Great Lakes we live in an area surrounded by them (Huron, Erie and Ontario) and yet thThe Great Lakesey rarely impinge on our consciousness. When you do see them, to me its a bit like going to the seaside, there is a frisson of excitement and I try to see as much as possible al;though I am usually in a car. The lakes are absolutely vast, and appear to go on forever. They are really inland seas, not lakes at all. The US and Canada share them all except for Michigan which is entirely in the US. Lake Ontario is the smallest and is 7,320 square miles, 193 miles long and 53 miles at its widest point.

One more week and the A to Z Blogfest begins. I have finished my blogs for the month. As I said before, I have volunteered to help La-to-z-letters-z. Diane Wolfe, as a Spunky Soldier, to keep an eye on her assigned blogs, as yet I don’t know which ones will be my responsibility. Checking today there are over 1200 blogs signed up. If you haven’t joined in, I recommend you do so, its not only great fun, but helps to spread your name around the blogging world so more people read your blogs.

On Sundays I like to have a glass of champagne before lunch. I recently AgedParmButtfound some Parmesan Cheese crisps which I am now adding to my drink. When I was a kid, my mother used to make fried cheddar cheese for me and I loved it. These Parmesan chips are oven baked, but much the same thing and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately they are also quite expensive, $7.99 for 3 oz. which is not very much. It turns out they are made in New York by Kitchen Table Bakers so next time we are in the States I will see if I can get them and bring a few packets home. I do like them so very much. They go very well with champagne too.

In honour of the beginning of Passover this evening, and for those who make seder tonight, here is a Matzoh Ball Soup recipe.

Passover Matzoh-Ball Soup

Contributed by Andrew Zimmern
Photo © Stephanie Meyer
  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • SERVINGS:8 to 10 servings
For 40 years I looked high and low for the best matzoh ball recipe, but nothing measured up to my grandmother’s until I discovered Susan’s, an old family friend. After a Passover seder at her house 20 years ago, I begged for this recipe and finally she gave it to me. It’s the perfect balance for a matzoh ball: light enough to float, dense enough to be a good “sinker.” I can now die in peace knowing I have achieved what every Jewish man should for his family: a roof over their heads and a nice chicken-soup-and-matzoh-ball recipe. We eat this meal year-round, and we call it chicken-in-the-pot. When I make it as a main course, I serve the chicken in sixths with the skin and bone. I will often add kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) or noodles and leave the vegetables in bigger pieces so the dish is more like a poulet pot au feu than a first course for Passover seder. For the uninformed, the seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is held at sundown on the 14th day of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar and on the 15th by observant Jews living outside Israel. That means late March or April for most of us. The meal involves a retelling of the liberation of the Israelites from their bondage in ancient Egypt. It’s basically Thanksgiving for Jews, and it’s my favorite holiday of the Matzoh Ball Soupyear.—Andrew Zimmern

Chicken Soup
  1. 2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  2. One 3-pound chicken

Matzoh Balls

  1. 1 1/4 cups matzoh meal
  2. 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 5 large eggs, 3 separated
  7. 1/4 cup melted chicken fat (schmaltz) or vegetable oil
  8. 1/4 cup minced onion
  9. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for forming the matzoh balls

To Finish

  1. 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  2. 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  3. 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  4. 1/4 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  5. 4 large dill sprigs
  6. 4 large parsley sprigs
  7. Kosher salt
  8. Freshly ground pepper
  1. MAKE THE CHICKEN SOUP In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Add the chicken and return the stock just to a simmer. Cover the chicken with a small plate to keep it submerged and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to maintain a very low simmer; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken and let cool slightly, then shred the meat; discard the skin and bones. Strain the soup into a heatproof bowl. Skim off the fat and return the soup to the pot.
  2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE MATZOH BALLS In a large bowl, combine the matzoh meal, salt, garlic, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs with the 3 yolks, schmaltz and onion. In a separate bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir the schmaltz mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in one-third of the beaten egg whites until incorporated. Gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the batter and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or overnight, until firm.
  3. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of water. Scoop 1-tablespoon-size mounds of the matzoh batter onto the baking sheet. Using the oil-and-water mixture to keep your hands moist, roll each scoop of batter into a ball, handling them as gently as possible.
  4. Return the chicken soup to a simmer. Add the carrot, celery, onion, rutabaga, dill and parsley and season with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the matzoh balls. Cover and cook over moderate heat, turning the matzoh balls a few times, until they are plump and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Stir the shredded chicken into the soup and cook just until the meat is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Make Ahead The soup can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Cover the matzoh balls and shredded chicken with plastic wrap before refrigerating.

Happy Seder to those celebrating.

Have a good day

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bowling, Space Station.

Same ‘ol same ‘ol, a very average game of bowls on Friday. I guess Bowling ballsI have to accept that, I will have the occasional flash in the pan, but generally its going to be average which is why, I suppose, that we have averages. I was trying to explain bowling to my computer guy the other night, I don’t think he had a clue what I was talking about. He is originally from the Ukraine, maybe they don’t bowl over there. This picture shows a rack of house bowling balls, a lot of us own our own balls which get added to the rack. Sometimes there are so many privately owned ones, there isn’t much room for the house balls.

I have been sharing this video with all kind of people and thought I should share it on my blog too. Its a video of the inside of the International Space Station. Really quite incredible. I guess I imagined it to look something like Star Trek or similar inside, I was quite wrong. sent this recipe today, I love crêpes, I love mascarpone and I love chocolate, so what’s not to like about this one?

Chocolate Crêpes with Mascarpone and Toffee

Source: Dessert - The Grand Finale
Active Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Serves 6

Creamy mascarpone and sticky-sweet toffee bring this decadent chocolate crepe to another level.Choc Crepes

For Crêpes:
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Toffee:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
8 oz mascarpone cheese

For Chocolate Sauce:
5 oz semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy, if desired

MAKE CRÊPE BATTER: Place the eggs in a large bowl and beat well. Beat in the sugar, milk, flour, cocoa powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

MAKE TOFFEE: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil until golden, 5-7 minutes. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Pour the toffee onto the sheet and tilt so that the toffee forms a thin layer. Let cool and harden for 10 minutes.

Remove the toffee pieces from the baking sheet, place in a bowl and crush the toffee with a spoon. Stir three-fourths of the crushed toffee into the mascarpone. Set aside the remainder for decoration.

CHOCOLATE SAUCE: Melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water in a double boiler. Stir in the cream until completely blended. Flavour with the brandy, if desired.

MAKE CRÊPES: Heat a crêpe pan or 8-inch nonstick frying pan over moderate heat. Brush the bottom of the pan with some of the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the crêpe batter and tilt the pan to spread the batter evenly and thinly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the crêpe is just set on top and brown underneath. Turn to the other side and cook for 1 minute. Remove to a plate and repeat until all of the mixture is used, making at least 6 crêpes.

Stack the cooked crêpes on a plate with a piece of parchment or waxed (greaseproof) paper between each crêpe. Keep the whole plate covered with a clean dish towel.

When all of the crêpes are cooked, place 1 tablespoon of mascarpone and toffee mixture in the center of each crêpe. Fold the sides over so that it looks like a pillow.

Serve each crêpe drizzled with chocolate sauce and extra toffee.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Planck Telescope, Ou est l’escargot

I have just been reading an article about the discoveries of the Planck telescope Big Bang Afterglowwhich was launched in 2009 and cost $900 million. Specifically they have discovered that the universe is older than originally estimated and they have traced the light of the Big Bang. If you are interested it is an informative article, but, I am a little staggered they spent so much money and then couldn’t provide it with enough coolant to last longer than the end of 2013. For that kind of money, I would have thought they could spend a little bit more to ensure it lasted longer, don’t you think? This is a map of the oldest light in the universe generated from information detected by the Planck mission.

I mentioned that on our trip to the Keg they told us there was a world wide shortage of escargots, or snails. I have been doing some research and it seems most of the snails come from eastern EscargotEurope these days and lately the supply has been drying up. They have snail farms.  When I went to stay with a French family as a youngster, we went out into the fields after we had had a lot of rain and picked up snails. I cannot understand why this can’t be done anywhere. Perhaps more time consuming than buying from an importer, but if you are hungry for escargots bourgignone you could certainly find a few for yourself. Mind you madame put the snails we found into a wicker basket and ran cold water on them for 2 days. Guess water wasn’t too expensive or too unavailable at the time. We had actually picked up 76 snails, and everyone was impressed that the young English girl, who had never eaten them before, managed to eat 6. I’ve scarfed down a lot more since then, guess I contributed to the shortage.

No my recipe is not for escargots, if you can’t get them, no point, right? I found this on I have always loved bruschetta, in fact I was eating it for many years before I realised that it qualified to be called bruschetta, I just called it Tomato Toasts. This is somewhat unusual but sounds good.

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Beans and Fresh Herbs

Source: Casual Cuisines of the World - Trattoria by Mary Beth Clark
Serves 4

In Tuscany, the city of Lucca is known for its outstanding olive oil, showcased here in the garlic-scented toast known as bruschetta. You can also serve the toasts topped with cured meats, marinated roasted peppers or other ingredients of your choosing.
For the Topping:Bruschetta Tomatoes Beans
1 cup seeded and diced ripe beefsteak tomato
3/4 cup well-drained cannellini beans (freshly cooked or canned)
1/4 cup seeded and diced cucumber
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green (spring) onion
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
Freshly ground pepper

For the Bruschetta:
8 slices country-style white or whole-wheat bread, each 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick
1 large clove garlic, cut in half
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a bowl, combine all the topping ingredients, including pepper to taste. Toss well, cover and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or for up to 2 days to allow the flavours to blend.
Preheat a broiler or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Arrange the bread slices on a rack on a broiler pan or on a grill rack and broil or grill for 2 minutes. Turn the bread slices over and continue to cook until golden, 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, rub a cut side of the garlic clove over one side of each warm bread slice and then brush with 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil.
Mound an equal amount of the topping on the garlic-rubbed side of each bread slice. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Have a great day

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring, huh!! Dinner, A to Z

Tuesday it snowed all bloody day and was totally horrid out there. GroundhogNot that I went, but we have a girl who cleans for us once a month and she had trouble getting her car cleaned off and came an hour late which, for a Canadian, shows how bad it was. I can’t see us having spring any time soon, more snow is forecast for the rest of the week. In fact there is a heading on CBC “Canadians brace for a cold spring coast to coast”. Those groundhogs, especially Wiarton Willie, didn’t know what they were talking about. Luckily the roads have been staying pretty clear. Funny this winter, we didn’t have anything much until the beginning of February and then we ended up getting snow and its been snowing on and off ever since. I don’t know if this will be a good or bad thing for asparagus season, at least there should be plenty of moisture. Last year they were having trouble because it didn’t rain.

Last night we finally made it to The Keg – we were given vouchers  as an anniversary present last September. Another couple of friends The Keghad vouchers too so we finally got together and went. Matt and I had never been before, there isn’t one in Kitchener, although there is one in Waterloo and another in Cambridge, neither of which are very far away. Found the service to be very good, but for us, the restaurant was way too noisy. We like to be able to chat amicably not shout across the table. Matt and I had Caesar salad, a beautifully cooked fillet steak with rice pilaf in my case and baked tatie for Matt served with mushrooms and peppers. We also split a bottle of wine between the four of us. Our friends ordered starters, calamari for one and escargots for the other. Turns out there is a world shortage on escargots, didn’t know that, so she didn’t get them; had calamari as well. I’m afraid we weren’t sold on the place and neither of us would go back, mostly because of the noise.

Although the A to Z Blogfest is not til April 1, I have been working on my blogs and have nearly got them all finished. Don’t forget to sign up if you haven’t done so. You can click on the badge at the side and it will take you to the sign up page. Its a fun way to meet other bloggers as well as getting a few more comments on your own blog.

Ketchup seems an odd ingredient, but I must say the picture looks delicious. This is certainly one we will try although possibly with haddock rather than cod, easier to get for us.

Sautéed Cod with Rich Ketchup Sauce

Contributed byJean-Georges Vongerichten
Ketchup is the mystery ingredient in the complexly flavoured sauce for chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's sublime cod and vegetable sauteed-coddish.
  1. 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup ketchup
  3. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  4. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
  6. 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  8. 1 garlic clove, minced
  9. 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  10. 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  11. 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  12. 1 plum tomato—peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  13. 6 large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  14. 6 calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  15. 1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
  16. Pinch of saffron threads
  17. 2 teaspoons shredded basil
  18. 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  19. Four 6-ounce skinless, boneless cod steaks, about 1 inch thick
  20. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter with the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and Tabasco and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Remove from the heat.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the red bell pepper, celery and chile and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a bowl and add the tomato, olives, capers, saffron, basil and thyme.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Season the cod with salt and pepper and add the steaks to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp and the flesh flakes easily, about 12 minutes.
  4. Rewarm the sauce and pour about 2 tablespoons in the center of each of 4 large dinner plates. Set the cod steaks on the sauce and spoon the vegetables on top. Serve immediately, passing any additional sauce alongside.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Let the vegetables return to room temperature before serving.

Have a great day

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Prostitutes Retire, Hyperlink, A to Z Blogfest

Fokkens sistersIncredible story of twin sisters who have just retired after 50 years as prostitutes in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They said they were getting a bit tired and had touches of arthritis. They worked in Amsterdam’s red light district. Their names were Louise and Martine Fokkens. Unbelievable. They estimate they have dealt with 350,000 customers between them in that long time, the longest of any sex worker in Amsterdam. They made enough money to buy themselves a house. I must admit I am a bit took aback and wonder just how many customers they had in their latter years.

Having done the Top 10 Movies Blogfest, I noticed a lot of people were not using the Hyperlink recommended by Shannon on the A to Z Blogfest page. It really does make it easier to find people who leave comments so I recommend those of you, who haven’t done so, make your own before April 1 which, Hilary Melton-Butcher just reminded me, is April Fool’s Day. Everyone seems to be gearing up for the Blogfest to end all Blogfests. If you haven’t done so you can click my A to Z badge and get to the sign up page and add your name to the fun. I just checked and at present there are 1161 blogs taking part. I am a minion for L. Diane Wolfe, or a Spunky Soldier, so will be helping to check on blogs and leave comments or see if the blogger is making it and/or needs help maybe.

As I have had an incipient migraine all day, that’s it for now. We have had lots of snow today and are supposed to have more before its all over. Ah well, when I came here I knew it snowed.
I like pickled carrots so will be giving this one a go.

Dilly Carrots

WebMD Recipe from
Try these garlicky-dilly pickled carrots chopped in your dinner salad for a burst of flavor. They are gluten free too.


Prep: 40 minutes (plus 1 day marinating time) | Total Time: 40 dilly_carrotsminutes
  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks (about 9 cups)
  • 12-24 sprigs fresh dill
  • 3-6 whole large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar, or cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil in a large pot. Add half of the carrot sticks, cover, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the carrots to the ice water to cool. Repeat with the remaining carrots.
  2. Drain the cooled carrots and divide among 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids. Divide the dill and garlic among the jars.
  3. Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the rim, covering the carrots completely. (Discard any leftover brine.)
  5. Place the lids on the jars (or containers). Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Have a great day

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More on Movies

Having joined Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Top 10 Movie Blogfest yesterday, I discovered I had lots more to say about movies.

BloodsportWhat I selected yesterday are my current favourites, not to say things won’t change. I am very fond of The Chronicles of Narnia and have the ones they have made so far. I have all the books and still love to read them now and again. I no longer want to see lots of sex (actually I never did) and violence although I loved things like Bloodsport, Rambo and the Rocky Films. Now I come to think of it, I think the Godfather, not any of the 2nds and 3rds, but the original film, was one of the best. Matt swears he still bears the marks of my fingers where I gripped his arm during the horse scene. Excellent book too. In my pretty long life, I have seen so many movies one way or another, that I have difficulty remembering them anyway unless they come up on TV. I loved all the old musicals like Carousel and Oklahoma and was a devotee of Fiddler on the Roof. In fact now I have written my top 10 I am wondering if I agree with myself.

Going through these, I guess the stories are full of tropes, but they are what I enjoy so I don’t care. I don’t like, nor ever did, films with zombies and vampires although I did read the Twilight Saga. I used to like kung fu and ninja movies but apart from a rerun of Karate Kid which I enjoyed seeing again, I haven’t seen many movies of that genre or calibre for a while, not really since Bruce Lee died.

Then I remembered Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night two really excellent movies, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Sidney Poitier was in both movies. I rarely go to the movies any more so wait until they either come out on DVD or I can get them one way or another from iTunes.
One movie which really sticks in my memory was The Song of Bernadette. For a short while I was at a Catholic school (I actually went to 10 different schools) and they took us to see this movie, it was about the young girl who was visited by the Virgin MarStairway to Heaveny and eventually there was a miracle which became the waters of Lourdes. That film has stuck in my mind for around 68 years, particularly the scene where Bernadette is washing her hands in dirt and talking to the Virgin and everyone else is looking at her as though she is mad. Funny how some things really impress themselves on you.  Another movie like that is Stairway to Heaven made in 1946. No idea how old I was when I saw that. But I always remember David Niven having to ascend the stairway in order to defend himself and argue his right to live. I didn’t realise the original title was A Matter of Life and Death. Then yesterday I suddenly remember 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda, brilliant.

This recipe comes from our local grocery chain and sounds delicious. Obviously items labelled Blue Menu are particular to President’s Choice, their brand, but I have no doubt you can obtain similar ingredients in your neck of the woods.

Effortless Tomato Fish Stew

President’s Choice

One sausage is all you need to ramp up the flavour in this fast fish stew. Quick enough to make on a weeknight after work!

Serves: 6

Effortless Tomato Fish Stew

2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
1 PC Blue Menu Lean Italian Pork Sausages cut crosswise in ½-inch (1 cm) coins, then quartered
1 onion, finely chopped
4 large sprigs PC Fresh Thyme
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp (4 mL) smoked paprika
1 can (796 mL) PC Blue Menu Diced Tomatoes
1 pkg (280 g) PC Blue Menu Tilapia Skinless Fillets thawed and cut in chunks
1/2 tsp (2 mL) granulated sugar
In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl. Add onion and thyme to saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. (Add a little water if sticking to pan.) Stir in garlic and paprika; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes with juices and 1 cup (250 mL) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil uncovered for 3 minutes. Add tilapia, reserved sausage and sugar; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until fish is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Have a great day

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top 10 Movies Blogfest

This is a blogfest being hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh or, as somebody recently christened him, the Blogfather. If you click on the Ninja Captain's badge at the side, it will take you to his announcement.

At the moment, the top of my list is:
AvatarAvatar, fantastic movie, just wish I had seen it in 3D. I don’t want to know how it was done, but the idea of Pandora was incredible and I would love to be a Na’vi. If its sci fi, I enjoy it anyway. Its about scientists ‘driving’ avatars which are created with a combined genome of the local people and the human driver. One of the scientists dies and his twin brother, an ex Marine with a spinal injury, is sent to Pandora in his stead. He ends up getting really close to the Na’vi people.

The King and I, every time the king dies I cry, the film was just a King and Ifairy tale, the real Anna Leonowens wasn’t nearly such a nice person, not sure the king was either. Anna certainly thought they were all savages, if you read her memoires. Anna did help to modernise Siam though. Always liked Yul Brynner.

AnastasiaAnastasia, loved the concept that the Tzar’s youngest daughter might have survived. I always hoped she had. Yul Brynner again and Ingrid Bergman who was always a favourite. Such an elegant woman too, I think I saw most of the movies she ever made. One which comes to mind, was a slightly sad little move called The Yellow Rolls Royce which comprised three stories about the car and its current owners.

Gigi, lovely romance, lovely music. Liked Maurice GigiChevalier. In fact I made a point to see more of his films after I had seen this one. The time of the movie was an era I very much admired, clothing was so graceful and the lives they (well the rich anyway) led seemed to be admirable, or maybe ‘such a bore’.

The King's SpeechThe King’s Speech, well done and a good story based on fact. Colin Firth did an excellent job as the King and Geoffery Rush was a wonderful Lionel Logue. I was familiar with the speech done by the King himself although I didn’t hear it at the time, too young. Also, being too young, I had never heard about the king’s stutter which Colin Firth did beautifully.

Stardust, lots of magic and nasty witches; Michelle Pfeiffer was a Stardustgreat, but nasty, witch. More romance. Wonderful part played by Robert de Niro as Captain Shakespeare, one of the best bits in the movie. I first saw the movie on the plane returning from England and fell in love with it right away. Michelle Pfeiffer was a particularly wicked witch right to the bitter end. Of course there’s another love story. The hero has stars in his eyes.

How to Train DragonHow to Train Your Dragon, very funny although why Vikings should have Scottish accents, I haven’t a clue. A village is constantly plagued by dragons who steal their sheep and burn down their dwellings, the villages are excellent dragon fighters and know all about dragons from their many years of experience until the chieftain’s son, named Hiccup, turns it all on its head. The main love story here is between Hiccup and his dragon.

Dirty Dancing, great story and I love the dancing. Plus I was Dirty Dancingalways nutty about Patrick Swayze. Certainly in his earlier films before he was struck by cancer. I loved him in Roadhouse and Ghost too although not so keen on Point Break which was a surfing movie, good, but not as good to me.  Particularly love Whoopie in Ghost, she played the most wonderful medium.

StarmanStarman, a love story with a twist and an alien played by Jeff Bridges. Earth has sent off invitations to aliens to come visit us. When one does, they shoot him down. He simulates a widow’s husband, but has to get back to his mother ship soon or he will die. At first she, the widow, is terrified but eventually, surprise, surprise, they kind of fall in love. OK, I love happy endings, so sue me!!

The Last Starfighter, you don’t have to be stuck in a boring The Last starfighterlife. A young man on a trailer park, fed up with spending his life fixing people’s power circuits and running errands. Disappointed about not getting a loan to go to a good college and take his girlfriend with him. His one pleasure is to play a video game of starfighting and protecting a planet against an armada. One day he breaks the record on the machine only it turns out it was actually a test for a real off world situation, not just a game at all. The only ‘name’ I know was Robert Preston of Music Man fame.

I want to say so much more on this subject, thinking about it, that I have started tomorrow’s blog about movies rather than make too long a post for the blogfest.
As this is all about movies, I thought a drink served on Oscar night would be appropriate.

Paris's Crimson Champagne Cocktail

Epicurious | February 2008

By Lara Shriftman and Elizabeth Harrison

Paris's Crimson Champ. Cocktail
yield: Makes 1 drink


Brandy-cranberry syrup
  • 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
  • 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece star anise

Champagne cocktail
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Champagne
  • 1 fresh cranberry, for garnish

For cranberry syrup
In a medium saucepan, boil the cranberry juice cocktail, the ginger, the cinnamon stick, and the star anise for half an hour or until reduced to 1 cup. Let cool.
For cocktail
Fill a Champagne flute half-full with Champagne and add the brandy. Add 1 ounce Brandy-Cranberry Syrup and mix. Garnish with fresh cranberry.
Cook's note: The syrup recipe makes enough for 10 drinks.

Have a great day