Monday, December 30, 2013

Pant Suit, Table Coverings, Power, New Year.

Boxing DayI posted a picture of myself in my new pant suit and was absolutely staggered by all the comments and compliments I received. I only wanted to show everyone what my pant suit looked like, I was very pleased with it. It is very comfortable to wear and the material feels soft and floaty, if you know what I mean. I am posting it here too, no, not because I want more compliments, I just want you to see what a nice pant suit it is. This pic was actually taken on Boxing Day (Dec 26) shortly before our dinner guest came. I was actually wearing heels, albeit not very high ones. Something I don't do very much these days. It's amazing what a difference losing weight makes to such things though. Not that I would want to stagger walk very far in them. I have never figured out how people do walk in the excessively high heels of today, I thought the ones I used to wear were high enough, they were not a patch on those people wear now.

Boxing Table
This was the table before we sat down. For some reason the gold table cloth wouldn’t stay flat and our friend suggested putting a rug or blanket underneath which made me think of chenille table cloths which were used in England at one time. They were left on the table more or less permanently and then another cloth was laid across them when the table was to be  used. I googled and you can still buy them in England but at an exhorbitant price and that’s without the shipping costs. The only things I could fine on this continent were not really the same thing at all.

In Ontario we still have lots of people without power, I am so sorry for them. I don’t know how they are keeping warm and what is happening with babies and old people in this situation. They are so vulnerable at times like this.

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year. We are not doing anything special and I am not even sure I will bother to stay up long enough to drink a toast in champagne. I am not positive when I will post again this week. Today, of course, we are going bowling. We missed not being able to bowl on Thursday last week.

This dish from Cooking Light was posted on My Recipes this week and as we love halibut I thought it would be a good one to include, particularly after the excesses of Christmas. I don’t know of refrigerated potato wedges, but obviously one can substitute. Personally I would probably forget the potatoes for me, don’t eat them much anyway.

One-Dish Poached Halibut and Vegetables

Light and healthy, this no-fuss fish supper takes just 20 minutes to make. Be sure to serve with lots of crusty bread for dipping in the anise-scented vegetable broth.

Cooking Light OCTOBER 2005 halibut
  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, about 1 1/2 cups vegetable mixture, and 1 lemon wedge)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated red potato wedges (such as Simply Potatoes)
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 lemon wedges
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes.
Sprinkle one side of fish with paprika, salt, and pepper. Add fish, seasoning side up, and thyme to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with lemon wedges.

Have a great day and a Happy New Year. See you next year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013.

Purple BrusselsI cooked the Brussels Sprouts recipe I posted just before Christmas. It was delicious, I was very pleased with it. I also bought some purple Brussels too, never seen them before, Matt refused to try them but I thought they were good and slightly sweeter than the usual ones. I am planning to serve them today, Boxing Day (Dec 26) for our guest.

What a Christmas, the headline on the news page of CBC on Christmas Day was “Tens of Thousands of Canadians Without Power” as a result of the ice storm of course. Then Christmas Eve night, Matt went into the bedroom to retire and the heating system was making one hell of a noise. It is a hot water system and what we could hear was like rushing water. That stopped eventually, I had called the Super who said he couldn’t do much about it, especially at Christmas!!! Then it started making some really weird noises, with my CPAP machine I could drop off, but Matt couldn’t. Just about then there was a loud knocking on our door, Super’s wife wanting to know if we had any flooding as a pipe had broken in the heating system and in the floors above us people were quite badly flooded. Lucky for us, we were OK. Of course the heat was off now too, however, whoever they called to fix it, this morning the heat was OK again. There was at least one more place flooded on our floor but we escaped. That doesn’t take into account all the poor people in disaster areas who are in even more trouble.

However, on Christmas morning everything seemed to be OK so we Christmas Morning Kirhad breakfast, cleaned up, and started cooking moves. Around 11 Matt poured me a Kir Royale which is Cassis and sparkling wine. Cassis is a French liqueur made from blackcurrents and in champagne, absolutely delicious. The Cassis was a presie today too. Then as has been traditional in my family for as long as I can remember, we had slices of ham and Coleman’s Mustard (very hot). Unfortunately the ham was a bit dry and Matt figured tasteless. I Ham for Brunchdidn’t think it was too bad and ate mine. We buy a fully cooked ham and eat it without heating it in any way. If I want to cook ham I buy it uncooked. However, I do prefer ham with fat round the edges but sadly those kinds of hams are usually way too big for just the pair of us. We would be eating it for a month.

Ice PicWe actually got a white Christmas and it snowed a bit during the day too which made everywhere look really pretty. Yesterday there were some wonderful sights with trees covered with ice sparkling in the sunshine – I wanted to take pix but the sun was wrong for me. This is one I copied from CBC News although with the sun it 2013-12-25 04.51.07looked great. There are more ice pix there if you want to check them out. This picture is one I took from one of the bedroom windows. Shows the white street too. I was going to edit out the windows, but I wanted to point out how clean they are and we have had them for quite a few months now. Those trees were covered in ice yesterday (24th)

Here’s something to counteract all that rich food we have been eating lately.


From EatingWell:  January/February 2013
This vegetable-packed minestrone soup recipe is inspired by a popular Weight Watchers vegetable soup recipe. It makes a big pot of soup, so keep some in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and freeze the rest of the vegetable minestrone soup in single-serve portions. That way you always have an easy, delicious vegetable soup to start your meal or to eat for lunch. Think of this vegetable minestrone recipe as a starting point for other healthy soup variations, too: toss in leftover chopped cooked chicken or whole-wheat pasta or brown rice to make it more satisfying.
10 servings
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 medium stalks)
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped cabbage
  • 3 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1/2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 medium)
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces, or frozen, thawed
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach or one 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 10 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven (8-quart or larger) over medium heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 13 to 15 minutes. Add cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and green beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 10 minutes more.
  2. Add broth, water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, beans and bay leaf; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in spinach and simmer for 10 minutes more.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in basil. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Have a great Boxing Day to my English, Canadian and Australian friends. To everyone else, have a great day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas, Ice Storm, Bowling.

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends and readers. Not sure if I will post over Christmas, probably not.

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a storm and a half on Sunday with the result that a lot of Ontario is in a mess. Monday morning there were still 300,000 people without power in Toronto alone, not to mention other areas. Some of these people will probably not get power again until after Christmas. I am so sorry for them, what a time for it too happen. We were really on the fringe of the storm and very lucky; however, driving to the bowling alley on Monday afternoon, I have never seen anything like it. It looked more like a hurricane had blown through. There were large tree limbs as well as dozens of smaller ones, down all over the place. Everything is still covered in ice, very pretty, but the weight of the ice is pulling trees apart like ripped cardboard. Never seen such extreme results from freezing rain before. We lost power for about 12 hours and we were really lucky that’s all that happened to us.

I took a few photos of our tree and some ornaments. Our tree which is covered in orn2013-12-23 05.47.50aments. I missed the top. Not much of a cameraman me. 2013-12-23 05.48.29
We have two of these Santa boots, hope his feet don’t get too cold.

2013-12-23 05.48.47
I love this big red bird, saw it in a store a few years ago and couldn’t resist. I have quite a few birds on the tree including a poor looking bird which might have been a partridge and has lost a lot of feathers, but my mother bought it years ago.2013-12-23 05.49.00 Here’s a white dove and I also have a robin. Once upon a time we had two, but it went the way of lots of things and didn’t survive many years.

I do hope you all have a Merry Christmas, we intend to. A friend in England commented that she always knew it was Christmas because of all the emails she got about how to cook turkeys or to feed 6 people on the day. Her comment was, “what do they think people do for the rest of the year?”.

For me, bowling was rough, Matt did well. However, I was somewhat touched that one of the owners had gone to the trouble of buying doughnuts for us and in particular the special ones he knew I liked. Two of them for me. Won’t do my weight much good but…. can’t very well say no, especially when he had gone to the trouble of visiting two Tim Horton’s coffee shops just to get me my favourites.

Most of you will already have your menu planned for Christmas, but here’s a Brussels Sprouts recipe from which I may very well try this year.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Source: © EatingWell Magazine
Active Time:  40 Minutes
Total Time:  1 Hour 40 Minutes
12 servings, 1/2 cup each
Rec Image
This easy side dish combines the natural sweetness of caramelized shallots with the earthiness of Brussels sprouts, a fall favourite.

24 small shallots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, preferably small
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Peel shallots, leaving the root ends intact so they'll hold together. Place on a large sheet of foil; sprinkle 1 tablespoon oil over the top. Seal the packet and bake until the shallots are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from foil and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, remove the outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and trim the stems. Cut the small sprouts in half and quarter the larger ones. Place the shallots and Brussels sprouts in a roasting pan. Toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and salt.
Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Roast, tossing twice during cooking, until the Brussels sprouts are tender and lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes.

Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Lovely weekend, fog on Friday, fog on Saturday, freezing rain storm Sat/Sunday night, power off from around 5 a.m. til 5:15 p.m. so no real chance to write a blog. We spent Sunday huddling and trying to keep warm. Couldn’t shower – out bathrooms are windowless and anyway the hot water cooled pretty quickly, no coffee, no nothing. So sorry, no blog either.

Hope you have a better time of it than we did.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Windows, Bowling, Kir Royale, Book.

glass bush shelterIn all my years of living in Canada, today I saw something I had never seen before. A guy cleaning a glass bus shelter with a squeegee. Never occurred to me that someone would go round cleaning the glass, bit dumb of me ‘cos I guess it gets very dirty, especially in the winter, but never having seen it, it never occurred to me. I guess it would be too expensive to replace them with self cleaning glass like we have in most of our windows in the apartment now. Mind you our windows don’t get mud splashed or anything.

I really had a good game on Thursday, My last game was 224 so I Bowling Pin Placement 5was delighted, I also bowled a turkey for the first time in I don’t know how long. (3 strikes in a row if you are not familiar with the game). Matt’s first game was lousy but the two after were also excellent – he beat me in the second game and I beat him by 4 points in the third game. The other two who bowl with us didn’t do well at all today, don’t know why, they are both usually good bowlers. Just they way the cookie crumbles I guess. We will be bowling as a foursome on Monday and that will be it until the following Monday.

Had to pop in at the grocery store – it was very crowded, then went Kir Royaleto the liquor store and that was worse. Must be some important holiday coming up I guess!!! They are forecasting a lousy weekend weatherwise too so people are probably trying to avoid shopping then. I was wondering just how much money the liquor store takes at this season. A packet I would imagine. Matt technically bought me a bottle of Cassis for Christmas to make Kir Royales (with champers). We buy splits for me, Matt not being that keen on champagne. Officially they aren’t champagne as they were not produced in the Champagne region of France. Bubbly wine.

By the way, the book I won this time was Cupid’s Christmas by Bette Lee Crosby. I will look forward to reading it.

No Saturday blog again this week. Not sure how many blogs I will post during Christmas week either. Slurping Kir Royales I may not be up to it, LOL.

Here’s an interesting recipe from BBC Food. Maybe after Christmas. I love oriental noodle dishes.

Malaysian-spiced noodles with tofu

Malaysian-spiced noodles with tofu
Aromatic, rich and spicy - proof, if you ever needed it, that vegetarian food is anything but bland.


For the spice paste
For the sauce
For the noodles
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp for frying
  • 150g/5oz fresh tofu, cut to 2.5cm/1in squares, dried on kitchen paper
  • 20 oyster mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 8 sugar snap peas or mange tout, blanched, cut in half lengthways
  • 400g/14oz ready-made udon noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
To serve

Preparation method

  1. For the spice paste, place all of the spice paste ingredients, except the vegetable oil, into a food processor and blend to a pulp.
  2. With the motor still running, gradually add the oil and continue to blend until you get a loose paste (you may not need to use all the oil).
  3. For the sauce, place a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spice paste and fry gently for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further five minutes.
  5. For the noodles, half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with vegetable oil and heat until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
  6. Add the tofu cubes and deep-fry for 2-3 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper.
  7. Heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil in a clean frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oyster mushrooms and fry for three minutes, or until softened.
  8. Add the mushrooms to the sauce.
  9. Add the sugar snap peas (or mange tout), deep-fried tofu and udon noodles to the sauce and stir well to combine.
  10. To serve, spoon to the curry into serving bowls and garnish each with fresh coriander leaves, lime wedges and crushed peanuts, to taste.
Have a great day

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gigi, This and That as Well as the Other.

GigiI am, of course, writing this on Wednesday night and I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy because I have just watched Gigi. Another of my favourite movies. Maybe I should go and get Bloodsport to change my mood. I’ve always love Gigi and particularly loved Maurice Chevalier. The first time I saw it, i made a point of seeing all his old movies whenever I could get hold of them or find them somewhere. He made some very good ones over the years. I always loved Louis Jourdan too I saw him do other movies but I can no longer remember what they were.

Today our new cleaning ladies start so I hope they prove to be good especially in view of what they charge. They did drop their prices for us, but even so it’s more than we have been paying, so here’s hoping.

Also bowling today. The League is now off until December 30th, but my Thursday group have decided to bowl on Monday anyway. Get at least one shot at exercise that week. With all the food around, I need it. Need to make use of my treadmill too.

Last night I was delighted to get a phone call from my cousin in California. We haven’t seen each other in a number of years, not since his son was stationed in Morehead City, NC and he visited us there too. Turns out he is just about one year older than Matt.

I won another book today too. I will talk about it later when I have it. I seem to be lucky winning lately, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

Not much to talk about tonight, still getting snowed upon, Matt reckons we have had 6 inches which, compared to some, really isn’t that much. Might get a white Christmas yet.

These figs really appealed to me, I’ve seen lots of figs in the stores. Of course the calorie count would be pretty horrendous I think. This was from

Figs Stuffed with Chocolate and Almonds

Source: Casual Cuisines of the World - Taverna

Serves 6
Rec Image
Although the combination might not seem obvious at first glance, one taste of these confections shows how well-suited dried figs are to the rich tastes and textures of chocolate and almonds. Serve this after-dinner sweet with a glass of good Portuguese port or Madeira.

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds, plus 12 whole blanched almonds
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 large dried figs

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the slivered and whole almonds on a baking sheet, keeping them separate. Bake until toasted and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Set aside the 12 whole almonds. Leave the oven set at 350 degrees F.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the sugar, slivered almonds and chocolate. Use rapid on-off pulses to form a coarse paste.
Cut off the stems from the figs. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a small slit 1 inch deep in the top of each fig. Using a small spoon, stuff each slit with about 1 teaspoon of the almond-chocolate mixture. Pinch the openings closed. As the figs are stuffed, place them on a baking sheet, stem sides up.
Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the figs over and continue to bake until softened, about 5 minutes longer.
Remove from the oven and press a whole almond into the slit. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Have a great day

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oscar Hammerstein, Artichoke Bottoms, Brie, Fruit Cake.

Last night we watched a production about Oscar Hammerstein, Out of My DreaThe King and I2ms. A fascinating story about a fascinating man. This was on PBS out of Buffalo, WNED, and one of the thank you gifts was 12 DVDs of Rogers and Hammerstein shows fully restored and remastered. All for a donation of $125 which we have meant to do for 38 years. I have often felt guilty for not contributing to WNED before so now I feel much happier. We loved all these shows in our younger days and we can sing practically all the lyrics, albeit badly, but we both know all the words. Carousel, Oklahoma, Showboat and The King and I are amongst the DVDs we are going to get. When I was young I used to be in love with Gordon McCrae, Howard Keel and Yul Brynner. For many years If I Loved You from Carousel was my favourite love song. I hadn’t realised, seeing the shows over the years, how politically involved Oscar Hammerstein was; how he fought in his own way against injustice and prejudice and what a strong social conscience he had. He really was quite a man.

It is still snowing round here, at this rate, it should last over the Christmas period, but the roads are such a mess at the moment. We had to go do some shopping this afternoon, and there is so much dirty slush around, luckily when we look out of our windows, all we see is a park covered in beautiful white snow. One of the things I artichoke bottomswas looking for today was frozen artichoke bottoms. Vincenzo’s which I have mentioned many times, told me they had frozen hearts so we went there, but they were exactly that, frozen slices, not the cup shaped bottoms of an artichoke. Not suitable for the recipe I posted. Spinach and Brie Topped Artichoke Hearts, however, it turned out they did have cans of artichoke bottoms by Clic from Egypt of all places. I don’t associate Egypt with artichokes, but we live and learn. I gather they need to be rinsed well before using in this recipe.

We also came across some rounds of Brie so I decided to try a Brierecipe I posted for Baked Camembert a few days ago. Having decided to use Brie instead of Camembert I put the cheese into a small round dish to cook. I slashed the cheese and poured some Vermouth on it plus added herbs and chucked a few pecans on top for good measure, it was cooked in the toaster oven. I enjoyed it but the Brie flavour was extremely delicate and Matt swore he couldn’t taste it at all. He thinks it’s because it was cooked, I think it’s because this particular Brie we bought today didn’t have a very strong flavour in the first place. This will be settled later when we eat the second Brie uncooked. Unfortunately this does happen sometimes that some Brie have such delicate flavours one can hardly taste them.

Talking of food, I am one of the few people who like Christmas fruit cake. For some reason hundreds of people in this part of the world Christmas Cakedon’t like it. There is always a joke about fruit cakes being gifted on all the time passing around for years. A friend came to pick up her Avon today and brought me a piece of her cake which she recently cooked. I knew she included a particular rum in it, she had been talking about it on Facebook, so later, at lunchtime, we tried it (Matt doesn’t much like fruit cake either) and we both enjoyed it. I haven’t made a Christmas cake in 41 years (or since I married Matt) because Matt didn’t like them. Amazing isn’t it. At least he did like my Christmas puddings. I don’t make those either any more. This picture shows one topped with marzipan, I used to use marzipan and then royal icing. I made some gorgeous looking cakes but never took pictures.

I just got this recipe from the Food Network. I like roasted root vegetables and am thinking seriously of doing them this Christmas for a change from the usual Brussels Sprouts.

Anna Olson's Roasted Root Vegetables

serves 6

Anna Olson's Roasted Root Vegetables
Seasonal root vegetables get kicked up a notch with a homemade vinaigrette.


Roasted Root Vegetables
1 cup peeled and diced carrot
1 cup peeled and diced parsnip
1 cup diced celery root
1 Delicata squash, seeded and diced (you can leave the skin on)
2 shallots, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Warm Vinaigrette
1+ 6 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds


Roasted Root Vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Toss carrot, parsnip, celery root and squash with shallots, olive oil and thyme and season lightly. Place in an 8-cup baking dish and roast for 30 to 40 minute, until vegetables are equally tender. Remove thyme sprigs.
Warm Vinaigrette
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté shallot for one minute over medium heat. Whisk in mustard, vinegar and rosemary and reduce heat to low.
2. Whisk in remaining 6 tbsp oil in a slow drizzle and season to taste.
3. When ready to serve, toss warm roasted vegetables with warm vinaigrette, garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Have a great day

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santa Clones, Enya, Bowling.

SantaI had an epiphany (right time of year too) Alex J. Cavenaugh claims to use clones for all he does, so where did he get his cloning machine? Santa  of course. I figure that’s how Santa Claus gets to all the kids of the world, by clones. He doesn’t use reindeer in Australia either, but six white boomers (white kangaroo) so he probably has specially cloned Australian Santas as well for that run. Just typing this it occurred to me, in the UK we say Father Christmas, but I have been over ‘ere so long I don’t even think anything but Santa Claus now.

I have been telling people here and there about our favourite version of Silent Night sung by Enya in Gaelic. If you have never heard it, here it is from YouTube. Enjoy.
We’ve had the CD for a number of years now and enjoy it every year at Christmas time.

Monday was our last league bowling before Christmas so we had a Pin_Animation1Christmas lunch which was catered by the wives of the two owners, who, themselves, are father and son. They really did us proud with a good variety of sandwiches and various sides as well as lots of desserts including pumpkin and apple pies.  Everyone was very impressed and really enjoyed it. I then proceeded to bowl two very good games, which delighted me as well but I was taken down a peg or two in the third game, yuk.

Oops I nearly forgot, I was the lucky winner on Yolanda Renee's blog site and got a copy of both her books Memories of Murder and Murder, Madness, Love and also a copy of Polar Night  by Julie Flanders. I very rarely win anything so I am delighted with these three ebooks.

Here’s another delicious starter or possibly dessert.

Caramelized Pear on Warm Brie

Source: Splenda

8 servings

1 green onion
2 tsp (10 mL) butter
1 pear, diced
pinch each salt and cinnamon
1/4 cup (50 mL) pear juice or apple juice
3 tbsp (50 mL) chopped pecans
1 tbsp (15 mL) SPLENDA® Brand Brown Sugar Blend
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) cider vinegar
1 round (200 g) Brie cheese


Thinly slice green onion, keeping white and green parts separate.
In nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat; fry pear, white part of onion, salt and cinnamon for 5 minutes or until pear is softened.
Add pear juice, pecans, SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, thyme and vinegar; boil, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until no liquid remains.
Place Brie on ovenproof serving dish; top with pear mixture. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is softened. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green part of onion.

Have a great day

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow? Peter O’Toole.

Snow on PyramidsThe weekend has been snow, snow, snow. Saturday it snowed virtually all day although it was a very fine, light fall then Sunday it continued to snow but bigger flakes came down. It certainly covered everything in sight. From the reports on TV though, we didn’t get as much as some areas. It is supposed to warm up Snow Camelsagain during the week and, as Christmas is still over a week away, who knows whether we will have a white or a green Christmas. Stephen Tremp posted pictures on Facebook showing the Pyramids, in Egypt, covered in snow which hasn’t happened for 100 years. There are also pictures of camels in the snow, they must be wondering what on earth has hit them. Later I saw pictures of Jerusalem covered in snow.

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Peter O’Toole this weekend. peter-o-toole-star-of-lawrence-of-arabiaHe was my all time favourite actor. He was absolutely brilliant and we all admired him when I was in drama school as a young woman. At the time the general opinion was that anyone who acted with the Bristol Old Vic was going to be outstanding, it had a very good reputation. Although he is most well known for his part in Lawrence of Arabia, I always loved his portrayal of King Henry in Becket. Apparently both O’Toole and Richard Burton (who played Becket) both drank heavily and their off set carousing made headlines. In those days, mind you, actors generally drank a lot. I remember some actors would keep a case of beer in their dressing rooms during performances. I loved the quoted comment by Nöel Coward, “if O’Toole had been any prettier they would have had to call it Florence of Arabia”. O’Toole also smoked Gauloises (French cigarettes) and I am surprised those didn’t finish him off years ago. When I was in France I tried them and they were, in my opinion, lethal.

This looks like a yummy way to cook shrimp
Foil packet shrimp

Anastasia YoungFoil Packet Shrimp

1/2 stick softened butter...
1 cup chopped parsley
2 chopped garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lb unpeeled large shrimp
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Place all ingredients into 2 foil packets, fold up and seal
Grill 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are fully cooked.

Have a great day

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bowling History, Fake Interpreter.

Thursday bowling, one lousy game two very good games. Matt was the opposite, one good and two lousy. Funny how it goes. The first game I couldn’t get a mark at all (spare or strike if you are not too familiar) then the second game I started scoring marks all over the place. Needless to say I was pleased. Talking of bowling, a friend who was, with his wife, the proprietor of a 5 pin bowling alley for a number of years, has written a short book about the house, PlayfaPlayfair Bowlir Bowl, and its history. I read it last night and found it very interesting, but the pictures, oy vey as a friend would say, whoever was in charge of overseeing the printing and publishing, made a right screw up. The pictures were enlarged incorrectly by stretching them from the top and bottom, also they were over enlarged making the picture fuzzy and giving all the people very long faces. Not only that, the couple of bowling pictures were of 10 pin balls and pins, not 5 pin. If I were my friend I would be very annoyed. That is an old picture of Playfair, in our day there was a small terrace with chairs and tables out front.

obama-sign-languageWhat about that guy “signing” for the delegation at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial service? He, Thamsanqa Jantjie, wasn’t signing at all according to the African association for the deaf. He ha since said he was hallucinating whilst he was signing; seems like the man is somewhat short of a pickle or two out of his jar. How very embarrassing for the officials too. Seems nobody knows where exactly the guy came from and who hired him. They are also now somewhat concerned about security issues. Bit late to be worried about security, anything could have happened. Look how close he is to Obama, the leader of one of the foremost nations, and there were other world leaders all around them.

I have, lately, been seeing a number of recipes for goose. I don't know what geese cost in the US, but round here they cost approximately $60 a bird which, mostly, will only feed 4 people. Way too expensive for my budget which is a pity, I used to cook goose on Christmas Eve in England, and once upon a time many people in England ate goose for their Christmas dinner rather than turkey. Matt's family used to raise their Christmas goose in the back yard and then kill it for Christmas, traditionally by wringing its neck. It is a wonderful meat. Only had it once in the last 38 years and that was a Canada Goose which you have to have a license to shoot. We knew someone who did have such a license.

There will be no blog on Saturday.

Another delightful sounding recipe for a party nibble. Right up my street anyway. Only problem I can see, I have never seen frozen artichoke hearts here. Mind you, I have never looked either. I will be now. People are being very inventive with the old artichoke and spinach dip which I always enjoy.


Spinach-and-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts

Spinach-&-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts
WebMD Recipe from

In this deconstructed version of hot spinach-artichoke dip, we stuff artichoke hearts with lightly seasoned cooked spinach and melt brie on top.

  • 1 9-ounce box artichoke hearts, frozen
  • 2/3 cup spinach, cooked chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 18 thin slices brie
  1. Preheat broiler. Prepare artichoke hearts according to package directions.
  2. Combine spinach, lemon pepper and salt in a small bowl. Top each artichoke heart with the spinach mixture and brie. Broil until cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.
Have a great day

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canada Post, Snow.

News yesterday is that Canada Post are planning to stop door Canada Postto door deliveries in urban areas – as far as I can gather, this means people will have to go to the Post Office to collect their mail which is certainly something which happens in urban areas of the US. This means they will be cutting down their employees by several thousand, but they say normal attrition over the same period accounts for a lot more that they would be letting go. They are also putting up the cost of postage as well in an endeavour to cut the downward spiral of their profits. With the internet together with private delivery systems, this was bound to happen and it won’t be many years before snail mail is a thing of the past although there are still lots of people out there who cannot, or will not, use computers. It’s a shame though, for instance, at this time of year, I love to get Christmas Cards. eCards are just not the same somehow. We like to hang ours on coloured ribbons and they add to the Christmas decorations. Just looking at that Canada Post logo, it isn’t legal, the bottom line should also be in French. Tut tut.

We have certainly got quite a lot of that white stuff today. Maybe Snow Shovellingwe’ll have a white Christmas this year. Our dinner guests emailed that they had a lot of snow on the way home and there has been lots of snow coming down since. Some dummy, mentioning no names, ensured we went for our 10:30 a.m. appointment with the foot nurse and got there on time to find her house/clinic all closed up. When we finally got home, I discovered our permanent appointment had been changed for yesterday to 1 a.m. Duuuh. Driving there and back twice, lots of people were out shovelling driveways and pathways, and I sat there feeling smug because we don’t have to do that any more. Actually, when I look at the age of some of the shovellers, it makes we wonder how many of them should be doing it rather than, maybe, hiring a youngster to do it for them. I remember it as being damned hard work. I recall one year, Matt was on crutches and we had to go to the hospital; the snow was that heavy wet stuff. I was a lot younger and fitter but it nearly killed me even so. In the end we went by cab. The current snow is at least light and fluffy.

This sounds like a delicious was of serving Camembert. This is from BBC Good Food. I see it also suggests Kirsch. If you have it, Kirsch gives an excellent flavour boost to things. This is going to be added to my holiday dishes for sure.

Baked Camembert

Serves 4 - 6

Oven-cook your favourite soft cheeses until gooey for this simple, Baked Camembertlast-minute crowd pleaser
  • 250g Camembert, or Brie, or other similar cheese
  • 1 tbsp vermouth, or dry white wine, or kirsch
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • pinch dried chilli flakes
  • crackers or toasted bread, to serve


Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Unwrap the cheese from its packaging, then place back into its box. Tie string around the box to secure. Slash the cheese a few times and top with vermouth, thyme sprigs and a pinch of dried chilli flakes. Bake on a baking tray for 20 mins until gooey. Serve with toasted bread or crackers for dipping.

Have a great day