Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 A to Z Challenge

Tomorrow I and around 2,000 other bloggers start the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. The hosts for this Blogfest are:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Author Stephen Tremp
Tina @ Life is Good
Damyanti@ Amlokiblogs
Jeremy @ Being Retro
Nicole Ayers - The Madlab Post
M. J. Joachim's Writing Tips
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian

The original idea for this blogfest was Arlee Bird’s. The idea is that for the whole month of April one writes a blog a day (not Sundays those are rest days) pertaining to the letter of the alphabet assigned to that day. April 1 is A, April 2 is B and so on. This is my third time of participating and I have found it great fun. We are also honour bound to visit the blogs of as many of the other participants as we can and they will all return the compliment – we hope. Because there is such a lot of work involved, the hosts have helpers, known as minions, and I am on Tina’s Terrific Team this year (see the badge in the side bar). This involves checking on 20 assigned blogs and making sure they are keeping up and helping if and when necessary then reporting back to our team leaders. I actually had my posts finished by mid March as otherwise there is so much to do it is difficult to keep up. Life still has to be lived after all. Many bloggers don’t write every day so it really is a challenge for them, for me it is easier because I already post 6/7. So, as they say at the Olympics, LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

If you are taking part in the challenge, I wish you all the best and hope to see you along the way. If you haven’t yet signed up, you still can I believe. Click on any one of the host’s names above. In fact you can still sign in til April 2, 2014 and the sign in list gives you the exact date and time. Do join us. The more the merrier. You can get to know all kinds of other bloggers as well as get new followers for your own blog.

This recipe from Food and Wine looks absolutely delicious. Sadly I cannot afford the price one has to pay for duck in these parts. But hopefully some of you will have access to inexpensive duck and can try it.

Pappardelle with Duck Ragu
© Amy Neunsinger

Pappardelle with Duck Ragù

Contributed by Curtis Stone
  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 15 MIN
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone makes his delicious pasta sauce by braising duck legs in white wine with dried porcini, prosciutto and herbs.
  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Three 1-pound duck legs, skin and excess fat removed
  3. Kosher salt
  4. Freshly ground pepper
  5. 6 large shallots, finely chopped
  6. 1 large carrot, chopped
  7. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  8. 3 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
  9. 2 rosemary sprigs
  10. 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  11. 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  12. 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, ground to a powder in a spice grinder
  13. 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  14. 3 cups chicken stock
  15. 8 ounces dried pappardelle noodles
  16. 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  17. 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and add to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the shallots, carrot, celery, prosciutto, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the porcini powder and wine. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Return the duck legs to the casserole, cover and braise in the oven until the legs are very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes; turn the duck legs halfway through braising.
  3. Transfer the duck legs to a plate and let them cool slightly. Remove the duck meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces. Return the duck to the ragù and season with salt and pepper; keep warm. Discard the rosemary stems.
  4. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water. In a bowl, whisk the ricotta with 2 tablespoons of the cooking water until smooth.
  5. Add the pasta to the ragù along with 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and the 2 tablespoons of pecorino. Cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the pasta is hot and coated with sauce; add more cooking water if the sauce is too thick. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls, top with the ricotta and serve, passing additional pecorino at the table.
Make Ahead: The ragù can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

Have a great day
Jo (2)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Recipe

A bunch of my cyber friends (some of whom I have met f2f) and I all enjoy rhubarb. The season is just about upon us and I thought this looked a delicious recipe for all rhubarb fans to try.

Rhubarb-Cheese Strudel with Vanilla Sauce

Contributed by Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban
  • ACTIVE: 45 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 8 to 10

Michael Turek
Strudel is a classic Austrian pastry made by wrapping layers of paper-thin dough around a variety of fillings. This simplified version, made with store-bought phyllo dough, features a cheesecake-like mixture and tangy rhubarb compote. A crème Anglaise served alongside makes it extra-decadent.

Rhubarb Compote

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 12 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. 1/2 pound farmer cheese
  2. 1 stick unsalted butter— 4 tablespoons softened, 4 tablespoons melted
  3. 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  4. 1/4 cup cake flour
  5. 3 large eggs, separated
  6. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  7. 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  8. 2 tablespoons sour cream
  9. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  10. 10 sheets phyllo dough (from 1 package)

Vanilla Crème Anglaise

  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean, split
  4. 2 large egg yolks
  5. 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve it. Add the rhubarb and cook over low heat until softened but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1/2 cup of the rhubarb to a small bowl and reserve for the filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine the farmer cheese with the 4 tablespoons of softened butter, the confectioners' sugar, cake flour, egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla seeds and puree. Add the sour cream and process until creamy. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy. Fold the whites into the cheese filling.
  4. Brush 5 sheets of phyllo with some of the melted butter, stacking them. With a long side of the phyllo facing you, spread half of the cheese filling along the bottom edge. Spoon 1/4 cup of the reserved rhubarb over the cheese filling. Carefully roll up the strudel, tucking in the sides as you go. Using spatulas, transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo, cheese filling and 1/4 cup of reserved rhubarb, and some of the melted butter. Transfer to the baking sheet, leaving a few inches between the strudels.
  5. Brush the strudels with the remaining melted butter and bake them in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, turning the baking sheet once halfway through, until deeply golden (some of the filling may leak out). Let the strudels cool for 30 minutes.
  6. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the sugar and vanilla bean and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch. In a thin stream, whisk the egg yolks into the hot milk and simmer until the sauce is thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Strain the sauce into a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  7. Slide the strudels onto a work surface and slice each one into 4 or 5 pieces. Serve the strudel with the crème Anglaise and the remaining rhubarb compote.
Make Ahead: The crème Anglaise and rhubarb compote can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days. The strudel can be made earlier in the day and re-crisped in the oven before slicing.

Have a great weekend
Jo (2)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Travel League, Lunch.

I am always yammering on about bowling, I got a friend to take some pictures today just to prove I really do go bowling.




I had one very good game, and a couple of mediocre ones. Unfortunately, there were only three on a team which meant that we were moving fast which made my poor legs ache. Vascular problems. They are OK if I don’t have to bowl so fast, but with 3, different matter altogether.

I was sorry to hear, when we got there, that the proprietor’s father/grandfather had died this last week. (Place is owned by father and son). Mind you he was 99 so he had lived a good long life. But no matter what, it is always a blow.

Going back to the Red Lobster, I ended up having a version of Shrimp Scampi which was NOT so high in calories although I did rather indulge in the Cheddar Bay biscuits instead. They are so good and as everyone kept saying, it’s only once a year. Not that I really subscribe to that but… I also discovered that my favourite doughnut, the Walnut Crunch has been withdrawn from Tim Horton’s due to people with nut allergies. What a disappointment. I had a plain chocolate doughnut instead. I made do you understand.

I haven’t had Taramasalata in years. Certainly not since I was in North America unless possibly when we went to a Greek restaurant in Brantford (some 25 years ago) which was wonderful but is, sadly, no longer there. On the occasions I visited Greece you could find it practically anywhere - my family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was usually served as mezes which is the Greek equivalent of the Spanish tapas. When this recipe came from Food and Wine I just had to a) save it and b) share it. They mention skordalia which was one of the first foods I tasted on arriving in Greece in a small bar in Piraeus which is the port for Athens. I loved it from the git go.

Photo by © Guy Ambrosino


Contributed by Kate Winslow
  • ACTIVE: 10 MIN
  • SERVINGS: makes about 2 cups
This creamy, briny dip belongs in the pantheon of classic Greek meze, alongside hummus, baba ghanoush and skordalia.

  1. 6 ounces firm white bread, crusts removed and 1-inch pieces
  2. 4 ounces jarred tarama (carp roe)
  3. 1/4 cup grated onion
  4. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  6. 1/4 cup water, or as needed
  7. Toasted pita chips or bread, for serving
  1. Put the bread in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water and put the bread in the bowl of a food processor, with the tarama, onion and lemon juice.
  2. Pulse the tarama mixture until it begins to become smooth. With motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream and process until the mixture is very smooth. The taramosalata should be the consistency of a velvety hummus. Add enough water to loosen the mixture, if needed.
  3. To serve, spoon the taramosalata in a wide shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with toasted pita chips.
Make Ahead The taramosalata can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Notes Tarama can be found in Greek food markets and some fish and specialty markets.

Have a great day
Jo (2)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Medical, Travel League. Beets.

Yesterday I went to the Nephrologist who gave me a BP monitor a BPweek or so ago. I saw a nurse who went through the whole business with me. I said I hadn’t changed my medication as I had recently acquired a load of pills before I had seen the specialist and wanted to finish them. Because my blood pressure is so high, he said that in that case I had to take diuretics. No can do, causes me really bad cramps. Eventually, I conceded and agreed to dispense with the older meds and get the new one. It is supposed to bring my BP back down so please keep your fingers crossed for me. I have to admit they are pretty high, my diastolic is running in the high 160s and when I am at the doc’s it goes into the 180s which scares the bejasus out of them.

Today it is our Travel League. We go out to lunch first, today we goWalnut Crunch to the Red Lobster and I have a big quandary having found that the dish I normally chose is actually something like 1,400 calories. Trouble is I enjoy it. It’s shrimp in a spicy sauce. Technically, if I eat that, I am done for the day but I can’t not eat because of diabetes. Not only that we get donuts and Jamie, one of the owners of Towne Bowl gets my favourite specially, Walnut Crunch, so I have to eat that don’t I? Luckily the actual bowling gives me a couple of extra calories to play with. Not that I have really been losing weight this year, seems to have virtually stopped. But I’m not gaining which is a good thing.

I bought myself some beets but then ended up cooking them the ordinary way. Just didn’t have time for that recipe I posted. I am also beginning to notice asparagus recipes - the time will soon be here.

I am such a chocoholic I couldn’t resist this recipe and sharing it with you. I have recently learned to like salted chocolate, it is quite delicious.

Salted Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Active Time:  20 Minutes
Total Time:  40 Minutes
3 dozen

For chocolate and peanut lovers, here's a rich, moist cookRec Imageie that will be the star of your next holiday cookie bake-off.

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup peanut butter chips
Sea salt, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, light brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir in the peanuts and peanut butter chips.
Drop heaping tablespoonsful onto the cookie sheets.
Place in the oven and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top then let cool.

Have a great day

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Water, Winter, Medical.

We’re a bright pair. There were notices in the lobby and halls saying the water Faucetwould be turned off at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, and we both forgot about it with the result, when we went to shower etc. there wasn’t any water. Duuh. I managed to get enough for a pot of coffee, but that was it. Poor Matt had to go to his specialist to have a BP 24 hour monitor too, not sure if he can take if off later to have a shower or not. Normally I save pans of water and such for occasions like this, but today I didn’t of course. One doesn’t realise just how much one relies on the water being available. I have just remembered I have gallon jugs of distilled water in an emergency. Took me a while to think of that too. Senility creeping on. As it happened, they did turn the water on promptly at 3 p.m. Life is back to normal.

They are calling for snow again too, I can’t believe it that this weather just doesn’t stop this year. We have had some nice sunny days, but I keep seeing spring flower pictures being posted from the UK or down south and look out of our windows to see nothing but snow. I lie, we can see some grass now although it is a dirty, dead colour. Later: Yeah, it snowed. Matt said it is very cold. It’s pretty cold inside too as the heating is done by hot water so it too is not working.

Matt has to take his BP Monitor back at the crack of dawn (seems like that to me anyway). He also has a heart monitor on as well. It isn’t so bad for him as it was for me as his blood pressure is good and low so when it blows up the sleeve it doesn’t hurt him. Me it felt as if my arm was being cut off. This cost us another unrefundable $50 by the way.

I am very fond of beets which I always called beetroot until I came to Canada. Nor, I might say, had I ever eaten beet greens which I love too. This sounds like a very easy, delicious recipe from One small problem, Matt is not all that keen on beets other than just pickled. I love them with sour cream too.

Crock Pot Thyme Roasted Beets

By Dreamer in Ontario
Photo by *Parsley*
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 6 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 8


"From Canadian Living Slow cooker Cookbook Special"


    • 12 beets ( about 2 bunches)
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley


  1. Peel and dice the beets, then place in crock pot.
  2. Add garlic, 1/4 cup water, oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir all ingredients until well combined.
  4. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low until tender.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley.
Have a great day
Jo (2)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mouse Tale, Bowling, Malaysian Plane, A to Z.

New MouseGot me a new mouse from Staples today. Simple one, simple price, but it does what I want it to do. I am not quite sure what the very expensive one’s do, but I don’t need to spend that kind of money anyway. I know, I got a girlie one, but when I saw the birds, which I thought were Cardinals, I couldn’t resist. However, when I had fought the packaging and finally unwrapped it, I realised the birds were just plain brown. Oh well, it works on my laptop which is I guess all that really matters.

Had a reasonably good afternoon bowling, my third game wasn’t anything to write Red Lob Shrimphome about, but the first two were good so I bowled quite a bit more than my average. According to the computer at the Lanes I am now 159.8 – we thought it would round it up, it didn’t. Damn, I wanted a 160 average. Maybe next week. Matt’s bowling was OK but not spectacular. Enough that he wasn’t depressed about it anyway. Our Thursday bowling will be Travel League this week so there will be quite a few of us. Lunch at the Red Lobster beforehand. I have a problem with Red Lobster since I found out that the shrimp dish which I have been eating with enjoyment contains more calories than I allow myself for a normal day. Will have to rethink it. Not sure if this is the right dish, but anyway.

It seems they have found the missing Malaysian plane. Or have they? How come it was over the Indian Ocean in the first place. It would, presumably, be easy enough to arrange to drop some debris to fool everyone.

It was so nice, yesterday, to be featured by Tina at Life is Good. Made me feel quite special. Thanks Tina. I will enjoy being a member of Tina’s Terrific Team. That means I am a) taking part in the A to Z Challenge starting on April 1 (click on the badge on the right to find out more and to join in) and b) I am responsible for keeping an eye on 20 of the entrants during the month.

I mentioned doing a Snow Pea dish on Saturday, here is the recipe:

Snow Peas and Peppers

1 Tbs (15 mL) butter, or vegetable oilSnow Peas and Red Peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
3 cups (750 mL) snow peas
1 Tbs (15 mL) wine vinegar

1. In deep skillet, heat butter or vegetable oil over medium heat; cook garlic, salt and pepper until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add sweet red pepper and snow peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, 5 minutes. Stir in wine vinegar.

Servings: 4

The final step adds vinegar. I suggest you don't add this until just before service otherwise it will discolour the peas. Prior to this, they remain a pretty green, but I added the vinegar a good while before service and they didn’t look nearly as good.

Have a great day
Jo (2)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poor Mouse, Dinner Party, Asparagus.

I am ashamed to say I totally forgot that I was being featured at Tina's blog Life is Good this morning, I am one of Tina's minions for the A to Z Challenge, a member of Tina's Terrific Team.

Because I have to keep my feet elevated, I keep my laptop by my easy chair and I have a Wireless Mouse. I might also say my Kindle, my Android tablet and my Glucose meter are all on this table. Bit crowded you might be pardoned for saying, hubby sLogitech Mouseays it all the time. Saturday morning I had a glass of water on the table to take with my myriad pills and later, surprise, surprise, I caught it with my fingers and spilled water all over my poor little mouse. Luckily all the other electronic items were fine, but my mouse has given up the ghost. I have been reduced to using the built in mouse on my laptop, which I hate and usually have turned off. Whilst using it, it has a tendency to erase things I have typed. It does this at the speed of lightening so I am unable to stop it. Does lots of other unpredictable things too. It’s because I have a tendency to rest my fingers on the pad or brush it when I am typing. So I guess I have to go buy me a new mouse. Have you seen some of the prices they charge for these things? Luckily there are some inexpensive ones out there. I was going to order one on line but the shipping costs almost more than the mouse itself.

Saturday night we had a friend over for dinner and I decided to do a snow pea dish I found as a vegetable, not something I cook very often and these turned ouAsparagust pretty well, as a starter we had Asparagus Pesto Toasts, followed by Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Capers accompanied by Spanish Rice and the snow peas. For dessert I had bought some Cannelloni from Vincenzo’s. Our friend requested recipes for everything which is always a good sign. I only have a little Asparagus Pesto left so I will need to make some more once the season arrives. Another month at least if I am lucky.The earliest they ever opened was April 20 and the latest May 26. I hope it won’t be that late, I would have chewed my fingers to the bone. Matt already told Tim Barrie, the asparagus farmer, that I painted my fingers green and started chewing on them before the asparagus was ready. I am out of asparagus soup too and have one Asparagus/Almond soup left. Dire straits indeed. I could always go to the farm and get some pickled asparagus I guess.

As a prelude to the season and because I served it the other night, here is the recipe for Asparagus Pesto Toasts which came from the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine. Hmm, it appears I posted this recipe last May, it is one I post every year however. If you haven’t tried it, when the fresh asparagus comes in, I highly recommend it.

Asparagus Pesto Toasts

1 lb trimmed green asparagus (farm fresh doesn’t need trimming)Asparagus Pesto_thumb[1]
1 cup toasted walnut halves (I used pecans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper

1. Cook asparagus until just tender. Refresh in cold water, then drain and dry well. Place asparagus, walnuts, garlic and salt in food  processor. Process until blended.
2. With motor running, gradually add olive oil, then add cheese and pepper. Blend together and check seasoning. Place in covered bowl.
3. It shows the recipe served on crunchy toasted French or Italian bread with a curl or two of parmesan on top and some asparagus at the side.
4. We freeze this in ice cube trays, then wrap the cubes in pairs (separated by Saran, and put in a bag in the freezer until we need them. Lasts forever.

Have a great day
Jo (2)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Recipe

No chocolate today. Shrimp, another of my favourites, instead. This is a Cooking Light recipe which I found on

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce Recipe 
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Neutral-tasting canola oil allows the flavors of orange juice, honey, ginger, and chilies in the sauce to shine. It can also withstand the heat of stir-frying in this tasty take on sweet-and-sour shrimp. Serve over rice or udon noodles.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp 
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  1. Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.
  2. Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and chili paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.
Have a great weekend
Jo (2)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weather, NASA Report, Lydia.

There is a joke going round to the effect that if most of us were as wrong in our jobs as meteorologists are, we wouldn’t have a job any longer. Tuesday night we were supposed to have freezing rain, SnowshovellingWednesday night it was snow. Admittedly it did snow on Thursday morning but they said night time.  It has also been forecast that we will be getting more winter weather at the end of the week. It certainly seems to be getting pretty cold.  Funnily enough I read an interview from some time ago where I said very much what everyone is saying today about being fed up with the snow and having to shovel so much and that interview was several years ago. People say this is the worst winter ever, but we remember weather like this when we first arrive in 1975 it seems it has been in cycles which weather apparently does anyway. I just wish we could both cross country ski any more. It would have been an ideal winter for that pastime.

Yesterday I read a somewhat frightening article by NASA which I really think you should also read NASA Study ConcludeAerial Photo[3]s When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us. I have read some scary things about the future, but this isn’t very far away. It is a situation we possibly can do something about but as the article points out, we probably won’t. Personally I am not sure it wouldn’t be too late anyway. I am not quite sure what a hurricane picture has to do with it unless to convey an approaching storm.

shark LydiaAnother report from National Geographic is about a great white shark called Lydia who is the first shark to ever be tracked crossing the Atlantic. They are wondering if she is the shark ever to make the crossing. Since being tagged in 2013 Lydia has swum 20,000 miles and from various observations, scientists are beginning to wonder if all the great whites are just one big family. Lydia is closing in on Cornwall, England’s southern coast, I hope the English know about her. I personally don't associate the Cornish coast with great white sharks.

Here’s a really easy recipe, what could be simpler?

No-Bake Cookies

No-Bake Cookies
WebMD Recipe from

Your kids will love helping you make these peanut butter-graham treats. Makes 4 servings of 2 cookies each.


  • 8 whole-wheat graham cracker squares, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons unsweetened coconut
  1. Combine ground whole-wheat graham crackers, raisins, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Pat into 8 cookies and press lightly in coconut.
Have a great day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shopping, The Crimea, Cartoon.

The weather people were forecasting freezing rain for Tuesday Shopping cartnight, Wednesday morning. Luckily we escaped it. Matt was able to go for his medical appointment without any problem as well as do his shopping early in the morning. I thought about going shopping too, but just couldn’t persuade myself to get out of bed that early. Don’t know why, all I have to do is throw my clothes on, we don’t clean up until we get back. I like grocery shopping too, but not at 7 in the morning although Matt is quite right, he gets the store to himself with no apparently abandoned shopping carts parked in the aisles or being wheeled along at speed and without heed. I’m surprised more accidents don’t happen.

I have just read a blog by Lover of Words regarding the annexation of Crimea by the Russians. She states her reasons and figures the old days of the Soviet Union are back. I hope to God she is wrong but assuming her facts are accurate I have a fear that she isn’t. What do you think?

This cartoon is specially for Lee regarding his blog yesterday.

Here’s a delicious sounding recipe from, I love these rice wrappers.

Cold Vietnamese Spring Rolls


8 appetizer servings

Rec Image
This is a great vegetarian option for your next cocktail party. Serve with tangy Crushed Peanut and Lime Vinaigrette.

1 cup julienned carrots
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 cups julienned seeded cucumber
1 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
16 rice paper wrappers
Daikon sprout, for garnish
Crushed Peanut and Lime Vinaigrette

Toss first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Dip one rice paper wrapper into cold water. Shake off excess water. Place vegetable filling off-center on rice paper and wrap like a burrito. Repeat with remaining vegetable filling and rice paper wrappers.
Spring rolls may be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover with damp clean kitchen towel then plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Garnish spring rolls with daikon sprouts and serve with Crushed Peanut and Lime Vinaigrette for dipping.

Have a great day

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vincenzo’s, Weather.

Colman's Mint SauceWe both had to go get our hair cut today, mine was so bad I was thinking of braiding it. We then decided to go to my favourite store, Vincenzo’s which I have mentioned several times. I needed a jar of mint sauce, the English kind which is thick with mint unlike the thin one available in most stores or the mint jelly which, admittedly I have never tried, but doesMint Jellyn’t appeal. I didn’t know before that Colman’s, who are the makers of the only dry mustard that I will buy, also make mint sauce. Not seen it for sale here though.
NA Mint sauce

I could be wrong, but I imagine the jelly is quite sweet and the other one has trouble finding the mint leaves although this bottle is labelled thick mint. The one we saw today was nothing but vinegar. The sauce I buy has to be mixed with a little vinegar to serve. For my English readers, jelly is jam to all intents and purposes. We had trouble finding a bottle of sauce and ended up having a number of the staff helping us. This annoyed Matt because Parmesan chipsnobody seemed to really know where it was. I agree, the store is so full of stuff it is difficult to find things, but he has now decided he doesn’t like the store. Pity, I could spend hours browsing, there are lots of things there that I have no idea they sell. Whilst there I bought some cannoli for supper on Saturday, a friend is coming over, some capers which we are low on and some of my favourite Parmesan chips. Very expensive but a nice treat. They go really well with my Sunday champagne. You can make these chips at home (never tried them with parmesan) from cheddar, but it’s so easy to buy them and they are delicious.

Sadly their parking lot is terrible. It isn’t paved and today, because the snow is melting, it was a mass of puddles. That, to me, is the one thing wrong with their new location. It really is a lousy parking lot at any time of the year, but right now, its ghastly. However, I shouldn’t complain, it’s a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine and the snow is melting well. Sadly, tonight, they are forecasting freezing rain. Enough already. I hope it will be all over and the roads OK by lunchtime as Matt has to go to the next town to have an ultra sound. It’s part of his annual heart check up. Next week he has the joy of a 24 hour BP monitor. Won’t be as bad for him though, his blood pressure is really low. Lucky beggar.

This is a Red Lobster copycat recipe from I was hoping they would have my favourite, but it’s not there. However, this one looks pretty good to me. I will be eating at the Red Lobster at the end of the month for our Travel League. One of the things I have trouble avoiding is their Cheddar Bay Biscuits. The copycat recipe is here

Red Lobster Piña Colada Shrimp

By Brandess 
Photo by alligirl

  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Serves: 2, Yield: 12 Shrimp

About This Recipe

"Those Red Lobster commercials get me every time. Just can’t resist those visuals of endless shrimp, crab legs and lobster tails! Now I have said it before, that I’m not a huge seafood fan, but I do love shrimp. Cook this recipe for someone special, fix a nice cocktail, close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting on a sunny beach. Ahhhhh…summer will be here sooner than you think."


    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup piña colada non alcoholic drink mix
    • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple ( canned)
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 6 cups canola oil ( for use in the fryer)
    • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons rum ( Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay coconut rum)
    • 1 cup panko Japanese-style bread crumbs ( can be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store)
    • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


  1. Prepare piña colada dipping sauce by combining all ingredients. Sour cream, piña colada mix, crushed pineapple and granulated sugar. Cover and chill.
  2. Heat oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer or a large heavy skillet.
  3. Measure 3/4 cup of flour into a medium bowl.
  4. In another medium bowl mix together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, sugar, and salt. Stir milk and rum into flour mixture. Let this batter stand for five minutes.
  5. In the meantime, combine panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut into a third bowl.
  6. Butterfly cut each peeled shrimp before you start the battering- leaving the tail intact.
  7. Dip each shrimp once in the flour, then the wet batter, then coat each shrimp with the panko/coconut mixture. Place the shrimp on a plate until all of them are battered.
  8. Fry shrimp by dropping one at a time into the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are golden brown. Only fry a few shrimp at a time. Remove shrimp to paper towels to drain.
  9. Serve shrimp with piña colada dipping sauce or shrimp cocktail sauce along with salsa.
Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DST, Life of Pi. Bowling. Bits and Pieces.

Now there’s odd. I wrote most of my A to Z posts before the time change. I always schedule them for 1 a.m. I went in yesterday to do some editing and lo and behold they were scheduled for 2 a.m. Presumably the system changed them when it changed everything else. I never knew it would do that. How very odd. I guess, for an hour, it doesn’t matter, but suppose it had been critical?

Oops, I downloaded Life of Pi from iTunes and dLife of Piecided to watch it. I was so engrossed, I ended up forgetting all about blogging. A great movie, I really enjoyed it. I do wonder how they filmed some of it though. I felt a bit sorry for Jackson Parker some of the time. I wonder which was the true story. I love this picture of the two of them in the boat.

Monday league bowling wasn’t the thrill it was last week, but my average, which is now 159, was beaten because over three games I averaged 167 although the first game was appalling. Anyway, I was pleased, obviously.

It was Matt’s youngest’s birthday today also her husband’s. Right now the time difference is only 4 hours because they haven’t yet changed their clocks in England. They were eating Chinese we were told. Which reminds me, the letter from the Mandarin allowing us to go for lunch for free arrived today, at long last. Have to use it by the end of April.

Here’s a different recipe from WebMD. They use tofu but I guess you could always go back to Ricotta if you preferred.

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna Rolls
WebMD Recipe from

Crumbled tofu replaces the ricotta in our Italian-style vegetarian meal.

Prep: 45 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes
  • 12  whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained, rinsed and crumbled
  • 3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce, preferably lower-sodium, divided (or make your own)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse, return to the pot and cover with cold water until ready to use.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add tofu and spinach and cook, stirring often, until the spinach wilts and the mixture is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in Parmesan, olives, crushed red pepper, salt and 2/3 cup marinara sauce.
  3. Wipe out the pan and spread 1 cup of the remaining marinara sauce in the bottom. To make lasagna rolls, place a noodle on a work surface and spread 1/4 cup of the tofu filling along it. Roll up and place the roll, seam-side down, in the pan. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling. (The tofu rolls will be tightly packed in the pan.) Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the rolls.
  4. Place the pan over high heat, cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; let simmer for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the rolls with mozzarella and cook, covered, until the cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.
Have a great day

Monday, March 17, 2014

A to Z, Blogger, Bowling, Weather.

I have finally finished my 26 posts for the A to Z Challenge in April – in my case it is something of an extra challenge as I chose a subject red squirrelbeginning with the letter of the day and also a recipe beginning with the same letter, you might be surprised at the difficulty of finding recipes beginning with certain letters. I generally avoid Mary’s something or other or Xavier’s favourite, that is kind of cheating in my book. I kind of ended up with a wildlife or nature theme although I didn’t, as Alex J. Cavenaugh suggested, talk about an animal and then tell you how to cook it. Not a bad idea though but not sure one could sustain that for 26 posts. As for my minion duties for Tina’s Terrific Team, we have started those now and I have read a few new blogs lately. If you want to know any more about the A to Z or would like to join in, click on the badge and it will take you to a sign up page.

Talking of pages, I can’t believe how incredibly dumb I am, I have Bloggerbeen writing a blog for a number of years and yet I have only just discovered Blogger offers me the chance to use other pages. I don’t know why I never realised it before particularly as I wondered how other bloggers did it. I feel such a dimwit for not seeing the option before. Not sure what I would use the extra pages for although one blogger I know uses them for all the awards.

Friday’s  bowling wasn’t as good as the previous Monday but I beat my average which is always good.

We have certainly lost a lot of our snow in the last few days. We can actually see stretches of grass from our windows. Matt even went out without a coat the other day. It has been mostly very sunny but I don’t think it’s quite that warm yet.

I thought this sounded like a tasty and very easy hors d’oeuvres – certainly something I would like to eat. Don’t be afraid of the anchovies, they give a lovely salty flavour to a dish. Never, but never, eat them on their own. This recipe from Food and Wine.

Potted Ham with Cabbage and Pickles

Contributed by Kay Chun
  • SERVINGS: 2 cups
While this tasty little potted ham can be eaten right away, it's also an excellent make-ahead party dish that can sit out for a few hours and still taste great.
Potted Ham
  1. 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1/2 pound smoked ham, shredded
  4. 1 cup finely chopped green cabbage
  5. 1 small dill pickle, chopped (1/3 cup)
  6. 2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus more for garnish
  7. Salt
  8. Freshly ground pepper
  9. Toasted country bread and mustard, for serving
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the anchovies in the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring. Scrape the anchovy oil into a medium bowl. Add the ham, cabbage, pickle and chopped dill, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Pack the ham mixture into a 3-cup ramekin and garnish with dill. Serve at room temperature with the bread and mustard.
Make Ahead The potted ham can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Have a great day

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Chocolate Recipe

Here’s a nice easy chocolate and liqueur dessert for St. Paddy’s. This came from Kraft Kitchens. You can always use fresh cream instead of Cool Whip.

Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse

Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse recipe 

6 servings, 1/2 cup each

What You Need

1 pkg.  (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
1-1/4 cups  cold milk
1/4 cup  Irish cream liqueur
2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
1/2 cup  fresh raspberries
1/2 oz.  BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, shaved

Make It

BEAT pudding mix, milk and liqueur in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP.
SPOON into 6 dessert dishes. Refrigerate 20 min.
TOP with remaining COOL WHIP, berries and chocolate.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

Prepare using COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping.
Omit liqueur. Prepare using 1-1/2 cups milk.
How to Shave Chocolate
Use vegetable peeler or box grater to shave room temperature piece of semi-sweet chocolate onto sheet of waxed paper. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use as directed.
Have a great weekend.