Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nutcrackers, Snow.

Nutcrackers_thumb5I am now using my Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar for this year. Today it was a dance based on the Nutcracker and fun to watch. However, it made me think of nutcrackers (of course I have nutcrackers) but I have always wanted one like those featured in the ballet. I nearly bought myself one once but then thought to myself why did I need it? The answer was, I didn’t of course. In fact I don’t often use the regular run of the mill nutcrackers I have, if I buy nuts these days they are usually already shelled. I love the ballet of course, but my favourite was the Nutcracker on Ice – I don’t remember Robin-Cousins_thumb1who was in it apart from the British skater Robin Cousins who, in his day, was a champion. It was a brilliant show and I have it on VHS. Haven’t watched it in years, guess I should roust it out, if I can remember how to use the VCR, don’t use it very often any more. Robin Cousins was the first person to do the back flip which became such a trademark of Scott Hamilton’s.

Tuesday afternoon we went over to a friend’s in Hespeler a good 40 Snowingminutes drive away, I had some Avon for her. A silver blouse which looked really good on her. Anyway, once we were there they announced they were giving us supper. Great. However, it started to snow. Matt had already told me before we left that the forecast was for snow and later freezing rain. Our hostess said we weren’t leaving anyway, she had made too much food. We sat there for a while with a glass of wine and she started cooking early, but the road outside was getting white and the cars were covered. I could see Matt was getting really antsy about it so we said sorry, we just had to go. Lots of apologies, didn’t even realise we were getting a meal, pity because we always enjoy ourselves with them. In fact, once we got out on to the main roads they weren’t bad but by the time we got home there was some freezing rain. Haven’t looked outside since but we maybe could have stayed, on the other hand, you just don’t know.

When I did get home, I checked the mail, 12 Years a Slave had arrived.

I loved the sound of this recipe and I think it is one I will definitely add to my repertoire. Matt said there were so many ingredients was there anything that had been left out?

Cuban-Style Pork and Rice

WebMD Recipe from

Full of spice and exotic flavours, this Cuban take on the classic Spanish paella is an easy way to feed a hungry crowd. Don’t worry if you have leftovers. They can easily be rewarmed in a microwave or combined with eggs to make a Spanish tortilla (omelet); or for a great cold dish, toss the leftover rice with cooked vCuban-Style Pork & Riceegetables and a vinaigrette made with lime juice instead of vinegar.
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons rum, (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic, plus 2 tablespoons chopped garlic, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork chops, (3/4-1 inch thick), trimmed, cut into cubes (I shall probably use pork tenderloin)
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice, or short-grain brown rice
  • 2 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, (see Note)
  • 16 large raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined (optional)
  • 2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, or cooked green beans, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  1. Combine paprika, lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, rum (if using), 2 teaspoons minced garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and cumin in a medium bowl, stirring to make a homogeneous paste. Add pork and stir to coat.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork, leaving any excess spice mixture in the bowl to add later. Cook the pork, stirring, until just cooked on the outside and the spices are very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate.
  3. Add onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until well coated with the onion mixture. Stir in broth, tomatoes, capers, saffron and any remaining spice mixture. (If using brown rice, also add 3/4 cup water now.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes for arborio, 30 minutes for brown rice.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Stir shrimp (if using) and artichokes (or green beans) into the rice. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Stir in the pork and any accumulated juices from the plate; scatter roasted peppers on top. Cover and continue baking until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed (if you’ve added shrimp, they should be opaque and pink), 10 to 15 minutes more.
Note: Saffron is the dried stigma of a saffron crocus. It contributes a pungent flavour and intense yellow color to classic dishes like paella. Saffron is sold in threads and powdered form.

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo. I remember Robin Cousins' back flip - it was really something to see. I love ice skating. Too bad about the evening out but I'd rather be safe then sorry, as they say. Hmm, is ice the main topic here?
    The dish looks great. Leftovers could go with a lot of things.

    1. You're right I was really into ice here. Cousins was so tall and lanky it's amazing he could do the flip. Definitely better to be safe than sorry.


  2. 12 Years a Slave is a wonderful movie. I loved it. I also adore the Nutcracker Suite Ballet. I used to listen to the music on my way to work in the car. I love Sleeping Beauty as well... good old Tchaikovsky. Very jealous of your white Christmas!

    1. Haven't watched it yet, most people are kind of down on it because they say it's so shocking. I used to love the ballet and going to Sadlers Wells in London, not done that in many a long year. Saw a ballet in our local theatre some years ago but it was a brand new theatre, wonderful acoustics and all I could hear was the thumps of the dancers' feet.

      Haven't got a white Christmas yet Pinky. Seem to think we didn't have one last year either.

  3. I was big into watching skating back in the Robin Cousins, Scott Hamilton days. Sorry you had to cut your visit short but when it's bad weather like that, best not to be on the roads.

    1. So were we JoJo, we even used to go the local arenas to support the Olympic potentials.

      As it turned out, we would have been alright but one doesn't know that.

  4. Replies
    1. HiYa Jo: I wrote you back on the other post. Pizzelle is an Italian Christmas cookie. We use an iron to make them. I was thankful to be handed down a wonderful iron from Hubby's grandmother.

      Also, I double checked and it's still rated the number one xmas cookie for my area.

      Pizzelles are very popular where I live. They are sold in markets, year-round, here.

      Hope you're having a yummy day.

    2. I'll have to look out for them.

    3. I wish you lived closer and I'd give you a sample of different flavoured ones. I like to make the vanilla and then quick, whilst still hot, wrap them into mini ice cream cones. Or little ice cream cups.

      So fun!

    4. They sound really good Ivy.

  5. Ice skating is lovely.

    That recipe sounds really good!

    1. We don't watch it as much for some reason, don't know why.

  6. Bummer you missed the meal, but freezing rain is dangerous.

    1. You are so right Alex. I don't ever remember freezing rain in England but I guess we must have had it there too, if only once in a while.

  7. I grew up in Michigan and do not miss driving in freezing rain at all. Safety first, I always say. You can reconnect with your friends again soon enough.

    1. Luckily we escaped it. Think it did freeze for a little while just about as we got home.

      So true, they are not that far away.

  8. Hi Jo - had to come back to this .. as I needed to get my advent calendar up to date - can't quite work it out .. but at least I can find it now .. and will remember to open it every day ... fun to see the doors open and hear the Carol .. thanks.

    Snow - not funny - sad about your friends' supper that you missed out on - but better safe than sorry .. the pork dish looks delicious ... it's cold here now and getting colder .. ah well it is December and I've known worse days (much worse days!) .. cheers Hilary

    1. Glad you got it working OK. If you have any problems contact Jacquie Lawson direct. They should be able to assist you.

      No, not funny as you say. I can remember some really severe winters living in Kent especially '63 or was it '68, somewhere around there when the Medway froze. I remember it froze another time but I was living elsewhere then.