Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Charity, Sales, Balconies

Me, being me, would love to give to all the animal or environmental charities that email me constantly. I used to donate to the World Wildlife Fun regularly but these days I just cannot afford to do so any more. I've never donated to "human assistance" charities because I have always figured there are plenty of people to do so and not as many to support wildlife.

I am also very delighted that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now gone although I am sure some of the companies will be extending their sales. I had dozens of emails labeled to attract my attention. They did, they attracted the Delete button. Some of my friends apparently found some good bargains on laptops etc. but as I am not in the market for anything like that at the moment my feeling was "leave me alone". Of course I get lots of recipe emails, but I like those.

I am surprised how many people around here have put up their outside decorations and, I assume, their inside ones as well. It isn't even December yet. I made a tentative suggestion of doing ours next weekend and got a grumbling response. We'll see.

I visited a neighbour today who's new balcony is in place. The deck surface is actually rough not smooth as it looked from a distance. But you can also see the marks of the workmen's boots!! My neighbour told me the glass part is 9 inches. There is drainage under the walls.

Whilst there, I took a picture of our balcony from hers.

Ours is the first one you can see with a hole in the wall. Below us all the floors have no balconies at all. The window on the right is where I am right now.

This may well be an easy dish to have on hand when you are so busy with everything else at this time of year.

Slow cooker cheesy chicken bake

Essentials recipe Slow cooker cheesy chicken bake is a great family recipe made with chicken thighs, mushrooms and cheese. This recipe uses chicken thighs, which are a cheaper cut of chicken but are so tender, meaning you'll save some money with this easy midweek recipe. Make a double batch and
freeze one, which you can cook from frozen another day

8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp seasoned flour
1 onion, sliced
250 g button mushrooms, wiped clean
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
200 ml hot chicken stock
2 30g bag unsalted crisps (bag of chips)
100 g Gruyere, grated

1. In a bag, shake the chicken with the seasoned flour until well coated. Put in the bottom of the slow cooker.

2. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Pour over the hot stock and cover, set the slow cooker to medium-high and leave for 3-4 hours.

3. Once cooked through and tender turn off the cooker and divide the mixture between 4 foil dishes and allow to cool. Once cooled, scatter over the crisps and cheese, cover with a lid and freeze. Or eat as a casserole with mash.

4. Cook from frozen at 160C, gas 2 for 1 hour. Or decant the casserole into a baking dish, add the crisps and cheese topping and bake for 30 mins at 200C, gas 6.

Servings: 4

If you don't own a slow cooker you could try this recipe in a casserole dish in the oven on a low heat

Source: GoodtoKnow

Have a great day

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bowling, Theatre,

I actually bowled fairly well on Monday. Not brilliant but... Matt was the same. Our Christmas luncheon was announced which will be on Dec. 19th. Last day of league bowling before the Christmas season. I have no doubt Matt and I will find ourselves there even so. Matt said on Sunday, he likes Sundays because it means we get to bowl on Mondays LOL. One of our league members was wearing a delightful pin today which was two bowling pins and a ball in sparkly gems. Not sure whether semi precious or precious. She said the pin was her mothers. I would love a pin like it. Using this picture reminds me that I was looking at an ad which the bowling alley would be placing and was asked if I could see what was wrong. I picked out one fault, what I didn't see was the pins depicted were 10 pin not 5 pin. I didn't realise the difference that 5 pin always have a blue ring around them and 10 do not.

Today, Tuesday, we are off to the Mandarin yet again to meet the friends we thought we were going to meet last week. Somebody suggested I screwed up the dates on purpose so I could go twice. Wish I' thought of that before. Anyway, I guess this will be our last visit this year. Wednesday is when we go to the local theatre to see the The Light Beneath the Seas with a National Geographic underwater photographer and his work. I am looking forward to that.  Brian Skerry has spent some 10,000 hours under water taking photographs. It should be absolutely fascinating.

The picture for this recipe attracted my attention and then when I read it I thought it sounded somewhat different.

Green Shakshuka

Green Shakshuka
Say that three times fast! Watch closely toward the end of the cooking time and remove from oven when the eggs have plenty of wobble left in them.

½ tsp caraway seeds
3 medium bunches green Swiss chard, divided
Kosher salt
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed, chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs
Harissa powder or Aleppo-style pepper and coarsely chopped dill (for serving)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Toast caraway seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool; finely grind in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.

2. Remove ribs and stems from 1 bunch chard; discard. Blanch leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop; transfer to a blender. Add chiles, cilantro, cumin, caraway, ¼ cup oil, and 1 cup ice. Purée, adding more ice if needed, until smooth; season with salt.

3. Trim tough stems from remaining chard; separate leaves from ribs. Tear leaves into large pieces; chop ribs into bite-size pieces. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion, stirring often, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chard stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and onion is soft, 5–8 minutes. Working in batches, add chard leaves, letting wilt slightly before adding more; cook, tossing often, until all leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Pour in purée and use a spoon to create 8 small wells; crack an egg into each well. Sprinkle lightly with salt and harissa powder. Bake until eggs are just set, 20–25 minutes. Top with dill.

Servings: 8

Source: Bon Appétit

Special Equipment: A spice mill or a mortar and pestle

Have a great day

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dune, Castro,

Somewhere or other I read that someone was going to re-read Dune. I decided I should do the same. I don't know why I didn't really enjoy it the first time, possibly because I had read a later book first and was expecting something totally different, I don't really know. However, I am about half way through the book and thoroughly enjoying it. I confess I don't quite get some of it, the Bene Geserit and their Missionaria Protectiva (I may have got that wrong) confuses me a little. The worms are the things that fascinate me the most. I had forgotten the story and it is very much like reading a new book for me.

The news hasn't stopped talking about the death of Fidel Castro, however, I don't know that it will make much difference to Cuba with Raoul Castro still head of the country. I have been told, by people who have vacationed there, just how very poor the people are and most Canadians pack their luggage with all kinds of things like toothpaste and shampoos to give away. Other things too I believe. However, not being politically minded, I didn't realise Cubans could get arrested for airing their opinions. We have never been but understand that it is a great place to vacation.

This recipe looked absolutely delicious so I had to share it. I am also going to include the video as it may be helpful. Not difficult though.

Bacon and Camembert Wreath

This mouth-watering bacon and Camembert wreath is the perfect Christmas showstopper which is guaranteed to take centre stage on your festive dinner table. It's the ideal party food for sharing with friends and family serving around 8 people. If you're having friends round this year then pop this in the centre of a buffet and everyone will be happy, guaranteed! You might just need more than one... This impressive wreath is so easy to make, wrapping readymade shortcrust pastry around thin slices of bacon and baking - it's that easy! It will take around 45 mins to prepare and cook this recipe but it's well worth the wait and the prep time is just fifteen minutes so there's not too much to do before you
get it in the oven. Topped with maple syrup it's one for sweet and salty lovers.
This bacon and Camembert wreath is best made and eaten on the same day!

320 g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (11.29 oz)
12 rashers streaky bacon (regular bacon)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 Camembert

1. Heat the oven to 220°C. Cut each bacon rasher in half and set aside. Unroll the pastry, cut in half length ways and each half into 12 even strips. Top with bacon strips and brush over 2 tbsp maple syrup.

2. Curl each strip into a twist and chill for 30 mins.

3. Place the lid from the camembert box into the centre of a large lined baking tray and arrange the bacon pastry twists around it, to create a wreath shape. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10 mins.

4. Remove from the oven and replace the camembert box lid with the cheese in the box base, cut a cross in the top and drizzle over the remaining syrup. Bake for a further 15 mins and serve.

Servings: 8

Source: GoodtoKnow
Have a great day

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday Recipe

Time to get away from Thanksgiving feasting and change to something different.


Julia Child called this "one of the most delicious beef stews concocted by man."

1 Tbs olive oil
8 oz thick-cut bacon, preferably double smoked, cut into lardons
3 lbs of beef, such as shanks and/or blade chuck roast, cut into 2-inch chunks (if using bone-in meat, account for the bones in the weight)
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb of carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 bottle Burgundy red wine (full-bodied, young Pinot Noir or Côtes du Rhône or Gamay)
2 cups good-quality beef stock
Bouquet garni: a tied bundle of thyme, bay leaf, and parsley
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 lbs cremini mushrooms, cut in half or kept whole if small
1 lb pearl onions, peeled

For the beurre manié

2 Tbs softened butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour

For serving
Chopped parsley
Crusty toasted/grilled French bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Pat the beef dry. Season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and sear the beef in a single layer in the bacon fat (in batches—make sure not to crowd the pan), turning the meat until nicely browned on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Remove the beef and set aside. Repeat with the remaining beef.beeeeef

4. Add the chopped onions and carrot to the pot and sauté until softened and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

5. Add the reserved bacon and beef (I also threw in the marrow bones from my bone-in shanks for extra flavor). Add the tomato paste, red wine, beef stock, and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop. When it comes to a simmer, cover and place the pot in the oven. Cook until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

6. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of butter. When hot, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté (in batches) until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, adding more butter. Sauté the pearl onions until lightly browned.

7. When the meat is very tender, remove the pot from the oven. Remove the bouquet garni.

8. Make the beurre manié: Blend the butter and flour in a small bowl. Add to the pot in small amounts, stirring after each addition until it has all been incorporated.

9. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions to the stew.

10. Bring the pot to a simmer on the stovetop. Let simmer for 30 minutes to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Servings: 6

Source: Tastebook

Have a great day

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving, Snow, Railings, Supers,

Hoping you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday and you are not feeling too stuffed and uncomfortable today. I miss the fun we used to have when we lived in North Carolina, but things change. Here, of course, we bowled again. I guess eventually I will get back my game. Although I did beat Matt in the last game by one point LOL. I didn't bowl as badly as I did on Monday, but.....

Here we have finally had a few snow falls but nothing very much considering the reports we have been hearing on the news of really tremendous storms in some place in the States.  I've heard reports ofblizzards and really heavy falls of snow. Odd, we are supposed to be the snowy country. The construction workers have all disappeared now, they have left some materials here fenced off. One thing I don't understand, they have taken over a bay in the underground garage, filled it with the walls and panels and then totally boarded up the area. Can't even see inside. Those panels are damned heavy, who did they think was going to steal them? I am talking about the railings in this picture before they put the panels on. The panels are heavy too. I have been told they will be starting again in March - weather permitting I assume. March can be pretty bad round here.

Just heard today that our Superintendent and his wife are leaving on Wednesday. Unfortunately she had made herself very unpopular with a lot of people round here. I wonder what the new people will be like. It is a pretty hard job with 120 (I believe) apartments and lots of work. She told me that if we (the exercise class) wanted to we could decorate a tree for the party room. I wonder if anyone will want to?

After Thanksgiving probably the last thing many of you need is a new cake recipe. However, I just found this one and thought it looked delicious.

Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)

This buttery brioche cake is named ‘Bee Sting' because it's glazed with honey right before baking

1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs honey
1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 large eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup bread flour
2 Tbs bread flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Tbs sliced almonds
1 large egg
2 Tbs cornstarch
1-1/3 cups whole milk divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs water
1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch Salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a small saucepan (or a small cup if you want to use the microwave), combine milk and 1 tablespoon honey and heat until it registers between 110 degrees F to 115 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Pour the mixture into bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle over yeast. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, until yeast is creamy.

2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand and attach paddle attachment. While mixing at low speed, gradually add eggs, all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt, and mix until blended. Gradually add all but 2 tablespoons of bread flour. Mix at medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dough should not stick to sides of bowl; if it does, add some of all of remaining 2 tablespoons of bread flour until dough cleans sides of bowl. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing at medium speed until it is blended into dough. (Dough will be very soft.) Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand a few times to ensure that butter is completely incorporated into dough. Shape dough into a ball and transfer it to a medium buttered bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.

3. Punch dough down to deflate it, and knead it a few times. Return dough to bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or up to 12 hours). Dough should have doubled in volume. If it hasn't, let it stand at room temperature until it has.

4. Butter bottom and sides of a 9" spring-form pan. Shape dough into a ball and arrange it, smooth side up, in center of pan. Flatten ball gently with your palm until it covers bottom of pan. Cover pan and let dough rise until it is puffed, about 1 hour. Position a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 20 minutes before dough is ready.

5. In a small saucepan, heat remaining 1/3 cup honey just until warm. Brush honey over top of dough, then sprinkle with almonds. Bake cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is a lovely golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan, set on a wire rack, for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool cake on the wire rack completely.

6. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cornstarch. Whisk in 1/3 cup of milk until smooth; set aside.

7. Place remaining 1 cup milk in a small, microwavable cup and microwave at high speed until scalding, about 1 1/2 to 3 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar with water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook, without stirring and occasionally brushing down the sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the hot milk (the mixture will bubble up). Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until any hardened caramel has dissolved and mixture is smooth.

9. Whisk about 1/4 cup of hot caramel mixture into egg and cornstarch mixture. Return entire mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard comes to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat, scrape bottom of pan with a spatula, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in butter until melted. Quickly strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract and salt. Set the bowl containing caramel mixture in a large mixing bowl filled one-third of way with ice water (be careful that water doesn't splash into caramel mixture). Stir custard mixture frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 minutes. Cover surface of custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble and serve cake.

10. Assemble cake: Using a long, serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally to form two layers.

11. Remove caramel custard from refrigerator and beat vigorously with a rubber spatula until smooth. In bowl of an electric mixer, using whisk attachment, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream at high speed until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold whipped cream into caramel custard. Spread caramel cream over bottom layer of cake (it will be a thick layer). Top with other cake layer. Sprinkle top of cake very lightly with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.

Servings: 10

Source: German Foods

Have a great day

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cranberry, Juicy Turkey,

When I was a young woman I had never heard of cranberry sauce. I think it is used regularly in the UK nowadays though. I have tried it several times and it has never done much for me so I don't bother. Told the friends who are joining us for Christmas Day to bring some if they would like. They don't much like it either. However, on Wednesday Denise from My Life in Retirement posted a recipe for a delicious sounding chutney which I think even I would like.

I haven't counted, but every foodie email has sent me a no fail recipe for cooking turkey plus they are all sending me recipes for sides for the big day, some of which I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. I am definitely going to try Justin Chapple's Juicy Turkey. This time I found a link on YouTube.

Obviously, I couldn't possibly be left out of the turkey advice stakes even if it isn't my advice exactly.

Having never been particularly enamoured of Green Bean Casserole, I came across this green been recipe today and thought it sounded good.

Lemon-Dill Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed
4 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add green beans, cover and cook until tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk dill, shallot, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving to blend flavors.

Yield: 4

To make this recipe serve 10, multiply all the ingredients by 2 1/2: Use 2 1/2 pounds green beans, 3 tablespoons dill, 2 1/2 tablespoons each shallot, oil and lemon juice, 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Source: EatingWell

Have a great day and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Meds, Lunch, Balconies Guest Blog,

Wednesday, i.e. today, I am guesting on The Really Real Housewives of America if you would like to nip over and take a look. So nice of them to have me to visit,

I told you about me and statins - I get bad cramps. Well last week an internist tried me out on a new cholesterol pill, not a statin. Seems to be OK so far, but I did get a bit dizzy headed and feeling nauseous; checking the possible side effects, that seems to fit in. Which is why there was no blog yesterday. I did go bowling but wasted my time. Matt did OK, but I bowled almost as badly as the worst bowler in our league, and she is bad LOL. I then heard from a friend that Psyllium husk helps reduce cholesterol - it is apparently similar to Metamucil. Our foot nurse happened to be here Tuesday morning so I checked it with her. She said hadn't heard of psyllium husk but was certainly aware that Metamucil was helpful in reducing cholesterol. Also spoke to the pharmacist and he suggested I took the pill in the evening with food.

However, this being Tuesday as I write, I will be going to the Mandarin for lunch. We got to the Mandarin at about 12 and waited for 15 minutes. No sign of our friends so we went in to lunch. I had tried phoning, no luck. We enjoyed our lunch but were a bit concerned about our friends. When I got home I checked the emails, dummy, it was next Tuesday the 29th. They happened to phone us later in the day and we have arranged to go next Tuesday anyway. Suits me, I love to go there as you know. They had some very good salmon today and of course, I had a few dumplings.

I have been working on Christmas Cards the last couple of days. More duh, forgot to go to the post office on the way home. Talking of home, the construction workers seem to be packing up for the winter. They have even been moving the fences so most of the grounds are accessible again.Wonder when they will come back. They started in May this year. I feel sorry for the people who have no balcony still. All the new balcony rails have been put in the underground garage and fenced off - I cannot see anyone stealing them mind you, they are extremely heavy.

Wednesday, i.e. today, I am guesting on The Really Real Housewives of America if you would like to nip over and take a look. So nice of them to have me to visit.

I just found this recipe in my cooking programme, Living Cookbook, and thought it looked good enough to eat.

Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pistachio nuts
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
1 6-ounce package white baking bars
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 recipe Caramelized Pistachio shards (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour three 8x1-1/2-inch round baking pans; set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

2. Beat the 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon almond extract; beat until fluffy. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk or sour milk, beating on low to medium speed just until combined.

3. Thoroughly wash and dry beaters. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter. Fold in the pistachio nuts and the orange peel. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool thoroughly on wire racks.

5. Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in a medium mixing bowl; add egg yolks. Beat mixture with a wire whisk until combined; set aside. Heat the 1-1/2 cups milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat just to boiling. Remove from heat. Gradually beat hot milk into egg mixture with the wire whisk; return entire mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbly, whisking constantly. Cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add white baking bars, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Let stand for 1 minute; stir until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming; cool to room temperature. Beat the 1 cup butter in a medium mixing bowl on medium to high speed until fluffy. Add cooled baking bar mixture, one-fourth at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Spread between layers and over cake.

6. If desired, pipe decorative lines along the edges and down the sides of the cake, using a decorating bag fitted with a star tip. Serve immediately or cover and store cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, if desired, top with Caramelized Pistachio Shards. Makes 12 servings.

Caramelized Pistachio Shards

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil; coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios onto prepared foil. Bake in preheated oven 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Meanwhile, place 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. When sugar begins to melt, reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 minutes more or until sugar is melted and lightly golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon hot water. Immediately pour over nuts on hot baking sheet. Let cool for 1 minute. Using two forks, gently pull caramel mixture as thinly as possible, lifting slightly as you pull. Let cool thoroughly on foil. Break into pieces; store tightly covered.

Servings: 12

Source: Better Homes and Gardens®.

Have a great day

Monday, November 21, 2016

Solar Power, Jigsaw, Tough Meat, Snow

I was talking about power and energy on Friday and reminded myself of the asparagus farm where I spend so much time every year. He uses solar panels on the farm buildings, and has a large field which will be lying fallow for 20 years. He applied to the local township for permission to put in solar panels which, being a biggish field, would have supplied a lot of power. He never did get that permission. How very short sighted of them. I remember being in Greece more than 50 years ago and they were installing solar panels in several places and yet today in Canada they wouldn't permit it.

Every so often I do Shockwave daily jigsaw puzzles. I am so slow that I never rank but I just enjoy
doing them. Heck you don't have to turn all the pieces the right side up for a start LOL. Saturday I did one as usual and apparently did it quick enough to rank 439th. How about that, I didn't think I would ever make a ranking of any kind. I was quite chuffed. Obviously it wasn't the hardest puzzle in the world. Can't have been can it? By the way, I did Sunday's puzzle, no ranking!

I am kind of at my wit's end lately as Matt has decided practically all the meat we get is too tough. I agree it is tough, but I can eat it, he won't. It's OK if I stew it or something similar but if we have a steak, which we eat rare, he doesn't enjoy it. Saturday night we had a rib eye steak and Matt ended up throwing most of his away. I have kind of decided what I should do, is always give him stewed meat but make myself steaks. Be a pain in the butt mind you. I have some instructions for aging beef which I have never tried, but I guess I need to. It is a fact that beef was hung a lot longer in England, and was therefore much more tender, but we have been here a long time and it's only recently Matt has decided he can't eat this or that.

By the way, we got snow on Saturday night so when we got up it was whitish. Not very much but it lasted all day long.

Talking of is a recipe for beef. However, as it says you can swap it for chicken or shrimp. We don't have prawns round here.

Tangy Beef and Mushroom Noodles

Tangy beef and mushroom noodles is one of the speediest (and tastiest!) dishes you could make for dinner. Dish it up in only 20 mins and we guarantee the whole family will be happy. A couple of sirloin steaks go a long way in this recipe. You can get creative with this recipe too - you can happily
use any other veg you've got at home that you want, or swap out the beef for chicken breast or prawns to make a change. This simple recipe is going to one of your new favourites

2 X 220 g sirloin steaks, sliced
100 g tamarind paste
Juice 2 limes
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sunflower oil
300 g mixed mushrooms, sliced
6 spring onions, sliced, plus extra to serve
200 g sugar snaps
300 g noodles
pinch chilli flakes
4 Tbs toasted cashews, chopped

1. Toss the steaks in the tamarind paste, lime juice, soy sauce and sugar, and put in the fridge.

2. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the mushrooms, spring onions and sugar snaps for 3-4 mins, until just cooked; remove and set aside.

3. Remove any excess sauce from the steaks and add them to the wok. Cook for 2-3 mins, then remove and set aside with the vegetables.

4. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to pack instructions, then drain once cooked.

5. Turn the heat down, pour in the marinade and bring to a simmer for 2-3 mins. Add the noodles and toss to coat well, then tip in the beef and vegetables. Stir until everything is warmed through, adding a little hot water to loosen if necessary. Sprinkle over the remaining spring onion, chilli flakes and cashews to serve.

Servings: 4

Source: GoodtoKnow

Author Notes
You can also enjoy it the next day if you have any leftovers; simply make sure to reheat thoroughly

Have a great day

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday Recipe

I think I may have mentioned a time or two how much I love dumplings. I have never actually made  them although Matt used to a number of years ago. This recipe came to my inbox today and I thought it sounded good. If you are interested, there is a 'how to' video on the site.

Chinese Pork Dumplings

When I was growing up, my family made dumplings together every Sunday morning. It's a wonderfully interactive way to start the day. Dumplings are economical and simple to make and they
taste especially great with the family by your side

1/2 medium green cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped garlic chives (optional)
3 oz peeled shrimp, deveined and chopped
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 package dumpling wrappers
2 Tbs Vegetable oil

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs Rice vinegar
1 tsp thinly sliced scallion white
1 pinch toasted sesame seeds

1. The filling: Place the cabbage in a food processor, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed. Wrap the chopped cabbage in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove juices, then transfer to a large bowl. Add ginger, garlic, scallions, and, if desired, garlic chives. Add the shrimp and pork and season with 1/4 cup soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt and pepper. Mix together by hand.

2. Taste the filling by poaching or frying a small amount, and adjust seasonings to taste. To prepare the dipping sauce, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds in a small bowl.

3. To wrap, place 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of a dumpling wrapper. Wet the wrapper's edges, then fold in half to form a taco-like shape. Make a pleat on the side facing you about 20 degrees from the apex of the half-circle and seal with your fingers to the back of the skin. Repeat on the other quarter, in mirror fashion, and seal the dumpling completely, trying to eliminate any air pockets. Repeat until all filling is used.

4. To pan fry, heat oil in a large, nonstick pan over high heat. Add the dumplings in one layer so that they do not overlap. Add water to come halfway up the dumplings, and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until all water is evaporated and the bottoms are browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, the dumplings can be steamed until cooked through, about 5 minutes in a steam basket.

5. Transfer the dumplings to a plate and serve with a dipping sauce.

Servings: 4

Source: Panna
Author: ANITA LO

Have a great day

Friday, November 18, 2016

Power, Medical, Bowling, Christmas Pudding,

For the last three weeks, we have been watching a programme on Nova called Treasures of the Earth which has been absolutely fascinating. Wednesday night in particular was interesting because it talked about power and how countries are working towards using clean power sources. One of the cleanest is, in fact, nuclear power which of course has a bad rep at the present time. There was a segment on the Japanese work with wind and solar power and how they are managing to store some of the power in huge banks of batteries for those times when there is no wind or sun. I would have included the video, which can be watched at the above link, but not in this area. That seems nuts to me, I could see it on TV last night, why can't I watch it on my PC today? Aha, I found it on YouTube. All of the 3 episodes we have watched are there. Highly recommend them.

Having been to the doctors yesterday I am getting a referral to the vascular surgeon who has treated me before. My legs are getting unduly tired and I believe they are not getting the blood flow they should. I will presumably be given an ultra sound and they will see if I am right. I am blaming this on my inability to bowl lately. Matt slaughtered me again today. We played 4 games and tied in one. All the other games he beat me by quite a margin. Grrrr.

I am a tad concerned because I ordered an English Christmas Pudding from The Rising Dough Bakery where I buy a lot of English stuff. When I ordered it they said October but the puds are still not in. They have assured me they will be here before Christmas. I am beginning to wonder. I should have made my own, but these days I can't stand around in the kitchen like I used to.

I thought this sounded good and easy. It calls for Becel which, as far as I know, is only available in Canada. Obviously, any good oil can be substituted. I didn't even know Becel sold oil. We buy their margarine all the time. It turns out it is a combination of canola and sunflower oils and is full of good qualities.


1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbs (30 mL) Becel® Oil, divided
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 package Knorr Sidekicks® Creamy Bacon Carbonara Pasta Side Dish
8 oz rapini*, cut into 1-inch/2.5 cm pieces (about 4 cups/1 L) OR 8 oz. (227 g) broccoli florets (about 4 cups/1 L)

1. Season chicken, if desired, with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes; remove and set aside.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Oil in same skillet over medium heat and cook garlic, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup (250 mL) water and 1 cup (250mL) milk and bring to a boil. Stir in Knorr Sidekicks® Creamy Bacon Carbonara Pasta Side Dish and cook covered according to package directions, adding rapini during the last 5 minutes of cook time

3. Stir in chicken and serve garnished, if desired, with toasted chopped walnuts and grated Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4

*Rapini, also called broccoli rabe (or raab), is a cruciferous vegetable (related to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and Brussels sprouts). The leaves, buds and stems are all edible. It can have a bitter taste, so, if desired, blanch it before adding to the recipe to remove some of the bitterness.

Each serving of this dish is a good source of calcium and iron.

Source: Knorr

Have a great day

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Water, Tired,

They are turning off the water in our building at 9 in the morning once again. This time I have stuck a reminder notice in a prominent position so that hopefully we won't forget and will get all our ablutions out of the way.

Sorry, I am very tired tonight and having spent a large part of the afternoon sitting around at the doctors, we were both a bit teed off. So I am off to bed and you are minus much of a blog.

I enjoy cauliflower although I mostly have it with a cheese sauce. I have tried roasting it once, that seems to be highly recommended, but I wasn't enamoured. So, when I came across this recipe this morning I decided to make a note of it. A simple little recipe but should be quite tasty.

Cauliflower in Garlic Sauce

1 cauliflower, separated into florets
6 Tbs (90 ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs (15 ml) paprika
1 Tbs (15 ml) red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Boil the cauliflower in enough salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over moderate heat and sauté the chopped garlic for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Pour over the cauliflower and serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Source: WW Recipes

Have a great day

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Optometry and Road Works, Medical, Underwater Photography,

Optometrist visit for us today. Apparently I have a cataract growing and have to watch how my eyes are as I have one more or less useless eye (I can see periferally but not straight ahead) - he gave me a paper with a square design on it and a central dot. I have to stare at the dot now and again and if any of the lines appear to waver, I need to call him. I had problems making sure I didn't crumple it on the way home but now I find it on line so I could reprint it if I needed to. Matt had two cataracts done, but I can't remember if he could see straight away or not. If not I would be essentially blind until it cleared up. Getting to the optometrist was a pain in the butt. There is still a lot of road work going on for this LRT system and we followed the detour but there was one place where there were 2 sings, one saying go ahead and one turn left. I only saw the turn left one and we ended up going in a circle!!! Just got there on time and the optometrist told me how to reach Hiway 8 which is a express road and took us back easily. For some reason, we never use the express roads.

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment and they arranged me to see another doctor who will go over my medications. Why can't my doc do that? Anyway, they tell me getting to them is easy again now, but I know there is still one place where there is a detour.

I mentioned a while back that I had booked tickets to see a show about Underwater Photography for the National Geographic. The photographer, Brian Skerry, has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater. There was a reminder in my email and the following picture which I found fascinating.

Don't you think that is amazing? The diver looks so tiny against the huge whale, a Southern Right Whale. Then I found a video.

For those of you who will be cooking your hearts out for Thanksgiving, this looked like quite an easy recipe to make ahead of time. Sadly Matt does not like Sweet Potato.

Cheese-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Portable and healthy, these potatoes can be prepared ahead of time and are ready-to-eat after a quick
reheat. Cook time includes five minutes cooling time and assumes you use the microwave option

2 small sweet potatoes (between 5 and 6 ounces each)
2 oz soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup fat-free cottage cheese
2 Tbs skim milk ricotta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 green onion, sliced
paprika, to taste

1. Scrub potatoes, prick lightly with a fork and microwave for six minutes, or until done. (Or, bake in oven at 400 degrees F for one hour or until done.) When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the insides into a small mixing bowl. Set aside potato skins.

2. Mash the cooked potatoes with the three cheeses and salt and pepper. Distribute the potato mixture evenly among the potato shells. Top each with the sliced green onion and sprinkle paprika on top.

3. Return potatoes to the microwave (one minute on high) or oven (10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees F) or until hot. Wrap or store in a portable container to bring to work or the gym; microwave on high for 1 1/2 to two minutes on high before eating.

Servings: 2

Author: FLKeysJen

Have a great day

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Wildlife Art, November Weather, Supermoon,

I am so pleased to be able to say our son-in-law now has a new website to exhibit his wonderful wildlife paintings. There is a link at the top of my sidebar on the right.

As I told you yesterday, all the balconies are finished on the wing near us. Today there wasn't a machine anywhere on our side of the building, I felt positively neglected. The weather has been phenomenal enabling them to carry on working although I am not sure how long for. A friend posted pictures of geraniums blooming on her balcony - she couldn't believe it on November 14. It really is incredible - it has been getting cool at night but we have had bright sunny days for ages now.

Nearly forgot, my bowling lousy, worse than ever, Matt however, had a good day.

I forgot about the super moon last night, first one since 1948 (I wasn't very old at the time, I don't remember it), but JoJo Earle and our son-in-law Mike, the artist mentioned above took photos and published them on Face book. This was Mike's picture.

This sounded like an interesting version of Sweet Potato Soup. It is also vegan if I am not mistaken.

Sweet Potato–Coconut Soup with Thai Curry

A trio of coconut--coconut oil, coconut milk and toasted coconut flakes--makes its way into this
fragrant and lovely twist on a classic Thanksgiving soup

3 Tbs organic coconut oil
2 onions (1 pound), chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
2 Tbs Thai red curry paste
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
One 15-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
Toasted unsweetened coconut and cilantro sprigs, for garnish

1. In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sweet potatoes and 2 quarts of water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice.

2. In batches, purée the soup until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with coconut flakes and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 8

The soup can be refrigerated for 3 days.

Author: Melissa Clark

Have a great day

Monday, November 14, 2016

Persevere, Balconies,

I don't know, now, just how long I have been having trouble with my wifi, it seems like months and months to me. I had new wiring put in, a new modem, tech experts taking control of my computer, tech expert coming to my home and telling me it was the fault of my laptop, nothing to do with them. Then I started getting all kinds of error messages from my desktop which is hard wired to the internet. I finally wrote an email and said that I was not happy and that although I didn't want to change ISPs, it looked like I was going to have to do so. Lo and behold I got the supervisor calling me and he put me on to a technical supervisor. He said, after some examination etc., that he thought the firmware in my modem wasn't very good and he would load new on to it. Said it would take a couple of hours, then I should monitor my devices. After a couple of hours I didn't have any internet at all. I called them back and they sent a technician the following day. He fixed everything for me and lo and behold, I seem to have had continuous wifi ever since. If all it was was the modem firmware, why couldn't someone else have found that weeks ago? It's not my modem by the way but theirs. So now it seems I can use my desktop, laptop, tablet and Kindle, without any more problems. Hurrah.

The wing of our apartment building opposite us has finally been finished and all their new balconies
have been installed. The top part of the wall is clear which means people will be able to see out whereas before they couldn't do so. I assume by now they have also had their doors unlocked although when I spoke to one person, who's balcony had been finished by Friday, she was still unable to go out. Of course I have no idea when they will get round to us. The four balconies below us have had their walls removed. That applies to all three tiers. I think the same thing has happened out back and with some of the balconies out front. As Matt says, nothing we can do about it so why worry. I'm not worried, just want to know.

Pot Roast is such a comfort food in this part of the world so when I saw this version I had to share and will probably cook it soon.

Pinot Noir–Braised Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

This supertender pot roast from Ben Dailey of Cebo in the Finger Lakes is all about the wine.
Because it's the only liquid the meat braises in, be sure to pick out one that's rich and fruity.

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
One 750-ml bottle fruity Pinot Noir
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
pickled red onion
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp whole pink peppercorns
mashed potatoes
1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 sweet onion, chopped
Kosher salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Make the pot roast In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Working in 2 batches, sear the meat over moderately high heat until browned all over, 5 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate. Add the vegetables to the casserole and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Return the meat and juices to the pot, add the wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 hour and 30 minutes. Stir in the butter and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.

2. Make the pickled red onion Pack the sliced red onion into a 1-quart jar. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, bay leaf, sugar, salt, peppercorns and 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine over the red onion and let cool; drain well.

3. Make the mashed potatoes In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes and onion with cold water and bring to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 40 minutes. Drain the potatoes; return to the saucepan. Add the butter, season with salt and pepper and whisk until a chunky puree forms.

4. Spoon the mashed potatoes into shallow bowls. Top with the pot roast, garnish with the pickled red onion and parsley and drizzle with olive oil; serve.

Tips: The pot roast can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Author: Ben Daily of Cebo
Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Recipe

Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys are about to be cooked and some of them will using stuffing and/or dressing. This one sounded pretty good to me and I think I might use it for Christmas. Although it almost sounds like a recipe for Christmas Pudding or Cake.

port infused nut stuffing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ lb (2 links or 375 g) smoked sausage, chopped
  • 3 cups Port wine
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (about ½ cup uncooked)
  • ½ cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • ½ loaf sourdough bread, cubed (about 4 cups bread cubes)
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup brazil nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pistachios whole
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup gold raisins
  • 1 cup dried currants
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Lightly spray a large casserole dish with cookingspray. I used a 10x15 inch casserole dish. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Add the rosemary, thyme, paprika, allspice and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and add the smoked sausage. Cook for another 5 minutes just until the sausage starts to brown a bit.
  5. Add about ½ of Port (1½ cups) to the skillet, then the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cooked rice and chicken broth and cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. In a large bowl add the bread cubes then add the sausage mixture and stir well to combine.
  7. Add in the nuts and dried fruit and stir well.
  8. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared casserole dish, then pour over the leftover Port.
  9. Bake for 1 hour until the stuffing starts to brown on top.
  10. Serve warm.
Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

Freeze leftovers in a freezer bag or air tight container for up to a month. 

Have a great day