Tuesday, December 31, 2019

TV, NY Eve, Hospital,

I'm an idiot. I never knew I could "rent" movies on the pay TV channel so tonight we watched the movie, Downton Abbey which I have wanted to see for a while. I thoroughly enjoyed it, through the coughing, I have realised I need a cough mixture for Matt which will act as an expectorant. Nothing else seems to help at the moment. Anyway, I thought it was an excellent movie. and believe I can watch it some more before they remove it from me. Not sure if I will. I thought the King, in the movie, looked very like the pix I have seen of George V. We also have a freebie, at the moment, of certain channels with movies etc. but not really looked at those much yet.

Tomorrow, New Year's Eve, my cleaner is very kindly coming as obviously she won't be working on Jan 1 which would be her day normally. Means I also have to go to the store to pick up my shopping so she can help me bring it upstairs.

Our neighbours, across the hall, moved today - didn't say goodbye which I thought was odd, but... We will see who moves in. This will be the fourth set of neighbours since we have been here.

Matt decided he needed a hospital visit this morning so I called for an ambulance. They came and having taken all his vital signs decided he did need to go. So, off we went, it all happened so quickly I didn't even turn off the radio or put in my earrings. Feel undressed without them LOL. Although I had told him and both the paramedics told him, when we got to the hospital and he realised he would have to wait several hours to be seen, he agitated to go home, so we did, by taxi. An unnecessary expenditure which I was a bit teed off about. Oh well. Of course we missed bowling. I don't know if he could have bowled anyway.

Once again, no recipes, I'm sure you all have plans on what to cook over the New Year's holidays. I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. Let's hope it's a good one.

Have a great year

Monday, December 30, 2019

Chocolate, Colds

I'm a chocoholic and I know many other people are as well. I have just come across an article which says scientists expect chocolate to extinct by 2050.  What a dreadful thought. Apparently the company, Mars, are working with scientists to avert the crisis. My first thought was, I won't be around by 2050 my second was that the price of chocolate will start skyrocketing between then and now. This is all going to be caused by global warming which certain presidents say isn't happening!! Can you imagine a world without chocolate? All those delightful desserts and wonderful candies just disappearing. I have met people who don't like chocolate, but they are few and far between in my experience.

Of course being Monday, we bowl today. I don't know if Matt is going to bowl or not. We shall see. Fingers crossed please.

Forgot to mention Matt's cold/cough is getting better and mine has not been getting worse.

Here's a nice little breakfast dish, I am always looking for different things to do for breakfast. I think I would be eating the scooped out flesh of the avocado alongside the main dish. Think I might try it in the air fryer. It's just occurred to me that I would have to go into the store myself to ensure that I got big enough avocados. Mind you I would only get one at a time. Matt would never eat anything but his cereal for breakfast.

Eggs Baked in Avocado

2 avocados (extra-large)
black pepper
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Slice the avocados in half and discard the pits. Use a spoon to scoop out a portion of the flesh from the center of each half, leaving a 1/2-inch border of flesh in the skin. Reserve the scooped-out avocado flesh for another use. (Pro Tip: Use the largest avocados possible to ensure that a full egg can fit inside!)

3. Arrange the avocado halves cut side up in a square baking dish. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and black pepper. Carefully crack an egg into the center of each half and season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Bake the eggs on the middle rack of the oven until the whites are set, 15-20 minutes.

5. Check to see that eggs are done. Remove from oven or add time as needed.

6. Serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Source: Yummly

Have a great day

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Post Christmas, Colds, Deliveries, Recipes,

Well I hope you all had a good holiday and enjoyed all the celebrations and the food you ate. Most of my pigging out was Christmas Eve with the result that Christmas morning I was not feeling too good, no, not the alcohol, although I did have egg nog which was very rich, the quantity and types of food. I was somewhat more restrained on Christmas Day. I had my ham and champagne fizz, Matt just had the ham, he has now decided he doesn't like English mustard which he has been eating for years. Oh well. Later I cooked the stuffed turkey breast which I had bought from my grocery store. Had them before, they are good and just right for the pair of us. Traditionally, in my family, we had Brussels Sprouts and I decided at almost the last minute to make bread sauce. Found an easier recipe than the one I normally use. Made it, it was delicious, and then I put it in the microwave to heat it later on, and forgot it!!! The Christmas Pudding which I bought at the Scottish store and which originated from Marks and Spencer's (UK store) was good too. Now there I was lucky, found some Rum Butter in the freezer.

I am getting concerned about Matt's cough. Nothing seems to be helping it at the moment. Might have to take him to the doctor. He is sneezing as well. I wrote this Boxing Night (26th) and he was coughing all night. Today he has hardly coughed at all. I, on the other hand, have started to do so.

As both Sunday and New Years was on the horizon, I was totally out of fizz. I was tired and really couldn't be bothered to walk all the way to the car, so, delivery company. Figured $10 or $12 was worth it. Having placed my order online I agreed to pay Interac. So, once I had my bill I did so on line. The guy arrived much sooner than expected and they hadn't received the payment. Turns out what I thought was their email, wasn't. Someone called me to say the driver would be back. I then called them and explained I had got the wrong email and had now cancelled the transfer. She was rather unpleasant and didn't give me the correct email telling me the driver was coming back to "grab the stuff". Later another woman called and gave me the correct email and all was resolved so easily.

This is what we had for supper on Friday. You know, every cook seems to think you have fresh herbs on tap the whole time, or maybe lots of lemons to use. As for the saffron, I happen to have some, but I bet not many do and it is sufficiently expensive I would think most people wouldn't buy it anyway. I didn't think it made any difference but I did use it. I didn't have loads of crusty bread either so I used cauliflower rice. Not sure how many calories would have been in the bread, delicious as it might have been. After all that, it was good but needed more salt in my opinion. Each to his own there I guess. I used to grow fresh herbs on our balcony, but now it is too much for us to clamber outside and water them all the time, so, dried herbs it is. If you have fresh herbs, way to go, use them.

Venetian Shrimp and Scallops

1 lb sea scallops
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 Tbs (1 turn around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
1 lemon, zested
Hot, crusty bread, for plate mopping

1. Lightly coat the sea scallops in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Discard remaining flour.

2. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil (1 turn around the pan) and butter. When butter melts into oil, add scallops. Brown scallops 2 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.

3. Add an additional drizzle of olive oil to the pan and add the garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Reduce heat a little and saute garlic and shallots 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine to the pan and free up any pan drippings. Reduce wine 1 minute, then add stock, tomatoes and saffron threads. When liquids come to a bubble, add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Return scallops to the pan and cook shrimp and scallops 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer shrimp and scallops to a warm serving dish and top with basil and lemon zest. Pass plenty of bread to enjoy the juices.

Servings: 4

Source: Rachel Ray

Have a great day

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas luncheon at the bowling alley went well. Matt got into a mood because it was so noisy and we nearly went home. However, I got him some food and he settled down. The team we were playing against said we would probably win against them, then two of them started throwing strikes all over the place. In the second game one of them had a 350 game. Told him I hated him. In fun of course. We left before they finished their last game and he emailed me that we did win that one. Something I suppose. There was stacks of food left over. I ended up with a large bag of egg salad sandwiches. Guess what we had for supper. I had some for breakfast on Christmas Eve too. Matt had some for lunch and we still have lots left. Not sure how long they will last.

I had ordered a sweat shirt for Matt and received an email, dated the 24th, telling me it would arrive tomorrow, Christmas Day. I was somewhat puzzled. In the end it actually arrived in the afternoon. Odd.

Reading my blood for diabetes in the morning I needed to stock up with lancets from the bathroom. Whilst doing so, I cleverly dropped and broke my lancing device!! Typical. Phoned the pharmacy and they had one I could have.

The Community Support vehicle picked me up to collect shopping. I had loaded up my order to make it work my while (financially). Never met this particular driver before. Asked him if he could take me to the pharmacy as well, he said sure. I went in and got the new device and some lancets to go with it. When I got home, it didn't work properly!! Going back on Boxing Day, probably going to get a new meter (free) which will give me a lancing device too. The driver also agreed to take me to the liquor store, (I needed rum for the egg nog, didn't have enough). The parking areas all round the mall were like zoos, never seen them so full. Pretty dangerous manoeuvering. Glad I wasn't driving. Anyway, I didn't have to get the car and go out again.

Enjoyed our egg nog. After supper watched an interesting programme about Handel and how he came to write Messiah. This was followed by a Christmas Concert from Wheatley College (I think), then himself went to bed and I went and did some Spanish.

Don't know if I mentioned the fact that Matt is coughing like a good 'un. Monday morning it was better but then he started hacking again that night. Luckily bought some more cough medicine. I just hope I don't catch it. Neither of us normally catch these things.

No recipe today, if you even read this blog over Christmas, I am sure all your meals have been planned in advance.

So cheers and have a great day  I will be drinking fizz on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Recipe

Yeah, I know I keep saying I am not posting over the holidays, but I couldn't resist posting this.

These looks so good I thought somebody might just like to try them for a Christmas meal. Can't you just imagine the delicious crunchiness in your mouth and the sublime taste of the duck fat. Makes me wish I was entertaining. It looks simple enough but you obviously have to plan ahead. Maybe for a New Year treat.

Thousand-Layer Duck Fat Potatoes

When chef Shaun Searley prepares these crispy potatoes at The Quality Chop House, he starts with
King Edward potatoes, which have a fluffy texture. Be sure to start a day ahead so the cooled confited potatoes slice cleanly.

4 1/2 lbs King Edward, Kennebec, or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup duck fat, melted
1 Tbs plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on all sides. Toss together potatoes, duck fat, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large bowl until well coated. Place a single layer of potatoes in prepared pan. Top with a second layer of potatoes, covering any gaps in first layer. Repeat layers with remaining potatoes. Drizzle any remaining duck fat in bowl over top. Cut an 8-inch square of parchment paper, and press directly onto surface of potatoes. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until potatoes are tender (removing foil to test with a wooden pick), 2 to 3 hours.

2. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and remove foil, leaving parchment sheet on potatoes. Set a second 8-inch square pan on top of potatoes in pan, and weigh it down with unopened canned goods. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Chill potatoes 8 hours or overnight with weighted pan on top.

3. Remove weighted pan and top parchment sheet; discard parchment sheet. Run a knife around edges of pan to loosen potato cake. Invert potato cake onto a cutting board; remove and discard parchment liner. Cut potato cake into 7 equal strips (about 1 inch wide). Cut each strip crosswise into 3 equal pieces. Using a knife, carefully split each piece in half to form 42 (about 2 1/2- x 1-inch) pieces (about 3/4 inch thick). Transfer potato pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze until solid, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 month. (If freezing to use at a later date, transfer frozen potato pieces to a large ziplock plastic freezer bag.)

4. While potatoes are freezing, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high to 375°F. Working in batches, fry frozen potato pieces (keeping remaining pieces frozen), turning occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer potato pieces to a brown paper–lined rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle fried potatoes evenly with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve immediately.

Servings: 10

Source: Food and Wine

Have a great holiday


Monday, December 23, 2019

Dog Sledding, Movies, Christmas Lunch,

Had a delightful afternoon on Saturday. The woman who comes to clean for us joined us for a drop of bubbly or fizz. Because she was driving, she only had half a glass, but we had fun with her. As she walked in the door I gave her a duster!! She was telling us about her son and his girlfriend who went dog sledding. Showed us pix. I have always wanted to go dog sledding. Not likely to happen now.

Saturday evening I happened to catch Kismet on TCM. It is a 1955 film and the lead singer was Howard Keel who, in his day, was one of the best singers around. Sadly he died in 2004. He was in all the best musicals. I saw the musical in London and the lead was played by Alfred Drake who was another wonderful singer. The omitted some things from the show and put things into the movie. However, to me, it is a wonderful movie with wonderful songs. I was choking up seeing the movie once again. So guess what, I have bought if for myself. It's full of nostalgia for me. Matt used to love Kismet too, but sadly it has no meaning for him any more. Sunday night I caught Going My Way with Bing Crosby which I thoroughly enjoyed. Matt was eventually somewhat interested. He does appreciate music but not musicals.

Today, Monday, is our Christmas lunch at the bowling alley so we have to be there early. I think our other two team members will be there this week too. The family who run the bowling alley have  birthday and anniversary celebrations this month, two this week. No exercise classes until after Christmas. In fact they don't start again til the 30th which means I won't be able to go til next year. Pity, but there it is.

This recipe looks interesting. I have no idea what Pomegranate Molasses is or if one can get it locally. Also, the picture is titled as being over Hashweh - something I am totally unfamiliar with. Having looked it up, sounds good but doesn't look quite the same. Not only that there is an ingredient, barberries, of which I have also never heard! Up to you if you are going to try it.

Spiced Leg of Lamb

Reem Kassis’ mother, Nisreen, would serve leg of lamb to guests because it was “a sign of utmost
respect.” Large cuts of meat were expensive and often reserved for special occasions and celebratory gatherings. Kassis’ secret to making this next-level lamb is to roast it low and slow for several hours until the meat is nearly falling apart and then finish it at a higher temperature until the fat on the outside is candy-crisp.

8 large garlic cloves, divided
3 Tbs pomegranate molasses
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp ground dill seeds
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp Nine-Spice Mix
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (4 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound) bone-in leg of lamb (shank end)
3 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup water, plus more as needed

1. Mince 4 of the garlic cloves. In a small bowl, whisk minced garlic, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt, coriander, cumin, dill, sumac, Nine-Spice Mix, and cayenne until a smooth paste forms.

2. Using a paring knife, cut slits all over lamb. Rub spice mixture over lamb, pressing into slits. Smash remaining 4 garlic cloves. Tuck bay leaves and smashed garlic into 4 of the slits. Transfer lamb to a wire rack set in a large roasting pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Let lamb stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast lamb, uncovered, in preheated oven until spice mixture just begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove lamb from the oven, and reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add 1/2 cup water to roasting pan, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Return lamb to oven, and roast at 325°F until tender and almost falling apart, about 3 hours, adding more water if necessary. (Water in pan may evaporate too quickly.)

4. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. (Do not remove pan from oven.) Uncover roasting pan, and continue to roast until top is browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a cutting board; tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Pull meat into large chunks and serve.

Servings: 8

Author: Reem Kassis

Have a great a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Running Around Again, Holiday Inn, Holiday Wishes, Cooking, Saturday Recipe

What a Friday again. Not sure what it is with us at the moment, seem to be on the go all the time. Friday morning went to the hairdressing salon. Two guys ahead of us which didn't help. Eventually we were done and it was late. I wanted to go to Victoria St. Market for a couple of things - should I go home, lunch, exercise class and then come out again or should I go to the store first. Decisions, decisions. Decided to go to the market. I have never seen the place so busy. The parking is not very big at the best of times, today I was lucky to slide into a spot. The store itself was a zoo. Managed to get what I wanted and get out. Matt wondered what I had been buying.

Got home and by this time it was late. I grabbed a few things to eat, including the Red Lobster biscuits which I had remembered this time. Kind of shoved them in my mouth and then went downstairs to the exercise class. Wanted to be able to wish everyone Merry Christmas. One person brought some Lindt truffles and a candy cane for our instructor. Apparently she cannot eat chocolate. Wish I couldn't LOL. Back upstairs I hunted for a couple of recipes I wanted and then sat down in my arm chair and just zonked out.

Watched a Broadway version of Holiday Inn tonight. Didn't realise I had never seen it before. I was getting it muddled up with White Christmas. Kind of thought they were the same.

Not too sure if I will be posting much next week. Just in case I wish you all a really wonderful Christmas and hope everything goes the way you would like.

And, to anyone else who doesn't celebrate Christmas, I wish you happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year.

Tomorrow I am planning to do a variation on Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon With Port Wine Sauce which I published on August 1, 2015. I have some blue cheese I want to use up anyway. I bought a Sirloin steak and figured this would go well.

Bearing in mind my recent interest in mussels, I figured this sounded a good recipe.

Spaghetti with Mussels, Clams and Shrimp

1/4 cup dry white wine
2 dozen mussels, scrubbed
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), halved
1 lb spaghetti
3/4 lb medium shrimp—shelled, deveined and halved crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs chopped parsley

1. Bring the wine to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat until they open, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the mussels to a bowl. Add the clams to the saucepan, cover and cook until they start to open. Transfer them to the bowl with the mussels. Pour the cooking liquid into a small glass measure, leaving behind any grit. Shell the mussels and clams and return them to the bowl.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and half of the cherry tomatoes and cook over moderate heat, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the juices thicken, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved shellfish cooking liquid and simmer over moderate heat until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

3. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Meanwhile, bring the sauce to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining cherry tomatoes and the reserved mussels and clams and simmer briefly to heat through.

4. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the seafood sauce and toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper and transfer to a warmed bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once.

Yield: 4 to 6
Source: Food and Wine

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Trust, Movie, Present, Restaurant, Bowling, Is it Ham or Pork?

It didn't occur to me before, but living in an apartment, you can dial a number from the lobby which rings our phone. This  morning it did so and the young man said "I'm from Amazon" so I let him in (with the phone). I  then thought, anyone could say they were from Amazon. I might have been letting in any kind of criminal. He didn't even say he had a package for me which many delivery people do, identifying themselves by using my name. Oh well, it was a package from Amazon, a DVD version of Miracle on 34th St. - I have a VHS version but until yesterday, didn't think I was going to be able to play it. Later, I discovered that what I had received was a colorised version of the original Miracle together with a second disc which has several things on it including a copy of the original movie in black and white. I know some people think original black and white is more authentic but I must admit I like the colour and I really enjoyed seeing the original movie again. It was always my favourite.

We met ladydog at the Red Lobster and I gave her her gift, a plate warmer, I have had one for a couple of years or so and I use it every day (assuming we are eating warm food) and think it is a wonderful gadget. I had quite a job finding it but now they seem to be all over the place. Originally they were  made by Waterbridge but they seem to be sold by other people now. There are two sizes and you can put two plates in each fold if you need to. They really are a great help, much better than turning on the oven especially on a warm day.

We had a good lunch, ladydog and I shared a lobster, artichoke and spinach dip (I think they removed the calories) and then I had a Caesar Salad (quite large for a side dish) with a few shrimp on top following by a dish of mussels in an excellent soup/broth. I really enjoyed them. By the time I had finished I was stuffed. Damn, I've done it again. Brought home a bag with their Cheddar Bay Biscuits and left it in the car. Still, going to the hair salon in the morning. What an idiot.

Mind you, after lunch, we went to the bowling alley where I distributed presents and got hugs, then we bowled. Matt wasn't sure he was going to manage it, but he did in the end. As it turned out, the league playing today were having their Christmas pot luck and they invited us to join it. I said thanks, but no thanks as we had just come back from Red Lobster. I couldn't have eaten a bite. One game not bad, one game not good. Matt was pretty consistent but not very good.

Our cleaner has accepted the offer of a glass of fizz as a Christmas drink. She is coming Saturday afternoon.

Being a poor confused Limey, I have problems with North American names for things. The following recipe is for a fresh ham which I would just call an uncooked leg of pork (with the skin on for crackling) but I know in North Carolina they refer to it as a ham. To me, ham is pork which has been prepared in a special way and then cooked before sale. Until I came to Canada, I had never heard of buying a cooked ham and then cooking it again. I always used to cook a leg of pork on Boxing Day, sorry Americans, December 26th, in fact once upon a time I cooked a goose for Christmas Eve, a Turkey for Christmas Day and a leg of pork for Boxing Day. Tradition. The crackling on the pork was the best part, in my opinion. The skin needed to be scored (cut in strips or some people criss cross to form squares). I would then oil and salt it, this doesn't seem to happen in the following recipe.

Chile-Brined Fresh Ham

Butcher Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Francisco likes to brine fresh ham in a chile-spiked liquid. The pork skin turns wonderfully crackly in the oven.

4 cups kosher salt
2 cups sugar
6 quarts cold water
1 cup black peppercorns, crushed
5 oz Thai or serrano chiles, stemmed and finely chopped
8 whole cloves
4 cups ice cubes
1 18-pound, bone-in fresh ham, with skin
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1. In a large saucepan, combine the salt and sugar with 2 quarts of the water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into a very large pot. Stir in the peppercorns, chiles and cloves. Add the remaining 4 quarts of water and the ice and stir until the ice has melted and the brine is at room temperature. Add the ham, skin side up; the skin does not have to be submerged. Brine the ham in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the ham from the brine and brush off the peppercorns and cloves. Set the ham skin side up in a roasting pan and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Roast the ham for 1 hour; turn the pan and add 1 cup of water halfway through. Reduce the oven to 300F° and roast the ham for 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150°. Transfer the ham to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.

4. Strain the pan juices into a saucepan; skim off the fat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cut the skin off of the ham and break it into pieces. Thinly slice the meat and serve with the jus and crisp skin.

Yield: 10 to 12

 Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Shopping, Lunch, Exercise Class, TV,

Up early in order to get ready for our cleaner who comes at 8:30. I gave her her Glassify teapot with which she was delighted, I'm pleased to say. I think the Glassify products are very attractive. Seems women think so, not sure men agree. She brought us chocolates, just what I need. I keep telling here she shouldn't be buying us a present anyway. I then dashed off to the grocery store to pick up my shopping. I took a little extra time to purchase something I wanted then left there and decided as I was close by, I would go to the liquor store. The store stands all on it's own and has no shelter round it of any kind. With the result that, on a windy day, the wind literally whistles round the building and just traversing from the car to the front door is almost painful. I park closer than most because I can use a wheelchair spot, but cold doesn't come into it. I was like an icicle when I got inside. When I get back, I call our cleaner and she comes down to help get the groceries upstairs. Wish she was here every week.

Tomorrow ladydog, Matt and I are going to Red Lobster for lunch - pre Christmas. I have been receiving emails about free delivery before Christmas. Discovered today that that was a US promotion. I wasn't best pleased. Why am I getting such emails?

Went down to exercise class after lunch. We now have a new member, a male. Bit surprising as he is young compared to us oldies who are normally there. Friday will be the last class before Christmas. Resuming again on the 30th apparently. However, we are bowling on both the 23rd and the 30th so won't be there. In fact the 23rd  is our bowling banquet.

In the afternoon a friend turned up with a two way switch box and after a certain amount of effort, we can now watch both DVDs and VHS tapes. He wouldn't take a penny for the gadget. Just said Merry Christmas. Considering Best Buy Geek Squad wanted to charge me $99.99 I was very grateful.

Here's another simple and delicious looking recipe from Kevin Lynch and Closet Cooking.

Balsamic Soy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

Simple and tasty mushrooms roasted in a balsamic-soy and garlic sauce!

2 lbs mushrooms
1 Tbs oil
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs soy sauce (or tamari)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Toss the mushrooms in the oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and roast in a preheated 400F/200C oven until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes, mixing half way through.

Servings: 4

Have a great day

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Phew!! Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Liona Boyd,

I ended up cancelling lots of appointments this week  but I still seem to be running in circles. I was going to take the car in for service this morning, but as we have to wait for it, I just didn't have time. Then last night I was online til gone midnight talking to Amazon and saying I hadn't had my earrings even though it said they were delivered. What I hadn't realised was that the mailman had come late in the evening and just put the parcel in our mail box. However, before I discovered that I was on the phone with Canada Post this morning for quite a while too. Like I have nothing else to do. Anyway, I do now have my earrings and they are pretty. Even Matt likes them.

Not only that, I am making cards for the guys at the bowling alley and trying to reconcile bank statements (for November would you believe) and altering and printing phone lists and, and, and...Matt has been nittering me about getting our ears lowered (think mine are fine) and the hairdresser told us not to go in at the beginning of the week so we will have to do so on Friday maybe.

So, that is why I didn't write a blog last night. Didn't do my Spanish either, first time I have missed it since I started.

Last night we watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir which was super - Matt thought he had never seen them before but we catch their performance most years. The main singer was Kristin Chenoweth whom I had never heard of but she was excellent. Afterwards saw Liona Boyd who is a premier guitarist. She had people with her including one young man playing various wind instruments. One of which I now have to try and find, neither of us had ever seen it before. I have just gone through dozens of pictures of wind instruments but I cannot find the one we saw.

I love meringues but have never been particularly successful when making them. The ingredients in these appealed to me. Especially as I now know I posted this before. Oh well.

Spiced Italian Pecan Meringues

“Don’t judge the taste of these cookies by the crags and cracks,” says sous-chef Merrin Mae Gray of
L.A.’s Rossoblu. (Their Italian name is brutti ma buoni, “ugly but good.”) The pecans and potent grappa are unexpectedly elegant, and the crisp outsides and chewy centers make these meringues seriously addictive.

3/4 cup shelled pecans
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp grappa
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the pecans on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing them halfway through, for about 20 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a work surface and let cool, then coarsely chop.

2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the whites are stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the grappa, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped pecans.

3. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200° and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the meringues are firm on the outside but still chewy in the center. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Source: Food and Wine

Author Notes
The meringues can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Have a great day

Monday, December 16, 2019

Six Sisters, Deliveries, TV, Bananas, Snow,

Friday I watched a video on U-Tube by Six Sisters and they were doing freezer breakfasts which they could use for their kids (or themselves) in a hurry. I guess I mulled about it overnight and Saturday morning I took a Ramekin, sprayed it with Pam, added an egg, tore up a slice of ham and added some habanero cheese. I shoved it in the air fryer at 400°F for about 4 minutes and had a delicious breakfast (Ramekin was too hot to handle but I could tip it out). This is what they did just for your interest.

Hmm, I made it again Sunday morning and made a proper mess of it, but it worked beautifully on Saturday.

Not much doing over the weekend. I am a tad annoyed with the Post Office. I was supposed to get my earrings on Friday, now it looks like I will receive the parcel, along with some others, on Monday, assuredly whilst we are at the bowling alley. That means that Tuesday I will be running around to pick up my parcels. Grrrr.

One thing, a friend from bowling came to try and fix up my TV and VCR now I have the proper cable. Guess what, he tried everything and it didn't work. He then showed me channels where I can get free, or inexpensive, movies. I never knew. However, when I tried getting them later on in the evening, the one I wanted, which he found for $3.99 I could only get by joining a service at $20 a month. No thank you. Don't know what I was doing wrong but something.

My favourite Snow Pic
We ran out of bananas on Saturday (I eat them for cramps as much as anything) and I went to Victoria St. Market on Sunday morning. Got there just before 11 and they weren't open. Boy was it ever cold, the wind was really blowing. Sat in the car for a while until they opened the doors, dashed in and got my bananas. Only extra I got was some Brussels Sprouts. Quite proud of myself. Commented to the cashier, he said I must have kept my head down LOL.

Forgot to mention, it snowed all day on Saturday. However, by the evening the roads were clear, even the side streets were only slightly icy. The park outside our windows is white as the driven snow, oh, it is the driven snow.

I recently bought some Italian seasoning and then just discovered a recipe for it in Closet Cooking. I have all these herbs anyway so I think, in future, I will make my own. Herbs are expensive enough and I always have these on hand. Of course if you add some of the things in the Options, it will no longer be Italian Seasoning.

Italian Seasoning

A quick, easy and tasty Italian seasoning blend or spice mix!

2 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs dried rosemary
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs dried marjoram
1 Tbs dried sage

1. Mix everything

Yield: 8 tablespoons

Source: Closet Cooking

Option: Change the amounts of the herbs to taste!

Option: Add parsley, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, etc.

Have a great day

Friday, December 13, 2019

Dieting, Saturday Recipe.

Thursday I decided to do a "What is your real Age" test on Dr. Oz's site. It included a requirement for my waist measurement. Hadn't thought about it for a long time, but I measured three times because I didn't believe it. No, I am NOT going to say what it was. However, I am hoping that was enough incentive for me to stop shoving food down my mouth at every opportunity. I really need that incentive. My real age, according to this test, was 85.7 which isn't too bad. Stress was a big factor in the measurements and there is nothing much I can do about that. Well, there is in how I handle it but the source of stress is constant. In 2013 I lot 50 lbs and was so pleased I had kept it off until this year. For me the secret to weight loss is sensible eating rather than cutting out this or that food group. So, wish me luck.

I might say, ladydog brought us a "chunk" of her Christmas Cake and we ate a small piece each after supper. Delicious as usual, and I still remained inside my calorie allowance.

I love vegetables and particularly mushrooms, so I thought this was a winner. It is 182 calories a serving. Of course, I love Kevin Lynch's recipes, he is a never fail source of "good stuff" to eat.

Crispy Buttery Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

Garlic and butter roasted mushrooms topped with crispy breadcrumbs!

1 lb button mushrooms
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp thyme, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or breadcrumbs; gluten-free for gluten-free)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggino (parmesan), grated

1. Place the mushrooms in a baking dish, spoon the mixture of the butter, garlic and thyme onto the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper.

2. Bake in a pre-heated 400F/200C oven for 10 minutes before sprinkling on the mixture of the breadcrumbs and parmesan and baking until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Servings: 4

Tips : Garnish with chopped parsley and hit the mushrooms up with a splash of lemon juice just before serving.

Author: Kevin Lynch
Source: Closet Cooking

Have a great day

Pork, Lab Test, Superstition, Blue Band, Thai Food,

I posted a recipe yesterday which included pork belly. I am not sure I will be able to find that so I Googled a substitute and apparently pork shoulder is a good cut to choose. In case you want to try the recipe, I thought I would pass on that information.

I went down to get  my blood work done this morning and completely forgot a urine test. I haven't done a blood test for diabetes in some years. That's not the only thing I am being tested for, but the urine is a necessity for diabetes tests. Surprisingly I was told to bring a specimen back tomorrow.

Just seen it is Friday the 13th tomorrow.  I am not really superstitious but I know many of the superstitions because my mother was. Matt and I never cut our nails on Friday (his mom) and Sunday (mine). Occasionally people will unpack their bowling shoes and put them on the table whilst doing so, horrors. Funny how these things stick from childhood. Matt's family, being a seafaring bunch, believed in many superstitions. They would not use the word pig and always called it a gussy. Something I had never heard before - it was a superstition from the north of England. Of course black cats crossing your path or walking under a ladder were considered bad omens and apparently if Matt's father or grandfather walked between two nuns, they would turn round and go home for the day. Just thought, don't know how you would know these days, many nuns don't wear habits any more. Got any superstitions which were traditional in your neck of the woods?

Today ladydog and I agreed on Thai/Viet food for lunch so I ordered and she collected. We ended up with a lot of food. Matt can eat mountains but the Thai green curried chicken was too much. In the end, I had enough leftovers, together with some French Garlic Chicken I had cooked last night, to make us a very substantial supper. Zoey meanwhile was being fed dog biscuits until she had run out when she promptly lay down and dozed.

Talking of ladydog, she is a member of a couple of bands and plays the French Horn. I have never seen or heard her band but today she steered me to Facebook where they are playing Gilbert and Sullivan in one video and there are other videos in the same area. I can see ladydog and her French Horn. I decided I like El Relicario better so that is what is here. Enjoy. If you want to see more there are several videos to watch/listen to.

I posted this recipe before I think but had forgotten it so when I saw the picture I wanted to post it and when I discovered it would be the second time, I did so anyway. Looks so good. The young lady who drew my blood this morning was either Vietnamese or Thai so I mentioned what we would be having for lunch and told her how ladydog had tried genuine Thai food in Thailand (as actually eaten by them) and been unable to eat it. Much to my surprise she said she couldn't eat it either, but her sister covered her food in chiles.

Crispy Lamb With Cumin, Scallions and Red Chiles

Dongbei cai is the food of Northeast China. Weiliang Chen, the chef at Northeast Taste Chinese Food,
the biggest of the Dongbei restaurants in Queens, makes an elegant, tender version of a popular Dongbei stir-fry of lamb with dried chilies, made fragrant and crunchy with cumin seeds — a legacy of the nomadic Mongols who long ruled Central Asia, carrying spices on horseback along with their arrows. Lamb is considered a Northern taste and excessively “strong” by many Chinese cooks; it is always cooked with powerful aromatics, like chili peppers and garlic, to subdue it.

1 Tbs egg white
1 Tbs rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt, more to taste
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless leg of lamb or lamb shoulder, cut into strips about 1/2 inch by 2 inches
3 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs cumin seeds, lightly cracked in a mortar or grinder
2 Tbs whole dried red chile peppers, about 2 inches long
4 scallions, white and green parts only, cut on diagonal into 1-inch lengths
Sesame oil, for seasoning

1. In a bowl combine egg white, wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add lamb and set aside to marinate 1 hour.

2. Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Swirl half the oil into wok and carefully add lamb, spreading it in a single layer. Let sear a moment, then stir­fry briskly just until lamb is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate. (If your wok is not large enough to hold all the lamb, do this in 2 batches, using extra oil)

3. Swirl remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil into empty wok, add cumin seeds and chiles and stir­fry a few seconds until cumin seeds start to pop. Press chiles against sides of wok to char their skins.

4. Add scallions and stir­fry 1 minute. Then return lamb to wok and stirfry 1 to 2 minutes more until lamb is cooked through. Turn off heat, sprinkle with salt and drops of sesame oil, and serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Source: The New York Times

Have a great day

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Health Card, Coffee Meeting, Exercise Class, Cards, VCR and Earrings, Zoey,

One of the first things I did on Wednesday morning was to phone the government office, Service Ontario, about Matt's health card. They don't open til 9 a.m. Silly me. When if phoned them at 9:15 I was told that it take 8 weeks to get the card ??? He already got his id card wonder why the health card takes so long.

Then went to the Starbucks in my local grocery store and for a few moments I thought I was going to be all alone, however, in the end, the two friends who haven't  made it before turned up but the other two didn't (one his wife was sick, don't know about the other). We had an enjoyable hour chatting about our spouses and mentioning how we managed. It was so nice to see them, but I was sorry that the other two couldn't make it because it would have been the first time we had all been together at the coffee bar.

Went home and almost threw my lunch down my throat and then dashed down to the exercise class. Unusually there were several of us there today which was nice for a Wednesday. I seem to be improving again, glad I have been able to go and partake again. Checked the mail and was delighted to find 4 Christmas cards. Makes me a feel a mite guilty but I just can't manage the dozens of cards I used to send which is why I send electronic cards these day.

I can't remember whether I mentioned that having bought a new TV some months ago, we were
unable to connect the VCR. I finally found the cable I needed at Amazon (of course) and it will be here tomorrow (today now I guess). One of  the bowling alley owners has agreed to come help me plug it in as I can't manage all the bending and twisting necessitated to do the connection. I got cracking with the cable so I can play Miracle on 34th St. which is a VHS tape. I also bought myself some snowflake earrings. I have wanted some ever since I saw someone in the bowling alley with a pair several years ago. I hope they are as pretty as they look. Will tell Matt that is what he bought me for Christmas. They had some in blue too but decided silver was best.

Thursday, Zoey is coming to see Matt bringing ladydog who is picking up some Thai food for lunch - nice change from Subways.

I know many of you don't like tofu although I do. I always make sure to get plenty of it when I have my Hot and Sour soup at Mandarin. When I saw this recipe I thought it sounded good. I guess you could leave it out if you wanted. I thought it was vegetarian at first but then saw the pork belly in the ingredients.

Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew

Stop at a Korean market on the way home from work, and you can have this soothing, vibrant dish on
the table in 30 minutes.

1/2 lb pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1 lb jar kimchi, drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Tbs gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1 Tbs gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
Kosher salt
1 14 oz container silken tofu, cut into large pieces
Steamed short-grain rice, for serving

1. In a medium-size nonreactive pot, cook the pork belly pieces over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is sizzling and the pork is light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the kimchi and the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the reserved kimchi liquid, mushrooms, gochujang, gochugaru, and 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Season the stew with salt. Stir in the tofu, breaking it up slightly with the spoon, and bring to a boil; remove from the heat. Serve the stew hot with steamed rice.

Servings: 4

Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mandarin and Moules with a little snow

Well our toenails are clipped, our stomachs are full of Chinese food and our cupboards are full of groceries.

Mandarin was packed to the gills today, never seen it so busy. So much so, we were almost rushed out of the door. I know it's Christmas but we come every year at this date because it is our friend's birthday and normally, even this close to Christmas, it isn't that full. It was pretty full the day we went with ladydog too. Maybe more people have found the place or something. Having watched a kids' programme on TV the other day where they took one boy out to lobster pots and another girl to mussel beds, they showed them how to cook their hauls and also explained how exceptionally healthy mussels are. They are loaded to the gills with all kinds of vitamins such as B12 and A and they are high in protein and low in fat. They are also good for the brain. So, needless to say, I had a load of them at Mandarin today and plan on making them a regular part of our menu at home. I love Moules Marinière, I remember first coming across them in the coastal ports of either France or Belgium, I am not sure which, but I recall being served large steaming bowls of mussels in the most fragrant juices with mounds of crusty French bread to dip in the "soup". This wouldn't have been very long after World War II and in England we hadn't seen food like this in my lifetime and I took to French and Belgian food like a duck to water. I am not sure how old I was, but rationing in England didn't cease until 1954. London stores had already started selling  more exotic items like bananas and pineapples, even garlic, but in the provinces we didn't see such things for quite a while after that. Of course I remember my mother cooking mussels many times after that and it was usually my job to de-beard them. Yuck. Actually I don't think they used to de-beard them in France but I couldn't swear to it. I see a note in the recipe below saying we can now buy them already "bearded".

It was snowing a lot today, not constant, but enough to turn all the grassy areas white but not the paved areas. Coming back from the restaurant the snow was driving heavily at the windshield and my wipers were working overtime when suddenly, it stopped, just as if someone had turned off a tap. I was being picked up to go collect my groceries today and shortly after we got back I got a call from today's driver who said he could be there early. Checked with the store, they were OK with it having already picked my order, so off we went. Yet another driver who cooks. Nice to  be able to talk food with people. Except these days I bore people to death with talk of my Instant Pot LOL.

We ended up with a bowl of soup and a mince pie for supper. We were quite full enough.

Obviously after all that discussion I am posting a recipe for Moules.

MOULES MARINIÈRE   A classic all year round

The good thing about mussels is you can eat them all year round! We French have many uses for
This picture makes me drool!!
them – gratin, omelette, stuffed, in soups, casseroles, in salads – but my favourite is the most traditional use of them: moules marinière. This Normandy classic is simple to cook at home, especially as you can now easily buy mussels that have already been cleaned and de-bearded.

1.8 kg very fresh good-quality mussels
100 ml dry white wine
20 g unsalted butter
1 small white onion, peeled and very finely chopped
4 bay leaves
8 thyme sprigs
2 Tbs whipping cream
3 Tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Wash the mussels thoroughly in a bowl under cold running water, removing any barnacles and beards that are still present.

2. Discard any mussels that float, including those that are closed.

3. Drain the mussels in a colander.

4. Meanwhile, boil the wine in a small pan for 30 seconds.

5. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme, stir and then add the wine after 10 seconds.

6. Bring to the boil, add the mussels and cover with the tight-fitting lid.

7. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the mussels open.

8. Stir in the cream and chopped parsley.

9. To serve the mussels, tip into a large dish or divide among warmed soup plates.

10. Provide your guests with finger bowls and serve with lots of good French bread to mop up the wonderful juices.

Servings: 4

"The secret, as ever, is in the freshness of the mussels. A fresh mussel is shiny, closed and heavy with seawater, with no ‘fishy’ smell."

"For an Indian twist, add a generous pinch of Madras curry powder to the onion and finish the dish with lemon juice and freshly chopped coriander."

"For a Thai flavour, add some chopped fresh chilli, garlic, lemongrass and a kaffir lime leaf; replace the cream with creamed coconut or coconut milk."

Author: Raymond Blanc

Have a great day

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas Syndrome, Bowling, Figs, Weather, Tapas,

This morning I was quite convinced I had Christmas syndrome, I was constantly blowing my nose and sneezing. It was horrible. However, it dissipated once I left the apartment and doesn't seem to have returned, fingers crossed.

I am delighted to report that I bowled well today and my average went up 2 points, woo hoo. I am so pleased. Matt's average stayed the same. He says every week he isn't going to bowl again but luckily forgets it and happily goes with me once more. There were just the two of us on our team as our team mates have deserted us and are swanning around in Cuba. Lucky so and sos. They did do bowl aheads though and our team took all 7 points today, first time in our history this year. We will not reach the top, but it would be nice to get off the bottom. Trouble is, we started so late as a team so that didn't give us a good beginning.

We were discussing figs the other day because I had posted a recipe with figs. I finally remembered to check my local grocery and much to my surprise, they do have fresh black figs (what's the difference?) I contemplated ordering some, but not this week. I did, however, order some chestnuts, ready to eat, being lazy, although they are really tastier when you cook them yourself. Trouble is, it's such a pain preparing them to cook. I can't remember if I have tried cooking them in the air fryer but I think they would work very well. Maybe I should google that.

As you know, my car was outside all night and all day today so as it was raining cats and dogs as well as a few frogs and lizards, it got a good wash. Needed it once again because of all the dust in the underground parking garage. I don't ever remember having such a problem with dust down there before. Ever since they "cleaned" the place, it has been dirtier than I can recall. Anyway, right now it is nice and clean. Saved me a couple of bucks. It just occurred to me, do you know the origin of raining cats and dogs? Apparently cats and dogs used to sleep on the roof tops of thatched cottages and when it rained, often the thatch gave way so the animals fell into the dwellings. There you just learned something new, I hope, LOL. I might say, by the way, it is past 11 p.m. and no longer raining but the wind is howling round the building instead.

One of the things I miss never going to Spain any more and envy Mark Koopmans his access to, is Tapas. Any bar worth it's salt has tapas of one kind or another, some more of a culinary delight than others. I remember going on Tapas runs with my parents, trying out the offerings at different cafeterias or bars. We often used to have various shrimp or prawns which we would peel and eat dropping the shells on the floor, quite acceptable, all the floors were tiles and they were hosed down at the end of the day. But the variety of tapas is fantastic and when I saw this recipe, I just had to save it and share it with you. Almonds are a favourite in Spain and they have a terrific variety of uses for them.

Flat Breads with Shrimp and Romesco Sauce

At Mas Rabell, the private restaurant where the Torres family entertains, chef Sergi Millet cooks
homey, regional food like romesco sauce, a slightly smoky puree of roasted red peppers, garlic and almonds. The versatile sauce is often served with fish or vegetables, but here Millet spreads it on rounds of soft homemade flat bread and tops it with sautéed shrimp.

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry white wine

1 medium red bell pepper
1 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped (4 ounces)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
24 medium shrimp (about 3/4 pound), shelled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

2. In a small bowl, mix the water with the sugar and yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade, blend the flour and salt. Add the sautéed onion, wine and yeast mixture and process until a ball forms. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough briefly until smooth. Transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round about 2/3 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out 30 rounds and transfer them to a large baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through and pale.

4. Roast the pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler until blackened all over. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Peel; discard the stem and seeds. Coarsely chop the pepper.

5. In a food processor, process the roasted pepper with the almonds, vinegar, parsley and garlic to a paste. With the machine on, slowly blend in the olive oil. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and season with salt.

6. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until white throughout, about 2 minutes per side.

7. Spread a teaspoon of romesco sauce on each flat bread and top with a shrimp; serve.

Yield: about 30 hors d'oeuvres

Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day

Monday, December 9, 2019

Water Shut Off, Christmas Syndrome, Busy Busy, Instant Pot

There are notices all over this apartment building announcing that the water will be cut off, once again, on Monday at 8 a.m. and that access to the underground parking will be unavailable all day so, if we want our cars, we need to move them by 9. I decided to move mine on Sunday morning so downstairs I went and there was a piece of "police type" tape over the garage entry so I couldn't get at the car anyway. I actually forgot that there was a second door (only ever used it once in 19 years) and, as it turned out, I could still use it. (Took a phone call to the super to remind me). I ended up parking in the visitor parking lot as it is closer to the door. Only problem was, it is as icy as a skating rink so somewhat dangerous. I had to move the car so Matt could get out on dry ground. However, if we want to bowl on Monday, it's gotta be done. Hope it doesn't snow overnight that will really tee me off. That's the only trouble with living in a building which was built over 40 years ago. Lots of things are wearing out. Pipes being the #1 problem these days. The elevators were replaced some years ago and lots of internal things like the tiles in the hallways, not forgetting the balconies which, if you are a long time reader, you will know all about.

Have you heard of Christmas syndrome? I hadn't until today. Apparently when we bring home Christmas trees were are also bringing in mould which is on all trees in one form or another, not only that, we store our synthetic trees in the attic and so on and they too pick up mould during the year and we then bring into the living area which is why many of us end up sniffling and snuffling at this time of the year. Personally I have just gone off Christmas decorations, I've only got a few but I have been sniffing and snuffling like mad lately but didn't know why. Who knew?

We have one hell of a busy week coming up, Monday Bowling, Tuesday Foot Nurse, Mandarin Lunch, Shopping, Wednesday coffee with my Alzheimer group, later in the day a pharmacist is coming to give us our annual review of medications, Thursday I have a blood work appointment at 8:30 a.m. Of course I forgot exercise classes amongst that lot. Think I will be totally knackered by the end of the week. With any luck Zoey will be bringing lunch one day and getting ladydog to drive her here.

This sounded a nice soup to maybe fill in some times during the holidays. I figure, once again, it is a cinch for my Instant Pot. Talking of which, I finally got round to checking, I can fit two ramekins in my pot so it won't be too difficult to make my lava cakes. Checking over this recipe again I see it uses fish sauce. I bought some a couple of weeks ago and can't remember what for - duuh.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

We've deviated slightly from the classic version of a popular Thai soup by adding rice to make it more substantial. Serve it with lime wedges; a squirt at the table does wonders

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut into 2 1/2-by-1/4-inch strips
3 Tbs Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 1/2 Tbs lime juice
1 quart plus 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom third only, peeled, smashed, and cut into 2-inch pieces, or three 3-inch-by-1/4-inch strips lemon zest
1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thirds
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (15-ounce can)
2 fresh red chiles or jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, cut crosswise into thin slices
3 Tbs chopped cilantro

1. In a medium glass dish or stainless-steel pan, combine the chicken strips with the fish sauce and lime juice. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, bring the broth, lemongrass, and ginger to a simmer. Add the rice; simmer until the rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the chicken and marinade and cook until the chicken is just done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chiles and cilantro.

Servings: 4

Tips Asian fish sauce is available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

Source: FOOD and WINE

Have a great day

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Zoey, Saturday Recipe

Well, Zoey came to lunch today and brought ladydog with her. They brought some dog biscuits too so Zoey knew where to give her attention. We then had our Subs for lunch and when Matt left the table, he got down to feeding Zoey the rest of the dog biscuits. They ended up with Matt asleep in the chair and Zoey asleep at his feet. Ladydog and I went and got a few Christmas decorations out of the storage closet before she left. Always sorry to see her go.

For supper I am going to cook the cod I bought the other day and this is the recipe I am going to use.

Mediterranean baked cod recipe with lemon and garlic

Best baked cod recipe out there! Prepared Greek style with a few spices and a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and lots of garlic. Bakes in 15 mins!

1.5 lb Cod fillet pieces (4–6 pieces)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Lemon Juice Mixture
5 Tbs fresh lemon juice
5 Tbs Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs melted butter
For Coating
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, and melted butter in a shallow bowl. Set aside

2. In another shallow bowl, mix all-purpose flour, spices, salt and pepper. Set next to the lemon juice mixture.

3. Pat fish fillet dry. Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture then dip in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.

4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (watch the oil to be sure it is sizzling but not smoking). Add fish and sear on each side to give it some color, but do not fully cook (about a couple minutes on each side) Remove from heat.

5. To the remaining lemon juice mixture, add the minced garlic and mix. Drizzle all over the fish fillets.

6. Bake in the heated oven for until it begins to flake easily with a fork (10 minutes should do it, but begin checking earlier). Remove from heat and sprinkle chopped parsley.

Yield: 4

This recipe has been edited adding step #5 to achieve more color and a more crispy texture.

 Source: The Mediterranean Dish

Author Notes
Serving suggestions: Serve immediately with Lebanese rice and this Mediterranean chickpea salad or this traditional Greek salad.

Have a great day

Friday, December 6, 2019

Water, More Errands, Eating, Dieting,

It started off as a quiet day with nothing much to do. For breakfast I ate one of the scones I had bought, delicious. I took a fairly leisurely time getting myself dressed and presentable (mind you the shower took forever to get warm, always does after they turn off the water, wastes gallons of water), and then made a lazy lunch of noodles. I had phoned the baker's about obtaining some buns and they had some ready for  me.

Had my lunch and then we set off to get the buns. Spent a while chatting with the woman in the bakery and resisting all the goodies on display. I then decided to go get some ostrich thighs from Victoria St. Market. I had asked the bakery if they had hot cross buns, they didn't, so when I got to the Market I asked there, sure enough they had some. I also got my "thighs" and decided to buy a few bananas to last us. Saw some German cheese called Grand Noir (explain that please, German cheese, French name?) and got out of there without doing too much damage to my pocket book. I might say it was extremely cold and snowing on and off. I was glad to get home.

We got a card from one of Matt's daughters which was nice to receive. and then I proceeded to make things ready to cook supper. I served a mince pie as dessert with some ice cream. Settling down to watch some TV we broke into the Grand Rocher I had bought. Ate the whole thing although I have the two individual candies for tomorrow. We also had another mince pie.

After all that, I have decided I am nuts. I don't want to put back all the weight I lost in 2013 but I seem to be doing my best to do so. Ever since I decided food tasted OK after I came out of hospital last year (took a week or two), I have been unable to stop eating. By that I mean not just normally, but anything else, like mince pies and chocolate, that come my way. A friend I saw last week said "did it matter at our age" but yes, it does to me anyway, after having put all that effort into losing weight and being so proud I hadn't put it back on. Oh well, only one person can do anything about it.

Just to titillate our appetites, Campbell's (who have come a long way from unwholesome canned soups) posted some recipes today one of which particularly appealed to me. In fact I think they look yummy.

French Onion Soup Puffs

Adding beef broth to caramelized onions provides serious depth of flavour to these simple elegant
appetizers. Make ahead for easy entertaining.

2 Tbs butter
6 cups onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup CAMPBELL’S® Ready to Use Beef Broth
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb frozen pre-rolled puff pastry, thawed
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 Tbs chives or thyme, chopped

1. In large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions, salt, pepper, mustard and thyme and cook until onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in broth and cook until almost all the broth is reduced and onions are soft and dark caramel in colour,about 20 minutes. Let cool.

2. Cut each piece of pastry into 25 (2-inch/5 cm) squares. Press pieces of pastry into tart shells or mini muffin pan. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Top with about 2 tsp (10 mL) of the onion mixture and a sprinkle of Gruyere.

3. Bake in the center of a 425°F (220°C) oven on a baking sheet until pastry is golden brown and puffed and cheese is bubbling, about 8 – 10 minutes. Top with chives or thyme just before serving warm.

Yield: 25

These pastries can be assembled and then frozen in the tart/ muffin pans for 1 hour. Once frozen,transfer to a freezer container with a lid for up to 3 months. Return to tart/muffins trays to bake from frozen,adding about 2 minutes to the cooking time.

Source: Campbell's

Author Notes Bake your pastry puffs with parchment paper to reduce clean up time!

Have a great day

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Church Notice, Shopping, Exercises, More Shopping, Flowers,

I picked this picture up from Mark Koopman's Blog and thought it was rather amusing.

This morning our cleaner came so I dashed down to the store to pick up my grocery order. Karen is good enough to bring it up from the garage for me. But then I have to put it all away. I ensure anything frozen is stored instantly and then I need a rest, even if I didn't bring up the stores. I could use the Christmas Gift of about 20 years. Santa, are you listening?

After lunch went down to exercise class, only two of  us there so the class was abbreviated. Not sure why. I still need as many exercises as usual. Especially as I will miss Friday again. Zoey is coming to lunch. I think she is bringing ladydog with her.

Returning from exercise class, I zonked out in my armchair. I was pretty tired, all this running around I guess. I remembered too, that I had not been to the bread store and I am short of the buns I like. Have to do that on Thursday. One thing I did buy today was a Poinsettia for the dining table. They looked so pretty on the cafeteria tables last week. Got a small Christmas Cake too. I really don't need it, but it's Christmas, whine, whine. Picture of both Poinsettia and Amaryllis which has thrown out quite a few more flowers.

Before I wrote this blog I did half an hour of Spanish. I really should try and do it earlier in the day.

Both ladydog and I love scallops and I think it was ladydog said everything tastes better with capers. This seemed an unusual way to serve scallops. Haven't got enough cauliflower though - I keep ricing it instead of using rice. Never heard of marcona almonds.

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Capers and Raisins

Chef Way A cauliflower puree and a drizzle of balsamic reduction accompany tender sautéed
scallops. Easy Way Cook bits of cauliflower in the skillet with the scallops, omitting the time-consuming puree. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking—no reducing necessary.

1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 cups)
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
12 jumbo scallops (1 1/2 pounds), side muscle removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds, preferably marcona
2 Tbs drained small capers
2 Tbs golden raisins
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and boil over high heat until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the scallops with salt and pepper; add to the skillet in a single layer and cook over high heat until golden and crusty, about 2 minutes. Turn the scallops. Add the butter, cauliflower, almonds, capers and raisins and cook undisturbed until the scallops are white throughout and the cauliflower is lightly browned in spots, about 1 minute longer. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir gently to coat. Transfer to plates, garnish with the parsley and serve.

Servings: 4

Source: Food and Wine

Have a great day