Friday, April 30, 2010

Recipes to Try - Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup tried it and was very good.

Making home made soup stock is one of my cooking pleasures. Nothing gets wasted. Leftover vegetables and pasta go into the freezer along with bones from pork, beef, lamb or chicken. I even make a vegetarian stock that I usually save for tomato soup.

New items will be added to the top of the post.


Beef and Barley

Egyptian Tomato Soup

Lentil Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Morrocan Lamb and chickpea

Hearty tomato soup from Katy. I'm intriged by the cream cheese in this. Just might make it today. UPDATE - I did make and really enjoyed, Hubby a little less so.

Kabocha French lentil soup
Curried red lentil and vegetable soup

Lentil Soup

Tuscan barley and chickpea soup

Chicken Curry Soup in a Crockpot

Unstuffed Cabbage Soup

Cauliflower cheese soup with Irish beer bread

Cauliflower cheese soup

For My Aunt - The Alzhheimer Prayer

My aunt has just been moved into a long care facility and my cousin and uncle are having a hard time. It was her first night sleeping there and he had to tell her that she was staying there and she said "I want to go home". But he just can't cope any more, it is just too hard on him. My cousin lives 400 miles away and has her own family and job so she plans on moving them both here so that at least she can visit more often. Her little daughter makes my aunt's face light up so it will be good for her.
My cousin had posted this prayer (writer unknown to us) on her Facebook a while ago and I thought it was so touching and apt.

The Alzheimer Prayer

Please grant my visitors tolerance for my confusion,
Forgiveness for my irrationality and the strength
To walk with me into the mist of memory
My world has become.

Please let them take my hand and stay awhile,
Even though I seem unaware of their presence.

Help them to know how their strength
And loving care will drift slowly
Into the days to come just when I need it most.

Let them know when I don't recognize them
That I will. . . I will.
Keep their hearts free from sorrow for me,
For my sorrow, when it comes,
Only lasts a moment, then it's gone.

And finally, please let them know,
How very much their visits mean,
How even through this relentless mystery,
I can still feel their love.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Toronto Thursday

Spring has indeed sprung! Taken on the Danforth.

My Recipe Box - Shepherd's Pie

I found this recipe several years ago and it has become a steadfast addition to our menus.

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 lb chopped lamb shoulder or lamb fillet - I use ground lamb

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 carrots, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced - I don't add as hubby hates them

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 1/4 cups lamb stock or beef stock - I use home made lamb stock

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 lb potato

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup heavy cream - I don't add

1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated - or yellow cheddar


1Lightly grease a 6-cup baking dish and set aside.

2Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes.

3Add the onions, carrots, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, until their liquid is almost all gone, about 4 minutes.

4Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until starting to color, about 1 to 2 minutes.

5Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually add the stock and Worcestershire sauce, and bring to a boil.

6Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes.

7Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

8Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with salted water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

9Drain in a colander and return to the pot.

10Over low heat, mash the potatoes with a potato masher.

11Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and nutmeg, and mash to incorporate.

12Add the heavy cream and mix well. Remove from the heat.

13Remove the pot with the meat from the heat. Remove the bay leaf.

14Spoon into the prepared dish and top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing the top.

15Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake until browned and bubbly on top, 10 to 15 minutes.

16Remove from the oven and serve immediately

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recipes to Try - Breakfast Pastry

New items will be added to the top of the post.
Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake

Bread Pudding Pancakes

Oatmeal apple pancakes Again Katy! Stop it already! I've had to rename this post to Breakfast!!

Decadent maple pecan cinnamon rolls Again from Katy!

Blackberry jam almond braid from Katy's blog. Just asked hubby to add blackberry jam to grocery list!

Banana Bread

Underground Restaurants

Salt Shaker keeps an updated list of the underground restaurants that are popping up in large cities around the world.
 I have been following  this blog for a while and am fascinated by the whole concept. I love reading her menus and her recaps of the evening events. I might even try and go to one when we are in London, time allowing.

One of the links to a location Toronto didn't work but The Hidden Lounge did work and they have a blog.
They also have a website.
They were featured here. Their blog also has a link to a Globe and Mail article.
There is a lot more information on the underground restaurant scene in Toronto here.
I'm going to have to find some friends to go to one of these.

The Office

April 2010

I don't blog about work and my current job.

However, my husband is retiring this week and I was thinking how the office has changed over the years.
As well, several good friends have been "let" go by my company recently so there's been a lot of reminiscing going on.

It hardly bears thinking about, but just imagine having to live without all the technology that we take for granted.  
While on our way to work we used to read the newspaper (delivered by a paper boy) now we open our E-Readers and choose from a myriad of books that suit us at the moment. Or we might listen to our iPod instead. Or you could catch up on your email messages using your Blackberry. We panic when we get to work and discover that we've left our mobile phones at home. We're enraged when our computers crash and we can't order our weekly shopping over the web or do our banking while in the office. Or today perhaps you opted to work from home instead and were completely connected.
Once upon a time there was a strange world without computers, mobiles and the internet. Instead of Bluetooth keyboards there were typewriters. The only way to get money from your bank was to stand in a queue and write a cheque.

There was a time we were promised that all this technology would allow us more free time for families, travel and hobbies. Instead we are tied more effectively to the office. We check emails on vacation, in the evenings and on weekends. We go to the kids' activities or out with friends and everyone is busy pursuing their handheld devices.

Smoking was allowed everywhere. Then came the smoking/non-smoking segregated work spaces, then the smoking area and finally the total ban on smoking.

A ratio of 1 to 50 women worked as managers or in important positions. Also they were paid lower rates compared to males doing similar jobs at the time.

Some of the jobs that have disappeared from job postings and are:
Switchboard operators.
Clerical assistants to answer phones and take messages
Typing pools and proof readers to check the typing to ensure there were no errors, spelling or grammar. There were no word processors or spell checks.
Filing clerks.
Mailrooms where you could put your personal mail and it would be stamped and sent out for you. A perk of the job. The mailroom dropped off and picked up the mail from your IN and OUT baskets.

Page girls.A friend, who worked for a "rival" bank started out as one at their Head Office.Had a royal blue tunic/white starched blouse (tunic had to be at the make-up allowed). Her job was to "deliver" messages between Departments (and used the "tube" to send messages to other floors) for sending messages and all the other crappy jobs no other person wanted to do...
There was a library for doing research. The library staff reviewed newspapers daily for relevant articles, cut them out and created a "clipsheet" which was then circulated to the managers. It would take so long to circulate using s typed distribution list attached to it that it could take a month for you to get "today's" news. Ditto for magazines.

Many other things have changed or disappeared as well.

Head Office was 129 St. James St W, Montreal. It's now in Toronto and the premises in Montreal contain the BMO Museum and is now located at 129 Rue St. Jacques Ouest.

Cash - you no longer take you pay cheque to a branch to deposit in your account on the 15th and 30th of each month.
You use your debit/credit card for most purchases.
You don't pay your telephone bill by putting the stub with a cheque into an envelope, stamping it and then mailing it.

Your boss was called "Mr."
You had to ask your manager if you could apply for a loan. He had the power to say no. Shortly after that you went to the Personnel (now HR) department if you wanted a loan. This meant everyone knew your business.

The average salary in the 70's was $7,564 a year

If you worked in a branch you may even have had a gun as my husband did.

Training sessions were often 3 day offsite held at luxurious resorts in the Laurentians. These were very decadent affairs (and they did happen) with bathtubs full of beer and not much sleep.

Office parties abounded with the company picking up the bills for large celebrations of milestones. One I remember in particular was to celebrate MECH R22.0. No one made it into the office the next day and our department manager even wrote a poem about it. If I can find it I will add it here.

You used a pen and paper to write a report which was then typed with carbon paper by a secretary, either your own if you were lucky enough to have one or else you sent it to the typing pool. The typing pool was always managed by an ogre whom you addressed as "Mrs".

Doing financial reporting was so labour intensive. We didn't have computers (not even main-frame at this time). You received a photocopied work sheet to enter your numbers, adding machine to balance (this is before calculators became mainstream). If you made a mistake you had to use a correction fluid.
One of the first forms of correction fluid was invented in 1951 by the secretary Bette Nesmith Graham, founder of Liquid Paper. We used a brand called Snopake.
Then all these spreadsheets (real paper) were copied and mailed to a central department who would then consolidate all the various departments' inputs.

Telephone usage was audited monthly and someone collected for any personal long distance calls.

Before "mech" branches manually balanced their G/Ls.

The first ABMs (then known as ATMs) appeared around the mid 80s.

As far back as the mid 90s I remember we had "e-mail" within the company. It was a host based system called PROFS by IBM. OfficeVision/VM was originally named PROFS (for PRofessional OFfice System). Even then you had to power to recall an email as long as the recipient hadn't opened it.
Before that we used triplicate inter-office memos to hadwrite a request to someone and they would respond on the bottom half form and then you could file one of the copies in your filing cabinet in a real folder.

There was the The Year 2000 problem (also known as the Y2K problem, the millennium bug, the Y2K bug, or simply Y2K). I spent many a day managing testing activities to counteract the expected disasters. Hubby spent New Year's Eve at work at WCC awaiting the much anticipated Sev 1 problems. That none of the glitches caused major incidents is seen as vindication of the Y2K preparation. 10 years later he's still waiting for the huge party we were promised as a result of missing New Year's Eve with our friends and families!

In the 70s mini-skirts and hot pants came into fashion. The working girl's attire was outlined in the linked article. The trouser suit
In the 80s power dressing came into vogue for women in the work place.

Things that don't exist anymore:
Inter-office envelopes
Tea/coffee service to your desk
Carbon paper
25 cent lunches in the cafeteria
Liquid lunches at the taven (women were not allowed by law into a tavern in Montreal until 1979)

Our first computer was a Vic 20 introduced in 1980 followed by a Commodore 64.

Would I give up any of this technology? Not by a long shot! I wouldn't be sitting here blogging about it. And I am making far too many friends in Blogland!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Recipe Box - Leftover Coffee

With my campaign to not waste food I was looking for uses for leftover coffee. With the price of beans it seems a waste of money to throw it out. We typically only brew coffee on the weekends and this weekend we used Kona coffee we brought back from Hawaii.
I googled and came across an article stating to freeze the leftover coffee in ice cube trays and then use the frozen cubes to make a latte knockoff from a well-known coffee chain.
Take 6 frozen coffee ice cubes, drop them into a blender with 1/2 cup of milk, sugar and vanilla. Blend the mixture for about a minute until light and frothy.
I now have a tray of coffee freezing in the freezer.

Another idea is to add some to your beef gravy for a richer flavour.

Coffee grounds are an excellent compost. Just dump the grounds around your plants and it will even keep the slugs away.

Also read that the grounds make a good marinade...

Picture scrapped by me from some photos we took in Egypt. George was our guide and he took us to his favourite cafe before we boarded our overnight train to take us to Aswan where we would board our Nile cruise ship. To be taken to his "local" was an honour not often bestowed on clients. Maggie and I were the only women there.

My Recipe Box - Buffalo Chicken

I have been trying  to recreate this dish that I order when the "girls" and I go to lunch at the Fox and Fiddle.
It is called Buffalo Chicken and is basically bite sized pieces of chicken in hot sauce. I think they use dark meat. I did some googling but most recipes used breadcrumbs and I didn't want to use them - even though I make my own breadcrumbs. Could use gluten free.
I took some boneless, skinless breasts and cut them into pieces. Marinated them for a while in hot sauce - the only one there is - Frank's Red Hot. Then I dusted them with gluten free flour and a little more hot sauce and sauted them until they were cooked and golden brown.
They were delish!! Served with a spinach and strawberry salad, with homemade balsamic dressing and a sprinkling of pecans.
Picture isn't "picture perfect" I only remembered to snap it with my Blackberry!

. Junkin' Junky .: Hiding computer cables and cords

. Junkin' Junky .: Hiding computer cables and cords

Thirsty Tuesday - Venice

Rainy day lunch in our rented apartment in Venice, Italy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Recipe Box - Christmas Memories

I thought I'd start posting some of my tried and true recipes that are part of our daily meals. I love trying new recipes but we all have our old standards that we fall back on. Some are comfort food to us and some are family recipes handed down.

Bird Watching

There's been a lot of activity this weekend at the back garden bird feeders. It is supposed to be squirrel proof but the little monkeys have been jumping on it to knock the seed to the ground!!
The elusive blue jay was here as I could hear him squawking about but only caught a brief glimpse of him as he flew into the trees.

This guy looks like he's on a mission!

Mrs Cardinal

HMMMM I wonder if she is giving him an earful???

Normally both Mr and Mrs come at the same time

And then look who showed up! I have never seen this cat before in the area. I thought he was gorgeous looking. He hid in the bushes for the longest time.

Recipes to Try - Fish

I like shrimps but tend to shy away from cooking them. I came across this recipe at a blog I follow shrimp with spicy garlic sauce (kkang poong seh woo) .

Monday's Child - Dominican Republic

At Juan Dolio beach in Dominican Republic.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tomato Soup

It is a miserable, cold Sunday here. I was reading my blog list and came across this recipe that sounded so good. since I had all the ingredients on hand I immediately jumped up and made it. It took no time, and as anyone who knows me, if I tasted it from the pot, then you know it was good.
This is definitely a keeper.
Thanks to Katy over at Food For a Hungry Soul blog for the recipe!!

I am drinkiing it as I write!

A Canadian Food Blog

Check this out. It is very interesting and Iwould love to attend one of these events.

Recipes to Try - Vegetarian

New items will be added to the top of the post.
Spinach Ricotta Pie

Potato and Zucchini Pancakes

Mushroom and caramelized onion tart from Kevin over at ClosetCooking. This uses puff pastry so is super easy. Will let you know when I try it.

Onion Pie from Katy!

Goats cheese and red pepper tart

Butternut squash sage and parmesan pasties

Cabbage Pasta from Allotment 2 Kitchen looks really good!

Sunday skies - Vatican

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Shoes - WTH?

This is an ad on a bus shelter in Mississauga for a clothing store. I mean - WTF??? is this how I'm supposed to dress?  The outfit on the right is ridiculous.

Recipes to Try - Savoury Muffins, Scones, Biscuits

New items will be added to the top of the post.

Wicked easy hot pockets from Katy these sound great espically as you can fill them with anything you fancy!

Iitty bitty biscuits with chicken
Cheddar and chilies bread

Cheddar bacon muffins

Blue cheese scallion drop biscuits

Goat cheese muffins from the Foodie Bride

Friday, April 23, 2010

Recipes to Try - Appetizers

New items added to top of list.

Cheese Dreams Bacon, Tomato and Cheese

Stuffed cucumbers with proscuitto and feta

Sausage balls

Pate - English Style

MMM these look so good. Go over to pepperoni pizza puffs and check these out.

Noble Pig also has these mini crab cakes that are a must try!

I will have to invest in some mini muffin tins as there are a lot of good looking recipes over there.

Recipes to Try - Salads/Dressings

New items will be added at the top of the post.

Carrot and Daikon salad

Garlicy Caesar salad

Have to find a recipe for the pineapple coleslaw we had at the Royal Kona Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Toronto Thursday - Urban Living

I took this on the subway last week on the way to work. She was on there when I boarded the train and still there when I got off 24 stops later.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.

- Bill Vaughan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Forward

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Emma Goldman

I love my garden in the spring. It puts a spring in my step (I know - trite). Most years we are away in late April and I miss it but my neighbours all tell me about it. This year we're here and I am enjoying watching it change.

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~Chinese Proverb

Recipes to Try - Beef

New items will be added to the top of the post.

Greek Beef Stew made in a crockpot

Autumn Veal Stew

Mini meat loaves

Korean Beef Rice Bowl

Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce found the link for this over at Katy's blog.

hoisin cashew beef in lettuce wraps

beef stew booster

Mongolian Beef

Bulgogi traditional korean bbq beef

Recipes to Try - Eggs

New items will be added to the top of the post.

Crustless Mini Quiches

Baked potato with an egg

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday shoes - Nanny's

This is my grandmother as a child. Those shoes look very chunky. Brogues like these seem to have been the style at the time.This photo was printed on a post card. I can read the word Dublin in the corner but can't read the name of the photographer. The numbers below appear to be 105.
I am googling to see what i can find out. In doing so I came across a fantastic Irish blogger who collects old photos of Irish life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stained Glass - Black Cats

My GF K does stained grass as does her husband. This is a piece she made for someone. I am absolutely in love with it. I love the colours and the fact that it's a black cat well....

Will you worry the next time a black cat crosses your path?

It may depend on where you live in the world. In Britain and Japan, having a black cat cross your path, is considered good luck, whereas if you live in the USA or several European countries, it is bad luck to have a black cat walk by.
Here are a few cat superstitions from various countries.

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. - Scottish superstition

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. - Italian superstition

It is bad luck to see a white cat at night. - American superstition

Dreaming of white cat means good luck. - American superstition

In the Netherlands, cats were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on.

The Dutch believed that cats would definitely spread gossips around the town.

In Egypt, it was once believed that the life-giving rays of the sun

were kept in a cat's eyes at night for safekeeping.

To kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck -Irish superstition

TGIF - Parnell