Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baked Tofu with Braised Baby Bok Choy -- DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE

Image result for baked tofu with braised baby bok choy

1 lb (454 g) firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 Asian chili paste or hot pepper sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups sliced shitake mushroom caps or cremini mushrooms
1 green onion, sliced
1 tbsp gingerroot, minced
4 baby bok choy
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper

Place tofu on large plate. Cover with second plate and weigh down with 2 large, heavy cans. Let stand for 10 minutes; drain. Cut in half horizontally.

Meanwhile, in shallow baking dish large enough to hold tofu in single layer, whisk together soy and hoisin sauces, garlic, sesame oil and chili paste. Add tofu; turn to coat. (This can be done up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to complete the meal.) Bake in 350F oven, turning once, until golden, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, green onion and ginger until golden, about 5 minutes. Cut bok choy in half lengthwise. Add to skillet along with red pepper, stock, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Cover and steam until bok choy is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

Cut each piece of tofu in half diagonally. (I cut the tofu into little squares which is what I prefer.) Arrange on warmed plates and serve with bok choy mixture and basmati rice (or I like rice vermicelli).

Serves 4.

April birthday parties . . .

So many birthday parties in the last weeks of April. I already told you about Austin's 13th birthday. I also went to two parties for Deb's birthday (one was Easter/birthday and the second was at Ladies' Day Out and shared with my little friend Kennedy. Deb wanted to drink but couldn't because of medication so I bought her an orchid and sparkly cider. Kennedy always associates me with green grapes. It's a long story. She was so adorable when I gave her her gift of green gapes. And then we went to Tony Roma's for Taylor's birthday. The beef ribs were fabulous!! Taylor's party is the only one where I didn't get cake. And you know my rule . . . no cake . . . no present. Awwwww I gave him one anyway . . . LOL.

I can't believe I didn't get a good photo of Taylor on his birthday.  Bad grandma!!

What do you mean, it's only April 17th?? Book Review

I recently ordered in "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I loved "Eat, Pray, Love" and hoped to continue the experience through her latest book.

Sigh . . .

I finished reading the book almost like some sort of punishment . . . I've ordered it, I'm gonna read it . . .

It took a long time to finish reading.  I felt like I was in a lecture hall because that's what it was . . . a lecture on marriage.  And a lot of whining.  Sorry Elizabeth but maybe I'll like your next book . . .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Wow.  Nothing to Envy:  Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick is a very shocking and interesting book.  Demick is a journalist who has covered North and South Korea for the LA Times since 2001.  She tells the story of several different families trying to survive in a devastated North Korea.  She uses excellent sources for her information to make the book dramatic, factual and realistic.  Demick creates an amazing connection between the reader and the people she is writing about. 

"In NOTHING TO ENVY, Demick follows the lives of six people: a couple of teenaged lovers courting in secret, an idealistic woman doctor, a homeless boy, a model factory worker who loves Kim Il Sung more than her own family and her rebellious daughter.
"Demick spent six years painstakingly reconstructing life in a city off-limits to outsiders through interviews with defectors, smuggled photographs and videos. The book spans the chaotic years that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, the devastating effects of a famine that killed an estimated twenty percent of the population, and an increase in illegal defections.
"While many books focus on the North Korean nuclear threat, NOTHING TO ENVY is one of the few that dwells on what everyday life is like for ordinary citizens. With remarkable detail, Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime in the world today. She gives a portrait as vivid as walking oneself through the darkened streets of North Korea."

"Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.
"Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life.
"Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them.
"Nothing to Envy is a groundbreaking addition to the literature of totalitarianism and an eye-opening look at a closed world that is of increasing global importance."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Review: The Whistleblower

Cover Image

What an amazing story!!!!!  I read this book in two nights, staying up WAY past my bedtime to do so.  This novel is written in a crisp, exciting style and I just couldn't put it down.


When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training provided sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, felt threatened with bodily harm, was fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness—bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they had done. This is her story and the story of the women she helped achieve justice for.

Adventurous Saturday

On our way home from Toronto we picked up our 2 younger grandchildren for a sleepover.  When we woke up in the morning we headed to London for some adventures.

First stop . . . Covent Garden Market.  This was the first time Hal and the boys had been here.  I'd only been one other time.

We started out with burek which are delicious savoury or sweet pastries.

We tried organic sausage, cheese, veggie chips and truffles.  They were all awesome.
We had to buy a package of sausage for Cameron and he ate most of it before we got home.

We ordered shawarma and stuffed grape leaves and pizza.  The shawarma and pizza were amazing.
The stuffed grape leaves were just okay.

We tried butterscotch ice cream.  It was amazing.  We also tried spring rolls and chocolate fudge.

Next stop . . . Museum London.  It was an unfriendly place and we won't be going back.

And finally we headed out for some serious letterboxing.  It was still pretty mucky out.
We went to finish the Simpsons series and found all the boxes.  The carves were so cute.

We nearly gave up on the search for Marge.  Hal and Taylor had actually climbed down the slope.
But Cameron spotted one more place to try.  And he found it.  LOL.  He spent the rest of the afternoon
reminding us how lucky we were to have him along.

We were asked to drop the boys of at their Aunt's for supper.  When we pulled up in front of the house, their Grandpa Ross came over to greet us.  I informed him that we were returning the boys . . .

. . . dirty and tired and sweaty, muddy and bloody, and very full and happy.

What a great day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Toronto Letterboxing

On Good Friday Tim wanted us to come to Toronto for a visit and I wanted to get back to High Park to find more letterboxes . . . so we compromised . . .

We found Edith Prickley while we were waiting for Tim to call to say he was ready.  It was a nice easy find and I love the stamp.

We picked up Tim and headed out for brunch.  Tim always seems to know where to find a good breakfast.

We headed back to High Park for some more letterboxing.  Our next finds were On the GO in TO Series:  Go Bus and On the GO in TO Series:  Go Train .   We had to wait a while to find the Bus because kids were playing right where we wanted to be.  Hal and Tim got the interesting idea that we could find the Train by NOT following the clues.  They were wrong.  But we found it anyway . . . LOL

Our last stop of the day was But They're Starving in Burlington.  It was getting cold and rainy but I'm glad we stopped.

We tried to find the Hitchiker Hostel in Burlington but it was buried in sand and unreachable.  We'll try again next time we are in the area.

By this time it was really raining and getting dark so we reluctantly gave up and headed home.  It was another great day.

See ya

Carrot and Leeks with Fresh Mint

2 servings
Preparation 10 minutes
Cooking 50 minutes
170 calories per serving

2 carrots, cut into 1 cm rounds
1 leek, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp ginger root, grated
2 tbsp fresh mint
salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare the carrots and cut them into rounds about 1 cm thick.  Prepare the leeks, remove about 1/4 of the dark green part, and cut them into 2 cm pieces.

Transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet or dish.  Add the oil, minced ginger, salt and pepper.  Mix well to coat thoroughly with oil, then put in the oven and bake about 35 minutes.

Finely chop half of the mint leaves then add them to the dish, mix and continue baking for about 15 minutes more.  Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On April 20th I became the Grandmother of a Teenager . . .

Austin had been having a rather rough time missing out on the end of the basketball season when he broke his arm.  His parents decided to have a surprise party for his 13th birthday to try and cheer him up. 

And I finished off a pair of socks . . . 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"My Grandma Talks to Anybody!"

On April 19th we picked up pizza and 3 grandchildren and headed to Aylmer for a school basketball game. 

A young fella from the opposing team walked by and I recognized his last name as belonging to relatives of mine.  So I stopped him and asked him what his first name was.  He looked at me like I had 2 heads but answered.  I introduced myself as his cousin Pam and asked where his parents were.  He pointed them out and we had a lovely visit.  During the game Dalton and Taylor were guarding each other so I snapped a few shots for the family tree album.

When I sat back down beside Austin he also looked at me like I had 2 heads.  Apparently he is concerned by my habit of talking to Just Anybody . . . LOL . . . You can see his "concern" all over his face . . .

Cameron is used to being in the bleachers for basketball games.  He seems to have no trouble at all making new friends where ever he goes . . . kinda like his Grandma and Grandpa . . . LOL

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rites of Spring . . .

I haven't mentioned it but my doctor's office called and I have to go for another mammogram and an ultrasound.  Friends and family have been quite awesome about making sure I don't worry in the meantime.

Thursday afternoon I received a phone call from my daughter-in-law invited me out for dinner.  Of course I accepted.  And of course our destination is a must from all citizens living near Port Stanley . . . at least once a year.

Guess where?

Guess where we went for dessert when we left Mackie's?

Shaw's Ice Cream, of course.

Big hugs to Kate and the boys for a lovely afternoon!!!