Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Fruit Salad

Simple and lovely.  I served with whip cream for Hal and Greek yogurt for me.

Serves 2.

1 peach or nectarine
1 kiwi
1 cup strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp sugar

Peel the fruit and cut them into bite size pieces.  Put the pieces in a salad bowl, add the lemon juice and sugar.  Toss to combine.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Toss the fruit before serving.

Blackened Fish Fillets

I thought it was okay.  Hal hated it.

Serves 2.

1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp cornmeal
2 tilapia or turbot fillets (360 g)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 clove garlic, for pan-frying
1 tbsp butter, unsalted, for pan-frying
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges

These fish fillets can be cooked either in a pan on the stove or using an outdoor grill.

In a shallow bowl, stir together the paprika, oregano, cayenne, sugar, salt and ground pepper.  To obtain a crispier crust, add the cornmeal (optional).

Pat the fillets dry and dredge them in the mixture, turning them to coat well.  Shake of the excess then place the fillets on an oiled, hot grill.

Cook until the fish is opaque throughout and lightly blackened on the outside, 4-5 minutes on each side, turning them once.

Alternatively, heat the oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat.  Thinly slice the garlic then add it to the skillet and saute, with stirring, until it is golden-brown, about 2 minutes.  Discard the garlic, add the butter, then heat it until the foam subsides.  Add the fish then saute for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through and lightly blackened on the outside.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

I served this with Brussels sprouts salad and a mixed green salad.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

I really liked it.  Hal did not

Serves 4.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Peel the leaves off the Brussels sprouts; discard the cores.  Bring a large saucepan of water to boiling.  Add sprouts; cook 20-30 minutes or until barely tender.  Drain and immediately plunge into ice water.  Drain well and dry in a salad spinner.  Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  Gradually whisk in the oil.  Drizzle dressing over leaves to coat lightly; toss.  Add cranberries and walnuts; toss to combine.  Chill.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I think its been a while since I've had a good rant about customer service . . .

. . . sigh . . .

I drove over to Michaels in London today for 2 items.  I found the embroidery thread I needed but the thing I wanted most, that I've been searching for years for . . . no where to be found.  A friend sent me a link recently about Martha Stewart craft products for texture called embossing paste.  When I couldn't locate this or any other similar product I went looking for floor staff.  There was none to be found.  So I knocked on the office door and asked for assistance.  The young lady came out, looked at the Martha Stewart display right outside her door and informed me they didn't have any.  Duh!  I asked if these products would be coming in or if I could order some in.  She told me that perhaps a higher volume store might have them and no they wouldn't order in.  Do you think they might be a higher volume store if they actually sold something to their customers??  So I spent $1. there.

On the other hand, sometimes it is the customers that are cranky.  I was in a local dollar store and it was pretty busy.  There was only one cashier on but she seemed to be handling things just fine.  All of a sudden it seemed that every customer in the store got into the check out at the same moment.  The cashier immediately called for assistance.  In the meantime, one lady slammed her purchases down on a counter and stormed out.  I think it was probably 30 seconds later when the second cashier arrived.  A minute or less after that a third cash register was open and we were all checked out at the speed of light.  I guess she must have been hot or something??!!

I love coupons and I love price matching but today I witnessed the extreme.  I was in Walmart and an older couple had a cart packed to overflowing with merchandise and food.  Behind them was a young lady with a baby and she had a fair size order.  Since the older couple seemed to be nearly checked through I decided this would be a good line to get in.  The other registers had 4-5 customers each in line.  And that's when the trouble began.  The older couple had a fist full of coupons AND every sales flyer for the St. Thomas area.  There was some serious savings going on there.  Finally they were checked out.  And then the young lady in front of me started pulling out her coupons . . . sigh . . . turns out they were related . . . LOL . . .

The only other store I was in today was Freshco and they were lovely as usual and there was a lovely selection of 30% and 50% meat.  My freezer is full again.

While I'm thinking about it, tomorrow is the last chance to win a copy of My Big Bottom Blessing, a great book for anyone struggling with self-esteem or body image.

Happy birthday Canada!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birthday parties . . . LDO style

You've heard me talk about Ladies' Day Out . . . oh once or twice . . . LOL.  I don't go often in the summer because I don't like heat so I tend to huddle up in my air conditioned apartment, venturing out only when I am in need of food or there is a really superior scrapbooking sale.  You can pretty much count on me to be there every Tuesday in the fall, winter and spring though.

We have some traditions at LDO.  One of my favourites is the birthday rule.  When it is your birthday you get to host your birthday party.  You pick the food for lunch and bring your favourite cake.  We all help you eat it and give you little presents.  You never worry that your birthday will be forgotten because you are the host.  We've had every meal from hot dogs to roast beef and every cake from McCains to fancy character cakes . . . and we've loved each and every party . . .

How's that for a nice tradition?

These photos are from Krista's birthday party.

The case of the missing jewelry

I'm in a story-telling sort of mood right now . . . so I thought I would tell you the story of the missing jewelry.

About 2-1/2 years ago my rings went missing.  I often took them off and set them someplace safe when I was working with cleaners.  The problem this time was that a day or two later I realized I wasn't wearing them and I started searching the house for them.  I tore every shelf and cupboard and drawer apart and couldn't find them anywhere.

Apparently, in the back of his mind, Hal must have recalled seeing the rings but couldn't remember where or under what circumstances.  After a while Hal thought he remembered seeing them.  A few months later he thought he might have put them in an envelope because he thought he would take them to the jeweler for a cleaning to surprise me.  A few months after that he began to worry that they had been thrown out.  I was really mad with him because he had lost my rings.  I threatened that he was going to have to buy me newer, bigger, better rings.  And since the rings were bought almost 30 years ago he was going to have some serious price sticker shock.

And so he promised me that once he was established in his new job we would start ring shopping.  He felt terrible for losing my rings.

During the last week of January this year we moved from our one bedroom apartment into a much larger two bedroom apartment across the hall.  It was a fairly easy move.  We just emptied closets and cupboards, walked across the hall and unpacked again.  Terry, Mom, Hal and I were were bringing over all the kitchen "stuff" one day and some of the dishes (you know the ones that are fancy and you don't use often) needed dusting before being put in their new home.  Can you tell we didn't entertain much in our little apartment?  Mom was busy dusting each little fancy plate and putting them away when she got very excited and called for me.  I come running into the kitchen and there were my rings, hiding between two fancy plates.  I cried.  Mom cried.  Hal heard us crying and came a'runnin'.  I made Hal put my rings back on my hands after 2 years missing.  It was kind of hysterically funny.

So I don't know where Hal got his false memory from but am I ever glad he talked me into moving into the bigger apartment!!  LOL

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review & FREEBIES: My Big Bottom Blessing

"Does this book make my rear end look big?"

I received a copy of My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon and read most of it one evening while sitting in the emergency room with a friend.

Wow . . . Teasi Cannon has a very interesting way of writing her thoughts in a very readable way.  As a bigger gal myself I was intrigued to learn what she had to say about getting past her body image and beginning to love her life.  I think body image and self-esteem are serious issues for most women.  If we were to do a survey right now my bet is that almost every woman would say there was something wrong with her body.  Well the author apparently has a big bottom and she discovered that she was allowed this impediment to impact the enjoyment of her life.

Cannon says that "My weight on the scale led to such an agonizing weight of emotional pain in my heart . . . "  I think that pain is something many of us have had to face over and over again, every time we go shopping for clothes, every time we look in a mirror, every time we notice someone looking at what we are putting in our shopping carts.

But Cannon has a plan for healing and acceptance based on a biblical approach to life that she has clearly written out for others to follow.  In fact, she has set the book up so it can be used as a teaching aid for a women's group, with thought provoking examples, questions and suggestions to help each of us learn to love ourselves again; learning to love who we see in the mirror again.

I am very impressed with much of what Cannon has to say and recommend this book.

If you would like to learn more about the author or purchase a copy of her book go to

For an audio interview with the author

A free download of the first chapter


Book Review: Heaven in Her Arms

When I received Heaven in Her Arms by Catherine Hickem to review, I was expecting a biography of Mary.  While the book does tell Mary's inspirational story quite well, the actual purpose of this book is to use Mary's story to share life lessons for today's women.  Hickem is a licensed psychotherapist and a relationship expert and puts her experience and education to use teaching these life lessons to wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

A very interesting read.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crudites Salad

This is the salad I was raving about earlier this week on Facebook.  I think I will be making it quite a lot this summer.  It is easy, delicious and very refreshing.  I bet lots of different veggies could be substituted in.

For 2 servings:

1 leek
1-1/2 tbsp Classic Vinaigrette
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
salt and pepper to taste
4 button (white) mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 carrot, shredded

Prepare the leeks:  cut off the dark green tops and discard, slice the white and pale-green parts into large chunks, then boil or steam them for about 10 minutes, until soft.  Drain the leeks and let cool a few minutes.

With a serrated knife, cut each chunk of the leeks into rounds about 1 cm thick and transfer them to a bowl.  Pour in the Classic Vinaigrette (I doubled the lemon/olive oil dressing and used that instead), then season with salt and pepper.  Blend gently and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Beat well, using a fork, until the dressing is emulsified.  Set aside.

Prepare the other vegetables and place them in 3 different bowls.  Portion out the lemon vinaigrette to the bowls, then toss each to combine.

Arrange the dressed vegetables in 4 separate mounds onto individual serving plates.  Serve.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Baked Apples

4 apples, Cortland or Lobo
4 tsp butter, unsalted
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp raisins
1 tbsp pine nuts
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
salt, about one pinch

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Wash the apples.  With a corer, carve out the core and seeds from the top, paying attention not to pierce the apple completely through to the bottom.  Make a circular incision just through the skin halfway up the side to avoid bursting during cooking.  Place the apples in a shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, raisins, nuts, cinnamon, and pinch of salt.  Portion out the mixture into the apples.  Add a small amount of water (about 1/2 tbsp per apple) to the bottom of the dish to start the cooking and prevent burning or sticking.  Place the dish of apples in the centre of the oven. and cook for 30 minutes.

I served the apples with vanilla ice cream.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Almond Trout

Before I post this recipe, let me just say that Hal (my hubby) hates fish.  Really really hates it.  He enjoyed this trout.  You notice I didn't say love.  Hal will never love fish, but he did like it.  I loved it.  The fish was served with steamed basmati rice and a salad.

2 trout fillets 360g -- I used rainbow trout
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup white wine (optional) -- I used a Vidal
3 tbsp margarine

Heat the margarine in a frying pan.  Add the almonds then saute over medium heat until they are golden.  Take the almonds out of the pan and keep them warm on a small plate in the oven.

Add the trout to the pan and cook over fairly high heat, 2-3 minutes on each side, starting with the skin side down.  Deglaze the pan with the wine, lower the heat and cover.  Cook 7-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the trout is tender.  Check with a fork to see if it is cooked through.

Take the skin off.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the trout with the almonds and serve.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our very first Skpe call . . .

. . . was January 20, 2012 . . . 

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

Can you tell I'm catching up on some book reviews today?  This little gem was actually read during the Christmas holidays.  I heard about it on an online book club and wanted to read it but wasn't able to get my hands on a copy.  Out of the blue a copy arrives in my mailbox.  That alone makes this book special.

Reading it made it extra special.  This is definitely not your holly jolly Christmas story.  The hero of the tale hates Christmas and is almost happy that his uncle is dying so he has an excuse to fly home and avoid the whole Christmas thing.

Somehow Christmas still manages to find him.

This little book is full of so many wonderful zany characters that it is a joy to read.

Book Review: Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

Okay, this is a great read.  Light on Snow by Anita Shreve is a definite page turner.  I'm not going to give away the story too much but here is a recap . . .

A baby is found in the snow barely alive and rescued by a father and daughter.  This baby is the catalyst for three very different characters to acknowledging their grief and work through it.  Riveting writing style.  There were a couple of places where I thought to myself, "that doesn't make sense" or "that's not what a normal person would do."  But I guess that is genius in itself.  And it does have a satisfactorily happy ending.

Book Review: Mary Pickford by Peggy Dumond Leavey

A friend just posted on Facebook asking for suggestions for a good summer read.  Mary Pickford:  Canada's Silent Siren, America's Sweetheart by Peggy Dymond Leavey would be a good summer read.

Mary's story from young Canadian girl to America's sweetheart is a really interesting tale all by itself.  What the author does special is to fill in the blanks . . . including lots of background information to make it easier to understand the times Mary lived in.  I especially was fascinated by all the movie making information.  Early Hollywood was not exactly what I expected.

Well written.  Very interesting.  Two thumbs up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

I did enjoy this book.

It was fairly well written . . . by a Canadian author.

I get it that the main theme of the book was the enslavement of all the women, no matter what their position -- the wife, the house slaves, the little indentured servant and the field slaves.

Some of it was a little weird and melodramatic.

I did come to love some of the characters, especially Mama Mae, Belle and Lavinia.  I think it was an interesting device to have the story told in two different voices and I appreciated the author's ability to show the same events through two very different sets of eyes.  I believe that is my favourite part of this novel.

So I don't give it a 10 . . . but it is definitely an interesting read.

January 2012 Scrapbooking

January 2012 Scrapbooking