Thursday, February 26, 2015

Harvest Pot-au-feu


Preparation 15 min
Cooking 3 h

1/2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
380 g blade pot roast, or rib roast , cut into large cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white flour (all purpose
1 1/3 cup beef brot
1 1/3 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 pinch salt [optiona
ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 rutabagas, or turnips , cut into large chunks
2 3/4 cups Savoy cabbage, or green , cut into large chunk
4 small potatoes, whole

Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. Cut the meat into large cubes.
Heat the oil in a casserole dish or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the meat andbrown thoroughly on each side until golden, 7-8 min total, then take the meat out of the pot and set it aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot, then sauté 3-4 min until the onion is translucent. Stirin the flour and cook 2 min with continuous stirring. Pour in the broth and water gradually, with stirring, then put the meat along with its juices back into the pot. Add the bay leaf and herbes de Provence. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer 2 h, until the meat is tender.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables: peel the carrots and rutabagas, then cut them into large pieces; cut the cabbage into large pieces; leave the potatoes whole. Add the vegetables to the pot and cook an additional 40 to 45 min, until the vegetables are cooked al dente. Adjust the seasoning.
Serve the meat and vegetables including the cooking broth.

This dish can be made a few days ahead and reheated over moderate heat.

The broth may be served in a separate bowl, or it may be puréed with a few vegetables in a food processor then served as a thick soup.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beef and Potato Fricassee

Preparation 10 min
Cooking 40 min
320 calories per serving

240 g beef, inside round, or French steak , cut into 1 cm cubes
1/2 onions, finely chopped  100 g
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 stalk celery, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup beef broth
3 1/2 tbsp frozen peas
1 pinch salt [optional]
ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp Italian parsley, fresh [optional]

Keep the serving dishes in the oven at the lowest setting so they are warm when you serve.

Cut the meat into small 1 cm cubes. Prepare the vegetables : Finely chop the onion and garlic; cut the potatoes and celery into 1 cm thick pieces.
Heat half of the butter and oil in a thick-bottom frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sauté 3-4 min until translucent, then remove them and set aside.
In the same pan, add the cubes of beef and sear them over high heat 7-8 min until golden-brown. In order to brown the meat, it is important to remove any juices coming out of the meat, otherwise the meat will «boil» rather than brown. A bulb baster may be used to pull the juices out of the pan (The meat juices may be reserved and added back to the pan later with the broth).
Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan. Stir in the potatoes and celery, then sauté a few minutes. Pour in the broth (and any reserved meat juices), then deglaze. Put the onion and garlic back into the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, covered, over low heat 20-25 min, until the potatoes are soft. Add the peas and cook an additional 3 min.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley (optional) and serve in the warmed dishes.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cinzia's Shepherd's Pie

Preparation 25 min / Cooking 30 min
380 calories per serving [See all nutrition info]

5 potatoes, peeled then halved
1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
16 button (white) mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
500 g ground beef, extra-lean, or lean
3/4 cup canned tomatoes (diced)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup milk, partly skimmed, 2%
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
ground pepper to taste
1 pinch salt [optional]

Before you start
For individual pies, choose baking dishes which contain about 375 ml or 1 ½ cups when 3/4 full.

Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F.
Prepare the vegetables: finely chop the onion; thinly slice the mushrooms; peel the potatoes, cut them in half then boil them 20-25 min until very tender. Drain them well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and sear it until it looses its red colour, about 4-5 min, then break it up with a fork. In order to brown the meat, it is important not to stir it at the beginning, otherwise it will release its juices and will «boil» rather than brown.
When the meat is golden-coloured, add the chopped onion then cook 2 min with stirring. Stir in the diced tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and broth. Add the frozen peas and continue cooking until heated through, about 4-5 min. Add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to one large baking dish, or distribute it into individual baking dishes.
Pour the milk into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the butter and microwave on medium-high a few minutes, uncovered, until very hot. Add the cooked potatoes and mash the mixture until it is creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place a spoonful of the potato mixture on top of the beef mixture, then gently spread it with a spoon to cover evenly.
Bake in the middle of the oven until the top is golden-brown, about 30 min. Serve.

The pies can be frozen right after having been covered with the mashed potatoes and individually wrapped. They can be baked (taken directly from the freezer) for about 50 min at 205°C/400°F.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Vegetable and Bean Ratatouille

Preparation 10 min / Cooking 30 min

250 calories per serving [See all nutrition info]

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup green/snap beans
2 zucchini, cut into 1,5 cm dices
1 aubergines / eggplants, small size, cut into 1,5 cm dices
1 yellow or red sweet peppers, cut into 1,5 cm squares 
1 cup canned tomatoes (diced)
3 cups red beans (canned), rinsed and drained
1 pinch salt [optional]
ground pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper [optional

Mince or press the garlic and chop the onion. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and onion 4-5 min until lightly coloured and soft, paying attention not to let them burn.
Prepare the vegetablesBoil or steam the green beans. Drain, cut into 2 cm pieces, and set aside.
Dice the remaining vegetables into 1,5 cm pieces and add to the saucepan with the garlic and onion.Sauté 4-5 min, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the optional cayenne.
Cook over low heat, covered, 20-25 min until all vegetables are soft but still a bit al dente. Add water, if necessary, to keep the mixture moist.
Add the previously cooked green beans, the red beans, then cook an additional 5 min. Adjust the seasoning, then serve.

Mixed Vegetable Salad with Eggs

1 potato
2/3 cup green/snap beans
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 curly leaf lettuce
1 large egg
6 black olives
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables.  Wash the potato, trim the ends of the green beans.  Place the vegetables in a steam basket or in a pot of salted water to either boil or steam until al dente, about 20 minutes.  Let them cool down 10 minutes or longer, so they won't be so hot to handle.  Cut the potato into slices, cut the beans into pieces.

Boil the egg, cool immediately in cold water, peel and cut into quarters.

Put all the vegetables in a salad bowl or serving plate.  Add the tomato.  Pour on the dressing, then season with salt and pepper.  Toss well.

Arrange the olives, lettuce leaves and egg on top of the salad and serve.

Makes 2 servings.


The salad is delicious and filling but I think the salad would taste even better with a different dressing such as ranch.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Family, Newfoundland and Bunsen Burners ~j

MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Family

Why are families important? What do families provide that makes them better than living on our own?

I was going to make all kinds of emotional reasons for why family is important but a chat on Facebook with some friends right now is about traditions, in this particular case about Lent. It seems to me that family grounds us, gives us a place where we can feel like we belong to something more than ourselves. I think that may be why family is so important.

March 31, 1949 - Newfoundland joins Confederation as Canada's 10th province; oldest Dominion in the British Commonwealth joins 82 years after Confederation; Joey Smallwood first Premier, until 1972. Newfoundland (CBC Archives)

Bunsen Burner Day

When : Always March 31st
Bunsen Burner Day celebrates the birthday of its creator. German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen was born on March 31, 1811. And, you guessed it, von Bunsen created the Bunsen Burner.
If you are a high school student, you know all about the bunsen burner. If you work in a chemistry laboratory, chances are you use the burner in your job. If its been a while since high school chemistry class, the memory of the bunsen burner may have faded somewhat.
In case you memory has faded, the Bunsen Burner is a long, hollow tube. Gas and air are combined to create a hot flame. The burner is used in a wide range of scientific and laboratory projects.
Spend a few minutes today to appreciate the value of this important scientific tool. We will let you determine how many minutes to spend in reflection.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

It's been a few months since I read The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens and I remember that it was a very quick read for me.  Dickens is always enjoyable with his quirky over-the-top characters.  My personal favourite is Quilip, a massively horrible dwarf of a man who is cruel and abusive to everyone within his reach just because he can be.  

My least favourite character is the grandfather.  I understand his character is meant to be very flawed but I guess I don't have much sympathy for a man who counts on his little granddaughter Nell to take care of him and solve all his problems.

I'm not going to tell you who lives or dies, prospers or fails.  Let me just say that it isn't all bad and there are some great mysteries to be solved.  If you are looking for a good read and you haven't read Dickens before, this might be a good book to start with.

Spring, Park and Rum . . . ~j

SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: One Phrase

What's one phrase you would really like to hear right now?

It is spring.

Take a Walk in the Park Day

When : Always March 30th
Don't miss out on " Take a Walk in the Park Day". It is an opportunity for exercise and relaxation. Are you stressed out? A walk in the park is just what the doctor ordered. Its calming and therapeutic. Taken after a busy work day, it helps clear your mind and re-energize you. Or, take the walk during lunch and you will find the afternoon of work goes by quicker and easier.
A walk in the park will likely be the most enjoyable part of your day. However, make sure to do so with a clear mind and with your eyes open. In addition to avoiding a fall, open eyes will allow you to take in the beauty of nature's wonders: flowers, and trees, birds, and wildlife.
Tip: We suggest you take a walk in the park with a friend or your lover. It will prove far more enjoyable if you have company on your walk.

March 30, 1972 - Military -Last daily rum ration issued to Canadian navy personnel. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sketch Challenge #38

Cold! ~j


Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday: Describe your day or current situation in just six words.

Baby it is really cold outside.

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

When : Always March 29th
National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day celebrates small business owners. These individuals spend countless hours nurturing and growing their young enterprises. The workload demands, and lack of a hired staff, often translates into long and late hours, and many missed family and personal events. But, all in all, they love what they do. After all, they are their own boss.
New businesses have always been a vital, yet not fully appreciated, part of the U.S. economy. On they retail side, they bring different and unique products to the marketplace. They provide stellar and personal service support. When you call, you are more likely to get a real, live person. And unlike big national chains, they know their products. They are outstanding performers in niche markets. In manufacturing, they create many new concepts and ideas, making them creators of new products.
Celebrate National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day by showing your their stores today, and everyday.

March 29, 1976 - Cinema - Budge Crawley of Ottawa's Crawley Films wins Oscar for best feature-length documentary for his Yuichiro Miuru: The Man Who Skied Down Everest; first Canadian feature film to win an Oscar. Hollywood, California

The Great Pintrest Challenge: Boiled Bacon

So someone I know, who shall remain nameless, read on Facebook that to make perfect bacon you should boil it.

So she did that and complained that the bacon was gross and slimy. She wasn't sure if it was the procedure or if it was because she used cheap bacon.

I read a couple of articles on boiled bacon . . . and I think she, who will still remain nameless, didn't read the last paragraph.

"You end up with some perfect strips of bacon that is as tasty and perfectly formed as ever. Even better, once the water boils off, you can still save the bacon grease for future cooking."

Well, now we know for next time.

I love the salad bar and napkins at the Wayside Inn in Talbotville ON

Hubby and I just had supper there a couple of weeks back which is why I picked the Wayside Inn in Talbotville ON as a place I recommend to visit. 

The first building was erected in 1936 and a gas station was opened. The Wayside also housed the Talbotville Post Office until the 1960's.  Greyhound used it as a bus terminal and although the bus terminal was relocated to St.Thomas in the late 40's, buses continued to pick up passengers at this site until 1973. As many as 40 buses buses stopped at The Wayside each day. The present owners bought the business in 1975.

The last time we were there was a Monday night and they had some excellent specials.  I love that the decor is so classy but not obnoxiously so.  I love that the servers wear uniforms and not yoga pants and t-shirts.  I love that they still provide real napkins.  The service is excellent.  The food is also excellent.  My favourite thing there though is the salad bar; an excellent selection and always fresh.

Hal's favourite time to go is for the Sunday buffet which is very popular and it is probably a good idea to make a reservation.  I'm not such a big fan (not really a breakfast sort of person) . . . but . . . they have the salad bar and a dessert bar so I'm okay with that.

Now I am feeling like I want to go there tonight . . . but I already have supper in the oven.  Check it out yourself.

Crime and jalapenos ~j

FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Theft

Have you ever had something stolen from you?

Surprisingly that is something that has not happened to me very often. Perhaps I have nothing that anyone else would wish to steal?

Something on a Stick Day

When : Always March 28th
Something on a Stick Day celebrates things on a stick. Isn't this just a neat day? We thought you'd agree.
So what comes on a stick? Practically anything. The first thing that comes to mind is popsicles and fudgecicles. Hotdogs are poplar on a stick at campfires. There's also corndogs, and shrimp and many chinese treats. Cocktail wieners and cheese are picked and eaten on a stick(a toothpick).
You can also get just about anything on a stick when receiving food samples at a store or festival.
Celebrate this fun day by serving food for meals and snacks on a stick. The kids will love it. So will you!

March 28, 1967 - Vancouver born actor Raymond Burr stars in a TV movie titled Ironside, about a wheelchair-bound detective; will become a weekly series in the spring of 1967; former Perry Mason star. Los Angeles, California

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Joe's Manners are Tragic . . . ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Manners

Do you think manners are important?

I think manners are critical. Knowing how to behave in public and at home leads to a more harmonious life. It shows respect for the people around you.

National Joe Day
When : Always March 27th
National Joe Day is a chance to change your name, if only for today.
Many people do not like their given name. They wish they could change it. A few actually do. On National Joe Day, it is perfectly okay to have everyone call your "Joe". Why Joe, and not Bob or Mike or Radcliffe? Simply, because everyone likes the name Joe. If you are called Joe today, we know that you're "Joe cool"!
This works well for the men out there. What about the ladies? We suggest you choose Josephine or Jody.
Origin of "National Joe Day":
Our research did not find the creator, or the origin of this day. Obviously, it is a person who does not like their first name.

March 27, 1995 - Music - The Tragically Hip win Juno Awards for entertainer and group of the year. Toronto, Ontario

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter

Front Cover

I finished reading this book recently and found it a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Of course, I love historical fiction.

According to the back leaf of the book, the author Oliver Putzsch is descended from a famous family of executioners.  The book was translated from German by Lee Chadeayne.  I think the translator did a good job changing the text from German to English.

The story is about a series of mysterious events which create dread in the people of Schongau.  The fear began with the retrieval of a young orphan boy from the frigid river who had many unexplained injuries and a crudely drawn tattoo on his body.  It isn't long before the townspeople decide that there is a witch in the town causing all sorts of calamities.  The dead lad and the other town orphans often hung around the local midwife and healer who was often thought to be a witch.  Putting two and two together with a great deal of imagination it is determined that the midwife must be the murderer.   Because she must be a witch and a murderer, she is arrested.  It is the job of the hangman to torture her until she admits she is a witch.

The hangman, Jakob Kuisl, believes the midwife is innocent and finds ways to delay her torture and allow him and the doctor's son (who is in love with the hangman's daughter) to try and uncover the true murder.  The plot twists and turns and it isn't until the very end that the true villain is revealed.

An excellent read especially if you love historical fiction or mystery books.

Resorts, Holidays and No Cars on PEI?!?


Today's Writing Prompt: Ideal Resort

If you could design your own vacation resort, what's one attraction you would definitely include?

Only one? Huge comfortable wraparound porches on each cabin, climate controlled when the windows are shut and also screened for enjoying fresh breezes when the windows are open.

Here are my blog posts I actually made on the real March 26, 2014:

What happens when some local scrapbookers take over the local Tim Hortons?

The adventure of the trapped hand at Cora's Restaurant . . . also known as "Why do weird things keep happening to me?"

Make Your Own Holiday Day

When : Always March 26th
Make Your Own Holiday Day allows you to make today a special day for anything you want. The objective of today, is to allow one day for any topic or event that has otherwise escaped recognition... up to now.
We didn't create this day. But, we are glad its here. Over the years, many site visitors have emailed us and inquired as to how to create a holiday or special day. It's not easy, and it's even more difficult to create a truely national day.
Today, is your day to skip all of the red tape, bypass all of the effort, and create a special day of any kind. Simply declare your special day on Make Your Own Holiday Day!

I think I will declare this day to be 

March 26, 1908 - Auto - Prince Edward Island becomes the only place in North America where it is illegal to drive a car, as the Assembly passes a law to ban all automobiles from its roads; driving a car becomes punishable by jail and it is illegal to import cars to the island; the ban will be lifted on August 29, 1919. Charlottetown, PEI

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tanka, Waffles and Scandal ~j


Tanka Tuesday: Spring

Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry thousands of years old, very similar to haiku. The 5 unrhymed lines go in syllables of 5/7/5/7/7.

new buds on the trees
brave sprouts search out the sun
new life has returned
to proclaim the new season
welcomes us out into light

International and National Waffle Day

When :
International Waffle Day- March 25th
National Waffle Day- August 24th.
Waffle Day is a day that you can waffle on issues and decisions. And, it certainly is a day to eat waffles.
International Waffle Day
This holiday originated in Sweden. It is called Våffeldagen. The holiday coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation. This day was also considered the start of spring in Sweden and Europe. It became a custom for Swedish families to celebrate the two events by making waffles on this day.
National Waffle Day
Celebrates the patenting of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24, 1869.
The origin of the waffle: The waffle dates back to the 1300s in Greece. Greeks cooked flat cakes between two metal pans. At the time, they topped it with cheeses and herbs. Pancake syrup wasn't around back then.
Waffles are commonly eaten as breakfast or a snack. They are also an occasional dinner meal for some people.
Waffle Iron Day is in June.

March 25, 1893 - Crime - Religion - Toronto cab driver fined for "driving a lady on a Sunday;" $2 or 10 days in jail. Toronto, Ontario

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

$100, Chocolate Covered Raisins and the Mighty Beaver ~j

MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Luxury

You've been given $100 on the condition that you have to spend it all on yourself. What are you going to do with your gift?

Head to the nearest scrapbooking store. I can't believe you didn't already know what my answer would be . . . LOL!!!!

National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day

When : Always March 24th

National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day is a day to enjoy this tasty combination of chocolate and fruit. Chocolate lovers who like raisins, find the combination simply irresistible. Kids find them irresistible, too.

Are you watching your waistline? National Chocolate Raisin Day will not help you here. You're on your own.

Follow the Logic?: Chocolate is made from cocoa beans ( a vegetable) and raisins are from grapes (a fruit). And, we all know that vegetable sand fruit are good for you. Therefore, isn't chocolate covered raisins good for you?

March 24, 1975 - Symbols - Parliament passes Sean O'Sullivan's private member's bill making the beaver the official symbol of Canada. Ottawa, Ontario

A mish mash of things - hockey, spring and chips ~j

SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Welcome Spring

What does spring look like in your neighborhood? Is it spring where you live, still winter, or already into summer?

In our neighbourhood spring looks muddy and brown as the snow melts away followed my bits of green peaking through the mud. It seems like it only takes days for the grass to green. I know spring is supposed to be rainy but I think we get more rain in the fall.

March 23, 1923 - Hockey - Foster Hewitt announces his First hockey game, over the Toronto Star's radio station CFCA; known as the voice of hockey'. Toronto, Ontario

National Chip and Dip Day

When : Always March 23rd

National Chip and Dip Day celebrates America's favorite snack duet. If you re holding a party, it is almost certain that chips and dips are on the snack list. The only possible exclusion would be for an Ice Cream party.
Important Note: National Potato Chip Day is on March 14th. For today's celebration, the "chip" is more generic. It could be corn chips, or tortilla chips. And, the dip is any kind that goes well with the chip of choice.
Today is best celebrated in the evening with a bag of chips and your favorite dip.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

High School Reunions and Anne Murray ~j

FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Reunion

Imagine you're on your way to your next high school reunion. How do you think your old school friends will react to the person you are today?

Believe it or not, I never graduated from high school. I have a college diploma and an honours BA, but only made it half way through Grade 11. So I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be invited to the high school reunion.

4" x 5"

March 21, 1993 - Music - Anne Murray inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at Juno Awards ceremony; her 25th year in show business. Toronto, Ontario

The Great Pintrest Challenge #3

Rain Gutter Bookshelves suggests using rain gutters for book shelves.

These photos were taken in 2005 . . . and you can see that we did use gutters to hold scrapbooking paper.  

Fare Thee Well Love . . . o'er the Rainbow Bridge ~j

Today's Writing Prompt: Rainbow Bridge

Have you ever had the rotten experience of having to put a pet down?

I had to do it once. We had a kitten who wasn't breathing when it was born. I actually did kitty CPR. I probably shouldn't have. Poor little thing was never right. I took him to the vet in Aylmer to be put to sleep. I will never do that again. I've never had a pet since and I don't want one.

March 20, 1994 - Music - Rankin Fam­ily wins four awards at the Junos. Toronto, Ontario

Parks Blueberries and Country Store, Bothwell ON

I have lost track of how many times I have been to Parks Blueberries over the years.  

These photos were taken in October 2014.  Mom, Judy and I were taking a leisurely road trip, heading for our favourite cottage in Port Lambton, and stopped here for lunch.  The store is so pretty and well cared for.  The food, which is served cafeteria style, is delicious and reasonably priced.  

When we finished lunch we browsed through the store and made a few purchases.  The store contains lots of baked goods, kitchenware and gifts.  Definitely fun to wander through.

They are closed in the winter but will reopen in April 2015.  

Too bad they weren't open in March because that is when we will be passing through on our way to Windswept Cottage again.

For more information just click on this link:

Family and Neighbours ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Siblings

If you could choose, would you rather have been born an only child or born the middle child in a very large family?

I've never really thought about being an only child. I'm not even sure what that would be like. I am the first born child and I like it, especially now when my siblings are starting to look as old as or older than me . . . LOL.

March 19, 1953 - Cinema - the national Film Board's Norman McLaren wins the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, with Neighbours; first Academy Awards to be televised. Hollywood, California

For more information:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Scrapbook Challenge #1

I challenge you to scrapbook a layout about your grandparents love story.

This challenge comes from

Scrapbook Challenge #1

I challenge you to scrapbook a layout about your grandparents love story.

This challenge comes from