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Saturday, 24 January 2015

A New Recipe

   Still mild - temperature  around zero - but a white covering with a bit of ice underneath. Have to be careful with your footing. It has been a very strange January with hardly any precipitation of any kind. I stepped outside all kitted out for a walk this afternoon but one foot on my icy path made me reconsider and I decided to give it a pass today. I got lots of exercise yesterday, Fitness class in the morning, a longish walk in the afternoon and  dancing at night, so I slept well!

   I'm snacking on cheese and crackers at the moment with some smoked salmon and a glass of wine, but later I am going to make a new dish - Ginger Marmalade Chicken with rice.  I bought a jar of pureed ginger as I am tired of having the fresh ginger dry up in the fridge. It's not an ingredient I use too often. The dish is made with chicken breast meat but I am using thighs as I find them much juicier. It shouldn't be too hard to alter the recipe. I bought a large cabbage this morning so will make some coleslaw to have with it. Yesterday I made some Cheese Biscuits and managed not to burn the bottoms this time! I lowered the temperature of the oven and gave them an extra 10 minutes and that seemed to work. They were quite good.

   Lots of good shows on TV tonight so I'd better get cracking! I am getting very bad about leaving dishes in the sink so will try to clean up as I go tonight and have some time to wash my plate before settling in front of the fire with the remote at hand.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

My Longest Swim So Far

   20 laps at the swimming pool this afternoon and I really needed the exercise after sitting at the bridge table for three hours! I hit about 100 balls at the golf clinic this morning but that doesn't really count as exercise as the only exertion it requires is bending to pick up the balls. I was pretty beat by the end of my swim (the last lap was really slow) but if I can keep it up it should pay dividends in improved stamina.

   I enjoyed the bridge today - even played one hand really well - although I did make one big mistake in the bidding and left my partner high and dry with no support. I will know better next time!

   Fish for dinner tonight, probably fried with mashed potatoes and peas. That's the easiest. As I had a light lunch (we eat while we are playing) I will have an avocado and grapefruit salad to start. I had that last night with some shrimp, it was delicious! but tonight I'll leave off the shrimp and just add some cherry tomatoes and sliced red onion.
Six big luscious shrimp on a bed of avocado, grapefruit, tomato and red onion with a spicy mayo dressing. Yum!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Eating Out Again

   It has been a heavy few days on the food side of things for me. After Saturday's Burns' lunch I ate very little until James's birthday dinner on Sunday. He's now 5 and had a smart new haircut for the occasion. We had two delicious salads followed by pulled pork on a bun - all very tasty. And, of course, cake! It was a "Mud Cake" complete with chocolate sponge (the mud), caramel pudding and whipped cream. And don't let's forget the worms (gummy worms actually and nice and chewy they were too). I had a great time playing with the kids before and after the meal - they're always good for a laugh. Lucy the dog was there too and brought her servants (Steve and Alison) along for the ride.

   Monday was relatively light on the food until the evening at dance group where someone brought sandwiches and someone else brought a huge box of chocolates. Of course I once more indulged - just to help clear the plates, you understand!

   Today was ladies' lunch with RWTO and it was quite unusual - a lovely Greek salad with pita for starters followed by chicken kebabs with tzaziki sauce, roasted potato wedges and rice. We were all looking for something green on our plates, beans, peas, broccoli, anything to vary the monochrome palette of the meal. Nevertheless it was tasty and filling, and was followed by a humungous slice of Baklava which I adore. While we finished off with tea or coffee we had a fascinating speaker - a quilter who had brought along some of her 200 (yes, that's right) quilts to show us and give us a little history of how she came to take up this craft. I'm quite keen to give it a try - on a small scale of course!

   Got these nice pictures of some of  the plants brought in from the garden in the fall. They have managed to produce some flowers despite the lack of sun - so cheering on a dull winter day.
These fuschia flowers are just opening - hopefully the plant will survive until it's warm enough to go back outside in the Spring.
 
I have been clipping sprigs off this Rosemary plant but must have missed a couple of sprouts which have managed to produce flowers.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Robbie Burns Lunch

   I attended a wonderful Robbie Burns lunch today at a church hall. The food was good and very plentiful (second helpings of everything ,of which I took full advantage) , the haggis was very tasty and, best of all, it was a free meal as we were part of the entertainment!

   The haggis was piped in and a kilted member of the church gave the "Address to the Haggis". After the meal there was "Toasting the Lassies and Laddies", some Burns' songs and poems, a comedian and, finally the Scottish Country dancers (us). We did a couple of reels and a strathspey, then we had the audience up for a couple of ceilidh dances. A couple more dances and a sing-a-long of well known Scottish songs and the entertainment was over. Quite an entertaining afternoon.

    I am still stuffed from lunch so will just have soup and a sandwich later this evening, then an early night after a bit of TV.  

   

Friday, 16 January 2015

Fun With the Grandkids

       It was a lovely sunny day but - boy, was the wind cold. The temperature stayed around -5C all day so it was another indoor day. The grandkids were here for the day and we did manage out to the park for half-an-hour this afternoon but were pretty chilled when we got home. Time for hot chocolate and marshmallows!

    It's always fun around here when they come for a visit. They often have me in stitches with their funny ideas and quirky comments, James especially. We had a trip to the library in the morning then played games, did puzzles and finally, got out the scrap paper, stamps, glue and glitter for some craft time. They also each had some computer time and Elliot had brought a kit to put together. He spent quite a bit of time on that and they did watch a video just after lunch while I cleaned up the kitchen. It was a bit of a disaster zone as Elliot and James decided to make a yogurt smoothie just as I was making sandwiches and devilled eggs (their favourite treat at my house).

   Mind you, as soon as they left, I headed upstairs for a nap. Now I am all bright -eyed and bushy tailed, ready for an evening of dancing at Fallingbrook. Hope there's a good turnout tonight.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Probus Club

   I had my second visit to the local Probus Club meeting this morning. Although I have to wait until next Fall to join, I can visit three times for free. This was my second visit, very enjoyable with a  speaker from the ROM. Also, I ran into an old Bridge friend there, Gloria, who I hadn't seen for at least a dozen years. Now that I am back to playing bridge I gave her my phone number in case she ever needs a fourth for one of her bridge nights. 

    After the talk I had to rush back to the Senior's Centre for 12:00 p.m. for my other bridge group and we played until almost 3:00 p.m., eating lunch in between hands. I only had one successful hand but felt I played it rather well. Other than that, the cards just did not fall my or my partner's way!

   Back to Agincourt Community Centre for a swim and I managed 18 laps for the second time. Next week I plan to go for 20. Then a short soak in the hot tub, a quick stop at No Frills for milk and sandwich meat for the grandkids lunch tomorrow, and finally home for a relaxing evening. It has been a busy day!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Clogging

   The brussell sprouts were delicious. I very rarely buy bacon but have bundled it into 4-rasher packages for easy access from the freezer, so I think it will be a regular on my menu this winter. I found some smoked mackerel at Metro today and decided to try the Cajun variety. It wasn't too spicy as I had suspected so I will definitely buy it again.

   Quite an active day today. An early start (9:00 a.m.) with the Stretch and Strength class at the Senior's Centre. I stayed for coffee and a chat after, then made a quick trip to Chapters to find a birthday gift for James. This afternoon I returned to the Rec. Centre for the clogging class. I am quite enjoying it and am beginning to learn some of the steps. "Walk the Dog" and "The Rocking Chair" are some examples of the strange names the steps are given. The music is very catchy but Wayne, the teacher, said next week we will be learning a harder number although all the numbers are hard for me!

   I have finally finished the Christmas cake but still have some mincemeat tarts to eat up. And, I believe, there's still a small plum pudding somewhere at the back of the fridge. Luckily I still have a can of Devon Custard which I can use to sweeten it. I may still be eating Christmas leftovers by Easter!
Brussell Sprouts and bacon. Yum!!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Brussell Sprouts

   I'm snacking on crackers and cream cheese with Judy's homemade red pepper jelly. Quite a delicious combination, with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to wash it down. But my big feat tonight will be preparing Alison's recipe for brussell sprouts with bacon. I watched her prepare it for the Christmas dinner and, as I needed a vegetable to go with a lamb casserole tonight, I thought I'd give it a try. I know it involved, among other things, lots of garlic so what's not to like?

   I will par boil the brussell sprouts then cook some bacon pieces until just about done. Then I will toss in the drained brussell sprouts and cook them with some garlic in the bacon fat until they caramelize a bit. Should be delicious. I cooked the lamb casserole on the weekend so it just needs to be heated up.

   I had a busy weekend with dancing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday night Wendy taught us a couple of new dances for the weekend dance, so we were well prepared. There was quite a good turnout despite the cold weather and those of us who did venture out had a great time. On Sunday afternoon we had a practice of the Burns' dances, Keith's last turn as our teacher, but the demo scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled due to illness at the retirement home. The next one is this Saturday at a church Burns' supper. 

   I had another cancellation today - the RWTO executive meeting which also was to be held at a retirement home, now under quarantine - but because of that I was able to attend Bridge lessons at the Senior's Centre.

   It has been very cold today - wind chill of -30C - but the sun  was shining and no wind made it quite bearable.
This was the reading when I got up this morning!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Gingercake

    Another cold day (-13C in the morning, but now up to -6C), sunny but with a north wind strong enough to blow your socks off! So it was indoor activities again. First fitness class at the Senior's Centre, then home to make a pot of soup. I had some fennel bulb left over so roasted it with a carrot until quite tender. Then I chopped them and popped them in a pot of chicken broth with a healthy dash of turmeric, cooked them until tender and blitzed the mixture with my hand blender. A half cup of apple juice to thin it to the required consistency added a pleasant touch to the flavour. That and a cheese sandwich was my lunch and delicious it was.

    This afternoon I got down to making a gingercake to take to class this evening. This is a one pot recipe so no great amount of cleaning required after. But you do need a measuring scale in pounds and ounces. Here's the recipe:

4 oz. preserved ginger                      1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 oz. butter                                        4 tbsp. milk
3 oz. syrup                                        8 oz. flour
1 oz. molasses                                 1 tsp. ground ginger
4 oz. brown sugar                            1 egg and a pinch of salt

Put a pan on the scales and add the butter, sugar, syrup and molasses, weighing each ingredient as you add it to the pot.
 


Melt the contents of the pan on a low heat, being careful not to let it burn.

 

Meanwhile chop the ginger and add to the pot. When it is cool, add 3 tbsps. of milk and the egg. Mix well.

Sieve the flour,salt and ground ginger into the pot and mix well, then add the baking soda dissolved in 1 tbspn. milk.

.
Turn into a small, buttered loaf pan and bake in a 350 degree oven until the centre is done. Use a skewer to test for doneness. I usually have to give it a further 15 minutes or so.

This is the recipe as I got it from my mother but I made a few changes today. I used more molasses as I was short of syrup, just made sure the total weight was the same. I added 1/2 tsp. of baking powder to the flour because the last time I made it, the cake was rather dense. Also I only had small eggs today so I used two. This is more like a rich bread than a cake so I cut it in slices. Because of its spicyness it is nice buttered and it's also nice with a slice of nippy cheddar cheese.



Thursday, 8 January 2015

Still Chilly

   It was -13C when I got up this morning and warmed up to -8C by the afternoon - positively balmy! However, according to the radio, the wind chill made it feel like -24C and there was still a bitterly cold wind. Everyone I saw outdoors today had their hoods up to protect their faces and I don't blame them, I did too!

   I went to the golf clinic this morning and hit about 90 balls, which is the equivalent of a whole round of golf. Of course I wasn't walking between hits so didn't get the exercise you would get on a golf course. After that I popped in to the yoga class for which I am wait listed but I don't think I have a chance of getting in to it  as it was pretty full.

   Bridge this afternoon and Dianne was able to get a fourth for our table (her sister who is an experienced player and gave us some tips on bidding and "play of the hand"). Dianne and I went down badly, mostly due to the terrible hands we were dealt, but hope for better luck next time.

   Leftover chicken pot pie for dinner tonight but I had a bowl of guacamole and salsa with tostitos and several glasses of sherry. I read on Facebook that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers but I guess the operative word is "moderate". Hope I qualify for that designation. The glasses were small!

   Here's the guacamole recipe:

1/2 avocado, peeled and mashed
squirt of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce
Mix lightly.
2 tbsps. salsa placed in centre of avocado mixture
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese to garnish

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A New Activity

   If yesterday was a tad chilly, today was positively frigid!  Temperature was -18C when I first checked this morning. It did rise a few degrees during the day as the sun was shining but the wind chill made it feel like -28C (so they said on the radio).It was certainly a day to stay indoors. The only advantage was that it was too cold to snow.

   This afternoon I tried out a clogging class. I loved the music, country and western, but the steps were complicated and I didn't have the right kind of shoes. I will go back next week and try it again as it's free and at my local Rec. Centre. I had a very pleasing phone call this evening - a spot has opened up in the Gentle Fit class at the Senior's Centre on Fridays and I was next on the waiting list. Hooray!!

   I have to bake for Dance group on Friday and managed to make a batch of shortbread  after I got home from clogging but will need something else as well, maybe a gingercake. I used the chicken from the freezer in a chicken pot pie for dinner tonight. I only ate 1/4 of it so it will do me another 3 days by which time I will be well and truly tired of chicken. Plus I didn't use all the chicken so will be having it as chicken salad for lunches until it is finally all gone. Then I will indulge myself with something I haven't eaten recently - maybe pork or lamb!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Brrr!

   A chilly one today although sunny for a change. The thermometer didn't register above -10C all day and there was a bitter wind out of the north. I heard the wind chill was minus 20 something so I didn't stay outdoors too long - just a quick trip in the car to the mall to pick up a library book.

   I spent the afternoon reading - it's "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova, about to come out in the theatres any time now with Julianne Moore in the title role as a woman who develops Early-onset Alzheimer's. Quite a harrowing account of the devastation of the disease.

   Gas 95 cents a litre today. However, the advantages of cheaper gas are outweighed by a huge drop in the stock market today. It lost 2.5% of its total value by the end of the day. Hope it goes back up tomorrow.

    Dancing tonight at Scarborough and I'm the "tea lady", but I don't think I will stay to the end as I want to see the last episode of "Midsomer Murders" - or the last episode I will see until dancing stops in May. The new season of "Downton Abbey" started last night and was well worth the wait as several new plots, both upstairs and downstairs, were revealed. That's my Sunday evenings set for the next few weeks!

  

Sunday, 4 January 2015

First Demo Class of the Year

    Keith put us through our paces for two hours this afternoon - no new dances but brushing up the ones we will be doing at the upcoming Burns' demos. There was a good turnout - 24 of us - and we worked hard with only a short break. We have one more practice next Sunday so we should be well prepared. The demos I am taking part in (4) go from Jan 17 to Feb. 4 so I will be busy for the next few weeks.

    It was surprisingly mild today  (high of 4C) and I spent an hour this morning scraping a layer of icy snow off the driveway and clearing a path for the water to reach the drain. It was raining slightly which helped but dried up a bit in the afternoon. The temperature is supposed to plummet tonight so I bought some salt in case ice forms on any damp spots. Last year, when we had the ice storm, I was caught without salt and couldn't find it anywhere as there was a high demand for it. This year I'm prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

First Snowfall

   Well, we did have some snow in December but this is the first snowfall of the year and it wasn't much. I got my new snowblower fired up but decided there wasn't enough snow to make it worthwhile, especially as the temperature is supposed to rise to 8C tomorrow!

   I have been getting a few cleaning tasks out of the way in the last few days; cleaned out a kitchen cupboard yesterday and took all the glasses out of the display cabinet and gave them a polish. Also the shelf was quite dusty so that got a polish too. Today I stripped my bed, right down to the mattress cover and got it all in the wash (had to use the dryer for the bigger items. not suitable weather for hanging things outside) and now it's all back on the bed, nice and fresh.

   Still have a lot of food in the house so my grocery shop this morning was quite small. I love when my grocery bill is less than $30! I just needed some fresh fruit and veg and some fish and shrimp as I can't face any more heavy meals. Tonight is leftover lasagne and I still have some meat from the Christmas bird in the freezer. Sometime next week, when I feel like something substantial, I will defrost it and make a chicken pot pie. I bought a fennel bulb as a treat today but will have to "Google" it for a recipe. I think it would make a nice salad.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A New Year

   Welcome to 2015!  It is cold and windy today (-4C) but no snow so haven't needed to use my new snowblower yet. Buying it was kind of like insurance - guaranteed to not be needed but there if and when required. Chances are that now that I have it sitting ready to go in the garage, we will have a snow free winter!

    I didn't stay up until midnight last night, headed for bed around 11:00 but was still awake and reading when the year changed. Today we were all at Steve and Alison's for brunch, some looking a little less chirpy than others but all happy to be together to toast the New Year with orange juice. If I had been thinking ahead I would have brought a bottle of bubbly to add to the orange juice (I think they're called blinis) for a proper toast. We had blueberry pancakes, bacon, a bread and ham casserole and loads of maple syrup. Coffee followed for the adults while the kids bedevilled the cats. Lucy was in fine form, chasing her toys whenever anyone would acquiesce to throw them for her. Natalie especially enjoyed interacting with the animals and was rewarded with close encounters with at least one of the cats.

   Now I am contemplating a light supper - probably a salad of some sort. I have finally used (or turfed) all the leftovers except for a slice of plum pudding, but it lasts forever anyway. I had a long nap when I got home this afternoon so should be able to stay up long enough for the standard New Year's Day TV fare.