Monday, February 28, 2011

There's a Kind of Hush

As I watched the snow gently falling in large, soft flakes (a big improvement over the freezing rain this morning) the song "There's a Kind of Hush" came into my mind. Often there is a muffled hush in the falling snow, however, when we got outside I was sadly disappointed - with the sounds of trucks passing by and snowmobiles in the distance there was only the vaguest hint of a hush. The song will have to do for today.

photo from

Can you guess what today's word of the day is? Why it's cuspidor (KUSS-puh-dor noun : a receptacle for spit : spittoon). Phettewy! Musician's playing brass instruments need cuspidor's, especially those playing the trombone (aka slushpump). Neither Carm nor myself are brass instrument players, tobacco chewers or even spitters so we have never gotten a cuspidor for the house. Spitting is not a really attractive habit. I just don't get why sports players need to spit so much - EVEN GOLFER's. What about golf is there to spit about? I've even seen Tiger Woods spit - I just don't get it. Maybe they need cuspidor's installed around the course? Maybe one at every t-off and some at the bunkers? Why aren't they spaced around the office? Isn't boring desk work spitting worthy? Curious.

If you remember from the beginning of this blog, as we moved into retirement I've had a lot of angst about doing things and getting things done. I'm slowly moving more and more into retirement mode. Sure I'm still getting things done (even in the basement) but I don't have the same feeling of MUST DO. Now its more "if I want to do". I can pick up my book and read without tremendous guilt (still a bit though), crocheting counts now for doing... and so on. Its good! Retirement is good! Its hard to believe that this is the rest of my life (God willing). I find myself slowing down and not feeling so rushed, even grocery shopping is something to be enjoyed and not just something to rush through. Did I mention that life is good ;-)

I want to share with you a blog post I read today (What would James Stewart do?) about how role models, especially those played by James Stewart, influenced the man the writer grew up to be. Its worth a read as Philip is an excellent writer.

My pleasures today: I've been listening to an audiobook as I've been on the treadmill - currently its Secret Garden which is a charming story. Time really flies when you are immersed in a book and it makes the time that much more pleasurable. I like listening to fast music too, but I think the stories are better for just keeping an even pace ; walking outside with giant flakes of snow falling down and the sun breaking its way though the clouds - it was like a fairy tale.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Circuitous Route

See the summer view below
Today's word of the day is circuitous (ser-KYOO-uh-tus adjective 1: having a circular or winding course ; 2: not being forthright or direct in language or action). We headed out with the truck, dogs loaded in the backseat, for a little drive this afternoon. It was a warm (-5C), sunny day and the truck needed a bit of a drive, so we loaded the dogs into the backseat and headed out. Destination - Riverside Cedar. This is our favorite local park, its just a 40 minute drive away so weekend getaways with the camper are a breeze.

We leashed up the dogs and started our walk. The snow was blazing white with only a snowshoe track. As we got to the little bridge we veered away and broke our own fresh trail. It was very alien looking with the white blanket and no campers parked. It was a nice little interruption to our daily routine.

After we lugged ourselves back into the truck (did I mention that walking through snow is hard work?) we thought to take a more circuitous route back home but couldn't think of anywhere interesting. So, straight home we went to a snack of lentil cakes with spicy cooked apple, pear, and roasted red pepper toppings. The dogs crashed out.

My pleasures today: having a nice walk in the sunshine (when the dogs weren't pulling on their leashes - more on that some other day) ; reading in bed in the afternoon (again!) ; getting the reservations all mapped out for the Parks of St Lawrence campgrounds. Reservations start on March 2nd so we'll be at our computers ready to make those bookings. The winter is passing at blinding speed. ; oh yeah one other pleasure - noticing that it was 5:21 and STILL LIGHT!

What wasn't a pleasure? Dogs pulling on their leashes in their excitement to be "camping" and sleeping on the spare bed which might in fact be a boulder and not a mattress at all...

the snowy picture with Carm was almost right in front of
this site

and this site.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waterless Waterbed

Today's word of the day is concrete (kahn-KREET adjective - 1: naming a real thing or class of things ; 2: formed by coalition of particles into one solid mass ; 3: relating to or involving specific people, things, or actions rather than general ideas or qualities ; 4: relating to or made of concrete). Let's see if I can give a concrete example of how to use this word.

sad, empty waterbed
Last night when Carm came to bed he found the bed wet on his side. Sure enough... the waterbed had a leak. Now you may laugh to know that we still had a hippie waterbed, but honestly they are very comfortable. The heater warms the water in winter so you get into a toasty bed, in the summer we lower the heat to make the bed cool. Then there's the support of the mattress - it conforms to your every curve thus supporting you perfectly. Will we get another one to replace it - we aren't sure yet - spending several hours in the middle of the night and the freezing temperatures may colour our decision.

Supper tonight has been planned as a small cheat meal - I'll use a bit of olive oil to make the roasted vegetables, PLUS we'll drink a bottle of bubbles. I figure one cheat every week or two won't slow my progress too much as long as I don't overdo it.

Dave Barry Turns 50My pleasures today: spending an hour in the afternoon curled up with a book after a late night. Today it's "Dave Berry Turns 50". I find his writing cracks me up ; bubbles aka sparkling wine ; eating roasted vegetables. I only discovered this way of cooking vegetables recently and it was immediately one of my favorites .

Friday, February 25, 2011


I was surfing around today looking for recipe ideas for my diet. I came across this site and since it is a good overview of the diet I've included the link. This is the link to the Eat to Live main site, it has some inspiring articles.

remembering springs of the past and
dreaming of what is yet to come...
Today's word of the day is apposite (AP-uh-zit adjective : highly pertinent or appropriate : apt). I am having a hard time thinking up an apposite story to go along with this word. Sometimes the word of the day triggers a thought or a memory right away, sometimes I have to rack my brain to think of something and sometimes I just can't think of anything at all. Some of it has to do with the word - some are pretty obscure, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with my level of mental acumen at the time.

My main pleasure today was having the afternoon to myself while Carm is away at someone's retirement lunch. Not that having him around is a problem, we've actually been getting along great, there have only been a few times when one of us (usually me) has been a bit irritable. Since the house is a great room concept we are basically in the same room together all the time. Which means he has to listen to my horrible singing when I'm on the treadmill.

I thought that this "Inspiration Peak" was apposite given my mention of singing...
I believe in kindness.
Also in mischief.
Also in singing,
especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
Mary Oliver
American Poet and Pulitzer Prize Recipient
lentils cooking for pate
My other pleasure today - getting through another day without cheating even though my normal habit when Carm is away is to have snacks and treats all afternoon or evening - sometimes to the point of not feeling well (duhh!). It was hard but I did it! Instead I made a Lentil Pate which is now cooling in the fridge. I'm going to try it with sliced pear or with spicy cooked apple. I'll let you know if it is edible or gagerific.

can there ever be enough pictures of dogs sleeping?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fighting my Edacious Appetite

We were into town yesterday and I just didn't have a chance to write anything, plus there wasn't much to write about! Not that that has stopped me before...

Yesterday's word of the day was edacious (ih-DAY-shus adjective 1: having a huge appetite : ravenous ; 2: excessively eager : insatiable). I was edacious after missing lunch yesterday - it was all I could do to not have a big binge snack... thank goodness our food shopping was in produce stores otherwise I don't know if I could have resisted. It was worth it though, down six pounds this morning!

Today's word of the day is snaffle (SNAFF-ul verb - : to obtain especially by devious or irregular means). Snaffle is also the name for a bit used in horseback riding. It is probably the most common bit used and is considered the most "gentle", if a piece of iron in the mouth could be considered gentle. The Parelli method advocates no bit at all and instead uses rope halters. I think your horse better be well trained!

funky tile floor I saw yesterday

My pleasures: Yesterday it was spending some time with my mom. It was another beautiful sunny day, warm in the sun. We had a good visit while we hit up a few shops. I bought a couple of things, including a replacement for a water pitcher that I broke. Stupidly, I filled it up and put it in the garage for the dinner on Saturday then forgot all about it. It was well below freezing the next few days so when it was finally found it was broken in several places ;

Another pleasure although it was somewhat mixed with pain... I found an old diary from when I was in grade 7 (around 11 years old) - oh my gosh, it was embarrassing to read but fun none-the-less. Eleven year old girls were very silly and I was no exception - are they smarter now? ; 

My last notable pleasure for today - Spike did a long distance recall when he was on the track of something interesting - a skunk perhaps. I keep a bag of dried tripe in my pocket to reward such occurrences and I suspect it helped with his response today.
The treadmill is well situated with lots of windows and sun to help make the
time spent more pleasant. I can almost imagine that I'm walking outside.

Black Bean Soup - Mexican Style

Black Bean Soup - Mexican Style ****

Yields: 4-6 Servings


1 onion diced
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 red pepper diced
2 tsp ancho chile powder
2 tsp cumin
1 can tomatoes and diced chiles
2 cans black beans undrained, unsalted
1/2 cup water or to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro
juice of a lime
Salt & pepper
Chicken or vegetable stock


Saute the veggies in broth until soft. Add the spices and cook until fragrant. Add water, tomatoes and beans.
Cover and cook until the flavors really start to mingle (about 25 minutes).
Add the cilantro and lime. Pull out the handy-dandy immersion blender and puree away.
(If desired/not dieting, serve with a spoonful of sour cream and chopped green onions.) 


I added a handful of fresh spinach to bump up the green quotient.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Pan and Bella
Pan was congenial
Today's word of the day is congenial (kun-JEEN-yul adjective - 1: having the same nature, disposition, or tastes : kindred ; 2a : existing together harmoniously b : suited to one's nature, tastes, or outlook c : sociable, genial). There's not a nicer way to spend an evening as that spent with congenial company.

I love having people over for supper - it combines two things that I like to do: cook, and visit with friends. First everyone gathers around the kitchen island with a glass of wine while I finish the last touches for supper. Then we all move to the table to eat and converse. I think the congenial conversation around the supper table helps with digestion. Our house is a great room concept, so the kitchen is open to the table area which means that I can still be part of the conversation as I'm getting the next course served or cleaning up some dishes. It is a great house for entertaining and as we've come to really appreciate, for daily living.

My pleasures today: enjoying the sweet taste of a ripe mango, and its really good mixed with banana and strawberries - the diet I'm on prescribes at least 4 fruits a day so my breakfast is all fruit - yum. I didn't even miss the toast and butter.
Bella as a puppy

Monday, February 21, 2011


sleepy day for some
Today's word of the day is fraternize (FRAT-er-nyze verb - 1: to associate or mingle as brothers or on fraternal terms ; 2a : to associate on close terms with members of a hostile group especially when contrary to military orders b : to be friendly or amiable). Carm's a great one for fraternizing with people he meets in the course of a day. He always has a friendly word for cashiers, help desk staff and anyone else he may encounter. I try to do this as well, but sometimes I may seem distant as I focus on the task at hand. We both always try to remember that someone else's bad mood may be due to an some stressful thing in their life but a kind word can ease the tension. Don't you always feel better when faced with the kindness of strangers?

My pleasures today: getting up early to make a reservation at our favorite Ontario Park and getting the one on the water that we were hoping for ; walking on the treadmill listening to a great Paul Simon song from Graceland and the beat perfectly matched a 3.8 mph walk - energizing ; getting through 2 huge bins of old clothes when I only planned to do one garbage bag worth. I now have a gigantic pile to take to the Sally Ann and even a half bag for garbage!!! Yes I threw some stuff out and didn't make one rag!

Lemon Dijon Dressing

This is a nice light dressing, fat-free except for the ground flax. I have another similar recipe with ginger - just ask and I'll post it as well. The ground flax seems like a weird thing to include, but once the dressing has had an hour or more in the fridge it actually thickens it a bit.

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette *****
Low fat. Includes ground flax to thicken it as well as add Omega 3's. Makes about 3/4 cups.

1 Lemon zest and juice
1/2 cup Water
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar or to taste
1-2 cloves Garlic minced
2 tablespoons Ground flax

Zest lemon then squeeze juice.
Add water, dijon, garlic and flax. Add cider vinegar to taste. Blend in blender on high speed for 1 minute (optional - I've blended it and whisked it, not sure of the difference).
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Keeps for several days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spike's Birthday Re-lived

Last night we had a wonderful evening with friends over for supper. Its great to be socializing without feeling rushed and overwhelmed with time constraints from working. It was Spike's birthday yesterday (3) and he got the best present of all by Jo Ellen visiting. He used to see her everyday at work and she quickly became his favorite person - he practically turned inside out with excitement. He also had a new friend over, Mia, a Bichon Frise. They hit it off right away and had a grand old time playing. They were both pretty wiped by the end of the night. And he got to do his tricks and show off for his new girlfriend. All in all a grand birthday for Spike.

Today's word of the day is cartographer (kahr-TAH-gruh-fer noun : one that makes maps). I love maps and atlases. I love pouring over them and imagining all the places I could go. Wouldn't it be interesting to be a cartographer, getting to make these little trips every day? Or would the details of making the map wash out the fun? I envy people with their campers as their homes traveling the continent with a map by their side.

My pleasures today: enjoying the sunshine (from behind glass - its a bit cold out) ; admiring the beauty of the tulips that Jo Ellen brought over (thanks again - they are lovely) and thinking of the days when my own will be pushing their way out of the sun warmed earth - a few months to go but its getting closer ; I think I've already done this one... eating a cold, crisp juicy apple.
another piece of childish artwork...
this time Mia & Spike celebrating
his birthday

Grizzle and Pan - Run like the Wind

This is my 101th post (it is really Saturday's post as I had it written but didn't get it sent off before guests arrived)- I can't believe that I've been so verbose...
Friday night the wind was wicked, it howled like a freight train and whipped the bushes next to the house into a frenzy. It was actually a bit scary and I wondered if we should take shelter. The lights flickered a few times and then blackness. Eventually the wind died down to normal high wind. The power was out for over 8 hours but the house temperature only dropped 4C degrees. Thank goodness for R2000 construction techniques. I wonder if it was a mini-tornado?

Saturday we were back down to below 0 temps and the wind was howling, blowing the snow around (we got a bit last night and it did been flurrying Saturday). A good day to stay inside, but luckily it improved for friends driving over from the city.

Saturday's word of the day is cabbage (KAB-ij verb - : steal, filch). We are pretty careful around the house to not let the dogs get a chance to cabbage any food on counters or coffee tables. Its easier to fix a problem that has never started than one that has. We did have a Borzoi, Grizzle, who would cabbage anything he could - and since his head was pretty much level with the counter we had to be pretty careful. I remember one time at a birthday party someone had a piece of cake on the kitchen counter, when he thought no one was looking he carefully pushed it onto the floor and then waited for the go ahead (it was on the floor after all). What a sneak he was. But he was everyone's friend and every dog's uncle. And beautiful, my gosh he was lovely to look at, and especially to watch running in the field. He and Pan, our greyhound, were best buddies. Pan actually picked him out from a litter of 3 month old puppies, or maybe more accurately, they picked each other out. To see them running like the wind in the grassy field would take your breath away. We miss them both.

mushrooms, onions and garlic
sauteed in fat-free chicken broth.
I added a bit of chinese hot chili sauce and then
tossed the whole works with some steamed green beans.
Topped with 1 oz chopped walnuts and some
grape tomatoes - yum and very low-cal.
My pleasures for Saturday: looking through old photo albums to find a photo of Grizzle - looking at the photos reminds me of how many different things we've done and how much we enjoyed doing them ; visiting with friends ; making a birthday hat for Spike - its his third birthday today.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tantalizing Temperatures

It got up to 11C today with lots of sun. The snow is disappearing from the fields and the laneway is loosing some of its ice. Its really just a taste of spring with more winter weather on the way, but guess what - we dragged out the calendar to start making camping plans :-)

Today's word of the day is mayhem (MAY-hem noun - 1: willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body and especially deprivation of a bodily member ; 2: needless or willful damage or violence). Wow, what can I say? Except for commenting on the Middle East there's nothing I can relate to with this word (thankfully), although sometimes it seems like mayhem here when we are getting ready to go on a camping trip. We end up with piles of stuff on the harvest table, favorite pillows from the bedroom, good coffee maker, clothes, food, computers, anything that doesn't already live in the camper. The dogs jump around and are underfoot with their anticipation. Grace rings her bell and bangs on her cage bars to make sure we don't forget her. I can't wait!

My pleasures today: the sweet, juicy taste of an apple ; feeling the warmth of the sun - is it really only Feb 18? ; thinking about going camping.

in 5 months from now, instead of doing this with water...

he'll be doing this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flouncing to the Stove

It was a cloudy day and warmed all the way up to +2C - its above freezing and melting more of the snow or at least compressing it into a heavier mass. Our snowshoe tracks are firm enough to walk on, but the rest of the snow is nearly impossible to traverse.

Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight LossToday's word of the day is flounce (FLOUNSS verb - 1a : to move with exaggerated jerky or bouncy motions b : to go with sudden determination ; 2: flounder, struggle). I've been flouncing (going with sudden determination) around the house today doing some cooking and food preparation to support my newly turned over leaf to eat healthily (healthfully?). I will be following the "Eat to Live" diet by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. The next six weeks will basically be fat-free vegan, after that I can add some other foods (in limited amounts) back in. The first six weeks is almost like a detox, getting rid of all the bad stuff from the bad food. I've done this diet before and found it reasonably easy - its actually the only diet that I've been able to stick to past a few days - and actually lost a lot of weight quickly. Unfortunately over the last few years I slipped further and further from the precepts of "Eat to Live". Blood test results from last week revealed that I'd better get back on that healthy eating bandwagon quickly or I'm going to be in some kinda trouble. So here I am... obsessed. That's the only thing that will get me through the next 6 weeks and beyond. So I hope I don't bore you too much! Wish me luck!

My pleasures today, hummm... trying a new soup recipe that turned out good ; crocheting two granny squares in no time flat ; watching Spike sleeping so peacefully while we Kinected (how could he sleep with all that commotion?) ; going for a little walk outside and feeling raindrops - could it be that spring is on the (distant) horizon? ; getting a really nice bunch of parsley at the grocery store.

Lemony Lentil Soup

Today for lunch I made us a fat-free, reduced sodium soup. It turned out to have a delicate, light, lemony flavour and yet was filling enough to satisfy. Carm liked it enough to give it a 4 star rating. Not bad, but I don't know if he's ever met a soup he didn't like. I liked it too and agreed with his rating. It is now on my favorites list and will be made often. We had it with a salad on the side.

Lemony Lentil Soup ****
Use tiny red lentils as they cook quickly and thicken almost as if they have been pureed.
Yields: 6 cups

1 tablespoon Chicken stock or water to sautee onion
1 Onion chopped
2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
pinch Hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Ground cumin
1 1/2 cups Red lentils rinsed & picked over
3 cups Chicken stock or 1 tin broth + water
3 cups Water
1 lemon - juiced (zest first)
2 tablespoon Fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
Instructions1. Heat chicken stock (was oil) in large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook on low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant.

2. Add cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in lentils and combine well. Add lemon zest of 1 lemon.

3. Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender and soup is beginning to thicken, about 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Soup can be pureed, partially pureed or left thick but coarse. Add extra stock or water to thin if necessary. Add lemon juice and taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and lemon zest.

adapted from More Heartsmart Cooking with Bonnie Stern

I changed the original recipe to be more sodium reduced and fat free. I added lemon zest. Replaced 1/2 the stock with water and used parsley instead of cilantro (its what I had on hand). 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Soft and Fluffy No More

My morning was spent going through the two big freezers and the fridge freezer, throwing out tons of old food, some of which I couldn't even identify. Yikes. Why don't I put labels on containers! When will I learn! Are we the only ones who are bad at freezer management or is this a perennial problem?

Today's word of the day is chameleon (kuh-MEEL-yun noun - 1: a small lizard whose skin changes color especially according to its surroundings ; 2a : a person given to often expedient or facile change in ideas or character b : one that is subject to quick or frequent change especially in appearance). My brother Graham was big into reptiles when he was little and at one time he did have a chameleon. It was a cuter (and less dangerous) pet than the 10+ foot python that he brought home one time. It was huge. My mom said no, so the snake didn't stay. The chameleon by contrast was small and cute.

Winter has been ruined... the ice has come... all that lovely snow has melted to a crusty, icy mess.

My pleasures today: seeing the nicely organized, spacious freezers ; having tea with a friend was the best pleasure - it was nice to see Christina.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meet to pick up the Meat

Church on the way there
It was a beautiful, cold, sunny day - perfect for a drive to meet friends for lunch and pick up the dog food. We met Ruth and John at the 5-Star Restaurant in Kemptville. The food was good but the company was better. We always have some good laughs when we get together. After lunch we headed to Elise's place to pick up 100 pounds of pre-ground meat and bone mix for the dogs. Our freezer is now packed to the gills with some overflow in the garage (here's hoping it stays cold for a while!).

worshipping the sun
Today's word of the day is brummagem (BRUM-ih-jum adjective : not genuine : spurious; also : cheaply showy : tawdry). My imagination just isn't working today as I have nothing for this word! Maybe tomorrow will be better. I pinched a nerve in my neck/shoulder last night which is making it difficult to move and even type. Normally these sorts of things resolve themselves pretty soon after getting out of bed, but I'm have no such luck. I think I'll go and get the heat pack again.

My pleasures today: going for a drive in the sun ; seeing good friends and having a few laughs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My One and Only Love

Living Loving and Learning

Today's word of the day is canoodle (kuh-NOO-dul verb : to engage in amorous embracing, caressing, and kissing). I suppose its fitting on Valentines day when many of us will be canoodling with our significant others, at least when we exchange gifts or cards. I think that with our busy lives (okay, not mine - its not so busy!) we get out of the habit of those spontaneous hugs in the hallway and kisses in the kitchen. I'm going to make a resolution today to remember to show Carm everyday that he's loved. Hugs and Kisses will be Abundant.

Love is always bestowed as a gift -
freely, willingly and without expectation.
We don't love to be loved;
we love to love.
   Dr. Leo Buscaglia, 1924-1998
   American Author, Professor and Inspirational Speaker

This quote reminded me of a few books of his that I read years and years ago, probably when I was in my mid 20's and was going through a difficult period. So I headed downstairs to our 'library' (a bunch of bookcases in an unfinished room) and found both books. One is called "Love", and the other "Living, Loving & Learning". I think I'll read them again now and see how relevant they are to my now stable life in a committed, loving relationship.

In the Hands of A Chef : Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto RestaurantThe other book I'm reading is called "In the Hands of a Chef" by Jody Adams. She writes extensively about each recipe which makes for interesting reading but I do find her somewhat pretentious.
This morning I was in the kitchen and when I turned around I saw that Spike had dragged a big fluffy pillow from the seat of the loveseat to the back where he likes to lie down. I guess it wasn't comfortable enough! I didn't have the heart to take it away from him (is he spoiled or what!).

My pleasures today: packing up some clothes for Sally Ann and also throwing some old clothes out ; spending time with my honey.

And I'll end this post with a song by Louis Armstrong for my honey (and editor)  "...........Every kiss you give... sets my soul on fire....i give myself in sweet one and only love"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy 69th Birthday Dad

Today we headed into the city to celebrate my father's 69th birthday. I can't believe that he's 69 already, it seems like just a few weeks ago that it was his 30th birthday and he sitting on a little chair with his head in his hands lamenting the fact that he was already 30. I was about 10 at the time and didn't understand what the big deal was.

showing me how to be a doctor
(dad was in med school when I was a baby)
I grew up in the era when fathers didn't get particularly involved with their children but as I got older he taught me trigonometry when I was years too young to learn it at school, he tried to teach me to play the trumpet (not much luck there - I'm not musical at all), he helped me make an abacus for a science project, he helped me to make an altimeter for another science project, and the list goes on. He was always generous with letting us play with his "toys" - did I want to take the boat out for the weekend? Did I want to test drive his new motorcycle? Most importantly of all, he made me feel that I could do anything I wanted if I tried. It never came up that I was a girl and that some things weren't "girl" things - it was only after I was older and had left home that I saw this gender bias. Here's wishing him happy birthday and many many more to come.

Today's word of the day is harbinger (HAHR-bun-jer noun - 1: one that pioneers in or initiates a major change : precursor ; 2: one that presages or foreshadows what is to come). Is the revolt in Egypt a harbinger of what is to come in the middle east? Were the revolts in Tunisia the harbinger of change in the Middle East? Did it foretell the changes in Egypt, and perhaps more countries to come? I hope and pray that things will go well for them. So much of what we in the Western world take for granted are being fought for by the people in these countries - things like freedom of religion and speech, a democratic government - a say.

My pleasures today: having a good conversation with my mother ; finding just the shelf I was looking for at Home Depot ; going into Princess Auto and finding the perfect little clamps on sale - perfect for camping tarps.

French Lentils with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Last nights supper was another new recipe, this one from French Food at Home with Laura Caulder. It was an easy to make, nice tasting dish and yet another way to serve lentils. We had it as a main course with steamed green beans on the side.

I didn't have any du puys lentils so used the regular ones that I had on hand (I have a huge bag), they are bigger and require a bit more cooking and water than called for but they were fine. I also didn't have walnut oil so used extra virgin olive oil. I'll be looking for some walnut oil to purchase as I think the flavor would be improved. I also used less goat cheese than the recipe called for, next time I'll use 1/2 the amount to further reduce the calories. Other than the goat cheese this is a healthy recipe to use on a diet and with the lentils is a good filling dish.

To test it for camping, next time I make it I will try cooking the lentils in the microwave, which is easier to use on the camper than the stovetop.

French Lentils with Walnuts and Goat Cheese ***   

1 cup du Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
splash Balsamic Vinegar
Walnut oil
Salt and pepper
2 ounces walnuts toasted
4 ounces goat cheese broken into pinches

1.Put the lentils in a saucepan with the bay leaf and thyme. Pour over 1-1/3 cups/375 ml water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed by the time they’re done, if not simply drain off any excess.
2.Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic for one minute, then deglaze the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar. When the lentils are cooked, toss them with the onion, son with salt and pepper and put them in a serving dish. Scatter over the nuts and pinches of cheese. Serve warm with roasted beetroot.

Source: Food Network's French Food at Home with Laura Calder
Cuisine :   French    
Main Ingredient :   Lentils

Yields: 6 Servings as a side dish, 2 large servings as a main course
Notes: I made it with olive oil, I think walnut would be better as the flavour of the EVOO was strong. I used regular lentils and added about 1/3 cup of extra water. It took 40 min to cook.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Aborted Emprise

Today's word of the day is emprise (em-PRYZE noun : an adventurous, daring, or chivalric enterprise). I had hoped for an emprise to Alberta with the camper this next summer, but Carm was reluctant and now it seems it's just as well as he is being courted for a contract. Cancelling an already planned trip would have been a huge disappointment which may have affected my emotional well-being. As it stands we can plan this trip another year and still savor the anticipation.

My pleasures today were varied. It started with when I got up and was half way through my first coffee - I remembered about a small bookshelf that my father had built for me decades ago - it was moldering in the spare bedroom - and now fits the bill perfectly for some of my recipe books (not even 1/2 of them!). I was pleased with the result :-).

Another pleasure was the standard one, the sun shining into my eyes as I sat at the computer - the sun always sends a flush of happiness to my core. And then there's getting outside for a bit of fresh air - it was warm (-4C) but windy and cloudy - I needed a jacket instead of a sweater with my fluffy vest. There had been a bit of light snow which kicked up beautifully with each step. The wind had partially filled in yesterdays snowshoe tracks adding extra exertion - which is a good thing. Ahhhh... the glow of winter at home is starting to wear off, but all it takes to rekindle it is a few rays of sunshine, some fresh snow and a trip outside.

Life is good - especially in the country.

View out of north kitchen window - the sun is getting
lower and casting a pink hue
View out of east kitchen window - the photo really
doesn't show the setting sun highlighting the snow
No wonder I don't mind spending time in the kitchen!