Archive for January 2014

What’s Been Cooking This Week?


One of my passions is menu planning!  It was almost the best part of my job running a corporate dining room!  I have accordion files full of recipe clippings that I haul out for inspiration and have been known to spend hours looking through them.

Lately, and it seems to happen at this time of year, every year, I start craving Mexican food.  The picadillo would be great for Superbowl Sunday!

  • DSC_3377 nx2Picadillo – serve with guacamole and corn tortillas, yummy!

And then:

Have a great weekend everyone!  Salute!

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Yes, this is going to be one of those posts where I am going to vent!

I bought a casual jacket to take with me to London in October, 2012. It’s cozy and warm but light, so perfect for the travel! It’s my everyday fall/winter grocery shopping, farmer’s market jacket and I wear it a lot.

images6UWKN8PDI don’t want to sound like an old crank but for heaven’s sake, isn’t it possible to purchase garments with zippers that don’t fall apart within a year! What is with all these cheap zippers?  I have gotten rid of a number of jackets that are still in relatively good condition just because the zipper is falling apart and I can’t pull it up anymore! It makes me crazy, I remember when….

Hmm… I thought “maybe I’ll take it up the street to the drycleaner and have it replaced”…not! It would cost $50.00 to replace! So now when I wear the jacket I have to make sure that I don’t unzip it all the way otherwise I’ll never get it back together again. What this means is that I have to pull the jacket over my head when I’m leaving the house and pray to god that I don’t need to remove it when I’m out or I would have to very gracefully allow the jacket to fall to the ground and then with much elegance, step out of it and with aplomb, retrieve the jacket from the floor!

Is it too much to ask for well-made, longer-lasting zippers; is that too much to expect? Probably. I guess, from now on its buttons for me! Just try and find a casual jacket without a zipper!

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Come For Dinner!

Now the holidays are over, the menu planning and entertaining involved is done, I can’t help but think about hosting dinner parties.
We invite some friends, try and decide what to cook and in general make ourselves nuts!

Have you ever watched “Dinner Party Wars” or better yet the UK version “Come Dine With Me”? It’s like watching a horror show a lot of the time which, I guess, is the attraction! They all start out with such optimism or are so cocky and then things seem to go from bad to worse and in some cases, the host “goes down in flames!”  And don’t you just love it when the “guests” start rummaging through the “hosts” underwear drawer!! Yikes, what is that all about?

DSC_0042 (2) nx2This falls into the “don’t let this happen to you” category.

I cooked for a living, so have learned a thing or two about planning sit down dinners out of necessity, where the fear factor (like losing my job), played a huge part!

For starters, remember the KISS (keep it simple, stupid rule!) As time marches on, I try more and more to simplify things and our Christmas dinner this year was a great example of the host and hostess not being completely exhausted by the time dinner was ready to be served! We had juicy roasted turkey breast, a gravy base concocted from the neck, giblets and wings, made the day before, then used to make the gravy once the turkey was done, scalloped potatoes flavoured with roasted garlic, onions and thyme, green beans with lemon and braised carrots with sage. For dessert there was sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce, both made the day before requiring only a short time to reheat. All in all, it was a delicious but straightforward meal, easy on the cook!

If it can be done ahead, DO IT! When putting together menus, I start out with some recipe ideas of what I would like to make but always remembering the KISS rule. So long as the food is wonderful , the host is relaxed, there’s nice music and great wine being poured, things pretty much look after themselves and everyone enjoys themselves!

In the olden days, we spent days preparing for a big dinner party, only to find that by the time everyone was seated I was so burned out that I could barely eat or taste the food!

Enough of that…

So…back to the T.V. shows. I know they have a deadline and a day to get things done but the menus are usually so over the top and far too complicated with too many things being done at the last minute and of course and you’ve seen this, the host has been sipping away during the day! Yikes…what I call a recipe for disaster. No, you cannot do it all! It’s crazy making! KISS, you’ll be thrilled you did!

**If you would like to check out the recipes for our Christmas menu, please see “A Christmas Lunch.”  Not only for Christmas!

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What’s Cooking This Past Week


Wow…I’ve had a busy week!  Time for a break to let you in on all the stuff that I’ve been cooking and we’ve been eating!  It’s “the season of the braise” and who doesn’t love that and a good pot of turkey soup?  That soup wraps it up around here as far as the leftover turkey goes.  Been taking a break from baking after all the baking I did for Christmas.  The waistband on my black pants needs to be looser if you know what I mean!

**Gelderman’s grows blueberries and we buy a bunch in the summer and freeze what we don’t use up.  If you would like to see where you can buy their blueberries, please see My Source List.

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It’s Arrived!



We have eagerly been anticipating the arrival of our 2013 extra virgin olive oil from Amelia, imported directly from the farm in Umbria, since the harvest in November/December. It’s arrived early this year!Umbria produces excellent tasting oil and is as good, or even better than Tuscan oil. On a visit to Montefalco in Umbria, we tasted and bought a gorgeous oil produced by Romanelli.  It’s so difficult, because on the one hand you want to keep it for “best” but on the other hand, the new oil is meant to be used and savored for its’ freshness.


The arrival of the “new oil” each year is a really big deal in our house. I mean, we haul bottles of EVOO home from Italy for God’s sake! OK, maybe some wine too! This is why we take an extra, mostly empty, carry-on and bubble wrap with us!  Sagrantino di Montefalco and Passito, the dessert wine made from the same grapes that have been dried, is considered to be one of the best dessert wines of central Italy,  impossible to get here and impossible for us to pass up!


Today’s the day for the sampling of the oil. This is exciting! Out comes the bread from Rise Artisan,** some coarse sea salt, a glass of wine to cleanse our palettes and a few olives. All we do is dunk some bread into the oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt (or not). The first sensation in the mouth is fruity, almost flowery, then a slight bitterness hits the palate followed by mild pepperyness but not too much, ending with a lovely rich, buttery finish. Yum, yum.  I’m going to go and dip more right now!

Thanks to the EVOO gods and Amelia Oil!

**If you would like to buy some bread from Rise Artisan, please go to My Source List.

Random Thoughts On 2014

The Christmas decorations are put away for another year, including the vintage icicles, that hung on our trees when we were kids. The package still has the 10 cent price tag from Zeller’s! The fairy lights on the window, are staying up until the day after Valentine’s Day! Champagne always goes so well with twinkly lights!

DSC_6236 nx2The tree got sent to the chipper, it was a great tree and we have a feeling it was a lucky tree that will bring family, friends and us good luck!

Our very good friends opened their restaurant “Burdock + Co.” last spring in Vancouver, B. C. and they are doing well. They were featured 3 times in the 2014 Vancouver Eating and Drinking Magazine! First, a full page photo near the beginning of the magazine, then mentioned again on two other pages! Not only that, one of the best restaurant critics in the City picked them as one of her top new restaurants of 2013! Woo hoo…way to go guys! We wish them much luck and continued success for 2014.

I don’t make those awful New Years’ resolutions at the beginning of the year, because they seem to be a recipe for disappointment. I focus on things that will bring happiness and joy into my life.

Learning Italian is something I wanted to do after our first trip to Italy in 2007. Boy, do I know lots of words! I will be trying the on-line route this year…maybe I can figure out how to put all those words together into sentences? We are up to our eyeballs planning our next trip to Italy; so maybe, just maybe I will be better than last time…getting excited! So much to see, so much to eat, so little time but we will give it our best effort!

Osteo-arthritis has been interfering with my lifestyle over the past year! So…a few months ago I got an injection that seems to be making a difference and its’ allowing me to get back into my walking programme. This makes me really happy!

Physio says I should taking up Tai-Chi so I don’t become one of those “seniors falling down all the time” statistics in a few years. Apparently a very good thing for balance…who am I to argue?

A number of months ago, my husband “lost” his car keys. He locked the car and came in the house. Next morning keys are nowhere to be found! We scoured the yard, no keys! On the day we took our “lucky” Christmas tree down we laid it on the sidewalk next to the raised planter that runs the length of the sidewalk, before carrying it to the car. Hubby drives off with the tree and on the way back to the house I started thinking about those damned keys. When hubby came home he said “the strangest thing has happened”. He came down the sidewalk and there in full view, you guessed it, the keys! That I didn’t spot them is weird. He said he had the strongest premonition he would find his keys that day! And, a miracle, the keys still work! Was the the “Ghost of the Del Rey” playing tricks again? …Or is it the beginning of a year filled with good luck!

Wishing you bucketful’s of good luck in 2014!

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