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Friday, 31 October 2014

Getting ready for HALLOWEEN in LAREDO

Laredo loves Halloween.  

Kepler says, “Wow!” for all the elaborate and spooky decorations.  This one is his favorite.

So, a costume . . .

for the Pumpkin Patch to pick up a pumpkin! 

                 Then, on Halloween Night, Grandpa carves a scary Jack o' Lantern!


It was fun pushing Kepler in his stroller around the neighborhood because everyone who is taking part sets up a table in front of their house so that kids don't have to ring doorbells.  

Thursday, 30 October 2014


barbecued salmon and vegetables

Dinner at Nicole’s is always a surprise and an adventure.  Her menus are often contemporary but she also loves and collects retro cookbooks.

Although Nicole does almost all of the cooking, Bryan and I do pitch in from time to time.
Wheatberry bread

Brioche buns


              Nicole has a pasta machine and asked me to make ravioli.  Yikes!!! 

 The next time I make ravioli for her, I hope I’ll remember not to roll out all the strips ahead of time, because they did get a bit dry before I was finished stuffing.

Bryan and I fried up the leftover ravioli and covered them with                        
leftover whipped cream!!!  "Pretty good," as my dad would say.

Any­way, the filling was excellent.  In fact I just spooned up all the leftover filling for a pre-dinner snack yesterday and made up my mind to try it in perogies sometime.  

½ lb red beets
3 oz  Garlic and Herbs Boursin cheese
½ lemon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

·        Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
·        Pierce beets with a fork.  Wrap in aluminum foil and roast 1 hour.
·        Peel, chop, and place in food processor.
·        Add cheese, salt, and pepper.
·        Squeeze lemon and add juice to food processor.
·        Blend well.

For my mother’s unbeatable perogy dough and instructions, see:


If you decide to make ravioli instead of perogies, toss the cooked ravioli in melted butter.  Then sprinkle with red wine vinegar and parmesan.  J

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Unstoppable Donna

Time past 

This year, in April, Donna wrote:

Woke up to a terrible blizzard, not a lot of snow but really blowing, it was the wind that actually woke us up.  Tomorrow is another story....sunny and a high of 9, so we are going skiing for the last time this year.
Colorado was just great.  We skied five mountains and it only stormed one day, the day we took off.  It was blue skies and temp around 0 or just above.  Skied seven days and were so tired by the the end of the day we were lucky to make dinner.  It really is beautiful country and the Rockies are plentiful and awesome.  The altitude (12,500+ feet) did bother most of us the first few days. 
We lucked in with our travel as well....dodging blizzards on the way down but easy trip home.


Now, Donna and Jack are BIKING in Australia:

So far Margaret River has been the only miss, a wine region and lovely countryside, but not very exciting.

We are back in Fremantle and fly North to Exmouth, Novatel Ningaloo and looking forward to experiencing Ningaloo Reef...which you can snorkel to from off the beach, how great is that,

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Birthday Bliss!

Nicole and Bryan collaborated in making my birthday dinner J

In the afternoon, I blew out the candles on the delicious pie Nicole made.

Fudge Brownie Frangelico Custard Cream Pie  (it’s great for breakfast, too J)

For dinner, Bryan made Brioche Hamburger buns while Nicole ground steak and bacon to make absolutely fabulous burgers.  She also grilled okra (I love okra!) and green beans to make a wonderful salad.

Perfect gifts from Nicole, James, and Kepler . . .

We visited the Pumpkin Patch in the morning.

Guess what I found in The Russian Tea Room Cookbook  . . . Nalistniki stuffed with ground chicken and veal!

Nalisniki are on our family repeat list.  In July, I served these ones, stuffed with cottage cheese, alongside tiny Champagne Grapes.

In its early days, The Russian Tea Room in New York “was intended as a kind of hangout for the émigré White Russians, refugees from the Soviet Revolution” . . .

The Russian Tea Room Cookbook by Faith Stewart-Gordon and Nika Hazelton presents “traditional and classical Russian recipes from The Russian Tea Room kitchens”.

This is “not a quick-preparation cookbook” but it has recipes I have been dying to find . . . like the one for meat-filled Pelmeny.

And listen to this . . . secondhand copies of The Russian Tea Room Cookbook are available online for one penny!!!!

Monday, 27 October 2014


 I always enjoy hearing from my cousin, Marilyn, and I'm sure you will, too, especially since her email yesterday was about our Baba.  She also reminded me that Oct. 26 is Aunt Florence's birthday.

(I don't know the name of the baby Baba is holding.  Maybe it's my Aunt Florence who arrived 16 or 18 years after my mom.)

Marilyn's email . . . 

I was thinking of our Baba today remembering her Macaroni casserole that she made with macaroni, cottage cheese and tomatoes, topped with bread crumbs.  As a kid, I loved the look of the macaroni slices refried the next  morning served with a  sunny side up egg.  I remember the gooey cheesy casserole served hot with bubbling hot tomatoes for supper.  I was translating a Bulgarian recipe this morning that used macaroni, and cheddar cheese. Bill and I were talking about the use of cheddar when growing up. At the St John market Bill's father used to buy cheddar, so he grew up with cheddar and not cottage cheese.  I think the first time I  bought cheddar was in Winnipeg as a young mom!

I have yet to find Baba's recipe.  
 All Baba's casseroles and baking were done in a wood stove. Do you remember her white cookstove?


Great picture even though Marilyn found the pie too sweet!

Does anyone have Baba's recipe?  I'd love to try it.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Cruising on the Norwegian Jewel: wrap up

 Three sea days completed the cruise.

Discussing his book with Bryan :)

We saw hundreds of Flying Fish skimming over the waves!

Earlier in the cruise, we saw dolphins leaping towards the ship, trying to catch up with it! And whales spouting!

But all through the cruise, our fellow travellers surprised me, too.

There was the Cantankerous Aussie, of course.  Every morning, he plunked himself down at our table.  “You have 5 minutes to shut off that computer,” he would say, “or it’s going overboard.”

Early one morning, I shared an elevator with a middle-sized couple.  They pushed 7.
          “Breakfast in the Tsar’s Palace?” I asked.
          “Yeah!” responded the husband, emphatically.  “We went up to the Garden Café the first day and that was enough for me.”  (Pause)  “Getting run over by all those Asians.”  
          What?  Did he feel threatened by fast-moving slim people?  
Well, slow is what you get in the morning in the Tsar's Palace. 

There was the fellow who spotted a lady carrying a heaped plate and called out, “Eating for two?”  Maybe he knew her, but she didn’t like it, and she sat at a different table. 

At 10 pm one night, one of a gang in the elevator noted that Bryan & I were going all the way up to Deck 12. 
          “More buffet,” he queried, with a smirk.
          “Tea,” I responded, surprised and somewhat defensive.
          Looks of horror all round and someone blurted, “You’re not from Texas, then.”

          Then there was the lady in the elevator who gasped when she learned that I was headed for the lowest stateroom deck.  Eyes popping, she cried, “Is it . . . very noisy down there?”

Diana did a lot of writing during our trip.  At the end, she summarized the things that stood out the most for her:

1.    The entertainer, Randon Lauren.  I did sigh a bit over his Neil Diamond songs.

2.    My family and I are foodies and we were not disappointed:
French Onion soup, lamb roast, Caesar salad with real anchovies, and the desserts . . . especially carrot cake.  One word: Yummy

3.   Breezy walks on the top deck. Sighting dolphins, flying fish.

4.   Pier 39, San Francisco: sea lions. Cool, eh?

5.   Observing my first tropical storm while standing on the stern of the cruise ship. Cartagena, you did yourself proud .

6.    I learned from the best:  watching the Asians play ping pong.

7.   Conversations in the elevator.
One elevator remark that Diana recalls was made by someone who complained about not ever having been warm since embarkation.  Maybe it was a first time cruiser who didn't take into account airconditioning on the ship. 

Bye now and thank you, Norwegian Jewel, for a lovely holiday. 

I have only one complaint – couldn’t you put on any late night movies for those of us who aren’t into gambling, dancing, or karaoke?  Other ships do!  


Saturday, 25 October 2014


                              The San Francisco Diana and I saw in 1975 . . .

street entertainers 

  a picnic with pink champagne on the beach

  the Redwood forest

San Francisco Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014:

                                            the famous Boudin Bakery & Cafe 

Pier 39:  Sea Lions! Arr!  Arr, Arr!

World War II Submarine:  the Pampanito

torpedo doors and crew bunks  (82 men)

CO's quarters


Officer's Mess

Officers' Coffee Galley (next to Ops room: well, I don't remember what the red-lighted room was actually called)
The periscope room was off limits.
So cool to tour the submarine without any real time pressure.  Even though we had to sort of keep moving because there was a small group of Japanese tourists behind us,  we could have gone through it as many times as we liked.

Now I want to return to some of the old submarine movies.  I loved Run Silent, Run Deep when I was a kid and Das Boot when I was older.

Enough Sightseeing:  TIME to RELAX!

 Ghirardelli Chocolate being made!

Classic Ghirardelli Cocoa:  Mmmm, mm!