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Sunday, 25 January 2015


 People say if you can speak two languages it’s easier to learn a third language.

Could it be the same for learning to enjoy foods from around the world?

From when they were tiny, we took our girls to THE MANDARIN, our favorite Chinese restaurant in Saskatoon.  

It helped to have some toys along while we waited for the food to arrive J.


I also try to do some Chinese cooking at home and it’s easy to find good recipes for Chinese main dishes. 

For instance, we really enjoyed the  “Stir-Fried Chinese Chicken with Cashews” from Cheryl Sedaker’s 365 WAYS to COOK CHICKEN

I’ve had to look harder though to find complementary Chinese vegetable side dishes.  Here’s one that really worked with the chicken and cashew main.

             based on Betty Crocker’s NEW CHINESE COOKBOOK; Recipes by Leeann Chin

 15 dried black mushrooms
1 head iceberg lettuce
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1.      Soak mushrooms in hot water 20 minutes.  Remove and discard stems.  Cut mushrooms in thin strips.
2.     Cut lettuce into chunks.
3.     Heat Dutch oven until hot.  Add oil and mushrooms.  Stir fry 30 seconds.
4.     Add chicken stock, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.
5.     Set aside until just before serving.
6.     Bring stock back to a boil. Add lettuce and cook for 2 minutes.

7.     Serve.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Happy Birthday, Marilyn! Enjoy the story.

Last December, Marilyn’s son, Jonathan, made a mushroom pizza.  

Marilyn says “his first attempt at making homemade pizza was a hit even for breakfast.   I was most impressed.”

Marilyn also said that she and my mom talked about their first attempts in making bread: “hers went to the dogs, mine became chicken stuffing!! LOL

Here’s another story for you about bread making, Marilyn. 

Bill H. told Diana  about his mother’s first experience with bread making.  With Bill's permission, Diana wrote it out to share:

In 1918, little Emily P. and her thirteen year old sister, Verna, started doing kitchen chores.  Their mother had passed away so they had to cook for their father and six younger siblings.  Nothing could be wasted.

Every day, the potatoes and meat were dutifully cooked.  The bread was to be baked on Saturday.  Emily and Verna pounded and punched the dough to no avail. It would not rise.  Perhaps the flat dough should be left to rest.

Much later, the sisters checked on the dough. It was still as flat as a pancake. Emily and Verna knew their father would be home soon. 

“What should we do?” moaned Verna.

“Bury it,” said Emily.

Time ticked by. Their father, after finishing his noonday meal, glanced out the kitchen window.     Something out there caught his attention.  A patch of  soil seemed to q-u-i-v-e-r. 

 Mr. P stared.  Now, the soil heaved. 

The girls giggled nervously. 
 Grabbing his shovel, Mr. P  headed outside.  Emily and Verna followed slowly.
Mr. P  jabbed.  The soil was spongy.  Dai Bozhi!  It was dough.  He looked around. 

Emily and Verna hung their heads.

“We tried to make bread,” said Emily, “but the dough wouldn’t rise.”

 “We worried that wasting anything would disappoint you,” said Verna.

Their father looked stern.    But his eyes twinkled. 

Your mama put the dough to rise here, there, everywhere in the house,” he said.   “But she never once thought of putting it in the garden.”

Saturday, 10 January 2015



Vesper enjoys many things . . .

a blanket and her special bed



sniffing flowers

snow . . . yes, really!
meeting up with people she likes on our morning walks

a biscotti on her bed when we get to McDonald's

a pancake for an extra morning snack on her birthday

a tummy rub

going under the table during dinner parties

and, like the rest of us, more food, Food, FOOD!

So this year the theme for Vesper’s birthday party was MEATBALLS!

Vesper’s own special meatballs, of course . . .

And for us:

Porcupine Meatballs

Kabab Ruksand (Premila Lal)

Shikampooree Kabab (also Premila Lal’s)

Greek Meatballs

and Brown Sugar Pound Cake!


I’m sharing the Porcupine Meatball recipe because it’s simple and my girls liked them even before they were 6 years old. 

Also, I had to change the method so that the meatballs would actually end up looking like porcupines J.


1 slightly beaten egg
1 pound ground beef
¼ cup uncooked long-grain rice (like Uncle Ben’s)
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 can condensed tomato soup DIVIDED (284 ml or 10 ounces)
½ cup water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1.      Mix thoroughly egg, meat, rice, parsley, onion, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup tomato soup.
2.     Preheat oven to 350.
3.     Make about 30 small balls and put in large Dutch oven or skillet.
4.     Mix together remaining soup, water, and Worcestershire.  Pour over meatballs. 
5.     Heat a bit on the stove.
6.     Cover and put in oven for 30 minutes.

*You can reheat in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Serve with a pasta side dish and salad.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Happy Birthday, DIANA! . . . and Molten Chocolate Cake

Looking back at 2014: 
strolling along White Rock Pier

hiking back up the hill

hanging out at McDonald's 

passing through Kamloops

public transit in Puerto Vallarta

cruising into San Francisco  . . .

Remembering 40 years ago. . .

admiring the Redwood Forest

relaxing on the San Francisco beachfront . . .

Always ready for some fun!

. . . or some chocolate  J


            Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recipe in People Magazine, December 16, 2013

½ cup butter (plus more for buttering ramekins)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp flour (plus more for dusting ramekins)

1.      Preheat oven to 450.
2.     Grease ramekins well with butter.  Lightly flour them.  Place them on a baking sheet.
3.     Melt butter and chocolate together.
4.     Beat together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until light and thick.
5.     Stir in 2 tsp flour.
6.     Stirring constantly, add chocolate and butter mixture to the egg mixture.
7.     Pour mixture into ramekins.
8.     Bake for 6 to 7 minutes.
9.     Invert ramekins on serving plates.  Let them sit for 10 seconds.  Then unmold by running a knife along an edge.
10.                         Serve hot with ice cream.

·         These are delicious and still quite soft inside even when reheated for 6 minutes in a 450 degree oven!

Thursday, 1 January 2015


Hello 2015! 

We saw the New Year in with lots of good company, food, games, and laughter.

New Year’s Menu

Cocktail:  Southside

Appetizer:  Olive & Tomato Tarts  (from FINGER FOOD:  Australian Women’s Weekly)
          Boned Turkey stuffed with Ham & Sausage (from THE FOUR SEASONS COOKBOOK edited by Miranda Spicer)
                Cranberry Salsa (from an old newspaper clipping)

          Mashed Nut Potatoes (from Lindsay Bareham’s IN PRAISE of the POTATO)  . . . Soooo good!  I’ll be making these again.

          Marinated Brussel Sprouts & Mushrooms (from THE VICTORY GARDEN)

          Diced, Buttered Rutabaga
          Caraway Coleslaw (from BETTER HOMES & GARDENS SALAD BOOK)

Dessert:  delicious Indian Carrot Halvah  (brought by PRIT and PARANJIT J from Kamal Sweets & Tandoori Hut)
                Turkish Delights (brought by Kathy who knows how much I love them J)

                 Pierniki (Honey Cookies) from THE POLISH COUNTRY KITCHEN COOKBOOK
(I wouldn't make them again, but some people liked them  & compared them to German Pferfernusse.)

            Adapted from a newspaper clipping – the closest online recipe came from Mel’s Kitchen.
1 jalapeno
1 large Granny Smith apple
½ large sweet red pepper
½ medium red onion
12 ounce package fresh cranberries
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Zest of one lime
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup apple juice  (or try lime juice)

1.     Remove seeds and finely chop the jalapeno.
2.     Core the apple and cut into chunks.
3.     Peel the onion and cut into chunks.
4.     Put jalapeno, apple, and onion into food processor.  Chop.   Put into large mixing bowl.
5.     Remove seeds and dice red pepper.  Add to the bowl.
6.     Rinse cranberries, drain, and chop coarsely in food processor.  Add to the bowl.
7.     Chop parsley finely.  Add to the bowl.
8.     Zest (grate) the lime peel.   Add to the bowl.
9.     Mix together sugar and apple juice.  Add to the bowl.
10.                          Stir all ingredients well. 
11.                          Store in covered jar.  You can make this several days ahead of your dinner.

Serve and receive compliments J


Out of all the wonderful possibilities above, I chose to share this recipe because it’s easy and a tangy, refreshing alternative to the usual cranberry sauce.