Thursday, April 30, 2009
It was 11 years ago today that we became Canadian citizens. We are now dual citizens since we were able to keep our American status too. It was not easy to convince my daughter who hates snow, cold, long winters, dark days and ice skating that this was a good idea. I think it was finally the idea of being able to have two passports that convinced her. A Canadian passport is a very valuable thing in many parts of the world. We can even travel to Cuba, we haven't, but we could.
Anyway, to become a citizen we had to take a test. I studied and studied, since I didn't want my husband and daughter to pass and then have them make fun of me. Did you know the beaver is our national animal? I shouldn't have stressed out about the test, half the people there taking it couldn't speak English and I'm not real sure most of them even knew they were in Canada.
So we all passed the test and did all the paper work and waited for our swearing in ceremony. This is when you gather with your fellow immigrants to swear your allegiance to "the Queen and all her Heirs". I had visions of my rebellious daughter raising a fist and shouting "Charles is a stupid mama's boy and I refuse to swear anything to him!" We solved this problem by telling her she could softly say, I swear allegiance to the Queen and all her HAIRS. Her hair does always look great!
The day finally came and we headed to Canada Place all dressed up in bright red. Our dear Canadian friends Wendy and Bill went along with us. There were about 60 of us becoming citizens that day and they had brought in a new citizenship judge from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to officiate. Of course this was a big honor for him so he had flown in his family to see this historic event. One of his sisters must have just gotten off the plane because she was not dressed for Canadian weather, in fact her huge Tobagos were on full display. She took her place right in front of my family and the ceremony began. Just picture all of us trying to keep up with the oath, when over half the group still couldn't speak English. Then picture the same group having to do it again in French, we are a dual language country after all. It was very sad and then we were asked to sing the beautiful Canadian National anthem. We rocked the first English version and then came the dreaded French. Well I don't know if my husband was inspired by the occasion or by Miss Tobago but he nailed it. As all the other voices in the room faded away in confusion, he continued bravely on solo. When it ended, Miss Tobago spun around and in a sexy island voice told him, "she loved his wonderful French accent!"
So in honor of the day, the cookbook is #95 Pierre & Janet Berton's Canadian Food Guide. Okay, who can name two Canadian foods and who knows who Pierre Berton is and why he's famous up here. It's not for the Donald Trump comb over either.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
It's National Shrimp Scampi Day and who loved shrimp more than Bubba, no one! Remember the movie "Forrest Gump" and their list of ways to prepare shrimp? "Shrimp is the fruit of the sea...you can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, shrimp cocktail, pan-fried shrimp, deep-fried shrimp, stir-fried shrimp, peel'n'eat shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp with fried rice, shrimp salad, stuffed shrimp, baked shrimp, coconut fried shrimp, curried shrimp, dilled shrimp, shrimp etouffee..." Bubba's list went on and on, and there's 75 recipes and ways to cook shrimp in this little book alone.
Shrimp Scampi is one of the easiest. My daughter went to school in Australia and in the 8th grade instead of cutting up the traditional frog in science class, they dissected huge prawns. That's what a lot of the world calls shrimp. Anyway when they had learned all they could from the little fellows, the teacher got out a fry pan, place it over the bunsen burner and voila, shrimp scampi! They were a science lesson and lunch all at the same time, yum.
This is a cute cookbook with a foreword by Winston Groom, who wrote the novel and lots of quotes from Forrest. Cookbook #94 is The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
My daughter just returned from a trip to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. She had Dutch pancakes, see picture, and lots of great beers. I really want to give these a try, yum. The food and sights were wonderful, but one of the highlights of her trip was meeting a young family from Holland that we had been emailing.
Megan had decided to visit the grave of my Uncle Dan. He was shot down over Germany in 1944 and is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. Since this was to be the first visit of a family member, I thought it would be nice to have some more information about his military service. I placed a short post on the web site of the 491st Bomber Group and was amazed at the response.
Not only did we find out all the names of his crew, Dan was the 22 year old pilot, we also found out that three others who died with him were also buried in Ardennes. Also Dennis and Gerda, the young couple, began doing research for us. It turns out the people of the Netherlands still have a great respect for the young Americans who died while liberating their country. They wanted to do anything they could to help us find out more about this crew. While doing their research they developed a special bond with our relative and they decided to adopt his grave. Then they felt it would not be right, not to honor the other crewmen. So they adopted all four of these men from the 853rd Bomb Sq, 491st Bomb Gp Heavy who never returned home.
So Megan got to meet this lovely family, they traveled to Belgium to be with her that day. That is her with little Denise, today is her birthday, she is four years old. She loves to place the flowers by the white crosses when her parents visit the graves. She even wore her Mega Mindy t-shirt in my honor. Mega Mindy is a Super hero over there and since we share the name, I love her theme song. Check it out and wait for the :50 second mark.
This just goes to show what a small world it is and that people have not forgotten even after 65 years. In honor of cute Denise and her birthday the cookbook is #93 Dutch Cooking, The New Kitchen by Manon Siddel and Michiel Klonhammer.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Today would have been my Dad's 90th birthday. Dad was a real Renaissance man, he was interested in everything. He would build us beautiful box kites to fly and take us bird watching in the country. When something captured his imagination, he would pursue the topic or subject until he felt he knew all about it. For years he searched for the perfect yellow orchid, this was when it still took 7 years from planting the seeds to seeing your first flowers. At the time a bright yellow was a very difficult color produce, when he had one in his collection, he was done and the green house came down.
He loved the geodesic dome and sphere designs of American architect Buckminster Fuller. Dad spent months creating the triangular elements it took to make one of these spheres from wood. There was math behind each cut and angle and when his models were done, they were so strong you could stand on the sphere and there wasn't a nail in them. They're works of art.
At the end of his life he was still perfecting the art of "napping", making arrowheads. He was very interested in the American Plains Indians and he spent hours using a deer antler to flake chips off flint to form their traditional shapes. He would study the stone and find it's stress points and then carefully apply pressure to the edge. He worked for hours at his work bench in the garage and there would be a pile of broken and discarded flint at his feet. He produced hundreds and hundreds of these points but was still looking for the perfect point when he died.
There were many, many things I admired about my Dad but if I wanted to use just one word to describe him, it would be kind. He was a very kind man. So in honor of Dad and his love of the American Indian culture, today's cookbook is #92 Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking. It's by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs. Those are his arrowheads in the pictures.
Monday, April 13, 2009
My daughter is still on vacation and she visited the cutest little chocolate shop in Bruges. It's a shame she can't eat chocolate herself since it gives her headaches. I do hope she stopped in long enough to get some for her dear mother. The place is so tiny it looks like it must be run by elves. It must be magic, look at the shine they get on them, beautiful. Cookbook #91 is Ultimate Chocolate.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Blessed Easter! Our friends are doing the Easter dinner this year. They've decided on a Greek theme to the meal. I know there will be delicious lamb because Wendy is great at that. One year she made it with over 40 cloves of garlic or was that the chicken. I can't remember but it was great. Garlic gets very sweet when slowly roasted, it was lovely. I developed a love of lamb when we lived in Australia, kangaroo isn't bad either. I felt a bit guilty about eating them until I saw how many there were in the Outback, but that's a topic for another post.
I'm suppose to bring roasted vegetables. I'm not big on vegetables, except for potatoes and corn so this will be a challenge. I did stop by Costco today and in their cooler section they had all these neat things. Baby eggplant, baby summer squash, Italian zucchini and fresh sweet potatoes. That sounds Greek to me anyway. I'm going for color and visual appeal with this, I don't have a clue how they'll taste or how to cook them. Since these are all imported, they were very expensive, I could have bought a huge turkey down in the States for the same price. Now turkey, I can cook.
I guess I'll just get out some of my cookbooks and see what I can find. I'll have to let you know how it comes out. Cookbook #90 is The Bon Appetit Dinner Party Cookbook.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I just got some new Bling this week, not a ring or necklace, I got a gold crown. Blah, I wasn't thrilled about getting my first crown and then I find out the dentist thinks I need a gold one. Now I fully expect to have a lovely Golden Crown when I get to Heaven but I'm not dead yet. I feel like an old gypsy woman. When I go outside and smile I'm sure I'll blind people as the sun glints off of it. It's in the back, but still, I have a big smile and there it is shining for all to see. I guess I could pretend that I did it for economic reasons. Gold is still going up, I should have put all my spare money in my mouth. It would have done better than my other investments.
I guess I could pretend I'm going through a gangsta phase but I don't like rap and I sure don't want a tattoo. Maybe I should have checked out the price of having a small diamond set into the side of it. I like diamonds but that would just look stupid. Plus guess what, the dentist said the more I brush it, the brighter it will shine. I guess he thought this was good news? When he said it, he was smiling, and here I thought he had forgiven me for that one terrible blind date I fixed up for him. I promised never to play match maker again. Oh well, I guess I just won't brush that side and I'm wondering if Wite-Out is nontoxic. They say the water based one is low-odor and non-flammable. It's something to look into.
Anyway, the cookbook for today is #87 The Delights of Russian Cuisine by Yvonne Webb, for some reason I just felt a special bond with the ladies pictured here. I guess I shouldn't be complaining, at least I still have teeth.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This cookbook says it's by the Editors of Consumer Guide but if you closely it has the look of an Australian Women's Weekly book. Sure enough if you check the front it says produced under copyright permission from them for this American edition. So I think this is my earliest from this series.
I've been making the summer spaghetti recipe for ages but I've changed it a bit over the years. Instead of red wine vinegar I use balsamic vinegar, it's good enough to drink. I also add big grilled shrimp and lots of lemon pepper. I leave out the capers and olives because I never have them around the house. I made this the other day since the snow is melting and for the first time in months we have hope that winter is ending. Our big bunnies are starting to turn back to their brown summer coats but it's hard to tell from this picture. They look like sitting ducks out in my yard where the snow has gone but soon they'll blend right in again. Cookbook #86 is Italian Cooking Class Cookbook.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
#85 Elegant Desserts
Do you need an elegant dessert and don't have much time? Well don't use this book, I've got a trick for you. You go to the store and buy a box of Mr. Christie's Chocolate Wafer cookies. Someone else makes them down in the States but you can find them. They're a bit pricey but worth it in the time you'll save. Plus if your guest haven't seen this before, they'll be dazzled.
Anyway you have the box of cookies and it will tell you to use Cool Whip but that's wrong. Get a carton of real whipping cream and whip it up. Use a bit of sugar and vanilla. I get real creative and use a dash of almond extract, other flavors work well too. Then just start icing between the cookies and stacking them. You want a nice long log shape. If you have a pretty oval dish this looks very nice. I used my cute bunny dishes. Then you just frost the log and decorate, shave some chocolate on the top and add a few nuts. Put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and then unveil. The cookies become soft and cake like. It looks like you spent all day making tiny cake layers.
Now the most important thing, cut the log on the diagonal so all the layers show. Isn't it pretty! There's your elegant dessert, it takes about 15 minutes and you get to lick the beaters. It says it serves 10 but I think 8 max. Cookbook #85 is Elegant Desserts from HP Books.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
#83 German Traditional Cooking
My daughter is off in Germany right now for a couple of weeks. I can't wait for the food pictures to start coming in. She wanted to go where they serve the world's largest schnitzel but that's in a part of Germany she won't be visiting. You might think that Germany looks like one rather small country but apparently it is rigidly divided into regions that are completely different from each other. At least that's what my daughter's boyfriend tells me. I guess he should know, being German and all.
Anyway no matter what I ask him, like do you like pretzels, he replies, "Nein, this is not from my region." Or Black Forest cake, do you have this all the time. "Nein, this is from Bavaria, it is nowhere near where I am from". He even claims to have never had on a pair of lederhosen or to have danced der Guten Tag Hop-Clop. He's not even that fond of beer or red cabbage, so maybe that's just a fake accent, I'm beginning to wonder. His parents live two blocks from Beethoven's birth place but he hasn't visited that either. They make Gummy Bears in the same town but he hasn't toured the factory. Ja ja, he's going to be a busy fellow over the next two weeks!
So in honor of their German trip I'm posting pictures of the last time I made Spatzle. I still haven't gotten it right. Too thick and you end up with balls, too thin and you have long noodles or mush. This time it was balls but they were pretty good. Cookbook #83 is German Traditional Cooking by Tony Schmaeling. (Just got word, they had Currywurst with fries and mayo. That's like German fast food, I'll add a photo. She says it was good!)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
#82 Top Secret Recipes
This cookbook gives you 50 "secret" recipes for all time favorites, someone's favorites, not mine. Unfortunately it looks more like builder blueprints than recipes. There's not a color picture in the whole book and I can't help but think maybe the finished product wasn't all the great when compared to the real thing. There's way too many hamburgers as well, from Big Macs to Hardee's and Jack-In-The-Box.
This guy is really obsessed, who would want to make Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, it's just way too much work. Now I love Twinkies but I wouldn't try this either. It is kind of fun watching him cook one on YouTube. He even shows you how to make a Twinkie pan or you can buy one at Williams Sonoma. Check it out,
I do have a friend who makes her own liqueurs and there's a recipe for Kahlua Coffee Liqueur. I guess this could save you some money and it's not too hard either. It doesn't even need a diagram to explain all the steps, that's a good sign. So cookbook #82 is Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.
Friday, April 3, 2009
#81 Cooking with Days of our Lives
I just got this in an email from a friend. "I don't even have time to watch DAYS, will have to watch 2 of them tomorrow. They just killed off a character. They are really cutting the budget. The network said they would only let them stay on if they got rid of a lot of the expensive actors. They've ousted 2 couples and I think one of the younger less expensive ones quit and now they killed off one of the older characters".
Maybe this explains why I found this cookbook at Goodwill the other day, the fans may be starting to jump ship too. I do feel your pain K! I was addicted to a soap for many, many years. It started when we moved to Canada and I could get "Coronation Street" on TV for the first time. This is a very famous British soap that's been on the air for 49 years. For the first two years I couldn't even tell what they were saying most of the time but I loved it. It was so much better than the US soaps, sorry again. The people were not great beauties, poor little Gail has no chin and Hilda never took the curlers out of her hair. Their clothing was not something you envied, Bet Gilroy wore leopard skin prints and skirts that were way too short. The houses aren't mansions, in fact they butt up to each other, they're about 12 ft. wide and the front door opens right on to the sidewalk. It's not posh at all but it had great appeal.
They were family and they knew everything about everyone else on the street. In a US soap, if someone is having an affair or gets pregnant, they can keep this secret for months and years. On Coronation Street, before the rabbit was even cold, the word was out and there was never much mystery about "who da baby daddy?". Most of this information was exchanged while they all sat around having a pint at the Rover's Return Pub while eating a nice hot pot. Can you believe there's a Coronation Street Cookbook by Graham Carlisle and I don't have it? It is on my list of books I'm always looking for. I do have lots of other Coronation Street books and even the official game, see photo.
Anyway, you can imagine how thrilled I was when Hubby told me we would be heading off to live in Cambridge, England. Finally I could visit the land of all my TV friends. I've already mentioned that I don't drink much beer but as soon as we got there, I had to visit a pub. I marched proudly up to the bar at the Grapes Pub and asked for a pint. The barmaid looked at me but didn't rush to the tap to pull my first pint. It worked on the show why not for me, was she confused by my Kansas accent? I repeated it again, "a pint please". She glanced at the regulars and asked in a loud voice, "OF WHAT?". I had absolutely no clue of what, so I said what all the folks on Corrie said, "the usual". Now a word to others who might try this, it only works if you've been going to the place for years and they actually know you. This will save you a lot of embarrassment. Maybe this is the reason I stopped watching Corrie soon after our return. No, I think it was because they were a year ahead of us over there and I had already seen them all.
I plan to give the Days cookbook to my friend so she can look forward to making Titan Gym Juice and Fruit Smoothies. She can make the menu from Bo Brady's wedding dinner or John and Marlena's Breakfast in Bed. I wonder if they're all still on the show, this book is from 1997 and things do change but very, very slowly on most of these. Cookbook #81 is Cooking with Days of our Lives by Paulette Cohn and Dotty Griffith.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
#80 My Fairytale Cook Book
As I'm sure you all know, today is Hans Christian Anderson's birthday! I just happen to have the perfect cookbook for this occasion, you get the fairy tales and the recipes, it's brilliant. Not that the recipes look all that great and they hardly tie into the stories but it's the thought that counts. I do think they should have used a recipe for gingerbread with the story of Hansel and Gretel. That would have made more sense than Coconut Pyramids, but that's just me.
Does any one remember the Turkish Delight candy that Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, sold out his brother and two sisters for? I always thought it must really be delicious but it isn't. It's kind of like firm jello squares dusted with powdered sugar, it was a real let down. This book has a Snow Queen in it also and she's mean and cruel too. It just goes to show these long cold winters can get to you, at least it's finally starting to melt around here. Cookbook #80 is My Fairytale Cook Book by R. C. Scriven.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
It's April Fool's Day and at my Granny Berta's Table it was always a day of much anticipation. Would Granny fool Papa again? The same Granny that I mentioned in post number #76 was just about as cute and sweet as they come, Papa wasn't. Some in the family were down right scared of him and we always wondered how she put up with him, but she did for 364 days out of the year. Then came April Fool's Day and a bit of passive-aggressive behavior would surface. Not in a mean way, a lesser woman might have been tempted to bean him with a fry pan but Granny had her plan. She would make her pancake batter and then as one side of the pancake would cook, she'd place a neat round of cloth on the wet side and patted it into place. When she turned the pancake it was neatly hidden inside. Then she would add the doctored cake to the stack and wait for the old coot to take his place at the table. I don't know if he forgot from year to year or if he just decided she could have this one small victory. Anyway he always seemed surprised and then amazed when he couldn't cut the cakes. It was great!
This is a neat book, in it 68 women share stories of their grandmothers and each concludes with a family recipe. Wow, do we have a lot of Granny Berta stories we could do a whole book just on her. I already mentioned how she drank 4 to 6 cokes a day, well that kept her bubbly. She was fun to be around. Granny like my Mom would take the temperance pledge every time she was asked but unlike my Mom she would raise a glass of beer to her lips the same evening to celebrate the occasion. She had great little sayings that I think were unique to her. If she got a new dress, she always said, "it was just to put on and wear." Nothing fancy. Her grandchildren were NEVER naughty, we were "just confused". She could recite poetry she had learned 80 years before. There was one about, would you rather run a mile or suck a boil, she used this to get the young ladies screaming and running through the halls at her college.
Granny drove her big old car downtown to the drug store for a coke everyday, a distance of 3 or 4 blocks, and would pick up a friend on the way. There was only one left hand turn on the trip but one day she must have been stepping on the gas because when she looked over Lucille had slid out of the front seat and was sitting back at the corner by the side of the road. Poor Lucille was "just confused". So the cookbook for today is #79 At Grandmother's Table, edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley.