Archive | November, 2012

Comfort Food

30 Nov

I was craving macaroni and cheese (comfort food – yum) and as I was gathering the ingredients to make this delicious casserole, I found a butternut squash and I decided to add some in. Usually when I use the squash, I roast it in the oven, but I did not have time, so I peeled and chopped the squash and steamed it in a little bit of water, until soft and then pureed it before adding it to the white sauce.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC ‘N’ CHEESE

2 cups Small Pasta
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Flour
¾ cups Milk
½ cups Butternut Squash Cooked and Pureed
1-½ cup Cheese (I used Kraft Habenero blend for a little kick, but you could use Italian Blend or Mozzerella)
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
½ teaspoons Salt
⅛ teaspoons Pepper
Bread crumbs for topping

Preheat oven to 350 F

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until pasta is tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter over medium low heat in a saucepan and add the flour. Whisk and cook for 2 minutes, making a roux.

Slowly add milk. Whisk until combined. Next add everything thing else. Stir until combined.

Place the pasta in an ovenproof casserole and add the sauce to the pasta and combine until the pasta is coated. Top with bread crumbs. (I omitted this because I did not have any bread crumbs on hand, but add them if you do – they make a nice crunchy topping). Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!

butternut squash

A Whisky Odyssey

29 Nov

whiskybottlesIn the last couple of months, my husband has discovered a deep affinity for scotch whisky. He has been researching  brands of single malt scotch and the distilleries where they are made, reading about them, and trying several different ones he thinks he might like. Once he decides he likes something, he learns everything he can about the subject and the topic of scotch is no different. He read about and now practices the “correct” way to enjoy a glass of  this “aqua vitae”.

I am definitely not a scotch drinker, I just cannot abide the smell or the taste of the stuff, with one exception – Highland Park 18 YO (it’s so smooth and warming — I think I could manage to sip a glass of that!). I am, however, learning a little about the drink, as Bruce imparts to me little tidbits of interesting lore about the whisky, its history and describes the different tastes and textures of the brands he is trying. For instance, I now know that some scotches are aged in sherry barrels, some are very peaty (that is the smell/taste that I don’t like), and one scotch in particular (I forget which one) is peaty and salty. Salty? Guess I should taste that one, I can’t imagine a whisky tasting salty, but Bruce says I wouldn’t like it at all.

Now that he is so into having a wee dram, he has started a new blog entitled A Whisky Odyssey. It is just the beginning, but I think that it will be a very interesting journey and I know that I will learn a lot from reading his posts as he discovers more about scotch and the pleasures of “nosing” and “tasting”.

Poetry

28 Nov

I love this poem — it is short but lovely.

Nature’s Calm
~  Alcman

The mountain brows, the rocks, the peaks, are sleeping,
Uplands and gorges hush!
The thousand moorland things are stillness keeping;
The beasts under each bush
Crouch, and the hivèd bees
Rest in their honeyed ease;
In the purple sea fish lie as they were dead,
And each bird folds his wing over his head

Teacher, Teacher

27 Nov

Yesterday, I was doing a bit of surfing in cyber world and I landed at the webpage of Upworthy where I found a video of a Ted Talk about a new approach to self-teaching.

This is a fascinating study of children and learning — Professor Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiment where children in India when presented with access to a computer but no teacher or instructions, taught themselves and each other how to navigate the internet, record their own music and make their own movies in mere hours with no prior exposure to this technology.

Mitra conducted these experiments all over India and other parts of the world and established that groups of children, when provided with a stimulating environment will learn on their own through self-instruction and shared learning.

This brilliant and inspirational talk illustrates the amazing results of Sugata Mitra’s experiments that may change the way we think about education and learning.

Watch the original Ted Talk:

Countdown to Christmas

26 Nov

It’s a month until Christmas and I am thinking about pulling out the boxes of ornaments, garland, elves, Santas and reindeer out of the cardboard boxes stacked up in the storage room. In a few days it will be December 1st and we will bring out the Advent Calendar and the Christmas candles and begin to decorate our house for the holidays.

I love the idea of beautifully bedecked rooms glittering with coordinated ornaments and a living room showcasing a gloriously sparkling tree with shiny wrapped gifts waiting to be opened, looking like a scene right out of a Martha Stewart magazine.

However, my efforts usually aren’t that grandiose, still, I manage to pull together a warm and pretty Christmas theme that emanates a Yuletide feeling.

This year, I’m thinking a reindeer and Santa theme with a few happy elves merrily perched in nooks and crannies.

I am hoping to have a Christmas cookie-baking and hot chocolate day with my two daughters and I am really looking forward to getting together with them to decorate our tree while singing carols, reading our favourite Christmas stories and hanging our stockings up under the mantle.

I am looking forward to getting together with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy the joys of the season. Steaming mugs of mulled wine, gingerbread houses, twinkling lights, children sitting on Santa’s knee for the traditional Christmas photo — all these little things that brighten our days and bring smiles to our faces and hearts reminding us of all that we have to celebrate and be grateful for.

I guess I am getting a little excited for the holidays to begin!

Only 30 more sleeps!!

Sweet Tooth

25 Nov

Fudge Babies
photo by Katie from the blog,
Chocolate-Covered Katie

It’s Sunday night. On Sundays, my daughter and I watch TV together after she gets off work. I brew a pot of tea, we snuggle together on the sofa and settle in to watch The Mentalist and The Good Wife. It’s our thing and those are two shows we like to watch together.

We usually don’t have treats with our tea, but tonight — I thought a little sweet bite would be nice. And, I thought it would be good if our indulgence could be on the healthy side as well.

So I did a little cruise around the web, visiting one of my favourite sites for delicious recipes — Chocolate-Covered Katie. After roaming around her delectable recipe section for a few minutes (all the while trying not to drool on my sweater) I found a recipe for Fudge Babies.

The tag line on Chocolate-Covered Katie’s blog is “the healthy dessert blog”.  Yum, delicious AND healthy — what more could you ask of a dessert?

All you need to make Fudge Babies is a few ingredients, (not one of them is sugar!) and a food processor — that’s it!  Making them is super easy — just throw everything in the food processor, combine, then shape into balls or bars. And voilà, a delicious, chocolatey treat!

I’m off to the kitchen now to whip these up for our tea party — I’ll let you know how they turn out!

Please note: Katie has posted a warning about these tidbits – she claims they are addictive. So beware!

Lullaby and Good Night

24 Nov

Today I saw a mother cradling her baby and humming softly to calm her tears. It was a beautiful sight. The baby nestled snugly in her arms and calming quickly with the notes of the lullaby her mother was gently singing.

I was reminded of when my daughters were babies and were tired and fighting sleep. I would clasp them in my arms and gently rock while singing a special lullaby to soothe them on their way to dreamland. I made up the words one day out of desperation, when my first born (never a good sleeper!) would not settle for anything else. I borrowed the tune from Johanne Brahm’s famous lullaby. The verse I made up, not remembering  the lyrics to the Cradle Song (more widely known as Brahm’s Lullaby).

My daughters both remember this little song and I am sure they will sing it (or a version of it) to their children some day. I hum it sometimes when I am feeling nostalgic and I remember their warm, sweet-smelling heaviness in my arms and their soft, even breaths as they fell asleep while I sang these words:

Go to sleep, go to sleep
Go to sleep little baby
Go to sleep little pumpkin pie
Dream of armadillos that fly
Ferfty-ferf*
Callou – Callai**
It’s going to be a frabjous** day
Ferfty-ferf
Callou – Callai
It’s going to be a frabjous day

(sung to the tune of Brahm’s lullaby and repeated as necessary)
*word created by Bruce Johnston, **word created by Lewis Carol

Listen to the lullaby here:

 

Good night and sweet dreams!

Skyfall Redux

23 Nov

I just saw Skyfall. It is my new  favourite Bond movie, and Daniel Craig has supplanted Sean Connery as James Bond in my mind!

What I really liked about this film (apart from Daniel Craig’s smoldering looks), was the slick, fast paced actions scenes and the intrinsic one-liners that were less cheesy and much less sexist than in previous 007 features, yet still Bond-esque. It was great to see the Aston-Martin again (complete with ejector  seat button on the gear shift and machine guns hidden in the front grill)! I love that James Bond, in the new films and especially in this latest one, is a character with more depth than that of earlier Bonds.

The opening song, Skyfall performed by Adele, is stellar and the music throughout the film was fantastic! I love Judi Dench as “M” and I always enjoy Ralph Fiennes’ (Gareth Mallory) acting. The new “Q” (Ben Whishaw) is adorable. And Javier Bardem was the BEST Bond villain ever. EVER!

007 films are an institution that has been around for 50 years now, and have weathered the test of time. These movies are not “great” films but they are exciting, fun and imminently watchable, I’ll bet there will be Bond flicks for another 50 years.

Listen to Adele singing Skyfall:

Listen to Judi Dench talk about the 007 films

Meet Q:

List I – Meatless Monday

22 Nov

Lists are good. Lists are helpful. To-do lists, top ten lists, mailing lists, shopping lists, laundry lists — even Santa has a list (he checks it twice!)  I decided that it would do me good to get in the habit of making lists — I imagine that this small change will help me get organized, remember things and generally make my life a little easier.

So I am making a grocery list for this coming week’s Meatless Monday meals  — lunch and dinner!  Actually, I have these two recipes pinned to a “board” in my Pinterest account. ( Pinterest is kind of like a list holder – a good reason to keep on pinning – as if I needed an excuse.)

Below is my list of the main ingredients that I need to make two meals — Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad. Click here for the recipe (you will have to scroll down quite a way to find it) and Golden Door’s Red Lentil Veggie Burger. Find the recipe here. I am so looking forward to eating both of these dishes!

Avocados
Broccoli
Brown rice
Cherry tomatoes
Chickpeas
Cilantro
Edamame beans
Italian parsley
Lemons
Limes
Mangoes
Potatoes
Quinoa
Red bell pepper
Red lentils
Red onion
Serrano chile
Shiitake mushrooms
Spinach
Tomatoes

American Thanksgiving

21 Nov

In honour honor of American Thanksgiving, I found two items that I wanted to share.

The first is a remix of a State Farm safety video featuring William Shatner appealing to people to be careful when deep frying their Thanksgiving turkeys. It is performed in true Shatner style. (Although this may be funnier to Canadians as we have a soft-spot for Mr. Shatner because he hails from the Great White North!)

 

The second, a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is a more traditional sentiment.

We Thank Thee
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For blue of stream and blue of sky;
For pleasant shade of branches high;
For fragrant air and cooling breeze;
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

%d bloggers like this: