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Healthy Simple Lunch!


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Melitsanosalata, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Eggs, Roasted Peppers, Non-Dairy Cheese – Monterey Jack Flavour

Delicious, healthy lunch! Segragate in containers and take to work.

Melitsanosalata Recipe:

Roast an Eggplant by cutting in half lengthwise, placing cut side down on a cookie sheet or other flat pan, drizzle olive oil on top – enough to cover the top and have some dripping down the side. The amount of olive oil depends on the size of the eggplant. Spread the eggplant around as the cut side also needs olive oil. Shouldn’t be much left in the pan. Roast on middle rack in 350° oven until done. Should be easy to press down. Usually 30 – 45 minutes, depending on size of eggplant. Remove from oven, let cool. Don’t touch! Once cooled, remove skin by leaving the eggplant in the pan and peeling the skin off – carefully.

Place in bowl. With a sharp knife, cut lengthwise strips and then cut cross-wise. Using a fork with the knife, keep cutting cross-wise until eggplant is chopped up. (5 min.).

Add approximately 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. Tahini, 1 tbsp. or more, olive oil, 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice. Amounts depend on the flavour you would like to achieve and the size of the eggplant. Mix up well.

Add finely chopped – garlic, green onions, and parsley. Mix well and serve!

If you like, add roasted red peppers and/or tomatoes. In place of parsley add basil or cilantro.

Either salad can be made any way that suits you!

Heirloom Tomato Salad:

Tomatoes cut up how you like them
1/2 Ripe avocado cut up
Kalamata Olives – optional
Green onions diced small or red onion
Cilantro chopped up
1 small garlic clove finely chopped
Artichoke Hearts in a jar – chopped into small bite size pieces
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Add cucumber, celery, basil, parsley, peppers, whatever your taste buds would like!

No salt necessary as the olives contain salt. Onions provide a bite and with the garlic an umami flavour!

Yes, there is garlic in both salads but there is also parsley and lemon juice and the acidity from the tomato. Don’t worry. If taking to work, you may have to rinse your mouth or drink mint tea.

Boil an egg – water in a pot, add egg, bring to boil for approximately 4 minutes and then turn off. Do not remove pot. Leave on stove for at least 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Remove the shell. Cut into four and sprinkle with black pepper and paprika. For lunches, I boil several eggs and keep the unused ones in the fridge with the shell on – no cracks! I remove the shell before going to work as removing the shell releases an odour that you don’t want in your office. If you are eating outside or in a airy lunch room, go ahead and peel the egg at the office.

Roasted red peppers – Confession … I now buy a jar (from Greece) at the Greek Store (Kalamata Grocery). I used to make roasted peppers all the time but it does take a lot of time.

Daiya Monterrey Jack Cheese is pretty good as a side cheese for lunch or a quick snack.

More lunch ideas coming up soon!


salmonmangosalsa

An old friend came to visit and requested the salmon I made 10 years ago … Ummm … which one??? I have made so many different salmon meals – different ingredients, different cooking methods and … I create the dish according to time and ingredient availability, weather, palate desires – in other words … what we feel like eating (light, comfort, spicy, etc) and what I am able to put together with the ingredients I have and the time available! So … “we were having Margaritas and you cooked it on the grill” really doesn’t give me much to go on.

Time for a new invention. I had purchased a box of Ataulfo Mangos that were ripening fast, ergo must include them in this meal.

The mango salsa was done and then we went out hiking. By the time we returned home we were starving and time was off the essence. As you can see there isn’t much food left in the plate in the above photo … It smelled and tasted soooooo YUMMY that we had wolfed down half our food before I remembered to take a photo!

Creative juices flowing here is what I created!

Mango Salsa (I used 8 Mangos)

Cube 8 Mangos
6 large cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
2 Tbsp. of Capers OR (use fresh Blueberries or Raspberries)
5 Green Onions (Spring Onions) – chopped fine
5 Tbsp. Roasted Red Pepper – chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Cilantro 
– added when served (optional) or Basil!

Cilantro may be added to the salsa before serving – chop some in a small bowl and serve on the side or sprinkle on top. Don’t add it into this mix as it will wilt in a day and change the flavour of the salsa.

Add all ingredients (except Cilantro) in a large bowl and mix them together well. Cover and set aside. May be refrigerated in a sealed container (NOT PLASTIC) for up to 5 days. Sometimes 6 … 🙂

Wild Sockeye Salmon (1 Large Filet)

In a small bowl combine the following ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder (or use Fresh Garlic)
1 1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil

Blend well. Once it is blended add while stirring:

1 Tbsp. Tamari (or Japanese style Soya Sauce)
1 1/2 Ounces/ 5 ml of Orange Juice

Blend very well.

Chop up as much fresh Ginger as you like.

Wash Salmon. Pour a little olive oil in a baking dish. Place Salmon skin side down and completely cover with above mixture. Sprinkle fresh, chopped Ginger on top.

Cook for approximately 15 minutes at 350°- depends on the size of the Salmon filet and the type of oven you have. The Salmon juice in the pan should be bubbling, clear and a little brown. If you have a thin filet you may broil it – two notches below the broiler otherwise the sauce will burn! Or you may place it on a grill sheet/pan/aluminium foil on the barbecue at 400° for about 15 minutes.


Any time you connect to media – Any social media, radio, TV, the spam in your junk file – you are inundated with the wonders and cures of a “SUPER FOOD”! The ad (because that is what it is folks), goes on to list the numerous cures of this miracle Super food and cites studies, which are rarely specifically named, on how this food may cure cancer, diabetes or any number of diseases. Read … May …

Blueberries, ginger, turmeric, anti-oxidants, lemons, honey, cinnamon, gogi berries … the list goes on, ad nauseum and changes constantly. There is always a new super food that will cure everything, make you happy, make you look younger, cure a disease, help you lose weight and now the miracle ingredient is available in this powder form for your convenience! WooHoo … not.

THIS IS A super food: you planted it, tended to it, picked it when ripe and ate it fresh, that day. Now THAT is super! And it’s a food! Since most of us do not have the opportunity to have our own, diverse garden (read: veggies, fruit trees, berry bushes, etc.) and even for those that do, it is generally not year round, nor is it as diverse as we would like, we become denizens of our local grocery store and must forage through what is available and we wonder if we are making the right choices.

I am so sick and tired of reading all this bullshit on all media about this cure or that cure or how to lose weight if you buy this product or what you should never do/eat and … rants about Big Pharma … we need to remember that the natural health industry is also a billion dollar industry. People are in it to make money. In the case of “Big Pharma”, once you begin on a course of medication one pill leads to another and pretty soon you are not sure what you are taking and must consult a pharmacist to show you which pill to take when and with what and whether they are all working together for the good of your body. As for the health industry they are offering this cure for that disease, that cure for this disease, pills, cleanses, teas and the list goes on for a vast array of cure alls and weight loss products which without a complete lifestyle change – ie. exercise, diet, outlook on life, don’t deliver and are seldom beneficial for anything except making money for the seller.

Do I believe in healthy diets, mind, body, soul/spirit healing … YES! Do I believe holistic medicine is a great preventative tool? YES! Do I believe following a healthy diet can effect a cure for an already established disease. unfortunately, No. I DO believe following a healthy diet, resting, exercising, having fun/laughing/loving can lessen the symptoms of a disease, help get you back to being healthy faster and perhaps keep you off of or decrease the amount of your medications. For those that have a genetic predisposition to a disease, I believe being proactive by having good living habits will help keep the disease at bay or at least mitigate the severity.

DNA, genetics accounts for a lot of unexpected diseases. These can be mitigated with a healthy body, mind and spirit but not necessarily eradicated. Why bother then? Because your chances of survival are increased. Your time spent being ill is decreased. Better quality of life … if you like to be ambulatory and free of pain …

Fresh, whole foods do provide the nutrients your body requires and is built to use. Our body is an amazing machine which given the chance, regulates itself, detoxifies itself, pH balances itself and so much more. Yep. All it requires is the proper fuel; movement; rest; love and laughter. Your body is a part of a complex system encompassing your emotions and thought processes.

A healthy lifestyle, incorporating the mind, body and soul can keep you healthy and can minimize risk. If you are healthy in ALL three areas you have a better chance of fighting the disease and recognizing that something is wrong with your body, perhaps getting early treatment …

There is no magic pill. There is no surefire, instantaneous, miracle cure.

No one is here to solve YOUR health problems with a magic pill or potion! THAT is entirely up to you, to do the best you can with what you have. Research facts, read studies, stay away from marketing promises, commit to a lifestyle change and begin slowly. Small steps in the beginning lead to bigger strides once you develop your pace. Our health is our responsibility.

What there is the age old, simple advice … sleep, eat real foods, meditate/de-stress/relax, drink lots of pure water, socialize with friends and loved ones – be a part of a social network and get some exercise.

Mix it up. A little of this, a little of that … everything in moderation.

 

 


First winter back in the frozen north … and they told me it doesn’t snow here, where I chose to live … uh huh … warmest area in Canada …  oh sure … There are icicles on my car!
And so … the fireplace is on and I have 2 smoked pork hocks simmering on the stove. Smells like bacon cooking. I don’t know about you but I LOVE the smell of bacon and really LOVE eating it too! My comfort food – well, one of them. The love for bacon is so intense that I must limit myself to devouring a pound of bacon (yep, in one sitting), to a maximum of 4 times per year. Who can have just 3 slices? Not me!

Back to the pork hocks (bone in) … They are simmering with about a tablespoon of black peppercorns and six small bay leaves in 16 cups of water. If you’re making a pot of something, make a big pot! Whether it’s soup or stew or sauce, it doesn’t take up much more time and it freezes well for a quick dinner or lunch. Mine go into 4 cup, sealable, glass jars and are stacked in the freezer.
My apologies. Another digression … bear with me, please. Back to the soup.

My mom used to make the tastiest pea soup and she gave me the recipe. The miracle is that I managed to find it amongst all the papers in my storage locker! Here it is.

Mom’s recipe:
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
6 – 8 peppercorns
1 lb. washed, split, dry green peas
1 large carrot – chopped
1 medium onion – diced
1 stalk of celery – diced
salt to taste
1 ham bone with some meat on it.
Toss all into a pot and simmer for 8 to 10 hours. Remove ham bone, take off meat and add back to soup. Remove bay leaves.

Really? That’s it? Doesn’t sound like much … definitely wouldn’t be enough to freeze … Hmmm …

And so … after a slight tweak … my recipe for a really big pot of soup:

1.7 Kilos (about 4 lbs of smoke pork hock)
6 smallish bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
16 cups of purified water (Hate the chlorine taste in my soup. Yes, you can taste the difference!)
Simmer (on low heat – #3 on the dial) for 4 hours.
Let cool. Place in refrigerator. I don’t have the time to make this in one day. 🙂
Next day, remove pork hocks, skim off fat, fish for all the peppercorns and bay leaves or if you have another really big pot, use a sieve and pour the liquid/stock through. Separate the meat from the fat and bone. Dice up the tender morsels (must taste to be assured of the flavour). Add to stock.
6 – 8 carrots – depending on how much carrot you enjoy, keeping in mind this will make about 16 bowls of       soup.
3 – 4 stalks of celery (same tip as the carrots)
1 1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic
3 lbs of dried, split peas (washed up)
Chop up the veggies to the size you like. Add all the remaining ingredients into the stock. If the water has evaporated too much, add more (purified).
Do Not add any salt as the smoked pork hocks are salty enough. If you can’t find smoked hocks use a ham bone from the butcher.
Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 1 hour or more, until the peas are mushy.

Make a nice salad. Some gluten free garlic bread. Enjoy!

Cool to slightly warm before placing in jars for the freezer. If you freeze this soup in smaller containers, it makes a delicious, warming, light and filling lunch to take to work!

After the holidays eating light and healthy is a relief for your digestive system and will help you to lose those holiday pounds! Soup and salad is heartwarming, tasty and filling, while being light and easy to digest. Just choose your salad dressing carefully! 🙂


Well … I added 5 eggs (whipped), about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1 cup of coconut flour (slowly – add a bit, mix … etc.), 1/4 cup quinoa flakes, 1 tsp. salt and for some reason I had the idea to add 1 tsp. of baking powder.

1st photo – the consistency you want to have – the wooden spoon stands up and you can make a definite hole in the mixture without any of it running in. Dryish not too dry. Still quite wet when you are rolling it but does stick together.
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You then proceed to roll them into little balls and flatten out a bit, placing into the pan with the coconut oil. Oven is at 350℃, ready to go. I made 48 in the second pan and 35 in the first – just jammed them a bit more in the second pan, (was getting tired of rolling!).
And here we are:

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Five are already missing … must do a taste test … 😉

They will be a perfect grab and go snack!
The rest – yes, there was MORE mix … I put into an 8 x 8 pyrex dish and it is cooking now. This is the one I will be sampling for the next few days!
Definitely a keeper recipe as they smell delicious, taste divine – puffy, spicy but not too much, just a hint of warmth and notes of curry and will go well with any number of dips/sauces or just a quick bite, straight out of the fridge when you are on the go.
Next time, I will reduce the amount of coconut flour and add mashed potato and cauliflower, see what the difference would be. When I do, I will let you all know!

These would go well with a Salsa Verde, Tsatsiki (made with Toffuti Sour Cream), or a Mango Chutney/Salsa.
Wine pairing: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Rosé, Beaujolais Nouveau.
Happy Cooking!


Christmas is coming and so is company, one being a vegetarian … What to make?
Made my list of food must haves and requests. Placed a couple of coolers outside (it’s cold enough for them to sub in for the refrigerator), to hold the extras, such as the turkey and the 25 pound bag of carrots (a deal I couldn’t resist) and have begun cooking.
Here’s the list for your inspiration:

Miso soup (to warm the belly upon arrival – it’s chilly here)
Turkey with stuffing and gravy (my favourite!)
Sweet Potato Pie (with mini marshmallows – a request made in a pleading tone which I couldn’t resist … against my better judgement but oh well, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, once a year, isn’t going to hurt … right?)
Broccoli and Cauliflower salad (easy and delicious – also a request)
Peas and Carrots (a standard)
Roasted Beets (requested with cloves/garlic/vinegar)

Kourambiedes – (Greek, almond shortbread, covered in icing sugar that takes all bloody day to make – but well worth the effort. Even though I can’t partake). Don’t have a choice here … it’s a must!
Melamacarona – (more Greek cookies – not as labour intensive as above but still a lot of work!). Also a must.
Chocolate cake – There’s a Birthday involved as well as the Holiday meal. (Gotta feel sympathy for those born right at Christmas time … )

A lot of food for Christmas dinner, yes and probably enough for leftovers the next day. But … what to have on hand for grazing/snacking? Something simple to make, easy to grab and eat, straight from the refrigerator/cooler (wherever it will fit – I’ll get to that later), and healthy?
Houmous, always good in a pinch, very easy to make – it takes more time to clean up than to make the dip. It’s on the list.
Devilled Eggs? Nope. Too much work – not enough time to enjoy the company and they don’t stay fresh for long.
Hmmm …
Gigantes? Greek style, Delicious giant white beans in a flavourful tomato sauce. Lasts for days in the refrigerator but does need warming … Nope, they’re  off the list.
Pakoras? Okay, I’ve never made them but they’ll go well with the houmous and … they will last and can be frozen beforehand, thawed as needed! Bingo!

And so, this is how this recipe which was supposed to be Pakoras (recipe isn’t quite done yet … I’ll keep you posted today as the making of the “puffs” progresses), began …

Shopping at the grocers’, I spy a 1 kilo bag of baby zucchinis on sale for $1.00! Steal of a deal! But what to do with 1 kilo of zucchini? I can’t eat all of that … In the food processor it goes, mushed zucchini poured into a freezer bag and then popped into the freezer …
Okay, so it’s not going to be Pakoras … but I do like the idea of the Indian flavours instead of plain zucchini puffs … Hmmm …
What do I have on hand? Onions – check, Red Peppers – check, Garlic – check, Indian spices – got them. Off to buy a bag of Red Split Lentils, eggs and cilantro – sounded like a good combo … No?
This morning:
Not knowing exactly what I am doing, I pour the thawed zucchini mash into a pot – it’s very liquidy … so I pour in the lentils and turn the stove on to low … add more lentils, stir … add more lentils, stir (all told, about a cup and 1/3) … Turned off stove and let sit.
Finely chopped the carrots – about a cup, 2 large red peppers, a large head of garlic and the cilantro … the onions have just come out of the freezer where they were placed to cool off a bit before chopping (it prevents teary eyes). Added the carrots and peppers to the zucchini and lentils. Placed the garlic in a pan with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil and a whole lot of turmeric, cumin and coriander. This is what it looks like so far …
Oh God I hope this works …

The photo on the left is the zucchini mash (what else would you call it?), and the one on the right is a mound of spices with garlic waiting to be fried – for 20 seconds and then added to the pot.
So … here’s my next steps …
Quick fry spices/garlic and to mash.
Finely chop onions and toss into the pot.
Finely chop cilantro and figure out how much to add to this mix? mash?
Whip 3? 4? eggs and add in (hope the mash in the pot has cooled enough!)
Melt coconut oil onto a cookie sheet (one with sides), it’s chilly here and the oil hardens … the perils of living up north …
Add coconut flour or quinoa flakes until mixture firms up enough to roll into small burger shapes – a flat “meatless” ball.
Bake in a 350℃ oven … cross fingers and hope for success …

For a list of accompaniments (sauces/salsas and wines), see the excerpt or Facebook.

Will keep you posted on my Facebook Page – simplyyummy123.
https://www.facebook.com/SimplyYummy123-139865369835/
Wish me luck!


Here’s a tip: When buying a ripe pineapple … USE IT immediately! Last nights experience has ingrained that info into my very soul! Lol!
After 3 days of having two pineapples sitting on the kitchen counter, I thought it would be best to place them in the refrigerator before I went to bed. Well … as soon as I touched one of them a mass of fruit flies began flying all around my kitchen! Crap!!! And so … Needless to say, I immediately bagged both pineapples (tightly) and placed them outside. Then I spent approximately 4 hours hunting down all those teensy little flies. Exhausting!
There are ways to kill these pests, here are a few tips from Good Housekeeping:
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a25042/how-to-kill-fruit-flies/

But: These pesky pests breed and breed and breed … everywhere. One could end up with an infestation of thousands of fruit flies!!! YUCK!

Although the Good Housekeeping methods work to trap the flies, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate them all immediately – it takes a few days, sometimes longer.

Here is my method:
Step 1: Remove any fruit/vegetables on the counter examine for “spots” and then place in the refrigerator or outdoor trash.
Step 2: Become the fearless, fruit fly hunter, killing as many as you can see – immediately! Exhausting but effective. Killing them as soon as you spot them will, hopefully, prevent the flies from laying their eggs, hence circumventing a mass infestation! BTW, I use a dish towel which has been rinsed with soapy water and wrung out. Yep. I was swinging a wet dish towel around the kitchen, swatting at counters, walls, cabinets, stove top … etc., until the wee hours of the morning. I believe I have eliminated all of them. 🙂
Step 3: Wipe down all surfaces, including kitchen cabinets using dish soap (they can’t stand the smell of it!). Wipe down again. And again. Each time rinsing the cloth in the sink – takes care of any in the drain.

Ideally, don’t keep any fruit in the fruit bowl longer than one day!

Lesson relearned. 🙂

Good Luck! Hope you never have this problem!

Best Turkey Burgers Ever!


Delicious! Child Friendly

Versatile & Yummy!

Turkey burgers are so versatile. The flavour, depending on the herbs/spices used, can be akin to a christmas turkey (sage, gravy topping), or a tropical treat (coriander, pineapple/pepper salsa) and everything in between. Burgers can be cooked and frozen for future quick meals, packed for lunches, made as a “meatloaf”, after work-out snack (provides a blast of protein), and of course, made into a delicious burger with your choice of trimmings!

The Basics:

2 lbs (1 kilo) of Ground Turkey (I prefer turkey breast. Either white or dark turkey meat can be used)
4 Fresh Carrots – grated – not too fine.
1 Large Red Pepper – diced (small)
3 – 4 Sticks of Celery – diced (small)
1 Large Onion (yellow, white, red … your preference) – diced (small)
4 – 8 Cloves of Garlic – minced. (Amount depends on size of cloves & how much garlic flavour you enjoy).
3 Large Eggs – beaten
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Mayo (Make your own or add your favourite)
*1 Cup Quinoa Flakes
*1/4 Cup Coconut Flour – if necessary, add a little more when mixing.
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Paprika
Optional:
1 Cup Cooked, Diced Bacon – Not Crispy or it won’t dice properly

Those are the basic ingredients.

*If you cannot find Quinoa Flakes or Coconut Flour, use TOASTED gluten-free bread. Not toasted, the bread becomes soggy and melts into the mixture, not providing any firmness. Coconut Flour absorbs a lot of the moisture before and during cooking. Be careful how much extra you add.

In the past I have experimented with Corn Meal, Mashed Potato, Quinoa (cooked), Rice (cooked, different varieties), Gluten-free Bread (toasted) and various gluten-free flour mixes. None provided the texture and firmness I was looking for, although mashed potatoes and the bread came close! Experiment and let us know what you come up with!

Once, while in a rush, I placed all the veggies in a food processor – the result – soggy burgers that fell apart … never doing that again!

Suggestions for 3 different Flavours: BBQ, Roast Turkey, Tropical

BBQ:

Add:
1/2 to 1 Tsp. of Cumin
1 Tsp. to 2 Tsp. Chili Flakes or dried Chilies (Poblano, Ancho, Chipotle) – depending on the heat of the chilies used and how hot you like it.
Although I love the heat of chilies, too much can reduce the flavour components of the whole meal, i.e. … your mouth is on fire and you can’t really taste anything!
1 Tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Gluten Free Tamari/Soya Sauce/Bragg’s Liquid
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. of your favourite Gluten Free Mustard

If you do not have the honey, tamari, tomato paste or mustard, add 2 – 3 Tbsp. of your favourite BBQ sauce.

Sage Burgers:

Add:
2 Tbsp. Dried Sage
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – minced
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Cumin

For added colour and flavour, toss in a handful of dried cranberries!

Tropical Patties:

Add:
2 Tsp. Coriander
1/4 Tsp. Curry
1/2 Tsp. Dried Hot Pepper
1 Tbsp. Dried Coconut
2 Tbsp. (or more … up to you) Grated Sweet Potato
1/4 Cup Finely Diced Pineapple

Method:

Place Turkey in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle herbs/spices on top. Add beaten eggs. Add the binder (quinoa/coconut flour, etc.). Lastly, add the diced/minced veggies. Mix well. Form into patties. Place on greased (coconut oil) cookie sheet. They can be placed quite close together as they do shrink a little. Cook in a 350℉ oven on the middle rack. Depending on the thickness of the patties, cook for about 30 minutes. The Turkey burgers do not gain much colour when cooked – a little golden and that’s all.

Yield: 10 Large Patties

Two of us finished these in 24 hours! They are delicious and so easy to snack on – directly from the refrigerator – just one more bite … and soon another patty was devoured. Doubling the recipe provides extras for freezing or lunches. The patties keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days (If they last that long!) For freezing, layer each patty with wax paper and freeze in a sealed bag. Only freeze as many together that you will need for a meal.
Pressed for time? Make this into a meatloaf – grease a meatloaf pan and firmly pat the mixture in.

Gravy, Mango/Pineapple Salsa, Cranberry Sauce, Fig Compote … any of these may be served with these burgers.
Sweet Potatoes/Yams are a favourite side dish. Wash well, slice into 1/2 inch/1.5 cm, lay on a cookie sheet, pour extra virgin olive oil, orange/pineapple juice, GF tamari over top – just enough of each to “wet” the slices. Sprinkle paprika over each slice. A dash of cinnamon on each slice works well for the children. If you love garlic, as I do, add some peeled cloves in the pan – yum!

ENJOY!

México!


It took a while … planning, discussions, paperwork, introspection, tears, laughter and tons of hard work … Here I am, living in México … Thank You to my daughters for their Love and understanding, wherever we are in the world we are together.  Please, follow your dreams … make it happen for you.  Choose to be happy wherever you are and whatever you are doing!  Thank You to my dear friends for helping hands, ears that listen, kind and thoughtful words and homes to visit.  Bless you all for helping make this part of my dream come true!

And now … back to FOOD!!!

Wherever you are in the world you will find fish, chicken and pork … and many different veggies and fruits … most we know, like onions, garlic, cabbage, parsley/cilantro, carrots, potatoes, lemons/limes, bananas, etc.  Herbs, spices, veggies and fruits vary (some new, some not to be found, and finding the ones you know!).  Here in Mexico there is an abundance of some foods and a scarcity of others.  Some foods we Canadians/Americans have become accustomed to are difficult to find but with the help of others can be found and other foods … well … just not available yet.  Vine leaves, phyllo pastry, real greek feta cheese, dill weed, Miracle Whip … and a few others are either not available here or available at one store or another only some of the time.  We await the arrival of friends from home with eagerness, not only for their company but for the goodies they bring!  In the meantime we explore small and large food outlets – there is a Costco, a Wal-Mart (they are everywhere!), a Sam’s Club and a division of Wal-Mart, named Superama.  There are also many smaller, specialty grocery stores opening now, in response to the demand of the thousands of ex-pats living and eating here!  There are also a large number of Mercados (markets), with an abundance of fresh foods.  And the food is fresh!  Most foods offered at the market are grown in Mexico, picked when ripe and transported to the nearest market.  Food at the market is seasonal and very fresh!

So much to discover!

Paradise?


What do we call “Paradise”? Is there such a place to live here on earth … ?

Is it living by a beach? In the mountains? A log cabin by a lake? A beautiful apartment in a big city? A mansion? A farm? A horse ranch? A small town where everyone knows each other? An Ashram? Travelling the world? Life on a boat? An island? It is up to each of us to decide … There are many options. Every choice has benefits and trials. Which has more benefits and less trials (or, should I say, ones you are willing to put up with for the benefits)? We search for our own paradise, learning along the way and as we grow and learn, our perceptions change. What we consider gifts and challenges changes, depending on where we are in our lives and the choices and sacrifices we are willing to make.

Living in Mexico this winter and last has been quite the learning experience for me! Some delightful experiences, some challenging, some an eyeopener! All combined the experience has been a wonder filled one. So many lovely people – Mexican and ex-pats (many from Canada and the U.S.). All helping each other to navigate the ins and outs of visiting/living in a foreign country. Sourcing out food, learning a new language (more than una cerveza por favour … lol!) discovering new ways of cooking along the way. New sights, new sounds, new smells, new tastes! Scenery is lovely and … I drive around freely and easily! Weather – well, what can I say … no snow … lots of sun, flip flops most days … although when the nortes blow in, it’s cold, windy and wet!

The challenges … well … sometimes needed items are very hard to find, require a lot of driving around or simply cannot be found. That goes for everything from food to hardware to kitchen gadgets (looking for a decent can opener right now! … Found one!), to linens and everything in between. One learns quickly here … if you see something you like/want/need or may need in the near future … BUY IT NOW! Things go quickly and restocking takes a while or not at all. Miracle Whip disappears as fast as the stars at dawn … twinkle twinkle and it’s gone!

The challenges also include getting used to living in a country that is not as rich, nor as advanced as ours. Although in the province of Yucatan it is generally safe, awareness is key. Locking doors, protecting phones, computers, etc., just as most places in the world … play safe and stay safe. The laws are sometimes enforced, sometimes not and they are a little different. Although now there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, no smoking in an indoor area, no talking on the mobile phone whilst driving, etc. Car accidents are handled a bit differently (all parties involved can be jailed until they agree on who is at fault – Lawyers come in very handy!), thankfully I have not learned this first hand. Associating with a person of interest to the police can land you in jail. Visa requirements … best to always look up the laws and requirements of where you are going BEFORE you get there.

Internet is EXTREMELY slow, even in Merida it is not as fast as large metropolitan areas in Canada or the U.S. People take precedence over animals, resulting in many street dogs and a few cats that are sick, dying or dead. Although there are ex-pats and Mexican vets now that are neutering and spaying animals for free. If anyone can catch a street dog/puppy, they will de-worm, de-flea, cure the mange and spay/neuter the animal for free. We all do what we can to support these efforts. Many of the people here have adopted 1, 2, 3 or even 4 dogs! Sewer system at the beach and many places in Merida is a septic tank which comes with its’ own challenges. Electricity goes on and off at random, as does the mobile and internet service … Then there are the bugs … CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN … no leaving the dishes in the sink or dropping food on the floor! Do NOT walk in the bush – snakes, bugs, animals all live in any empty, grassy space and they all come out at night.

Although some days can be very trying, the beauty, the people and all the knowledge I’ve accumulated have been more than worth the trials! I’ve learned about Mamay fruit, Achiote paste, coconuts, fish/seafood (so many different kinds!), jicama, cilantro, nuts, oils, I have cooked Mexican foods – Yucatectan foods (yes, I will share the recipes with you).  The ruins, the cenotes, the markets … museums, art, music … beautiful, intriguing, enlightening … Watching Pelicans float by is so relaxing … meditative!

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Picking coconuts for fresh coconut water

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Pescado Frito – Muy Bueno!

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Lobster Taquitos at La Recova

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Yummy dips … mild to hot!

 

 

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Duck Salad at La Recova

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Fruits and veggies at the Bodega

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More fruits and veggies at the Bodega

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Green coconut jelly … this coconut yields delicious coconut water … split the coconut after removing the water and scoop out the jelly!

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chicken on the grill … charcoal made from trees … great flavour!

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Chicken with tamarind and coconut jelly

                                                                                                                 

 


Easy Chicken Dinner – one pan.
Place rinsed chicken breast or thighs in pan. Drizzle EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) all over. Add Wine (red or white) OR orange juice OR lemon into the pan. About 1/2 cup of wine or 1/4 cup juice. Chop (chunky pieces) up potatoes or cauliflower, carrots, onions (just a bit), garlic (lots!) and add to pan. Mix with the juice/wine and oil. Cover the chicken in Dijon mustard – be liberal. Sprinkle entire contents of pan with paprika (lots), cumin (just enough to have a sprinkle – more on the chicken), black pepper, thyme, if you have fresh rosemary, add a 2 or 3 sprigs for extra flavour. Add capers on top of the chicken, it’s okay if a few roll off. Add lots! They are delicious with Dijon mustard. Bake/Roast covered at 350℉ (180℃ or Gas Mark 4), for approximately half an hour (half the time). Uncover and cook until done – browned. Bone in chicken will take about one hour. Boneless will take less time. Cover for only half the time!
Enjoy with a salad or a side of green vegetables!
And here’s a green vegetable idea I made up the other day …
Green Beans, fresh or frozen, whichever you can find! As many as you need – approx. 1/2 cup per person.
Crush some cashews or used slivered/sliced almonds. About 1/3 cup per cup of green beans.
Sesame oil to generously coat pan.
Balsamic vinegar or Lemon juice or Orange juice. Tsp. of Balsamic or 1 tbsp. of Lemon or Orange juice per cup of Beans.
Coriander – crushed.
Black Pepper – a sprinkle will do.
Garlic, chopped. Doesn’t have to be diced up small. Chunky will do. As much or as little as you like.
Fresh Cilantro, Parsley or Basil, chopped up and added after other ingredients have begun to cook.
Add all ingredients into a pan, medium-low heat. Cover for 5 – 10 minutes (depending on how much you have in the pan). Remove cover, add fresh herbs, increase heat to medium-high and stir-fry until done. About another 5 minutes.
Optional: Red Pepper – diced. One Hot Pepper, fresh or dried, cut in half. Only 1 hot pepper, first time I made this, I added 3. Love heat but not THAT much!
Sun-Dried Tomato – about 1 tbsp. per cup of beans … tomatoes will dilute the flavour of the beans if you add too many.
A few fresh green/spring onions … scallions, chopped fine and sprinkled on the beans before serving.
This green vegetable dish would be great on a date night – I’ll tell you why in the book!
Which wine to serve? A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, an unoaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir … 🙂
Enjoy!

Happy 2015! It’s a new year, a new beginning and a new book!

So … You Want to Get Laid Tonight?
A how-to guide for a romantic dinner that won’t have you watching TV afterwards!

What happens after dinner … in the bedroom, the living room or, heck!, on the kitchen floor … is up to you … provided you are with a consenting adult!

What the book will do is offer a selection of Romantic, Erotic foods, how to cook and eat them, the setting, the food, the fun, the ideas … date friendly (sex enhancing) dinners and more!

Tantalizing aromas, sauces glistening on your lips, nibbling a tasty morsel offered, finger licking and lip wetting deliciousness …

Whew! Need a moment …

Okay, back to the food …

Garlic, usually a no-no for romantic dinners, will be on the menu … too many excellent qualities in garlic to exclude it. How you cook the garlic is the key.

Cucumbers, parsley, lemons are great breath fresheners (after the garlic)! Let me show you how and why.

Spicy, Sweet, Sour, Savoury, Salty … a cornucopia of tastes … Kiss as each new flavour is sampled … sharing flavours with a kiss is so erotic!

There will be plenty left for a midnight foray to the kitchen too … All you do is follow the DIY guide and have fun! 😉

All Gluten and Dairy Free … of course!

Stay tuned! More to come …


My favourite cookies … I began making these cookies with my Yaya (Greek grandmother) and Mom when I was a little girl.  Although they are traditionally dairy-free, they are not gluten-free.  This year I am taking a leap of faith and making them with a gluten-free, cake & pastry flour … will post results – good or bad!  These cookies can be made up to two weeks in advance, stored in the refrigerator, in a tin, with wax/parchment paper between the layers.  This recipe makes lots of cookies – up to 6 dozen – and they disappear quickly, which is why I make two batches.  One batch two weeks before the 24th and one the week before!  If possible make these with a friend/family member … They do take a while to prepare and company always helps the time go by … 🙂

Melamacarona:
6 Cups Cake & Pastry Flour
1 Cup Crushed Walnuts (crushed to a flour consistency)
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Grated Orange Rind
4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon (or more)
3/4 Tsp. Ground Clove (NO more)
Pinch of Salt … 1/8 Tsp. (or less)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

1 1/2 to 2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Warm (Room Temperature) Orange Juice
1/3 Cup Brandy
3/4 Cup Sugar (Berry Sugar)

Mix “liquid” ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly begin adding dry ingredients until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Form cookies by rolling a small amount in your hand and shaping into a short, plump, sausage looking lump. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. When all the cookies are rolled, delicately pinch the ends and squeeze gently toward the middle of the cookie. Now you will have a somewhat diamond shaped cookie. With the fork tines gently flatten the tops of all the cookies – only the top, not the whole cookie. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350° oven.

Set out wax paper (or parchment paper) sheets on the table. Crush 1 to 2 cups of walnuts and sprinkle over the sheets of paper.

Consistency of crushed walnuts.

Consistency of crushed walnuts.

Syrup:

1 Cup of Fragrant Honey
1/2 Cup of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup (my Canadian addition)
2 Tablespoons Brandy
1 1/2 Cups of Water
1 Whole Navel Orange, small one – sliced
1 Whole Lemon – sliced
4 Sticks of Cinnamon
10 Whole Cloves
4 Whole Nutmeg

Bring the liquids (including syrups), to a boil and immediately remove from heat.  Add in the orange/lemon slices and whole spices.  Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1/2 an hour and no more than 1 hour.  Must be quite warm for cookie dipping!  When cookies are ready to be dipped, with a slotted spoon remove the fruits & whole spices.

Walnuts:

Crush 1 1/2 cups of Fresh Walnuts in a food processor.  Sprinkle liberally over several sheets of wax paper.  I spread the wax paper, overlapping each piece, over a 4 x 4 foot (1.1 x 1.1 metre), square section of my kitchen table.

Once cookies are removed from the oven and have cooled for 2 – 3 minutes, dip them in the syrup ,

Simmering syrup - remove oranges, lemons & whole spices before dipping cookies!

Simmering syrup – remove oranges, lemons & whole spices before dipping cookies!

roll them over, remove and place on walnut covered sheets of wax paper. Sprinkle more crushed walnuts over all. When cooled arrange on a serving dish with more crushed walnuts under and atop the cookies (use the walnuts left on the wax paper).  Save remaining walnuts and syrup (in separate containers) to use on other desserts – Apple Crisp, Honey Cake, Walnut Cake or as a topping for Sweet Potato Pie!

Melamacarona!

Melamacarona!

That’s it … Enjoy!

ps. after all this work, when clean up is done … have a brandy with tea and a cookie. You deserve it! 🙂


Ever wonder what we would be dining on at our Christmas dinner if the Pilgrims had “found” a deer … moose … duck … fish … instead of a turkey … Yep, you get where I’m going with this …

Festive holiday dinners are for family, friends … sharing time, food and stories together.  A time of cheer, fun, love and laughter.  Stressing out over the cost, presentation and “perfection” of a holiday meal drains the spirit!  Whether you serve up a roast beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, lasagna, mousaka, ribs, fish, tofu, … a meal made with joy is one remembered by all.

After many years of large turkey dinners, that took at least 3 days to prepare (leaving me exhausted and a little cranky) … I changed tradition … egads!  The first Christmas we enjoyed a roasted chicken (roasted in the grocery store and spiced up and re-cooked by me), sweet potatoes, peas & carrots, green salad, a tomato salad and a store bought pie – it was relaxing, tasty and FUN!  Instead of waking up at 6 a.m. and stuffing a huge bird, we slept in – as much as possible when young children are a part of your life – opened gifts together, visited friends in the afternoon, revelled in the company of friends at dinner – and … clean up was soooo easy!  The following years were a mix of going to the mountains with friends/family,  dinner shared at a friends home or dinner at our table with guests bringing a dish to share – the dinner options are endless.  Make it simple, relaxing and fun!

This years’ menu for 10 will be a roast leg of lamb with potatoes – sweet and russet, broccoli & cauliflower salad, peas (must have!), pickled beets, tomato & avocado salad … maybe carrots, maybe a green salad – depends on what the day brings, another dish or two supplied by guests … add music, a few candles and voilà a celebration.  I am looking forward to enjoying the time with family and friends!  Beats stressing out over dinner and table settings … 🙂

Enjoy!  The perfection of a meal is in the love added by those who make it and the enjoyment of the loved ones sharing it.

Photos will be posted on Christmas Day!

Leg of Lamb

Lamb
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Red wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh garlic
Mustard
Oregano or Thyme
Black pepper
Cumin

Poke lamb and stuff with garlic cloves – as many as you like!
Pour lemon juice, wine and oil over – in this order – making sure that all areas are covered
Spread mustard – Dijon or regular – all over – except bottom
Sprinkle on herbs & spices
Start roasting, time depends on size and your oven!

Potatoes

Potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
Garlic
Paprika

Cut up potatoes into bite size pieces.  Mix in the remaining ingredients (be liberal!)
Add to lamb roast.
Depending on size of pieces, cooking time is usually one hour.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad

Broccoli & Cauliflower – fresh
Lemon juice
Black pepper
(Is there a theme here?)

Place cleaned cauliflower head (take off leaves and cut out center – from the bottom) in a pot with approx. 4 cm. (2 inches) of water.
Arrange Broccoli “trees” around cauliflower
Steam, covered, medium to low heat, for 5 – 10 minutes.
Drain and cut up in pot by running a sharp knife through the veggies in a checked pattern.
Drizzle oil, juice over all and sprinkle pepper.

 

Keep posted … More holiday recipes coming … with photos!


Great article, giving relevant information on eating “glutenless” :). While it is true, once one is “off” the gluten, the tests will be inconclusive, unfortunately the wait for both the required tests can be very long. Not sure what the benefits are of knowing positively … I suppose you may not have Celiac Disease and therefore there is no need to be ultra careful … but if you do … the sooner you are off the gluten the better. In the last 16 years of enjoying a gluten & dairy-free lifestyle, other than feeling much better, looking and being healthier, there hasn’t been any direct benefit in “knowing” that I have Celiac Disease. Of course this is my experience and should not deter anyone from receiving a definitive diagnosis for themselves.
This article makes no mention of the relation between Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance to Lactose Intolerance or a Dairy Allergy. There is a growing body of evidence showing the prevalence of a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy among many Celiac sufferers. One should probably have that tested too or at least be aware that there may be more than one cause for your pain and discomfort.
One point that is stressed a few times in this article and is one I am constantly on my soapbox espousing … endlessly is: DO NOT attempt to replace breads, sweets and treats in a Gluten-Free form. Even though the label displays the words “organic”, “gluten-free”, etc. etc. etc., this does not make it a health food. It is processed and most of the “goodness” that it may have contained as a whole food no longer exists in the processed form. On a daily basis, focus on FRESH, WHOLE foods and if you can, buy organic foods. I will post the “Clean 15” list again – foods that don’t necessarily have to be organically grown.

Of course once in a while – as in once a month or so – a treat is a good thing … 🙂

This article appeared in the July 5th issue of the Calgary Herald.
http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/diet-fitness/Gluten+free+goes+mainstream+expert+cautions+against+adopting+food+whim/6836585/story.html

Enjoy!

Berried Salmon


Thought I might try a little native twist to the wild sockeye salmon tonight …

This is completely new and untried (by me)!

Drizzled a little olive oil over all three pieces of salmon … ’cause olive oil is sooo good with almost everything!  This part is not native but … creative license … a lot of this recipe is not … 🙂

Looks Delicious!

Before The Oven!

Then drizzled a little REAL CANADIAN maple syrup over all.  A splash of Tamari Sauce (wheat-free) and a heaping tablespoon or more of minced, fresh ginger.  At this point I couldn’t decided whether to add anything else … garlic, dijon mustard, spices, herbs … so decided on nothing else … just fresh blueberries.  Probably about 1 cup of fresh, delicious blueberries were poured on top.  Popped the pan into the oven at 375° for about 20 minutes and immediately tasted, almost burning my mouth!  Blueberries and salmon definitely go together well but I think it needs a little something extra.  Definitely a little too much ginger – a little less or none at all next time … Perhaps mustard?  Horseradish?  More maple syrup?  Will definitely keep refining this recipe and keep you up to date!

Light, Refreshing, very berryish!

Express Dinner!


Hi,

Again tonight, starving, tired and a wee bit on the lazy side … working out in the garden in the beautiful sunshine can make a girl a little lazy but hungry all the same!

Raiding the refrigerator, I found – a box of spring greens, a jar of roasted organic peppers and one of beets, some green onions, and parsley.  On to the pantry – aha! Gluten free pasta from Tinkyada (really the best!).

What did I do with this?  A green salad with garlic (’cause I always have some on hand), beets, green onions, parsley, olive oil (Extra Virgin), apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and basil.  Ate that while the water was boiling for the pasta.

Chopped up the roasted red peppers, added the remaining green onions, garlic, parsley and some heat (in the form of Thai pepper powder).  Once the pasta was done, drained and in my plate, a little olive oil went into the same pot, along with the veggies for a quick sauté and then on top of the pasta.  Added a bit of Daiya cheese for a delicious, quick, healthy meal!

It pays to keep a few “canned” or bottled products along with a well stocked pantry for days like today!  Photo of the salad but alas none of the pasta … was really into enjoying the flavour and well … forgot!  🙂

Kali Orexi!  Bon Apetit!

 

Coco Chicken


So much happening lately … lots to relate … later.  Right now I am starving and ready to start dinner.

Here’s what’s on tonight …

Organic chicken breast, marinated in coconut milk (organic – without sulphites!) AND … umm, see if I can remember what I “selected” from the spice drawer … 4 Cardamom pods (green ones), turmeric – a healthy amount, cinnamon – ??? – it smelled so yummy – just a sprinkle, lots of black pepper, ground corriander – a good shake or two or three … 🙂  I think that was it!

Now to coat it in almond meal (crushed fresh almonds) and a quick fry in coconut oil, just enough to brown it on both sides.

Place on parchment paper or just a pan if you don’t have the paper, and cook for 30 min. at 375°.

Serving with a wild rice blend – to soak up all that delicious cocomilk which is definitely going to be added to a lovely, fresh Savoy Cabbage I purchased today.  Planning on slicing it up, adding a few cascabel peppers (dried whole), and not sure what else yet.  Tamari?  Green onions (scallions)?  Carrots?  Dill? Parsley?  Cilantro?

Maybe all of it!  Just gonna follow my nose and see what happens.  Check for the results on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SimplyYummy123/139865369835

Off I go to the kitchen!  Soooo HUNGRY!!!

 

UPDATE:

If you are using almond meal either fry in a wok type pan or put lots of coconut oil OR dip in whipped egg before frying!  Just a quick fry, place one breast in, count to 3 and flip, count to 3 and remove to oven pan.

Cabbage:
Being a bit lazy and ever so hungry … I put a little olive oil – 2 tbsp. (hey, I’m Greek! That’s a little to me!).  Added the rest of the can of coconut milk, more cardamom (green), some of the cascabel peppers (crushed with my hands) and about 2 tsp. of curry.  Then I added sliced carrots, the hard part of the cabbage sliced and let it all simmer for 10 minutes.  Sliced up the Savoy Cabbage and some chopped parsley (just grabbed a bunch with my hands and ripped it off), tossed it in, mixed it up and covered.  Reduced the heat and let it all simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.

All smells LOVELY and SIMPLY YUMMY!  Well, off to eat now!  Enjoy, wherever you are!

 

 

Easter


Growing up in Canada with a Canadian mother and a Greek Father made for the best of both worlds during Easter.  We celebrated “Canadian Easter” by painting eggs, hunting for the goodies the Easter Bunny brought and a wonderful family dinner.  For Greek Easter, Orthodox Easter, (which was almost always on a different Sunday), we had a feast with lamb as the star dish.  There was church too … a lot of church services during the week before Easter.  The Friday before Easter was the celebration of the Epitaphio – a cloth, decorated with the image of Christ after he was removed from the cross – displayed on a bier with many, many flowers.  For a complete explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epitaphios_(liturgical).

The following evening, Saturday before Easter Sunday, EVERYONE went to church.  This was the celebration of Christ arising from the dead and is really quite a beautiful liturgy with all the lights going out at midnight and everyone sharing the light from the one lit, blessed candle on the altar.  A wave of shared light, making it’s way to everyone, even those latecomers who stood outside.  As the light is passed from one to another we say “Christos Anesti”, meaning Christ has arisen, the response to this is “Alithos Anesti”, “Verily He has arisen”.  Lots of chatter and happy smiles, then the procession and then FOOD!

Before anyone walks into the home, the holy light which has been kept lit (I once drove 10 K home, alone, holding a lit candle in my hand, hoping it would not go out! Silly but that’s how important this light is!) is used to draw a cross, actually blacken the underside of the top door molding, on every outside door in the home.  A light meal of soup, cracking of the red eggs (and eating them, with the blessings of Christos Anesti/Alithos Anesti) – the one whose egg remained uncracked was said to be the lucky one for the year, (Greeks like to mix superstition/mythology with religion – quite fascinating really). Bedtime at 2:00 a.m. and up at 7:00 a.m. to help with the preparations for the Easter Feast.

The period of Lent was once a very strict fasting time, nothing from an animal for 40 days, with the exception of shrimp, shellfish or crab on certain days.  During the last week of Lent there are days with no olive oil – can you imagine a Greek not eating olive oil?  Nowadays with 9 to 5 jobs, kids in school all day, busy people with busy lives, the church has relaxed a bit and asks us to follow the Lenten restrictions during the last week, if possible.  Some do, some don’t, but this was one of the reasons the Easter Feast was so important, a celebratory breaking of the fast.  Butter, Cheese, Eggs, Olive Oil and of course, the sacrificial Lamb, were mandatory items for the Feast.  Tsoureki is the traditional Easter Bread, Koulourakia (a mix between biscotti and shortbread), the cookie favoured by ALL children and dish after dish of delicious food.  Traditionally the whole lamb is stuffed and roasted on the spit – the men’s job – but today a roast leg, chops or souvlaki would do, as long as lamb is presented, all is well.

A few photos …  A recipe at the end.

Image  Koulourakia – not gluten free or dairy free but I will be posting the recipe on the website.

Tsoureki served with butter.

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Lamb roasted on the spit.  The lamb on the spit is stuffed with lemons, garlic, onions, and sometimes feta cheese.  Olive Oil, Lemon, Oregano, Garlic, Pepper & Salt are used to baste the lamb, any lamb, whether it’s chops, souvlaki or roast.

Image Lillies, Holy Light & Red Eggs on the table, with greek salad, chees pies, spinach pies, cheese, meatballs, potatoes, beans, roasted veggies and much more!

Greek Salad, Egg Salad (I make Devilled Eggs using the cracked eggs – everyone loves to crack them, it’s fun and dressed up eggs taste better than plain, hard-boiled!), Dolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Vine Leaves), Pastitsio (Greek Style Lasagna), Tiropita, Spanakopita, Meatballs, Bread, Egg & Lemon Chicken Soup or Euvarlakia (Meatball Egg & Lemon Soup), Lemon Roasted Potatoes, Cheese, Fish, Stuffed veggies (Peppers, Eggplant, Zucchini, Squash Flowers …), platters of roasted, grilled, baked vegetables.  And of course, Ouzo, Wine, Retsina before, during and after the food is consumed and many, many sweets and fruits offered at the end of the meal.  Truly, one rolls away from this feast, thank goodness for the dancing – traditional dancing, belly dancing – that is incorporated throughout the day!

Image Red Eggs, Koulourakia, Tsatsiki, Lamb & Potatoes.

Image Vegetarian Pastitsio (one of my daughter’s is vegetarian) with a meat patty on the side for those who would like it with meat.  Pastitsio is usually made with a mixture of minced lamb & pork and sometimes just beef (hamburger).  This one I made meat, dairy and gluten-free.

THE RECIPE:

This dish is called Anginares me Araka (Artichoke & Peas), if you can’t find artichoke use leeks or zucchini cut into 3 cm. (1 inch) thick rounds.

Chop up tomatoes (3 small to medium sized), garlic (1-3 cloves), 1 small dry onion, 1/2 cup sliced carrots, a few small pieces of potato (1/2 cup?), 1 tsp. fennel seeds and begin frying in Olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Stir in one small can tomato paste and 1/2 tsp. sugar (I use 1 tsp. honey).  Add 1 cup of either artichoke hearts/leeks/zucchini (chopped in bite sized pieces/circles, pepper and salt to taste (1 tsp. & 1/2 tsp. respectively). Stir in well, add 2 cups peas, reduce heat and cover for 5 min.  Sprinkle with fresh dill (1 Tbsp. or more) and mix in.  Great side dish for the lamb!

Kalo Pascha to all!


At times an allergy which has not yet completely manifested is labelled a “sensitivity” as it does not generate the same immunological response from your body as a “full-blown” allergy would.  A sensitivity can also be caused by many underlying factors such as: IBS, stress, candida growth, immune system overload and is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.  One of the difficulties with diagnosing food sensitivities is the possible delayed reaction time of the symptoms.  Another is the wide variety of possibilities for your symptoms.  For instance, in the case of food allergies/sensitivities – you’ve eaten a full meal and the next day wake up feeling bloated, stuffy, stiff or just plain terrible, how will you determine what in the meal, or if it even was the meal, made you ill?  It might have even been a food item, an herb or additive in the food, a mild case of food poisoning, an ulcer forming, the flu, or … so many possibilities.  One clue that it may be an allergy or sensitivity is; recurrent, similar symptoms, corresponding with the same  action.  If you sneeze/get itchy every time you pet your friends cat, if you bloat, break out in a rash/hives or feel nauseous when you eat and so on.

An allergy is an oversensitive response of  your immune system to common allergens that don’t affect most people.  The response can be mild, a bit of sneezing or it can be a life-threatening, anaphylactic shock.  My mom discovered (skin-prick test), at the age of 55 that she was allergic to household cleaning fluids (wasn’t the food, it was the clean-up!), dad at age 75 found he could no longer eat oregano (and he’s Greek!), a friends son is allergic to nightshade which includes potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplant, I, gradually, had an anaphylactic reaction to dairy.  Some friends cannot eat strawberries, for some it wasn’t an allergy/sensitivity but Colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac or Diverticulitis that was the underlying cause of their symptoms.  Some people, like my brother, have airborne allergies, the list is endless!  The most common medical test for allergies is the skin-prick test which appears to be a good indicator for airborne allergies but is not always 100% accurate in determining food allergies.

Generally speaking, food, fresh, whole food, should make you feel energetic, full but not stuffed, healthy and not bloated, constipated, nauseous, etc.  If you regularly feel ill after eating, whether it is minutes after or the next morning … what do you do?  Keep a food diary of everything you eat, write down at what time and what type of symptoms arise.  Take this diary to your medical doctor.  With this diary in hand, when you are being examined by your doctor, it will be so much easier to answer questions accurately, which will help determine what tests are needed to pinpoint what is occurring in the inner workings of your body.  Because allergies, sensitivities and auto-immune diseases can sometimes present in similar ways, keeping a record of any unusual symptoms which arise and when they arise, will help in your diagnosis.  It is difficult to accurately remember exactly when and what happened at the best of times, let alone when you are not feeling well but accuracy, in this case, is essential for your doctor to help you discover the cause of your distress.

Sometimes tests will be inconclusive, there are many reasons for this, some of them are – “wrong” test (not definitive enough for you), allergy/disease hasn’t manifested yet, drugs/vitamins you are taking skewed the results – discuss this with your doctor.  Should you both agree that the cause of your symptoms is most probably food related, and Celiac Disease has been ruled out, begin by eliminating the most common allergens in your diet – eggs, dairy, nuts, shellfish and reintroducing them, one at a time, per week, noting if and when any symptoms appear as each is introduced.  Then continue with other, not so common, allergens.  If you have experienced anaphylaxis, this elimination and re-introduction should be done under your doctor’s care.

Crohn’s, Colitis, Celiac, these are just a few in a very long list of Auto-Immune Diseases.  An auto-immune disease/disorder is caused by your body’s immune system attacking its own tissues.  Some are more severe than others but most can be treated.  Generally auto-immune diseases run in families – one of my children is currently awaiting test results for Celiac Disease, which I have.  A cousin has Lupus, another Graves and the list goes on.  If someone in your family has any auto-immune disorder, don’t immediately assume you do too but it should give you the heads up to check on it, if any “ailments” should arise!

Diagnosing Celiac Disease is usually a two step process, the IgE blood screening is commonly the first step in determining a Celiac diagnosis and you must continue to eat gluten for this test.  An endoscopy is the next step and also requires that you are ingesting gluten on a daily basis to obtain an accurate reading.  Depending on how quickly you are able to have these tests, you could be feeling bad for a while.  In my case, once the IgE results, which were not definitive but showed a high probability that I was Celiac, were returned and  since auto-immune diseases abound in my family, I immediately eliminated all gluten from my diet.  Yes, I feel much better but two other allergies have manifested since then.  Relying on past experience and knowledge, these were pinpointed and eliminated easily and quickly.

Confusing, yes!  In short:
Sensitivity – symptoms which could be arising due to a wide variety of causes.
Allergy – Over eager immune system reacting to a UFO (Unidentified, Floating Object) – even if it is common, your immune system seems to believe it needs attacking, ergo histamine levels rise, stomach reactions to eliminate the offensive particle can occur, sneezing, etc., all in a synchronized effort to get rid of the “alien”.
Auto-Immune Disorder/Disease – immune system is confused as to what should and should not be allowed to exist in your body, mistaking your own tissues as the “alien” intruders and attacking them with gusto and determination.

Misleading claims and marketing, symptoms that can be attributed to many other illnesses, tests that are inaccurate or not definitive, can all leave you frustrated and confounded … what to do?  Stick to sound, proven medical resources and your own awareness of your body or your child’s awareness of his/her body.  There are millions of claims offering help, some work, some don’t but first you must determine exactly what is wrong.  In my experience, relying on medical diagnostics and my own intuitiveness helped me to discover the cause of my distress.  Then I began to research what I could do to help ease the symptoms of my “dis-ease”.  To this day, I continue to read and research, asking questions of natural health practitioners and my doctor, discovering that the more I learn, the more I need to learn.  “Discoveries” are made every day but not all are applicable, helpful nor financially viable, for me and not all have proven results.  Hawkers and talkers of “proven cures” have been around for centuries and their claims have not always been legitimate.  Be aware and trust in your own senses.   It is a long road but with a little effort and medical help, you can have a happy ending by discovering and eliminating/treating your “dis-ease”!

🙂
De

These are my own experiences and researched findings.  I am NOT a medical doctor and strongly suggest, as a first step, you seek medical help, working together with your health practitioner, to determine the cause of your illness.


Having allergies and celiac disease, it is easy to blame every little DISorder on an improperly functioning immune system.

The latest:  my hands … constantly dry, splitting skin, chapped fingers … ugh!  Although I do have a dishwasher, many items used in cooking – pots, pans, crockery – are washed by hand.  My dry, chapped hands.  Finally I decided to buy gloves and place some hand cream in a prominent spot on the counter.  Foolishly thinking this would solve the problem.  I hate to admit it but the problem isn’t any immune problem or allergy, it’s me!  I like to feel things, a very tactile kind of person … always forget to wear gloves when gardening … forget or just don’t want to, not sure which.  In the kitchen I like to feel how hot the water is, if I am scrubbing every unseen bump on the pan … Whilst cooking, I am constantly washing my hands.  So, even though I bought a bright pink pair of rubber gloves and placed them right next to the sink … really, you can’t miss them … I always seem to “forget” to wear the darn things.  I do occasionally remember to apply the cream but then … I wash my hands again.  Do I have a “clean” problem?  Nope, just constantly have my hands in everything – squeezing lemons, chopping onions, washing meat … you know the drill … wipe the counter, wash the cloth, disinfect the cutting board, scrub the pan, clean the sink … If I can’t get into the habit of wearing those gloves – which just take away the “feeling” of cooking for me – I guess I will have to live with dry, chapped hands and nails!  Really … can’t wear gloves whilst chopping veggies or stirring some concoction in a pot on the stove.  Can’t wear gloves when writing down a recipe.  Can’t wear gloves when seasoning the food.  Put the gloves on, take the gloves off … it’s too much!

I know!  I need a sous chef … or a cleaner-upper … but I’d still have to wash my hands whilst cooking/creating a delicious meal, ’cause I gotta feel it in my hands!

If and when I find a solution to these dry, chapped hands of mine (and yes, I do slather them with olive oil every night, but…), I will let you know!  Enough ranting …

Meanwhile back to the kitchen …

Hmmm … what to make for dinner tonight?  Chicken?  Salmon?  Had beans yesterday, pork the day before … haven’t had Salmon in a while … Salmon it is!

Mmmm, with Saki, Sesame Oil, a drizzle of Tamari Sauce, Fresh Ginger – grated/sliced, Fresh Garlic, Black Pepper, a light sprinkle of Chili – for a little added heat.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350°, fast, simple and Yummy!

Mmmmm!

Might pop a whole, scrubbed, washed & poked, Sweet Potato in with it.  There is a bit of Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower salad leftover from yesterday … Perfect!  Dinner will be ready soon!

Little Olive Oil, a squeeze of Lemon and a sprinkle of Black Pepper.

Happy Eating!


Where to start on the road to a healthier lifestyle?  Do you need to pay money?  Any special supplies?  Think it’s too much work?  Here are the answers to those questions!

First determine why you would like to change your eating habits.  Is it a newly diagnosed health issue, a desire to lose a few extra pounds, or just learning to eat healthier?  Keep reading!

Next determine when you are most hungry during the day and when you are most likely to snack.  A few days of keeping a “food diary” really helps with this.  Eat normally and write down EVERYTHING you ingest, including liquids (coffee, tea, juice, pop, etc.) and the time of day.  Are you a breakfast eater or do you have a coffee and run out the door?  Do you get ravenously hungry at 10:00 a.m.?  Sleepy at 3:00 p.m.?  Starving by 5:00 p.m.?  Snacking at 8:00 p.m.?  Now you can actually see when & what you eat and feel the rises and falls in your blood sugar levels.  We usually reach for a quick carb snack when our blood sugar level has dropped because we are tired and carbs give us that needed boost.  Learned behaviour?  Genetic/natural inclination?  I don’t know.  What I do know is; protein is a better choice as it will keep you going further, longer.  As are whole foods containing natural sugars/carbs – they take longer for your body to assimilate/digest, thereby providing a steady stream of energy, instead of a quick fix and the flop that follows from eating processed foods – chips, cookies, snack bars, donuts, muffins, etc.

To balance out your eating schedule, first do a short cleanse.  This will clean out all the “stuff” stuck inside and help to regulate your blood sugar levels.  Don’t buy a box, do it yourself using natural foods.  There is a post describing an easy cleanse on my Facebook Page …  Green Tea in the morning, a shake/smoothie/juice, a light meal consisting mainly of veggies with a bit of protein.  Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tablespoon first thing in the morning or the juice of a lemon stirred into 1/2 a glass of water with a pinch of cayenne.  During a cleanse it is best not to drink any coffee or alcohol, nor eat any dairy, processed foods or glutens.  This gives your body the time it needs to clean itself of any impurities.  If you can, do a cleanse once a month, your body will love it and show the love you are giving it!  More energy, bright eyes, clear skin, weight loss and much more!

More money or less?  You decide.  If you do not buy any processed foods, snack foods (junk foods), pop, specialty coffees – you will save money.  This money you are saving can make you healthier!  How?  Spend part of it on healthy, organic food, (not all food purchased has to be organic – see list below).  Buy a juicer and make your own healthy, natural, flavour packed, nutrient rich juice.

In the beginning it will seem like extra work – after all, it is much easier to open a bag of chips than it is to make houmous, or salsa, or guacamole … but the energy boost you receive from the latter choices will very quickly outweigh the apparent ease of the former choice.  Even better … you will lose the desire for greasy, salty foods … not altogether but at least on a daily basis!  In a very short space of time, you will become so adept at making these snacks and stocking them in your refrigerator that you will wonder why you hadn’t done this sooner.

List of Foods:

FOODS WITH THE LOWEST NUMBER HAVE THE MOST PESTICIDE CONTENT/RESIDUE

1.  Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens
13. Cilantro
14. Cucumbers
15. Grapes (domestic)
16. Cherries
17. Pears
18. Nectarines (domestic)
19. Hot Peppers (Chili, Jalapeño)
20. Green Beans (domestic)
21. Carrots
22. Plums (imported)
23. Blueberries (imported)
24. Raspberries
25. Green Beans (imported)
26. Summer Squash (Zucchini)
27. Oranges
28. Broccoli
29. Green Onions
30. Bananas
31. Cantaloupe
32. Honeydew Melon
33. Cauliflower
34. Tomatoes
35. Papaya
36. Cranberries
37. Plums (domestic)
38. Winter Squash
39. Mushrooms
40. Grapefruit
41. Sweet Potatoes
42. Watermelon
43. Cabbage
44. Kiwi
45. Cantaloupe (domestic)
46. Eggplant
47. Mangoes
48. Sweet Peas (frozen)
49. Asparagus
50. Avocado
51. Pineapples
52. Sweet Corn
53. Onions

From the EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce TM

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

Combat the Flu!


Returned from Mexico earlier than planned because of Montezuma … Thank God I had no “issues” on the plane!  A few days later, I thought all was well, this nasty flu bug that’s going around decided to pay me a visit.  Bad head/sinus cold, queasy tummy, sneezing, coughing, aching … OK, enough of this.  Now I am on the attack, blasting this virus with my entire arsenal.  And what is that?  Here is the list:

Green Tea – which I drink every morning anyway;”
Milk Thistle Tea – great for detoxing the body and something I drink occasionally but now 2 cups a day;
Echinacea – liquid form.  It’s actually IMM formula, containing echinacea, golden seal and more – once a day;
Vitamin C – tablets 4,000 mg per day;
Probiotic – usually one a day but discovered, perhaps due to coeliac disease?, two a day is better, taken first thing, BEFORE anything else;
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tablespoon;
Vitamin D – liquid form.   This too I take every day, in the winter – just a few drops.  Living in the northern hemisphere, where during the winter it is too cold – most days – to go outside, skin exposed, and allow your body and the sun’s rays to make vitamin D for you, this is necessary.

Food stuffs:

MORNING

Juicing 5 – 6 medium sized carrots, 1 lemon, a small piece of ginger and 1 to 2 apples (depending on size).
– peel the carrots, remove both ends of the lemon (peel part) & cut into 4 wedges, core the apple & cut into pieces to fit the juicer;
–  start with a few apple pieces, add a couple of lemon wedges, toss in the ginger bit, finish of with the carrots;

Drink immediately.  Contains many vitamins, enzymes and other goodies to help boost your immune system.

Wash the juicer parts.  Done!

Next a shake containing many vitamins and minerals, Ultra Clear, also been taking this every day for the past 5 years.  Add one heaping tablespoon to 3/4 of a glass of purified/spring water.  Mix and drink.

More tea.

Yes, I am floating by now but that’s the idea.  This virus must be flushed out by your body’s amazing elimanation system – pores, coughing, nose blowing and other flushes … 🙂

AFTERNOON

 A smoothie is next on the agenda.  In a blender combine 1 banana, 1 heaping tablespoon of a protein powder (I use Vega – allergry-free & vegan), 2/3 glass of purified/spring water and start blending (lid on!).  Next toss in about 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and 1/2 cup other frozen berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries … ).  Keep blending until smooth – there is a little eddy happening on the top of the mix.  Drink immediately.

More tea – if you can stand it … 🙂  Milk Thistle, Lemon, really any herbal tea will do – no caffein

EVENING

Artichoke – cut off the bottom (about 1/2 an inch, 1 1/2 cm) & the top points (about 1 inch, 3 cm or more).  Place in pot, fill pot with purified/spring water until 1/2 way up the artichoke, cover and turn on medium heat until it begins to boil.  Turn down to low, wiggle artichoke around to avoid sticking to bottom of pot, continue cooking until you can pull an artichoke leaf off easily.  Pour a little (1 tbsp.) EVOlive Oil and the juice of half a lemon in a dipping dish.  Remove the artichoke from the pot and place on a plate or any available dish.  Careful ’cause it’s hot!  Remove one leaf at a time, dip the fleshy end into the … well … the dip, and with your teeth scrape off the tender bits.

Asparagus – Wash and remove stems.  Save the stems!  Roast asparagus in the oven with a touch of water (yes, purified/spring), just until a little soft – about 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove, drizzle Extra Virgin Olive oil and the juice of 1/2 or a whole lemon.  Sprinkle black pepper and oregano over all and munch away.  Add fresh garlic if you like.

Miso soup – In a pot of purified/spring water add the washed asparagus stems and boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until stems become swollen, then remove.  Add some diced tofu and let simmer for 10 minutes.  In the “broth” add 2 – 3 sheets of Nori or Kombu or really any seaweed you can find at your health food store.  Ripped up, of course, not whole.  Let simmer until it begins to “melt” down – approx. 5 minutes.  Add a few drops of wheat-free soya sauce, japanese rice vinegar & saki (for flavour).  Next add a bunch of chopped up green onions/scallions.  Once this has simmered for about 5 minutes, add the miso, remove from heat and stir until miso is blended in.  Eat it up.

Sweet Potato – Scrub clean.  Remove any nasty bits.  Poke holes with a fork.  Place on a pan and cook in a 350° oven until it is soft.  Split open and eat it all – yep, peel too!

Sounds like a lot to do but each item is only a few minutes of work and the benefits are worth it.  You will shorten the duration of your cold.  If you can’t find Artichoke or Asparagus try some broccoli – well steamed but not soggy, or cook up a plate of greens – chard, kale.  Use lots of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice on the veggies.

I am now on day 2.  Will let you know how it goes.

Valentine’s Day Menu!


This dinner will leave you feeling light, sated, relaxed and full of energy for the night ahead … The foods used for this menu are flavourful, nutritious and are said to have aphrodisiac qualities … Perfect for a romantic meal!

Watch the video!

Here’s what you will need:

1 Squash; either butternut or acorn
2 Halibut Fillets
8 Spears of Asparagus
1 Ripe Tomato
Salad Greens
1/2 Cup Dairy & Gluten-Free Chocolate Chips or Chunks
1/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries
2 Tbsp. Frozen Raspberries
Parsley or Fresh Basil
4 Scallions/Green Onions
1 Lemon
1 Orange
Balsamic OR Apple Cider Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spices/Herbs
Paprika
Cinnamon
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper (or pimento)
Dry Mustard Powder
Thyme, Oregano OR Basil
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Vanilla

White Wine
3 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Amaretto

METHOD

1. Wash the squash on the outside and cut in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  Place cut side up on a pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.  Flip over so cut side is down.  Place in oven at 350° for approx. 45 minutes.  It is done when you can easily press it with a spoon.  Remove, scoop out “meat” and any liquid  remaining in pan, place in bowl and mash/whip until light and fluffy.

Cooked Butternut squash

2. Cut Tomato in half (not through stem part but through the middle).  Place in a small pan, cut side up.  Sprinkle a little water on the bottom of the pan – not on the tomato!  Place in oven with the squash for only 20 minutes.  Remove and set aside (still in pan!).

3.  Snap off woody ends of Asparagus and save in a freezer bag, (great for soup broth!).  Wash and lay in a pan – single layer.  Place in oven at the same time as the Halibut.

4.  Wash Halibut, arrange in a pyrex or corningware dish that just fits it – not too big of a dish.  Pour approx. 1/2 cup (or more) white wine over all.  Drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sprinkle liberally with paprika and add a light dusting of mustard powder.  Chop up the parsley and green onions, sprinkle over each piece of fish.  Place in oven with asparagus when the squash is almost done (10 minutes of cooking time left).  Fish and asparagus will cook for approx. 20 minutes.

      

5. Before removing and mashing squash, add approx. 1 Tbsp. frozen raspberries to 2 Tbsp. olive oil in an ovenproof dish and set in oven for 2 – 3 minutes.  Arrange salad greens in a pretty bowl.  Remove raspberries from oven and mash – carefully, add at least 1 tsp. or more of thyme, basil or any herb you like, add 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt/pepper (if desired) and pour over salad greens just before serving.

6. Mash/whip the squash.

7.  Remove the asparagus and place in a serving dish, a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, shake of black pepper and a sprinkle of oregano or thyme.

A few slices of peppers added but not necessary!

8.  Place tomato on top rack, 4 inches from broiler.  Move halibut to very bottom rack.  Put broiler on high for 3 – 5 minutes – watching carefully, don’t want to burn the tomato halves, just brown them!  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little fresh garlic before or after cooking (or not), or a little pinch of salt & pepper.

9.  Serve!

This dinner takes less than an hour to prepare, from start to finish, which gives you time to set the scene and pamper yourself!

Dinner is served with the remaining wine – plenty to savour.  Dessert is served with a Blueberry Tea – in a cup or large brandy glass, pour 1 1/4 oz. Grand Marnier and 1/2 oz. Amaretto.  Add one slice of fresh orange – rind and all, and one cinnamon stick.  Pour orange flavoured tea slowly over the cinnamon stick.  I like to drink a bit and add more tea – keeping it warm and flavourful for a long lasting night cap!

Speaking of Dessert … 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks, 1/4 frozen blueberries (or fresh if available), 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier, a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and a small pinch of cayenne pepper.  All in a small pot, set on low until it all melts and blends together.  This can be poured over dairy-free ice-cream or a baked banana.  Make it the night before and spoon into small cups lined with parchment paper or muffin tin liners.  Leave to set and enjoy a lovely, soft, creamy, libido enhancing treat … Enjoy!  Chocolate mixed with pimento is a true aphrodisiac!

A small velvety smooth, soft, chocolate delight!


A friend sent me this and I thought it would be good to share at this time of year.  Enjoy!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.  I was just a kid. 

I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:  “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered.  “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been.  I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.  I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns.  I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.  It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm.  Between bites, I told her everything.  She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted….”Ridiculous!  Don’t believe it.  That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad,  plain mad!!  Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked.  I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.  “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked  through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.  That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it.   I’ll wait for you in the car.”  Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old.  I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.  The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker.  He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat.  I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter.  His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement.  I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it.  It looked real warm, and he would like that.

“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat.  I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it.

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.  Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.   Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes.  That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were  —  ridiculous.  Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care…

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

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