Monthly Archives: December 2016


Okay, I admit it.  I watch cooking programs on T.V.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  Lately I’ve been watch “Gusto” and I particularly enjoy Jamie Oliver’s presentations.  A couple of days ago, on his 15 minute meals program he did a breakfast recipe that is really 15 minutes that turned out to be fabulous.  Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Porridge     Jamie Oliver

Makes 12 portions           Total time: 20 mins. (that includes cooking the porridge)


  • 200g blanched hazelnuts .85 cups*
  • 200g Medjool dates .85 cups
  • 400g porridge oats 1.7 cups         
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 heaped tablespoons quality cocoa powder
  • 1 orange

For Each Portion

  • 200ml coconut water .88 cups
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Greek yoghurt
  • 80g fresh fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, sliced banana, grated apple and pear, segments of orange                             .85 cups
  • optional: 1 pinch of ground cinnamon or quality cocoa powder


Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan on a medium heat until golden, tossing often, then tip into a food processor. Tear the stones out of the dates and add the flesh to the processor with half the oats, the vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Finely grate in the orange zest and pulse until fine, then stir the mixture back through the rest of the oats. Pour into an airtight jar, ready to use.

When you want a portion, simply put 65g of the mixture into a saucepan with 200ml of coconut water and heat gently over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until it’s the consistency that you like, stirring regularly and adding splashes of water to loosen, if needed. Serve each portion with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and 80g of fresh fruit. It’s also nice finished with a pinch of cinnamon or a dusting of cocoa, if you like. And remember, if you up the number of portions you’re cooking at one time, simply adjust the cooking time accordingly. Chocolate porridge – how cool is that!

Get ahead & batch it up

Make up a batch of this dry porridge mixture and it’ll keep happily for up to 2 weeks, making your brekkie routine super-easy.

This recipe comes from Season 1, Episode 5 of Jamie’s Super Food Family Classics.

Jamie Oliver: Super Food Family Classics: © 2016 Jamie Oliver

I hate it when they use metric measurements instead of cups, but the conversion tables help.  I still find myself guessing, but in this case it turned out great.  You’ve got to try this.  I made a large batch of the dry ingredients and put it in a plastic container (I collect these) that I got from cashews.  Seals tightly.  Then, using the same measures that the instant oatmeal called for, I cooked the cereal using coconut water.  It took about 5 minutes to get to the consistency I wanted.  I put some raspberries and blueberries (they’re on sale at Fortino’s this week) and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.  No milk.  WOW!!  great as like Jamie said.

Try this and let me know if you enjoyed it.


I no longer write letters to the editor

The Star seems to have terminated our relationship without actually letting me know.  I mean, no Dear John letter (well, my name isn’t John, but you know what I mean).  No kiss goodbye, not even a hand shake.  For the past several months I have been writing assiduously about my favorite topics.  Nothing, nada, appears.  Oh well, I don’t really care because I was just ranting and getting things off my chest.  Now I have this blog and I do hope some people will read it.  I guess as long as I read that’s all that counts because really, when I rant it releases the pressure just like the release valve on my Instant Pot!  LOL

Anyway, today what’s got me going are two articles in The Star.  Linda McQuaig writes about “creeping privatization” in the medical area.  We all know that Medicare does not cover everything.  In the last year, Elandro (my spouse) has developed an eye problem which makes his eyes very sensitive to light.  He had an operation last April which was covered by a special grant to the doctor because of a study that she’s involved in.  The first estimate was that it would cost $ 1 500.  He has no insurance and anyway, if he were covered by my insurance it would only cover up to $ 200 every two years!  Big deal.  He has to have lenses inserted and that’s been a problem because of the special conditions of his eyes.  Getting these lenses has cost $ 1500.  No insurance – state funded or otherwise.  Plus he will need glasses and we all know what that means.  And let’s not start on dentistry.  (And Elandro is only in his mid-thirties.  Well at least my home care when I will need it is covered!  Although he says not!  LOL)  As a senior I am supposedly covered for drugs – I mean the prescription type.  But every year I fork over $ 100 or so and then I’m nickeled and dimed by the pharmacy to fill a prescription that the government pays for – if it is on the list.  On the other hand, when our family needed hospital care or an operation, it was free – well at least paid for through our taxes.  We are better off than some others.  But of course, the big problem is funding!  Imagine, in a country as rich as Canada, there is a problem with funding things as fundamental as health care.  Well, there is a problem with funding adequate housing, heating, even proper nutrition, infrastructure.  No money they tell us.  But if you could see the multi-million dollar homes that are  being put up in my little (formerly) middle and working class neighborhood, you might not be out of place if you questioned the idea that there isn’t enough money to go around.  I have railed about this inequality for years now and I think this might be the reason The Star has stopped publishing my letters.  Big loss to them.  So now I’m giving them free advertising by referring to articles I read there.  I don’t mind.  It gives me an outlet for the steam building up in the Instant Pot that is my brain.

Happy holidays all.


Tried the Instant Pot – did it work?

Well, I tried making a lasagna in my new kitchen toy but instead of using lasagna noodles which I can’t break to fit into the pot, I used curly macaroni pasta.  I followed the instructions, layering the noodles with sauce, cheese and meat all in a spring form pan.  I poured water (1.5 cups as directed) into the outer pan, inserted the spring form and then went to switch it on.  But the instructions didn’t say which button to push – just to use HP (high pressure).  So I pushed the meat/stew button and it seemed to take forever for the steam to come on.  Then I couldn’t adjust the timing.  The recipe called for 20  mins.  It was on for 30.  When it finally came out, the noodles were still raw.  So I put it in the oven (kind of defeating the whole purpose of the Instant Pot) at 350 for another 20 minutes.  The noodles were still too hard, so covered it up again and put it in for another 20 minutes.  I could have made a proper lasagna by this time.  Anyway I finally had had enough.  It tasted good, except that some of the noodles were a bit crunchy – just those around the edges.  I did something wrong and I’ll try again.  I’m not going to let a little bit of kitchen technology defeat me.

I’m getting ready for the holidays.  I’m going to make Rainbow Veggie Latkes for Hanukah.  I wanted to make a stuffed turkey breast or a roast ham for Christmas, but couldn’t find what I wanted at Fortinos, so I settled for a whole chicken which I will stuff with a chestnut stuffing.  Lots of other things to plan to cook – don’t know if I’ll use the Instant Pot again this week.  I’ll write about it if I do.


Instant Pot Works!!

I finally got up the courage to try out my new pressure cooker.  The Instant Pot actually is much more than a pressure cooker, but today I made rice in it!  It didn’t turn out perfect – a bit undercooked and much of it stuck to the pot, but I did it!  I’ve been delaying because to tell the truth, I’m a little intimated by it.  I think I got this from my mother who never trusted pressure cookers because she said they tend to blow up!  Well, things have changed a lot since those days 65 years ago.  I intend to make more things, but we have a lot of left-overs to finish before I do that.  At any rate, I got to work and nothing exploded.


I’ve got a new toy

I’ve been researching the Instant Pot, a pressure cooker with a difference, all week.  Yesterday I went to and purchased it.  It arrived at around 10 a.m. this morning!!!  I read the owners manual (well most of it anyway) and even joined a Facebook group of owners, largely for the recipes.  Haven’t got up the fortitude to try it yet, but I think I’ll get there over the weekend.  I’m still tryin to figure out how to use my Kobo!  Too much new technology – no wonder I’m so tired!  At any rate, the new toy looks like fun.  I’ll post recipes as I try them.

I spent a large part of the week downloading pictures from the boxes I obtained from my sister.  Yesterday I went back to her place which is north of Toronto about 15 km.  to return them.  Of course, coming home I got caught in the blizzard, but by the time I was south of the 401 things cleared up.  But it was an exhausting trip.

I’m reading, but not much that has really struck me.  I finished a mystery novel set in Saskatoon by a gay author, Anthony Bidulka.  Stain of the Berry.  I’m still not sure what the significance of the title is.  The main character, Russell Quant is a detective.  There are two plots that aren’t really intertwined at all.  The novel won Lambda Literary Award which is a little known award for gay literature.  I’ve certainly read better books, but it kept me entertained for a while.

I’m not sure if there is anyone reading this blog, so if you are, please let me know and if there’s something that you’re questioning or have issues with, write to me.



Recipies I’ve tried

In the last couple of days I’ve tried a couple of new recipes.  I like to see the recipes in the Metro and yesterday’s caught my eye and started me salivating on the subway!  I tried it when I got home.  It was great.  Here it is:

Delicate Pumpkin Ricotta Pasta – Metro, December 8, 2016  from the column by Ceri Marsh & Laura Keogh  (www.

Prep: 20 mins.   Serves: 4


500g Pasta – I used whole wheat macaroni

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 shallots diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. fresh chopped sage (plus more for garnish)

1/4 cup ricotta

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup chicken broth

Fresh grated nutmeg to taste  (I didn’t have fresh nutmeg, so I used the prepared powdered)

Salt to taste

½ cup Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)


1.Cook pasta according to package. Once al dente reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water and drain.

  1. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heata. Add shallots, garlic and sage and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the ricotta, pumpkin puree, chicken broth, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, stir until combined.
  3. Add the ricotta, pumpkin puree, chicken broth, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, stir until combined.
  4. Stir in pasta and coat with sauce.  Add reserved pasta water to think sauce to desired consistency.  Mix in Parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve pasta with sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and chopped sage.

Me and the TTC and random thoughts

Frankly, I really enjoy using the TTC, most of the time. Maybe that’s because I don’t use it very often during rush hours. I enjoy the ease of it all. I have a bus right outside my door that takes me to the Lawrence West Subway station or I can walk to the Yorkdale station in 5 minutes. For the most part, travelling off rush hour times I can usually get a seat and I find the buses and subways run frequently enough so that I don’t have to wait very long. Sometimes the buses don’t run according to schedule, but for the most part it’s pretty good. I get to read a book or at times I talk to interesting people or I can just doze if I want.
Today I had to travel during the morning rush. It was crowded, but it wasn’t the TTC itself that I had trouble with. The crowd all gathered around the doors. People just wouldn’t move to the back. They preferred to block the doors, so it was tough getting on and off. I probably should have just walked to the subway. But then, on the subway, once again passengers were blocking the doors. In the one car that I was on, two people had reserved the adjoining seat for their backpacks! By and large it is passenger ignorance that creates problems.
This morning I took the subway from Dupont station to Eglinton. It was a 45 minute trip but I had a comfortable seat and a good book to read. The time went by quickly.

I did experience some trouble returning from Yonge-Eglinton Centre.  I am now using the Presto card because it is supposedly more convenient than seniors tickets (yes, I’m a senior – hard to believe, right?)  The Yonge-Eglinton station hasn’t introduced the Presto system yet and I had to walk a couple of blocks in order to get the bus I needed and it was cold!  But really that was the only inconvenience except.  Mainly it’s thoughtless passengers that make the TTC inconvenient.  At any rate, my experience on the TTC is generally enjoyable, much better than driving the car.  No parking problems and I don’t have to fight traffic.

One added thought:  when I was younger (we’re talking the 1950s and ’60s) my mother taught me that it was important to give up your seat to an older person.  I remember the time that my friend Jack and I were travelling on a streetcar and we shared a single seat (I think we were about 7 or 8 at the time and one single seat was large enough for the two of us.)  A lady got on and we immediately got up to offer her the seat.  She seemed old at the time, but that could have meant that she was 25 or 30.  At any rate, I remember she said to us to remain seated because a seat for two was better than a seat for one.  My point is that today I have been almost knocked over by youngsters fighting to get on the bus to grab a seat.  I’ve seen young people continue to sit while an older woman with a cane had to stand.  Not all kids are thoughtless, but it seems to me that the numbers are growing.  Yet I’ve met some really great kids on the TTC, thoughtful, intelligent, interesting kids.

Well, you can see that my entry today is stream of consciousness.  Spelling, diction and grammar are not my concern today.  Thanks for reading.