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 amazon.ca 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. sweetpotatochronicles.com)

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.

A comment on yesterday’s post

First of all, I did know Premier Notley’s name, but published wrongly because I didn’t review the article closely enough.  I have to take more time.  Sorry about that.

My view of the new populism and nativism that is the current political phenomenon all over the western world is that at least part of it has to do with many people feeling left out of the benefits of globalization, certainly left out of the promises that had been made with the creation of NAFTA, the EU, etc.  Some people (what I referred to earlier as the 1%) have benefited greatly. Perhaps that an exaggeration – maybe it’s more like 10%.  But the vast majority at least feels like it has been left behind, left out, simply losing their positons of entitlement.  And unscrupulous politicians – Trump, Leitch, Alexander (?) to name just a few of the North America politicos – have jumped on the emotions of the growing numbers of unemployed and dispossessed to gain political advantage.  While they themselves are “elites”, they rail against the elites as if they themselves had (and have) no part in the present economic conditions.   And again, this is not just a North American phenomenon.  We can see it clearly in Western Europe.  An interesting interview with a Toronto academic (one of the “elites” no doubt) on the CBC news at 6 with Dwight Drummond had similar things to say and Thomas Walkom in The Star this morning re-iterates much of what I believe.  No doubt this one reason why I read The Star – I find my own views echoed constantly.  They are preaching to the converted it seems (at least in my case).The lead letter in The Star under the heading “Rightists Carve any kind of Publicity” addressees the issue of the media paying too much attention to people like Trump and Leitch while ignoring the less extreme and aggressive right-wing ideologues.  The writer suggests that this is not only detrimental to the democratic process but gives the extremists an unfair advantage.  In times of economic dislocation, politicians need to be careful of inciting the simmering anger and frustration of those who are suffering.  It’s all too easy to blame “the other” – new comers, so-called visible minorities, anyone who is “different” from me.  Leaders – political, business, religious – have to lead, not further enrage.

Trumpism finds its way to Canada

Alberta opponents of a carbon tax rallied yesterday and while Conservative leadership contender Chris Alexander spoke, the cries of “lock her up” referring to Alberta NDP Premier Alison Notley echoing the hollering of Trump supporters and opponents of Hillary Clinton.   Alexander, much to the horror of many of his compatriots in the Conservative Party as well as most politicians in Canada did nothing – can actually be seen in the videos nodding in time to the chant and smiling.  In other words, he was encouraging the chant.  As even that bulldog John Baird tweeted, to seek the incarceration of a democratically elected premier because you disagree with her/his policies is repugnant and has no place in Canadian politics – nor any other democratic nation.  But Alexander, with his feeble excuses, and his opponent, Kelley Leitch, have adopted Trump’s populism in the hopes of gaining political credibility in this country.  For me, the sadness is not that a politician would stoop to crassness, but that there are actually Canadians who swallow this type of demagoguery. 

The middle and working classes in addition to the poor are feeling isolated from the halls of power and left out of the prosperity that was promised with the onslaught of globalization.  Too many CEOs and business leaders have milked the system for all that it’s worth and the common front line workers have been left behind.  Unless traditional leadership does something to close the gap between the 1% and the 99%, there will be more of this.  Moderates have to speak up, have to make themselves heard above the roar of the militants.  Trudeau’s “sunny ways” need an injection of sunshine at the moment or we are in danger of the Trumpites taking over this country as well.

Another day another book

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins is the story of Franz Huchel, who at about 17 years of age leaves his home and mother in rural Austria for Vienna and an apprenticeship with the tobacconist Otto Trynsek, a one-legged veteran of the Great War. One of the customers at the store is the elderly and frail Sigmund Freud and the two develop a strange relationship. The setting is Vienna just on the cusp of the Nazi take-over and Franz is overwhelmed by the growing disorder in the fall and winter of 1937-38. As well, Franz learns about love – both romantic and physical – when he meets the Bavarian exotic dancer Anezka.
I don’t normally read Holocaust literature any more since I was heavily involved with Holocaust education for more than 20 years, but this story, while the brutality of the era is not minimized, the lurid details are kept to a minimum and recounted only as part of character development. There are bad people of course, but there are also good ones who are totally human and multi-dimensional. For Seethaler there is no extraneous violence although the history is honest.
When writing, I was given the advice to “mine my own business” – in other words to write what I know. Seethaler is a native of Vienna although he now lives in Berlin. Wartime Vienna comes alive in the novel and is practically another character.
The Tobacconist is a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize. It is well worth the read.

Food and recipes

I recently purchased a subscription to Next Issue, so I’m currently getting as many magazines as a person could possibly read in a lifetime, let alone a week! I’ve been concentrating of the food magazines – well I’m a foodie! In addition to All Recipes, I’ve discovered “Ricardo” where I’ve found some really interesting (and fairly easy) baking recipes. I brought some biscotti to the family Hanukah party and they were a hit, especially for my Uncle Leon. They didn’t turn out looking all that great, but taste was fantastic.
Here’s a recipe for:
Rainbow Veggie Pancakes with Cottage Cheese
Ingredients Original recipe yields 16 servings
• 1 small sweet potato, shredded
• 1 small Yukon Gold potato, shredded
• 1 small zucchini, shredded
• 1 large carrot, shredded
• 2 green onions, chopped
• 1 cup Nordica 2% or 4% Cottage Cheese
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 2 tablespoons Gay Lea Spreadables, or as needed
• Gay Lea Sour Cream (optional)
• Shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (100 degrees C). Toss sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes with zucchini, carrot and green onion. Stir cottage cheese with flour, eggs, salt and pepper until well blended; pour over vegetables and stir to combine.
2. Melt a little Spreadables in a large, nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Scoop 1/4 cup (50 mL) portions of vegetable mixture into skillet; flatten using back of measure. Cook for 5 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet in oven to hold warm. Repeat with remaining vegetable mixture, adding additional Spreadables to the skillet as needed. Serve pancakes with sour cream and cheese (if using).
Footnotes Tips:
• Use a box grater or a food processor to shred the vegetables.
• Leave the skin on all the vegetables for added fiber and nutrients.
• Freeze extra patties on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to warm gently in a skillet or the oven for a quick lunch or side dish.
• Whole wheat flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour.

I forget which publication I found this in, but it really is good stuff. I used the Gay Lea products because they were readily available in the supermarket I go to.