Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spring in Winnipeg by Margaret Ullrich - Tom Collins Recipe

It’s March... time to think about Spring.
Some people see daffodils peaking through.
Some people see daffodils in full bloom.
Some people don’t live in Winnipeg.

In Winnipeg we still have snow on the ground.
No daffodils.

Well, there is a neighbour who has a cluster of daffodils on the snow on her front lawn.
But she also has clusters of roses, tulips, daisies and poinsettias on her lawn and in her back yard.
They’re all plastic.
Well… she likes them.

All in all I can’t complain about this past winter.
Compared to last winter we dodged a bullet.
There isn’t much snow, and there isn’t much of a threat of flooding.

That is, if we don’t get a blizzard in April as we did in 1997.
That blizzard led to the flood of the century for Winnipeg.
It really was referred to as a 100-year flood.
It also badly affect North Dakota and Minnesota.
So, apologies to the folks back east, but no, I can’t complain about the light snowfall we've had during this past winter.

The funny thing about winters on the prairies is that when it is really cold we have brilliant blue skies, and when it is milder we have cloudy skies.
Whenever it’s cloudy I crave lemon.
Especially in winter.
Along with the food recipes that feature lemon, I like drinks with lemon.
Such as Tom Collins.

The recipe was introduced to New York in the 1850s.
It’s a lemonade with a bit of a kick.
If you’re not thrilled by the ingredients in the Tom Collins, no problem.
There are about two dozen other Collins drinks: Juan, Jack, Jake, Michael, Sandy and Denzel, to name a few.
There’s even a Barnabas Collins with Sloe Gin.
It was most likely named after the 1960s show Dark Shadowsstar character.
Not the 2012 Dark Shadows (film) based on the same show.

Each Collins uses a different juice and spirit.
Something for everybody.
Try them all, or stick to an old favourite.

                        Tom Collins

Place in a tall glass
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix well.
2 ounces gin, vodka or rum
Fill glass with
Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry

About Thursday’s full moon in Virgo…
According to the folks at astrology.com:

This hard-working full Moon arrives in the middle of all this week's fun social activities, ensuring that you take care of basics. Get plenty of exercise and sleep, and eat healthy foods to make the most of this time. 

A full Moon is an excellent time to tie up loose ends, so clean out your closets and clear out any negative energy. 

When the Moon is full you'll have an opportunity to see how far you've come.  This full moon provides an opportunity to purify yourself by releasing toxins that have built up over the last six months.  You’ll be feeling pretty special.

Tap into the power of the Pisces Sun to help you access your intuition, which will guide you in making wise decisions. 
You'll want all of your sharp attention to take advantage of the new Moon on March 20 which is also a solar eclipse, and a potentially dramatic new beginning for you!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Welsh Cakes and Saint David's Day

Happy Saint David's Day!
March first is a very special day for Paul and me.
No, we’re not Welsh.
We don’t have any Welsh relatives or friends, as far as I know.

It’s just that, a couple of times, a few years ago, we made some big changes in our lives at this time.

In 1975 - forty years ago today - we moved from our house in Vancouver, British Columbia to an apartment in Winnipeg.
Yes, the cold was a shock.
Yes, we’ve lived in Winnipeg for forty years!!

On March 1, 1978 we moved into our first little house on the prairie.
As we'd lived in two apartments in this city, it was our third home in Winnipeg.
So Paul and I stroll down a few memory lanes on March 1.

Oh, about St. David of Wales…
He appreciated the impact of doing the little things in life.
One of his sayings: A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark. 
He was a saint, not a Rhodes scholar.

He was an aristocrat from West Wales who lived in the sixth century.
In his honour many wear either a daffodil or a leek, or display the flag of St. David, which is a yellow cross on a black background.

St. David taught his monks to lead a simple life, avoiding beer and meat. 
His only drinking water, led to his nickname Dewi Ddyrwr (the water drinker).
Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus means Happy Saint David's Day.

If you’re really eager to do something Welsh try saying the name of a Welsh village:

Llanfair PG (its shorter name) is on the island of Anglesey in Wales, and is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the place with the longest name in Britain.
It means: Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave.
Now you know.

Since Malta was part of the British empire until 1964, there were a lot of British recipes that became quite popular on our islands.
One such recipe is Welsh cakes, a nice simple dessert that goes well with a cup of tea.
Well, that’s how the Brits serve tea.
To do it Maltese style, serve the tea in a glass.


You can use dried currants instead of the raisins.
Or a mixture of the two, if you have some bits leftover from Christmas baking.
Some people leave out the fruit, then split them and sandwich them with jam.

You can  also add a pinch of allspice for a bit of a kick.

About the milk, you want to make a firm dough that is similar to pie pastry.
You can use a glass to cut the dough into 3 inch rounds.
In a rush?  Cut them into squares.
St. David won't complain.

Some folks say each side needs to be caramel brown before turning.
Some like the sides almost burnt.
Some prefer them light brown.
Suit yourself.

You can dust the cakes with sugar while they are still warm. 
Or you can let them cool and then sprinkle them with sugar.

Welsh Cakes also freeze well.

                        Welsh Cakes

Makes 4 dozen
Sift together in a large bowl
4 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3/4 Cup butter or lard (or a combination of half of each)
Mix until it looks like fine bread crumbs.
1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 Cups raisins 
Place in a small bowl
4 large eggs
Beat lightly and add to the flour mixture. 
Gradually add about
1/2 Cup milk, more or less 
Chill dough 1 to 2 hours.

On a floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch and cut into rounds. 
Lightly grease a griddle or frying pan.
Bake the cakes over low heat until golden brown. 

Serve warm with butter. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Traditional Maltese food for Lent and Easter - Links for Anna Sultana's recipes

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Yesterday was the start of Chinese New Year.
It has a few weeks' worth of traditions to ensure you’ll have a great year. 
Remember… your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.

Speaking of traditions for starting a new year…

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.
Forty days during which we’re supposed to basically make a few new year’s resolutions and actually do them - at least for forty days. 

The Catholic Church has a few ‘suggestions’ to get the ball rolling.
As with most religions, the hints affect what Catholics eat.
Basically it’s cutting back in general, and no meat on Friday.
In Malta fish such as lampuki, whitebait and salted cod were eaten during Lent.
Also stewed snails (bebbux), stuffed artichokes (qaqoċċ mimli) and fritters (zeppoli).

During the Holy Week bakers also bake apostles' bagel, a large round loaf with almonds on top (qagħqa tal-appostli). 

There are also seasonal variations to certain dishes, for example, adding fresh broad beans to kusksu (a vegetable and pasta dish).

The recipes are delicious, any time of the year.
Maltese are into self improvement, not self abuse.

Here are a few more of Ma’s Lenten dishes:

Lampuki and Qara' baghli biz-zalza pikkanti - Fish and Marrows with Piquant Sauce
Torta tal-Lampuki - Fish and Vegetable Pie
Baked Stuffed Lampuki - Baked Fish
Fried Lampuki - Fried Fish
Baccala alla Marinara - Baked Salt Cod
Bebbux bl-Arjoli  - Snails with Arjoli Sauce
Bebbux bl-Arjoli - Land Snails or Seafood with Hot Arjoli Sauce

Froga tat-Tarja - Spaghetti Omelette

Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes
Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes  II

Zeppoli ta' san Guzepp - Fried choux pastry with sweet ricotta filling and honey coating
Kwareżimal - Almond Biscotti
Torta tal-Ħaxu / Torta ta' l-Irkotta - Easy Maltese Ricotta Pie
Qassatat ta I-Irkotta - Small Ricotta Pies
Qassatat tal-Pizelli - Small Pies with Peas
Figolli - Traditional Maltese Easter Sweet with Royal Icing and Almond Filling (with and without eggs)

Karamelli (Julep sweets)
Pastizzi tal-Inċova (Anchovy cakes)
Qassatat tal-ħelu (sweet biscuits) 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Party on!! by Margaret Ullrich - Cosmopolitan Recipe

Yesterday was Canada Flag Day!!
Happy 50th birthday to our flag, eh!!

Today is also holiday for both sides of the border.
Happy Presidents' Day to my American visitors! 

In Canada the holiday goes by a few different names.
Family Day for most Canadians - Louis Riel Day for us in Manitoba.

Here the holiday was renamed in honour of Louis Riel, the Métis leader who is regarded as the Father of Manitoba.
There’s a ton of fun stuff happening at Festival du Voyageur this week to celebrate our province’s Métis roots.

What a jam packed week this is!
Last night we watched Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special.
Great seeing our old favourites team up with the younger folks.
They all looked like they were having fun - even Kanye West, who showed his funnier side and went along with the Myers and Carvey’s Wayne’s World gag.

Tomorrow there’ll be pancakes for Mardi Gras.
After Ash Wednesday we’ll celebrate Chinese New Year by following a few traditions.
Can’t hurt and some are a lot of fun.
It’s nice to have a few reasons to celebrate when the weather’s so cold!

About a week ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Lemon Cranberry Scones.
More about cranberries…
Yes, they are tart.
Cranberry juice is usually sweetened or blended with other fruit juices. 
Just so you know, cranberry juice cocktail, at a teaspoonful of sugar per ounce, is more sweetened than soda is.

Many cocktails are made with cranberry juice. 
One of the more famous is the Cosmopolitan.
Around 1987 John Caine brought the Cosmopolitan from Ohio to San Francisco.
The Cosmopolitan gained popularity in the 1990s, since it was frequently mentioned on the television program Sex and the City.  

Demeter Fragrance Library has created a cologne intended to smell like the cosmopolitan cocktail.

So, here’s the recipe for the drink, not the cologne.


3 parts lemon flavoured vodka
2 parts cranberry juice
1 part triple sec, such as Cointreau
1 part lime juice

Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
Shake well and double strain into a large cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge or lemon slice.

About Wednesday’s new moon in Aquarius…
According to the folks at astrology.com:

Do you feel as if you have one foot in your past and the other in your future? This unusual new Moon straddles a pair of signs occurring just as the Moon and Sun cross the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces. 
Anything you start now is strongly infused with memories, so take the best from what you've learned and apply it to your future. 
This is a tailor-made time for dreamers - no cynics allowed! Since Neptune weighs in, not everything will be clear. Faith trumps logic now, so let it guide you in your choices. 
Give your logical mind a rest and pay attention to your feelings and intuition.

This is the second lunation in Aquarius since January. This is the moment to make your wish list and set your goals for the next six months!
Be careful about anything you start under this influence. 

The Sun also swoops into intuitive Pisces, heightening psychic abilities, so any extravagant, outrageous plans you've laid out under this new Moon may have you balking within hours.