Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'm Turning 60... has reached 500,000 Visitors!!



THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! 

I’m honoured and delighted to see that 500,000 people have found 'I'm Turning 60...' since I first began writing this blog on October 20, 2009. I really hope that each of you found a recipe that you liked and that you’ve decided to try other recipes in my blog.

According to the stats, people from the United States account for over 250,000 visits, while Canadians account for about 50,000.
The other top visitors are from Malta, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine and Romania. 

During the years there have also been visitors from Turkey, Italy, Finland, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Thailand, Slovakia, Ireland, Denmark, Bangladesh, Sweden, Israel, Moldova, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Greece, Kenya, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Brazil, Bermuda, Namibia, Cyprus, India, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Madagascar and China.

During the past month there have also been visitors from Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Lithuania, Pakistan, Bolivia, Armenia, Luxembourg,  Latvia, St. Lucia, Indonesia and Argentina!
It is a small world after all!!

'I'm Turning 60...' continues to be more popular than my other blog, 
If you live in Winnipeg or are planning to come for a visit - or you're just curious - please take a look at it.

Okay… enough with stats, numbers and countries. 
Let’s get back to the recipes which deserve the credit for all these visits!
If you haven’t already, please do try the recipes on these lists.
They’re not popular because people don’t like them!

Here are the current all time top ten posts:

During the past month these have been the top posts:

During the Easter season these were popular posts:


The popularity of these posts tells me a few things:
You want traditional recipes, both for regular meals and holiday dinners.
You like easy recipes, such as the Peppers and Egg Sandwiches, as well as challenging recipes, such as Pizza RusticaYou also like cheesecake recipes.
Some of you are on the lookout for recipes that you had enjoyed eating in restaurants.
I was very touched to see that a few stories I had recycled from my radio hosting days are still being read.

Okay… holidays will always be with us. I’ll start post more recipes for Christmas and Easter, and not just Italian and Maltese recipes. Some traditional holiday favourites, like fruitcakes and peppernuts, are better if they’re baked in advance and given a few months to ripen.
I’ll post some easy recipes that will be handy for when you’re in a rush, as well as a few challenging recipes for when you want to impress your guests.
I’ll also post a few more cheesecake recipes, as well as recipes cooks shared when we were on vacations.

I was on the radio for nine years. I have quite a few stories that I wrote for the shows that haven’t been posted on this blog. Here's hoping that you'll enjoy them, too.


I'm also pleased to see that people have been reading the twice monthly posts that have information about the moon, stars and planets. Yes, they are also the posts that often have a recipe for an alcoholic drink, along with a few fun facts.

Since I don’t post on a daily basis, why not become a subscriber?
It’s easy and free to submit your email address. That way you can be sure that you won’t miss a recipe. 
And you won't miss anything interesting happening in the night sky.

I'd also like comments.  Really.  
It's easy to do.  Just click on Comments and write. 

Thanks again for visiting!
Hope to see you again real soon!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Toast Canada's 150th Birthday with a Caesar on Victoria Day

This year Canada is 150 years old!

The Caesar Cocktail was created in Canada.
National Caesar Day is the Thursday before the Victoria Day long weekend, the kick-off to our long awaited summer.
Why not toast Canada’s 150th birthday with a Caesar Cocktail or two!


Ah, the Caesar Cocktail… it was one of those great moments in Canada’s history…
Walter Chell wanted to celebrate the opening of the Calgary Inn’s new Italian restaurant in 1969.
His invention - the Caesar Cocktail - quickly became a popular mixed drink.
It’s been said that over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually in Canada.

Chell said his inspiration came from the Italian dish Spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams. 
He thought that if the mixture of clams and tomatoes made a good sauce it would make a great drink, so he mashed a few clams and then mixed the goop with vodka and other ingredients.
Brilliant or what!!
Well, Chell was a genius.
The drink was an immediate hit with the folks who went to the Calgary Inn.
Within five years the Caesar became Calgary's most popular mixed drink. 

Okay… here’s where it gets Karmic.
In 1970 Motts was developing Clamato, a mixture of clam and tomato juices.
That’s right, this happened one year after Chell created his cocktail.
Like I said, Karmic.

Clamato wasn’t as popular as Chell’s Caesar. 
But then somebody got a blast of inspiration and realized he could use Clamato to make the Caesar Cocktail.
An easier way to make an alcoholic drink?
Of course word spread like wildfire!
By 1994 half of all Clamato sales were made in Western Canada.
Motts claims that the Caesar is the most popular mixed drink in Canada.

The thing is, very few people outside of Canada know about the Caesar Cocktail. 
In the states it’s only known in bars along the shared border.
Most Americans just make do with a Bloody Mary. How sad!

Some say the Caesar is a hangover cure.
A 1985 University of Toronto study showed that drinking a Caesar when taking aspirin could protect a person's stomach from the aspirin.


In 2009, the Caesar Cocktail’s 40th anniversary, a petition to make it Canada’s official mixed drink was launched. Calgary’s Mayor, Dave Bronconnier, celebrated the drink's anniversary by declaring May 13 as Caesar Day.
Contests held across Canada in 2009 encouraged variations. Some ideas:
the glass being rimmed with Tim Hortons coffee grinds
Caesars with maple syrup
Caesars with bacon-infused vodka
Hail, Caesar!!

Want something to eat? Serve your Caesar with a Caesar Salad.


Hints:

The Caesar can be mixed in bulk and stored for a period of time before drinking.

Tabasco sauce and horseradish are frequent additions.
Vodka is occasionally replaced with gin, tequila or rum.
If you replace vodka with beer it’s called a Red Eye.
A drink without alcohol is a Virgin Caesar.


                        Caesar Cocktail

Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and dip into celery salt. 
Add 
1.5 ounces vodka
2 Dashes of Hot Sauce
3 Dashes of Salt and Pepper
4 Drops of Worcestershire sauce
5 ounces Mott’s Clamato 
ice 
Stir and garnish with a celery stick and a lime wedge.


                        Caesar Cocktail II

Moisten the rim of a highball glass with a lime wedge and dip into celery salt. 
Add
6 ounces Mott’s Clamato 
1 to 1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 Dashes of Hot Sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Celery salt
Freshly ground pepper
ice
Stir and garnish with a celery stick and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Scalloped Potatoes and The International Space Station


Many Maltese feel that a meal isn’t complete without a starch, preferably of the wheat type.
A few years ago we were vacationing in Halifax with my parents.
The only nearby restaurant was a Chinese one.
Pop announced he didn’t like Chinese food “Because they don’t serve bread.”
Noting that lack - and the rumbling of our stomachs - we and Ma decided to eat there anyway.
Pop came along… but he wasn’t happy.

Quite a few other people must feel the same way about the importance of starches, especially pasta and rice.

The post with the recipe for Ma's Imqarrun il-forn (Baked Macaroni) has had 8,313 visitors, while her recipe for Ross il-Forn (Baked Rice) has been used by 4,350 people.
Ah, pasta and rice… got to love them!

If you’re trying to cut back on pasta and rice, potatoes are a happy alternative.
They are vegetables, but can be counted on to add that nice bit of heft to any meal.

I recently posted a recipe for Ma’s Tres Leches Cake, a sneaky way to get more calcium rich dairy products into the kiddies.
If you’re looking for another sneaky milk recipe, Scalloped Potatoes is a good one.
Scalloped Potatoes is one of those lovely recipes that, along with being a bit devious, can be varied to suit your preferences, and whatever you have in your cupboards.


Hints:

Don’t like onions or prefer chopped green onions? Suit yourself.
Want to use Cheez Whiz or prefer more or less or no cheese? It will be fine.
Like a dash of garlic or nutmeg, or more or less pepper? No problem.

Have a leftover sweet potato you want to use? Sure, add a few slices to the pan.
Only have some frozen hash brown potatoes? 
Stir them into the sauce and cut the baking time down to 30 minutes, uncovered.

In a rush? Microwave the potatoes until they are about half cooked. Then slice them and add the baked slices to the sauce and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

This recipe will also work with condensed cream of mushroom or broccoli soup.
If you don’t have a tin of cream soup on hand, coat the potato slices and onion slices with flour, place them in the greased pan, and add the remaining ingredients, then use 1 1/2 cups of milk in place of the soup. 

Want some meat with your potatoes?
Top the potatoes with what’s on hand. Pork chops or ham slices work particularly well.
If they are thick pieces just give them a check to be sure they’ve cooked through before serving.


                        Scalloped Potatoes
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan
Heat oven to 375º F

Thinly slice
3 pounds potatoes 
1 large onion

Chop
3 slices bacon (optional)
In a large bowl combine
1 10 ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon black pepper 
Add the sliced potatoes and onion
Toss to evenly coat. 
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the chopped bacon pieces over the potatoes and cover with aluminum foil. 
Bake 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. 

Here are a few more old favourite potato recipes:






About the sky later this month, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

May 12 - The waning gibbous Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth. 
(Apogee = Away)

May 13 - Look to the southeast in the late evening to see the  Moon and the planet Saturn paired up on the horizon. See if you can also spot the star Antares to their right. You can also spot this same trio in the western sky before dawn.

May 17 - Mercury, the planet nearest to the Sun, reaches its greatest elongation of 26°, the farthest west of the Sun it gets in 2017.

May 18 - Last Quarter Moon, 8:33 p.m. At this phase, the Moon appears half full. 

May 21 - Before sunrise look to the eastern horizon to see the waning crescent moon with Venus right above it. Mercury is also up before dawn now, hugging the horizon. 

May 23 - The International Space Station will be making a number of passes across the United States and southern Canada and can be viewed several times during a single night.  

May 25 - New Moon, 3:44 p.m. The Moon is completely invisible to the naked eye. The Moon is also at perigee, its closest point to Earth for the month. This means the closest supermoon of 2017 is a New Moon, and won’t be visible!

May 27 - Look to the southeast to see the ringed planet Saturn near the bright star Antares, Heart of the Scorpion, in the constellation Scorpius. Both Saturn and Antares rising into the eastern half of the sky (southeast as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere) by early-to-mid evening in late May 2017.