Saturday, November 30, 2013

Anna Sultana's Aljotta - Fish Soup #2, Maltese Style

Maltese have been Catholic for a long time.
Since St. Paul was shipwrecked there in the year 60.
Yes, it's been that long.

The Catholic Church used to have a lot of rules about food.
Especially about fish.
Oh, yes, they wanted us to eat fish.

About a month ago I posted a recipe for Aljotta, fish soup.
Well, guess what, here's another recipe for Aljotta.
Just so you don't get bored.


Hints:

As soup is always best the second day, why not double the recipe?
You can have a second meal set for another day.

If you're worried about the fish bones, you can strain the fish after they have been passed through a sieve or whirred in a blender.
The bones in canned fish are safe to eat and don't have to be removed.
Perfect for when you're in a rush.
And who isn't?

Bruschetta (garlic bread) would go nicely with the soup.
It toasts just as well if you use the broiler.


                        Aljotta #2

Serves 4

In a dutch oven heat
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Fry over a low heat
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Add
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mint
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Cups water
Bring to a boil.

Add
2 pounds small fish, cleaned
Simmer until the fish is done, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat.
Pass the broth, fish and vegetables through a sieve or whir in a blender.
Return the fish broth to the pot.

Add
1 Cup water
1/2 Cup rice
Cook until the rice is done, about 20 minutes.

Add
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Anna Sultana's Kawlata #2 - Vegetable Soup with Meat, Maltese Style

Maltese are not, for the most part, vegetarians.
And we sometimes get bored with a recipe.
Even with good recipes.
Same old, same old.

Of course she had another recipe for Kawlata.
Pick the recipe according to what you have on hand.
Or according to what was on sale.


                        Kawlata #2


Chop 
1 1/2 pounds pumpkin
1 small cabbage
1 small caulifower
3 turnips
2 onions
4 tomatoes

Place in a large pot
1 Tablespoon butter
Brown
1 1/2 pounds pork, cubed

Add
the chopped vegetables
4 potatoes, quartered
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 Cups water
Bring to a boil.
Lower heat, then let simmer 60 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Anna Sultana's Kawlata - Vegetable Soup with Meat, Maltese Style


Some people are vegetarians.
And some people are not.
Some people are satisfied with a meatless soup.
And some people are not.

I posted the recipe for Ma's Brodu taċ-Ċanga a while ago.
It's a recipe for soup that uses beef.
But just like with Ma's Minestra or vegetable soup, Ma had another recipe.

This recipe uses cubed pork or sliced Maltese sausages.
Or any sausages you prefer.
Or were on sale.


Hint:
For this amount of vegetables, the recipe calls for 
2 pounds pork or 1 pound Italian sausages - cut into bite-sized pieces.
If you prefer more or less meat, no problem.
It's a fine line between a soup and a stew.


                        Kawlata

Chop and place in a large pot
2 zucchini
4 potatoes
2 onions
about a pound of pumpkin
1 small cabbage
1 small caulifower
2 turnips
2 tomatoes
2 carrots
2 pounds pork, cubed or 1 pound Italian sausages, sliced 

Add 
3 Cups water
1 teaspoon tomato paste
salt, pepper, oregano or basil - suit yourself
Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30 minutes.

Add 
2 tablespoons lard or butter or oil - your choice
1/2 pound small pasta
Simmer until the pasta is done, about 7 minutes.
Serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Crusty bread also goes well with the soup.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Anna Sultana's Minestra tal-Haxix #2 - Vegetable Soup, Maltese Style

In 2010 I compared  the recipes for two zucchini favourites: Carmela Soprano's Googootz Giambotta and Ma's Minestra tal-Haxix.
Well, if you're tired of making those two vegetable soups, here's another of Ma's recipes.
It's similar to her Minestra or vegetable soup.
It just has a slight variation in ingredients.

Soup is a dish that allows for a cook's creativity.
Or for what's in season or on sale.


                        Minestra tal-Ħaxix #2

Chop and place in a large pot
2 onions
4 potatoes
4 tomatoes
600 g (about 1 1/2 pounds) pumpkin
1 small cabbage
1 small caulifower
3 turnips
Add 
3/4 litre (about 3 Cups) water
Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30 minutes.
Add 
2 Tablespoons lard or butter or oil - your choice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound small pasta
Simmer until the pasta is done, about 7 minutes.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anna Sultana's Brodu tat-Tigiega - Chicken Broth, Maltese Style

We've been told - Get the shot, not the flu.
And most of us have done that.
But it is Autumn in Winnipeg.
Which, temperature-wise, is a lot like Winter in many other places.

Because it's colder people stay indoors more.
Germs are indoors more.
Indoors is now the perfect place for catching a cold, or the flu.

When we lived in New York, chicken soup was called Jewish penicillin.
Well, that chicken soup recipe wasn't just prepared by good Jewish Mamas.
Maltese Mamas made it, too.
And so can you.


Hints:
The stewed hen can be served as a main course.
You can also cut a few slices of breast and dice them to add to the broth.

Tiny pasta takes about 7 minutes, rice takes about 15 minutes to cook.

Have a ham hock instead of a stewing hen?
No problem.
That's perfect for making Ma's Split Pea Soup.


                        Brodu tat-Tiġieġa

Chop into roughly the same spoon-sized chunks
1 large carrot
1 onion
1 celery stalk
2 potatoes

Rinse
1 stewing hen
Set aside the liver and the heart.

In a large pot place
the cleaned hen
the chopped vegetables
Add
8 Cups water
1 bouillon cube
the hen's liver and heart
Simmer until the hen is cooked, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the hen.

Add
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 Tablespoons rice or small pasta (stars are nice)
Simmer until the pasta or rice is cooked.

Serve with a hug.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anna Sultana's Soppa ta' L-Armla - Widow's Soup, Maltese Style


Hot drinks like Mulled Wine and Mulled Apple Cider are all well and good.
But, to paraphrase a rather famous saying, man does not live by hot drinks alone.
It's getting cold… it's time to make and serve some soups.

Sometimes Maltese recipes have some rather strange names.
I mean, cookies named Dead Man's Bones?

And then there's Soppa ta' L-Armla - Widow's Soup.
Not exactly the most cheerful name for a bowl of soup.
I notice Campbell's and Lipton's don't have it in their repertoire.

And what does a husband think when he sits down to a bowl of this?
Should he wonder if it's a hint, like she's hoping and planning her future?  
Should he eat it?

Well, yes he should, if he's Maltese.
And give thanks that his wife knows how to make a good homemade soup.


Hint:
If you can't find ġbejniet in your local store, substitute individual soft cheese balls.
Or more ricotta or cottage cheese.


                        Soppa ta' L-Armla 


Chop into roughly the same spoon-sized chunks
2 carrots
2 onions
1 medium cabbage
1 head of lettuce
1 endive (or a second head of lettuce)
1 cauliflower
1 celery stalk

In a large pot place
1/4 Cup margarine, butter or oil
Sauté the vegetables.
Add
2 litres of water
400 g peas
Simmer until the vegetables are done.

Slowly add, one by one
4 eggs
4 ġbejniet (fresh Maltese cheeselets)
4 Tablespoons ricotta

Simmer until the eggs have cooked.  

When serving, first place an egg, a ġbejniet and a scoop of ricotta in each bowl.
Then ladle on the vegetables.
Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anna Sultana's Nonalcoholic Hot Chocolate

I hear you… not all your friends want Spiked Hot Chocolate.
Nothing wrong with that.
Especially if they have to drive home.

Ma made nonalcoholic hot chocolate.
Especially for uncles who had to drive home.
Or when she was preparing drinks for us kids.

When Ma made hot chocolate for the younger set, she usually left out the coffee.
She figured we were jumpy enough without the caffeine.


                        Nonalcoholic Hot Chocolate

Serves 4

Combine in a medium saucepan
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest of 1 large orange
3/4 Cup water
Simmer over low heat. 
Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Whisk in 
2 Cups milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Continue simmering over low heat.
Do not to bring mixture back to a boil. 
Remove the saucepan from the stove, and whisk the hot chocolate until foamy.

Pour into mugs.
Top with
sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Garnish with
cinnamon sticks or a sprinkling of ground cinnamon

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feng Shui, My Favourite Home, and Christmas Preparations by Margaret Ullrich

Tonight is Full Moon number eleven for 2013.
We've been enjoying very mild Autumn weather for Winnipeg.
Yesterday the Santa Claus parade was staged, and folks in downtown Winnipeg - both those marching in the parade and standing on the sidewalk - were comfortable.
Yeah, well, we woke up to about three inches of snow this morning.
Seasons change in an instant in Manitoba.


My least favourite room is now just another room.
I know I can never make it my most favourite room.
And that's fine with me.
It's a room, not a book or movie.

A few days ago I posted Ma's Tuscan Sun Chicken recipe.
The recipe I cooked after we had seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.
Tuscan Sun has lovely ideas about friends, home and food.

I mentioned that Lindsay Duncan, as the character Katherine, had a few memorable lines, such as:
Regrets are a waste of time. They're the past crippling you in the present.

Diane Lane, as Frances Mayes, the movie's heroine, also had a few quotable lines.
I really liked what she said about the importance of a home:
What are four walls, anyway? 
They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer. 
Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It's such a surprise.

I want to return to thinking of our home as a shelter which was built to protect us, not as a stage for a project in which I hope to reach some level of perfection.

Tisha Morris had some finishing touches for the least favourite room:
  • clean the room: vacuum, mop, dust, paint the walls.
  • create my vision… only put in it what I love… be creative.
Right.

I gave it a good cleaning.
I didn't paint it.  The room hadn't seen much activity - the paint was fine.
Create my vision?  Put in it what I love?
Oh, please… it's a spare room.
The things I love are in rooms where I actually spend my time, where I live.


There were other suggestions in the phase two section:
Make repairs and improvements.
Okay…  good idea to do some touch ups, especially before the holiday season.
Create a sacred space.
I don't think so.  This is my home, not a church.
Change your wall art.
Do Christmas decorations count?
Hang a vision board.
Uh, no.  The walls are filled with pictures I like and Christmas decorations.
Enhance the lighting.                   
Do scented Christmas candles count?

That's it… I'm done with phase two.

Sorry if I'm sounding like a crabby old Grinch, but there's something about all the advertisements for all the things that should be bought to make this the perfect Christmas season that made me think twice about following Tisha's book.

I'm all in favour of a clean, organized, festive, uncluttered home.
I'm glad I threw out stuff I don't need any more.

It's just that well, between the pressure to create the well Feng Shuied home and all the commercials, which started on November fourth, about what a proper home should look like at Christmas, I've had enough pressure.
I'm tired of thinking about my home as a never ending art project.
I want to live in it, not just work on making it perfect.

Once the next full Moon arrives on November 17, you'll have a chance to stand back and take a look at everything you've accomplished!

Alrighty then… I'm looking at what I accomplished.
Good enough is good enough.


About tonight's Full Moon in Taurus… according to the folks at astrology.com:
Since Taurus rules finances you can expect to have a few interesting conversations about earning, spending, and saving money! But since Neptune changed direction only a few days ago, you'll want to make sure you use common sense. 
Still, this is a good time to make tangible, practical investments in your life that could help you feel more comfortable, whether you make a plan to save money, vow to treat your possessions more kindly, tune in to nature, or formulate values that accurately reflect where you are at this point in your life. 

In the days following the full Moon, but before the next new Moon on December 2, take the time you need to find your comfort zone.

Use common sense… make investments in my life to feel more comfortable.
I've found my good enough comfort zone.

As Katherine and Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun would say...
It's a nice little villa. Rather run down, but redeemable... Are you going to buy it?
      The way my life is currently going, that would be a terrible idea.
Mm, terrible idea... Don't you just love those?

Home… rather run down, but redeemable.
Be it ever so imperfect, there's no place like home.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Hot Buttered Rum for One Serving l Hot Buttered Rum for Many

Enjoyed the rum in your Spiked Hot Chocolate?
Looking for another rum recipe?
You've come to the right place.

Rum has always been a classy drink.
In an 1824 essay about the word rum's origin, Samuel Morewood, a British etymologist, suggested it might be from the British slang term for "the best", as in "having a rum time."  He wrote:
As spirits, extracted from molasses, could not well be ranked under the name whiskey, brandy or arrack, it would be called rum, to denote its excellence or superior quality.

I don't know if rum is as old as wine and beer but some say that fermenting sugarcane juice probably started in either ancient India or China.
Other folks visited, tried rum and brought some home.
The rest is history, more or less. 

Sailors have had a long history with rum.
In the days of the British navy's daily rum rations, the order to splice the mainbrace meant double rations.  This treat would be issued for such occasions as royal marriages or birthdays, or special anniversaries.
Only Queen Elizabeth ll, a member of the royal family or the admiralty board in the UK can give that order.
Like I said, we're talking a classy drink.


In the Holidays chapter in Entertaining with The Sopranos there's a recipe for that old classic, Hot Buttered Rum.
In keeping with it being a special drink, this recipe just makes one cup at a time.
How's that for special?


                        Hot Buttered Rum for One

In a large mug put
3 ounces dark rum
a lemon peel twist
1 stick cinnamon
2 whole cloves

Into a small saucepan pour
1/3 Cup apple cider
Heat almost to a boil.
Add
the rum mixture
1 Tablespoon sweet butter
Stir until the butter melts.
Pour the rum mixture into the mug.
Garnish with 
ground nutmeg


Okay… this won't work too well if you're having the gang over.
Especially here in Manitoba.
Especially if they're all cold from having been outdoors for a few hours.

Planning on inviting some friends over to make a snowman?
Pull out the crockpot and make some hot rum.
This recipe makes about 2 1/2 Quarts.
If you're getting ready for a large crowd - or very thirsty friends - adjust the recipe.


                        Hot Buttered Rum for Many
      
Into the crockpot put            
2 Quarts hot water 
2 1/2 Cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup butter 
1 pinch salt
4 sticks cinnamon
7 whole cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
Stir well.
Cover the crockpot and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

Add 
2 Cups dark rum
Stir to blend.
Serve in warm mugs.
Top each serving with
a scoop of whipped cream 
a dusting of ground nutmeg

Friday, November 15, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Spiked Hot Chocolate with rum and hazelnut liqueur

Back in December 2010 I posted two drink recipes:
Carmela Soprano's Candy Cane Martini and Carmela Soprano's Spiked Egg Nog.
Both drinks have a bit of alcohol in them.
Both posts have remained popular over the years.

About a week ago I posted the recipe for Anna Sultana's Mulled Wine.
It is also a drink with a bit of alcohol in it.
This post is also becoming popular.

Okay… I can take a hint.
You folks aren't teetotalers.
You'd like a few more alcoholic drinks, especially for the winter holiday season.
No problem.

Carmela's book had a few alcoholic drink recipes I didn't get around to posting.
I must correct that mistake.
Yes, it is time to enjoy the other drink recipes that are in the Holidays chapter in Entertaining with The Sopranos.

Let's see…
Along with the Spiked Egg Nog recipe there was a recipe for Spiked Hot Chocolate.
Yes, Spiked means it is not for the kids.
If the kids start guilting you, make some Mulled Apple Cider for them.


                        Spiked Hot Chocolate

Serves 4

In the top part of a double boiler melt
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Into a small saucepan pour
3 Cups milk
1 Cup half-and-half
1 Cup sugar
Heat almost to a boil.

Add 1 Cup of the warm milk to the melted chocolate.
Stir until smooth.
Gradually add the remaining milk, stirring until smooth.

Add
1/2 Cup rum
1/2 Cup hazelnut liqueur
Heat through.

Ladle the hot chocolate into large mugs.
Top with 
a large dollop of whipped cream
grated milk chocolate (optional)
Insert a candy cane or cinnamon stick in each mug.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anna Sultana's Tuscan Sun Chicken


Yes, my Ma was Maltese.
No, she never went to Tuscany.
But, to me, this recipe will always be Ma's Tuscan Sun Chicken recipe.

Sometimes recipe names are pretty straightforward.
Take peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
What you said is what you get.

Then there are recipes that have a little story that only means something to the cook.
For example, in The Sopranos Family Cookbook Artie Bucco has a chapter Mia Cucina.
In it Artie sometimes explained how he got his inspirations.
Artie's recipe for Quail Sinatra-Style, in Mia Cucina, was inspired by Artie listening to Frank Sinatra singing the song Luck be a Lady.
And there's nothing wrong with that.


As I said last January, Ma and I used to exchange recipes, especially during this time of the year, what with all the holiday recipes floating around.
In 2003 Ma had sent me a package of recipes she'd clipped from newspapers, such as the New York Daily News.
A few of them were chicken recipes.
High cholesterol runs in the family.
She wasn't going to send me a recipe for a standing rib roast.

After the package came, Paul and I went to see the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.
It's a movie about Frances, a writer who gets divorced.
She joins a gay bus tour in Italy.
During a stop Frances notices a poster for a villa for sale in Cortona. 
A little further on, the bus stops to allow a flock of sheep to cross the road. 
Frances realizes that they've stopped in front of the villa that she had seen for sale.
She believes it is a sign. 

Frances goes to meet the owner.
While there, a bird shits on Frances.
The owner believes it is a sign. 
She agrees to let Frances buy her broken down villa in beautiful Tuscany.
Your basic rom-com.


Okay… back to the recipes that Ma had sent me.
The day after Paul and I saw the movie, I cooked this chicken recipe.
While we ate it, we talked about Under the Tuscan Sun.
Whenever we eat Tuscan Sun Chicken, we remember the movie.
And there's nothing wrong with that.


                        Tuscan Sun Chicken

Serves 2 generously

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1/2 pound spaghetti, or any favourite pasta
When the pasta is almost ready add
4 cups broccoli florets
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking
In a large saucepan heat over medium-high heat
2 teaspoons olive oil
Add
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Cook 7 minutes on each side or until done (170ºF). 
Top with
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Remove chicken from the pan.
Cover to keep warm.

Add to the large saucepan
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
1/4 cup chicken broth
Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Add 
cooked pasta and broccoli
Toss gently and place on heated platter.
Top with 
the cooked chicken
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Serve with a green salad.
Wine is nice, too.


Lindsay Duncan, as the character Katherine, had a few memorable lines in Under the Tuscan Sun.  One of my favourites:
Regrets are a waste of time. They're the past crippling you in the present.

Don't have regrets.
Have Tuscan Sun Chicken.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Anna Sultana's Mulled Apple Cider l How to Open a Pomegranate Easily


Yes, Ma's Mulled Wine is great for cold winter days.
No, it isn't great to serve vast quantities of mulled wine to little kids.
Especially not in these politically correct, totally 'no physical contact in school' days.
And it's not good for the kiddies to tell the teacher that they love mulled wine.
Trust me.

But the kids do get cold.
And hot chocolate and cocoa do have sugar and caffeine.
The kids are getting enough sugar from the Halloween candy.
And it's not politically correct to react with a bit of a temper.

Fear not, there are hot drinks without caffeine that they can enjoy!
Yes there is some sugar in apple cider.
But you can control the amount.


Pomegranate trivia:
The name pomegranate is from medieval Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded".
A pomegranate can have from 200 to about 1400 seeds, which are an excellent source of fiber.  They are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K. 


Hint:

Open the pomegranate by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open.
Separate the arils (seed casings) from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. 
Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. 

Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate.

Or you can cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.


Clementines are very easy to peel, like a tangerine, and are usually seedless. 
If you can't find clementines, no problem.
Mandarins work just as well.
Or a navel orange.
Just toss the orange/clementine/mandarine seeds if you find any.


If you're serving this to really little kids, strain out the pomegranate seeds.
Use your judgement if they can handle eating the seeds with a spoon.


                        Mulled Apple Cider

Juice and set aside 
1 clementine
1 orange

Slice open 
1 pomegranate
Remove and set aside all the seeds.

In a large saucepan place
4 Cups apple cider
Simmer over low heat for a few minutes.
Add
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
the citrus juices
the pomegranate seeds
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. 
Let it simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

Add
1/3 Cup sugar, more or less

You can serve the cider as it is or strain the cider before serving.
Ladle into cups and serve.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Anna Sultana's Mulled Wine


We had to pack away our bird bath this week.
There's something sad about watching birds, desperately thirsty, pecking at a slab of ice.
Not even a very determined blue jay had any luck.
That ice is as hard as a brick.
Yes, it's definitely wintery here in Manitoba.

Warm and hot drinks are perfect for times like this.
But how much coffee or tea can one drink?
All the caffeine can't be good.

Fear not, there are other hot drinks to enjoy!

One of my favourite scenes in the movie The Lion in Winter is when King Henry ll and Alais were romping around in bed and sharing a hot cup of spiced wine.
It was supposed to happen during Christmas 1182 or 1183, depending how historically accurate you want to be about the movie.
Yes, the movie was fictional for the most part.
But the joys of hot spiced wine are real.
Especially when it's freezing outside.

Ma wasn't big on fancy drinks like cocktails or Manhattans.
But there was always a jug of red wine under the sink.
Perfect for making Mulled Wine.

Hint:

Clementines are very easy to peel, like a tangerine, and are usually seedless. 
If you can't find clementines, no problem.
Mandarins work just as well.
Or a navel orange.
Just toss the seeds if you find any.


                        Mulled Wine

Peel large sections of peel from 
2 clementines
1 lemon
1 lime

In a large saucepan place
1 Cup sugar
the pieces of peel
the clementine juice
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 Cup red wine
Simmer over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Continue to boil until you have a thick syrup, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and add
5 1/2 Cups red wine
Gently heat the mixture about 5 minutes.

Ladle the wine into glasses and serve.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween, Feng Shui, Reunions, Dr. Who and My Christmas Cactus by Margaret Ullrich

Tonight there will be new moon number eleven.
It just missed adding a bit of light to Halloween for the kiddies.
Ah, Halloween… even kids from countries that don't have the Christian / Celtic background are getting into the fun of trick or treating.

And what could possibly be wrong with a bit of fun?
We're not as easily duped as folks had been by the 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles' radio drama The War of the Worlds.
But there's always something.

About my project from Tisha Morris' book Feng Shui Your Life...  

Make your least favourite room your favourite.

I tossed out a third whole, roll out, big blue cartloads of recyclable stuff.
As Tisha said:
It is our intention that creates our future.
integrate your positive energy into the room, then you will be drawn to it.

I'm not drawn to that room any more than I ever was.
I'm just happy I don't hate it any more.

My elementary school classmates just celebrated our 50th anniversary.
Yes, I know, we actually graduated from grade 8 in June, 1963.
This is closer to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy.
But this was just the best time for everyone to get together.
And there aren't any reunion police checking up on anyone.


Time...
Sometimes you can count on something happening at the same time every year.
EquinoxesSolstices… Midsummer longest day, December shortest day.
They know exactly when these things will happen years in advance.
Without this dependability we wouldn't have things like astrology.

And sometimes science fiction and fantasy writers have a bit of fun with it.
As they did in the Doctor Who episode The Girl Who Waited.
By the by, Dr. Who is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this Autumn.


But sometimes things just happen when they happen.
Like the reunion.
And like the flower I just found on my Christmas cactus.
Really.  I just glanced at the plant in my kitchen and saw it had a flower.
Just in time for Halloween.
So much for the name Christmas cactus.
It doesn't matter.
The flower is beautiful whenever it blossoms.

Dependability is a good thing.
But at times it's nice to see things out of the ordinary, too.
Keeps things from getting dull… and too dependable.


About tonight's new moon… according to the folks at astrology.com:
Watch for a busy news cycle since an eclipse in Scorpio is known for revealing secrets, upsetting the balance of power, and bringing a fair amount of drama into people's lives… 
don't let your emotions make your decisions... be as thoughtful as possible. 
As this eclipse closes one cycle and begins another, let go of something to make way for new experiences. Consider ridding yourself of longtime bad habits, as well as anyone who doesn't have your best interests at heart. 
Invest in something you want to see grow and become more important in your life. 

Once the next full Moon arrives on November 17, you'll have a chance to stand back and take a look at everything you've accomplished!

Alrighty then… out with the bad habits and people, in with the good.
Keep a lid on the emotions, more or less.

And enjoy life's little surprises.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shrikhand for Diwali by Margaret Ullrich

Living in the north end of Winnipeg, I sometimes can't find some exotic items in my local grocery store.
However, one of the nice things about the north end of Winnipeg is that - due to the luck of having neighbours who are an incredible mix of people from all over the world - 
I get to taste food from other countries.

And I'm not talking the bland, toned-down stuff you find in stores, but real recipes from real folks who know how things are supposed to taste.
We're talking recipes that have been in the family for quite a while.
And they are perfect.

This Sunday is the Hindu feast of Diwali, the festival of lights.
And just like all proper feasts, there's a special recipe for the celebration.
Shrikhand is a dessert that is very easy to make.


Hints:
Greek yogurt or yogurt that is 9%-14% fat content would be perfect for this.

Saffron is really hard to find.
And expensive.
About the only time stores carry it is before Easter for folks who make Paska
They often have to request it a few weeks in advance.
An easier to find (and cheaper) spice you can use instead of saffron is turmeric.
I've read that instead of saffron, some folks use safflower annatto.
No, I don't know where you'd find that.

You can add more or less sugar, depending on how sweet you'd like it to be.

Shrikhand is also delicious as a cupcake frosting… and healthier.


                        Shrikhand

Place in a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl
1 Kilogram of thick yogurt 
Place the yogurt in the fridge and allow it to drain overnight.

Warm
15 mL milk
Rub over the milk to crumble
a pinch of saffron
Stir and let the saffron milk sit for 15-20 minutes.

Mix together in a bowl
the drained yogurt
the saffron mixture
5 g ground cardamom

Add a few spoonfuls at a time
375 g sugar
Blend thoroughly.
Refrigerate mixture for about an hour.

Serve cold and top with
sliced almonds and chopped salted pistachios