Thursday, July 31, 2008

Foot Note - Part 1

Did you know that your feet continue to grow as you get older? Yup, it's true! Most people will increase 1 to 2 sizes from late teens to in their 50's and 60's. When I was in my late teens, I was generally a size 7 1/2 or 8. By the time I was in my mid 30's I was an 8 1/2. Now that I am 50, I am a size 9! I've never been a fashion plate in any sense of the word, but especially when it comes to shoes. In my late teens and early 20's, I tried learning to walk in heels, but my ankles weren't strong enough to keep me balanced, so I suffered a few sprained ankles. I gave away the two pairs of 1" heels I did have and never looked back!

I used to have a lot of trouble getting shoes to fit properly, as I had a hammer toe beside the big toe on the left foot. When I was 19, I was going to have the toe straightened, but when the Doctor measured the toe, he realized that it would be significantly longer than the other toes. He recommended an amputation at the first joint, leaving a stub. I wasn't thrilled with the idea but finding any shoes that fit was a nightmare, so I agreed. You wouldn't think that loosing half a toe would effect your balance that much, but it took quite a while to find my equilibrium. I even had phantom toe for years afterwards!

I've never had a pedicure, nor have I ever really wanted one. An occasional foot massage is nice, but having someone do all the scrubbing and buffing to remove all those crusty bits that naturally develop as we put our feet through their daily paces, just seems a little weird to me.
I know there are tens of thousands of people who derive their livelihood from the pampering of our feet, but it just isn't something that I'm comfy putting myself through. BTW, have you heard about the newest trend in foot care and pedicures? News media have been chomping at the toes to bring us the news on this latest craze.

Fish Pedicures with CARP that remove the scaly skin from your feet! Apparently, they use tiny, toothless carp that nibble away at the crusty parts. People who have been brave/insane enough to try it, claim that it doesn't hurt a bit. It feels a little weird at first, but then it just kind of tickles. It takes about 15 minutes for the fish to do their job and the feet come out feeling soft as a babies bum.
The craze started in Turkey and some Asian countries, and now has it's first outlet in the USA. A salon owner in Alexandria, Virginia has begun offering the carp treatment as a warm up to the real pedicure that is done by the human staff. About 100 of the little "doctor fish" are released onto your feet in a tank of warm water - at $35.00/15 minutes or $50.00/30 minutes. In the first four months, over 5,000 people tried it!

Yeah, I don't think I really want to try that - even for free. I'll stick with the pummus stone and my monthly visit with my regular foot care nurse.

My toenails have caused me numerous problems over the years. It never seemed to matter how or who cut my nails, but I would occasionally get ingrown toenails on the big toes and the middle toes of both feet. The problem was sporadic for years, but had become chronic in the last few years - and EXTREMELY painful!

I'll tell you that story tomorrow...


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Super Duper Computer Store

I got this email the other day, and thought it was quite funny, so I decided to share. I can just hear Abbott and Costello doing this! Hope you get a kick out of it too!


If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch,'Who's on First?' might have turned out something like this:
Costello calls to buy a computer from Abbott...
ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinkingabout buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to writeproposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Window's.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'msitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue 'W'.
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue 'w' if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything Ican track my money with?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
ABBOTT: Why not? They own it!

(A few days later)
ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on 'START'



Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Bucket List

Last year there was a movie called "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The movie got mixed reviews, but the concept of having a "Bucket List" has actually been around for a long time. For the uniniciated, a "Bucket List" is a list of things that you would like to see, do or acomplish before you die or "kick the bucket". Some people start these lists at a youbg age and others start them later in life. They are often revamped and edited due to health and finance but the concept is still the same.

I have a list in my mind but I've never said more than a couple of things out loud or put it in print. I've considered writing out the list several times over the years and more or less dismissed it as dreams that could never be fulfilled. Many of the things I'd like to be able to do are just to far out of my financial and physical capabilities. Not everything on the list would be impossible for me, but it is the things I know I'll never do that have stopped me from putting this list on paper.

Since I have now reached the proverbial top of the hill - age 50 - and am about to begin the so called decent into old age, I've reconsidered and decided what the hell! I'll write the list! Some items are doable but most are of the "if money were no object" variety! So, here goes, this is;
"My Bucket List"!
As a music lover there are a lot of performers that I wish I'd gotten to see while they were still touring or before they died. However, there are still several musical artists and groups that I'd like to see. These include: Tony Bennett; Bette Midler; Rod Stewart; kd lang; Michael Buble; James Taylor, John Prine, The Chenille Sisters; Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash; The Glenn Miller Tribute Orchestra. There are a few artists that I've already seen and would love to see again: Connie Kaldor; Ferron; Holly Cole; Leonard Cohen; Roy Forbes; Bruce Cockburn; Tuck & Patti.

I'd do a lot of travelling!
- Scotland. Ireland and England are where most of my ancestors came from in the 1700's and 1800's. I'd love to travel through the cities and countryside where my ancestors lived. I'm not sure I'd like a lot of the food and I've always hated the bagpipes but I'd still like to go!
- Switzerland, Austria and Belgium are known for beautiful scenery, fine craftsmanship in watches, jewellery and some of the best chocolate in the world! I'm not up to mountain climbing and am a bit scared of heights but I'd still love the scenery and the chocolate!
- Australia is a country that I'd love to explore. I know several people who have been and they rave about the beauty and the wonderful people.
- United States. I've only been to the USA a few times, but there are several states that I'd like to visit. I was in Colorado for a week in the summer of 1977 and I've always wanted to go back. I'd also love to see:
Alaska - would like to be there to celebrate the longest and shortest days of the year.
Arizona - my sister and brother-in-law have been wintering there for years. I know many people who rave about the area.
New Mexico - would love to go to the hot air balloon festival
California - I'd like to see LA, San Fransisco and other areas of the state but hope there isn't an earthquake while I'm there!
New York - I'd like to see the city and of course I'd visit my nephew who lives nearby.
Washington - would like to see Spokane, Seattle and the country side.

Canada - There are lots of places here in my own country that I'd love to see. I'd love to got to the Maritime's and also to Montreal in the east. I'd love to go to Vancouver, Victoria and Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. I'd stop in Calgary to see my niece and her family. If I could I'd take a Via Rail trip across Canada to see the whole country!

If I could, I'd travel north to see Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba. I'd watch the sunrise in the east as I dip my toes in the Atlantic Ocean. I'd watch the sunset in the west as I walk along the Pacific Ocean shoreline. I'd travel to South America or Antarctica to see Penguins in their natural habitat.

I used to think I'd like to go for a ride in a hot air balloon, but there have been a number of accidents (some fatalities and serious injuries) in the last few years so not so sure about that one anymore!

There is an antique train called the "Prairie Dog Central" that travels on weekends from summer through fall. The trip is only a couple of hours each way, but it travels the prairie countryside and offers a stop at a country market. I'd love this trip any time but especially in the autumn when the leaves are turning.

I want to take a horse drawn carriage ride and a sleigh ride. I want to make snow angels and see the annual Christmas lights display at the Red River Ex Grounds.

I haven't been mini golfing or ten pin bowling since the late 1980's. I was never that great at either but I enjoyed them and would love to try playing again.

I'd like to go back to visit Camp Koinonia on Max Lake and walk the paths that I walked 30 years ago and sit at a camp fire on Koinonia Hill.

I'd love to find a way to enjoy walking in the great outdoors the way I did before loosing so much of my sight. I know I'd have to have someone with me to at the least alert me to obstacles but it would also have to be someone who enjoys the serenity and has a similar pace. I love walking in the leaves, the gentle rain, the snow or pretty much any time of year, I'd walk in the early dawn, the cool of the evening and by the light of the moon.
I want to spend quality time with my friends and family - the people I love. I want to laugh and talk with them. I want to hug them and tell them just how much I love them and what their presence in my life has meant to me.

I want to wile away the evening hours sitting by the glow and warmth of a wood burning fireplace (preferably in the arms of someone I love and who loves me!).

One more time, I'd love to be able to enjoy the "companionship" of someone special.....

So that is my list. Some of it is complete fantasy and some more realistic. Some would cost a fortune and others a few dollars. Some would take weeks or days and others only a few hours. Most of us have no idea how much time we have left. Knowing can be both a blessing and a curse. So live each day to the fullest and treasure the time you have. Experience life while you can. That way you won't someday be thinking; "I wish I would have...."


Friday, July 25, 2008


Who doesn't love a sale? The word just screams to come check it out. The trick though is to know what is a steal of a deal and what is a so-so deal. Winnipegger's are notorious for being a bargain hungry bunch. We know good deals when we see them and rarely pay retail or full price unless we absolutely have to! There are lots of second hand and gently used stores in the city and you never know what you might find hiding on a rack or tucked in a shelf or a discount bin!

"Garage Sale", "Yard Sale", Tag Sale" are all the same idea - just different names. People have sorted through their belongings and decided to sell what they don't need or use. Most people will try making a little money by selling it on their own first. What doesn't sell the first time will sometimes end up being added to a friends sale or donated to a local charity for sale/distribution. It can be an awful lot of work to prepare everything, price, setup and advertise your sale. There is always the possibility of rain or ridiculously hot weather the day of your sale - but there will always be people there to pick over your prized possessions like vultures and pass judgement on your taste as they offer you half the amount on the sticker price! Even if your sale starts at 9:00AM and you specify "NO EARLY BIRDS", there will be people trying to get a head start at 7:00 as you are doing the set up! Personally, I've only done a couple of garage sales, but I was able to sell a fair amount.

I'd much rather be on the other side of the table looking for the deals!
When I was in my late teens, my mom and I started going to garage sales to look for things for my first apartment. We'd check the papers for garage sales in nearby towns, then head out early Saturday morning. We'd start in Winkler or Morden (depending on who had the most sales), but also look for signs along the boulevards for last minute sales. It wasn't unusual for us to hit 15 or more sales in a few hours. We weren't interested in clothes or electronics. We looked mostly at housewares, books and music. Over a couple of years, I managed to find all my cookware, bake ware, tableware, some cookbooks and countless other items.

Over a couple of weekends, I got extremely lucky and manged to find my entire cookware set over about 5 or 6 sales. My mom had the old "WearEver" cookware that was really solid and almost impossible to burn in it. That is what I grew up using and I really hated the cheap stuff I'd bought at a discount store. We found two sauce pans a large deep fry pan, a skillet and a dutch oven - all with lids! We checked them all carefully to make sure there were no pit marks or other damage. The fry pan was slightly warped but that was easily fixed. Dad always kept a block of wood to lay over the underside of the pan, then he would pound it out with a hammer. He'd been doing that with moms pots for years. The pots were stained inside and needed a thorough cleaning. Another simple problem to fix. We got a bunch of crab apples off one of our trees and cut them in half. We filled each pot, then put a bit of water in each and let them cook. The acid from the apples cleaned the pots and left them looking like new! (We gave the cooked apple slop to the farm animals.) I spent less than $20.00 for all of those pieces and still use them today!

In the early 80's a friend and I found a pair of end tables for $20.00 and paid $12.00 at a yard sale and managed to convince a bus driver to let us on the bus to get them back to my apartment! A couple of months later I bought a platform rocker for $15 (asking $20) and carried it just over 1/2 mile home. I have also carried a coffee table a 1/4 mile. I've stripped and refinished tables and small free standing cupboards from sales.

Oh, the things we won't do for a good deal!

I haven't done much garage sale shopping in the last ten years or so. It's not that I don't need things or that there aren't any in my neighborhood. There are plenty of sales and lots of things I'm sure I'd eventually find that I had no idea I needed! It's more that I don't trust my sight to tell me if there are real deals for me. Unless I'm shopping with someone who knows my tastes and what I may be interested in, it really isn't that much fun for me anymore. Too bad though, as I'd swear that I can hear the sale signs calling me to come see what they've got!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Left is Right!

In Hebrew, as well as in several other ancient languages, the term "hand" was a symbol of power or custody. The left hand symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misfortune, natural evil, or punishment from the gods. This metaphor survived ancient culture and was integrated into mainstream Christianity by early Catholic theologians. In many European languages, "right" is not only a synonym for correctness, but also stands for authority and justice.

Even the Latin based English word "sinister" originally meant "left" but eventually came to mean "evil"! The left side of the body is often seen as clumsy, awkward and unclean. Some cultures see the left hand as being used for cleaning up after bodily functions.

In many sports a left handed person is known as a "southpaw". For some this is an advantage but it will also usually require more specialized equipment for that player.

In the 18Th and 19Th century "left" handedness was often treated as a curse of the devil. Sufferers of this "affliction" were often thought to be possessed and they were beaten whenever they used their left hand. Well into the twentieth century, it was fairly common practice to tie the left hand behind the back to force the use of the right hand.

Being left handed can certainly be a challenge! I should know, as I've been left handed my whole life.

Learning to tie shoelaces was incredibly hard. My mom tried teaching me several times and even tried having me watch her in the mirror so I would see it in reverse. I couldn't get it. She finally asked a family friend, who happened to be left handed to try teaching me. I learned it in no time!

Penmanship was never my strong point. Trying to write without smudging the ink or getting ink and pencil markings all over the left hand and wrist was almost impossible. I even tried doing the twisted backhand to avoid the mess but that only made my scrawl worse!

I was in 4H for many years as a kid and took a couple of courses in sewing. I also took Home Economics in high school - half the year in cooking, the other half in sewing. I hated sewing. Not only could I not see well enough to thread the needle, but I basically had to do most of the stitches in reverse. My grandmother was an excellent seamstress as was my mother. They could sew anything. Grandma tried to teach me several fancy hand stitches such as for embroidery, needlepoint and cross stitch. I was never able to master it and grew to hate even the thought of picking up a needle and thread for something as simple as sewing on a button. Over most of my adult life, I have managed to barter baking for minor sewing repairs.

Kitchen tools can be a nightmare. Have you ever tried using a manual can opener with your left hand? It can't be done! I finally manged to find a left handed can opener, but even it takes getting used to. Most knives and scissors are also designed for the right handed. A lefty can injure themselves quite easily using these items. Most measuring cups are designed so that you can read the quantity while holding the cup in your right hand, so a lefty has to switch hands or set the cup on the counter to read it. Many pots and containers with pouring spouts are also designed for the right handed, although there do seem to be improvements in this area.

Manuel and power tools are also for the right handed. I've never been able to figure out how to use one of those power screwdrivers!

Every time a left handed person turns around there is something more to confuse them or potentially cause bodily harm, as these things were not designed for the lowly lefty! There are several companies out there that do produce tools for lefties, but the increased cost for such a limited item isn't always worth it. My manual lefty can opener cost almost $8.00 when I bought it 10 years ago. Whenever possible I try to buy products that are ambidextrous in nature. They are a bit more expensive, but not as pricey as specifically lefty items. Another advantage to ambidextrous products is that ALL members of the household can use the same items.

Not everything I do is specifically left handed. Many lefties wear their watches on the right wrist, I wear mine on the left. I just have to be careful not to turn my wrist to check the time while doing certain tasks! I learned to play guitar right handed, meaning that I chord with my left hand and strum/pick with my right. My strumming has never been great but I got by. I also prefer using my right hand for dialing the phone, using a calculator, remote control and the computer mouse.

In many respects, I was lucky to have understanding parents and teachers who didn't try to "Force" me into using my right hand. They knew I already had enough challenges with my vision and that trying to force me into right handedness would only lead to anger and frustrations on both sides!

So lefties of the world, unite and know that you are not alone and that you are unique! How unique? Studies have indicated that about 10% of the adult population is left handed. It is also slightly more common in males than females.

I'll close this post with my favourite saying:

The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.
The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body.
Therefore left handed people are the only ones in their right mind!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sherbets, Sorbets, and Ices!!!

Have you ever thought about making your own sherbet, sorbet or ice? It's really quite easy! There are endless flavour possibilities. Today, I though I would share three basic recipes (and variations) that can be made in any standard ice cream maker.

1 355ml (12.5oz.) frozen juice concentrate, thawed
2 ounces liquid egg substitute
1/2 cup white sugar
1 500ml (2 cups) half and half or whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
Combine the eggs and sugar until lightly beaten. Add the juice concentrate and mix well. Add the half and half/whipping cream and milk and beat on medium high till foamy. Transfer to a 1.5litre/1.5quart covered container and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Prepare in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Store in air tight container in freezer. Makes about 1.5l/1.5q.
Varieties: Almost any frozen juice concentrate will work. I personally like using the various 5 Alive combos such as mango, peach or tropical citrus. I've also used lemonade, limeade, orange or pineapple.

May I also suggest trying the frozen Bacardi drink mixes such as the strawberry daiquiri - you will need two cans as they are smaller than average concentrates. Just eliminate the milk if using the Bacardi - you want no more than a total of 4 cups liquid from the concentrate and the half and half/cream.
For extra flavour/tang, I often add 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons crushed dry citrus peel when the sherbet is almost done in the machine. When I buy lemons, limes or oranges, I wash the fruit well then grate the peel before using the flesh/juice of the fruit. I place the peel in a single layer between two paper towels and allow it to air dry. It can take about 18 to 24 hours, but I find that more flavour is retained drying naturally over oven or microwave drying. Once the peel is completely dried, I crush it between my fingers and then store the peel in an air tight bag in the cupboard. It is ideal for adding to a variety of desserts, cakes, cookies, marinades, salads, etc. for extra zip and flavour.
3 cups pureed, fresh fruit such as strawberries, seeded watermelon, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on tartness of fruit)
1/2 cup water
4 oz. liquid egg substitute

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor to a fine puree, then transfer to 1.5l/1.5q covered container and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Prepare according to ice cream maker manufacturers instructions. Makes about 1.5l/1.5q. Store in air tight container in freezer.



1 355ml/12.5oz. can frozen juice concentrate, thawed
3 cups water
1 to 1 1/2 cups white sugar (depending on tartness of concentrate.

Combine all ingredients in a blender of food processor and store in covered container in fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Prepare according to your ice cream maker manufacturers instructions. Store in freezer in air tight container. Makes about 1.5l/1.5q.

Variations; As with the sherbet, almost any flavour will work so check the frozen juice isle and see what strikes your fancy!


Well I hope I've given you some cool dessert ideas!


I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!
Cheesecake Ice Cream

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cheesecake Ice Cream Variations
Makes about 1 1/2 litres

This was originally a strawberry cheesecake ice cream recipe that I decided to play with and have come up with several variations.You can make it as low fat or high fat as you want. The texture and taste will vary but it's all delicious! So have some fun and experiment!!


1 can (385ml) evaporated milk - 2% partly skimmed {you could also use: I can of Coconut milk OR 2 cups of Heavy Cream}
1 cup half and half
1 250 gram cream cheese {light, regular or flavoured depending on your variation/tastes} softened to room temp.
4 ounces liquid egg substitute DO NOT USE REGULAR OR POWDERED EGGS
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 variation flavour ingredient(s):
-Chocolate = 3/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/4 cup nutella
-Lemon = 1 1/4 cup ED Smith Lemon Pie Filling + 2 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest
-Mango = 1 1/4 cup mango pulp OR pureed fresh mango
-Peanut Butter = 1 cup smooth peanut butter (crunchy does not work well in ice cream maker - you can add nuts at end)
-Pumpkin Pie = 1 cup cooked & pureed pumpkin or squash or pumpkin pie filling (unseasoned) + 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp gr. cloves + 1/4 tsp gr. ginger
-Strawberry = 1 1/4 cup FRESH pureed strawberries


In LARGE bowl or stand Mixer combine cream cheese and sugar (if making choc. add cocoa powder with sugar for best results) until smooth and creamy. Add egg substitute and beat till light and creamy. Add your flavour variation and mix well. If you have a whip attachment for your mixer, switch to it before adding milks. While mixing on low speed,gradually pour in milk and the half and half. Combine well. Transfer to a sealable container and chill in fridge for several hours or overnight. Process in an ice cream maker per manufacturers instructions.

When the ice cream is almost finished processing (last two or three minutes) you could add some additional textures/flavours to the mix such as:
-1/2 - 3/4 cup grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips
-1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped and toasted almonds, peanuts or pecans
-1/2 - 3/4 cup crumbled oreos or other cookies.
More than 1/2 - 3/4 cup add ins will overwhelm the flavour and the ice cream maker so if this isn't enough you can sprinkle more on each serving.

For the adventurous AND ADULT you could also add in:2 Tablespoons liquor such as cherry brandy, khaluha, amaretto etc. (More than 2 TBSP will make the ice cream soupy as liquor does not freeze!)

Store finished ice cream in air tight container in the freezer.

So, as you can see, this is a very versatile recipe that will have yourguests begging for more!



I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!
Sherbets, Sorbets, and Ices!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream? Vanilla? Chocolate? Butter Pecan? Banana? Strawberry? Chocolate Chip? Think about it. I did an informal survey of friends and family and got a lot of different answers including the those, but also coffee, black licorice and peanut butter!

Ice cream, actually goes back a long way. There is evidence of a form of it in Greece in the 5Th century BC. There are also versions created by the Persians and the Romans in the fourth century BC. The Chinese are credited with creating the first ice cream makers.

A version of ice cream was developed in Italy in the 1500's and was also found in France and Spain by the 1600's. By the end of that century, England also had it's own secret recipe. By the 1700's, Americans were starting to create ice cream. By the late 1900's it had become a favourite treat by many around the world. In 1832, an African American candy maker/inventor, named Augustus Jackson developed several recipes and also invented an improved method for making the delicious treat.

Today, there are hundreds of versions of ice cream. From fat free, light, to all natural and many in between. The flavours are endless. It can be really hard to choose.

My dad told stories of making ice cream on the farm as a kid. My mom remembers making peach ice cream at a cousins in Iowa when she was a little girl. They had to fill the outside with rock salt and turn the hand crank for what felt like hours to get that tasty frozen treat!

I've always loved ice cream. As a kid we would often stop at the local drive-in (which was owned by my uncle) and have a soft serve ice cream cone. As a real treat we could have it dipped in chocolate. One drive-in in another town had what was called a "pinto" cone - it was also known as a "black and white" or a "swirl" - chocolate and vanilla in one cone!

It always amazed me, the creativity of some of the flavour combos that made it to the stores. How did this stuff make it past taste testers? I never got to adventurous with buying new flavours. I didn't want to waste my money on something that I didn't know if I'd like. I always tried to stick to combos that had ingredients that I liked and thought MAY go well together! If I couldn't find one I liked, I usually stuck with vanilla and added in my own flavourings after it had softened a bit.

In the mid 1990's I realized that I was often getting sick after eating ice cream. Other dairy didn't seem to bother me. It took a few weeks to sort out the problem, but I finally figured out that if I ate the cheaper store brand varieties then I would have stomach cramps and diarrhea within a couple of hours. Even my old favourites of the soft serve were making me sick. It turned out that the chemicals that were being used to make those store brands and soft serve were the problem. When you read the ingredients, there is actually very little "real" dairy products in all but the premium brands of ice cream and some of those are even questionable! For awhile, I bought only all natural ice creams, sorbets and gelatos but I really couldn't afford such expensive treats. I really didn't want to give up all natural ice cream or get sick eating what I could afford

My solution? In 1998. I bought my own ice cream maker! I've been making sherbets, and ice creams ever since! I don't make the really rich ice creams, but instead prefer to make lighter varieties that are more like an ice milk than the traditional ice cream. This way I can enjoy a variety of flavours and combos. I know exactly what I'm putting into my recipes. My first ice cream maker was getting old and I knew it wasn't going to last much longer so a little over a year ago, I bought the ice cream mixer attachment for the Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

Ice Cream Personality Test

Are you ready to learn about your personality?
A national manufacturer of ice cream, Edy's Grand Ice Cream, commissioned an ice cream flavorology study to determine how ice cream preferences relate to personality. The study, conducted by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch (M.D.), Neurological Director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, revealed that distinct personalities correspond with ice cream flavors. Pick your fav flavor of ice cream from the following:
1)Vanilla 2)Chocolate 3) Butter pecan 4)Banana 5)Strawberry 6)Chocolate chip

If you like VANILLA, you are colorful, impulsive, a risk taker who sets high goals and has high expectations of yourself. You also enjoy close family relationships.
If you like CHOCOLATE, you are lively, creative, dramatic, charming, enthusiastic, and the life of the party. Chocolate fans enjoy being at the center of attention and can become bored with the usual routine.
If you like BUTTER PECAN, you are orderly, perfectionistic, careful, detail-oriented, conscientious,ethical, and fiscally conservative. You are also competitive, aggressive in sports, and the take-charge type of personality.
If you like BANANA, you are easy going, well adjusted, generous, honest, and empathetic.
If you like STRAWBERRY, you are shy, yet emotionally robust, skeptical, detail-oriented, opinionated, introverted, and self critical.
If you like CHOCOLATE CHIP, you are generous,competitive, and accomplished. You are charming in social situations, ambitious, and competent.

The flavorology research also compiled a compatibility chart for ice cream lovers.
If your favorite flavor is:
*Vanilla - you are most likely to be compatible with someone whose favorite flavor is vanilla.

*Chocolate - compatible with butter pecan or chocolate chip.
*Butter Pecan - compatible with butter pecan, chocolate and chocolate chip.
*Banana - compatible with all flavors.
*Strawberry - compatible with chocolate chip.
*Chocolate Chip - compatible with butter pecan or chocolate.

So what is MY favourite flavour of ice cream? Well, I actually have several fav's, including strawberrry, PB, vanilla and lemon. But, if I could only have ONE flavour?Come on! If you have to ask me a silly question like that, then you obviously don't know me and haven't been reading this blog!!


Tomorrow: Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Camp - Part 3

I spent a lot of time at Camp Koinonia in the mid to late 1970's. Most of the time there, was as a staff member but I was also there as a guest on various retreats. Even as a guest you pitched in with kitchen, cleaning, set up for activities or other gratis duties to help the place work more efficiently. There were however, a few things that I really enjoyed on my time off.

One year, I went three of four days early to help the managers, J & W, get the camp ready for campers. I had become good friends with the couple and their two boys (who were about the same age as me). They had always treated me like family, especially J - teasing and all. Every time I'd come to the camp J would say; "Oh look what the cat dragged in!" - then he'd give me a bear hug! He even called me the daughter he never had!

Campers always arrived after lunch on Sunday and left by early afternoon on Saturday. That gave staff 24 hours to relax and unwind. We often went into Boissevain on Saturday night to shop or have some fun at the local drive in called the "Busy Bee". Sometimes we'd even drive to Killarney to the drive-inn theater if there was something good on. We would also be invited by the local youth group to join any of their activities and attend Sunday services and have lunch with them on Sunday. This was always a nice and welcome break.

Back at Koinonia, there were a few walking/hiking paths that extend from various points in the camp. My favourite was a path off of the main fire pit that led through the woods for about a mile until it met up with a government road that led to a public beach. It was a fairly level path with lots of twists and an occasional root or branch to step over. I always found that path to be very relaxing. I got to walk it as autumn leaves were starting to fall a couple of times. The beauty, the scent of fall and the serenity of the woods was so relaxing and rejuvenating. I walked that path at least once every week while I worked at the camp - more if I had the extra time. I even walked it at night with a flash light and by the light of a full moon. I always took a notebook and paper with me in case I felt like stopping to write thoughts or lyrics for a song.

Once Koinonia Hill was developed, that also became one of my favourite getaway spots. There was such a great view of the lake and yet it was very secluded. I often took my guitar with me to the hill. I always tried to keep those playing sessions soft though as the sound carried out over the water and could sometimes be heard by the canoeists if the wind was just right! If I was just playing, I wasn't that concerned, but if I was working on a new song, I really didn't want everyone to hear it before it was ready.

Canoeing was always fun. I wasn't that great with paddling but I did enjoy it if the lake was really calm. Singing in the middle of the lake was great. The sound echoed off the water and it made a few voices sound like a choir!
Technically, it was against the rules to canoe after dark. If we did, we always made sure we had a really strong flashlight to alert any boats that may be in the area. It didn't happen often but there were a few motor boats out in late evening so you had to be prepared just in case. One night, "A", one of the staff asked me to go canoeing with him after campfire. The moon was full and the lake was really calm. He was a photographer and wanted to take shots of the moon on the lake. It was getting cool, so I quickly pulled jeans and a long sleeve shirt on over my shorts and tank top before we left. We were sitting about a hundred feet or so from shore when I started feeling mosquito's nipping at my ankles and realized that I was only wearing sandals and I'd forgotten the bug spray! I tried to ignore it at first, but "A" noticed that I was a bit uncomfortable. I didn't really want to go back to shore but the little blood suckers just wouldn't leave my ankles alone! The next morning, both of my feet and ankles were so badly swollen with bites that I could barely get my sandals on - forget about socks and shoes! I was in agony! It really hurt to stand for long periods for the first two days, so I could only do about 1/2 of my kitchen duties. Two of the campers, asked if they could count my mosquito bites, so I said sure. They counted about 75 on each foot! My photographer friend felt HORRIBLE! He asked the camp manager to get me calamine lotion when they were in town getting supplies that morning. "A" also got me a chocolate bar and picked some wild flowers for me. He also more or less acted as my servant the rest of the week! He couldn't stop apologizing.

We worked together again about a month later. He and another guy, "E" were co-counsellors for a two week session. "E" and I had hit it off quite well early in the first week, so I called in a couple of the guilt trip apologies from "A" of "Anything I can ever do to make it up to you!" He even supplied us with a bottle of bug spray for our late night walks and yes even arranged another late night canoe ride for "E" and I!!

I have so many memories of the time I've spent at that camp. Yes it is a Bible camp and I was religious at the time, but I really don't recall the religious content. I remember a lot of the music but it is the sound of the voices and guitars, not the words or their meaning that echo in my mind. The smell of the wood smoke was in all of my belongings - especially my sleeping bag. I never wanted to wash my things when I got home as that would take out the aroma of the wood smoke. I always felt sad when that smell had gone as that meant the summer was over and I never knew for sure if or when I'd get to go back.

The word Koinonia means Christian fellowship or communion with God or with fellow Christians. I do remember the fellowship of strangers coming together for the purpose of enriching the lives of the young campers and creating lasting memories and friendships in the process, One of the mottos of the camp is "nurture by nature".

A lot has changed at the camp and in my life since I was last there for a retreat sometime in 1980 or so. I'd love to be able to go back there sometime just to look around. I'd love to go up to Koinonia Hill for a camp fire. To walk my favourite trail and to take a canoe ride at any time of day - if the lake was calm. Even though I am now 50, I'm sure I'd be seeing things through my teenage memories and loving every minute of it.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Camp - Part 2

As I told you yesterday, I worked several weeks over a few summers in the mid 1970's at Camp Koinonia which is on Max Lake in southwestern Manitoba.

Most of the work I did was as an assistant cook. We'd started about 7:00 and served breakfast at 8:00. After the campers and staff did the dishes, we'd prepare lunch and do as much prep as possible for supper and snack. After lunch dishes, we could usually take 2 to 3 hours off to sleep, relax, swim, explore or whatever. Back in the kitchen by 4:00 or so to have supper ready by 5:30. Two staff were assigned to supervise snack at about 9:00 and the cleanup afterwards.

The kitchen was hard work, but it was also fun. There was always a wide variety of staff that ranged in age from teens like me to seniors who just wanted to enjoy being around young people. There was lots of stories, exchanging of tips, recipes and humour. Quite often there would also be singing as we worked. Summer of '76, one of my friends and I spent three weeks in the kitchen together and we sang every song we could think of including the songs from our high schools production of "Fiddler On The Roof" that spring. The campers and staff were always very respectful and appreciative of the kitchen staff.

Some staff worked most of the summer, so they would get a little sick of the traditional camp foods after a few weeks. We always tried to anticipate this and be prepared with something different for them once in awhile. We tried not to repeat the exact menus every week.

One night in the summer of '78, there was an overnight camp out that two of the campers couldn't go on. I don't recall the exact reasons, but I think they were both medical related. The crafts instructor and I felt really bad for them, so we arranged a private camp out for them in our cabin area in the main lodge. They had supper and campfire with everyone else still in camp, but they stayed with us overnight. We had ice cream sundaes and roasted marshmallows over candles! We sang songs and told stories late into the night. We kept in touch with those two young girls for several years.

Friday night was always a banquet night and we'd roast a turkey and all the trimmings. That would be followed by a camper and staff talent/skit night. Everyone worked really hard on these nights. They'd start planning and rehearsing on the first day - Sunday!

During the week, the 6 cabins would take turns going out on overnight camping trips to nearby islands. Two cabins/night to different sites. That meant much smaller groups for supper, snack and breakfast at the lodge - but we still packed all the food for the trips. On those nights, we would have our camp fires on Koinonia Hill. I loved that area! It was so peaceful and had a great view of the lake and the sunset.

One of my friends taught me how to play guitar during the summer of '75. I was also involved in the music program, which meant helping to lead the singing and teach the kids new songs at the nightly camp fires after snack. This was always one of my favourite parts of the day. If the weather was nice, we'd have the campfire outside. If it was really cold or rainy, we'd have it in the lodge.

There is something very calming about sitting by a camp fire or a fireplace - watching the wood shift as it burns down to glowing embers! Those of us who weren't counsellors, tended to hang around the fire pit after the campers went to bed. Depending on how tired/rowdy the campers were one of the two counsellors from each cabin would stay behind or slip back after lights out. Some of the best conversations happened at that time of night. Yes, we were all tired, but also relaxed. There is an intimacy about a fire that allows people to open up and share. We also used to softly sing old songs and tell stories late into the night.

My all time favourite camp fire happened the summer of '77. Some of the staff rigged up a tin metal platform on a pontoon. They attached wire handles to the sides and then hooked long ropes on the handles. On top of it they built up a large amount of wood for the campfire. Just before sunset, all the staff and campers gathered at the canoe dock. We all put on life jackets and I think there were about two staff and two campers/canoe. About 14 or 15 canoes in total if I recall. We paddled out onto the lake and then proceeded to rope all the canoes end to end in a large circle. The log laden pontoon was positioned in the middle and the long ropes reached back to the canoes so we could constantly adjust it's position in the middle of the lake. Before the last boat tied in to the circle, they paddled in to light the campfire.

We sang for over an hour that night as we all oowed and awed at the spectacular effects of the fire on water! The sounds of our harmonious voices were also reflected off the crystal calm water. It really was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

We never had a fireplace at home, but ever since I attended retreats and worked at camp, I've always loved the smell of a wood fire! I loved the way the aroma would linger and stay in your clothes and hair. Just a block or so north of my apartment building are a number of older homes with working fire places and I can often smell the wood burning as I drift off to sleep or if they are using a back yard fire pit in the summer. I close my eyes and it takes me back 30 years to the tranquility of the campfires. In fact, as I have been writing this trip down memory lane, I've been enjoying the fragrant aroma of one of those fire pits. Aw, such memories!


Tomorrow: more tales from summer camp!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Camp - Part 1

When you were a kid, did you ever go to camp? Did you ever work at a camp as part of a summer job? I was never a camper, but over 3 or 4 summers in the mid 1970's, I did get to work several weeks at a camp on Max Lake. Camp Koinonia is located about halfway between Boissevain and the International Peace Gardens in southwestern Manitoba. It is one of three camps that is operated by "Camps With Meaning" (sponsored by a group of about 50 Mennonite Churches in Manitoba. The other two camps were near Headingly (Camp Assiniboia) and Sprague (Camp Moose Lake).

I'd been to all three camps numerous times for various retreats that were organized by the camps program, the Bible school I attended and also the youth group that I was part of in high school. All three camps had their strong points, but my favourite was always the one on Lake Max!

The camp is several miles down a gravel road with many twists and hills. When you pull into the parking lot, there is a large field to one side where various sports activities were held. On the other side there were lots of trees and a path that led to the main lodge. There were also six smaller cabins off to either side for the summer campers and counsellors. There were a few other buildings such as a crafts/nature hut, canoe shed, and a couple of mini lodges for various staff. The camp manager lived in one of the mini lodges and the camp director would stay in the other,

Past the lodge, a path to the left led down to the swimming area. There was never a beach, but there was a bit of room to stretch out along the bank. A dock stretched out into the water and a floating barge was moored a few feet out into the lake.

Another path from the lodge led to the right and branched off in two directions. You could go down to the canoe docks or you could go to a large clearing with a fire pit that was used for cook outs and for the evening campfires.

There was a pathway beyond the fire pit area that led through tall prairie grasses and also went slightly uphill. It led to a smaller fire pit area on a ridge that overlooked the lake, that was also used for nighttime campfires. This area was actually created during one of the summers that I worked there. The view from Koinonia Hill was amazing. Sitting by the fire and watching the sun set over the lake was magnificent!

Inside the main lodge, there were also open dorm style accommodations on a mezzanine and a small cabin style room with bunk beds. Generally the women stayed upstairs and the men stayed in the other room. There is a large area for the dining room and other activities. Off to one side of the lodge is the fireplace area. It is a large carpeted area with two shallow but wide steps leading down on two sides. These are also used for seating area for indoor campfires. The stone fireplace takes up almost a whole wall of this area and is a warm and inviting place, even without the fire burning!

The kitchen wasn't huge but it was efficient. The stove was quite large. 6 burners, a grill top and two huge ovens. Counter space was also good and there was an island in the center of the room with two rows of three sinks on either side. There was also a good size pantry and a root cellar for storage. Most weeks there were four or five people working in the kitchen, One head cook and 3 or 4 assistants. They would prepare breakfast, lunch, supper and evening snack for about 45-50 campers and 20 to 25 staff. They also prepared some meals in an outdoor fire pit and packed food for counsellors and campers to take overnight canoe and camping trips.

Daily activities for the campers usually started with the "Polar Bear" swim at 7:30. The lake could be pretty cold at that time of morning, but the rules were that you had to get completely wet every day that week to become a member of the "Polar Bear Club"! Breakfast was at 8:00, lunch at noon, supper at 5:30 and snack at about 9:00 or so. During the day, the campers and counsellors from each cabin would move among six activities: swimming; canoeing; nature hikes; crafts; archery and Bible Study. Three classes in the morning and three in the afternoon. After lunch there was a half hour rest period and after supper there was a group activity and sports such as baseball, soccer and relay races. After snack there was always a campfire with lots of singing and a short devotional time. The campers were generally pretty worn out by then and most were quite willing to be in bed by 10:30 or 11!

Looking at the website for the camp, I see many changes in the thirty years since I've been there. Renovations/additions have been made to the lodges and several cabins. All the cabins now have names. More activities have been included, such as; Climbing Wall, Zip Line, Mountain Bikes, Volleyball and Basketball courts.

The main lodge and mini lodges are also available for group rentals in fall, winter and spring. Some of the winter activities offered are; Broomball, Cross county skiing, Tube Slide, Skating/hockey and Air hockey.


Tomorrow; some of my memories of working at Camp Koinonia!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blind Humour

Loosing some or all of your sight isn't funny, but if you don't have a sense of humou about it you will loose what is left of your mind.

I've always had a slightly warped sense of humour, I just had to fine tune it a bit when I became legally blind. I've written before, about meeting several blind and legally blind people six months before loosing my sight. They really were what kept me sane in those first few months.

A group of us went to karaoke at a bar one night. There were four of us who were blind/blinks and our sighted driver. When we were seated the waitress came over and asked if there was a designated driver at the table. One of the women held up her cane and said "I AM!". The waitress just stared in disbelief that we could be that stupid. We were all laughing and told her to relax - it was a joke. She didn't get it. She didn't get tipped that night. If she had laughed with us she'd have gotten tipped.

Several years ago, I went into a dollar store and approached the cashier for assistance in finding a specific item. She barely lifted her arm and pointed in the general direction of where to find the item. I said; "Excuse me, could you point a little LOUDER please?" She didn't get it.

There is a well known story that the Winnipeg Transit Divers like to share. Many years ago, a driver found a white cane that had been left on his bus. He took it with him, intending to turn it in to lost and found. The next day, he was reporting for work and as a joke, put on dark glasses and used the cane as he walked up to the bus to switch drivers. He chatted with the driver, who was leaving, for a minute, then he got on folded the cane, and sat down behind the wheel. He made the necessary adjustments in the mirrors, seat level etc. then drove off. Some of the passengers thought it was hilarious, but not all. At least one person called to complain and the driver received a reprimand and the incident was put on his record.

In the mid 1990's cell phones were just starting to get really popular. A blind friend of mine was a very sociable gal. She could strike up conversations with strangers practically anywhere. One day, she was standing at a subway stop in Toronto and heard a male voice say "Hi, how you doing?" She said "Fine how about you?" and proceeded to try getting to know this new person. He finally said; "Excuse me, I can't hear you - there is some crazy chick trying to hit on me!" My friend said; "Well excuse me! - My seeing eye dog didn't tell me you weren't talking to me!" He was to annoyed with having his call interrupted to see the humour in the situation and walked away.

Come on people! Lighten up! Yes, there are times to be serious, BUT there is also time to see the humour in everyday life. I went looking for blind humour on the Internet. Some of it was bad, but here are a couple of my favourites.

Q: Why don't blind people like to sky dive?
A: It scares the dog!

Are the pilots flying blind?

One day at a busy airport, the passengers on a commercial airliner are seated waiting for the pilot to show up so they can get under way.

The pilot and copilot finally appear in the rear of the plane and begin walking up to the cockpit through the center aisle. Both appear to be blind; the pilot is using a white cane, bumping into passengers right and left as he stumbles down the aisle. The copilot is using a guide dog. Both have their eyes covered with sunglasses.

At first, the passengers do not react thinking that it must be some sort of practical joke. After a few minutes though, the engines start revving, and the airplane begins moving down the runway.

The passengers look at each other with some uneasiness. They start whispering among themselves and look desperately to the stewardesses for reassurance.

Yet, the plane starts accelerating rapidly, and people begin panicking. Some passengers are praying, and as the plane gets closer and closer to the end of the runway, the voices are becoming more and more hysterical.

When the plane has less than twenty feet of runway left, there is a sudden change in the pitch of the shouts as everyone screams at once. At the very last moment, the plane lifts off and is airborne.

Up in the cockpit, the copilot breathes a sigh of relief and tells the pilot: "You know, one of these days the passengers aren't going to scream, and we aren't going to know when to take off!"

A Blind Man In A Store

A blind man walks into a store with his seeing eye dog. All of a sudden, he picks up the leash and begins swinging the dog over his head. The manager runs up to the man and asks, "What are you doing?!!" The blind man replies, "Just looking around."

Life is short. Learn to laugh at the little things. My late friend, KJ, loved to laugh and see the humour in being blind. She never let it stop her from living every day to the fullest. She would have turned 37 today. I love you KJ and I still miss you!

(July 9, 1971 - January 28, 2002)


Monday, July 7, 2008


Well I don't know what spring was like in your area, but here In Southern Manitoba it was quite cool and wet. The last couple of weeks have been a LOT warmer - more seasonal actually. Wet weather followed by warm weather, can mean only one thing - a bumper crop of MOSQUITOES!! The city of Winnipeg has been spraying, but there are still a lot of wet areas and standing water on private property that are prime breeding ground. Mostly the mosquito is just a blood sucking nuisance but there are some varieties that carry the West Nile Virus - and that can cause serious health problems or even death.

Wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes with liberal doses of insect repellent helps but isn't always comfy in hot or humid summer weather. Mosquitoes are generally most active in early morning and late evening, but those times also aren't always easy to avoid as those are often some of the most comfortable parts of the day temperature wise.

There are a couple of things you can try. The most effective thing is to avoid using any scented products especially anything that is sweet or floral related. This includes perfumes, colognes, and scented soaps and laundry products. This may sound a little weird but you can also try avoiding anything with bananas in it. Apparently there is a chemical in bananas that brings out an oil in the skin that attracts mosquitoes!

I don't wear any scented products and rarely eat anything with banana in it and I am seldom really bothered by the pesky things!

Some people swear by Citronella oil. It is made from a combination of plants that helps to repel mosquitoes. Another solution that I've heard of is to spray Mint Listerine in the area just before the outdoor activities to start. I don't know if either of these work, but the air will smell nice and the mosquitoes that do show up will have that just cleaned scent and minty fresh breath!

For more info on the mosquito and tips on how to deal with them see;

A common saying around these parts is that if you kill one mosquito, 10 come to the funeral! It is also believed by some, that the mosquito should replace the Great Grey Owl as Manitoba's provincial bird! Well they aren't quite that big and the rumours of giant mosquitoes carrying off small pets and children is only slightly exaggerated!!

Here is a little more mosquito humour for your enjoyment!

Q: What has 6 legs, bites and talks in code?
A: A morese-quito!

Q: What is the difference between a mosquito and a fly?
A: Try sewing buttons on a mosquito!

Q: What do you get if you cross the Lone Ranger with an insect?
A: The Masked-quito!

Q: What has antlers and sucks blood?
A: A moose-quito!

Last week, I answered the door and standing there was a six-foot-tall mosquito! He thumped me on the head, then left. The next night, the same mosquito came to the door. He punched me in the stomach and left. The third night, the doorbell rang. As I slowly opened the door, the mosquito pushed the door open, kicked me in the shin and left. I went to see my doctor and explained everything that had happened. I asked him what I should do. The doctor replied, “Not much you can do. There’s just a nasty bug going around.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer in the kitchen

My apartment is not air conditioned, so as the temperatures rise, I do less and less cooking. I still eat healthy meals as much as possible, but I do a lot of prep before the thermometer rises. I spent a lot of time in May and June, baking breakfast muffins, cookies and squares so that I wouldn't have to turn on the oven unless it was a cool day.

My deep freeze has a great variety of meats that I have packaged in portions for one or two servings. I have pre-cooked roast beef, chicken and ham that are ready for serving when thawed. There are also a number of things that I can put on the George Foreman grill or in the toaster oven to prepare such as beef sausage, chicken breasts, salmon, tilapia, beef steaks, farmers sausage and 5 kinds of burgers (beef, pork, chicken, salmon and farmer sausage). There are also chicken nuggets, fish sticks, chicken wieners and prepared portions of turkey taco meat ready for whatever my taste buds may be in the mood for.

I cooked a large pot of brown rice and froze it in 3/4 cup portions in Zip Lock Snack Bags. I also cooked several varieties of pasta including, spaghetti, lemon pepper linguine, cork screw and tri-colour baby shells with macaroni. These can all be used as sides in a hurry or I can mix them in to any number of salads. If I want potatoes for a salad, I cook a pot in the morning before it gets warm. Let them cool, then store in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

My pantry is well stocked. For the most part, the only groceries I will need over the summer months are dairy, vegetables, fruit and an occasional loaf of bread! I'll still watch for stuff on sale, but I'll be concentrating on the fresh produce of the season!

Breakfast, is generally a muffin and a glass of juice. I love having a bowl of fresh fruit with a slice of bread or a scone and a glass of milk for lunch.

Summer salads and cold plates are a staple of my summer supper cuisine. I always keep about 6 or 7 types of salad dressings on hand so I can create something a little different every night.

So how about some Summer Salad Ideas you may ask? All right. Have you tried any of these?

Tossed salads can get boring, so how about mixing it up a bit?
- Toss in some lemon pepper linguini's with some cooked chicken, beef or shrimp and add some Italian or Greek dressing.
- How about some sun dried tomato and herb pasta, cooked bacon or chicken with a roasted red pepper or sun dried tomato dressing mixed into a green salad?
- Tuna or salmon, shell pasta, chopped veggies and a bit or ranch dressing or mayo on a bed of greens.
- BLTC salad is a green salad with crispy cooked bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, cheddar cheese, herb croutons and a ranch or other creamy dressing. This is even better if the bacon is sprinkled over the top when it is still warm (or warmed out of the microwave or toaster oven!
- Pasta salad; cooked baby shell or cork screw pasta, ham/chicken, cheddar (or other varieties) cheese, lots of chopped veggies (carrots, red or green onion, red peppers, cucumber, broccoli, celery etc). Season with a dash of salt/pepper, a bit of garlic powder and fresh or dried basil and oregano. Mix with mayo, ranch or other creamy dressing and serve on a bed of greens.

There are so many variations you can do with a few basic ingredients and allowing your imagination to get creative.

Have you ever made your own croutons? It's really quite easy! I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and store them in the fridge or freezer.

DNSYL57's Herbed Croutons
Pam cooking spray
1 - 454gram/16oz loaf 100% whole wheat bread, sliced and cut into small cubes
1 package Ranch style salad and dip mix (28g/1oz)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (powdered)

Preheat oven to 325F. Generously spray 2 cookie sheets with Pam. Place cubed bread in a large bowl and spray with Pam (2 or 3 seconds). Stir well and repeat a couple more times with the Pam until all the bread is lightly coated. (Note: you could use olive oil, but this will absorb into the bread much faster and be much higher in calories.) When all the bread cubes are well coated, add the seasonings and stir well to coat. Divide the bread cubes evenly between the two pans and spread into single layer.

Bake in 325F oven for about 15 minutes/pan tossing often to avoid burning. Bake till golden brown and bread is dry. (I taste as I go to see if they are dry/crunchy) These will cook quickly, so they have to be watched carefully to avoid burning. Cool on wire rack and store in air tight container in fridge or freezer.

So hopefully, I have given you a few ideas to keep your taste buds from getting bored this summer. Be creative and try something new.

Stay cool and enjoy!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Canadian Music

I was listening to the Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio Two on Saturday morning, as I usually do, and they replayed a concert from a couple of years ago. The concert was recorded in Ontario, and was called "Music in the key of Canada". It was Stuart McLean's tribute to just a handful of the Canadian composers who have contributed to the incredibly diverse collection of Canadian music.

The show is only an hour long so they were barely able to scratch the surface of Canuck talent. Artists featured were:

Neil Young - Born in Winnipeg and raised in Ontario, Young made a name for himself as a solo artist but also was part of groups like Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and his own band called Crazy Horse. He wrote classics such as; "Old Man", "The Needle and the Damage" and "Heart of Gold".
Gene MacLellan - A deeply religious composer from the Maritime's, who later committed suicide. He wrote "Snowbird" that made Anne Murray a household name. He also wrote "Put Your Hand in the Hand", which was a hit by a Canadian group called Ocean in 1971.

Gordon Lightfoot - This Ontario native has given us countless classics including "Early Morning", Alberta Bound", "If You Could Read My Mind", "Carefree Highway" and "Sundown".

Joni Mitchell - Born and raised on the prairies, this lady has written songs such as; "Carrey", Woodstock", Big Yellow Taxi", "Both Sides Now",

Steppenwolf - An early incarnation of this group was known as "The Sparrows", but they changed the name when they moved to the USA and had hits like; "Born To Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride".

The Band - This iconic group had huge hits in Canada and the USA with songs like; "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "Up On Cripple Creek" and "The Weight".

The Guess Who - One of the most successful groups to ever come out of Canada (and from their hometown of Winnipeg!) had a string of hits such as "These Eyes", No Sugar", American Woman" and "Share The Land" Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman both went on to have very successful solo/group careers after The Guess Who's heyday.
Stuart also included Ottawa native, Paul Anka who wrote the theme for The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" and songs that were recorded by Elvis, Bing Crosby, Sinatra ("My Way") and Buddy Holly ("I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore"),

A few other artists included were;
Blood, Sweat and Tears - "Spinning Wheel"
Five Man Electrical Band - "Signs"
Bachman Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care Of Business"
Paul Anka was also responsible for one of the cheesiest songs in history; "Having My Baby" Other cheesy Canuck songs include; "Seasons In The Sun" (Terry Jacks) and "Sometimes When We Touch" (Dan Hill). We try not to dwell on those!

The list of Canadian talent is endless. Here are a few of my favourites composers and musicians that Stuart didn't have time to include: Leonard Cohen ("Suzanne", "Closing Time"); Bruce Cockburn ("I Wonder Where The Lions Are"); kd lang; Kate and Ana McGarrigle (nacl); Ferron (The Return"); Connie Kaldour ("Relax", "Bigger Than Anywere Else"); Heather Bishop; Holly Cole; Diana Krall; Michael Bublé; Matt Dusk; Moxy Fruvous; The Stampeders; The Bells; The Bare Naked Ladies;
I also found a couple of fairly comprehensive lists of Canuck talent that are to be an eye opener for even the most devoted music fans. I certainly didn't recognize all the names on the list nut I have heard of a lot of them! I was also surprised by a few and I'm sure you will be as well!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day, eh!

From coast to coast to coast...

From our Canada Goose ....

and our Canadian Beaver....

to each and every one of you...

Have a Happy Canada Day, eh!!