Saturday, October 31, 2009


One area of science that I find interesting is the study of diseases and specifically the topic of zoonoses - diseases that can be transmitted from wild and domestic animals to humans. Of the 1,461 pathogens recognized to cause diseases in humans, at least 60 percent are of animal origin (Science Daily, October 28, 2009). Examples include:
- the 1918 influenza pandemic
- severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
- avian influenza H5N1
- anthrax
- brucellosis
- creutzfeldt-jakob disease
- ebola
- e. coli 0157:H7
- lyme disease
- rabies
- salmonellosis
- west nile virus
- yellow fever

Many modern diseases started out as zoonotic diseases. Examples include measles and smallpox. The appearance of new zoonotic pathogens in human populations has increased due to the increased contact between humans and wildlife. The other influencing factor that helps spread diseases in a quick manner across continents is due to air travel. You can get anywhere in the world within 24 hours. Climate change is also an important consideration.

New funding is being made available by the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) for five new initiatives. USAID is putting effort into this research funding in order for the world to be better prepared for infectious diseases. A good example of an infectious disease that we are all experiencing is H1N1. One of these five initiatives will be done by the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) who is receiving funding of up to $75 million over five years to develop a global early warning system called PREDICT. The UC Davis team is developing a global consortium to implement an early warning system. They will be active in hotspots around the world where wildlife hosts have significant interactions with domestic animals and high-density human populations. I know this must sound like a hollywood movie and if fact there have been some movies made on this very topic. Sometimes fiction is not far from the truth.

So why does this all make sense. It has to do with the holistic concept of recognizing that human, animal and environmental health are all linked and need to be thought of as 'One Health'. This concept makes tremendous sense to me. The science daily article quoted above provides a bit more information on the work to be done by the UC Davis. Global pandemic diseases can have a huge effect on human and animal health and the economic impact can not be ignored.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I recently found a recipe that takes a basic chicken vegetable soup and then adds peanut butter to it. This addition of peanut butter changed the taste of the soup. I like peanut butter, almond butter and the other nut butters. You will always find peanut butter and almond butter in my kitchen. Even the dog likes peanut butter. In fact, he loves peanut butter. If he is left at home because he can’t come with us on an outing, we always take a big dollop of peanut butter and put it inside one of his toys. He watches with anticipation while we maneuver the peanut butter into the small opening of the toy on top of the kitchen counter. He usually doesn’t sit quietly but is springing a bit off the floor with some excitement. He lies on the front rug with this rubber toys between his paws and effectively licks out the peanut butter. He has us well trained.

Let’s get back to the soup….The soup is simply delicious. It is a keeper and I have been having it for lunch for the past three days. It is on the menu again tomorrow. The soup has a smooth nutty taste and smells great. The recipe calls for chicken but you can use turkey. I had a frozen turkey carcass that I knew would make great stock so I used that instead. Here is the recipe.



10 cups chicken broth

2 cups diced cooked chicken

2 small potatoes, diced

4 medium size carrots, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 cups shredded zucchini

½ bell pepper, diced

1 - 28 oz can of tomatoes or 6 frozen tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup peanut butter

¼ to ½ cup cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine broth, chicken and veggies in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender. You can simmer for a longer period of time if time allows.

2. Add peanut butter, cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir until peanut butter is blended. Simmer for 3 minutes or so. Makes 10 servings.


Instead of using chicken broth you can make turkey broth from a turkey carcass. You can also add other vegetables including corn niblets, broccoli or cauliflower.

Recipe adapted from

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I came across this recipe on the internet site and thought it would be interesting to make for several reasons. I like walnuts, apples and blue cheese and I thought that the combination of all three of them would work well. Secondly, it looked more simple to make as you only needed one pie crust instead of the usual two for a pie. The recipe calls for a 10 inch pie crust. You can buy a flat pie crust or make one. I made my pie crust and since my recipe makes two pie crusts, I froze one of them for future use.

1 - 10 inch flat pie crust
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 large granny smith apples or other good cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp lemon juice

1- In a medium bowl, mix the walnuts, blue cheese, maple syrup, thyme and apples. Add lemon juice to keep the apples from discolouring. Cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the crust.
2- Preheat the oven to 350 degres F. Roll out the pastry dough to 13 inches.
3- Place pastry dough on a cookie sheet or in a large pie plate. Mound the filling in the middle of the rolled out dough and spread out evenly to about 1 ½ or 2 inches from the edge. Using a pie plate you would go to the edge of the plate. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling.
4- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the crust is nicely browned. If it looks like the walnuts are getting burned, you can lightly tent a piece of foil over the centre.
5- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
Adapted from


Saturday, October 24, 2009


I love making noodle salads and I am a big fan of soba noodles. Soba is made from buckwheat flour and is considered a japanese noodle. I usually buy soba noodles at Superstore/Loblows in the aisle where they sell vietnamese noodles. The following recipe is adapted from a column by Mark Bittman who writes for the New York Times (September 23, 2009). I made this salad tonight after spending the afternoon outside watching a football game. I added chopped leftover chicken but you can add cooked shrimp, salmon or beef. The recipe makes two generous servings.

3 to 4 ounces (100 gms) soba noodles
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup edamame (frozen are fine)
1 stalk celery
1/2 package of spinach
2 to 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp of sugar or low calorie sweetner
a few squirts of hot chili sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onion
leftover chicken (about 1 cup) or other protein (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrot, edamame beans and celery and cook for another minute or two. Drain into a colander and set aside Cover the colander with the lid from the pot to keep it warm.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, chili sauce and sugar.
  3. Add the spinach, green onions, chicken and noodle mixture to the large bowl. Toss well. The heat from the noodles will wilt the spinach.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Last week I posted my harvest adventures with parsnips. I wrote in my blog that I would provide some recipes in a future posting for recipes using parsnips. I use parsnips in a variety of ways and here are some options for you to consider in your cooking adventures.

  1. Basic cooked parsnips. Slice up several parsnips and cook over a medium boil until tender. Drain and serve. I like to add a few dabs of butter and some fresh ground pepper to the parsnips on my plate.
  2. Mashed parsnips with potatoes and carrots. There are several combinations you can choose from. I have cooked sliced parsnips with sliced potatoes and carrots until tender. Drain and mash well with a little bit of butter and milk. You can also add a tsp or two of low fat cream cheese when you are starting to mash this mixture. You can also just cook parsnips and potatoes and leave the carrots out. The proportions of potatoes to parsnips and carrots are equal. I use two small potatoes, two parsnips and two carrots. I love the combination of these three root vegetables.
  3. French fries. These fries are made in the oven, baked at 375 degrees F. I cut up potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch sticks which are about the size of store bought frozen fries. Toss in a mixing bowl with about two to three tbsp of olive oil. You can add salt and pepper and fresh or dried rosemary (1 tsp) to the mixture in the bowl. The amount of root vegetables you cut depends on how many you are feeding. When I am figuring out the amount of vegetables to cut up, I don't plan to have enough for leftovers as these fries lose their crispness in the fridge overnight. After tossing them well in the bowl, spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until browned. Half way through the cooking time, turn them over. Some people will line the baking sheet with parchment paper for an easier clean up and less mess. I like using my pampered chef clay baking dishes as I don't need to turn the root mixture half way through the cooking time and I don't use parchment paper. The veggies brown and crisp up really nicely using the clay baking dishes.
  4. Split pea soup with dill. This recipe from Bonnie Stern is one of my favorite soups during the winter. I will make it sometime over the next month and provide the full recipe. The recipe uses green split peas, carrots, potatoes and parsnips. Towards the end of the cooking time you add some dried spaghetti broken into smaller pieces and dill.
If you have any favorite parsnips recipes you can forward them to me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Have you ever thought about the growing conditions of the vegetables and fruit that you buy? For those of us that can grow our own vegetables and fruit, we can control the growing conditions in making decisions about whether to add fertilizer and if so what kind, whether to spray, where we get our water source and so on. I read an interesting article this week and also watched a television program that made me pause and think about the bagged spinach I have in the fridge.

First the good news story. A microbiologist from the Georgia State University in the U.S. has developed a technique to keep produce and flowers fresh for longer periods of time (Science Daily October 20, 2009). Dr. Pierce found a naturally microorganism in the soil that induces enzymes in the plant that extends the ripening time of fruits and vegetables and keeps the bloom of flowers fresh. The professor compared it to using diet and exercise to improve the performance of an athlete. The impact of this discovery is that less waste would occur as the produce would not ripen as fast plus the produce could be shipped longer distances. The other interesting thing about this new process is that genetic engineering is not involved nor is adding pathogens. There does not appear to be anything negative about the growing conditions.

My second issue does deal with negative growing conditions. On Monday night I watched CSI Miami. I am regular viewer of the various CSI programs and enjoy these shows. This episode ended up focussing on poor and life threatening growing conditions that caused the death of two young adults. One died from eating spinach that had e. coli and the second died from eating corn that had been genetically modified with the organism that causes botulism. Of course the spinach was being grown on land that was irrigated by water contaminated with e. coli. The water was contaminated by the cattle feedlot situated next to the farm. While watching this show I thought about the two bags of spinach I have in the fridge. I thought how appetizing this is as I was planning to eat this spinach this week. Food safety is important and all of us should take care in knowing how our food is grown and how we should be storing it and cooking it.

I did eat the spinach tonight in my salad.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have been growing vegetables in the backyards of the various houses I have lived in over many years. My parents gardened before it was fashionable to do so in the neighbourhood I grew up in. Most years I plant the usual vegetables - tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, green beans, swiss chard, radish, zucchini and herbs. I never had enough space to grow corn or the big squashes.

The routine is pretty much the same each year. I plant the seeds and seedlings in the raised vegetable beds and the DH does the watering, puts in the cages for the tomatoes and cucumbers and some weeding. It is a good arrangement. We usually don't have to do much weeding as I plant using a style of the high density method of seeding. I follow the directions for seeding depth but not for spacing between the seeds and rows. Because of the amount of seed I use, thinning is usually required. I think I plant using too much seed because I don't trust that everything will germinate.

This year I planted parsnips. I like parsnips and cook them in a variety of ways. I will save the recipes and tips for another posting. It was the first time for planting parsnips and I figured it would not be much different than growing carrots. I was wrong, these parsnips were twice the length of the carrots I usually grow. The length of them would prove to be challenging when trying to pull them out of the dirt.

By mid September, everything in the garden had been harvested except for some carrots and most of the parsnips. I intentionally left the parsnips for a later harvest as someone told me they would be sweeter if there was at least one frost. The weather on Saturday was warm and sunny, perfect for harvesting the remaining parsnips. Because the ground was wet from recent rains and I knew that the dirt would stick to shoes and everything else, I put on my garden clogs and garden gloves. I found the garden fork in the shed and we were ready for this mighty job. I use the 'we' word as I had my helper - the dog who was game for whatever I was preparing to do in the garden. He can be an annoyance in the garden as he has to supervise me, will grab the vegetables that I have picked off and take off and run with them. I then have to retrieve whatever he has grabbed and hope that there are not his deep teeth marks in the vegetables that he has grabbed. I have learned that when I pick cucumbers, cucumbers or carrots, he is banished to the house. He is less destructive with the other vegetables. He does get to sample the green beans when I am picking them.

As I started to harvest the parsnips, I gave him one to chew on in order to keep him occupied as I picked the rest. It took me a number of different tries using the garden fork at different angles to get those parsnips out. The soil was wet, heavy and proved difficult to pull out the parsnips. Some of them were so long that I had to put my fingers around the top of them and start to pull them out with all my might. I was getting quite the workout. Who needs to do lateral pull ups using hand weights or machines when you can grow parsnips and get the same work out.

There was one parsnip that was proving difficult to pull out. I kept digging out the dirt around this parsnip to expose it more and give me more leverage to pull it out. I would try to turn it with my fingers clockwise and then counter clockwise in order to loosen it up and get it out. The dog had been watching me and he came to help me. He started to dig with his paws around this parsnip. He wanted to get into the act and pull it out. I let him go for it. He grabbed the top of the parsnip with his teeth and started to pull on it. He was putting effort into it and he is 70 pounds of pure linebacker muscle. Eventually we got it out. It was big and long. Why I didn't just leave it in the garden is beyond me.

Now came the fun job of cleaning up - the dirt covered parsnips, my garden clogs and gloves caked with wet dirt, the cement walkway along the side of the house which had clumps of dirt on it and the dog. The dogs' paws were muddy, he even had mud in his nails. While I had been digging out the parsnips, the DH had been washing his car in the garage. The garage floor has a drain but the floor was still wet and it was getting muddy with me tramping around in the garage with my dirty garden clogs. I would now have to hose down the floor once I got everything else cleaned up. The dog was first and once I got his paws cleaned up using a pail of water, a wash cloth and towel, he was put inside the house. I changed my shoes to another pair of garden shoes, washed the parsnips in a big harvest basket from Lee Valley (an amazing store) and had to figure out where I would put the parsnips to dry. The backyard was not an option because the dog would play with the parsnips if they were left to dry on the grass in the sun. I decided to dry them on the front step of the house. The picture of them does not do any justice to their size. I then swept the cement walkway with a broom to move the dirt clumps out of the way. The last remaining job was to hose down the garage floor. This was quickly done and the DH helped out after watching the job I was doing.

What I thought would take 10 or 15 minutes to harvest the parsnips instead took an hour. Lesson learned - what is sometimes viewed as a simple job turns out to involve multi-steps. The parsnips are delicious and it was worth the effort. Next year I am passing on growing parsnips.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Besides making soups, I like baking. Not the fancy tarts, multi layered cakes with different kinds of frosting or fancy cheesecakes but breads, muffins, pies and cookies. It is what I call the basic food groups. Besides the cookbooks that I collect which are kept in their bookcase, I keep an organized and tabbed recipe binder. My binder is organized much like a cookbook and similar food groups are kept together. I have one section on muffins, breads and cereals. I decided tonight to make a great low fat muffin. If you are counting points, one muffin is one point on WW.

The recipe calls for a ripe banana. I did have a banana in a bowl on the counter but that is the last banana left in the house and the dog has its name on that banana. Each morning the dog gets a banana hand fed to him in small bite size pieces. The DH feeds him the banana each morning and the dog will follow the DH around the kitchen until he is feed his banana. The banana is like his dessert as he would have had his dog food kibble before the banana. Instead of the banana I used an apple. I didn't peel the apple but cut it up and threw it into the blender along with the other wet ingredients. What makes this recipe extra good is that you don't peel the orange so you get the taste of the rind plus the fibre. I think my sister-in-law gave me this recipe a number of years ago.

Banana Orange Muffins
3 cups bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup raisins
½ cup wheat germ
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup oil
¼ cup molasses
½ cup honey
1 egg
1 ¾ cup milk
1 large orange not peeled
1 large ripe peeled banana

Mix dry ingredients and raisins in a large mixing bowl.
Put oil, molasses, honey, egg, milk and banana in a blender. Puree the mixture.
Cut the orange up into quarters or smaller pieces. Put in the blender and puree the mixture but try to have the mixture still a bit chunky.
Pour the contents of the blender over the dry ingredients and mix to moisten.
Fill muffin tins with the mixture and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Makes about 2 ½ dozen muffins.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Recently I read two articles on the eating habits of women and men. Recent studies have found that women and men have different eating habits and secondly, a women who is dining with a guy will choose food with fewer calories than if she was dining with a woman.
On the first point of different eating habits, 14,000 American adults participated in a study over an eleven month period conducted to determine eating habits, including high risk foods that may cause foodborne illness. This study, reported in Science Daily, March 21, 2008, found that men are more likely to eat meat and poultry, especially duck, veal and ham along with shrimp and oysters; and women are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and apples. Women also preferred almonds, walnuts, eggs and yogurt. The researchers also looked foods considered more riskier - undercooked hamburger and egg, raw oysters, unpasteurized milk and cheese, and alfalfa sprouts. Men were more likely to eat undercooked hamburger and runny eggs and women were more likely to eat alfalfa sprouts. Why researchers considered these results important is because public health officials can target food safety strategies based on gender. I would consider this useful information if public health officials want to target their campaigns for food safety. I haven't noticed food safety campaigns being gender targeted in Canada. I didn't find the overall food preference results surprising at all. We can all think about the food groups our fathers, brothers, cousins, friends, boyfriends and husbands prefer. Meat, more meat, pasta and potatoes. Think of the hungry man commercials for Campbell's soup. These commercials appeal to men, not women. When you see advertisements in magazines or on the television for yogurt, berries, high fibre cereal bars or almonds, who is being targeted and what gender is the model? Food companies understand the food preference differences between men and women.
The second study deals with different food choices being made based on whether you are dining with a man or women. Women eating in the company of women will eat more calories as compared to eating in the company of men. The Canadian research was done at three large university cafeterias (Science Daily, August 10, 2009). I believe conducting the research at a university helps explain these differences. What the research didn't acknowledge is that a women who is trying to impress a guy will eat less. There is no way a women in her early twenties or really at any age will want to eat more than the fellow she is eating with, especially if they are just in the early stages of dating. She might eat like a bird in his presence and then make up her missed calories sometime later that day. This woman won't show her true eating style until she is more comfortable in their relationship. The other interesting thing about this study was that it was published in an international journal called 'Appetite'. I am amazed at times on the number and variety of science publications.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Typically, Sundays are days I do some cooking. Even though this weekend is a long weekend, I kept to my usual routine. I am still ripening tomatoes in the basement and I had about half a fruit box filled with tomatoes that needed some attention. I decided to puree the tomatoes in the blender and then cook them down in order to concentrate them and get rid of some of their juice. After four or five hours on the stove I will let the sauce cool down in the pot and then freeze it in portion size freezer bags. With the blender being used for tomatoes, I decided I should use it to make soup. The following recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks by Norene Gilletz called "Mean Lean i Yumm!" Her cookbook has wonderful low-fat recipes. The recipe is adaptable for using a variety of vegetables so you can mix and match. The recipe calls for pureeing the soup at the end of cooking the vegetables but before adding the milk. You can use your blender at the start and finely chop raw vegetables to be added to the recipe. If you do that, you need to add water to the blender, otherwise the batches of vegetables that you put in the blender won't get chopped as easily. It reminds me of making a smoothie.

1 large onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cauliflower chopped
1 large sweet potato chopped
3 large carrots chopped
2 parsnips chopped
7 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup skim milk or soy milk
2 tbsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in large soup pot and saute the onions, celery, sweet pepper and garlic on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips to the pot. Saute for a few minutes.
  • Add the stock, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • You need to puree the soup, either the whole pot or half to two thirds. You can puree using a blender, a puree hand wand or a potato masher. When chopping the vegetables before adding them to the pot at the start of the recipe, I decided to finely chop the carrots, cauliflower, sweet potato and parsnips in the blender. It took several sessions as this is a lot of vegetables. I did not chop the celery, onions and sweet pepper using a blender but did it using a knife and cutting board.
  • Add the milk, dill and thyme and salt and pepper to taste. This recipe makes about 8 servings.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Have you ever been to a concert or a play and know that you had experienced something special? Tonight Tony Bennett put on a show in a concert hall in the city where I live. When I heard he was coming I bought tickets right away. A number of us went to see this legend. We sat in the 10th row, pretty well centre stage. Life is pretty good seeing Tony Bennett on a Friday night, after a busy week, and being able to wind down and relax listening to a number of famous tunes. He had a great four piece band whose sound never overpowered his voice. The piano player was exceptional in playing those ivory keys. Mr. Bennett sang a range of songs some of which I was not as familar with.

There are several things that made Mr. Bennet's concert tonight outstanding. He still can sing and has a range of vocals at 83 years of age. He sang different kinds of songs - jazz and ballads. He had fun on stage, he did a number of dance moves and was very appreciative of the audience. The band did not overpower him and you could hear his voice very clearly. Listening to songs originally sung by him and other legends sent a chill down your spine. And lastly, he sang one of my favorite songs "Fly Me to the Moon" without a microphone and had his guitar player stand beside him and play without being connected to his amplifier. That was the only instrument played. Without a microphone and the audience in the concert hall being very quiet, this showcased his voice and the song's lyrics. He couldn't hide his voice behind the instruments. Listening to the purity of his voice, the lyrics and the guitar brought tears to my eyes.

Mr. Bennett has had an interesting life and told some of his stories while on stage tonight. He is a showman. With the material I read on his biography from several internet sites and his stories told tonight there is probably good material for a movie.

I have been to many concerts and this concert tonight is probably one of the best I have attended.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I love eating ice cream. For many years I didn't keep it in the freezer as having it handy and close by was too tempting. I would visit the ice cream container several times a week. Sometimes, the dish would be not be needed and my pilgrimages involved just a small spoon and the ice cream container. This was a true version of grazing. Besides when you are eating out of a container and standing up, the calories don't count.

I have finally decided on a way to live with ice cream in my house. I only have weekly visits. I picked Saturday night as my weekly date with ice cream. I also allow myself more than the serving size listed on the container. In this case, one of my favorite ice creams has 120 calories per half cup with 2.5 grams of fat. In fact, this is not real ice cream, it is yogurt ice cream. Along with the ice cream, there is the additional chocolate sauce. Friends of mine understand my obsession and buy me dark chocolate sauce when they visit the U.S. Sometimes they also bring back 'lite' sauce. A decent size bowl is used, several scoops of ice cream are lovingly placed in the bowl and then the chocolate sauce is drizzled over the ice cream. I also have a pair of eyes watching me eat my treat. My dog has discovered the pleasures of ice cream and he gets a tasting each week of ice cream in his bowl. I know he has good taste.

In September I was reading an article in Science Daily on how ice cream targets your brain before your hips. The article says it is your brain's fault for sabotaging your efforts to get back on track after you splurge on the extra scoop of ice cream. This study says that fat from certain foods we eat makes its way to the brain. Once there, these fat molecules cause the brain to send messages to the body's cells and warns them to ignore the appetite suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, which are hormones involved in weight regulation. Basically you overeat. The brain is involved as it normally incorporates some of the fat we eat into its cells. Now there are different types of fat including saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. In a nut shell, their research points to foods that are high in saturated fats such as ice cream causes you to eat more. This all points to the recommendation that we should limit our intake of saturated fat as it appears to make us eat more.

I will still continue eating my weekly ice cream and I now have a better appreciation on why my brain may be making me gain weight.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The tomato crop this year from our garden was plentiful. You can only eat so many tomatoes or give them to friends to enjoy. Each year I usually make salsa, freeze whole and chopped up tomatoes and make tomato sauce which I also freeze. This year I decided to make spaghetti sauce with italian sausage. With the amount of red tomatoes ready to be used, I decided to make a large batch of sauce and went shopping for some ingredients today. I went to my favourite italian grocery store and bought three pounds of medium spiced homemade sausage.

After washing about 30 or so tomatoes of varying sizes, I put them in a blender in batches and puree them. This was a lot of tomatoes and I knew that my cooking adventure would require two large soup pots to make the spaghetti sauce. The puree of tomatoes was poured into the pots and simmered for about 75 minutes as I wanted to concentrate the puree before making the sauce. Once the puree was reduced enough I added the following ingredients. This list of ingredients is for one large pot of sauce. I doubled the ingredients as I made two large pots.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 large onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
6 mushrooms chopped
1 small can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of red wine
2 tbsp sugar or splenda
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
600 to 700 grams of medium italian sausage

1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and saute onions and garlic. After a few minutes add the red pepper and mushrooms to the pan. Saute for another five minutes. Add this mixture to the pot of tomatoes.
2. Cook the sausages in the frying pan until they are cooked. Let them cool for a few minutes and chop them into small pieces on a cutting board. Add to the sauce.
3. Add the remaining ingredients to the sauce. Usually I use cooking wine instead of drinking wine but today I had some red wine left from another supper and I used it.
4. Simmer for about an hour or so and add more seasonings to taste if you want.

The spaghetti sauce turned out really well. I was unsure about adding the red wine but I was pleased I did. As the sausage had a medium level of heat, it gave the sauce more flavour and the spices in the sausage helped with the subtle flavours. From the work today I made enough spaghetti sauce for ten meals.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I thought you would be interested in an update to the posting I made this summer. In an earlier posting I mused about whether a latte is a treat or a necessity. I posed this question based on the service and product provided from purchasing a latte at a specific coffee bar that I went to. I have been to some great coffee bars where the server makes great a latte and she/he puts effort into it and you get a high quality latte. The opposite is also true. Because of the poor quality latte I got that one certain day, it made me think about the investment I have made at these coffee bars. I don't buy lattes every day but you can count on an average of three purchases a week. Over a month that could add up to $60.00. If you invest those dollars into an espresso machine instead, it would pay for itself in less than six months.

I have owned an espresso machine before. About a dozen years ago I got an italian machine as a birthday present. It required a bit of fussing and it was the coffee bar version scaled down to use in one's home. It had the latte steamer. I bought espresso cups to use with the machine along with some other accessories. I used this machine for some time and then it got delegated to a shelf in the basement after I got tired of the fussing and the counter space it took.

In the last while I have had the opportunity to drink coffee made using coffee pods. Those pods are a neat invention and quite efficient. I discovered that there are coffee machines that use pods and make regular coffee and those that make expresso. I have been making my own lattes at home, but not on a frequent basis. I make coffee and have a stand alone milk steamer which heats and froths the milk. The coffee is not quite the same as it is not the same strength and taste as espresso. After spending time doing some research on the internet and tasting a latte at a friend's place who has a latte machine that uses coffee pods, I bought my own machine today. It is red, one of may favorite colours and made by Nespresso. I made lattes tonight for my DH and they turned out well. The interesting part of this adventure is that I spent much more time thinking about purchasing a machine, justifying it and researching on the internet than the time I spend in a clothing store making a decision to purchase a suit or jacket which is more expensive. Go figure.....