Saturday, November 26, 2011


There are many different themes to buffet bars - chinese, italian, american, salad, sushi, ukrainian, and vegetarian.  In our house we operate one that caters to birds.  We have four feeding stations set up along with two suet cages.  The DH feeds the birds a variety of seeds including niger and black oil  sunflower but the blue jays are spoiled.  The DH puts out about five cups a day of peanuts in the shell.  The blue jays don't come to the buffet bar every day but when they do there can be four of them.

I am sure we are feeding all of the sparrows in the neighbourhood.  They show up once it is daylight and feed throughout the day.   The blue jays pick up the peanuts from the feeder and if they are not breaking open the peanut shell with their beaks and consuming the nuts, they are flying off with a peanut and burying the treasure in someones backyard.  We are wondering what will happen when the secret stash of peanuts gets covered with snow.  How will the birds find the peanuts?  What happens when the snow melts in the spring and the home owner wonders how and where did these peanuts come from that are littering the yard.  The dog has figured out that some of the peanut shells on the ground will occasionally have a nut in them as the blue jay will drop a peanut shell on the ground with parts of a nut still remaining.  The dog is now patrolling the ground around the trees and feeder checking for leftover peanuts.  

The cats do find some entertainment in watching from the kitchen window the birds gathering around the buffet bars.  We will all be watching the birds this winter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


With having some some leftover cooked turkey in the fridge, I thought of making a pasta with Alfredo sauce, sauteed vegetables and turkey.  Since the DH is trying to follow a gluten free diet, I made the sauce with oat flour.  I used  oat flour from Avena Foods. This recipe is very versatile and you can make many variations.  I cooked rice spaghetti and made enough for an extra serving.  The vegetable turkey saute recipe is described in the photos and the recipe for the Alfredo sauce is provided below.  The recipe with the pasta, turkey and vegetables makes 3 servings.  You can just make the Alfredo sauce and add it to pasta without the vegetables or turkey.

In a frying pan, saute on medium heat 2 green onions, 1 chopped red pepper and a minced garlic clove. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add about 1/2 cup of frozen peas. Cook for a few minutes.

Reduce the heat and add cooked turkey chopped into small pieces.  Cook for several minutes. Turn off the heat while you make the Alfredo sauce.  

The flour and margarine are being being mixed.

Stir the sauce into 3 cups of cooked spaghetti.

Add the vegetables and turkey to the pasta and combine.

Gluten Free Alfredo Sauce
3 Tbsp gluten free flour

3 Tbsp butter/margarine

1 cup Milk

3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated

1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper to taste
Melt margarine in small saucepan.  Add the flour one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly to make a roux.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Bring sauce to a boil and reduce heat to low.   Simmer on low for 3-5 minutes (or until sauce starts to thicken).  Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.
Recipe for sauce is adapted from

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I made this recipe for several reasons. It includes three ingredients that I like - quinoa, spinach and mushrooms; I had lots of fresh mushrooms that needed to be consumed and a big bag of spinach in the fridge.  When shopping at Costco, larger packages of merchandise are sold so you come home with big bags of lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, cucumbers, peppers, berries and so on.

This recipe could be cooked as a risotto but I didn't include wine as part of the cooking liquid.  The following pictures show the steps in making this dish.  I also included a photo of a soy sauce that I am now using.  It is much lower in sodium than the typical soy or tamari sauce.  I will add some of this soy sauce to the quinoa serving on my plate for supper tonight.  As this recipe makes a number of servings, I plan on having this for a number of lunches this week.

Onions, mushrooms, celery and garlic being sauteed in the pan. 

The stock and quinoa has been added.

The quinoa is cooked and the chopped spinach is being added.

Ready for the table.

A soy sauce I started to use that has much less sodium. 



2 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ lb mushrooms, thinly sliced or chopped

1.5 cups quinoa
3 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
½ lb fresh spinach, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large frying or saute pan and add the garlic, onion, celery and onions.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Add the quinoa and stock, raise the heat until it boils and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 18 to 20 minutes.  Add the spinach.   Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serves 4 to 5.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I like Brussels sprouts but not everyone does including my DH.  Recently we sample some cooked Brussels sprouts at Costco at one of their food demo tables.  They were quite good, so good that I bought  a package.  I looked at a variety of recipes and the following recipe does add some flavour to the sprouts.

All you need are sprouts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts or other nuts and parmesan cheese.  The sprouts are roasted in the oven with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes and then the roasted pine nuts and cheese are added to the serving bowl.   Voila, it is ready.  I have also made this recipe with just oil and balsamic vinegar and not add cheese or nuts.  It was just as delicious.

Wash about 10 Brussels sprouts and cut each one in half.  Place in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to the bowl and toss.

Spread out on a foil covered pan and bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes. During the cooking process turn the sprouts over in the pan.

Roast 1 tbsp pine nuts.

Measure out 1 tbsp parmesan cheese.

Place the Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl and add the nuts and cheese.  Toss to combine.  Because the vinegar gets caramelized during the baking, the sprouts will appear dark.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A few Sundays ago I took my camera along on my morning walk with the yellow lab.  I sometimes walk along a creek that is enjoyed and used by different species of wildlife.  I have shown in previous posts beavers swimming, chewing, moving branches, their lodges and just being busy doing their jobs.  The lodges that beavers build can include the parents and their children - yearlings and two year olds.

The beaver I saw this particular morning was young.  He or she was chewing on some kind of foliage.  I was able to get close to the edge of the creek while hanging onto the leash attached to a busy dog and with the other hand snapping away with the camera.   I knew that this beaver was young just based on size.  I have seen the adults and they are quite bigger and also darker in colour.  Being able to photograph wildlife includes much luck in terms of timing - being at the right place and the right time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I have been making this recipe for cabbage and lentil soup for a number of years.  It can also be considered a borscht soup, full of vegetables and has lots of flavour.   The recipe makes a large pot of soup which enables you to freeze some of it for future meals.  If freezing, I will freeze the soup in one portion containers in order to have for future lunches.   I find this soup filling and quite enjoyable on a cold winter day.
Ready to eat.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


If you like quinoa, you will like this recipe for quinoa burgers.  You can change this recipe according to your tastes by adding different spices or other vegetables than grated carrots.  I followed this recipe and actually doubled it so that I would have leftovers.  For bread crumbs, I toasted some bread and then added them to the food processor along with the other ingredients.   The burgers held together when cooking and didn't break apart. I was impressed.  I plan to keep this recipe handy and will make it again on numerous occasions.  These burgers would also be good to take for work lunches.  

Quinoa mixture in a bowl.

Shaped into burgers and ready to go into the fridge.

Cooking in a frying pan.

Plated and ready to eat as part of supper. 

Leftovers stored in a container and being placed in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Over the years I have collected a number of books that promote the benefits of a plant based diet. These include technical books and cookbooks.  I also read a number of blog sites that focus on a vegetarian or vegan based diet.  Of course these blog sites described more than just diets as you learn about the lives of the blog writers.

This Spring I purchased a book by Dr. Neal Barnard called the "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart".  The book describes a 21-day program for losing weight but the focus is really about kick starting a plant based diet.  There is also a section on menus and recipes by Jason Wyrick.  Dr. Barnard is also president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine who have a free online program geared to a 21-day kickstart vegan program (kickstart program).  I have been receiving daily emails which are very interesting and provide lots of information.

Recently I watched a CNN program by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the benefits of plant based diets and how they reduce one's risk for a heart attack.  He interviewed President Bill Clinton who has changed his diet and has become a vegan because of his health challenges.  Dr. Sanjay also interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish.

Dr. Dean Ornish has been conducting research on coronary heart disease for the past thirty years.  He and his colleagues are also doing research on cancer including prostrate cancer and the role of diet.  In the 1990's I purchased his book "Eat More, Weigh Less" which promotes a plant based diet.  I read it but didn't follow it.   After watching the CNN show, I went to Dr. Ornish's website and read about his latest program which describes a spectrum of choices.  He has categorized foods into a spectrum from Group 1, the most healthful, to Group 5, the least healthful.  It is not all or nothing but a way of sustaining healthy choices in the foods you eat (Dr. Dean Ornish's Spectrum diet).   He describes how to use the spectrum of nutrition choices to lower weight, lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, help prevent or reverse the progression of diabetes, several cancers and heart disease.  After reading as much as provided on the website, I ordered the book.  I have started to change my food choices - going towards a more plant based diet.  It hasn't been hard.  I think my DH was amused one night watching me eat tofu while he ate roasted chicken thighs.  For the past month I have not eaten meat except for 2 or 3 occasions.  I am eating fish and dairy but staying away from cheese (not always successful) and other high fat dairy products.