Thursday, August 31, 2006

August Movies

Here's something new I may or may not continue on a monthly basis - a list of all the movies I've watched that month.

My stellar reviewing system will include Yes (if I liked the movie), No (if I didn't) and possibly Eh (if I'm ambivalent). It will also include an "R" if I've seen the movie before.

Fantastic Four NO!
Lords of Dogtown Yes
Dave Chappelle's Block Party Yes
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Yes
The Squid and the Whale Yes
Fun With Dick and Jane NO!
Something The Lord Made YES!
Billy Elliot Yes
Memoirs of a Geisha eh
Hustle and Flow (R) Yes
Transamerica Yes
Roll Bounce (R) Yes. A movie about rollerskating? With a skate off? What's not to love?

Monday, August 28, 2006

What year do you belong in?

Far out man! Thanks to Cyndi at Cookin with Cyndi for the link.

You Belong in 1969

If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bits and Bites

This week was a long tough week. I worked a lot of overtime, but when I left work yesterday it still looked like a bomb had gone off in my office.

The highlight of the week? Yesterday afternoon two of my coworkers and I snuck out of work when my boss wasn't looking and drove to Marble Slab Creamery in Chinook Mall. I actually tried something different this time. I highly recommend the Cheesecake Ice Cream.


Last week at the market I bought some edible flowers. The lady I bought them from suggested in addition to using them in salad to try them in a sandwich or on a pizza. I have done none of those things and they are still in my fridge.

This morning at the market I bought a bag of borage flowers. I have seen these included in recipes for Pimms. This afternoon I made myself a Pimms with Borage flowers. It didn't taste any different, but it was pretty.


In my second Vegas post I mentioned that I am not crazy about buffets. You'll be happy to hear that I have eaten 4 meals at buffet restaurants this week.


Calgarians, the Community Natural Foods store by Chinook is selling bags of peeled frozen organic bananas for $2.00. Perfect for baking or smoothies.


I went to Shoppers Drug Mart this morning because they were having a sale on paper towel (I know! My life could not be more exciting!). They had Thai Kitchen soups on 5 for $3.00. I grabbed 5 but when the cashier was ringing them thru, they were showing up as their original price of $1.20. I asked her about the sale so she sent someone to check it out. While we were waiting she told me that if the display showed they were on sale, I'd get the soups for a penny each. I laughed, assuming it was a joke. Sure enough, the display had the sale price and the cashier really did charge me $0.05 for all 5 soups. SCORE!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Croque Monsieur

Oh, how I love a Croque Monsieur sandwich. I don't know if I'll ever be lucky enough to eat one at a cafe in Paris, but no matter. My version is pretty wonderful.

This is definitely NOT an everyday sannie. But for a bit of a fancy dinner, what is better than ham cheese and white sauce? Not very much.

4 sandwiches - for 2 to 4 people.

1 1/2 tb butter
1 1/2 tb flour
1 cup milk, warmed in the microwave
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
3 tb grated Parmesan cheese
8 slices white bread (Scott likes this sandwich because it's one of the few times he gets white bread!)
dijon mustard
8 slices of ham
Preheat oven to 425'

First, make your sauce:

Melt the butter over medium low heat, add flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and whisk until thick. Add half of the cheeses and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt pepper and nutmeg.

Toast the bread. Spread dijon on 4 pieces. Top with 2 pieces of ham each and spoon some sauce and cheese over top.
Top with the remaining bread, sauce and cheese. Place sandwiches on a baking tray and bake for 5 - 10 minutes.

Turn on broiler and broil until lightly browned on top.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Espresso Affogato

The simplest dessert in the world, and one of the very best. Here's our version:

Espresso Affogato
for one

good quality vanilla ice cream
1 shot espresso
good quality chocolate

Scoop the ice cream into a bowl. Pour over the espresso, and grate some chocolate on top. Serve right away.

How easy is that?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Spinach Salad

Until I was in my 20's I hated spinach with a passion. I refused to eat it in any way, shape or form.
I can't remember what dish made me change my attitude towards this wonderful vegetable, but now it's one of my favorite foods, and this salad is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.

Spinach Salad

4 servings

1 bag spinach
1/4 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 slices bacon chopped
2 tsp sugar
3 tb cider vinegar
3 tb water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place the spinach and mushrooms in your serving bowl.

In a medium pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towel. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bacon fat in the pan. Stir over medium heat until the dressing is hot and the sugar has dissolved.
Pour over the spinach, toss well and serve right away.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Penne with Marcella Hazan's Favorite Tomato Sauce

I first saw this recipe over at The Amateur Gourmet and thought it was a good idea, but promptly forgot about it. Then I bought a cookbook called Dishy, and low and behold, he had the same recipe. I decided to give it a try; I've never made a tomato sauce with butter before, and the onion intruiged me.

This recipe is FANTASTIC. It is incredible that 3 ingredients can make such a wonderful and complex-tasting sauce. I beg you to try it. You won't believe your taste buds.

from Dishy, by Kevin Gould

2 - 400 g cans plum tomatos
80 g butter
1/2 onion
500 g penne, spaghetti or other pasta
Parmesan cheese for grating
salt and pepper

Put the canned tomatos in a heavy pot with the butter and a pinch of salt if desired and place over medium heat. Peel the skin from the onion half and add it to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to low, and when the butter has melted, use the back of a spoon to squeeze the tomatos against the side of the pot to make a smooth sauce. Cook for up to 45 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and has a buttery sheen. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed. Just before serving, remove the onion from the sauce. Toss with the drained pasta, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blog Party #13 - Cool As A...

This month's Blog Party over at Dispensing Happiness is all about staying cool and using the stove and other appliances as little as possible. Usually a wonderful idea for August. But of course here in Calgary our weather has taken a downward turn. I had to wear a jacket this morning to the farmers market! That is just wrong.For the party I made 2 snacks and 1 drink - Corn and Black Bean Salsa on Chips, Watermelon Margarita Salad and Long Island Ice Tea.
We made our Teas with rum, vodka, tequila, lemon juice and cola. Lethal!
The Watermelon Salad was wonderful! Very cool and refreshing.
Some of the chips have just a dot of sour cream, some are just salsa. These went fast - I had to make up 2 more trays after this picture!

Stephanie always has some great music lined up, and I'd like to throw in a song that I love that sprung to mind when I was flinging tequila everywhere - Sol Ja Camba by Fantcha. It's a beautiful song.

Thanks to Stephanie for another great party!

Watermelon Margarita Salad

I made mine with half a medium watermelon.

Watermelon, cut into bite sized cubes, chilled
2 tb finely chopped basil
2 tb finely chopped mint
4 tb lime juice
4 tb tequila

Place watermelon cubes on a platter. Scatter the mint and basil over, then sprinkle with the lime juice and tequila. Top with a couple of small pinches each of salt and sugar. Serve right away, or let stand for 30 minutes or so.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa on Chips

3 tomatos, seeded and diced
3/4 cup corn kernels
1 cup black beans
2 tb oil
2 tb lime juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

tortilla chips
sour cream (optional)

Mix the salsa ingrediants gently together and let sit for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, lay chips out on a plate. If using sour cream, put a small dab on each chip before topping with a spoonful of salsa.

Serve right away.

Farmers Market

We've got cauliflower, white and red potatos, cucmber, 2 bags of green beans, tomatos, and a huge zucchini.

Got some good stuff lined up for all this.

Vegas Part 3

OK, just a few more pictures and then I'll stop. I promise.
This might be one of my favorite pictures, after Scott and the showgirl. This was a ceiling in the Wynn.
A fountain at Caesars.
He was delicious with a lemon-caper sauce. (kidding!)
I'm thinking about quitting my job to go pro. What do you think?
The Wynn.
The Venetian outside.

The Venetian inside.
This might have been in the Venetian too, I'm not sure.

OK that's it! Back to food and stuff.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Vegas Part 2

I should have told you yesterday that if you're hoping for fabulous pictures of fabulous meals, you going to be out of luck. We were rarely hungry - it was just too hot. When we were hungry we were never around anything very exciting. Go over to Sarah Janes blog. She was in Las Vegas just before us and read about her meal at Fleur de Lys, which was a beautiful looking place. NEXT TIME, I'm going to do some serious eating.

We went to the buffet for lunch at the Monte Carlo. I'm not a huge fan of buffets, as they are not usually done very well, and I just can't justify the price. Scott and I are not huge eaters, so unless it's a truly amazing buffet it's usually not worth it. This one was not worth it. The only two things I really enjoyed were the salads - a tomato salad and a pasta salad. I didn't like the beef at all. As we say around these parts, if it ain't Alberta, it ain't beef. And the rest of it was only ok. Not worth the money or the wait.
I did enjoy all of my alcoholic beverages. Scott insisted we pay extra so we could have my margarita in this plastic mug. Why, I don't know.
The crepe shop at Paris. The food here sounded great, but everytime we were around it, we weren't hungry. It's on my list for next time too.
We went all fancy for an hour and had drinks at the Bellagio. I had a Mojito and Scott had a beer. This was truly the best mojito I've ever tasted. The waitress told me they use rock sugar syrup instead of regular sugar syrup and they dusted the whole thing with powdered sugar. Totally worth $12.00 US.
Here's my straight up margarita and Scott's beer. This might make me sound like a raging alcoholic, but I really enjoyed how you can walk around everywhere and drink at the same time.
Hey! Mexican food!
Scott had a fish taco and a shrimp enchilada. His enchilada was great. I had a veggie burrito.
I always thought a macaroon was a chocolate-coconut candy until I saw stuff like this and this. I'd never actually seen this kind of macaroon before but they sold them in a bakery in the Paris hotel. Unfortunately you had to buy a box of them. But then I saw them being sold individually ($3.00 a pop!) at a shop in the Wynn Hotel. We tried a pistachio macaroon. It was good, but quite sweet.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vegas Part 1

I can't even start to tell you how much fun we had! It was a total blast and I'm so glad I went. I am slowly recovering and catching up on my sleep. My poor feet are still hating me - we did a lot of walking.

Thanks to all of you who left me suggestions on things to see and do. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of the comments before I left! But don't worry, I've got them filed away for next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time.

Here, have some pictures.

This was a section of a gorgeous wine cellar in a restaurant in Mandalay Bay. It was 3 or 4 stories tall, I forget which.

Border Grill restaurant. I've said for a few years now that when I go to Vegas I would eat here.
I didn't eat here.

Scott gets down to business.

The New York New York Hotel at night.
Statue of Liberty.
MGM Grand. There was a guy all dressed in black that had climbed up the side of the hotel on some scaffolding. I thought he was a worker at the hotel and was fixing something until the police came and hauled him away.
The Excalabur.
I think I took this from the walkway between New York and MGM.
Has anyone been to M&M World? We didn't go in, but almost everyone we saw on the street was carrying shopping bags from there.

So the first night in Vegas was crazy - we just went all over the place looking at everything. It was so hot there, and so loud and busy. I don't think anything can prepare you for how truly BIG everything is. We just kept going and going and drinking and laughing and stuff, and then the next thing we knew it was 4 in the morning. And we hadn't eaten since lunch. I can't remember which hotel we were in, but there wasn't much open for food. So my first meal in Las Vegas was...

A CHEESE DOG! God it was gross. But at four in the morning, beggars can't be choosers, huh?
This was my breakfast late (very very late) the next morning. After all that alcohol, it was the only thing I could imagine keeping down. And a very delicious frozen mocha frappuccino it was.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #7 Lucky Number Seven

The round-up for WCC #7 is up over at the WCC blog. Go ch-ch-check it out. Did you forget to join in this time, or have you just discovered WCC? No worries mate! The next challenge is already up! Ruth from Once Upon A Feast is our lovely co-host. Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Vegetarian Week, Interrupted.

Hi guys, I'm sorry to tell you that Vegetarian Week has been stopped at Day 5. Why, you ask?



keep going...



Yes, in just a couple of hours Scott and I are heading to the airport. This trip is so last minute, it's scary.
Even though I'm going to VEGAS, where I've never been before, where I've wanted to go for AGES, I actually feel pretty bad about not finishing this week off on the blog. While I have made a decision to eat less meat in general, I don't think it's fair to poor Scott to go somewhere so fun and not to be able to eat whatever he wants.

So I promise we'll do another Vegetarian Week again real soon, and I have another theme week planned too.

Have a fantastic weekend. I know I will! See you mid-week, and hopefully Blogger will let me post tons of pictures.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Vegetarian Week DAY 5

Stupid Blogger won't let me post any pictures.

Breakfast this morning - toasted crumpet with wine jelly and a plum
Lunch - Went out for a Bean and Corn Quesadilla. I'm going to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Dinner - ooooh so good. Last night I made Meena's Chickpea Curry from Hooked on Heat. We had it tonight - wow what a super dish. You should go check out her great site. We had some salad and another new recipe - Twice Baked Potatos with Indian Spices and Peas from The New Best Recipe. Fairly quick to make (excluding the baking of the potatos), very aromatic and wonderful.

I am running short on time tonight, so I'll paraphrase my version of the recipe for you.

For 2 or more servings, bake 2 potatos. Let cool slightly and cut in half so they sit nicely on a baking sheet. Scoop out most of the flesh, leaving a solid shell. Melt 2 tb butter in a pan and add half a chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves and a small knob of chopped ginger. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in 1 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp each cinnamon, tumeric, and cloves. Cook for a couple more minutes, then add in the potato flesh and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then add 3/4 cup of thawed peas. Cook for one minute, then spoon back into the shells. Return to the oven for 15 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Vegetarian Week DAY 4

Breakfast this morning was the last of the cornbread. I toasted it, then covered it with slices of nectarine. Mmmmmm good.

Lunch was mini pizzas that we made last night. We used sun dried pesto as the base instead of tomato sauce, then smothered the crust with spinach, onions, mushrooms, sauteed zucchini, tomatos and olives. A sprinkle of cheese, a few minutes in the oven, and it was packed up for lunch.

Dinner was a pretty good vegetable and rice curry. I'm not going to give a recipe as it is still a work in progress, but it was very nice. I'll add more vegetables next time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Vegetarian Week DAY 3

This morning for breakfast I took the leftovers of my quesadilla to work. That quesadilla is actually a perfect breakfast food - you've got some bread, some fruit and cheese, what could be better?

Lunch was pretty boring - a bowl of vegetable soup and a piece of leftover cornbread. Tasty, but boring.

Our dinner tonight was another luscious affair. We had Grilled Corn, Zucchini "Fritters" and Wilted Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Olives and Lemon Vinaigrette. We've made these "fritters" a few times over the past couple of years. I am putting the quotes in because I think they're more like a pancake than a fritter, but still yummy spicy little pillows. Grilling corn is my favorite way to serve it. I don't think you need any butter or seasoning this way. This was the first time we've had this salad, but it won't be the last. We used feta cheese instead of goat cheese, and green olives instead of black, but it was delicious just the same.

Zucchini "Fritters"
this is originally from Gourmet Magazine, I believe.

5 tb olive oil
2-3 medium zucchini cut in 1/2" dice
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes, or to taste

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 to 1 cup milk

Heat 2 tb olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute zucchini garlic and chile flakes until zucchini starts to turn golden.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour through milk together in a large bowl. When the zucchini is done, add to the batter and mix well.

Wipe out pan, return to heat and add some of the remaining oil. Drop the batter by spoonfuls and cook until brown on both sides. Keep warm in a 200' oven while you cook the rest of the batter.

Serve plain or with butter or sour cream.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Olives and Lemon Vinaigrette
from The New Best Recipe

Serves 4

5 oz baby spinach
3 tb olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp sugar
1 tb lemon juice
2 oz goat cheese, cut in small chunks
6 black olives, sliced thin

Place the spinach in a large bowl. Cook the oil through sugar together in a small pan over medium heat until the shallots are softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir to mix. Pour the warm dressing over the spinach, toss to coat. Add the olives and cheese and toss again. Serve straight away.

Junk Email

Good Lord, how long has this email been floating around? I remember getting this years ago...why do people keep these things going?

Sent: August 1, 2006 9:34 AM
Subject: Fw: Cookie Recipe


A little background: Neiman-Marcus, if you don't know already, is a very expensive store; i.e, they sell your typical $8.00 T-shirt for $50.00. Let's let them have it! THIS IS A TRUE STORY!

My daughter and I had just finished a salad at a Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas, and we decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the" Neiman-Marcus cookie." It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe, and the waitress said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not, but you can buy the recipe." Well, I asked how much, and she responded, "Only two fifty-it's a great deal!". I agreed to that, and told her to just add it to my tab. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement, and the Neiman-Marcus charge was $285.00! I looked again, and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe-$250.00". That was outrageous!

I called Neimans' Accounting Department and told them the waitress said it was "two fifty", which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money because, according to them," What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe. We absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to the Accounting Department lady the criminal statutes which govern fraud in the state of Texas. I threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General's office for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want. Don't bother thinking of how you can get even, and don't bother trying to get any of your money back." I just said, Okay, you folks got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus...for free. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this". I said, "Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you ripped me off!" and slammed down the phone. So here it is!

Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250 for this, and I don't want Neiman-Marcus to EVER make another penny off of this recipe!

NEIMAN-MARCUS COOKIES (Recipe may be halved)

2 cups butter
24 oz chocolate chips
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
5 cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar, and nuts. Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.


Here's an article on this urban myth from, and here's the real cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus.

God, that must drive the Neimen Marcus people INSANE.