Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Tomorrow is the start of Lent and traditionally we give up something from now until Easter Sunday to signify the time Jesus spent in the desert and resisted temptation from Lucifer. This year I've chosen to give up dairy products. I've been a vegetarian for 6 years now. I still occasionally will have eggs and I have milk in my coffee, eat cheese, milk chocolate, etc. Products that I buy that list 'milk ingredients' are OK for me too. I try to eat vegan as much as I can, but have never fully committed because I'm lazy, wantingly lack willpower and perhaps am a bit selfish. I'm fighting battles within myself (angel & devil on my shoulders) knowing that going vegan is right, but the selfish side thinking that I'll miss my favorite treats...pizza, chocolate, cheese. I quit eating meat because of ethical issues mostly (a little for health. A lot of those benefits were discovered after) and I didn't want to contribute to mistreatment & deaths of innocent creatures. I buy organic milk, free range eggs and organic produce when I can. I try to buy from companies that are cruelty free. Sometimes I think I'm just being a spoiled brat. I have read several times of possible connections between diary and skin afflictions (mainly eczema-which I have). I'm wondering if cutting dairy out of my diet will make a difference in that respect . If I can do it for 40 days, then why not just continue on from there, right? This will be my ownpersonal test, experience, journey...whatever you want to call it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cheap Books

Not long ago, I saw a couple of cookbooks up for sale on e-bay that were very cheaply priced, so I decided to get on them. One was "The Almost No-Fat Cookbook" by Bryanna Clark Grogan.The other was "Tofu Quick and Easy" by Louise Hagler.

It was one of those "buy it now" deals and the seller would combine items for cheaper shipping which is always a bonus. I did my whole PayPal ritual and then was going to sit back and wait for my books to arrive.The next day I got an e-mail from the seller.

He had made a mistake on the listing. It wasn't "The Almost No Fat Cookbook" that he had; it was "The Almost No Fat Holiday Cookbook".

Because of his mistake, he was going to send me that one (if I actually wanted it) and the tofu book free of charge. He refunded me all of my money!

And because of his mix-up, he threw in a third book "Soyfoods Cookery" also by Louise Hagler.

I was pleasantly flabbergasted. We e-mailed back and forth a few times and the gentleman was very nice and very apologetic for his mix-up. It's a family-run business he has and wants to have happy customers.This man was so, so nice and went above and beyond. I would gladly have just taken the other book and paid for it, but he wouldn't have it. There is an on-line store and I wanted to post up his web address as a thank you for being so kind to me. They sell mostly New Age type books, with lots and lots of interesting titles. You might find something you'd like. It's called Discount New Age Books. Please check it out!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


For dinner tonight, I'm making Jambalya that is adapted from a Linda McCartney recipe. I really, really like this dish. I've also got some fresh multi-grain bread and some baby greens for a nice salad. I wish I had a digital camera to take photos. Maybe I'll be able to get one soon. In the meantime, use your imagination. Or better yet, make it!


3 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 Yves veggie burgers (or burgers of your choice)
1/2 pkg. Yves breakfast links
2 Yves Spicy Italian sausages

1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium leek, sliced thinly
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 pound okra, trimmed or zuchinni, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. freshly chopped basil or 1 tsp. dried
1-2 tsp. Cajun spice mix
3/4 cup long grain rice
14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups small brown mushrooms, halved
salt and black pepper to taste
Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
chopped scallions or parsley to garnish

**I only had half of a small red pepper, so I chopped that and also added some bottled roasted red peppers that I had. It made a nice taste. Also, I do not like mushrooms at all. J does, so I'll sometimes add them. If I don't, then I'll use okra and zucchini.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a skillet and brown burgers and sausages. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat remaining oil and soften the onion and garlic over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add leek, red pepper and celery. Saute until the vegetables have softened slightly. Add the herbs and Cajun spice mix and stir well. Then stir in the rice until it is thoroughly incorporated.
Add the tomatoes and half the stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, okra and/or zucchini and remaining stock. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the rice is tender.
While this is cooking, chop or crumble the burger into bite-sized pieces and slice the sausages into rounds. Add to pot and stir to mix in. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes about 4-6 servings

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bulgur For Harmonia

So, a blogger pal of mine bought some bulgur and isn't sure what to do with it. I offered to post some recipes. This first one is a tried and true. It's from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home.


1/2 cup bulgur
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups undrained canned tomatoes (28-ounce can)

3 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 generous tsp. ground cumin
1 generous tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, or 1/4 tsp. cayenne

2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn
1 1/2 cups drained cooked black beans (14-ounce can)
1 1/2 cups drained cooked red kidney beans (14-ounce can)
salt to taste

grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (optional) - use vegan cheese
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place the bulgur, hot water and about a cup of the juice from the canned tomatoes in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently.
While the bulgur cooks, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder and Tabasco or cayene. When the onions are soft, stir in the bell peppers and saute for 2 to 3 minutes more. Chop the tomatoes right in the can and add them to the pan. Stir in the corn and beans, and heat thoroughly on low heat. Taste the bulgur. When it is cooked, but still chewy add it to the pan with it's liquid. Cover and simmer for a few minutes for the flavours to meld. Add salt to taste.
Serve plain or topped with grated cheese and fresh cilantro.

I also had one for a bulgur salad that had dried cranberries in it, but I couldn't find that recipe. It must still be packed in a box somewhere. If you're interested in that one, I can post it when I find it.
I also have a couple of others that are on my list to try, but I haven't done so yet. If you'd like me to post those, let me know. One is for cabbage rolls and the other is for stuffed eggplant.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Look at this! It's a picture of my prize. Yes! I won nutmeg!

J & Simon went to bed and I sat down at the computer to check out what's been going on today before I turned in for the night. I went to Sarah Kramer's blog and saw a posting to win nutmeg! It said that her husband Gerry got this as a tip and the first person to e-mail her would win it. The winner was me! I'm so excited! I can't wait for my nutmeg. Thank you Sarah & Gerry! You both rock!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


J and I were in Oakville yesterday and stopped into Whole Foods Market to do some shopping. The produce there always looks fantastic. Of course, I forgot my list at home and had to try and remember everything I needed. Whenever I do this, I end up buying all sorts of things and overspending.

While we were browsing, J found this: vegan taquitos from Starlite Cuisine. Wow! I can't wait to try these. I love Mexican-type things. They had chicken-style, beef-style and chorizo & black bean. J chose the beef-style. Maybe we'll have them on the weekend. I'll let you know how they are.

It Doesn't Get Much Hotter Than This

I tuned into David Letterman last night and INXS was on. Ooooo - that JD Fortune is a hottie! A Canadian hottie to boot. He's my newest celebrity crush. Have you seen the 'Pretty Vegas' video where he's not wearing a shirt. Mmm-mmm. Niiiice!

Monday, February 13, 2006

2004 Bordeaux Futures

Yahoo! It's Futures time again. The LCBO Bordeaux Futures ordering is now on and I called placed my order today. Now I have to sit and wait until the dudes in France work on these precious bottles and send them to me. The shipments are expected to arrive in the spring 2007. You have to order by lots of 3, minimum. Here's what I ordered.

Clos du Marquis is the second wine of Chateau Leoville-Las Cases in St. Julien. It's a full-bodied red and the 2004 vintage is supposed to be really good.

The next one I ordered is from the Pomerol region. It's described as medium bodied and like wines from Pomerol is mostly, if not all, merlot. The LCBO tasting notes says it has "bright, grippy tannins". I thought that would appeal to J.

I don't think I've ever had wine from the Fronsac region, so this will be interesting. I did a bit of investigating to see what was being said about this house. It's run by a husband and wife team. The vineyards are 85% merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are hand harvested and destemmed before fermenting in stainless steel and then the wine spends 18 months in 75% new oak. It's bottled unfiltered. Sounds yum! A review of the 2004 vintage says that it's supple and round, fine finish, long in length. Time will make it more flattering. 'A wonderful hit, not to be missed.' It got good scores from a couple of reputable wine publications, so I'm going to give it a try. I'm quite excited about this one.

Chateau Margaux was awarded Premiers Cru in the classification in 1855 and is one of the best wines in the world. The 2004 vintage is selling for $265.00 Cdn. That's a little rich for my blood. But the chateau's second wine isn't!
Pavillon Rouge is one of the oldest 'second wines' made in the Médoc. Since the beginning, Pavillon Rouge has been produced from the fruit of young vines and barrels of wine not finally selected for the Grand Vin (Château Margaux). The vinification and maturation processes are exactly the same as for the Grand Vin. One writer says "Though Pavillon has less concentration it's structure has wonderful elegance and finesse. Very nearly as great as the Château Margaux itself."

Once these darlings arrive, I will have to cellar them and let them bottle age for at least 2-5 years for them to be ready. Some will hold for up to 10 years. If I'm still blogging when I open the first ones, I'll let you know how I think they are.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Dog Whisperer

Ron told J about this show he watches and we tuned in last night. Wow! This guy is amazing. His name is Cesar Millan and he is the The Dog Whisperer. People that have trouble with their dogs, mostly behavioural problems, call him in to help. Last night there were 4 different dogs. One got really bitey when his owners tried to give him medication. He was a small dog, but those teeth were out and he was really grabbing onto the lady's shoe. YIKES! Then there were 2 sisters who had found 2 abandoned Rottweiler puppies near a dumpster (how can people do that?? GRRR! If you don't want the dog, take it to a shelter) Anyway, these puppies were 6 months old and huge. They couldn't control them and they were starting to show signs of aggression that could escalate to really bad behaviour. Then there was a man who had a Vizsla - beautiful dog. He'd gotten the dog as a puppy and brought him from the county to the city and the dog was afraid of everything. I felt so sad for this poochie. He was terrified of strollers, buses, mailboxes, everything. But you should have seen him at the end. It was a really good show and as a dog owner, gives me some added insight into how my dog's mind works. (aside from the 'let me sit here all cute-like and mom will putty in my paw'). It's on the National Geographic channel on Friday nights. Check it out.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oh My Not So Aching Back

I had another chiropractic appointment this afternoon with Dr. Angela Lundy at Lakeshore Chiropractic Clinc. I was originally told I'd be seeing Dr. Heather Norman, but for whatever reason I became Dr. Lundy's patient. I am so glad. She's great! We did X-Rays, and this cool thing called Static Scanning sEMG to see where my muscles were messed up. My spine was in good shape, but my muscles were f*cked. Dr. Lundy recommened 2 visits a week for 4 weeks; 1 visit a week for 4 weeks, then we would re-evaluate. The first time I got treatment it was really painful, but not as bad as the spasms I'd had. She told me that the first few times I would feel worse when I left - like I'd been beat up. No kidding! But I've had 7 visits now and what a difference! I'd stopped taking the useless drugs I had when I started there, which makes me happy. I'm not a pill popper and don't like to take meds if I don't have to. At the beginning, I would occasionally take a couple of Tylenol if needed, but that's it. Now, I can make it through the day with nothing. Dr. Lundy is a saviour.

2006 Team Canada

Olympics start today. Yes! I love the winter Olympics. Unfortunately, again, because of time differences, a lot of the events will be on in the middle of the night here. Grrr! Thank heavens for Tivo. I'm geared up for the speed skating, figure skating and of course HOCKEY! I'm mildly optimistic about the men's team, but the women are poised to kick ass!

I think Kim St. Pierre is the best goalie in women's hockey. Hell, she's even better than some of the men! The ladies get to play their first game on Saturday against Italy. I saw this blurb on line: "Asked who on her team would be assigned to check Canadian star Hayley Wickenheiser, Italian defender Rebecca Fiorese smiled and said, "Ooh, I hope it's not me."

They say they expect a Canada-US showdown again for the gold medal. Let's just hope the officating this time isn't so horrible and blatantly one-sided. GO CANADA!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This Is Simon

Most things here revolve around this little guy. He's my pride and joy!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Just My Luck

Why would I expect anything less?

I have 7 vacation days left over at my full-time day job that I have to use up before my anniversary date there which is February 16. I thought swweeeet! If I don't use them, I lose them and I am prime for a bit of a break right now. In order to get the maximum use out of these days, I've staggered them over weekends. I took Friday last week and Monday this week off. Use 2 vacation days, get a 4 day break. I worked Tuesday and I went in today (Wednesday) and then booked off Thursday and Friday. Nice. I was looking forward to some quality time with Simon and just relaxing, catching up on some reading, doing some cooking...nothing serious but a lot of me time. What happens? I wake up this morning to get ready for work and I have a funny little tickle in my throat. *GASP* I tried to trick myself into thinking it was just a dry throat and once I had a drink of juice, I'd be feeling great. No go. By mid-morning I was stuffy, tired and feeling generally crappy. Wonderful. Now I'm going to waste my vacation days being sick. Just my luck.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Our Sunday Dinner

It was a crummy day. Snowing (which didn't stay) and blowing and cold. J went to Toronto in the early afternoon to pick up Mama Rita who had spent the weekend with Aunt Peggy. I think Aunt Peggy has found a way out of holding a yard sale in the spring....she gives everything to Rita! :o) I assumed that J would be gone for a couple of hours at least. We're not football fans and even though we'd been invited for a Super Bowl get together, we graciously declined, because we just wanted to hang at home for the evening. Before he left, I asked J if he had any requests for dinner. He asked for Lentil Shepherd's Pie. We haven't had that in ages! So, while he was gone, I threw that together.


1 cup green lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp. oil (canola, olive, grapeseed, etc.)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, chopped (I used jarred peppers because I had them)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can tomato sauce (7 ounces, I think it is)
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash (the herb & garlic one)
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of sugar
as many potatoes as needed to cover top (I used 5-6 smallish-medium sized)
non-hyrogenated margarine
Tofutti sour cream
splash soy milk

Pour the vegetable stock into a medium to large saucepan. Add bay leaf and lentils. Bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are soft. There will still be some liquid left.

Meanwhile heat oil in large pan. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add red peppers and saute for a couple of more minutes.

While you're doing this, peel and chop potatoes and boil until soft.

Pour in tomato sauce and all the spices. Add the lentils with the leftover liquid. You should have a nice sloppy gravy. Add pinch of sugar along with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain potatoes and mash. Add a spoonful of margarine and mix that in. Add a couple of big spoons of sour "cream" and stir that in. Add as much soy milk as you need to make creamy mashed potatoes.

Pour lentil mixture into a large casserole and top with mashed potatoes. You can pipe on nice designs or if in a hurry, smooth the potatoes on top and jazz it up a bit by running the tines of a fork through the potatoes.

Bake at 400F for about 30-40 minutes or until top of potatoes are nice and browned.

**If you wanted, you could add some nutritional yeast to the potatoes to make them a bit "cheezy".

We had this with a bottle of Lailey Vineyards 2003 Syrah. In the spring, we'd gone to Lailey for a Syrah tasting. We invited along Michelle and Joe and made an afternoon of it. It was a lot of fun. Derek Barnett hosted the tasting portion of the afternoon and provided us with some of the 2003 Syrah & some barrel samples of the 2004. We compared with a taste of Syrah from R.H. Phillips and one from another Niagara winery, Marynissen. Then to cap off the tasting, Derek gave us all a taste of a Syrah he'd had in his cellar. It was a 14 year old Syrah from Chapoutier! Oh my goodness. I drank heaven! We then had a light lunch at the winery and got to catch up a bit with Tonya Lailey. Then we were free to hit the tasting bar and got some yummy stuff poured by Derek that hadn't yet been released. He let us get a jump on everyone else and allowed us to buy some Riesling that had just barely been bottled. A lot of folks say that Syrah can't be grown successfully in Ontario. If we have a good year weather-wise it is possible. Lailey's 2003 is a good example. Because there was only a small amount of it available, we were limited to how much we could purchase. J & I picked up 3 bottles and they had been resting nicely since we brought them home. I took one out last night and it has improved even more. Kudos to Derek and the gang at Lailey. One of our favorite little wineries.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Great Find

I was wandering around the little LCBO store downtown one day a couple of weeks ago looking for a bottle of wine, but not really sure what I was in the mood for. I grabbed a couple of staples that I like to keep on hand "just in case", but wanted to try something new. The clerk steered me to an amazing selection. It's from Spain and is made from the Tempranillo grape. It's Los Milinos Gran Reserva by Felix Solis Bodegas. But, get this...the bottles on the shelf were 1997 vintage! And, better yet - it was $13.50.
J and I opened it that evening and WOW! This wine is at it's peak. It's a beautiful deep ruby colour and was so flavourful - cherries & spice. It was like velvet in my mouth. Soooo smooooth. We liked it so much, we went out and bought a case. I'm not sure how much of this is still hanging around, but I would highly suggest checking it out. This is, so far, the deal of the year.

We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Inspired by Harmonia, I've been messing around with my blog template. In the meantime, I forgot to save my links and I lost them. Silly me - it was late, OK? Michelle and I are headed to IKEA to browse and probably buy things we don't need. I'll fix this up when I get back.
I'm not even sure I like any of the templates I tried. I may just end up back where I started with the original one.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Response I Got From Body Shop

I had e-mailed The Body Shop earlier in the week inquiring about the sourcing of lanolin they used in their Hemp products. This is the response I received.

"Thank you for taking the time to write to us with your concerns about the Lanolin used by The Body Shop.

The Body Shop is not a vegan company. We do use animal-derived ingredients such as milk, honey and lanolin, and by-products of the meat industry such as gelatin (to encase our bath beads) and boar bristles (in some of our brushes.) These ingredients and materials are used only if they have been sourced in compliance with our Purchasing Policy to ensure their ethicacy and sustainability. We can guarantee that the above animal-derived ingredients are obtained by harvesting and without cruelty to animals.

Thank you for your kind comments about our Hemp products. We hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Consumer Help Desk - The Body Shop Canada"