Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Treat (as told by Simon)

Mommy gave me a treat. It's like a cross between a Greenie and a Dentabone.

I can't have Dentabones because they have chicken in them and I'm allergic to chicken. Mommy found these for me. They're chicken-free and I love 'em!

Now if I like them this much, I bet Mommy & Daddy really like them too. This one is all mine, so I'm going to hide it for later. Where would be a good place?

Ahhh, yes! I'll hide it in my Leafs bed. Mommy and Daddy never lay in it, so it should be safe here.

Gotta dig in good. I hope no one is watching. I don't want anyone to know it's here.

Oh this is perfect. I can use my rope and the left over piece of my pink monkey's head and cover it up.

Oh yea! Great burying I must say. Even if that damn Collie came in here, he'd never find it. He'd better just stay on the 8th floor where he belongs, if he knows what's good for him.

I'll just lay on it for a while and pretend I'm resting. That way, if anyone saw me messing around in my bed, they'll think I was just getting it ready for sleepies. Am I clever or what? Gotta throw them off the trail.

OK, my treat is safely hidden away. Yea! Let's see now what Mommy and Daddy have for food. I know they'll share with me. I have them wrapped around my paw! Sweet!

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Throw Together" Dish

I had some veggies in the fridge that I wanted to use up before they went bad. Hmmm, what to make?

There was still a package of brown rice pasta left over from when I was on that anti-inflammatory diet , so I pulled that out.


As I was poking around in the veggies, I spied this. I like Pete's Tofu. They are a Canadian company, which is worth supporting, and they have great products. This Szechuan one is awesomely delicious. I figured I could use that too.

I remembered that I had this sauce - President's Choice Memories of Mum's Kitchen It's a soya ginger sauce that is really yummy and works great for a stir-fry. Ah, yes. An idea was coming together.


After a bit of chopping and stir-frying, I had this.

Not bad for a meal made out of stuff hanging around, eh? It tasted incredibly good. Jim & I both ate more than we probably should have. My tummy was full!

There was no need for dessert that day. What's your best "throw together" dish?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

John Mayer

This is my favorite song at the moment. I could listen to it over and over.

If you have Direct TV, channel 334 is playing "John Mayer in Concert". I don't know how long it's going to run for, but check it out if you can.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Give Me My Daily Bread

There is no way I could ever follow an Atkins-type diet. I like bread waaaay too much. In fact, I think I'm a carb junkie.

On my way back from the chiropractor the other day, I stopped into one of my favorite places, Pane Fresco. Jim did some work for these people when they first opened and we've been their customers ever since. They make the best pizza ever and the bread.....ahhh, the bread! Heaven must smell like Pane Fresco.
It was near closing time when I popped in, but was lucky enough to snag a loaf of Fig Raisin & Walnut bread.

This is so yummy toasted. The raisins and figs make it sweet and the walnuts give it nutty goodness and a bit of crunch.

Sitting there, all alone, just one left, was a foccacia loaf.

It had my name all over it! I could not pass this baby up. I

Marc, the owner, also makes the best biscotti outside of Italy. My favorite is the almond-hazelnut.

My delicious treats were packed up to go and I grabbed an espresso for the walk home. They also have excellent coffee by the way.

I don't know if any of you reading this will ever end up in Burlington, but if you do, go see the folks at Pane Fresco. They are really nice people. They've had the same staff pretty much from day one so that tells you something. They also serve lunch with delicious soups, wicked sandwiches and they make their own gelato!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Beaujolais Nouveau

Tomorrow is the third Thursday in November. This is an exciting day in the wine world. At 1 minute past midnight, it's the release of Beaujolais Nouveau!

This is such a fun wine. To learn more about this annual event, check out this site -
Beaujolais Nouveau Time for all kinds of facts and fun.
According to the winemakers, the 2006 crop is as good as 2005.

I'm going into work early to see what they have in and to pick up a few bottles.
I'll see you at the

Monday, November 13, 2006

Old Fashioned Comfort Food, Sort Of

On Saturday, I had a day off. Woo-Hoo! In the morning I went for a much needed haircut and since it was raining, Jim's workday was cut short. We puttered around the house doing little odds and ends that had been neglected and I decided we should take a wine break. Now really. Are you the least bit surprised?

When we were first married, we took a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and discovered Lailey Vineyard. This is a smallish winery that is a favorite of ours. It's also one of the few Niagara wineries that is experimenting with Canadian Oak.

As you may know, sometimes wine is aged in oak barrels. This is true of most reds, but not all. White wines are usually feremented in stainless steel tanks and most don't require aging. They are meant to be drunk while they are young and fresh. But as with almost everything in this world, there are always exceptions. Chardonnay is one of them. There are so many styles of chardonnay out there that it's a hit and miss depending on what you're looking for. I sometimes like the fresh, fruity flavour of a non-oaked variety, but sometimes my mood calls for a wood-aged one.

Wine barrels generally come from France or USA. And they are always oak. The tastes these barrels impart on the wine are very different. We've even done structured tastings of the same wine aged in different barrels from different French manufacturers and the taste is completely different. This can be a whole long, involved, confusing subject and I'm learning more about it all the time and getting more confused all the time.

Some wineries are trying Hungarian oak and as stated above, a few are trying Canadian oak. Lailey Vineyards is one that has had a lot of success with Canadian oak It, again, tastes different than French or American. It seems that people like it or hate it. We like it. Derek Barnett, the winemaker, seems to have a special touch for bringing out the best of the wood into the wine he's crafting. He does variety of wines in the Canadian Oak barrels and all that we've tasted are superb. We ask other winemakers sometimes what wineries they like and Lailey is usually mentioned. So, I opened this 2002 bottle that we've had for a few years. It has mellowed incredibly! The mouth feel was smooth and creamy and the taste was wonderful. This one was definitely worth the wait.

Now onto food. I was in a quasi-cooking mood. I wanted to make some good old fashioned comfort food, but didn't feeling like putting in a lot of effort. I dug around in the freezer and came out with this.

I'd picked up this Morningstar Farms Lentil Rice Loaf on our last cross border shopping trip. Seemed like good comfort food.

What's better for comfort than mashed potatoes and gravy? This is veg gravy of course. I used a package mix that has no nutritional value whatsoever, but tastes damn good.

Here's the Lentil Rice Loaf cooked and out of the box. It was a little dry, but tasty nonetheless. The cooking instructions gave the option of oven or microwave and being an old-fashioned girl (HA!) I opted for the oven. Maybe I'll try the micro for the other one and see if that makes a difference.

This might not look like much, but it is really good. It's a casserole made with spaghetti squash. I found the recipe on the internet a few years ago and have been making it ever since. I'll post the recipe at the end. It is not vegan, but I'm sure some adventurous person could veganize it easily enough.

We had some Chardonnay left, but I thought a red might be better for this meal. I pulled out one of my favorite wines for Saturday night.


Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is a Vintages Essential at the LCBO. That means that it should always be available. What a nice bottle of wine. It's quite versatitle and at $15.95 a bottle, a pretty good price point for a decent French wine. Louis Jadot is a large house in the Burgundy. Beaujolais is considered part of the Burgundy region. If you remember from my last wine post, Beaujolais wines are made exclusively with Gamay grapes.

I was feeling a bit more ambitious when it came to dessert. Earlier in the afternoon I'd made a lemon meringue pie. I wanted a good old fashioned pie to go with my comfort dinner. I dug out a recipe from my grandmother and made this baby up from scratch.

I turned out beautifully. Jim said it was the best lemon meringue pie he'd ever had. YES! Proves that the extra effort and fresh ingredients do make a big difference.

If you give this squash recipe a try, and better yet, if you make it and veganize it, let me know how it turns out!


1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil*
2 plum tomatoes (can used canned)
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
½ cup part-skim milk mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp. salt
¼ grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs**

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Scoop the seeds and membranes from the squash and place cut side down on the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. With a fork, scrape the squash strands into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and basil. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 more minutes or until the mixture is dry.

To the bowl with the squash, add the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parsley, salt and the onion mixture. Stir to mix. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Serves 4-6

*I sometimes use an oregano and basil mix, or you can use just oregano if desired.
**I make my own bread crumbs with stale bread and add ¼-½ tsp. of Italian seasoning.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

I haven't really been posting a lot lately. Seems like a lot of bloggers are super busy right now. I've been working an insane amount of hours this past week. I started my new job at the LCBO and this past Thursday worked my last shift at the wine store. I was sorry to leave, but onto bigger and better things! In between, I've been working my shitty day job that I detest, but have to keep because the LCBO is only part-time. The sooner I can wean myself away from there, the better. It will be a happy day when I give my notice. Might take a couple of years, but it will be so worth the wait.

Since I've not been home much this week, I did practically no cooking. I do have food pictures to post though.

I've been seeing a naturopath for a while for an assortment of things mainly my psoriasis, allergies and general lack of energy. My ND (naturopathic doctor) is Carissa Doherty and I love her! She is uber cool and so easy to talk to. Treatments that I've received so far are slowly shifting things in my body and I can notice slight changes. Even though she's given me some pretty disgusting tinctures to drink and kooky things to do like wearing cold wet socks to bed, we're working at making me better. Last month, for 2 weeks I was on an anti-inflammatory diet to help give my digestive system a chance to relax a little and not work so hard and to do a bit of a cleanse. I was not to eat any eggs, dairy, wheat (!), sugar, salt (sea salt OK), caffeine, alcohol, chocolate (!), or processed or preserved foods of any kind, so packaged things were out. Since I eat a vegetarian diet, I didn't find it too difficult really. I missed my coffee in the morning and with my insane sweet tooth and a major chocolate addiction, I thought I would be in the throes of agony, but it really wasn't that bad. I had to have only fresh fruit juices, but they had to be diluted which made them kinda bland. And I wasn't supposed to drink water with my meals which I found rather difficult. But I managed and I didn't die for lack of bread.

I planned some interesting dishes and thanks to my cookbook collection, I was able to make some tasty meals.
Dreena's books were amazingly helpful and so were Sarah Kramer's.

For breakfasts, I usually had
Nature's Path Millet Rice cereal with some rice milk. One day I made oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins and maple syrup.

I'm funny with oatmeal. I like it well enough, but can only eat a small amount before I start to find it too much. I OD'd on the raisins in this particular batch and picked most of them out. The cinnamon and maple syrup were wonderful though.

I was able to find some tasty breads that were wheat free. One that I like in particular, that I will continue to buy is Stonemill Organic Spelt Bread. Another one was ShaSha Organic Spelt Bread that was yeast free, so it was more dense, but really delicious.

This is now on my list of delicious-nutritious meals to make again. Spicy Thai Stew from The Everyday Vegan.

I served it up with some brown rice one night and the next night had it with some leftover quinoa. Not only does this stew taste great, it calls for almond butter which gives it a bit of a protein punch, but it has lots of swiss chard in it. Great way to get those bitter green leafys that I don't eat enough of.


I was really missing some pasta. This next dish I concocted myself is certainly nothing fancy. Since I was not allowed wheat, I used brown rice pasta.

I cleared it with the naturopath that organic canned tomatoes would be OK so I used them for the sauce. I added some onions, garlic, some herbs, TVP to make it "meaty" and to get some protein and some spinach for more leafy greens.


Boy, was this package hard to find. I guess after the e-coli incident there's not much spinach to be had and what is around it getting bought up fast.

This is Jim's bowl after dinner. I guess it was an acceptable meal.

I also ate a lot of tofu because it's quick and versatile. Here I made some with the teryaki marinade recipe from La Dolce Vegan, but I eliminated the sugar and gave an extra squirt of maple syrup. Brown rice again. Since I wasn't allowed soy sauce (salt) or most tamari (wheat) I poured on the Bragg's to liven it up a bit. Also on my plate is some Sweet n' Sour Red Cabbage, also from La Dolce Vegan. Again, I eliminated the sugar and used a bit of agave syrup but it was still a bit too tart. I think made following the recipe it would be a bit better. It was still tasty enough and I had a big pile of it.

Here's a salad I made one night. Nothing too enthralling, but what made it fantastic was "Wolffie's Balsamic Vinegar Dressing" also from La Dolce Vegan. OMG! That dressing is so friggin' good, I could probably drink it. And it was nothing to make. Measure 8 ingredients and shake 'em up. That's it! I took a big salad to work one day and everyone kept saying "That smells so good!" Make it! You won't be disappointed.

So, just because I was on this "cleansing diet" didn't mean that I had to give up on sweets. I wasn't to have chocolate which was a bummer, so I opted instead for maple! Dreena had an interesting sounding recipe in Vive Le Vegan for Maple Walnut Cookies. I used the spelt flour option to keep them wheat free and elimintated the sugar. It only called for 2 tbsp. so I didn't think it would be a big deal.

The first couple of cookies I gorged myself on after they came out of the oven were fabulously delicious! The next day they were still tasty, but a little dry. Very unlike Dreena's cookies which are usually so moist and chewy. I'm thinking that that little bit of added sugar helped to make them a bit chewier. They did hit the spot and were very flavourful so I want to make them again following the recipe properly. I did make the "Easy Pleasin' Oat Bars" which were easy and pleasin' and nice and soft & chewy like I expect from Dreena's cookies. I added some chopped up dates and it made them quite yum. I forgot to take a picture of those, sorry!

So a big thank you to Dreena & Sarah for making those two weeks much more liveable than they would have been otherwise.

After I finished the anti-inflammatory diet, I was to wean myself back to a normal diet by adding foods slowly. Once that was complete, I chowed down on this for dinner one night.

Ah, yes. My favorite junk food. Pizza! I like mine with onions, peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. This had to be the best pizza I've ever eaten.

Don't forget the garlic dipping sauce. Then to make the meal complete -

Oh yea baby!
Then to top it all off, I had chocolate! Some of the Hershey bars that Kleo brought me from California.

This was not a very nutritionally sound meal, but damn! it was really good.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's the #1Song of the 80's?

According to VH1 it's this!

I'm so glad it wasn't Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Admit it. You like this song. When it comes on the radio, you turn it up. Don't you? I do! And I know all the words and sing along.

I remember when this song was first out. My sister, Trina, came to visit me in Ontario. She brought with her the Slippery When Wet album. She had a crush on Jon Bon Jovi. Who didn't? Look at him now.

At 44, he's still lookin' mighty fine!

I've really enjoyed Bon Jovi's music over the years. In fact, Wanted Dead or Alive is on my top 100 favorite songs list.
And guess what? Last I heard, Tommy & Gina are doing all right!