In light of the COVID-19 precautions...


Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid close contact with anyone who appears sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then toss the tissue in the trash.

Disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.

Talk to your doctor if you develop symptoms.

Stay home if you develop symptoms.

Avoid nonessential travel to areas with active COVID-19 outbreaks.


Visit the website for your local health department for updates.


If you are caring for an older adult:

Know what medications are needed and help them have extra.

Monitor food and medical supplies and have a back-up plan.

Stock up on non-perishable food to reduce shopping trips.

If a loved one is in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the residents and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anna Sultana's Pumpkin Soup, Maltese Style, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Pie Spice; The Orionid Meteor Showers

Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween!
Like all holidays, Halloween comes with its own requirements.
Decorations, candy to hand out and costumes for the kiddies - and not so kiddie - are pretty much mandatory for a bare minimum Halloween.
If you have those three, you’re good to go.

There is one item that is open to debate: 
Whether or not to buy a real pumpkin, carve it up and insert a candle to highlight your artwork.

Some families can’t imagine Halloween without a real jack-o-lantern on their front porch.
Okay… it’s decided, and no tough choice to be made there.

Others have an annual argument: should they swiftly walk past those huge pumpkins in the produce section, or should they get one, cart it home, carve it up, and then find something to do with the bits of pumpkin that are all over their kitchen?
I mean, it is real food, right? 
And what with the high cost of fresh produce, it should be eaten, right?

Ma had her own solution for the pumpkin innards problem.
We had a real pumpkin, and we also had a supper of pumpkin soup.
Soup is a dish that welcomes a cook's creativity, and it also makes use of what's in season, on sale, or just sitting in the kitchen.
Happy Holidays!!


Hints:

Since it’s Halloween, you could garnish the soup by drawing 3 to 5 circles of yoghurt or sour cream on top of a serving. With a knife, starting at the centre, draw a line outward, cutting across the circles. Make a few more slashes, always starting at the centre, and you’ve created a spider’s web.

Or you could use a Halloween-themed cookie cutter on slices of cheese, as if you were making a cheese cookie. Instead of baking them, just place the ‘cookies’ on bowls of soup and serve to the kiddies.
They can always use an extra serving of calcium.

About the seeds… don’t forget to roast them for an easy, great snack.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Place in a bowl 
1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
Drizzle with
2 teaspoons butter, melted 
Toss and spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle lightly with
1/4 - 1 teaspoon salt 
Stirring occasionally, bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.


                        Pumpkin Soup

8 servings

Chop and place in a large pot
about 4 pounds pumpkin chunks (without skin and seeds)
4 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
Add
6 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in
2 Cups milk 
Scoop some of the soup into a blender and puree to make it smooth.
If you want the whole soup smooth, repeat until the soup is the way you want it.
If it’s too thick, you can add more stock or milk.
Season with
salt and pepper

Reheat soup, if necessary.
Serve with crusty bread, such as Ma’s Hobz.

If you’d like a more ‘pumpkin pie’ flavour to your soup, no problem.
Reduce the amounts of onions and garlic, or avoid them completely.
Season with Pumpkin Pie Spice.

I had posted a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice a while ago.
Here’s a recipe with slightly different proportions of the ingredients.
Suit yourself.


                        Pumpkin Pie Spice

Place in a small jar
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
Stir to blend.
Store with a tight lid.


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

Hope you enjoyed The Orionid Meteor Showers on October 21 - 22. These showers originate from debris from Halley’s Comet. The best time to observe any meteor shower is during the early morning hours, between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Generally, with the Orionids, observers can expect to see 20-25 meteors per hour. Hope you spotted a couple.

October 28— Set your alarms to see the faint, thin waning crescent Moon paired up with Jupiter. Look to the east 1 hour before sunrise.

October 30— New Moon, 1:38 p.m. It’s invisible to the naked eye.

October 31 – The nearly-invisible waxing crescent Moon will again be at apogee, meaning its farthest point from Earth during the lunar month.  
An easy way to remember: (A)pogee = (A)way.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy Seventh Anniversary, I’m Turning 60! by Margaret Ullrich


The past seven years have been full of changes - some good, some bad - and they just flew!!
Happy Birthday to I’m Turning 60…!!

I really want to thank you for visiting, whether you dropped in on a daily, weekly or occasional basis during the past seven years!


I’m Turning 60… continues to be more popular than 
Really!!
I’m Turning 60… - with 957 posts - has had an amazing 440,005 visitors since July, 2010, when Blogger started keeping track of both blogs.

That's more visitors than its ‘elder sibling’.
The Winnipeg blog has had 2,660 posts and a little over 337,000 visitors.
Quite the growth for this little blog!
Thank you for visiting and telling your friends!


Okay… enough with the numbers.
Let’s get back to the recipes which deserve the credit for all these visits!

I recently took a look at how this blog’s posts have been doing.
Here are the current all time top ten posts:


During the past month these have been the top posts:


Do try the recipes on these lists.
They’re not popular recipes because people don’t like them!

I'm also pleased to see that people have been reading the twice monthly posts about information about the moon and planets.
Yes, they are also the posts that usually have recipes, along with a few fun facts about the alcoholic drinks.


Back to the 440,005 visitors...
Last year the United States had 150,165 visitors, Canada had 32,368, Malta had 18,336, and Australia had 15,389 visitors and they were the top four countries!
Thank you for visiting!
If you’re curious about the other countries, here are the stats from 2015.

I'm always amazed at learning where you live, and I was very surprised to see how the number of visitors from Russia had grown.
I expected many visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, since many Maltese immigrated to over, especially after World War II.
The surge in Russian visitors surprised me.
Now the top ten countries and their visitors are:

United States…………. 210,049
Canada………….…………. 41,609
Russia………………………. 26,113 
Malta……………..……..…. 24,589
Australia…………………… 24,292
United Kingdom………. 14,549
France…………………..…..13,332
Germany…………..……….12,195
Ukraine.………....….…….  9,029
Romania………….……..…. 2,695

During the years there have also been visitors from Turkey, Italy, Finland, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Mexico, Afghanistan, Thailand, Slovakia, Ireland, Denmark, Bangladesh, Sweden, Israel, Moldova, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Greece, Kenya, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Brazil, Bermuda, Namibia, Cyprus, India, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Madagascar and China.
It is a small world after all!!


Since I don’t post on a daily basis, why not become a subscriber?
By submitting your email address you won’t miss a post.
And you won't miss anything interesting happening in the night sky.
It’s easy and free to sign up!

I'd also like comments.  Really.  
It's easy to do.  Just click on Comments and write. 
Or message me on Facebook. 
Tell me what you want to know about. 
Would you like more holiday recipes, or more easy, cheap, quick meals or…?


Thanks again for visiting!
Hope to see you again real soon!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Safeway Almond Thimble Cookies and The Orionid Meteor Showers, by Margaret Ullrich


I hope you enjoyed making Safeway's recipe for Chocolate Date Nut Squares.
I had found it on the back of the 1 Kg bags of walnuts, which I used to be able to find at Safeway. 


Safeway was great as a source of supplies for home bakers.
Sobey’s… not so much.
They seem to focus on deli style take out and snack items. Since they bought Safeway shoppers have been finding bags of chips and canned and bottled drinks in every corner of the store.
Really, why are there sodas in the dairy and produce sections?
Who has a cola with cheese, or a root beer with a cabbage?

I so miss my old Safeway.
Another item I regularly bought there was their 1 Kg bags of almonds. 
Yes, it was another staple that Sobeys, in its infinite wisdom, decided to discontinue. 
The bag of almonds came with its own recipe - Almond Thimble Cookies. 
On the bag it said This is a fun cookie to make and eat with your children!

Sobeys doesn’t carry the large bags of nuts anymore.
Guess there isn’t room for bags of nuts because the soda and potato chips take up so much space now.


Thimble Cookies are also called Bird’s Nest Cookies and Thumbprint Cookies, and they are fun to make with the kiddies.


Hints:

The instructions said to place the chopped nuts in a small bowl. 
I found placing the nuts in an 8 inch square pan worked better since I could do more cookie balls at one time.

About the 3/4 Cup jam or jelly… an assortment makes a pretty platter, and it’s a great way to use up leftovers. If you only have one type of jam, make like Julia Child: 
Don’t apologize and don’t explain.

I also tried using chopped walnuts combined with sweetened dried coconut and it worked. You can also make Thimble Cookies with just chopped walnuts.
If using coconut, make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven and watch the cookies closely at the end of cooking to prevent the coconut from burning.

Once cooled, the cookies can be store in an airtight container.

I found the cookies are better if they are filled just before serving.
If you're going to be busy, fill them whenever you can.
Family and friends should be grateful that you went to all the trouble to make them fresh homemade cookies.


Once a package of almonds is open, refrigerate or freeze nuts to retain freshness.

If you’re curious, 1 Kg of whole almonds equals approximately 8 1/2 Cups.

Toasting nuts intensifies their flavour. To toast the nuts, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350º F for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring once. Watch carefully, as they can burn quickly.

If you want another almond cookie recipe, you could also bake a batch of 

Anna Sultana’s Almond Cookies

Anna Sultana's Kwarezimal - Almond Biscotti, Maltese Style



It’s also easy to go through almonds during the holidays!


                        Almond Thimble Cookies

Makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on size

Place the 2 oven racks in the centre of the oven.
Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets   

Finely chop
1 3/4 Cups whole almonds
Place in an 8 inch pan.

Sift together
2 1/4 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Separate 2 large eggs, placing the whites in a small bowl, and the yolks in a cup. 
(The yolks will be added later to the dough.)
Add to the 2 egg whites in the bowl
2 Tablespoons water
Beat together.

In a large mixer bowl cream
1 Cup butter
Add
1/2 Cup brown sugar, firmly packed
Beat until light and fluffy.
Add
2 reserved large egg yolks
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat until well blended.
Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.

Preheat oven to 375º F        

Using a teaspoon, form 3 cm (1 inch) balls of dough.
Roll each ball in egg whites mixture and then in the chopped nuts and place them on a greased cookie sheet.
Using a thimble or your finger carefully make a deep indentation in the centre of each cookie. Be sure not to go too deeply.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and, while the cookies are still warm, reshape the indentations.
Remove the cookies to a rack to cool.

Have on hand
3/4 Cup jam or jelly
Fill centres with jam or jelly


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

October 21-22 — The Orionid Meteor Showers. These showers originate from debris from the most famous and well-known of all comets, Halley’s Comet. These meteors radiate from a point near the club of the constellation Orion. Best seen looking to the south, between 2 and 4 a.m., in any time zone. The bright waning gibbous Moon may impede viewing ability so be sure you are someplace dark, free of light pollution.

October 22— Last Quarter Moon, 3:14 p.m. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, on its way to the New Moon (invisible) phase.

October 28— Set your alarms to see the faint, thin waning crescent Moon paired up with Jupiter. Look to the east 1 hour before sunrise.

October 30— New Moon, 1:38 p.m. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

October 31 – The nearly-invisible waxing crescent Moon will again be at apogee, meaning its farthest point from Earth during the lunar month.  An easy way to remember: (A)pogee = (A)way.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Safeway Chocolate Date Nut Squares and the Full Hunter’s Moon, by Margaret Ullrich

Wishing my Canadian readers a very Happy Thanksgiving, a Happy Columbus Day to readers in the United States, and a nice week to everyone else!

Yes, I'm preparing Ma's bacon covered turkey, Maltese style.
Would you really expect me to cook a Thanksgiving turkey any other way?


Today would have been my Ma’s 94th birthday. Ma died about a week after her birthday in 2009. It was an answer to her prayers. My parents had married in 1948 and immigrated to America in 1950. Pop died in January, 2009. Pop's last years hadn't been good, what with heart and kidney problems, arthritis and diabetes. Their days had become an endless round of doctors' visits. Ma also hated the winter weather in New York and always said she'd dreaded facing them. 

During one of my parents' visits, Vince Leah and his wife died within hours of each other. Since Paul had worked with Vince at The Free Press, he had gone to the funeral. I remember Ma saying how lucky Mrs. Leah was, and that she would want to go the same way, too.


I started this blog a few days after Ma died. During her later years she had gotten interested in cooking, and we sent each other recipes, both old favourites and new finds. This blog became a way to keep up that tradition.

Instead of receiving clippings from Ma, I now get emails from readers. My last post was for ‘Our Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies’. Among the hints I mentioned that if you don’t like walnuts, leave them out. Well, The email I received was about the flip side of the nut coin. Did I have another cookie recipe that uses walnuts?

Yes, I do, thanks to the recipe that was on the back of the 1 Kg bags of walnuts, which I used to be able to find at Safeway’s. Yes, it was another staple that Sobeys, in its infinite wisdom, decided to discontinue. It was described as a delightful dessert with chocolate and nuts in every bite.
Sobeys doesn’t carry the large bags of nuts anymore.
And yet Sobeys stays in business…


Hints:

Once a package of walnuts is open, refrigerate or freeze the nuts to retain freshness.

If you’re curious, 1 Kg of walnut pieces equals approximately 8 1/2 Cups.

Toasting nuts intensifies their flavour. To toast the nuts, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350º F for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring once. Watch carefully, as they can burn quickly.

If you want another date recipe, you could also bake a batch of 

As you can see, it’s also easy to go through dates and walnuts during the holidays!


                        Chocolate Date Nut Squares

Makes 54 squares

Grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan    

FOR THE BASE

In a bowl combine
1 Cup pitted dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pour over the dates
1 1/2 Cups boiling water
Stir and set aside to cool.

Sift together
1 1/2 Cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 

In a large mixer bowl beat
2 large eggs
Add
1/2 Cup butter or margarine, softened
1 Cup sugar
Beat until well blended.
Stir in the cooled dates and liquid.
Stir in the flour mixture.
The batter will be thin and rummy.
Pour the batter into the greased pan.

Preheat oven to 350º F
  
FOR THE TOPPING

Combine in a small bowl
1/2 Cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven, cool and cut into squares.


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

Just as darkness falls, look for the Draconid Meteor shower, also known as the Giacobinids. Look to the northwest, near Polaris, the North Star, to find the constellation Draco, the Dragon, which is the radiant of this shower. Normally meteor showers are best viewed after midnight, but not in this case — head outside in the early evening!

October 9 — First Quarter Moon, 12:33 a.m. 

October 12 — Fall is a great time to view Sirius, the Dog Star, part of the Constellation Canis Major. Look to the southeastern sky where it rises after midnight, or find it in the southern sky before dawn. An easy way to find Sirius is to locate Orion’s belt and follow it in a straight line down to Sirius.

October 16 —  Full Hunter’s Moon, astronomically full at 12:23 a.m. 
Watch this short video on how the Hunter’s Moon got its name! The full Hunter’s Moon is at perigee, meaning its closest point to Earth for the month.