Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy Eighth Birthday to I’m Turning 60…!! by Margaret Ullrich




Happy Birthday to I’m Turning 60…!!

I really want to thank you for visiting during the years, whether you have dropped in on a daily, weekly or occasional basis during the past eight years. 
I especially want to thank those who have commented. I really appreciate it when you tell me that your family enjoyed a recipe, or when you ask if I have a recipe for a particular dish.
The past eight years have been full of changes - some good, some bad - and I want to thank you for sharing them with me.

I’m Turning 60… continues to be more popular than its older ’sibling’ 
Winnipeg is Better Than Chocolate! 
Really!!
I’m Turning 60… - with 1002 posts - has had an amazing 544,689 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 2,706 posts, and received a bit over 371,000 visitors.
Quite the growth for this little blog!
Thank you for visiting and for 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:




Please, if you haven’t already, do try the recipes on these lists.
They’re not popular recipes because people don’t like them!

Back to the visitors...
As of last October the United States had 210,049 visitors, Canada had 41,609, Russia had 26,113, Malta had 24,589, and Australia had 24,292 visitors and they were the top five countries!
Thank you for visiting!
Now the top ten countries and their visitors are:

United States…………. 269,964
Canada………….…………. 49,165
Australia…………………… 29,281
Malta……………..……..…. 28,851
Russia………………………. 26,367
United Kingdom………. 17,882
France…………………..…..15,888
Germany…………..……….14,224
Ukraine.………....….…….  9,474
Romania………….……..…. 2,846

If you’d like to compare the growth and changes from last year, here are the stats from 2016.

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, Armenia and China.
I'm always amazed at learning where you live.
I expected many visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom since many Maltese immigrated there, especially after World War II.
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!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Coconut Bread and the Orionid Meteor Shower

One thing I do not like about living in the prairies is the sudden arrival of the seasons, Winter and Summer, with a definitely short amount of time given to Spring and Fall.

Yesterday we were enjoying a comfortable Autumn day - the air was crisp and the leaves were golden.
Today we awoke to find snow covering everything.
Ah… October in the prairies.

One can’t assume there will be a long stretch of time before true winter weather hits.
I’ve already put my garden to bed and started packing away yard ornaments.
Another summer has flown by, and winter is fast approaching.

Last week I got a start on my Christmas baking.
Well, the oven was going with the Thanksgiving pumpkin pies, so I decided to make use of the oven’s heat for a fruitcake, so that it would have plenty of time to age.
I made a White Fruitcake, the one that has a cup of shredded coconut in it. 

After a few grocery shopping trips one comes to a realization - food often is not sold in the amount one needs - the hot dog buns are sold in a bag of eight, while the hot dogs are in a container of ten.
So it goes - one buys more of an item so there’ll be enough.

Coconut is not something I use regularly, like fresh fruit or bread.
If I just toss the leftovers on the shelf I know I’ll just forget about it, and buy another bag next year for another fruitcake.

The safest thing to do is to bake something with coconut in it for a dessert this week.
Something like Coconut Bread.
As Ma would say, Waste not, want not.


Hints:

If you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge, you can make a substitute for baking very easily. Place in a measuring cup:
1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
Add enough milk to reach the 1 Cup mark.
Let sit 5 minutes (more or less) and use in your recipe.
No, this won’t work as a substitute if someone wants to drink a glass of buttermilk.

here are a few more recipes that can use that leftover coconut:







Haystacks ( a handy recipe - it uses leftover cream cheese)


                        Coconut Bread


Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan

Sift together in a large bowl
3 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325º F

Combine in a large mixer bowl
1 Cup butter, softened
3/4 Cup sugar
Beat together until fluffy.

Add, one at a time, beating after each addition
2 eggs 
Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition and mix until blended.
Beat in 
1 Tablespoon lemon extract

Add the flour mixture alternately (3 dry and 2 liquid) with
1 Cup buttermilk
Just combine enough to mix the ingredients. don’t over beat.
Fold in
1 Cup shredded coconut
2/3 Cup finely crushed almonds

Place the mixture in the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
A toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaves should come out clean.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Remove the bread from the pan and place the bread on a platter.

Slice and serve as is, or with butter and/or jam.


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

October 15 - The occultation of Regulus by the Moon. Before dawn, most of the contiguous U.S. (except the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Northern Plains) and Southeast Canada, and parts of the Maritime Provinces, will be able to see the Moon cover the bright bluish star, Regulus, known as the Heart of the Lion in Leo. See if you’re in the zone of visibility.  

October 16 - Look to the east about an hour before sunrise to spot the tiny crescent Moon above Venus and Mars.

October 19 - New Moon, 3:12 p.m. 

October 21 & 22 - The Orionid Meteor shower peaks ! This shower is the cosmic dust from the most famous comet, Halley’s comet. The meteors appear to emanate from a point near the Orion-Gemini border in Orion’s upraised club, hence the name. This year should be very favourable for viewing as the moon is just past new phase so skies will be dark. View overhead from 1 to 2 a.m. local daylight time until dawn; you may see 20-25 meteors per hour!

October 22 - Look an hour after sunset to spot the crescent Moon, the planet Saturn, and the star Antares low in the southwest horizon.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Manicotti with Vegetable Cheese Filling and the Harvest Moon

Well, here we are… October.
There’s a nip in the air, and bright colours on the trees.
And, if you live in Canada, next week is Thanksgiving.

I know, after a certain age, it doesn’t feel like a whole year has passed since we celebrated last Thanksgiving.
Or a whole year passing for any holiday, for that matter.
Be that as it may, a year has passed, and it’s time to prepare another big family dinner.


One of the tricks Ma used to make the main dish go further when the family gathered was to serve a pasta course first.
Ma always had homemade stuffed shells in the freezer to add a bit of heft to her regular meals.
If it was a holiday meal, she would also make a pan of lasagna or manicotti.
Ma believed that if we filled up on something like manicotti, there’d be more turkey left over for another dinner or, at the very least, for sandwiches.


Hints:

New at stuffing tubes?  
It’s easier to cram a bit in from each end.
You can either use a spoon, or place the filling in a plastic bag.  
Using scissors, cut a corner from the bottom of the bag. 
Fill by squeezing the filling mixture into both ends of each tube.

You can also prepare stuffed manicotti in advance and freeze.
If you're in a cooking frenzy, make extra for another dinner.
For frozen stuffed manicotti, an hour in a 350º oven usually did the trick.


                        Manicotti with Vegetable Cheese Filling

Have on hand 

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
Over high heat bring the water to a boil.
Add 
salt to taste
Add
225 grams manicotti tubes (14 tubes)
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the tubes and rinse with cold water.

For Filling

Finely chop
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
5 green onions

Place in a large skillet 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Heat over medium heat.
Add the chopped peppers and onions and continue to cook over medium heat 
for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Cool for 5 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place in a large bowl 
2 Cups ricotta
1 Cup mozzarella, chopped or shredded
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
Combine.
Stir in the fried peppers and onions. 

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.
Carefully stuff the manicotti tubes and place them in the baking pan.

Preheat oven 350º F

Spoon the remaining sauce over the tubes.
Sprinkle with
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded 
1/2 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cover and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the manicotti is heated through.
Serve hot with available (optional)
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese  
hot tomato sauce 

Ma’s Green Bean Salad is a good side dish with the manicotti.

It’s also a good idea to serve some crusty bread on the side to sop up the sauce...
…and to stretch out that first course.


Enjoyed making manicotti? Try these recipes:




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

October 5 - At 2:40 p.m. EDT, the Moon officially turns full. And because this full Moon is the one that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox (which was September 22) it is christened the Harvest Moon.

Usually the title of Harvest Moon goes to the September full Moon. But from 1970 to 2050 the Harvest Moon falls in October no fewer than 18 times. And 2017 is one of those years.

While the average occurrence of an October Harvest Moon is once about every three years, sometimes as much as eight years can pass between such cases (examples: 1990 to 1998; 2028 to 2036). On alternate years, the October Moon is traditionally known as the full Hunter’s Moon.


October 7 & 8 - The annual Draconid meteor shower, also sometimes called the Giacobinids, will peak. Usually a moderate meteor shower originating near the constellation Draco, the Draconid meteors are created by dust left behind by the periodic comet Giacobini—Zinner. This shower is best viewed in the evening hours. Watch for the Draconid meteors first thing at nightfall – or before the bright Moon rises.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Farfalle with Tomatoes and Basil


Well!! We’ve reached a milestone!
This is the 1000th post for I’m Turning 60...
We’ve shared quite a few meals together, and I’ve enjoyed breaking bread with you over the years and miles.

I’ve noticed that pasta recipes, especially homestyle ones, have been popular throughout the years.
This is a special post, so let’s use a pasta that is a little more festive than elbow macaroni or spaghetti are.
Don't worry - it's not harder to cook.

One of my earliest recipes was Carmela Soprano's Bow Ties with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella.
Let’s have a bit of sentimental fun today with Farfalle, also known as bow ties.
The name Farfalle comes from the Italian word for butterflies, but most folks - even the Sopranos - call them bow ties.
Suit yourself.

If you have a garden you’ve probably got a few tomatoes ripening in the basement… on the windowsill… on your kitchen counter.
Let’s use a few today.


If you bought a really large bag of bow ties, here’s another recipe that use Farfalle:

Speaking of Ma, I still prefer her way of serving fresh tomatoes: quartered and sprinkled with oregano. Not a sauce on hot pasta, but always as a side dish.   
Help yourselves to some tomatoes the way Ma served them and enjoy!!


Hints:

If you’d prefer - or have on hand - a different pasta, such as elbow, no problem.

You can substitute 2 Cups halved cherry tomatoes or whole grape tomatoes for the chopped regular tomatoes.

Want to make a quick meal? 
Add 2 Cups cooked chicken or pork strips or diced bacon just before serving.


                        Farfalle with Tomatoes and Basil

4 servings

Have on hand a bowl of ice water.

In a medium pot place
1 quart water
Bring to a boil.

Place in the boiling water 
1 pound tomatoes
Let them cook for 30 seconds, then remove them and put them in the ice water to stop the cooking.
Remove the skins and seeds and cut into pieces.

Dice
1 medium onion

Place in a large skillet
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fry the diced onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the prepared tomato pieces.
Season with 
Salt and pepper
Sauté another 4 minutes.

While you’re boiling the water for the tomatoes, also place in a large pot 
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound farfalle 
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and add the pasta to the sauce.

Top with 
1/2 Cup torn fresh basil leaves 

Serve immediately.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Lemon Cheesecake and the Autumnal Equinox

Can you believe it? 
We’re halfway through September.
We’re having odd weather: hazy because of the fires in northern Manitoba, yet overcast and rainy here in the south.
I know April showers bring May flowers, but September rain is just gloomy, without the promise of pretty flowers.
Kind of depressing.

Oh, well, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a slice of cheesecake can cure many ills.
And a cheesecake with lemon curd on it is like having a bit of sunshine on your plate.


Hints:

If you don’t have graham wafer crumbs you can crush in a food processor
18 Graham crackers (2 packets from a 14 ounce box)
Process until the crumbs are consistent. 
No food processor? 
Place the crackers in a zip lock bag, seal, and use a rolling pin to crush.

If you don’t have graham wafers, you can crush arrowroot or sugar cookies.

Do not over beat when you’re adding the eggs. Too much beating at this point can make the top of the cheesecake crack during baking.

The plain cheesecake can be refrigerated, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

If you want you can strain the curd once cooked. The curd can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. You may not need all of the curd for the filling. 
It can be stored in a covered bowl and added to servings or on other desserts.

Lemon Cheesecake is best served the day it's made but can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days, but the longer you store it the more weepy the meringue will get. It'll still be good, it'll just look like it's been crying.


                        Lemon Cheesecake

Serves 10 - 12

Either in a pot or in a medium-sized microwaveable bowl, melt
1/2 Cup butter
Stir in
2 Cups graham wafer crumbs
Combine well.
Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and along the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.


Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350º F

Place in a large mixer bowl
1 Cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Rub the sugar, flour and zest together to develop the lemon flavour.
Add
24 ounces brick style cream cheese, at room temperature
Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Beat in
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add, one at a time
3 large eggs
Beat just until combined after each addition. Do not over mix.

Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and smooth the top surface.
Place the pan in a roasting pan and place the roasting pan in the oven. 
Pour hot, not boiling, water into the roasting pan to halfway up the sides of the springform pan. 

Bake for 50 minutes. You want the centre to jiggle slightly when the pan is tapped, and for a thermometer inserted in the centre to register 150° F.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. 
Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and put it on a wire rack. 
Cover the cheesecake with a cold baking sheet and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet and carefully run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake. 
Replace the baking sheet on top of the pan and let the cheesecake cool on the rack for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature.
Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. 
While it is cooling, make the curd.


For the Lemon Curd

Cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 Cup unsalted butter
Set aside.

Place in a large pot
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
Combine
1/4 Cup lemon juice 
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. DO NOT LET IT BOIL.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter pieces.
Stir until the butter has completely melted.
Let the curd cool at room temperature for about 40 minutes before spooning it on the cheesecake. 
While it is cooling, make the meringue.


For the Meringue

Measure and set aside 
1/2 Cup sugar

Combine in a small saucepan
2 Tablespoons of the measured sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Gradually stir in
1/2 Cup water
Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes. 
Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place in a large mixer bowl
3 large egg whites
Beat until foamy.
Add
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gradually add the remaining sugar, continuing to beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in the cornstarch mixture. 
Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. 

Spread the lemon curd over the top of the cheesecake.
Spread  the meringue over the curd. Be sure to have the meringue touching all the edges of the curd and make the surface spiky for a nice effect.
Bake in a preheated 350° F oven until the meringue is golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Release the sides of the springform pan and slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate. 


Having a craving for some more lemon recipes?  Try these…











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

September 16 - Set your alarms 90 minutes before Sunrise to see a super close conjunction of Mercury and Mars low in the eastern horizon. The crescent Moon and Venus will be higher in the sky.

September 17 and 18 - Look to the east about 40 minutes before sunrise to see the tiny waning crescent Moon above Venus. But hurry, once the Sun rises, Venus will disappear!

September 21 - Look to the west about 1 hour after sunset to see the tiny waxing crescent moon and the planet Jupiter. But hurry! They’ll disappear beneath the horizon before it gets dark.

September 22 - Autumn begins at 4:02 p.m. with the Autumnal Equinox. The Sun crosses the Equator and darkness begins to win out over daylight. It also means the Sun will rise due east and set due west!

September 26 - Look to the southwest as soon as it gets dark to see the waxing crescent Moon pair up with Saturn. They’ll set beneath the horizon by mid-evening. Nightfall also is the best time to view Saturn’s rings through a telescope.

September 27 - First Quarter Moon, 10:54 a.m. The Moon looks like a half-Moon - one-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full. It’s called the “first Quarter” Moon because in this phase, the Moon is in its first quarter of the 29+ day lunar cycle.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Ricotta Cheesecake and the Full Corn or Barley Moon


Happy Labour Day!
The summer just flew...
with some good and some bad times.

Hope all of you have kept safe and well, and that those who could see it enjoyed the eclipse.
I really hope that the fires will soon be out in western Canada and northern Manitoba and that Harvey will be the only bad storm in the southern United States.


Well, it’s the start of September and time to back to normal.
Oh… normal. Time to make a cheesecake.
Yes, cheesecake always helps, as the ladies on The Golden Girls knew.

Over the years I’ve posted a few cheesecake recipes.
But, wouldn’t you know, I forgot to post a very simple, basic recipe.
Well, here it is, just in time to get us through the adjustment period.

If you want to be traditional, this is usually served with a cup of espresso.
That’s not required.
Just have a cup of whatever you enjoy and get ready to get back to normal… 
and the holidays.


Hints:

If you don’t have graham wafer crumbs you can crush in a food processor
18 Graham crackers (2 packets from a 14 ounce box)
Process until the crumbs are consistent. 
No food processor? 
Place the crackers in a zip lock bag, seal, and use a rolling pin to crush.

If you don’t have graham wafers, you can crush arrowroot or sugar cookies.

Don’t have orange rind or extract? Lemon or more vanilla will do.


                                                Ricotta Cheesecake

Serves 8

Place in a colander over a bowl and drain
about 34 ounces ricotta cheese (some brands are more watery than others)
You want to have 32 ounces of drained ricotta cheese for the recipe.

Spread over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan
1 Tablespoon butter, softened

Either in a pot or in a medium-sized microwaveable bowl, melt
1/2 Cup butter
Stir in
2 Cups graham wafer crumbs
Combine well.
Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and along the sides of the pan. 
Set aside.

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 330º

Sift together into a small bowl
1/3 Cup flour
1 Cup sugar

Scrape the ricotta into a medium bowl.
Add
2 teaspoons grated orange rind or 1 teaspoon orange extract
Stir together.
Slowly fold in the flour mixture with a spatula.
Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Add, one at a time
6 large eggs
Blend with a spatula until well blended.
Stir in 
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top surface.
Bake for 60 minutes.

The top of the cheesecake should be golden and a knife inserted in the centre should come out clean.
LEAVE THE CHEESECAKE IN THE OVEN.
Turn off the oven and leave the door open a crack.
You can prop the door with a wooden spoon.
Cool the cake for 60 minutes in the oven.
Remove the pan from the oven.
Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack until room temperature.
Refrigerate for a few hours prior to eating.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

The leftover cheesecake can be stored, wrapped, in the refrigerator.


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

September 4 — You’ll be able to spot Orion the Hunter rising in the early dawn hours! Neptune, the 8th planet from the Sun, will be the closest to Earth for the year. On the 5th, it reaches opposition,which means it’s most opposite the Sun for the year.

September 6 — Full  Moon at 3:03 a.m. At this phase the visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. But is it the full Harvest Moon or the full Corn Moon?  
While many might think the Harvest Moon is always in September, it’s really the full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox (September 22, this year). 
September’s full Moon is the third and final full Moon of the summer season, but in 2017, the October full Moon actually occurs closer to the autumn equinox, so October’s full Moon is this year’s Harvest Moon. When the September full moon is not the Harvest Moon, we call it the Corn or Barley Moon.