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! 
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
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.


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.


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.
salt to taste
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
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.