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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Anna Sultana's Floating Fruit Cake / COVID-19 Precautions

We’re going through a major pandemic.
Many towns and cities have instituted measures to reduce the virus’s spread.

Staying home is very important.
Our parents went to war.
We can manage to stay home to help protect our families, as well as our neighbours and friends.

On Facebook some friends have been mentioning that they were having trouble focusing on anything on their ‘To Do’ lists.
We’ve all been hit with a major shock.
I think we're just a little stunned by what is happening, but we will get back to normal after we've adjusted to the new reality.

A quick review 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.

Seniors are particularly susceptible to this virus.
We’ve been asked to avoid going out as much as possible.
Meanwhile we still have to eat, and that usually means going to a store.
Especially during a Manitoba Spring, when our gardens are still under a foot or two of snow and nights can go below freezing.

Before going to a store, why not shop your kitchen.
If you’re like me over the years you’ve picked up a few tins of food that are sitting quietly on a shelf in your kitchen.
Now is the time to use them.
Think of clearing our kitchen shelves as the one silver lining of this cloud.

Ma’s floating fruit cake recipe is perfect for now.
She would use it when the budget was tight or she was too busy to go out.
It uses a tin of pie filling or fruit and doesn’t need eggs, which I found were missing from the shelves when I went to our grocery store on Monday.
We’re going to have to make do.
People have done that before.
We’re going to have to stay indoors.
Anne Frank and many others did that and more during WW II.

We’re all in this together.
We can do this.
Stay safe and well.


Don’t have pie filling but do have a can of peaches, pears, apples or some other fruit?
Use the fruit and syrup, and take pride in knowing you’ve finally found a way to use it.

Don’t have sliced almonds? Chopped walnuts are also good.
About the dash of spice…Nutmeg goes well with peach, apple, or passion fruit.
Cinnamon sugar goes with just about any fruit.
You know what your family likes, and what is on your kitchen's shelf.

You can also leave the spice, as well as the nuts, out.

                        Floating Fruit Cake 

grease 2 8-inch square pans
preheat oven to 350º           

Sift into a large bowl
2 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cup sugar
Cut in
4 Tablespoons margarine or butter
1 Cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix well.
Spread half of the batter in each of the prepared pans.

Spoon over the top of each pan of batter
1/2 can of fruit pie filling
Pour over each layer of fruit
1 Cup boiling water

Sprinkle over each
1/4 Cup sliced almonds, more or less
a dash of spice (see hints)
Bake 40 minutes.
Serve warm.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Anna Sultana’s Onion Soup & Lamb Barley Soup / St. Patrick’s Day & St. Joseph’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is on Tuesday.
Thursday, officially the first day of Spring, is also the feast of St. Joseph.

Do you ever wonder how St. Patrick and St. Joseph feel about the fact that their feast days always happen in Lent?

Sometimes St. Valentine’s also falls in Lent.
Lent or not - people celebrate St. Valentine's.
A loved one's fury, and revenge methods, are a lot scarier than God's judgment.
And, anyway, church rules have been known to change.

But, for Pat and Joe, it’s guaranteed that their big days will land in the no-frills, no-fun, no-treats-for-you, season of Lent.
It’s enough to make a saint curse.
I mean, Pat went to Ireland and Joe, well, who has better family connections?
What does a guy have to do to get a decent holy day?

Well… I think that this is not the time to worry about Lent.
Not when there are so many great traditional recipes to enjoy!

Here are a few traditional dishes for St. Patrick.
Don't forget to toast him with a few traditional Irish drinks:


Enjoy a pastry or two - Italian or Maltese style - in honour of St. Joseph:

Next Tuesday we'll have a new moon.
No big whoop… pretty much a night like any other night.
Well, we can say that about most days.
But we still have to eat.
Warm weather is still a long way off, so why not make some soup?


For the Onion Soup…
For something a bit different use one pound each of red onions, sweet onions and yellow onions.
The red onions’ colour will bleed into the broth, but it’s the thought that counts.
Also it’s a way to use onions before they start to sprout.

The soup can be prepared, cooled, then refrigerated up to 2 days. 
When ready to serve, bring it to a boil, ladle into the bowls and continue.

If you want to omit the dry sherry, increase the beef broth to 7 1/4 cups.

About the Lamb Barley Soup…
If you have a lamb leg or chops dinner, be sure to save the bones. 
Place them in a large pot, cover with water, add a diced onion or two along with a few bay leaves, and simmer for a few hours. 
If you have an envelope of onion soup mix handy you can add that, too.
A teaspoon or two of chill powder adds a nice touch.
Let the broth cool and then strain it.
Pick any meat off the bones and add the bits to the broth.

If you haven’t had lamb since last Easter, use broth or water.
Ground beef will work with beef or vegetable broth.
Ground chicken or turkey is good with chicken or vegetable broth.

                        Onion Soup

Cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thin slices
3 pounds onions
Place in a large pot 
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
Heat over medium heat and add
the sliced onions
Stirring frequently, cook 10 minutes.
Lower the heat and, stirring occasionally, simmer 40 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
2 teaspoons dried thyme 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 Cup dry sherry 
Cook and stir on medium-high heat 1 minute.
7 Cups beef broth
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 bay leaves 
Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil. 
Cover, simmer on medium-low heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Remove the bay leaves and discard. 

While the soup is simmering, toast 
16 French bread or baguette slices (1/2 inch thick)

Heat the broiler. 
Ladle soup into 8 ovenproof bowls.
Top with 
the toasted bread slices
1 1/2 to 2 Cups shredded Swiss cheese 
Broil, 4 inches from heat, 3 to 5  minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. 
Serve with a mixed green salad and crusty rolls or bread.

                        Lamb Barley Soup

Finely chop
2 medium onions
4 medium carrots
Place in a large pot 
1 pound ground lamb 
the chopped onion
Heat over medium-high heat and stir until the meat is evenly browned and the onions are translucent. 
Discard any excess grease. 
Stir in 
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 Cups lamb broth
1 can condensed tomato soup 
the chopped carrots
1 Cup barley 
1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Cover and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes.
Serve with crusty rolls or bread.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Anna Sultana’s East Coast Seafood Chowder & Bacon Cauliflower Chowder / Full Worm Moon

On Tuesday we were thrilled to be walking on snow-free concrete.
We were sure that Spring was just a few days away.
Manitoba Merv had promised us an early Spring.
He couldn't lie to his fellow citizens.

Yeah, well, this is Manitoba, and it’s never wise to put away the snow shovels until the middle of May.

On Wednesday afternoon it started snowing, the heavy wet type, and by Thursday morning we had received another 10 to 13 cm of fresh snow.
We were not amused.

I packed away the light, Spring type recipes and made a pot of chowder.

As a kid growing up in Queens, New York I loved Manhattan Clam Chowder.
I had first tried it in the restaurant at Jones Beach.
It was served with a small bag of little round crackers and was much better than the soup one got from the Campbell soup can.
I have no idea why either item was called a chowder.

Soup is a rather light weight thing, made by adding meat and/or vegetables to a liquid, such as water or stock. 
A chowder is a creamy soup that can be almost as thick as a stew.
Like a soup, chowder can be seafood or vegetable, such as corn or potato chowder.
But, unlike a soup, the liquid is thickened with potatoes, cornstarch or flour.
Manhattan Clam Chowder is definitely not thickened.
False advertising, for sure.

About Monday’s full moon, the Full Worm Moon...
Not one of the nicest names for a full moon, but it got stuck with that name because the ground is thawing and earthworm casts are appearing, attracting robins.
U. S. tribes called it the Full Crow Moon, since the cawing of crows announced the end of winter, while other folks, mostly in the east, called it the Full Sap Moon, since it was time to start tapping maple trees. 

In Manitoba natives knew they’d still have snow and called it the Full Crust Moon, since the snow thawed during the day and froze at night, becoming crusted.

The European settlers called it the Lenten Moon, since it usually happened after Lent had begun, and it was considered the last full Moon of winter.

On March 9 and on April 7 we’ll be having very large full moons, known as super moons, which will appear about 14% larger and 30% brighter than a normal full moon.
April's supermoon will be the bigger of the two, since the moon will be at its closest point to Earth.

Hopefully the snow will be gone by then.


Starchy russet potatoes release the starch into the chowder and thicken it. 
Red potatoes and Yukon golds aren’t as starchy, but will do if that’s what you have. 

About the fish… a mix of salmon, halibut and cod makes a nice blend.
If you only have one or two of them, that’s fine.
Just don’t use something like sole - it will disappear into the creamy base.
Relax about the amount of seafood you're adding. The recipe is just an estimate. 
A chowder is just a type of soup, not a cake.

If you want to get a bit fancy you could replace some of the fish with lobster tails.
Add with the shrimp, clams and mussels.

About the cauliflower chowder…
You can leave the bacon out and replace it with 4 Tablespoons olive oil.

                        East Coast Seafood Chowder 

1/2 Cup celery
1/2 Cup onions
3/4 Cup potatoes

Place in a large pot
1 Tablespoon butter
Melt butter over low heat.
Add the diced celery and onions.
Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onions start to brown.

Stir in to form a thin paste
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Stir in
1/2 Cup heavy cream
2 Cups milk
Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper  
the diced potatoes
Cook until the potatoes are almost tender.

While the potatoes are cooking cut about 12 ounces of fish into spoon-sized chunks. (see hints)

Place in another large pot 
2 Tablespoons butter
Melt butter over medium heat.
Add the fish chunks.
Cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
6 shrimp
1/4 C shelled clams 
box of mussels in wine, undrained
Once the mussels have opened (discard any that did not open), transfer the seafood into the chowder base.
Simmer 3 minutes.
Ladle into bowls.
Place dill and a dab of butter on each serving (optional).
Serve with crusty rolls or bread.

                        Bacon Cauliflower Chowder

1 medium yellow onion
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery

Cut into 1" pieces
4 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic

Place in a large pot
the bacon pieces
Cook over medium heat, until crispy.
Remove the bacon and drain all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the large pot.

Add to the large pot the onion, carrots, and celery.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the vegetables until soft, about 5 minutes. 
Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute. 
2 Tablespoons flour
Stir in to form a thin paste, and cook about 2 minutes more. 

the chopped cauliflower
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 Cup whole milk
1/2 Cup heavy cream
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. 
Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with the cooked bacon pieces before serving.
Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty rolls or bread.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Anna Sultana's Lemon Loaf

This has been a dreary winter for all of us here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Here’s how our weather usually works: 
Our normal winters are packed with short days filled with lots of sun.
But along with the sunshine we get temperatures that can go as low as -40º C.
Don't do any math... at -40º it doesn't matter if it's -40ºC or -40ºF. 
It's the same freaking cold. Really.

When we have overcast skies the temperatures are milder, but it can be depressing and disorienting.
Quite the choice.
I mean, if we'd wanted cloudy, damp weather we'd have moved to Vancouver.

It was cloudy on Groundhog Day, so we’ll have Spring in another month or so.
If we don't get another blizzard in April, as we had in 1997.
Yep, we had a record-setting blizzard, followed by the flood of the century.
Life's never dull on the prairies.

Everyone will be having a new moon tomorrow, so the sky will be really dark at night.
I don’t know about you, but I could use a bit of sunshine right now.
I really need to make something with lemon.

I've heard that the Lemon Loaf is really popular at Starbucks.
This recipe isn’t exactly like theirs.
It doesn’t have Mono And Diglycerides, Modified Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate or Glucose.
It just has ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.

This recipe makes a nice moist loaf that keeps well for several days in a cake keeper.
It won't last long, so making two is a good idea.


If you don’t have lemon zest you can use 2 Tablespoons lemon extract.

Want something a bit different? 
Add 1/4 Cup poppy seeds or dried cranberries. Blueberries are also nice.

You can put a strip of parchment paper in the bottom of the pans, leaving a bit hanging out, to take the loaves out more easily.

If you want a more lemony and lighter glaze for one loaf, try:
1 Cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice, more or less, for spreading consistency
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

If you don’t like glazes you can halve the recipe or not use it.

If you love glaze make a bit extra and spread it on a slice’s cut surface to make a moist and lemony open-face sandwich. 

The loaves will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Unglazed and well-wrapped, the loaves keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Don’t store these loaves in the fridge. That will dry them out.

                        Lemon Loaf (2 Loaves)
The loaves

Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch glass loaf pans

Place in a bowl
6 large eggs
Allow to warm to room temperature.

Place in a large bowl 
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Combine and set aside.

Place in a large mixer bowl
the warmed large eggs
2 Cups sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix on low until combined. 

While the mixer is running, slowly add
2/3 Cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons lemon extract

Preheat oven to 325º F

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. 
1 Cup canola oil
zest of two lemons 
Stir until completely mixed.

Pour the batter into the two prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 55 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaves should come out with just a few moist crumbs but no batter attached.
Remove the pans from the oven and place on wire cooling racks. 
Cool for at least 30 minutes. A few hours is better.

The Glaze
Place in a medium bowl 
1 Cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk 
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Mix together until smooth.

When the loaves have cooled completely, remove from pans and place one on a platter.
Drizzle glaze over the loaf.
When the glaze has set, slice and serve. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Anna Sultana's Cherry Pound Cake for Valentine’s Day / Full Snow Moon

We’ll be having a full moon this weekend - the Full Snow Moon, to be exact.
It will signal the end of the Chinese New Year festivities, which folks have been celebrating over the past two weeks. But, all good things come to an end, and now people are eating leftovers and getting ready for the Lantern Festival. 
After that it’s back to normal - whatever that is.

The Full Snow Moon will be the fourth-largest and fourth-brightest full moon this year. 
It’s called the Snow Moon because of the heavy snowfall we usually get in February. 

Yes, I know that doesn’t apply to folks everywhere, but that is it’s traditional name.
It will be considered a supermoon by some, since the Moon will be closer than normal. 
Some would disagree, as April’s full Moon is the true supermoon of 2020.
I know… it’s always something.

If you’re feeling sad because the Chinese New Year festivities are drawing to a close, Valentine's Day is this Friday.
This post has links for Romantic Dinners for Two, as well as the recipe for Anna Sultana's Lava Cakes.

Those recipes - or a reservation at a nice restaurant - will take care of the big day.
But we still have to eat during the next week, and it might be nice to eat something with a bit of holiday flare to it.


Want to make this for St. Patrick’s Day? Use green candied cherries.

This is a traditional recipe for Christmas in Newfoundland.
If you’re planning on serving it for Christmas, it would be festive to have a mixture of green and red cherries.

To make a Chocolate Chip Pound Cake just replace the almond extract with vanilla and use regular or miniature chocolate chips instead of the cherries.

Do not over bake or the cake will be dry.

To store, tightly wrap the cake in one layer of foil or two layers of plastic wrap, or place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. It can be frozen up to one month. 
When ready to serve, remove it from the freezer and let thaw, wrapped, at room temperature overnight. Once thawed, remove the wrap and serve.

                        Cherry Pound Cake
Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt or tube pan 

Well drain and quarter
1 to 2 cups red maraschino cherries
Place them in a medium bowl and toss with 
1/4 Cup flour
Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine
2 3/4 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

Place in a large mixer bowl
1 1/4 Cups butter, softened
2 3/4 Cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat at low speed until the mixture is blended, then at high speed for 5 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

Preheat oven to 350º F

Add dry ingredients to mixture alternately with
1 Cup evaporated milk
(3 dry, 2 liquid additions)
Mix lightly after each addition.
Fold in the quartered cherries.
Turn batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 55 minutes.
Cover loosely with foil and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 5 minutes.
Turn cake out onto cooling rack and let cool completely.
Just before serving dust with
confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Happy Chinese New Year / New Year Traditions & Fried Rice Recipes

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
On Friday the new moon with usher in the Year of the Rat, the Yang Metal Rat, to be exact.
The festivities start with the new moon and last until the full moon rises.
That’s plenty of time to party hearty!!

A New Year always means a new beginning. 
To celebrate properly one should have paid off all debts, purchased new clothes, painted the front door, and gotten a new haircut.
Maybe trying a new recipe counts, too.

There are many different food traditions observed over the New Year period:
Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
Uncut noodles is a symbol of longevity
Fish and chicken are symbols of prosperity
Eat oranges and tangerines for luck, wealth, good health, and a long life
For happiness and wealth, eat persimmons

Two other posts that have more Chinese New Year customs:

Homes are cleaned before the beginning of the new year, so do try to give the place a quick once over.
And put away all cleaning equipment before New Year's Eve because good fortune may be swept away if you are tempted to clean on New Year's Day.
Don't use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day as you may cut off good fortune.
Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.

Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year. 
Day seven is the birthday of human beings. Long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are traditionally eaten on that day. 
On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to settle their stomachs.
The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival and eating leftovers. 

The first Fried Rice recipe would be perfect for Day 14, or any day when you have leftover bits of a roast, or have cooked too much rice.
Waste not, want not.


You could also add sliced mushrooms and/or celery with the peas and carrots.

Both recipes can also be prepared with half chicken and half shrimp or all shrimp. 

About recipe #1… Have some leftover turkey, beef or pork? That would be good, too.

About recipe #2… You can prepare it with more or less garlic powder or ground ginger.
You can also use 1 cup frozen carrots, or 2 cups peas and carrots.

                        Fried Rice, using leftovers

Finely chop
1 small onion

Have on hand 
8 to 12 ounces cooked peas and carrots, or thawed  
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 Cups cooked white rice
about a pound of cooked chicken, cut in bite-sized pieces (see hints)

In a small bowl beat
3 eggs

Place in a large skillet  
2 Tablespoons oil 
Heat the oil over medium high heat. 
The beaten eggs and stir fry until cooked. 
Remove the eggs from the skillet and set them aside.

Place in the same skillet  
2 Tablespoons oil
the chopped onion
the peas and carrots
the minced garlic
Stir fry until the onion is tender. 
Lower the heat to and add
the 3 Cups cooked rice
1/8 - 1/4 Cup soy sauce
The cooked chicken
Blend all together well and stir fry until thoroughly heated, about 5 minutes. 
Add the eggs back to the skillet and stir to combine.
Remove from heat.
Top with chopped green onion (optional) and serve.

                        Easy Fried Rice, without leftovers
Cut into bite-sized pieces
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about a pound

Finely chop
1 onion
You want to have 1 Cup of chopped onion.

Thinly slice
You want to have 1 Cup of sliced carrots.
Place in a large skillet  
1 Tablespoon oil 
Heat on high heat. 
the cut up chicken
Stirring constantly, cook 8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. 

1 Cup frozen peas
1 Cup finely chopped onion
1 Cup sliced carrots 
Cook and stir 3 minutes. 
Stir in 
4 Cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons soy sauce 
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 
2 Cups white rice, uncooked 
Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Remove from heat, stir and serve.