Sunday, August 30, 2009


This is my first installment as part of my participation in BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine's View and Review Program. This is the viewing part.

I have received my box from Loblaw filled with a great selection of Peanut Free products from President's Choice to review.

Thirty years ago when I started teaching ,children with peanut allergies were practically unheard of. The majority of kids came to school with a PB&J sandwich. Now, one child in every 150 in the world is afflicted with this allergy. I can remember when a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter was a staple in every classroom, because it was the product of choice for those children who inevitably forgot their lunch on the bus, at home, or whose parents simply failed to provide a lunch. Now it has become a school's mission to keep these children safe and many schools across Canada are enforcing stricter peanut-free rules.

Loblaw as a company is also playing an important part with making the difficult task of identifying peanut-free products a little easier. The consumer can now see a clear and prominent peanut-free logo on its packaging. Coast to coast the stores are incorporating displays and signs to help the consumer quickly identify these peanut-free items.

Let's take a closer look.

Loblaw has graciously filled the box with peanut-free snacks that focus on value, quality and convenience for parents during this hectic back to school time.

No-Name, is one of it's top two National Brands on the market and in my opinion they picked the best products to be made peanut-free. What better choice than Zoo Animal Snacks and Crispy Rice Marshmallow Squares. How often have I seen these in a child's lunch kit as a recess snack, what great items to be peanut-free.

President's Choice is the other National Brand in the top two category. How innovative of Loblaw to be expanding and revitalizing their peanut-free freshly baked products. These are produced off-site in a Loblaw's peanut-free baking facility. They offer a selection of ten peanut-free freshly baked items and have now included six new peanut-free products such as President's Choice Teensy Weensy Muffins in Blueberry, Carrot, Banana and Chocolate Chip, all individually wrapped and lunch box ready. I can't wait to try the President's Choice Soft Baked Cookies in Oatmeal Cranberry, Chocolate Chipand Banana Bread . These are going to be used as peanut-free desserts at my house.

When you ask consumers if they have seen or used any peanut-free products the standard response is, "Of course, President's Choice peanut-free Granola Bars." These are readily available and at a great value when purchased in the popular Club Pack format.

Loblaw is also taking the lead in expanding the peanut-free product line in their healthier Low-Fat President's Choice Blue Menu products. This is one of my favorite brands and it reflects Loblaw's commitment to address and serve the changing dietary needs of Canadians. WOW not only peanut-free but healthy and low in fat.

A huge thank you to Loblaw for a very generous sample box of peanut-free products. For more info on Loblaw, their stores and products please visit and parents don't forget it's up to you to carefully read product labels to ensure safe family eating.

Stay tuned for part two. I will be visiting Chelsea School and donating the peanut-free products that Loblaw's has so provided. I will talking to teachers and children and getting their comments on these peanut-free products and we'll have some fun when I incorporate some of the peanut-free products into my own kitchen. Recipes to follow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Happy Birthday to me! Hubby made me a birthday cake the night before. You should have seen him surrounded by cook books and it was already 9pm! I had my doubts that this cake would materialize. In the end he found his mother's recipe for walnut torte written on a scrap piece of paper in her own version of some kind of shorthand that only she would understand. The amazing thing was that the recipe only had ingredients marked on it no directions what so ever. For her it was not a problem after all she made a cake practically every weekend, but for Ron this was definitely going to be a learning curve. I must say for the man who stayed up until midnight to pull the cake out of the oven and then got up early in the morning to frost it..."The man done good!" the cake was delicious, he is anxious to try baking it again, because he has already figured out that he whipped the egg whites a tad too much, and he would not leave it in the oven for a full hour, because as he said, "I smelled it already after 45 minutes I should have checked it at that time, instead of leaving it in there for the full hour!" Pauline had written at the end of the ingredients... Bake at 350 for 1 hour or less. Ron felt the cake needed Less! He solved the problem by saturating the cake with RUM, which as far as I was concerned made the cake extremely moist and packed a lovely punch!
I think it only fair to give you guys the ORIGINAL RECIPE as it was written by my MIL., but Ron felt that I should write what he did so...
Walnut Torte
8 oz of walnuts (Ground)
12 eggs separated
4 T. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1 C. sugar
1t. coffee (optional)
4 cap-fuls of rum
Bake 350 for 1 hr. more or less
1/2 lbs. of butter
3/4 C icing sugar
3 eggs
5 squares unsweetened chocolate melted
juice from 1/2 lemon
3T. rum
Ron figured out how to assemble the cake by doing the following... he said I should include his directions, so I'm typing as he dictates.
1. Beat the egg yolks with the paddle attachment
2.Add the sugar and continue beating if you are adding the coffee and rum do it at this stage.
3. In food processor combine walnuts, flour and BP and pulse to a fine consistency
4. Beat egg whites until stiff
5. Add walnut mixture to egg and sugar batter
6. Gently fold in egg white to batter mixture do not overwork
7.Pour batter into 2 springform pans greased and floured or in Ron's case he poured the batter into 3 -9 inch round forms.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour or less, as oven temperatures vary check after 45 minutes.
Cool on racks , when cool take a toothpick and poke holes in cakes. pour the rum onto cake layers to moisten before frosting.
Good Luck!
You gotta love men, they think they can do it all... it's easy peasy! I'm not complaining, I got a cake that he made with love !

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Pain Perdu is an old fashioned French nursery dessert. Very similar to French toast with a few twists. Ina Garten's recipe calls for a whole loaf of the Brioche bread and she makes mention that she likes to even serve this as a dessert when entertaining. the original recipe calls for strawberries soaked in Grand Marnier, I omitted this because mine was just a breakfast meal and while I had the Gran Marnier I didn't have any strawberries. As I mentioned the recipe's quantities will be great for a festive brunch but can easily be adapted for two.

1/2 pint fresh strawberries hulled and sliced
2 T sugar, divided
3 T Grand Marnier, divided
6 x-large eggs
1 1/2 C milk or half&half
2 T honey
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. grated orange zest (I used lemon because I used blueberries and omitted the Booze)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 brioche loaf or challah bread
unsalted butter
vegetable oil and 1/2 C sliced blanched and toasted almonds
confectioners' sugar

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
Soak the strawberries in 1T each of sugar and Grand Marnier
In a large bowl whisk together he eggs, milk, honey, 1T sugar, 2T of the GR, the vanilla, orange zest and salt. Slice the bread in 3/4 inch slices. Pour the egg mixture into a large shallow plate and soak a few slices of bread for 4 minutes turning once.
Heat 1 T each of butter and oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Take each slice of bread from the egg mixture , dip i side in the toasted almonds and place in the saute pan almonds side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned.Place the cooked bread on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat until all bread is used.
Sprinkle with the confectionery sugar and serve hot with strawberries.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I love this brioche recipe out of Ina Garten's book Barefoot in Paris. Making bread is usually labour intensive , but this recipe is very quick, the only drawback is that you have to refrigerate the dough overnight. but then the next morning you take it out and with very little effort you place it in some pans and before you know it the kitchen just permeates with the lovely aroma of fresh baked bread.
Ina's recipe makes 2 loaves one to eat and one to freeze, but in my house the second one never makes it to the freezer. My sister likes hers plain just slice an serve. I of course need butter on mine ! Either way this bread is delicious and if any is left over I think I'm going to make some Pain Perdu tomorrow. Stay tuned kids, to find out what that is.

1/2 c warm water
1 package dried yeast
3 T. sugar
6 x-large eggs, room temperature
41/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 lbs. unsalted butter at room temperate
1 egg mixed with 1T. milk for egg wash
Combine the water,yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes, until yeast and sugar dissolve.
Add the eggs and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.
With the mixer on low speed add 2 cups of flour and salt and mix for 5 minutes. Still on low speed then add the other 2 cups of flour and again mix for 5 minutes.
Add the soft butter in chunks and continue mixing at low speed scraping down the sides of the bowl until well blended. With mixer still running add the additional 1/2 cup of flour. Switch the paddle to the dough hook and mix for an additional 2 minutes on low speed.
Scrape the dough into a large buttered bow with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning lat the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Grease two 81/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-in. loaf pans.
T urn the dough onto a light floured board and cut in half.
Pat each portion into a 6 x 8 -in. rectangle, then roll up each rectangle into a cylindrical loaf. Place each loaf n a greased pan, cover with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush with the egg wash when they have risen and bake for 45 minutes, or until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Well kids , summer has finally arrived to Ottawa, the weather has been downright balmy and yes I should be blogging about a beautiful summer salad or cold gazpacho,but hubby was in the mood for a comfy cozy stew/soup. As luck would have it I just came across just the thing in the Clean Eating magazine, a new take on the standard beef barley soup. The bonus to this recipe is that you make it in the crock pot the night before and voila supper is ready for the next day.
We woke up this morning to the wonderful fragrance of this hearty stew/ soup and had to fight down the urge to have it for breakfast, so we did the next best thing and had it for lunch.

Chicken Barley Stew
32 oz. low fat/ sodium chicken broth
1 T.minced garlic
1 tsp. garlic sea salt
1/2 T. thyme
1/2 T. basil
1/2 T. cilantro
1/2 T dill
2 bay leaves
1/2 T. freshly ground pepper
1 lb. cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast (uncooked)
1/2 cup uncooked black -eyed peas, rinsed
1/2 c. barley
1 medium sweet onion, cubed
3 large carrots cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch slices( I cubed them)
3 potatoes cleaned and cubed
8 T. low fat sour cream (optional)
Fill a slow cooker with broth, 8 oz water. garlic, herbs, and pepper. add chicken, peas and barley, then layer the onion,potatoes and carrots over top. liquid should just cover the vegetables. Do not stir.
Allow to simmer overnight. or at least 4-6 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving. Spoon one cup into each bowl and garnish with sour cream if desired. (230 cal. without sour cream)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


There are many versions of this easy to prepare salad and each one is a personal reflection of it's creator and is probably as good as the next. Some even have more than seven layers. The beauty of this salad is that it looks beautiful, is a crowd favorite and usually can last for a few days in the fridge , even though dressing has been added.
Basically , the salad consists of shredded lettuce, onions ( spring onions or red), frozen peas,chopped hard boiled eggs , crumbled and drained fried bacon ,cucumber, tomatoes and a generous layer of dressing. In my case Greek yogurt with a dollop of Miracle Whip mixed in. Don't forget the salt and pepper. Using a trifle bowl will display the beautiful layers.

"Blue Moon Over Kentucky" aka
BOO (2001/07/26-2009/07/27)
You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much and the main reason has been that my heart has not been in it. If you recall Boo became ill over Mother's Day week-end and the diagnosis was Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia. In most cases dogs can continue to live a normal life with this disease, even though they are closely monitored and usually on lifetime medication. Unfortunately, Boo was just not responding to the various medications that she was placed on. After 2 months of a valiant struggle being poked sometimes as often as twice a week to draw blood , loosing weight almost daily and suffering with with horrific side effects of the prednisone and cyclosporin,, Boo was having a very difficult time with daily living.At the end, Boo developed Diabetes( at a dangerous level) on top of everything else, and I realized that I was being extremely selfish in prolonging her misery, but in my heart i was willing her to live, and to respond to the meds, I was so hopeful and I so wanted a cure for my Boo girl, that I put on my blinders. You see I always thought that she was young enough to spring back. Our first schnauzer lived to be 161/2 years old, and I just naturally assumed that Boo would be with us for a long time.
The Grenville Dundas Vet Clinic was exceptional. Boo's vet Dr. Nancy Dejong was an angel in disguise, there are not enough words to describe her skill. compassion and drive, Nancy went over and above what would normally have been considered a level of standardexcellent care that most clients receive at the Vet's.Nancy made countless of home phone calls on her days off to check on Boo and give me the latest blood work results, her constant vigil and research to try whatever she thought Boo could handle makes her my hero. She was relentless in her effort to help Boo. Lindsay the technician , who would take Boo for her blood and urine samples, is just the "Best", in my books. She too, always has a gentle hand with not only Boo but all the animals that I have seen her with. Helen , the office manager was also extremely helpful, concerned , encouraging and sympathetic. I am know that all the vets there knew Boo and probably had some hand in her treatment. It's just a wonderful clinic with caring loving people.
Boo will be missed, I still see her in so many places around the house and garden, there is a big hole in my heart right now that with time will heal and become smaller. She gave us all a lot of love and joy.