"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Welcome in the New Year with a Free Copy of Mocktails

Welcome in the New Year
with Free Copy of Mocktails!!!!!

Get a free copy of Mocktails at Smashwords!

Use Coupon Code FR26D.

The Fun of a Cocktail Without the Hangover!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Grocery Shopping as an Adventure

Grocery Shopping as an Adventure

In the past, going to the grocery store was just an errand squeezed in during a busy work week. Grab what you need and go.

But, three changes occurred in my life that altered my perspective on grocery shopping.

First, I got the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzcyn, and learned to use a "price book.” Also, I limited my grocery shopping to one day a month and learned to cook some basic recipes like the Universal Casserole, Cuban Bread, various "baked" potato toppings and more. The recipes replaced my usual potato chips and PB&J dinners, and the microwave frozen dinners I took to work for lunch.

The second change was when I moved back home to live with my elderly mother. She had stopped cooking, so I learned to make Reuben sandwiches, dump cake, grilled cheese sandwiches, crock pot dishes and more, always attempting to make dishes my mom would like. The crock pot made me look like a good cook. They are amazing.

At that time, I went to a day-old bakery for breads and sweets, an Asian market for eggs and other items, and a grocery store with lower prices for the rest. When I went grocery shopping, it was a break from work and some time alone, where I explored each aisle looking for bargains, examining new products and thinking about what mom would like.

The third change came years later. I traveled to Mexico and wrote a cookbook for noncooks. Now, I continue to research and try “new” recipes.

So, when I go grocery shopping now, still approximately once a month, it is like a mini-escape from the world where I still explore the aisles and ponder ideas like 'how did this can of Heinz potatoes get here?'

Maybe it was trucked from a farm in the U.S. to a canning factory, then trucked to a U.S. shipping port, then moved by ship to Mexico, then trucked to a distribution center and finally trucked to individual stores? Most of the food in grocery stores, around the world, travels thousands of miles from farms to stores.

I love the Ad Council's media spot on The Life and Times of Strawberry which highlights some of the rigors of food transportation and distribution.

Among expats here, there is a saying, “If you see a product you like, buy several because it may not be there next time.” So, when I see canned chicken, I buy several because it may only be on the shelves for a short time and not replaced for many many months.

When I first came to Mexico, the contents of the shelves in grocery stores were puzzling. I remember being amazed at the rows and rows of canned corn.

I wondered, “What do they do with all this corn?” I don’t have the final answer but I am living in the land of corn. It is worshipped and is part of Mayan mythology and many Mexican recipes feature corn.

Also, I saw lots and lots of hotdogs of various brands and types. I still don’t know what they use all these hotdogs for, there is a snack made from fried hotdog slices, street vendors do sell grilled hotdogs, and hotdog slices can be found in several recipes in restaurants. But, I never hear the term “backyard barbecue.” I have never been invited to a Mexican barbecue. Hamburgers are becoming popular but that does not explain all those hotdogs.

As I push my cart up and down the aisles, I still think of mom and often buy products she would have liked, like sauerkraut for Reuben sandwiches.

Mom was a great cook. Nothing I make compares to her dishes. I remember she was always trying new recipes and hated it when we kids turned up our noses at some new dish when we wanted "pigs in a blanket" (hot dogs with cheese wrapped in bacon).
American, British, Japanese, and food products from around the world can be found on many aisles these days.

I like Earl Grey tea from Bigelow (another item I buy several of if I see it).

Also, I am always amused when I see the familiar, famous Kraft blue box of Mac & Cheese.At one time, this was a mainstay meal for me. But, now, I can make my own "Mac & Cheese" from scratch in a variety of ways.

When I go grocery shopping, I also like to discover new items like this one: “powdered butter." I found it on my last trip. I've never seen this before. I used it. It does taste like butter, hummm.

I remember when a recipe called for descented onion juice. I thought, 'why bother'? But, powdered butter could be useful.

This spice is made by McCormick.

McCormick like Heinz and other American brands can be found more frequently in “high-end” grocery stores.

I am intrigued by the penetration of U.S. products into the Mexican market.

Coca Cola has been here for decades. It was one of first things I noticed. You could see the battle between Coca Cola and Pepsi played out in the economica cocinas.

These cafes carry either Coca Cola or Pepsi products and for their patronage, the soda companies provided lots of plastic tables and chairs emblazoned with their logo, so when you scan the landscape, you see Coca Cola won the war by the number of Coca Cola tables and chairs versus Pepsi's.

Hurray! On my recent trip to the grocery store, I finally found “Wagon Wheels” or Rotelle pasta for the Star Trek Cookbook recipe, Garrett Wang’s Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

 I have been looking for “Wagon Wheels” for at least a year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

DIY Pesto

Making Pesto scares me.

Every recipe sounds so complicated and full of ingredients I don't have.

So, when I wanted to make a recipe that called for a pesto, I did a quick internet search for an easy pesto recipe and found Pesto! from RecipeTinEats.

DIY Pesto
(Adapted from: Pesto! at RecipeTinEats)


2 Cups frozen spinach
2 Full TBspns of peanuts, crushed
2 Full TBspns of Parmesan cheese, grated
6 TBspns Olive oil
1/2 or less Tspn Garlic powder
2-3 TBspns Basil, dry, crushed between palms
3 Screws of Ground black pepper (Optional)
S/P to taste


Microwave spinach on high for 3 minutes.
Add Spinach to a container with a lid.
Add nuts.
Add Parmesan cheese.
Add oil, garlic powder, basil and pepper.
Stir ingredients thoroughly.
Stir ingredients furiously with a fork to make the mixture creamy. Use the fork to smash the ingredients.
Add more oil, if desired.
After use, add lid.
Store remaining mixture in frig.

Note: In many countries the government has set standards for what cheeses can be called grated Parmesan cheese (ready-to-use).

In the United States, the FDA states that grated Parmesan cheeses can contain up to 4% cellulose (an anti-caking agent).

But, in the past, there was a controversy. One or more Parmesan cheese manufacturers allegedly exceeded the 4% limit on the amount of cellulose in their products.


Even now, if you read a label on Parmesan cheese you can not know what the amount of cellulose is in the product.

Hotplate: Wagon Wheel Pasta with Chicken, Spinach & DIY Pesto

Updated 12/22/19
Made minor edits to clarify process.

I peruse my Star Trek Cookbook often and have made several recipes from the cookbook. There are two things, I think many cookbook authors miss, adding humor and personal stories. It's just fun reading this cookbook.

  One recipe I have been waiting a long time to make is Garrett Wang's Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. I spent months looking for "Rotelle" pasta (wagon wheel pasta). Then, Hurray! I found some bags of small wagon wheel pasta, called "Engrane" in Mexico.

Looking at this recipe, now, my eyes roll.

I am not going to be making this recipe as it is stated in the Star Trek Cookbook, gotta adapt it to what I have and also make it GERD-friendly.

Plus, I wonder, how can spinach be a substitute for pasta as the recipe suggests?

Oh no, I forgot the recipe called for pesto. So, I desperately searched for an easy DIY pesto recipe.

Luckily, I found one at RecipeTinEats! Now, I don't have a blender, so I am not sure what to call the mixture I made, maybe "Almost Pesto Sauce." Now, that I think about it, I should have just stirred the mixture more furiously.

Even though I have been trying to learn how to cook for years now, I am still uncomfortable with many of the ingredients and processes.

While this recipe states the process in a logical order, I was bouncing all over the kitchen because I would forget one step before I started another. Or the pasta boiled over. Or I almost ran out of tablespoons. Or I ran out of space to put things. I felt a little like Neelix (Ethan Phillips) when he runs around Voyager's kitchen cooking up a storm for the crew with various pots boiling, frying, and steaming.

The sink is full of all the dishes, cups, bowls, spoons, pots and pans I used. While I am exhausted, I know IF I make this recipe again, it will go easier.

Hotplate: Wagon Wheel Pasta with Chicken, Spinach & DIY Pesto
(Adapted from: Star Trek Cookbook,
Garrett Wang “Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes”)

Note: While this dish is cooked on a hotplate, it is served cold.


2 Cups Frozen spinach
1-2 Cups water
1 dab of olive oil
1 Tomato bouillon cube
1 200g (7 oz) Engrane (tiny wagon wheel pasta)
2 TBspns olive oil (Sorry I do not ask my olive oil about their sex lives.)
1 350g (12.3 oz) Can of Chicken, drained
1/2 Tspn garlic powder
A few grinds of Ground black pepper

S/P to taste
Sauce: 3 TBspns Pesto sauce, store bought or DIY (See DIY Pesto Recipe Post)
Garnish: Parmesan cheese and extra olive oil (optional)

(Some Ingredients shown are for the DIY Pesto)

Cook Spinach:

Add frozen spinach to a 2-cup container.
Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.

Remove, drain, and set aside.

Make Tomato Stock:

Add cube of tomato bouillon to 2 cups of water.
Microwave water 2-3 minutes on high to bring to a boil.
Remove and stir to make sure bouillon has dissolved.

Make Pasta:

Put pasta into a large pot, cover with tomato stock.
Add a dab of olive oil.
Bring to a boil.
Add salt if desired.
Boil about 5-8 minutes.

Watch the pot, it may boil over.
Check pasta to see if is done. It is done, if it is still a bit firm and you can bite it easily (al dente).
Drain pasta, reserve some of the pasta liquid, and set aside.


In a skillet, add a dab of olive oil and garlic powder.
Cook on medium heat.
Stir and mix oil and powder.
Add chicken.
Add spinach.
Stir thoroughly.
Cook on medium heat until mixture is hot throughout.
Add a little pasta water if the mixture is too dry.
Add mixture to pasta in pot.
Stir mixture thoroughly.
Pour mixture into a large bowl.
Add pesto sauce.
Stir thoroughly.
Cover bowl and place in frig.
Wait until mixture is chilled throughout.
When serving, garnish with Parmesan cheese and additional olive oil, if desired.

I forgot how much pasta 1 small bag makes. I have to figure out how to halve this recipe.

 Note: While I really like the flavor the tomato bouillon adds, I keep forgetting bouillon cubes add quite a bit of salt and spice to any dish.

 #GERD-friendly - if you reduce the garlic powder to just a hint.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Mexican Carry-Out: Tamales

Mexican Carry-Out: Tamales

I love these tamales. There's a vendor nearby and they offer chicken or carne tamales with red or green salsa sauces.

For $10pesos each, two tamales for $20 is a bargain.

I love opening the tamales because they are wrapped and cooked in huge banana leaves, so when you slowly and carefully unwrap the hot tamales the aroma fills the air.

Hotplate: Another TWG Mini-Universal Casserole

As you can see, I am on a bit of a kick here, using a variety of combinations to make TWG mini-universal casseroles.

So far, this one is the best, though it could use more spices.

This is what Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, is all about. She encourages people to be creative.

Hotplate: Another TWG Mini-Universal Casserole

I really like this combination of ingredients. The homemade cream sauce reduced the salt level because I did not use canned cream soup which contains a substantial amount of salt. I do not use salt in most of my recipes.


Make a batch of pasta per package instructions.
Make cream sauce if needed. (See Hotplate: White Cream Sauce (Medium) Recipe)


1/2 14.75oz Can of salmon, drained
1/2 Cup Canned mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed in can
1 Cup Pasta, cooked
3/4 Cup Cream sauce or use canned cream soup
1/8 Cup Almonds, sliced
2 TBspns Parsley, dry, crushed between palms
A few twists of Ground black pepper
Salt to taste (Optional)
Topping: 1/2 Cup or more Mozzarella cheese

Garnish: Parsley, dry, crushed


Add all ingredients to a small microwaveable casserole dish, except the topping and 1 TBspn of parsley.
Mix ingredients thoroughly.
Add topping by sprinkling cheese over the mixture.
Sprinkle 1 TBspn of parsley over cheese.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Microwave on high for 8 minutes.
Be careful when removing casserole from microwave. The plastic may release hot steam.
Be careful when removing plastic.
Sprinkle casserole with more parsley if desired.

*Note: This recipe is a great catchall recipe where you can use leftovers. I used a little leftover pasta and some leftover cream soup from a previous recipe.


Hotplate: White Cream Sauce (Medium)

I can not tell you what a joy it is for me to be able to make my own cream sauce. I have tried many times, not sure why it worked this time.

Also, I appreciate cooking websites like The Spruce Eats, Simply Recipes and Cooking on a Bootstrap. The websites are user friendly, attractive and have almost everything I need to know when making "new" recipes.

Hotplate: White Cream Sauce (Medium)
(Adapted from: https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-cream-sauce-3060554)


Make vegetable stock by add 1 vegetable bouillon cube to a cup of water.
Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.
Remove and stir to dissolve the whole cube.


2 TBspns Olive oil
2 TBspns Flour
1 Cup of deslactosada (lactose-free) milk and powdered milk mixture
1/3 Cup Cream
1/4 Cup Vegetable stock (Save remainder of stock for later use)
1/2 Capful Lime juice
S/P to taste


Add olive oil to pan.
Heat on medium heat.
Add flour, slowly.
Stir constantly to remove lumps.

This mixture will thicken quickly.
Add milk to pan.
Heat on medium heat.
Stir constantly.
Stir as mixture thickens.
Reduce heat.
Simmer mixture for several minutes.

Keep stirring.
Add cream and stock.
Add lime juice.
Add salt/pepper to taste.

Stir mixture thoroughly.

Refrigerator unused portion.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Microwave: TWG Universal Casserole -- Single Serving

TWG Universal Casserole -- Single Serving
(Adapted from The Complete Tightwad Gazette)

The Universal Casserole is one of my favorite TWG recipes but as a single person, I wanted to make a smaller amount. So, I decided to half the recipe and give it a shot.

Categories of Ingredient Choices
Main ingredient: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood
Second ingredient: sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs
Starchy ingredient: sliced potatoes, noodles (cooked), cooked rice
Binder: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup
Goodie: pimineto, olives, almonds, water chestnuts
Topping: potato chips, cheese, bread crumbs

Spices or Herbs: Your choice


Choose one item from each category above.

1/2 Cup main ingredient
1/2 Cup second ingredient
1 Cup starchy ingredient
3/4 Cup binder
1/8 Cup goodie

Spices or herbs

Oil to grease microwave dish

I choose canned chicken; canned mushroom pieces, rinsed in the can; canned potatoes, diced, rinsed in the can; crema Flor de Calabaza; olives, diced; and mozzarella cheese, grated as a topping.

Dry Parsley and ground black pepper were my choice of spices. 

I had enough leftover ingredients to make this casserole again.


Stir and mix ingredients, except for topping, together thoroughly.

Add the spices or herbs of your choice.
Stir well.
If mixture is dry, add a bit of milk or stock.

Stir well.
Transfer mixture to buttered or greased microwave dish.
Add topping.

Sprinkle with spices or herbs. (Optional)
Cover with plastic wrap.

Microwave on high for 8 minutes.

Eight minutes was enough to heat the casserole all through but next time, I may try to microwave it for 10 minutes.

I also sprinkled more parsley, dry crushed over the individual serving.

I enjoyed this recipe even though it had strong olive flavor and was more salty than I would have liked.

#GERD-friendly if you use almond slivers or water chestnuts, diced, instead of olives.

An Empty Chair

An Empty Chair

He has a presence.
It leaves a shadow on the empty chair.

A fleeting memory sees him sitting there.
Tall and broad, you see him stand, strong back above wide hips.

Two hundred pounds stretched smooth over six feet of bone.
Your eyes are drawn to his face.
Wavy grey hair, wild and tame, sculpts softly along scalp and brow.
His mouth curved in a smile foreshadows sensuality.
Rows of ivory teeth glimmer.

The whites of his eyes circle dark, cold pupils.
His glance penetrates your core, knowing you want to dance with death.
Fascinated by my fascination, I flounder seeking the proper social graces.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sweet Iced Neth with Spices (Faux Mango Lassi)

Ethan Phillips (Neelix) and William J. Birnes have created a delightful cookbook. Ethan / Neelix uses his experiences as chef on Star Trek Voyager to talk about various "recipes" he made during the show and recipes he gathered from crew members from all the Star Trek series.

It's like an anthropological cookbook because Ethan / Neelix weaves in stories about the history of the recipe and the ingredients. I must say I am glad that I don't really need any bloodworms or bugs to make most of these recipes.

For Sweet Iced Neith, Ethan / Neelix talks of his family adventures exploring the countryside near their home, discovering "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."

I rarely have all the ingredients called for in a recipe and I often want to make a smaller amount.

In this recipe, I used ingredient ideas from two Star Trek Cookbook recipes, Sweet Iced Neth and Spiced Iced Neth.

Sweet Iced Neth with Spices (Faux Mango Lassi)
(Adapted from: the Star Trek Cookbook)


1/2 Cup Yogurt, plain
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Tspn Ginger powder
1/2 Tspn Cardamon powder
1/4 Tspn Cumin powder
5 Full TBspns Canned Mango juice with pulp, crushed
1 TBspn Honey

In a large glass, add ingredients.
Use the spoon to smash the mango pulp.
Stir and mix ingredients well.

 #GERD-friendly - this recipe is GERD-friendly for me, if I use lactose-free milk.

Vignette - A Cinderella Moment

A Cinderella Moment

It was Thursday evening, I had worked late. I was tired and hungry, so I stopped at a local pub for dinner before I caught the subway home.

I got onto the subway car and did not realize for about three stops, I was headed in the wrong direction. As I got off at the next stop, I remembered fondly another evening where I had gotten on the wrong train.

A winter evening, years ago, I had come home very tired, so I went straight to bed. When I awoke, the clock read 6:00. I thought I had slept through the night and was late for work. I dressed quickly and ran to the bus stop. The sky was semi-light like sunrise.

When I exited the subway at my final stop, I looked at the sky again, something was wrong, it was too dark. I realized my mistake, it was evening not morning. I turned back to the subway to catch the next train in hopes of making the last bus connection home. That’s when I caught the wrong train.

A few stops later, I got off and sat on the stone bench to wait for the right train. If I was lucky, I could still catch the last bus and make it home before midnight.

A young man approached me and said “Hi.” When I looked up into his face, I saw the vision of a young version of my ex-husband. His face was open, friendly, and innocent. His dark curly hair fell across his forehead. His warm brown eyes were light and curious. I said, “Hi”, and lowered my eyes.

I stared at his shoes. They were two-tone canvas affairs. They spoke of honesty and warmth. His feet danced.

The train pulled into the station and the doors opened. I rushed to board the car. I wanted to stay and talk but I had to catch the last bus home.

A few days later, an art gallery announcement card crossed my desk. It pictured a modern Cinderella running to catch the last subway train before midnight.

I contacted the artist and bought a few cards. Later, I wrote to the subway’s general manager, using one of the cards, to make some suggestions regarding the service and I mentioned the significance of the card.

Now, a few years later, as I stood on the platform thinking about that evening long ago, the subway speaker system clicked on. An announcement opened with the sound of a grandfather clock and the announcer advised all Cinderellas that they didn’t have to rush to catch the last train at midnight because the evening hours had been extended.

Image credit:

Book Review: Anger, the Misunderstood Emotion

Book Review

Anger, The Misunderstood Emotion
by Ms. Carol Tavris
Simon and Schuster
New York
pgs 302
Trade paperback


I enjoyed this book simply because it attempted to dissect the emotion of anger. It attempted to take the fear out of expressing anger and the fear of hearing it from someone. It developed many different categories of anger, like rage, irritation, fear etc.

By comparing different societies outside our own American culture and the subcultures within our society, the author illustrates the part anger plays in holding up that society’s values and accepted types of behavior. It puts anger into the whole repertoire of emotions we express like joy, love, pleasure, fear and more.

Anger is seen as an unacceptable emotion when it is discussed, it is not a desirable response. Yet, on the unspoken level of acceptance in our society, anger is expected in many situations. Men are expected to get angry in situations where their “manhood” is threatened.

I also appreciated Tavris’s breakdown of how we tend to rationalize injustices, to avoid anger we “denigrate the victim”, we “deny” the existence of situations that threaten our concepts and values. We “reinterpret” the injustice and its outcome. We “blame ourselves” for misfortunes. We accept a “religion” that offers us a just world.

The book has a lot of data to digest. It is a little wordy. It is not clear to me the method she choose to illustrate the illogic of many statements, i.e., she quotes Rubin “Are you solidly aware that the purpose of warm, healthy anger is to deliver an affective (emotional) message in order to clear the air and to make corrections and reparations if necessary?” She adds in parens (Yes, and I’m also aware that corrections can be made without anger.) To me this is an example of how Rubin may not have characterized the type or level of anger he meant to be expressed, i.e., I think to some people merely taking a serious tone of voice can indicate displeasure and therefore anger, it is not the anger of loud voices. So, Tavris responds as if that is the type of anger he is addressing.


Bollywood Movie Review: Fanaa

Bollywood Movie Review

In Fanaa, Kajol returns to the screen playing Zooni, a young blind girl on her first venture away from her home in Kashmir. In the story, Zooni’s blindness illustrates that sometimes we see things with our hearts but are blind to dangers and deceit.

Zooni travels with a troupe of dancers to Delhi to perform in the Independence Day celebrations. Several days of tours of the historic sites in Delhi are included in the trip. The group has arranged for a bus and guide. The guide is an attractive rogue, Rehan, played by Aamir Khan. Rehan is both charming and cruel. He admits he only wants to satisfy his own desires and does not believe in love as he flirts with the girls.

A Bollywood movie does not cut to the chase as quickly as a Hollywood movie. At the heart of many Bollywood movies are human relationships and family values. Various aspects of the characters and subplots are given time to develop before the central conflict unfolds.

In Fanaa, the cinematography is stunning. Delhi is shown in a rainbow of colors, shining and majestic. Kashmir is pictured like a winter wonderland with endless vistas of beautiful snow capped mountains. The camera captures the silence and wonder of snow.

While one musical interlude is choreographed with a large number of dancers, director, Kunal Kohli lets the rest of the music simply touch the characters as the story moves forward which I think represents Indians’ love of music and poetry as part of their daily lives.

After intermission, the movie changes from a story about love to one about suspense. India’s counter-terrorism organization is tracking a group that has bombed various cultural and political sites over the years. Tabu, the organization’s profiler, works to build a psychological picture of the terrorist group’s mastermind in order to capture the mastermind before the group’s final plan is carried out. The group’s premise is if they are sufficiently armed and perceived as a threat of massive proportion then they could affect the balance of power and achieve independence for Kashmir. 

Zooni is a meaty role for Kajol. As a young blind girl, Zooni is gentle, loving and hopeful. Later, Zooni is a single mother. She is older, wiser, and fiercely protective of her family. Aamir Khan’s character, Rehan, is a man torn between loyalties. At first, he is seen as a self-centered charmer who preys on young women. He has cut himself off from his emotions. Then he falls in love with Zooni and battles his emotions in a struggle over his loyalties. Is he loyal to his love for Zooni, or is he loyal to his former life? Khan’s character believes that loyalty to a belief carries more weight than loyalty to love, even familial love.
(image source: http://blog.chosun.com/web_file/blog/25/25/1/Fanaa.jpg)

In Aamir Khan’s previous movies such as Laagan, Mangal Pandey, Rang de Basanti, and now Fanaa, he seems to be selecting stories that portray a gritty realism. He does not want to be the lover; he wants to be a man of action. When Aamir must play the lover, he does so reluctantly. He wants to be unaffected by emotion, and loyal to his vision. But loyalty is a strong emotion. Khan wants to play to a male audience who feels it is manlier to be pragmatic than to a female audience who feels love is central to life. Yet, when his character, Rehan, must choose love or loyalty, the war between his competing desires plays across his face.

Zooni’s struggle is not choosing between two loyalties, for her, love is part of life, just as is loyalty. She thought love could heal and love could make a prince out of a ruffian. Her struggle is in loving a flawed human being and learning that loyalty can be shattered by deceit.

Director: Kunal Kohli; Producers: Yash and Aditya Chopra; Cast: Kajol, Aamir Khan, Tabu, Rishi Kapoor, Kiron Kher


Changes are coming

A lot of changes are coming to the RiaStoneBlog.

More interviews with authors and artists.

Bollywood Movie Reviews

and more....

Friday, November 8, 2019

Hotplate: Simmered Sardine on Toast

Update 2/11/2020

I added a choice, garlic or anchovy butter.

At times, I get lost in recipe research. I enjoy looking for cookbooks online, in particular, old ones.

I use Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, often.

Found this little gem, The Cook-Book of Left-Overs, on the Internet Archive.

I was amused to find several Toast Topping recipes in this 1911 cookbook.

While this is a similar recipe to other Sardine on Toast recipes I have blogged about, in this recipe I used a different brand of sardines, Yavaros. The sardines are larger and in a tomato sauce. Surprisingly, the sardines were meaty and less fishy than the smaller tins of sardines, I use.

I could not remove the sardines whole, they fell apart. I made several adjustments to this wee recipe. For example, the original recipe called for broiling the sardines. I choose to use a skillet and simmer the sardine in a garlic butter base.

Hotplate: Simmered Sardine on Toast
(Adapted from: the Cook Book of Left-Overs, Broiled Sardines on Toast, p101 [p95].)

Makes one serving or more.


1 Tin of large sardines, drained
1 TBspn of garlic or anchovy butter
A bit of water
Ground black pepper, to taste (Optional)
Lime juice
1 Slice of multi-grain bread
A dab of olive oil
Garnish: Parsley, dry, crushed between palms


In a skillet, add garlic or anchovy butter.
Cook on medium heat.
Add 1 or more sardines (save any remaining sardines for later use.)
Mix the sardine with the butter as it melts.
Add a bit of water.
Add black pepper.
Stir mixture.
Cover the skillet.
Simmer mixture several minutes to heat thoroughly.

Make toast.
Add a bit of olive oil to toast.
Spread sardine mixture over toast.
Top with parsley.
Sprinkle a little lime juice over the topping.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hotplate / Microwave: Pasta, White Beans, Spinach With an Anchovy Sauce

Ok, here’s how it often goes with me. I wanted a pasta recipe that used anchovies. I found this recipe (Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Pasta with White Bean and Anchovy Sauce) on Recipeland and thought I’d use it as a guide. I wanted to make a singe serving among other things.

I made a small bag of ribbon pasta. I’ll use the rest of the pasta elsewhere.

The recipe called for Broccoli Rabe. I assumed it was a type of greens. Because I did not have Rabe, I used spinach.

Recently, I had made a small batch of anchovy butter, so I used about a 1/3 of a cup of the anchovy butter.

I made a cup of vegetable stock with a vegetable bouillon cube and a cup of water. I only used about 1/3 a cup of the stock, I'll use the rest of the stock elsewhere.

Beans are plentiful here but there are not many choices of white beans are available. I had made a small batch of white beans previously and wanted to use them.

Because I had made several changes to the original recipe, I wasn’t sure it would turn out. One bite told me, it came out great.

I thank Jack Monroe for introducing me to the varied uses of anchovies.

Normally, when I use garlic powder, I have no ill effects i.e. acid reflux, but because I made several recipes with garlic powder, lately, my system was overwhelmed. So, now, I will reduce the garlic powder to a hint to none.

Pasta, White Beans, Spinach With an Anchovy Sauce
(Adapted from: Recipeland, Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Pasta with White Bean and Anchovy Sauce)

Makes a 1 bowl serving.


Make Anchovy butter:

Drain 1 tin of anchovies.
Add anchovies to a container with a lid.
Add 1/2 Cup butter.
Mix and smash the butter and anchovies until they are thoroughly combined and the anchovies are in tiny pieces.
Hold off on adding spices. Add them later when using the mixture as anchovy butter.

Make Vegetable Stock:

Add 1 vegetable bouillon cube to a cup of water.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove and stir until the bouillon cube has dissolved.


1 Small bag of pasta
1 dab of vegetable oil
1/3 Cup of Anchovy butter
1/3 cup of vegetable stock
2 Heaping TBspns of canned (rinsed in the can) or cooked white beans (any type)
1 Small dessert bowl of frozen spinach
a hint of garlic powder
Ground black pepper to taste
Garnish: Parmasan cheese



In a medium pan, add enough water to cover the pasta.
Add a dab of oil.
Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
When pasta is done, drain and set aside.

Anchovy, Spinach and White Bean Sauce

Add anchovy butter to a small skillet.
Simmer and stir until anchovies have “melted.”
Add vegetable stock.
Add beans.
Add spinach.
Add garlic powder.
Add ground black pepper.
Stir to mix ingredients.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Check and stir occasionally.
Use a spoon to mash the beans.
Simmer until beans are so soft they are easy to mash.
Continue to simmer. Y
ou want the mixture creamy and hot throughout.
To serve:

Fill a bowl about 2/3 full of cooked pasta.
Add the sauce.
Stir ingredients to mix them thoroughly.
Add garnish.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Garlic Butter

Spruce Eats has become another of favorite go to recipe site.

For the present, the website is not full of popup boxes or moving videos which I like.

Lots of good info, written in an easy to understand manner.

Recipes include both fancy and simple recipes.

I always love a recipe website that offers tips.

For some reason, I was swimming in anchovy and sardine recipes and ended up on Spruce Eats and making garlic butter and anchovy butter for other recipes.

I know, I know, it's a simple recipe. But, it's all the other tips that make it fun.

Garlic Butter
(Adapted from: How to Make Simple Garlic Butter With Variations)


1/2 Cup Butter
1 Tspn Garlic Powder


Add butter to a container with a lid.
Add garlic powder.
Use a spoon to mix the ingredients thoroughly.



Pennies Matter

Quick Post:

One of the takeaways from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn is pay attention to the pennies, they add up.

Inflation is happening all the time and everywhere.

As an example, these are recent changes in size and price of four rolls of toilet paper:

Date / Price / Number of Sheets:

10/2019 24.53 / 350
5/2019   24.50 / 400

Note: It is a common practice for manufacturers to change the size / volume of products and to keep the price the same or to increase price.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Hotplate / Microwave: Dressed Up Can of Portobello Mushroom Soup

You can take this dressed up Can of Cream of Portobello Mushroom soup anywhere.

Thanks to Jack Monroe (https://cookingonabootstrap.com/), I’ve made another great soup.

Sadly, I do not have a blender, so I used a can of Cream of Portobello mushroom soup instead of fresh mushrooms and also made other adjustments.

It turns out that Cream of Portobello mushroom soup is more of a broth whereas a different Cream of mushroom soup is creamy.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised, I had been saving a bit of leftover red wine in the frig for quite awhile. It was fine.

Hotplate/Microwave: Dressed Up Can of Portobello Mushroom Soup
(Adapted from A Girl Called Jack - Red Wine and Mushroom Soup p51)



1 1/2 Cups water
1 Vegetable Bouillon cube
1/2-1 TBspns Onion powder
1/2 TBspn Garlic powder
1 15oz (420g) Can of cream of Portobello mushroom soup
2 oz (50ml) Leftover Red wine
1 Tspn Thyme, dry, crushed
Garnish: Thyme, dry, crushed


Add bouillon cube to water.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove and stir until cube has dissolved.
Pour a small amount of the vegetable stock into a medium pan.
Add garlic and onion powders.
With the liquid, the powders will become a paste.
Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Add mushroom soup.
Stir and mix ingredients.
Add the rest of the stock.
Add wine.
Add thyme, crush between palms over liquid.

Bring to a boil.
Simmer 3-5 minutes to get soup thoroughly hot.
Add garnish when serving.