Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Longest Password

During a recent computer problem it was discovered that a blonde was using the following password on her computer:

MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofySacramento.

When asked why her password was so long so replied,

'I was told the password had to be 8 characters long and include at least one capital.'

Monday, April 26, 2010

Italian Tomato Tart

I've had so many people ask me for this recipe since I posted a picture of the completed tart on Facebook that I had to make it again just to stop the emails :) Having said that it is a) wonderful to know people are interested in what I am cooking, b) I like making and eating this tart and c) It's actually really healthy!

Crust

1 (10 ounce) package frozen long-grain brown rice (I use Birds Eye Steam fresh, but see note below)
2 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
cooking spray

Filling

1/2 cup low fat milk (fat free or 1%)
1/2 cup egg substitute (see note)
1/4 teaspoon salt (see note)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
dash of ground red pepper
1 large egg
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part skimmed mozzarella cheese (see note)
1 ounce prosciutto cut into thin strips (see note)
4 small plum/Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh basil


Notes on ingredients and how I modify the recipe
  • I was actually surprised to be able to find the frozen long-grain brown rice in the freezer section of my grocery store, and even more surprised that it tastes quite good. Here's a pic to help you locate it. If you don't like using frozen rice - and I must admit I was skeptical, just cook too much rice next time you make some and save 10 ounces for this.
  • The first time I made this I didn't use any egg substitute, I just used 1/2 cup of freshly beaten eggs instead. I couldn't notice any taste difference this time when I used the substitute, plus it lowered the cholesterol level of the tart - bonus :)
  • I omitted the salt, mainly because I increased the amount of prosciutto quite considerably and that is already salty. If you don't increase the prosciutto then I would add the salt in.
  • I also didn't measure the mozzarella, I just eyeballed it until I had thrown in enough to cover the bottom of the pie dish. I also didn't measure the 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper or the dash of red pepper, that's right folks, I'm a cooking Maverick!
  • My local store sells thin slices of Prosciutto in 3oz packages. I just slice up the lot and put it in the tart. I know that this increases the sodium level which is why I omit the salt. It makes the tart taste so good with the extra amount of meaty goodness though.

So here is how to make this yummy goodness.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F

2. To prepare the crust, cook the brown rice according to the package directions. Combine cooked rice, pesto, Parmesan cheese, and 1 egg; firmly press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate coated with cooking spray.

To be honest this is the only slightly frustrating step. To help make it not so messy I would suggest pushing it into the plate using a rubber spatula. The first time I baked this I used my hands and although I'm all for tactile cookery this was a little bit too messy for me. The rice seemed to stick to my skin in a way that it didn't to my trusty red spatula :) As you can see from the picture, it's practically impossible to get this totally even, there will be holes! But don't worry, they cover up and the filling helps hold the crust together beautifully.

Bake the crust at 350F for 15 minutes and then remove the dish from the oven.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F

To prepare the filling, whisk together the milk, egg substitute (or egg), salt, pepper, red pepper and large egg in a bowl.

Sprinkle half the mozzarella and half the prosciutto into the bottom of the prepared crust. Top with half the tomato slices. Repeat procedure with the remaining mozzarella, prosciutto and tomatoes.

You should get something like the pic above. Next pour the milk mixture over the tomatoes.

Bake at 400F for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325F (do not remove tart from oven) and bake an additional 35 minutes until set.

Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh basil and cut into wedges.

That's it. Be careful not to overcook this. I found the 35 minutes plenty as the filling will firm up in the 10 minute wait once it's out of the oven.

I normally serve it with some steamed vegetables, and this evening I also sauteed some mushrooms I had in the fridge and wilted some spinach as well.

Healthy and delicious!

I'm sure there are lots of other variants you could put in this brown rice crust, it's so much easier and quicker than making a pastry quiche case. Just throw in your favorite fillings and cook a slice of happiness.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cat Stevens Was Wrong (possibly)....

...but I don't know about Eleanor Farjeon

We sang 'Morning Has Broken' in the Contemplative Service this morning.



The third stanza always seems to create discord in the congregation.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

90% of the congregation sing 'recreation' the other 10% sing 'Re-creation', probably the ones who have had it drilled into them by a Choir Director! I sang 'Re-creation' this morning. In the above clip Cat Stevens sings it the other way, but I don't think the lyrics make much sense that way.

I get excited about the thought that each day is a re-creation. Yesterday's messes do not affect the beauty of the new day. Every moment I also have the opportunity to engage in activities that 're-create' me. As you can tell from my posts, that would be cooking, music, boardgames, reading, time with friends etc.

What 're-creates' you?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beware the Pizza

I haven't written that much about it, but I'm dieting at the moment. I am working with a fitness/diet coach. Every day I try to do at least 10,000 steps (including a 30 minute walk), some stretches, drink 64oz of water and to consume no more than 2000 calories. Since I started on Feb 20th I have dropped 18 pounds!

The walking and the water consumption have been a problem for me, the first few days it seemed like I was going to the restroom every few minutes! I think my bladder has finally gotten used to the fact that it has to do more work now. Fitting in time to walk has been tricky, I've gotten together a group of people to walk at lunchtime at work, but as the weather gets hotter I've found myself walking in the Mall more because of the ac!

I've been stuck on a weight plateau for a week now. Basically I haven't been eating enough calories, so my body has gone into 'lockdown' mode. It thinks it's starving so it holds onto the fat that it has stored and refuses to burn any in exercise. Well that's what I've read online and it seems to make sense to me :)

To counteract that I decided I needed to come off the diet (at least for one meal), so today I went with some friends to California Pizza Kitchen. I consumed one Jerk Chicken Pizza and drank water and when I looked up the nutrition had quite a shock.

That one pizza of yummy goodness contained the following:

1356 Calories
24g Saturated Fat - which is 90% of the recommended daily intake!
137g of Carbohydrates
4236g Sodium - which is a whopping 184% of the recommended daily intake!!!
74g of Protein
9g of Fibre

In the past with a meal like that I would have generally drank at least 3 Dr Peppers which would add about another 450 calories and 123g of sugar.

I would have eaten that without a second thought and no ill effects, and then consumed something equally unhealthy in the evening too.

Not today!!!

In the afternoon I had stomach pains, intestinal rumblings, and I actually felt a bit light headed and loopy as well. It's amazing what 7 weeks of healthy eating can do. My body now rejects what it used to crave. It made me realize that the scene in 'Super Size Me' where Morgan Spurlock throws up after eating nothing but McDonald's for three days straight is entirely plausible. He had a diet far healthier than mine before he started, and his descent into fatty carbohydrate hell was far more severe than mine

So this evening I have some green peppers and some tomatoes roasting in the oven with a drop of pesto, garlic and capers in each one. I will consume this with a small green salad, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and a light dusting of parmesan cheese, and learn to listen to my body....

...and hope that the carbohydrate shock of lunch is enough to get my body losing weight again!

And if you see me walking fast in the Mall, come say hello!

Fast Food Facts :(

I watched Super Size Me last weekend, and now having just read this, I don't think I can face a McDonalds again.

Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Food for thought

In our Contemplative Service today we used the following paraphrase of Ephesians 4: 20-24 written by my friend Jerry:

Think about how you have come to know Jesus in your daily experience. Consider how deeply the truth of Jesus has gotten into the fabric of your life. It is woven all through you, an intricate part of your lived experience. You didn’t get there all at once. The process is slow, sometimes painful. We take off the way we had grown accustomed to living, the habits and patterns ingrained in us over a lifetime. Like a mask that no longer represents us, we take off the images and facades that don’t represent our true selves. Once we take off the image-clothing, we’re ready to let the authentic person live through! No more hiding for us! We live emotionally and spiritually naked and unashamed. It’s like wearing new clothing, only this clothing is who we really were all along, reflecting the image of God within us.

It really resonated with me today, and seemed to fit well with 'The Warp and the Weft'.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday Morning Cooking - Roti Parata!

A couple of weekends ago I went to a wonderful evening of Curry hosted by Doug and Veejay. Veejay's sister was in town from Canada where she owns an award winning Curry House. Her cooking was incredible and as part of the evening she taught us how to make Roti Parata. (I've also seen it spelled Prata or Pratatha)



I'm not going to post the dough recipe as she shared the one she uses which has some slight differences to the ones available online. Let's just say it tastes really good!


So here's what I cooked for Brunch today :)

video


I don't have any pics of the cooked version as I ate it rather quickly.

Whilst researching videos of Parata throwing on YouTube (yes, I need a life) I came across this rather yummy breakfast version.

video

Here's a finished Cheese and Egg Roti Parata cooking in the pan




Wednesday, April 07, 2010

March Board Game Results

28 games played in March, 18 different games.


Here are the highlights.

Top, once more is the ever popular Werewolf with 5 plays. I love to run this game although I do enjoy playing it too. It seems to work well with a crowd and people seem to pick it up fairly quickly. Moderating takes a fair amount of concentration though :)



Animalia is a new game to me, but I've quickly logged 3 plays in March alone. Every player is an Impressario trying to put together the best possible troop of performing animals. The game play is like a simplified Medici (which is a game I love). Animalia takes similar concepts to Medici but does without the auction mechanic and simplifies the scoring a little. It's definitely a game that is a stepping stone to the superior Medici whilst still being a lot of fun in its own right.


Ta Yu is a very elegant abstract game. The theme is one of connecting water flowing from the center of the board, but that doesn't really impact game play. In the simplest version you draw a tile and then play it. Deciding whether to help yourself or hinder your opponent is the main challenge of this game. Unfortunately the original Kosmos version (pictured here) is no longer available and consequently sells for a lot of money. I have the not so pretty but still playable new version instead.



Haggis is a game from a small independent designer that one of the other players in our group was asked to play test. It feels a little similar to Tichu (a game I love), but is actually playable by 2 or more unlike Tichu which really requires 4 players. It's a fun game, though to be honest I'm having a little trouble remembering it now.





Hive makes a return appearance into the 'Most played list'. Ok so it was only 2 plays in March, but when you consider the large number of different games I play, any repeat is a good sign. (last year I managed 378 plays of 186 different games!). As I only received Hive just before Christmas, it didn't make it into the Quarters, Nickels and Dimes last year, but this year I've already played it 11 times! Will it get played enough to topple last years winner (Dominion with 22 plays)? It's definitely possible as I've only played Dominion 3 times so far in 2010.
Tune in again next month to see what game takes the lead :)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Christ is Risen.....have a doughnut?


Growing up the U.K., doughnuts were considered an Afternoon Tea food. You would have sandwiches (white bread, with the crusts cut off of course) and hot tea with milk or lemon. The doughnut would be served as a sweet pastry at the end of the meal, usually as one choice among many, the Egg Custard, the Vanilla Slice and the Apple Turnover were all other options that made an appearance at our house.

Occasionally the doughnut would migrate to regular tea time, but the idea of eating a doughnut for breakfast never crossed our mind, doughnuts were not to be consumed before at least midday. When I relocated to Lubbock, Texas, and discovered doughnuts being served as a breakfast staple I was mystified. Some cultural differences took a great deal of getting used too. But I soon embraced the mystery of the fried dough breakfast and began to consume my fair share as a way to break fast - this was of course before my love affair with the Kolache entered the picture.


One thing that did mystify me however was the appearance of the doughnut in church, usually as an enticement for somebody to enter the Sunday school room. Most of the churches I attended in the U.K. never served more than hot tea with a plain biscuit (that's cookie for you American readers). Occasionally a more progressive church might serve chocolate biscuits if their budget could cover it, but Rich Tea Biscuits or a Plain Digestive was the usual level of snackage at most churches in the U.K. It seems to me that doughnuts are almost a requirement for worship in the U.S. Every Easter our worshipping staff has involved discussions about how many doughnuts to order, where they should be placed around the church and what type of doughnut is best. Should we order cake doughnuts? Chocolate? Glazed? Filled? I never realized that part of planning Easter Worship would involved estimating doughnut consumption. I guess nothing says 'Christ is Risen' quite like deep fried sugary dough.

Is it the shape I wonder, maybe subconsciously by consuming a doughnut we are consuming the stone that was in front of the tomb? Is it our way of declaring that not only is the tomb empty, but we are making sure it never gets blocked again? I wonder what the symbolism of sprinkles are.

Maybe it is us declaring our 'disdain' for the flesh by eating these fried carbohydrate bombs. We know our flesh will fail but our Spirits will live forever. Somehow I don't think Bavarian Cream was what St. Paul had in mind when he told us to 'Put to death the deeds of the body'.

I guess it's just as well that there is no Scriptural Prohibition against doughnut consumption. It could cause a severe drop in Church attendance if the only snack foods allowed were sauteed kale and pickled beetroot!

So this sunday I will dash between services trying to avoid small children with a doughnut in each hand and sugary smears across their faces....and I will try to remind myself that I don't need to eat a doughnut because their are better things I can do with the calories.

And then I will go celebrate the end of Lent by having my first Dr. Pepper since we broke up in February. Doughnuts are optional for me....but celebrating Easter without a D.P.? Inconceivable!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Announcing the Death of Jesus of Nazareth - Aged 33

Died: 14th day of the month Nisan in Jerusalem.

Preceded in death by Jacob bar Joseph who raised him as his own son.

Survived by his mother, Mary; brothers James, Joses and Judas, and his sisters.

Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem of Judea.

His family fled to Egypt when he was two, seeking political asylum.

They returned to Nazareth in Galilee after the death of Herod the Great.

Jesus was apprenticed as a carpenter to Joseph, and worked in the family business until he turned 30.

He was baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin John.

He spent the next 3 years living as an itinerant rabbi, with a small school of 12 disciples.

He devoted his life to serving the least, the last and the lost, wherever he found them.

Despite repeated warnings, his teaching, his work and those he chose to call "friend" drew unwanted attention from the authorities.

The family wish to make it clear that his arrest and immediate trial took place without due process. The charges of blasphemy and of being a threat to national security were not corroborated by a single witness.

He died as he lived: extending forgiveness to those responsible for his execution.

He will be greatly missed by his family, his friends-"the sinners" and by the poor.

The family extends gratitude to Joseph of Arimathea for covering the funeral expenses.