Monday, 31 August 2009

Provincial Parks and free book shelves

We were camping on the weekend at Craigleith Provincial Park in Ontario near Collingwood. Yes, it was a rather rainy weekend which meant that several books were required to help pass the soggy time.

Hubby went to the park store to buy some wood and came back with the exciting news that there was a Bookcrossing shelf in the store. Oh excitement!!! Off we went a little while later to see what free books we could find, and at the same time berating myself for not bringing any books to release. Yes there really is a wall of free books available, though I couldn't find one that had been registered with Bookcrossing. Hubby did find a book that he brought home. I suspect that when he is finished, I'll register it and include the story of where it was found and then we'll release it elsewhere.

I am wondering if other Parks have free book shelves? Please leave a comment if you know of any. Thanks.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Slash by Slash with Anthony Bozza

"The guitar is my conscience...whenever I've lost my way, it's brought me back to center; whenever I forget, it reminds me why I'm here."
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a peek into a life that has been lived extremely differently from mine.
I'm not going to go into detail about Slash's life, if you're a fan you probably know far more than me, and if you don't know much about him, you'd enjoy it a lot more if you read the book. It's very readable and in language that you'd expect to hear if it were Slash himself sitting across the table from you. He does skip around a bit, but that is a matter of keeping to a story line rather than maintaining a strict time line. He mentions a lot of musicians that he's worked with, but as a matter of record and not in the least name dropping. His acknowledging his drug use and drinking is again fact and not boastful or moralizing. I found myself agreeing with him when he said that he couldn't be forced to make rehab work, it had to be his idea and timing. I was glad for him when he did get clean and realized that he could be just as creative and successful without all drugs.
"Drugs stood between where we'd been and where we had to go;"
Before reading this book, if you had asked me who Slash was, I would have said a musician. I wouldn't have been able to name any of the songs from his albums. Yet when he started talking about specific songs, particularly 'Paradise City' the tune and words popped into my head. My kids were quite surprised that someone my age would recognize any of this music. They forget that Guns n Roses was getting big while I was finishing University and their music was everywhere.
I heartily recommend reading this book. It would make a fantastic gift along with an early Guns n Roses album (such as Appetite for Destruction or Use Your Illusion I or II), a Slash's Snakepit album(such as It's Five O'Clock Somewhere) and finally a Velvet Revolver album (such as Liberatad).

Thursday, 27 August 2009

How Like and Angel by Margaret Millar

A wonderful 1960's era mystery.

Joe Quinn is a Private Detective Who has just been fired from his Casino job in Reno. He has caught a ride west with an acquaintance who has dropped him off short of his destination at the door of a dessert commune known at 'The Tower'. He is taken in by Sister Blessing who upon finding out that Joe is a PI, hires him to find out the location of Patrick O'Gorman. Joe reluctantly accepts the commission which sets him down a number of trails he couldn't have expected.

The twists and turns of this story kept me mystified. I couldn't guess what was going to happen next and how all those characters were going to be tied together. The fact that this story was written almost 5 decades past doesn't in any way diminish its impact. The characters are very believable. I liked Joe and his acceptance of the loss of his job due to his own failings. Sister Blessing seemed and odd fit for a religious commune, but she did seem to truly want to be there even when 'The Master' pronounced punishment on her.

I'm not going to say anymore as I don't want to start revealing any more of the plot. You'll have to find a copy and read for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Margaret Millar was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario which is in my 'neck of the woods'. My local library system only had this one book on their shelves, but I will definitely be asking them to arrange an inter-library loan for some of her other works.

To learn more about her books and life, be sure to read Margaret Millar's Biography.

3rd read for the Canadian Book Challenge

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Book Reviews this week

With vacation time and such I didn't have a chance to post my reviews last week. I'll give you a heads up of what I have to come in the next week.

How Like and Angel by Margaret Millar, a Kitchener, Ontario born and raised author who passed away in 1994.

Slash by Slash and Anthony Bozza

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lional Shriver

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini (first novel by a Zimbabwe writer)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Endurrun 2009 Day 7 Food Update

This was Marathon day. Yes the full thing. I've not run one, yet... maybe some day.

A few years ago the runners started requesting repeats of some of their favourite dishes from the past week and we were happy to accommodate. Fortunately they often seem to chose the recipes that we tend to like to make. Yippee. We also tend to splurge on calories and fat, so are open to almost any recipe suggestions.

Not surprisingly I was asked to make the Broccoli Salad again, that was the third time that week. In fact I have made it that often in previous years. The recipe is from 'Lighthearted Everyday Cooking' by Anne Lindsay and is from Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Broccoli Buffet Salad

  • 3 cups broccoli florets (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

In salad bowl, combine broccoli, onion, sunflower seeds, raisins and cheese.

Dressing: In measuring cup, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, sugar and lemon juice; pour over salad and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 6 servings.

I was also asked to re-make the couscous salad. Its quite simple to make, and fit in with the diets of those with allergies/intolerances. This is from Anne Lindsay's 'Light Kitchen' in support of the United Way of Canada.

Easy Couscous Vegetable Salad

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3/4 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds

Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp each olive oil and water
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

In saucepan, bring water to boil; add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes; fluff with fork.

In salad bowl, combine couscous, celery, green onion, carrot, cucumber, parsley and sunflower seeds.

Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette: Whisk together lemon juice, oil, water, cumin and salt and pepper to taste; pour over salad and toss. Makes 4 servings.

Of course we have to have some desserts to round out the end of any marathon. Ours is no exception. There was my son's cheesecake, a wonderfully light trifle by the race director's daughter, a second pan of the 'Candy Bar' layer treat by the race director's wife along with several more. I made one of my favourites, 'Butterscotch Confetti' (that's the one with butterscotch chipets, peanut butter and coloured marshmallows) from 'Company's Coming: most loved treats'.

Our week of races in now complete. I have only given you a taste of the dishes that I prepared. There were many others made by the numerous volunteers and they were all wonderful. The race will be back again next year and so will the cooking volunteers. Perhaps we'll see you there???

If you try these two recipes, let me know what you think, or is you have a favourite post run food that you have to have, I'd love to hear about that as well.

Be sure to check the website for the Endurrun Race Series, 8 Days, 7 Stages, 160 km, 1 Tough Runner .

Endurrun 2009 Day 6 Food Update

Saturday was a double meal. In the morning was a 10k time trial that started in the rural community of Elmira and ended across the street from me at the race director's yard in Conestogo. In a time trial, the slowest runner starts first and the fastest runner starts last. There was 1 minute between runners. The goal of the late starters is to catch up to the runners before him/her. I was at the water station at the 7k marker. This is my usual place and it's always exciting to see how the runners bunch up and whether the final runner has been able to make up any time.

When the runners had finished and recovered their lost fluids they were ready for an 'American Brunch'. There was an assortment of sandwiches, veggie wraps, bagels, muffins, cookies and the ever popular Tim Horton's Donuts. Of course there was mounds of fresh fruit and juices and a lovely bowl of fruit salad.

Later that evening was a group BBQ at the race director's backyard. This was the traditional 'Pre-Marathon Pasta Feast' along with BBQ. .

I brought my usual 'Rotini with Tomato, Black Olive and Feta' from 'Lighthearted Everyday Cooking' by Anne Lindsay.
The recipe calls for Penne, but I don't really like that shape so changed it to Rotini. When we have our planning meeting, we actually discuss which shape pasta each of us will bring so that we don't have dishes with the same shape. That would be boring. The runners have also told us that they prefer the 'white' flour pasta rather than the 'whole wheat'.
My son make a huge Oreo cheese cake for dessert. Most runners had already left by that time, though the few who tried the cake loved it. The remainder was chilled and brought for the end of the marathon. His recipe was from the Kraft Canada website, though he increased the recipe by 1/4 using 5 blocks of cheese, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 5 eggs. That was barely enough.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Endurrun 2009 Day 5 Food Update

Friday was a day of awesome hills. This 25.6 km run was set at the Chicopee Ski Club and the runners spent hours up and down the hills. My knees ached watching them. I have to admit that I have not even walked this route once.

After that hard of a run, a super feeding of all participants was required. The chosen theme for the day was "Asian Cuisine". It was a challenge finding appropriate recipes. One suggestion was for me to find a 'noodle salad that includes bean sprouts'. Not as easy as it seems. I did check my Thai cookbook, but again re-confirmed my opinion that that book is great reading, but not good for cooking.

Blogger seems to be having 'photo troubles' again so I'll add the pics later.

I did find that recipe and am wondering why I haven't made it before. 'Spicy Noodle Salad' from Anne Lindsay's Light Kitchen. This is made with very thin pasta such as capellini, red pepper, bean sprouts and a light rice vinegar and soil and ginger root dressing. Was a very popular choice.

In keeping with the theme I made 'Minty Pawpaw Salad' (Thailand) by Jean Pare's 'Company's Coming Asian Cooking. There are very few times I use papaya and this is one of them. Also includes thin slices of red onion, red pepper and mint leaves.

Most dessert ideas I came across were more the idea of a pudding or involved cooked bananas that were to be served warm. I settled on 'Cherry Coconut Macaroons'. It made me think of the lichee fruit that is served at some Chinese buffets with cherries shoved in the opening. This recipe is by Jean Pare's 'Company's Coming Sweet Cravings'.

To add a bit of fun to the dessert menu, I wanted to make those chocolate cookies with chow mien noodles and peanuts. The recipe is called 'Noodle Power' and is by Jean Pare in her cookbook 'Company's Coming Most Loved Treats'. I love many of the very tempting recipes in this cook book. One shouldn't be allowed to put some many delicious recipes within one cover.

I'm a day behind and still have to tell you about Saturday's run and BBQ dinner. That would be the carbo loading pasta feast in runner talk. I have my dishes made for Sunday after the completion of the marathon. I will be at the first water station along with my daughter. Gotta go as the race is starting at 7:30 am in an attempt to miss some of the heat. Wish the runners good luck.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Endurrun 2009 Day 4 Food Update

Our runners have now completed 66.1km of the 160 total. Tonight they will start at 6 PM and run 16 km of extreme hills. This is the segment that I aspire too complete. I need huge amounts more training, but when I finally complete the sense of satisfaction will be immense.

I have been trying to upload some pics, but blogger is having trouble. Will update the post once I can add the appropriate photos.

Theme for today is 'BBQ Dinner'.

Today I have made another bowl of the famous 'Broccoli Salad'.

I have also made a pan of 'Carrot Cake Bars'. I substituted orange juice for the 1/4 cup of milk. Now it is lactose as well as soy free. Does not seem to affect the taste one bit. Both recipes are from 'Lighthearted Everyday Cooking' by Anne Lindsay.

I have to run now and get over to those hills. I will undoubtedly be posted at a water station handing out numerous cups of water and Gatorade. The temperature is still around 26C and the humidity is a bit lower today at 65% meaning it still feels like 33C.

bye for now

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Endurrun 2009 Day 3 Food Update

It was a hot one today. The temperature was around 25C with a humidity of 85%, meaning it felt like it was 33C. Now imagine running 30k of hills. I could feel the sweat running down my back even when I was standing still.
As I said yesterday, today's theme was 'Middle Eastern Eatery'. This is one of my favourites. I love the choice of spices, mainly coriander and cumin, but I also like chick peas.

My two main recipes were chosen from 'Recipes for an Arabian Night' by David Scott. I have had this cookbook for ages, at least 15 years. I have made the 'Hummus Bi Tahini' numerous times and today was no exception. Good source of carbs and I imagine that the sesame oil in the tahini is a good type of fat.
For the first time I tried the 'Lebanese Potato Salad'. Along with the parsley, it has chopped mint. Very nice addition. It also has and oil and lemon juice sauce instead of the usual mayonnaise.
I wanted to make the Egyptian 'Basbousa' (Semolina Cake), but I didn't find semolina while shopping. After baking the cake you pour a sugar syrup over the warm cake, saturating it. You then let it cool and serve. I will definitely be looking to find some semolina.

For the dessert I turned to 'The Lactose-Free Family Cookbook'. This was my first recipe from this book, and if they all turn out this well I will certainly be making more. I made 'Fudge Cake. I had a bit of a problem in that I dropped the finished cake while removing it from the pan, but I put the puzzle pieces back together in the right sort of shape and we were able to enjoy it. I also made the recommended 'Cappuccino Sauce' to accompany it. This was a real hit with several of the lactose intolerant runners. One runner even admitted that the thought of the cake kept her running for the second half of the race. Oh the power of the promise of a chocolate treat.
Tomorrow is a 15k hill, evening race so I will share my recipe choices earlier in the day. The theme is 'BBQ'.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Endurrun 2009 Day 2 Food Update

This is my fourth year volunteering at this running series. I am still amazed that anyone would willing spend a week of their vacation and want to run 7 consecutive races for a total of 160 km, many of them up and down steep hills.
If you are curious go visit the Endurrun 2009 website.
It takes a lot of energy to run these races, which range from 10k to a full Marathon. To keep the runners going requires lots of good food. Likewise to keep the multitudes of volunteers happy, we have to feed them as well.
I guess I really didn't know what I was doing when I walked across the street one day and asked my neighbours what all this todo was about. They told me about the race and I volunteered. I have marshalled on busy corners, (getting to stop traffic is so cool, once I even had to stop a police car so a runner could go past), handed out more cups of water and Gatorade than I can imagine, roamed the courses with runners' cameras and took hundreds of pictures and made countless dishes to help feed all involved. Its the food I want to talk about this year.
Prior to race week, the food committee had several meetings to devise a menu. This year Ian suggested that we have theme days. We all loved that and when I got home I started searching through my cookbooks.
Day 1 - half Marathon
The theme on Sunday was 'BBQ'
From the Vegetariana cookbook by Nava Atlas, I selected 'Hearty Pasta and Red Bean Salad' . This salad has a yogurt sauce spiced with chili powder , coriander, paprika and sage. Very well received and I will be making this again for my family.

Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay is one of my most frequently used cookbooks. I have been making the 'Broccoli Buffet Salad' for the past 3 years and usually make it on three race days. Yes, it really is that popular. I tend to think that the combination of sunflower seeds, raisins and feta cheese are a winning combination.

The only brownie recipe I use is from 'The Good Cake Book' by Diana Dalsass. I have been using this since university days and expect to use it for many more.

Day Two
Theme for today was 'European Bistro'. Deli meat sandwich were the main course thought this year they were offered with rye bread and croissants as well as the regular sub type rolls. I used Anne Lindsay's 'Light Kitchen' for an 'Easy Couscous Vegetable Salad'. This one met the needs of the dietary needs of most of the participants.
We have vegetarians, lactose intolerance, soy intolerance, and a few other allergies to contend with, though we always manage to feed all the participants and volunteers.
Tomorrow is a 'Middle Eastern Eatery' so visit me later on Tuesday to see which cookbooks I pulled off the shelf.

Endurrun 2009 Day 2

I'm leaving in a few minutes to go to the second day of running. Today is a 15km time trial along roads and trails in Cambridge, Ontario.

Yesterday was amazing. The half Marathon went off without a hitch and the times were terrific for a hot and humid day. 100% humidity, which is also forecast for today.

I plan to have a further update later today with reviews of the cookbooks I used for the food for the volunteers. (has to be a book angle).

bye for now.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Birthday update

I had a lovely day with my family and with my sister who is visiting from Calgary.

We started the morning with a private viewing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Excellent!!!

Next we went down the street to the Lindt outlet store and bought lots of items that were marked at 75% off.

Then dropped my sister off to visit with her friend.

Now home to hubby who worked from home and watched the dog while we were out.

Eventually we had my birthday dinner together followed by a nice dog walk.

Just about makes for the perfect birthday. Would have enjoyed a few chapters in my novel, but instead chose to watch a series opener on tv and knit on my current scarf project.

Don't know how much I'll get to posting next week. I will be volunteering all week at a running race series. Endurrun 2009. 160 km in 7 runs over 8 days. Usually I select a book to read throughout the week. Guess I still have tomorrow to find one.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

YOur Favourites in Canadiana

Over at The Book Mine Set, John has posted a Meme asking about your Canadian Favourites. I will give it a try and see which ones I can fill in.

Your Favourites:

1. Favourite Canadian author? Charles de Lint
2. Favourite Canadian novel? One Native Life by Richard Wagamese
3. Favourite Canadian nonfiction? Canada from Space text by Brian Banks
4. Favourite Canadian picture book?
5. Favourite Canadian YA or juvenile chapter book? I'll love you forever by Robert Munsch
6. Favourite Canadian science fiction or fantasy book? Moonheart by Charles de Lint
7. Favourite Canadian romantic fiction? any by Mary Balogh
8. Favourite Canadian mystery? Still Life by Louise Penny
9. Favourite Canadian graphic novel?
10. Favourite Canadian book blog? Daisy's Book Journal
11. Favourite Canadian fictional character? Inspector Green (Barbara Fradkin)
12. Favourite movie based on a Canadian novel or story?
13. Favourite Canadian short story?
14. Favourite Canadian poet?
15. Favourite Canadian poem?
16. Favourite Canadian play?
17. Favourite novel by an established Canadian author?
18. Favourite novel by an up-and-coming Canadian author?
19. Favourite Canadian book award? Evergreen Awards
20. Favourite Canadian publisher? Annick Press
21. Favourite Canadian humorous book?
22. Favourite Canadian newspaper? used to be 'Imprint' University of Waterloo Student newspaper
23. Favourite Canadian magazine or journal?
24. Favourite Canadian dystopian novel?
25. Favourite Canadian epistolary novel?
26. Favourite Canadian Author's blog? Kathleen Molloy

(I added 26).

I have left many blanks but plan to fill some of them in. Just can't remember titles offhand.