Changing the World: One Door at a Time

Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, looking north...

Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, looking northwards towards the Parliament Buildings from Queen Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My niece Krista Kreling tweeted this today. She is a kind, loving, and intelligent girl. I thought I would share this with all of you. If you do not know, there was a terrible accident in Ottawa yesterday between a train and a bus and at last count six people lost their lives.

“Saw this quote in a tweet today and it has really resonated with me. Beautiful words on the heels of a very sad day in Ottawa. “I believe in kindness. I believe that when you hold a door open for someone, you change them – just a little bit.” June Callwood

Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm  Comments (12)  
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A Wonderfully Glorious Bean Salad

NCI EatBeansAndOtherLegumesOften

EatBeansAndOtherLegumesOften (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the title of this post, you may think I am overselling this recipe a bit–after all, just how glorious can a bean salad be?

Well this is one good and well-used recipe passed along by my sister-in-law, Brenda probably 30+ years ago (cannot believe I am old enough to remember back that far). It soon became mine to make for all the family gatherings as: 1. it did not have to be cooked; 2. there was no cooking involved; 3. no burner or oven had to be turned on to make it (are you noting a trend here?)

I have not made it for a few years, and it was resurrected in my memory bank the other day when my sister Peggy asked me for it, as she was making some salads to take to the cottage with her and she could not find hers. So a big thanks to Peg for reminding me of this “politically correct” salad, which not only tastes good, but is darn good for you. (Unlike my ode to bologna sandwiches yesterday).

Bean Salad

You will need:

19 oz tins of green beans, wax beans, kidney beans, lima beans and chick peas

I onion sliced thin

1 green pepper chopped (or red as it has lots of good stuff in it–but I am not going to go all nutritional on you)

Marinate several hours in:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup salad oil (today I might use olive oil)

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. parsley

pepper (I love when no amount is given–it feels so creative)

1 tbsp. seasoned salt

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. tarragon and basil or Italian spices

This is seriously good and easy–and even though it has more than my five ingredient criteria–there is no cooking involved which makes up for the length of the ingredient list.


My idea of bliss is rediscovering a recipe I have not used in a long time. Do you have one you have forgotten?

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 7:51 am  Comments (20)  
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~ Family Bliss ~

Three butter tarts on a plate, with flash

Three butter tarts on a plate, with flash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my favourite definitions of bliss is family harmony. I am in a family sort of mood this weekend as my sister Peggy and my favourite (and only—but that does not take away from him being my favourite) brother-in-law, Herb are visiting us from Ottawa which is about an eight hour drive away. I have not seen them for over a year and a half.

They arrived in our small town of Kingsville at suppertime last night, and are staying at my oldest brother Jim’s house. My kids came over, his kids came over and we had pizza and beer and Prosecco and a lot of hugs and laughs. I am feeling wrapped up in warmth this morning.

Today my sister and I are going to lunch and I am taking her to my favourite winery, showing her our new library, and just spending time with her. We email each other every day and talk several times a month, but having her here in person is such a treat.

The “boys” will be hanging out together today and talking cars and politics, and joking around a lot. Then we will all meet to go out to dinner tonight, using up a certificate my brother was given for Christmas at a nice restaurant up town. The only thing missing is my other brother John and my sister-in-law Starr, but they were here a few weeks ago—so the last few weeks have been rift with family moments that I just want to capture, put in a jar, and save.

So since John is not here, I am going to share one of his favourite treats that my Mom used to make and he devoured. In fact, he would line these tarts up on his arm and eat them one by one with a big glass of milk. It is an image I will never forget.

My mother, unlike her oldest daughter (me) baked up a storm, particularly at holidays.  This recipe is for her famous raisin tarts, and though I have never made them, I can attest to the fact that they are the best ever.

So, on this Saturday in mid-January I share with you a little family bliss and a little piece of bliss from my childhood in the form of these tarts.

Raisin Butter Tarts


2 eggs

2 tbsp.vinegar

1 cup butter melted

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cups of raisins, nuts, or currants (Mom always used raisins and walnut pieces)

Beat eggs only until whites and yolks are mixed. Beat in sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Stir in melted butter and fruit and nuts. Half fill tart shells. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees for 20 minutes longer.

Enjoy a little bit of heavenly bliss!

This recipe was handwritten in a spiral notebook which is covered in splatters from many many sessions in the kitchen. I may not have lined up my arm with these tarts, but I always had more than my fair share.

Do you have a recipe that harkens  back to your childhood days?

Published in: on January 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm  Comments (51)  
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~ Never Ask Me: How Are You? ~

English: Cute coffee.

Cute coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from my weekly newspaper column–I talk to my readers like they are my friends. I hope some of them are:

My sister Peggy and I try to email each other every day. She lives in Ottawa, so we do not have the luxury of face to face visits often. Sometimes I do not have much to say—but today this is how I opened my little tirade to her (she made the mistake of asking how I was):

“Well, (you can always tell something did not go well, when you start a sentence out with ‘well’) yesterday started off with a bang, or should I say crash—I broke the carafe for the coffee maker, so made coffee by putting a cup where the carafe should go and then pressing up on the spigot thing to get the coffee to come out. That was some fun! Until I got the hang of it I had hot coffee coming up the handle of the knife I was using to press the spigot up. (I now have first degree burns on my right hand). So I went out and bought another coffee maker and started getting it ready to make coffee (this morning), and it did not have all the parts it was supposed to have–so I tried putting it back in its packaging, and of course it does not go back into what it just came out of.

So….I will be taking the darn thing back to the store the way it is and they can deal with it.  I just finished making two cups of coffee using my rather flawed method again today–but used a spoon this time. The coffee ran up the handle of the spoon a bit, but since I am getting better at this, not as much as yesterday. Oh, yeah, and the coffee tastes like sweet dishwater.”

That is how my day began–has to get better from here, right? Just a minute, I need another sip of coffee—yep, warm dishwater (or what I imagine warm dishwater with sugar would taste like).

It is Monday morning as I write this and no, it is not going to be a diatribe about how awful I think Mondays are. I like Mondays. It is the day I usually write up this column and I do look forward to writing another piece of weekly literature. Then I just have to make do with what I really produce, and though it isn’t literature, it does fill up my space on page five.

I am surprised though at how important that first cup of coffee is to me in the morning. I did not even drink coffee until I was in my thirties—before that my caffeine fix was in the form of tea or cola (yes, at one time I did drink cola with my morning bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs—try it, it really complements the food).

I am trying to become a tea drinker again for one reason and one reason only: I do not put sugar in my tea. I put a lot of sugar in my coffee—as I do not think I really like its taste—the aroma is good, but the taste without a pile of sugar is too bitter. I so admire those who drink it black (gag, ugh) or with just a little cream (just gag).

Today, I am writing this up without the benefit of a good cup of hot sweet liquid (good being the operative word here)—but I am persevering—I am made of good stock.