Well. There’s Always Hope…

March 7, 2018 at 12:53 am | Posted in Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It’s late, I know, but I have to write this down to get it out of my head so I can sleep. Lavender Oil is NOT working tonight…

This year marks the third year since my Mom was first put into a Nursing Home.  Mom, who is suffering from advanced Dementia, used to be a fabulous cook, a great Grandmother (and a Great-Grandmother too), and was someone who fiercely loved her family.  She was many other things too that would take a whole other column to write down.  Now she’s a shell of her former self.

She didn’t plan on living her golden years in a place where she’s lost her freedom and her memories too quickly.  I honestly think that there’s an epidemic among our seniors where they fall into frailty soon after leaving their homes.  I don’t think they wouldn’t be as far gone as they are if they could just stay at home.  The decline in her mental health, so rapidly, is alarming.

There is this one resident who keeps trying to get into my Mom’s room, thinking either that it’s her own, or that it’s ok to go in.  My Mom hates her.  I was standing in the hallway, waiting for my Mom to roll out this past weekend, and this resident approached me.  I was blocking the entrance to my Mom’s room so she couldn’t go in.  I said ‘hello’ and she gave me a big smile.  She told me how much I had grown and would I like to go home now?  I could go in the car with her if I really wanted because I was a good girl.  This woman that my Mom hates is really very nice.  She obviously confused me for someone else, possibly one of her own kids.  She seemed lonely.

When my Sister first brought my Mom to her new home, my Dad was already there and only had months left to live.  They had been married for almost 56 years, and she couldn’t stand to be apart from him.  She was depressed when she was lucid.  When she was having an off day, it didn’t really matter.  The main concern was her safety.  She forgot how to use the stove, and couldn’t remember how to make toast.  Food in the fridge was still good, according to her, even though it may have been long past it’s prime.

Soon after moving into the Nursing home, she forgot how to use the phone.  Whenever she would call me, if I wasn’t home to answer and the call went to voicemail, the recordings were just like those annoying overseas telemarketers… ‘hello?  hello?  Hello!?’.  Now she doesn’t know how to call anyone.  I remember at first it was a combination of funny and frustrating.  ‘Ugh Mom, it’s voicemail, leave a message’.  She would wonder why I’d be so upset.  She didn’t understand.  Most of the time she doesn’t know who I am when I call.  She doesn’t understand the concept of ‘daughter’.  She knows I’m close to her and she loves me, but sometimes I think she just sees me as a nice person who calls.

When she first moved in, she was able to walk, and would do daily laps around the circular corridors inside.  She wouldn’t go outside unless my Brother or I were with her. She didn’t feel safe.  I think she knew she would get lost.  She’s in a wheelchair now.  She no longer has the strength in her legs to hold herself up for more than a few seconds, her muscles have weakened through lack of use.  She falls every couple of weeks.  The last time left a bruise on her cheek from her face colliding with the floor.  ‘Oh it’s nothing’, she says, wondering what all the fuss is about.

Before my Dad passed away, she was very protective of him. She had to know what everyone wanted, and he had to sit next to her all the time.  ‘So I can keep my eye on him’, she’d tell me, quite seriously, paranoia already creeping in.  Every morning, she’d pull his wheelchair into her section of their joined rooms, whether or not he felt like sitting there.  She was the boss.  They would watch TV.

After my Dad passed, she mourned him and to me, she seemed so small and vulnerable. She was alone now.  Stuck in that place forever.

After a while she moved into a private room and seemed to enjoy it.  Flowers were growing on her windowsill.  Her TV sat on a very old Telephone Stand that my Dad restored years and years ago.  Pictures of her family, mostly my kids, were hung everywhere.  If there was a blank wall, she’d fill it with pictures.  She no longer recognizes herself, or most others for that matter, in pictures.  ‘Who’s that?  Do I know him/her?’  Now she either overwaters her plants to the point where a litre or more pours out when I empty them in the sink, or they dry out and wither because she forgot to water them.  She used to have a green thumb.  We always gave her our plants to nurse them back to health.

It saddens me the most that she’s nearly completely forgotten my Dad.  She just glances at the pictures, no longer showing the same interest in pouring over every detail of my kids’ faces, or remembering the time my Dad got his foot caught in the snowbank in one of my favourite pictures of him.  Or the birds that would come to visit on their balcony outside the house they loved deeply for 30 years.

When she first moved in, she was comfortable in her new room and would love to go on outings organized by the home to local restaurants or fall fairs.  We used to find her in her room on our days that we visited.  Sometimes she would be watching TV, sometimes she would be napping.  Now she waits.  The TV hasn’t been turned on in months.  The digital photoframe I got her for her first Christmas there hasn’t been turned on in over a year.  Now she sits in the entrance of her doorway, her neck is always craned in the direction of our approach, but I don’t think it’s us she’s waiting for. She’s waiting for something, maybe it’s hope.  Hope that soon she’ll be able to leave, whether through a transfer to a home closer to her kids, or in the same manner my Dad left…

When she first moved in, although she repeated herself often, her sentences were coherent.  She remembered a lot more.  She could hold a short conversation.  Now she mostly speaks in gibberish, frustrated with her lack of communication.  When she can get the words out, it’s usually in German, a language she hasn’t really spoken since she was a young lady.  She still has good days though.  Those are the ones I cherish the most.  She tells me over and over again how much she loves me, and is so thankful when I call her.  I don’t want to end up that way.  It terrifying hoping you don’t share her fate.  When I forget details, I worry – is this the start?  My body aches and I see myself turning into my Sister who was crippled by arthritis, and that scares me because I once vowed I’d never turn into the miserable hag my Sister was; yet I see the signs.

I too need hope.  Hope that there’s a brighter future in store.  Hope that someday soon she can transfer to a closer facility before she completely forgets us.  Hope that one day it will be better.  I cling to that hope.  It gets me through the day.


Amost Mom’s Goulash… And Cucumber Salad

March 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Posted in Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment

We went to see Mom yesterday, and it made me think of the Goulash she used to make. Needless to say, I had to make it for our Sunday dinner tonight.  Mom was an amazing home cook.  She was self-taught and it was always so good.  This recipe is based on the one she used to make for us, at least once a month when I was growing up.  As a kid though, I didn’t appreciate it as I do now.  She always served it with her version of a Cucumber salad, made with just four ingredients, most of which you likely already have in your home.  Mom never used Paprika, which is why this is ‘almost’ her recipe.  It’s really good nonetheless, warm and comforting.

Take the weekend off from counting calories and enjoy…


  • 1.5-2 pounds beef roast, steak or stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 Roma Tomato
  • 1/2 Hot Chorizo or similar sausage, cut into 1/4” slices
  • 10 Black Peppercorns
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed but not chopped
  • Red Chili Paste (optional)
  • 1-2 Tsp (Sweet) Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp (or to taste) Hot Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp Coarse Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 cup good quality vegetable oil
  • 6-8 packages of reduced Salt Beef OXO
  • 1/4 cup Bisto Beef Powder (the Gravy Maker!)
  • 1/2 cup AP Flour
  • Enough cold water to form a Slurry – a thickish, runny liquid

Several hours, or even the night before if you can, cube the beef and season with all of the seasonings listed above, except peppercorns.  Add 1 Tsp of the Chili Paste. Stir and Refrigerate, covered until ready.  The seasonings above are approximate – if you ever asked my mom how much pepper she put on the meat, she would always say ‘to taste…’, which was mind-numbingly frustrating.  Season the meat well with the sweet Paprika and the Garlic Powder – it’s ok to be a little heavy-handed with those.  The rest are a good approximation, as I shake the seasonings directly onto the meat in batches, stir it up, then add more.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil, peel and crush the garlic cloves.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the smashed garlic and gently brown.  Remove the Garlic from the oil and reserve.

Fry the beef in small batches so it doesn’t end up losing heat and boils the meat.  Brown on all sides and remove.  Add the next batch and continue until all the meat is browned, but not cooked through.  Add the sausage and brown as well in small batches until complete. Remove sausage – eat as a snack while you’re cooking the rest of the dish.  It’s not needed in the final product.

Skim off excess grease from the pan, but careful to leave the fond (the highly flavourful, brown bits of meat, seasonings and juice which is left at the bottom).  Add the meat back into the pot.  Coarsely chop the fried smashed Garlic and add to the pot.  Quarter the Roma Tomato and add to the pot.  Quarter the Onion and add to the pot.  Add the Peppercorns. Fill the pot with water, approximately 1/2 full or at least 1” above the level of meat.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When the liquid begins to boil, add the OXO and let simmer for several hours.

The nice thing about this dish, is you can use cheaper cuts of meat.  Braising the meat for hours creates an incredibly soft, flavourful piece of meat.  Usually I’ll start the frying around noon, then by 5:00 it’s ready to finish.

When ready to finish, the onions and tomatoes should have broken down – discard the Tomato Skins.  Ensure the liquid is boiling.  In a cup or container, mix the Bisto and Flour together, then add the cold water, stirring or shaking to remove lumps.  Usually I pour this through a strainer to ensure there’s no lumps in the gravy.

Once the liquid is boiling, slowly add the slurry, ensuring you stir or whisk constantly until thickened.  The consistency should be similar to a stew, nice thick gravy, not runny.

Serve with Potatoes of your choice, Rice or Egg Noodles… and, of course, Cucumber Salad. Reheats beautifully and tastes even better the next day. The flavour is delicately peppered, producing the most delicious feeling of ‘back heat’ in your throat.

Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 large Cucumber, sliced thinly on a Mandolin
  • Table Salt (quite a lot, not exactly sure how much)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Miracle Whip (again, not sure exact quantity)

Begin by peeling and removing the tips of the Cucumber, discard.  Using a Mandolin, thinly slice the Cucumber (not your fingers).  Place 1/2 of the Cucumber in a bowl that will have room to mix later, and heavily salt.  The only way I can describe this, is to use more salt than you would think you need – after you stir, the cucumber should taste VERY salty.  This is good. Add the rest of the Cucumber, and salt again.  Stir well and place in the Fridge, covered for at least 1 hour (longer is better).

The idea is to draw the juices from the cells of the Cucumber – kind of like making Pickles.

When ready to make the salad, you will notice that the Cucumber is now sitting in a lot of juice.  Drain into a colander lined with Paper Towel and remove as much of the liquid as possible.  The salt will have left with the juice, and the Cucumber tastes remarkably less salty.

Add several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper and a big scoop of Miracle Whip, or fake Mayonnaise.  Stir.  You will have added enough Miracle Whip if it is gloopy.  Yes, that’s a technical term.  This is not a salad for someone watching their calories.  Serve with Goulash. Hint, it’s even better if some of the Goulash gravy just happens to spill on the top of the salad.  When I was a kid, I figured it would end up this way, so I may as well try it.  It works. Well.

I hope you enjoy these two dishes as much as I do.

Tonight, I served the Goulash and Cucumber Salad with roasted yellow and sweet potatoes, parsnip and onion mixed with a drizzle of vegetable oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Yum.

1 + 1 = 11…

February 6, 2018 at 12:03 am | Posted in All Things George, Birthdays, Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment

When Caity was born, it was still the Year of the Dog as the Chinese New Year hadn’t yet occurred.  Her Dad, Sister and myself were all born under the sign of the Ram.  Caity, I’ve always said, was born to herd us.  She has been doing exactly that for the past eleven years.

Today is her eleventh birthday.  Eleven.  I can’t handle that so I prefer to think of her age in numerology terms, two (11 = 1 + 1 = 2).  A two-year old Caity I can handle and that would mean Lex is five and I’m happy in my fantasy world….

Every year as I watch her grow, both in height, and in character; I realize how lucky I am to have her in my life.  Although Cait adores her Dad and her Sister, she’s always been bonded with me.  As much as I’m sad to see her growing up, growing away, not quite needing me as much anymore – I’m so happy to see what she’s become, although I still miss those 4 year-old toes, and 4 year-old nose.

Cait, my beautiful girl, I love you more than words can say.  I’m so proud of you and I look forward to see what you become.  I just hope you don’t lose your quirky charm, it’s a very special part of you.

Just do me a favour and slow down a little bit.  Life passes by in a heartbeat and I’m not ready to watch you grow up just yet.  To me, you’ll alway be that little monkey who would cling to my legs when you were unsure of your surroundings.  You’ll always be the four year-old who always saved her very best smiles just for me.  You’ll always be that two year-old who would carry George around by his neck everywhere you went.  You’ll always be that kid who wouldn’t let me enter a room because you were working on a special drawing for me and it was a surprise.

I’m so glad you still love to cuddle when we watch movies, though more often than not I’d fall asleep through them.  You still have all of us wrapped around your finger.

Happy Birthday, my littlest-little one.  I love you more than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.  Xoxo


The Things We Do To Make Our Kids Smile…

November 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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a) I need to invest in a box of food prep gloves.  I think my hands are permanently stained at this point.

b) A shout-out to my friend Candace for the instructions :). Thanks!  😘

Tonight I dyed the tips of Caity’s hair, and my hands, with liquid Cherry Kool-Aid (hence the need for food prep gloves!). She’s thrilled with the results – I think it’s a neat effect, and certainly cheaper than going to a Salon.

Here’s how you do it:

Boil enough water for two mugs.  Pour the water into the mug and add about 1/4-1/2 of the Kool-Aid bottle to each mug. Separate hair and place a ponytail holder at the top of where you want the colour to stop.  Repeat for as many ponytails as you need.

Make sure they’re wearing a shirt which can be thrown out if necessary and wrap a dark towel around their shoulder to protect from the dye.

Dip each ponytail into one of the prepared cups and let sit for at least 7 minutes – or as long as they’ll hold still.  I let Cait read while she was waiting to pass the time.  I had to put the mugs on a Kleenex box to get it to the right height.

Carefully take the ponytails out of the cups and dry with paper towel.  Blow dry the dyed ends.  Rinse them with cool water until the water runs clear.  Blow dry the hair and style.  This should last a few washes, fading as it goes.

It works best on blonde hair.

Caity loves the look and has already told me that next time she wants blue.

The nice thing about dying just the tips is, if you don’t like it, you can cut it off 🙂

Girls’ Weekend 2017 and an Argo Grey Cup Win to Boot..!

November 27, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | 2 Comments
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Another year, another Grey Cup game (Toronto Argonauts won btw), and another girls’ weekend 🙂

In years’ past, the girls were obviously much younger and it was easier to get them to watch a Christmas movie with me while we camped out on the floor for an indoor picnic.  I can tell Lexy’s older and in High School now, because getting her to spend more than 20 minutes out of her room can be a struggle.

That is, unless you make cookies….

This year, we (by ‘we’, I mean ‘me/I’) decided to make Sugar Cookies.  I tried a recipe for Sugar Cookies years ago, but it didn’t turn out very well and was discouraged from ever making them again.  I did a lot of research this year and the batch we made were really good.  Lexy said the recipe is a keeper, so here we are.


  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar (or 5 Tablespoons plus 1 Teaspoon)
  • 1 Large Egg


Cream together Butter and Sugars until well blended (about 1-2 minutes) and smooth.  Add Vanilla and the Egg and beat for another minute.  Add the Flour 1 Cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Once all the ingredients are in the mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes.  The dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover, then knead the dough until it comes together.  Shape into a rectangle or square.  Completely cover with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use, or at least 1/2 hour.

We made two batches of the dough.  When the second batch had been made and wrapped, the first one was pretty much ready to roll.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness.  You will need to dust your rolling pin as well as the surface – just don’t add too much flour.  You can also roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper if you find it too sticky.

Using your favourite cutters, cut out cookies and place the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Usually I use two baking sheets, and keep one of them in the fridge while I’m waiting for the other batch to bake.  Starting with a cold sheet pan helps prevent the dough from spreading – it’s a good tip for shortbread cookies. Reroll the scraps and cut cookies until you have the dough used up.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes, turning after the first 8 minutes.  Take them out just as they begin to brown.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Makes 19-25 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.  Use rolling bands (like elastic bands for your rolling pin) or wood strips to ensure you have dough rolled evenly.

Royal Icing (a.k.a. The Royal Bitch):


  • 2 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Water (plus several Teaspoonsful for thinning)
  • 1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colouring, assorted colours


Beat Meringue Powder and Water, using the paddle attachment, until it foams (about 1 minute). Add Vanilla and 1 cup of sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, beating well (slowly at first or you’ll wear the powdered sugar – don’t ask me how I know this) after each addition.  Beat the heck out of it for about 2 minutes until the mixture becomes light and airy.  You now have icing which you can use to ‘glue’ a Gingerbread House together.  Add the additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until you get to Flooding consistency.  To tell if it’s right, run a toothpick or fork across the surface of the icing and it should ‘repair’ and disappear within 15 seconds.

Divide the mixture by the number of colours you want to use and place each part of the icing into a plastic sandwich bag or piping bag.  Add different food colouring to each batch until you get the colour you want to use.  Snip a very small hole into one corner of each bag (ensure the bags are sealed first … again, don’t ask me how I know this…).  Outline the cookies, close to the edge, then pipe a bunch of icing inside the line (think of colouring in a colouring book when you were a kid).  Use a toothpick to spread the icing around the inside of the lines. Add sprinkles or other embellishments if you wish.  Let the cookies dry on a rack for several hours until the icing hardens, then pack them away so you don’t eat them all at once.

Somehow Lexy’s class benefitted from all of our hard work and we were left with only 8 cookies. :-s  Apparently the class gobbled them up.  Looks like we’ll be making more …


Are You My Mother…?

November 21, 2017 at 1:30 am | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | 3 Comments
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Yesterday I was told that she was so glad I was her Mom.

She told me how proud she was of me and my Father.

It wasn’t one of my Daughters who spoke those words, it was my Mom.

Any time lately when I call her, our conversations are nearly identical.  We’re caught in a hellish infinite time loop.

“Hello..?”, my Mom always answers the phone the same way, with trepidation and nervousness.

“Hi Mom, how are you?” My opening is always the same.

“Who is this?” She now sounds concerned.

“It’s me Mom, Kelly…”

“From where..?”

“Mom, I’m your Daughter…” I sigh, holding back tears because I don’t want her to hear me crying.

Sometimes hearing me say that phrase turns a switch on and she realizes who’s speaking.  Sometimes not.  It depends on the day, it depends on the last time I talked to her.

It’s so hard watching my Mom slip away from us, further each day.  My Mom’s Dementia is much worse than it was and she has been on a steady decline since the Summer, only a couple of months ago.

It seems lately that I’ve been getting a weekly phone call about her from the Nurses at her Long Term Care Facility.  Last week they found her sitting on the floor of her room, trying to rearrange the cables which lead to her bed.  She was confused and they weren’t sure if she fell, or just sat down. She’s been wheelchair-bound for the past two years since she fractured her Pelvis when a Resident pushed her while trying to gain access to my Mother’s room.

Two weeks ago, they called me to tell me they found her on the floor in her bathroom.  That time it was obvious that she fell and they were monitoring her for head injuries.

She thinks my Brother is my Husband, but she knows who my Husband is by sight – in person.  She doesn’t recognize people in photographs.  She doesn’t recognize herself when we show her a picture that we just took of all of us together.  “Who’s that?” she’ll point to herself, confused.

Sometimes she’s there.  I know she’s still in there somewhere, but the distance we have to travel to reach her gets farther every day.  She speaks to us in a combination of German and English, even though she hasn’t spoken more than a few words of German in thirty years.  That part of her Brain still functions sometimes. She doesn’t talk about Dad anymore.  He’s gone from her memory for the most part. I guess it’s a good thing that she doesn’t remember how much he suffered, the months before he passed.

We always fought from the time I was a teenager craving independence.  We were too much alike and butted heads often.  As the years went by and I had two wonderful girls, our weekly phone calls often ended up in yelling matches.  I would remind her of something coming up and she’d tell me that I never told her when I knew I did.  She would get insistent and stubborn and dig in her heels because I was wrong, I never mentioned that we were having Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or a Birthday, or my Sister invited them over when I had already asked them weeks before that.  It was frustrating.

When we would go visit, she would call afterwards and tell me that the girls must have broken the TV because she couldn’t get the clicker to work (she was pressing the wrong button).  “No one broke your TV…”, “Yes, they did…”, and so on.  When she moved into the Retirement home, the first few months we would have arguments about people coming into her room and moving things around when she wasn’t there, or taking her things.

She used to hoard items like there was a famine coming.  We cleaned out so many stale-dated products from her cupboards when they moved to an apartment, bagsful of flour and sugar.  She had a chest-freezer full of meat that had been there far too long.  Toilet paper and Paper Towels were another thing she stocked up on.  And still we’d fight.  It would infuriate me that I couldn’t get through to her about whatever it was that we were currently fighting about.

I had no idea at the time that it was a symptom of her disease.  Gradually I learned to have more patience with her.  Now she kicks her feet back and forth like a little kid when she’s happy.  She’s cute and silly and everything that you would expect from a three year old, except that she’s 92.

She hardly has any short term memory to speak of, that is if she can speak at all.  She babbles.  Sentences not quite forming from her lips, yet she knows what she wants to say – it’s just stuck in her head.  But she’s so happy to see us when we go to visit.  Lexy usually insists on going with us because she’s always been close to her Nanny.  Caity gets bored on the car and usually stays home.  Mom can’t remember their names, but refers to them as the Big One and the Little One.

It feels like I’m looking at my future and that is completely scary.  It’s depressing.  It’s maddening and there’s no hope for her except to keep visiting and calling and letting her know she’s not alone and she is loved.

I can’t sleep.  I toss and turn most nights that I’m not sedated.  Sometimes that doesn’t even help.  I no longer look forward to large gatherings full of food and family or parties or even getting dressed.  I know, it’s not about me, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  Some times you just need to wallow.


When Your Kid Wants Spinach, Make Her a Quiche…

October 30, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Food, Recipes, Sisters | Leave a comment
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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche


  • 1 Frozen Pie Shell or use your own Pate Brisee recipe, if you prefer (I use this version)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Pack of chopped frozen Spinach (2 squares)
  • ¼ Fresh grated Parmesan (the strand kind, not the dust kind of grated Parmesan – deli section)
  • 1 Small Onion finely diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, smashed and finely diced
  • ½ Cup table Cream (or 1/3 cup Whipping Cream)
  • ½ Cup 2% Milk (or 2/3 cup 2% Milk if using Whipping Cream)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Bacon Grease (if available)
  • Fresh grated Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Brunoise (very small dice) 3-4 Mushrooms – Shiitake, Cremini, Chanterelle or Button


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (or to package directions).  Thaw and dock the Pie Shell by pricking all over bottom and sides with a fork.  Set aside.

Finely dice onions, set aside.  Same for mushrooms and garlic.

Thaw Spinach using water method: in a saucepan, add frozen Spinach blocks and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Stirring frequently, scrape the thawed Spinach off the frozen brick and stir into the water to prevent burning.  When all of the Spinach has been thawed, remove from heat and strain onto several layers of Paper Towel or cheesecloth nestled in a standing colander.  Allow to cool.  When cool enough to touch, wrap the Paper Towel or cheesecloth around the Spinach and squeeze out as much water as you can.  Repeat with new Paper Towel if needed.  Set aside.

When the oven has reached temperature, bake the empty Pie Shell per package instructions (8-10 minutes). Cool completely.  Reduce temperature to 325°F.

In a pan, heat Oil and Butter or grease until melted. Add the diced Onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the Mushrooms if using and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).  The Mushrooms may have sopped up all of your Oil, if so, add another Tablespoon or pat of Butter.  Add Garlic and continue to sauté until translucent being careful not to burn the Garlic.  Add cooked, cooled Spinach, Salt and Pepper to taste and a round of Freshly grated Nutmeg. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes to incorporate all flavours.  Set aside to cool.  Try not to snack on this while you’re waiting.  It’s yummy.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Eggs, a pinch of salt and a couple of rounds of freshly cracked pepper. Add cheese and Milk/Cream mixture, stirring to incorporate.  Add cooked Spinach mixture and stir to incorporate.  Pour into cooled pan and place on a cookie sheet, then in the oven.  Bake at 325°F for 50 minutes, spin Pie half way after 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge.

Enjoy cold or at room temperature.


  • Replace Spinach and Parmesan above with Ham and Gruyère, replace Nutmeg with a pinch of dried Thyme.
  • Replace Spinach and Parmesan above with Ham, Gruyère and cooked and cubed Potato, replace Nutmeg with a pinch of Thyme and chopped Fresh Rosemary.
  • Same as original recipe above, but add cubes of leftover roasted Chicken (replace Parmesan with Cheddar).
  • Replace Brunoise Mushrooms with Mushrooms sautéed in butter with Onions and Garlic and a splash of White Wine (your choice of Mushrooms and Wine), add par-cooked Asparagus cut into 1″ pieces, and ½ cup frozen Peas. Replace Nutmeg with a pinch of dried Thyme.
  • Replace Spinach, Parmesan and Nutmeg with Roasted Garlic, Crispy Pancetta (sautéed with a splash of White Wine) and a pinch of Oregano and lots of fresh cracked Black Pepper

Great, now I’m hungry… :-S

Sunday Dinner … Cannelloni…

September 19, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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We just came back from Curacao 🇨🇼, which was a birthday present to myself. It was a big one afterall, 50. Ugh.

The one good restaurant we ate at on the resort had a great Lasagne and I’ve been craving it since we came back. Instead of making the five hour plane trip again, I whipped up a batch, but spun it into Cannelloni.

I used blanched, fresh Lasagne noodles which were cut in half and rolled length-wise. This turned out to be the perfect size for a Cannelloni. The filling is Ground Beef, Onions, Garlic, Spices, Spinach, Mushrooms (don’t tell Caity), a bit of Béchamel sauce and a bit of Spaghetti sauce to moisten the meat. There are a lot of steps, but it’s worth it.

For the Filling:
• 1 Large Finely Chopped Onion (Reserve 1/4 Of The Chopped Onion For The Spinach)
• 2 Cloves Of Finely Chopped Garlic (Reserve 1/2 Of One Clove For The Spinach)
• 2 Lbs Lean Ground Beef
• ½ Tsp Garlic Powder
• ½ Tsp Oregano
• ½ Tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
• ½ Tsp Italian Seasoning
• Several Rounds Of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• ¼ Tsp Coarse Kosher Salt

Brown the Beef and drain off the fat when almost cooked through. Add back to the pot.  Add the Onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Push the beef to one side to create a little space for the Garlic. Sauté the Garlic, careful not to let it burn, then combine with the rest of the Beef mixture. When completely cooked, set aside.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

For the Spinach:
• 1 Block Frozen Spinach, Thawed In A Bit Of Water In A Saucepan On Low Heat Until Completely Cooked. Drain The Spinach In A Colander Which Is Lined With Paper Towel. When Cool, Squeeze As Much Water Out Of The Spinach As You Can And Put In A Saucepan.
• Reserved Onion And Garlic From Above
• Pinch Of Nutmeg
• Finely Diced (Brunoise) Cremini Or Brown Mushrooms
• Several Rounds Of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• ¼ Tsp Coarse Kosher Salt
• 1 Tsp Butter

Sauté Mushrooms in Butter for 5 minutes, then add Onions and cook until the Onions are translucent. Push to one side and add the chopped Garlic. Sauté the Garlic for a few minutes, be careful not to burn the Garlic. Stir all the Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic together. Cook until all vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add Salt and Pepper, Nutmeg and cook an additional 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary .  Set aside.

For the Mornay Sauce
• 1/2 cup Butter
• 1/2 cup Flour
• 4 cups Milk (not Skim Milk)
• Pinch of Nutmeg
• Pinch of Salt
• ½ cup grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup grated Asiago



Melt Butter in a Saucepan. When bubbling, add Flour and stir to incorporate. Stir frequently and don’t let the mixture brown – congratulations, you’ve just made a Roux! Cook for 2 minutes. Heat the Milk in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Slowly whisk the Milk into the Flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will tighten immediately, then add another 1/2 cup, whisk. It will start loosening.  When the mixture is loose, and smooth, but not too thin, add more Milk until all the Milk is in. Don’t pour into the Milk too quickly or it won’t thicken. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, add the Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper. Add the Parmesan and Asiago and Cook one minute longer and when the Cheese has melted, taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed, set aside. When almost cool, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming on the sauce.

In the Spinach pot, add enough of the Mornay Sauce to be ‘saucy’ (about two ladlesful).  Stir in 3/4 of the beef mixture and stir.  The beef and spinach will soak up your sauce.


To the remaining beef, add 3 jars of prepared spaghetti sauce and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Add 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce mixture to the spinach, Mornay Sauce and beef mixture. Just enough to add taste, but not make it too saucy. You want it to look more like the photo above than the one below.  Set aside.

Fold the lasagne sheets in half and place in boiling water 2 at a time for 1 minute. Remove from the boiling water and place in cool water to stop the cooking process.

Put some of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the cooking dish to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Place the lasagne sheet with the short end towards you. Place approximately 3 heaping spoonsful of the meat mixture on the bottom portion of the noodle (closest to you). Gently roll the Lasagne sheet away from you to form a tube. Place seam side down in the pan on top of the spaghetti sauce.

Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce and drizzle remaining Béchamel/Mornay Sayce over the top. Top with 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan and 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella.

Bake for 30 minutes at 300°F. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

The girls loved it, and the best part is Caity didn’t realize she was eating Mushrooms 🙂


July 12, 2017 at 4:38 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday to my biggest-little one on her 14th Birthday.  Love you more than words can say 🙂

Blown Away …

June 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Family Ties | Leave a comment
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I have two girls, both of which I am enormously proud. However, this post is dedicated to my biggest-little-one, Lexy.

I would have thought that the words would have flowed so easily, but truth be told, I’ve had some difficulty composing this post. It isn’t very often that I’m at a loss for words, but this is one of those times.  You see, my daughter graduated last week from Grade 8 and she blew me away.  I’ve always known how smart, and funny, and kind, and caring she is.  She has challenged me since she was born – she always had an argument at the ready for anything I had to say.  On more than one occasion, I’ve had to concede.  This kid will make her mark in the world, and as her Mother, I can’t wait to find out how.

Lexy changed schools this year since neither her, nor her Sister needed daycare any longer (keep that in mind at the end of this post). She was very hesitant to change schools, because her old school and old friends were her comfort zone.  She knew everyone and fit in well.  At the beginning of this past school year, both Lexy and Caity would hang around at lunch and recess together because they were the outsiders, not having made any friends yet.  I shouldn’t have worried.  Both girls soon were invited to Birthday parties and after school to their new classmates’ homes for projects or play.  Lexy immersed herself in the extra credit assignments offered in her classes.  She signed up for, and got, the female lead in the play at her school.  I had heard her sing before, to the radio, but never really on her own.  When I heard her belt out “The One-Feathered Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz”, I cried – I had no idea she could sing so well.  That was the first time I was blown away by this kid.

When Lexy first learned to read, she was absolutely positive that she could not, would not, ever be able to read. It was impossible, hard and impractical.  Why couldn’t I just continue to read stories to her?  I remember one day as I was helping her read a story, it felt like a light bulb was turned on – all of a sudden she could read most of the words.  Pretty much since then she has read anything and everything she could get her hands on, and always at a much higher grade level than she was in.  Her Teacher commented earlier this year that her reading list rivaled his own.

Along with the prolific reading came her writing ability. Since she was little she would create stories with vivid descriptions and characters.  Her skill with writing was also far beyond her years.  She said she planned on becoming an author.

As a result of her performance in the play, and her amazing writing ability, her Teacher suggested she apply for our local school of performing arts’ theatrical programme.  That was the second time I was blown away by this kid.

At her Graduation last week, not only did Lexy graduate with honours (not a surprise), but she received awards for English, Music, Performer of the Year, and the Kiwanis Citizenship Award for Student of the Year.

Lexy accomplished all of that in just one year, while at a new school. That was the third time this year that my kid blew me away.

I could not have been more proud of her than I was, than I am. She left me at a loss for words because there isn’t anything sufficient to adequately describe how I felt, how I continue to feel.

But I just have one thing to say to her… OK Lex, now what are you going to do for an encore? 😉


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