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Fur-rific Fable is Fetching Fun!

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 3, 2017 at 9:25 pm

MissMoonCoverIf you’re a cat person, the mere mention of dogs may conjure up images of simple, scruffy ruffians. But before you go and get your hackles raised, fear not – Miss Moon is here to lead the pack on raising well-mannered dogs (and their people, too). Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill (Tundra Books, 2016) is a beautifully illustrated picture book filled with valuable life lessons. Perhaps even a cat, or two, might learn some new tricks. Readers with a keen eye, no doubt, will be certain to spot the few cat cameos.

Based in Stratford, Ont., author Janet Hill is also the book illustrator and known for her elegant and whimsical artwork, which has been featured in various magazines as well as both private and corporate collections.

The story begins on an island off the coast of France, where Miss Moon began her career minding 67 dogs. Instead of running for the hills, she realized her lifelong calling was to become a dog governess. Refined dog owners everywhere will certainly agree that there is a terrible shortage, as it is extremely difficult to find anyone who specializes in imparting good manners to pampered pooches – let alone someone as experienced and dedicated as Miss Moon. Now before you go barking up the wrong tree, a simple visit to your neighbourhood park will prove how sorely these services are needed. Be sure to watch where you step, and don’t be surprised to find yourself overrun with common dog walkers and their motley crew of wild, canine charges.

Easy to read and broken into 20 life lessons, Miss Moon’s terrific tips and gorgeous artwork will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. Lesson Eighteen, for example, will appeal to eco-warriors and homesteaders alike – “Nurture the environment and you’ll never be hungry.” A delightful tale for young and old.

Coffee: The Life-Saving Beverage

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on March 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

Not a day goes by when I don’t drink coffee. Although there may be small blips of time – like during pregnancy with my daughter, or the odd illness here and there over the years that keep me from eating. That said, we’re not talking Timmy’s here. It’s only premium whole bean, dark roasted, organic, fair trade coffee that makes the grade in our house. Yes, we refer to this black, liquid gold as our “life-saving beverage” of choice. While “please” and “thank you” have their place in our home, the real magic words uttered are, “the coffee light’s on!”

So when I became vegan, I wondered how coffee would fit into this plan since I drink my coffee regular (cream and sugar). Sure, I tried every type of non-dairy milk from hemp to almond, rice and soy milk but these watery additions only led to a sad, sludge-like end product. If you’ve ever put skim or one per cent milk into your coffee, then you know what that’s like. One glorious day, I happened on the soy creamer that dreams are made of…and once again, the day was saved – by coffee!

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Roasted Ratatouille

In Food, Glorious Food, Recipes on March 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Even though the days are starting to get warmer, during these winter months nothing quite satisfies like real comfort foods: hearty stews, casseroles and roasts. They’re easy to make and allow you to cook in bulk, which can be a budget-friendly addition to your cooking rep. Let your stove do the work for you on cold nights as you cosy up in front of the TV. Just remember to set the timer at commercial intervals, so you’re reminded to stir or check on your master creations, and prepare to be the dinner hero time and time again!

Here’s my take on the classic ratatouille dish. Roasting it in the oven brings out a delicious sweetness in the vegetables.

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Roasted Ratatouille

Ingredients

2                                  small eggplants, chopped

3                                  red peppers, chopped, seeds removed

1                                  large onion, chopped

2                                  celery stalks, chopped

1                                  can chickpeas, rinsed (398 ml)

1                                  can tomato paste (156 ml), plus water

¼ cup                       sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2                                  cloves garlic (2-3 tsp) minced

avocado or coconut oil

salt & pepper, balsamic vinegar to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 400° C. Prepare roasting pan with a light coating of avocado oil or non-stick spray. Wash and chop organic vegetables. Starting with eggplant, toss with 2-3 tbsp avocado oil, and roast about 15-20 mins. Eggplant will start to soften, shrink and brown.

Stir in peppers, onion and celery. If eggplant has soaked up all oil, toss with another tbsp or two of oil, roast another 20 mins. Vegetables should be starting to brown.

Add rinsed chickpeas, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Fill the empty tomato paste can with filtered water and mix it into vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Roast another 15-20 mins. More water can be added at this stage if vegetables look dry. Continue roasting until vegetables are fully cooked and have golden brown skins. Serve with cooked basmati rice, couscous or grain. Can also be added to pasta sauces or used as a topping on bread or pizza.