Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Easy Apple Pie Filling for Apple Tarts

I wanted to make an easy and quick dessert....nothing too fancy but tasty and filling and it definitely had to satisfy my sweet tooth.
I also had to have all the ingredients on hand.

I knew exactly what would fit the bill perfectly...homemade Apple Tarts.

Apple Pie Filling is so easy to make if you prefer the fresh apple taste over the canned stuff.

Easy Apple Pie Filling

4 apples, chopped in small pieces 
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon corn starch 

 Start by peeling and chopping the apples into small pieces.

I used the smaller apples which I find easier to handle.

Place them in a pot with the butter and cinnamon and sugar (I used a few shakes from my Cinnamon Sugar spice bottle).
Stir and cook till al dente.
In a  small bowl mix the corn starch in a little water until fully dissolved.
Place this mixture in the pot and continue stirring until the apple filling thickens.

Turn off the stove and place the mixture in a bowl to cool until needed.

Tart Crusts

1 package of Digestive Biscuits crushed

 1/2 cup of melted butter may use more melted butter if you prefer.

 Mix together and place in mini tart pans.
 Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill with the apple pie mixture or jam.
Bake for a further 15 -20 minutes until done.
 May be served with a big scoop of ice cream if desired.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Chinese Fish & Dragon Festival 2018

This year, the Chinese Fish & Dragon Festival hosted by The Chinese Association Of Barbados was held at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium.
Usually it is held at Church Village Green in the city but this year the Agrofest 2018 festival which was being held next door in Queen's Park made it impossible for the festival to be held there....crowd pull, parking logistics etc.
Hence the Gymnasium venue, which in all honesty may not have been the ideal alternative.
The hours for the event were also changed which meant it became an evening festival.
Saturday being my jaunt day, I decided to have an evening jaunt instead.
I took care of my chores early in the day and then headed out to have a relaxing evening.
This year (2018) The Fish and Dragon Festival was honouring The Year of The Dog.

The Gymnasium is a big facility but with such a large crowd, the gym felt small. 
Still just enough room to wander around and grab a few hasty photos from the various displays.

 Toys for the kids.
 They were also several books being distributed to the kids.
 The Tea Station
After wandering around for a little while, I purchased some eats (chicken wontons and fishcakes for you know who), and then found a comfortable seat to await the beginning of the show.
During the wait I watched several fast-paced table tennis and road tennis exhibition games on the court below.
Soon it was time for the show to start.
The Tuk Band and Mother Sally descending into the crowd to perform.
The MC's for the evening.
Chinese and Barbadian interpreters for the crowd of mixed cultures.
The Shaggy Dragons
Chinese Shaggy Dragons Perform the New Year dance for good luck. 
Dragons doing their thing.

The Musicians
The character in the foreground holds a broom to sweep away all the bad luck of the old year.
Martial Arts display by the kids.
Martial Arts displays by the adults.

The Tianjin Arts Troupe

The ladies performed their dance routines with precision whirling their beautiful fans accompanied by the musicians playing the flutes.

The Juggling Hats troupe.

These guys were fantastic as they juggled their hats with expertise.
I know this must have taken dedication to train to perform like this.  The way they had those hats flying through the air at all angles and heights....and never dropped even one....a enthralling act from start to finish.

These jugglers were my favourite act of the evening.

Musician playing the flute.

This performer had the crowd gasping as he juggled and balanced two large and heavy pots with gravity defying precision.

Another of my favourite acts.
All the while I was thinking, I hope he doesn't let those beautiful Chinese pots fall because I could use them to pot some indoor plants for my home and that would be a waste.

Another of my favourite acts.

This beautiful lady sang Chinese songs from the heart.
These cute little stuffed dogs were thrown into the crowds as gifts to honour the Year of the Dog.

All in all, it was a nice evening.
After speaking with a few of my friends who also attended the festival, they too expressed that they preferred the open air spaces of the Village Green.
The outdoor ambience and the wider expanse of displays allows the crowd to be more dispersed.
I hope that next year it will return to its original venue.
Happy Chinese New Year to all!!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Lentil Broccoli Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

This is the time of the year when our temperatures on the island drop quite low (for us here at least) and the nights are COLD.
Wearing socks and warm nightwear and having an extra cover are all a must during the months of January to March.
A couple of nights ago, our temperature dropped to 19 degrees Celsius.
I know..... I know..... that's nothing for those of you living in colder climes, but for us, it was something to talk about.
The cold actually woke me up that night, and I had to crawl out of my warm comfy spot to find a jacket and some thicker socks and a scarf for my head to trap my body warmth inside to prevent it from was so cold that night.
One of my Weather Watchers forum members even said her dog was shivering, and he lives inside.
Brownie lives inside too, but I do give him a blanket for the extra cold nights.  He would initially lie on the blanket but during the night he would sleep wherever he liked on the floor as usual.

The days are quite nippy too.
I don't even think of going outside before the sun is high and shining really bright which helps to take some of the chill away.....mind you it's still cold for us here when it's like this.

With all these low temperatures during this time of year, I love to enjoy a hot bowl of soup to warm up the really helps.

Lentil Broccoli Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings
A couple of days ago, I made a big pot of delicious Lentil Broccoli Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings and shared some with daughter dear and froze the remainder in individual portions.
Yummy hot bowl of soup

Without further ado, here is the recipe for my Lentil Broccoli Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

Lentil Broccoli Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

In a pot put:
Oil to sautee
4 cloves Garlic -cut in small pieces
1 Onion cut small
Fresh Guyanese thyme
Rosemary - 1/4 sprig chopped in pieces
Garlic chives
2 tablespoons Bajan Seasoning - chopped assortment of chives, hot pepper, thyme, marjoram, celery, parsley, ginger, oregano, garlic etc
Minced fresh ginger - small piece
Turmeric - 1 tablespoon
Garam Masala - 1 tablespoon

Stir fry everything until tender.

Add broth (leftover pasta water stored in freezer)
1-1/2 cups of lentils
I grated carrot
I chopped tomato
I large head of broccoli cut in pieces
1 tablespoon Bajan pepper sauce
1 tablespoon of salt
Water to fill the pot

Cook until tender.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot.

Blend a little bit of the soup....leaving some chunky bits intact.

Cornmeal Flour Dumplings
In a bowl mix flour, corn meal, vanilla essence, baking powder and a little sugar.
Mix together with hands and form a ball.
Form small dumplings and drop in soup 5 minutes before it is done.  Dumplings will float to the top when finished.
Approximate measurements are 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and maybe 2 tablespoons sugar)


Monday, 19 February 2018

My fruit salad dog

Remember when my boy Brownie knew nothing about fruit?
Over the years he has acquired a taste for quite a few fruits just because ....truth be told.....he's greedy.
Whatever he sees me eating, he thinks he should have some and most of the time I oblige except it's something that would harm him and be detrimental to his health.

Remember the mango?

Remember the pawpaw?

Then came the sugar apple....he loved that too and I must write a post when next he and I share some of this delicious fruit.

He wasn't too keen on the soursop since that is definitely an acquired taste and there are some locals who don't like it either, so that's understandable I think.

And now it's water melon.

 Daughter dear brought me a package of watermelon slices from the supermarket.
I love fresh fruit for breakfast...and I love that she was thinking of me when she was out shopping.
I decided to have some for breakfast.
 On the floor I saw a "hungry" starve-out looking dog staring at me with a glare in his eyes.

Decided to give him just a few bits to taste.
 I had no idea I'd be swindled out of my breakfast so quickly.
 How many bits....about seven pieces?

He didn't even take a minute to do a taste test.
Soon seven pieces became 7 more pieces and then 7 more pieces.
The melon pieces were wolfed down in seconds.
Now he's staring at me again with that sad hungry look on his face like a vagrant dog on the street.
I now have a fruit salad dog.
Seems as if I'll have to buy extra fruit to satisfy Mr. Brownbie from now on...sharing mine will not be an option.

Sunday, 18 February 2018


GCHP CH Belle Creek's All I Care About Is Love  
Owners:  Patrina & Bruce Odette & Lindsay Van Keuren & Lorrie Carlton & L Letsche DVM.
Handler: Bill McFadden

"Flynn", a  Bichon Frisé was crowned Best in Show at this year's 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Top Dog with the purple ribbon
 On Tuesday night February 13th, just before Valentine's Day, Flynn stole the title from the other finalists.
The champion from the Non-Sporting group, wasn't exactly the crowd favourite, but he took home the crown in the prestigious competition after beating out thousands of other canines from 202 different breeds on show.

Flynn is five years old and will turn 6 in March. 
Flynn was originally named for “Billy Flynn” the shady lawyer in the musical “Chicago.”

Look at him strut his stuff in the ring

Flynn has been living with his handler, Bill McFadden while he was being trained and Bill has shared a few fun facts about his canine friend.
1, He is a clown who loves to make people laugh.
2. He is related to the first Bichon Frise to win at Westminster, a dog named JR.
3. He loves a good belly rub.
4. His favorite pastime is rolling in the snow.

A white powder puff with legs 
Look at that cute face 
Flynn stood out as the "perfect example of his breed," according to Gail Miller Bisher, communications director for the Westminster Kennel Club.
"He has the dark round eyes that create the beautiful expression of a Bichon," she said.

Taffe McFadden, Bill's wife  explained how Flynn gets ready for the show by having his coat shampooed and conditioned, followed by hairspray to keep his fur in place.
After a bath and a dry-off he is trimmed, then re-trimmed at the show, then he is trimmed again when he wins.
A powder called Fairy Frost is applied to his face during the competition which dries the drool on his face while competing.

“It feels a little unreal. It’s just magic,” said Bill McFadden shortly after the Best in Show announcement.
“I came in expecting nothing except hoping for a good performance, and I think I got it.”
McFadden has been showing the breed at the Westminster Dog Show since 1991.

Flynn's traditional Westminster victory lap will include a steak lunch at Sardi's the famed NY eaterie, a trip to the top of the  Empire State Building, several press appearances to tv news shows, and a walk-on part in the Broadway hit "Kinky Boots."

Flynn may be headed into retirement after this big win, and McFadden says he will miss working with his jovial friend.
“He has my heart,” McFadden said. “He is pure joy.”
Flynn may soon be back home with his owners Lorrie Carlton and Dr. Lawrence Letsche, the husband and wife duo who run Remrock Farms Veterinary Service in Plymouth, and Belle Creek Bichon, a kennel.
Congratulations Flynn!!!

Best in Show Ceremony.  

The 142nd Westminster event attracted 2,882 entries in 202 breeds and varieties. 

This year's show was again held at Madison Square Garden in New York and featured 2,882 entries in 202 breeds.

Photos respectfully borrowed from online sources to write this post.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Where did the "Store Room" go???

I am smack dab in the middle of various "To Do" projects (yet again) and have not had any decent time to blog recently.
I've just realised that here I am in a new year and I haven't had the chance to write a post about my project I completed two summers ago (2016) where does the time go?

Way back when after my daughter moved back home, she came with all her"stuff" and took over my chill out room and turned it into her "store room".  I have posted about it here.
Living on the lower level of the house we have always been plagued with a moisture problem.
The house is situated basically in a waterway and when the rain falls the water just pours down the driveway like crazy making its way to the watercourse that runs adjacent to my wall.  If this moisture does not dry out fast enough, the mold and fuzzy fungus grows in small patches on the "store room" wall.
The room was originally my dad's workshop where he worked his magic on making, fixing and restoring items to their former glory but with a new twist.  My dad was a blend of Tim the Tool Man Taylor (of Home Improvement fame) and MacGyver.  His mind worked overtime in formulating all kinds of tools to make life easier for us.
This room had three internal walls and one exterior wall that was the problem wall of moisture hell.

After daughter dear and I moved downstairs, I treated the first two bedroom exterior walls with a moisture retarding product called Xypex....that was many many years ago and the walls are still holding sign of moisture.

The last wall that remained to be treated was the "store room" wall which was on my To Do list for many years....until two summers ago.
As you know my daughter had moved into her dad's house after he passed, but she still had a ton of her stuff left here in her "store room".
I gave her three weeks to get her stuff out, and then I got started.

I began by scraping the old paint off the wall.  It was already peeling and looked like it would have been an easy job, but looks are deceiving.  It turned out to be a tedious job to say the least.
I'd wanted to throw in the towel many days.
I began the job with a regular metal paint scraper but then thought a heat source would help it along.  Out came my Conair hand held hairdryer to help with the process.
 It died a natural death after a day....poor wasn't cut out to work that hard.

What to do...what to do?

I purchased a heat gun and got back to work.  The heat gun took care of the job fantastically.
You know what they say about having the right tools to get a job done right....perfect example.

It took me at least two weeks to complete scraping the wall because I was only doing a few small patches at a time in between my other summer work.

Scraping and scraping and scraping....

My right wrist hurt so much after so much scraping, I kept it banded up overnight with copious amounts of muscle rub ointment to ease the pain.

EUREKA!!! One day I walked into that room and realised that I'd finally finished scraping the wall....Yeah!! and double Yeah!! Yeah!!
Then as luck would have it, into my inbox popped an infomercial email from a local distributor about a new moisture retarding product.   I decided to give it a try.
The new product was made by a Canadian company Kryton  and was based on their Krystol had rave reviews worldwide.

Called the local distributor and spoke to a very nice gentleman, Mr.Wayne Roach, who was extremely helpful, even delivering the product to my that service or what?
It was time to get started.
The process  consists of a two step application....T1 and T2.
From the website:
"Krystol T1 & T2 Waterproofing System is a surface-applied crystalline slurry treatment that transforms new or existing concrete into a permanent waterproof barrier.
Krystol T1 & T2 Waterproofing System lowers the permeability of concrete and protects against the ingress of water and waterborne chemicals. It replaces the need for surface applied waterproofing membranes, and is often used in the remediation of failed membranes".
The website provided a graphic step-by-step instruction of the Krystol waterproofing system.

First the wall needed to be clean and in virgin masonry condition - check.

Surface to be treated must be pre-wet to a saturated surface-dry - check. I used a spray bottle for this step.
Mixing the product.
Krystol T1 is a cement looking powder
Mix Krystol T1 to a thick paste - 3parts powder to 1 part water. Mix till smooth.
Mix only enough that can be used within 30 minutes.

Using a concrete brush apply the mixture to the wall using an aggressive circular scrubbing motion...check.
I have no photos of this step since I was hustling to beat the 30 minute limit.
The second T2 coat can be applied as soon the T1 coat is dry and hard usually 6-24 hours. I allowed mine to cure for 48 hours.

Then the T2 mixture was mixed at the same ratio as the T1.
The wall was then dampened with a spray of water and the T2 mixture was applied in the same aggressive circular scrubbing way.
Once the T2 coating has cured and hardened (6-24 hours), the water curing treatment is followed.
Curing water applications were applied three times daily for three days after that. 

 This time I used a large basin of water and a sponge to dab the water on.

Dab, dab, dab, and don't stop dabbing.....

All the plug outlets were covered to avoid any drips into the circuitry.

Old newspapers on the floor were used to catch the moisture from the water curing process.

After the three days, I added another day for good measure and then picked up my paintbrush.
At last I could paint.

What a huge difference a little paint makes.

It was so nice to have my room back again.
Another space to decorate with love and add my personal touch....yipee!!

Another big project taken care of...two thousand more to go.
Photos of the completed room will be coming soon in a future post....stay tuned.

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