Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Good intentions by Grandmas, Bird Watching and Halley’s Comet


Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. Well I am anyway and I hope you are too… It has been a busy week offline with various projects and also taking advantage of the cold but sunny weather. It is hard to believe that it is January 20th already but it is great that the evenings are growing lighter by a few minutes each day.

My thanks as always to you for dropping in so often and keeping me motivated and here are some of the posts you might have missed..

This week Linda shares the delightful!! coat that her Grandmother managed to find at the charity shop for her..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-linda-bethea-grandma-and-the-coat-from-hell/

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview with author Denzil Walton.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-childrens-wildlife-author-denzil-walton/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-music-column-belgium-ireland-1997-and-barbra-streisand-and-celine-dion/

The first part of our trip from Houston to Carlsbad Caverns and to see Halley’s Comet on its once in a lifetime visit.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1986-new-mexico-carlsbad-caverns-and-halleys-comet/

The title of this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In this first post quite a bit about what I think about RESPECT

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-respect-in-our-modern-world-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter one of the sequel to my first book written 20 years ago which followed my 18 month challenge to lose 150lbs. I am told at 42 that I am unlikely to make 45!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/smorgasbord-health-size-matters-the-sequel-chapter-one-life-or-death-by-sally-cronin/

This week I look at the nutritional elements of Asparagus and Carol Taylor turns this very healthy vegetable into some delicious meals.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/smorgasbord-health-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-asparagus-nutrient-packed-and-delicious-recipes/

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge.

I have chosen ‘Secret and Draw’ for my key words this week and I am also trying my hand at a Haibun… here is the link  where you will find a description of this form which is a combination of prose and poetry.

Rejuvenation

I have discovered the secret to eternal youth. I stand before the mirror. With eyes almost closed the image blurs. Wrinkles disappear. Hair regains its colour. The extra pounds fall away. I am tall and strong. A reflection of how I used to be. I draw the image towards me absorbing its essence.

Do not be deceived
Challenge the silver backed mirror
Remain young at heart.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-poetry-challenge-haibun-rejuvenation/

New book on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-how-to-craft-a-kickass-protagonist-10-steps-to-hero-by-sacha-black/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-fancy-meeting-you-here-by-jim-webster/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-non-fiction-the-universal-mind-by-peter-weisz-dip-psych-hnd-bacp/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-paranormal-end-of-day-a-hodes-hill-novel-book-2-by-mae-clair/

Author Update -Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-judith-barrow-jacquie-biggar-and-daniel-kemp/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-tony-riches-iain-kelly-and-lizzie-chantree/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/15/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-another-a-joke-from-my-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-jokes-from-the-archives-2/

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again next week… Sally.

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Smorgasbord Health – Cook From Scratch with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – #Asparagus – Nutrient Packed and Delicious #Recipes


Welcome to this week’s post where Carol Taylor and I combine forces and share not just the health benefits of foods but some recipes to showcase them in all their glory. I appreciate that these posts are longer than the average but we hope that you feel that you are getting value for your time…

To begin will I am going to take a look at the health benefits of Asparagus… of which there are many, and then hand you over to Carol to create healthy Cook from Scratch recipes for you to enjoy and share with your family.

The history of Asparagus

Asparagus is a member of the lily family and the spears that we eat are shoots grown underground. The ancient Greeks used the word asparagus to describe any young tender shoots that were picked and eaten. It was cultivated over 2,000 years ago in that part of the Mediterranean and the Romans then picked up a liking for the delicacy eating fresh and dried out of season.

Asparagus became such a delicacy that the Romans went one step further in their desire to eat fresh all year round. Chariots would race to the Alps to freeze the tender shoots in the year round snow for six months and then race back with it in time for one of the major events of the year – The Feast of Epicurus. Fleets of galleons took the shoots to all corners of the Empire and over the centuries other countries adopted this delicacy and it now grows in many parts of the world.

There are huge health benefits from eating asparagus on a regular basis and it is packed with the important Vitamin K.

Vitamin K is essential for efficient blood clotting but recently research has identified that it has many other roles within the body. It may help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. It is a stronger anti-oxidant than Vitamin E or Coenzyme Q10 and it may also inhibit the growth of certain cancers such as breast, ovary, colon, stomach and kidney cancer.

As an antioxidant it has been approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in Japan due to its action in the synthesis of osteocalcin which attracts calcium to the bone matrix. It has also shown benefits in other areas such as preventing calcification of arteries and soft tissues which can lead to heart attacks. As well as preventing calcification it helps regulate the body’s calcium which is extremely important in organs such as the brain or kidneys that are vulnerable to calcium deposits leading to damage or the formation of stones.

A link between levels of Vitamin K and brain disease.

The brain is a fascinating part of our bodies with relatively little known about certain areas that remain uncharted. Research is particularly active in areas such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as this more than any of the degenerative diseases, leaves us so vulnerable and in need of total care.

IL-6 is a chemical transmitter for the immune system, which promotes inflammation. As we age this process gets out of control and it results in excessive inflammation throughout the body, including the joints and the brain. Alzheimer’s patients have very high levels of IL-6 in their brains. Vitamin K is thought to prevent this and if the link can be proved then eating asparagus as part of a healthy eating plan could be an easy way for everyone to increase this vital vitamin.

Other parts of the boy affected by a deficiency of Vitamin K

A deficiency of this vitamin K has been linked to elevated levels of blood sugar, as the pancreas, which makes insulin normally, contains the second highest amount of vitamin K than anywhere in the body.

Other nutrients Asparagus offers us.

As well as Vitamin K, asparagus also contains the following nutrients in varying amounts.. whilst it looks like a great deal more information than you might need; I hope it reinforces how nutritionally important the food is that I feature.  I could just tell you that asparagus contains Folate, Vitamin C, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, Tryptophan, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and calcium.  But does that really mean anything?

I think that it helps you appreciate the food you eat differently if you can associate it with a more comprehensive look at its various elements. Asparagus has a number of key nutrients that boost and maintain the immune system.

Folate: Folic Acid; Folic acid is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It helps form the building blocks of DNA the body’s genetic information which is why it is recommended prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to ensure the rapidly growing and replicating cells of the foetus are normal.

It is essential for transporting co-enzymes needed for amino acid metabolism in the body and is necessary for a functioning nervous system

Vitamin B1: Thiamin; This vitamin is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for the strength of the nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel that the body runs on ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Vitamin B2: Riboflavin; Also essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP, and also fats, amino acids and proteins too. It is necessary to activate Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid. It works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins. It is water-soluble

Vitamin B3: Niacin; Also needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates (ATP), fats and proteins. Needed to process Alcohol. Niacin form of B3 helps regulate Cholesterol. In addition it is essential for the formation or red blood cells and the hormones. It works with Tryptophan in protein to form Serotonin and Melatonin in the brain

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine The Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several Neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower Homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces Haemoglobin the Oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.

Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid; An antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) from oxidative damage, leading to hardening of the arteries. May also protect against heart disease reducing the hardening of arteries and the tendency of platelets to clump together blocking them. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, which acts like glue strengthening parts of the body such as muscles and blood vessels. It aids with healing and is a natural anti-histamine.

It is essential for the action of the Immune system and plays a part in the actions of the white blood cells and anti-bodies. It protects other antioxidants A and E from free radical damage and is involved in the production of some adrenal hormones.

Manganese: Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage.

Copper: Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise Iron. It is needed to make ATP and is also to synthesise some hormones and blood cells. Collagen needs copper, as does the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment. Too much copper in the diet can depress levels of zinc and effect wound healing.

Phosphorus: Essential for bone formation and production of red blood cells. Also needed for the production of ATP fuel for energy. Small amounts are involved in most of the chemical reactions throughout the body.

Potassium: This is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.

Iron: The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin which helps muscle cells store oxygen and it is also essential for the formation of ATP

Zinc: A trace mineral that is a component in the body’s ability to repair wounds, maintain fertility, synthesis protein, cell reproduction, maintain eyesight, act as an antioxidant and boost immunity. It can be used topically for skin conditions. It is essential for a functioning metabolism and hormone production such as testosterone. It is also needed for the production of stomach acid. Too much zinc will depress the copper levels in the body.

Magnesium: It is essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium. The best food sources are whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish.

Selenium: A very important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancer.

Calcium: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

I am now going to hand you over to Carol for her recipes to include asparagus regularly in your diet.

 

Just Asparagus!

Around for thousands of years and said to be one of the very first frozen foods Asparagus is a little green powerhouse, chock a block full of Vitamin K as well as many other vitamins and anti- oxidants. Sally cannot stress the importance of eating this wonderful vegetable regularly as part of a healthy well balanced diet. She has also included a lovely little video on how to prepare asparagus it is then over to moi for some great recipes which showcase this wonderful vegetable.

We do hope that you enjoy our collaboration of healthy eating advice from Sally and recipes from Moi (Carol) as much as we both enjoy putting it all together for you.

Doesn’t this simple little dish look fabulous?….

Very easy… Just wrap bacon slices around each prepared asparagus spear. Skewer both ends of asparagus and add 3 to 4 per skewer. Grill the asparagus on direct heat until the bacon is crispy and the asparagus tender which takes around 15 mins making sure that you turn the asparagus at least once.

A beautiful, accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.

Asparagus is very plentiful here and one of my favourite stir fries are with prawns, lemongrass and lime leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm asparagus cut in half…asparagus is very thin here but if yu are using thicker asparagus then either shave the asparagus or cut into 3 inch pieces.
  • A small piece of ginger peeled and grated.
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass bashed and very finely chopped.
  • 4 lime leaves very thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or light muscavado sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 10 raw king prawns either peeled or leave the tails on.
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Thai birds eye chillies finely sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions cut into 2 inch pieces

Lets Cook!

  • Mix together the ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce and sugar and put to one side.
  • Meanwhile heat the wok on high and when it’s really hot add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the king prawns and stir-fry for one to two minutes, until the prawns have gone pink with slightly golden edges. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  • Add the onion to the wok and stir fry for two minutes. Add the chilli, garlic and spring onion and stir-fry for a further four minutes until the onions have softened. Add the asparagus and stir fry for a further minute.
  • Finally add the prawns, pour over the sauce which was prepared earlier, and cook until the sauce becomes sticky (around three minutes).

Serve immediately with Thai steamed rice.

My next recipe is for a lovely soup which is also suitable for vegans.

I love a nice creamy asparagus soup the flavour is quite mild but sometimes it is just nice ….This soup is also lovely with some garlic croutons…they are very easy to make with some stale or day old bread and fried until crispy or drizzle with oil and cook in the oven…a few less calories if you are counting.

Ingredients:

  • 1and half pounds of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 and half tbsp olive oil
  • 1 and half cps shallots finely chopped
  • ½ lb potatoes, cubed
  • 4 cups of homemade vegetable stock or 2 stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice.

Let’s Cook!

  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the shallots and cook over a medium heat until they are just turning very slightly coloured.
  • Add the cubed potatoes, asparagus and the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft and the asparagus tender. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as required.
  • Blend the soup until it is smooth, add the lemon or lime juice. Check seasoning.
  • If serving immediately then return to a pan and gently reheat.
  • This recipe makes 4 average servings.

I love a piece of seared salmon with herb butter and the asparagus makes a lovely accompaniment, this dish is quick and easy to make just sear the salmon in a skillet and add a squeeze of lemon or lime…I always add lime as limes are easy to get here..lemons are not but I know in other parts of the world it is the opposite..but either will do.. If you have an extra 5 minutes then whip up a quick 4 ingredient garlic, butter, lemon sauce. Just cook some chopped garlic in some butter, add some chicken or vegetable stock,your lemon juice and reduce down slightly. Season…

Add some lightly steamed or griddled asparagus and you have a lovely meal, served with a nice glass of chilled white wine.

Now I always like to include something sweet but asparagus doesn’t lend itself to puddings easily….Ice cream immediately sprung to mind but have you had asparagus ice-cream? A pannacotta? A cake? ….. I did come across a recipe which also had pineapple and oranges in the mix so I am thinking those are quite strong flavours and would probably mask the asparagus somewhat…My train of thought is that some vegetables should really be left in the savoury section.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite sweet made with asparagus recipe? If so Sally and I would love to know what it is ….

What did I decide on for my last recipe on this post?

Strawberry and Asparagus Salad with balsamic dressing.

It looks gorgeous and tastes absolutely amazing…

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of asparagus trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 20 med strawberries..hulled and quartered
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Cress or pea shoots to garnish.
  • Salt and pepper to season

Let’s Cook!

  • Firstly blanch the asparagus in a cup of water with some added salt. Just bring to the boil in a pan and cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus is bright green and al-dente. Remove from the heat and put asparagus in iced water to cool.
  • Remove from the iced water and pat dry with some kitchen paper.
  • Put the asparagus in a serving dish and add the quartered strawberries and gently combine.
  • Whisk together the balsamic, honey, oil with some salt and pepper to season.
  • Drizzle over the asparagus and strawberries and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.
  • Sprinkle salad with some pea shoots before serving.
  • This makes a lovely salad with some cheeses and crusty bread on a summer’s day or with some griddled chicken or fish…I also like a little parmesan shaved over the salad…or some crumbled feta cheese.
  • Not quite a pudding but a lovely vibrant dish with a difference.

I do hope you are enjoying this collaboration of healthy tips from Sally and recipes from me( Carol) if so please let us know in comments and share among your friends….

 

You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE

Connect to Carol via her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/

My thanks to Carol for turning one of the most nutritious but underused ingredients, into delicious meals.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Who is referring others to your blog? Guests, music and laughter


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed.

This week I got back into the swing of things and began the 2019 book promotions and the first of the Sunday Interviews. It was a terrific break but very happy being back to normal.

As always a huge thank you to my regular contributors and guests as well as the support on social media. Whilst managing the various platforms is time consuming and sometimes distracting, it was interesting to see, when I looked at the year’s analytic data, where the most referrals were generated from.

At the top end of the list and accounting for approximately 50% of the referrals out of 221,000 views:

  1. WordPress Reader.
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Yahoo.com
  5. Other search engines.

The other 50% were referrals from individual bloggers.

This confirms a few things to me:

  1. That WordPress Reader is a very powerful promotional tool for promoting not just our own posts but also when we reblog and ‘press’ posts we enjoy by other bloggers. Since people browse the Reader looking for posts that are interesting, it is well worth making sure you titles and the short summary at the top of your post catch their eye.
  2. That my time spent on Twitter and Facebook is not wasted!
  3. That using key words and tags on blog posts gets results from search engines. (but need to do better)
  4. That connecting and becoming part of a supportive community is essential to the success of a blog.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share the posts this year directly to their own blogs which resulted in referrals and to all of you who took the time to like, share on social media and comment.

This week William Price King shared the life and music of the legendary Duke Ellington.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-jazz-duke-ellington/

This week Carol Taylor shares her favourite recipes of 2018… and they look delicious.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-column-with-carol-taylor-favourite-dishes-of-2018/

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies shares a recap of her 2018 travel column with a reminder of the places you might like to visit on vacation.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-recap-take-a-look-before-you-book-your-summer-holiday-with-d-g-kaye/

Welcome to the first of a new season of Getting to Know You and my first guest for 2019 is Australian author Frank Prem who has recently released a collection of poems and short stories about his childhood – Small Town Kid.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-author-frank-prem/

I was delighted to review Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration by Colleen M. Chesebro.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/smorgasbord-book-reviews-fairies-myths-and-magic-a-summer-celebration-by-colleen-m-chesebro/

I wrote the original Size Matters in 1998 about my 150lb weight loss… I did update when the book went digital but that was several years ago. After working as a nutritional therapist for the last 20 years, and having continued to research and study food and its role in our health, I decided that it was time to write the sequel. 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/smorgasbord-health-size-matters-the-sequel-after-20-years-by-sally-cronin-introduction/

It is 1996 and it is a year of change with a move to Brussels and Anthony Robbins Life Mastery.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1996-a-year-of-change-and-celine-dion/

I am had fun with Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 118 with the synonyms this week of ‘Begin’ and ‘Fresh’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebro-tuesday-poetry-challenge-week-118-etheree-initiate-and-crisp/

It is now 1986 and both David and my father have their birthdays back to back. We are also making plans for a day trip and a much longer road trip over to New Mexico.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-houston-1986-birthdays-and-plans/

New on the shelves this week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-sciencefiction-fantasty-voyage-of-the-lanternfish-by-c-s-boyack/

Author update with recent reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-don-massenzio-marcia-meara-and-teri-polen/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-bette-a-stevens-jane-risdon-and-christina-jones-sally-cronin/

The Gentle Detox

As part of a gentle detox it is useful to employ the power of nature as a cleanser for your liver and kidneys. Dandelion is powerful and has many health benefits.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-tool-box-water-retention-dandelion-by-sally-cronin/

It is a good idea to complete a gentle detox to find out what food triggers or environmental contaminants might be causing you to suffer from allergies or health issues.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-food-intolerances-nightshade-family-and-environmental-toxins-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-snitching-cheating-failing-and-a-change-of-career/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your continued support. It keeps me motivated to keep writing.. thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Food Column with Carol Taylor – Favourite dishes of 2018


Some of my favourite dishes – Carol Taylor

Wow…Another New Year has begun where does the time go? It does seem to be that the older I get the quicker the time flies…

For my first post of the year I thought I would share my favourite foods …

I love food…Good food, but my tastes have changed over the years, is that with age or location and availability of foods? Maybe, but here are a few favorites of mine…. recipes I make often, or if the family asks for…

This is a recipe that my daughter gave me along with a packet of Chia seeds as I couldn’t
always get them here. That has now changed due their growing popularity and they are sold everywhere here now.

Banana Smoothie

Bananas we have in spades as they grow in abundance here so my freezer always has frozen bananas ready to make a smoothie.

Ingredients:

• 1 frozen Banana
• 1 cup of coconut milk.
• 2 tbsp oats.
• 1tbsp peanut butter or you can use halved walnuts as in the picture.
• A shot of espresso.
• 1 cup of ice
• 1tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds and honey.

Put all ingredients in your blender and blitz away. Pour into glass and enjoy!

This little dip is a recipe from Bali given to me by my grandson’s girlfriend it is very easy to make but made more special by the addition of tamarind.

Called Rujak sauce it is lovely with mangoes.

• Take 200 gm of palm sugar shaved.
• 15 gm of tamarind flesh and 5 tbsp of water leave to infuse for 5 mins and then drain and keep the tamarind flavoured water.
• 6 or more Thai chillies.
• 1/4 tsp shrimp paste and 1/4tsp salt.

Blitz all these ingredients together and you have fiery little dipping sauce.

Since living here I have met many people from around the world who are willing to share their recipes which is great for me as I have tasted so many wonderful dishes and some I had never even dreamed of…

Beef Rendang is one such dish made with Tamarind, which is a fruit I hadn’t cooked with until I lived here In Thailand …Tamarind is lovely with prawns but this recipe for Beef Rendang is a recipe given to me by my friend Mamik and is very nice… the beef is amazing.

It is also my go-to recipe if I want that special dish to impress, although there are many ingredients. and it has quite a long prep time. It is so worth it and as I said earlier if I am having guests a really lovely dish. You can see how rich and flavoursome that meat looks, and it tastes amazing…

It is also probably the only dish I will spend as much time as I do preparing and making it.

Ingredients:

• 2” Galangal
• 2” Ginger
• 1 kg beef (Bottom Round)
• 1-litre Coconut Milk (3 sm tins and made to one litre with water)
• Grind together and put on one side, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds and 1 tsp white peppercorns.
• 2 Star Anise.
• Half cup toasted coconut (pound in pestle until oil is released and it looks like a paste.)
• 1 Turmeric Leaf (Leave the leaf whole but tear side to stem along leaf) this releases the flavour.
• 2 stems lemongrass crushed along the stem.
• 2 Lime leaves.
• Soak 1-2 tsp Tamarind pulp in a little water and set aside for later.

Curry Paste: Blitz the next 4 ingredients together.

• 2cm Fresh Turmeric.
• 10 Shallots
• 5 Cloves Garlic
• 10 large red chillies (de-seed if you want a milder curry)

Let’s Cook!

  1. Cut the beef into large cubes.
  2. Put a tbsp oil of your choice in a cooking pot (I use a wok). Add Curry paste, ground coriander seeds, cumin and white peppercorns plus add chopped ginger, turmeric and galangal stir for 5 mins, add beef and stir to combine. Add coconut milk/water mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Slowly bring to a gentle simmer, add torn turmeric leaf, lemongrass and lime leaves and star anise.
  4. Cover pan and cook until meat is tender at least 3 hrs on a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the ground coconut paste about half hour before the end of the cooking time and also the tamarind liquid and this is when the magic happens and the taste goes from just another curry to something wonderful.
  6. When the meat is cooked and tender remove the turmeric leaf and lemongrass stalks although if we are not eating the curry until the next day I leave them and remove them before we eat the curry.

This curry should traditionally have a very thick paste and is also best eaten the next day to allow the flavours to develop.

However, as Europeans prefer a thinner sauce you can choose not to reduce down as much.

Enjoy!

Pizza is something I rarely eat however I discovered this lovely cauliflower Pizza Base and love it…

Ingredients

• 1 medium head cauliflower.
• 1 egg, large.
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning (dried oregano or basil)
• 1/8 tsp salt.
• 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
• 1/2 cup Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded.
• Cooking spray, I make my own spray I don’t do bought oil in spray cans…I have a little stainless steel one for oil.

Let’s Cook!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 C and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Rinse cauliflower, remove the outer leaves, separate into florets and chop into smaller pieces. Process in a food processor in 2 batches, until a rice like texture forms.
  3. Transfer cauliflower rice on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 mins this just removes some of the moisture.
  4. Remove cooked cauliflower rice from the oven, transfer to a bowl lined with a double/triple layered cheesecloth or linen towel, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Then squeeze the liquid out of the ball as hard as you can. Be patient and do this a few times until barely any liquid comes out.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 4 degrees F/200 C. Then in a medium mixing bowl whisk the egg with dried herbs, salt and pepper for 10 seconds. Add cheese and squeezed cauliflower mix very well with a spatula until combined.
  7. Line the same baking sheet with new parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  8. Transfer cauliflower dough to the middle and flatten with your hands until thin pizza crust forms.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and bake for a few more minutes. Top with your favourite toppings and bake again until cheese on top turns golden brown.

Slice and enjoy! If you are like me and love a nice thin crispy base then this it and so tasty…I love it!

Pad Thai is the ultimate “street food” The best of these cooks have cooked the same dish day-after-day, year-after-year and have achieved near perfection.

A great Pad Thai is dry and light bodied, with a fresh, complex, balanced flavour. It should be reddish, brownish in colour.

Pad Thai is another dish which is perfect for vegetarians, just omit the shrimp and substitute soy sauce for a vegetarian substitute. Add tofu if you like and viola perfect for a vegetarian.

Ingredients:

• 1/2 pack Thai rice noodles
• 1-1/3 cup bean sprouts.
• 1-1/2 cup Chinese chives.
• 2 tablespoon cooking oil
• 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
• 2 tablespoon sugar ( I use palm Sugar)
• 1 minced or finely chopped shallots
• 1/2 lime
• 2 tablespoons peanuts ( Optional )
• 1/2-1/4 lb shrimp.
• ground pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chilli pepper
• 3 cloves minced garlic
• 1tbsp Soy sauce
• 4 teaspoons fish sauce
• 1 egg

Tips:

The trickiest part is the soaked noodles. Noodles should be somewhat flexible and solid, not completely expanded and soft. When in doubt, under-soak. You can always add more water in the pan, but you can’t take it out.

In this recipe, pre-ground pepper, particularly pre-ground white pepper is better than fresh ground pepper.

For kids, omit the ground dried chilli pepper.

Tamarind adds some flavour and acidity, but you can substitute white vinegar.

Preparation

  1. Start with soaking the dry noodles in lukewarm or room temperature water while preparing the other ingredients. When you are ready to put ingredients in the pan, the noodles should be flexible but not mushy.
  2. Cut the Chinese chives into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside a few fresh chives for a garnish.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and save half for serving fresh. Mince or finely chop shallot and garlic together.

Let’s Cook

  1. Heat wok on high heat and pour oil in the wok. Fry the peanuts until toasted and remove them from the wok. The peanuts can be toasted in the pan without oil as well. Add shallot and garlic; stir them until they start to brown.
  2. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and chilli pepper. Stir. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case.
  3. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. The noodles should soft and chewy. Pull a strand out and taste. If the noodles are too hard (not cooked), add a little bit of water.
  4. When you get the right taste, add shrimp and stir. Sprinkle white pepper around. Add bean sprouts and chives. Stir a few more times. The noodles should be soft, dry and very tangled.
  5. Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with ground pepper and peanuts. (I serve peanuts) on the side as do many restaurants now.

Serve hot with a wedge of lime on the side, raw Chinese chives and raw bean sprouts on top.

That is all for this week I could go on forever with my favourite foods as there are many…What is your favourite dish or food?

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://carolcooks2.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

 You can find all of the previous posts in the directoryCarol Taylor Food Column

My thanks to Carol for her wonderful contributions. You can tell each dish is made with love and with taste in mind… She will be back soon with new recipes and posts for 2019.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Die Hard, Detox, Resolutions, Food, Music, Humour


Another quietish week for us after a very peaceful New Year’s Eve which we spent watching the final Die Hard movie of our binge session. Seeing them back to back over five days was great, and brought back memories of where we were in the years we saw them the first time around, starting in 1988. It is amazing how you remember the overall plot but forget detail. We are making a start on Mission Impossible and then The Bourne series next. Keep us out of trouble for a bit anyway.

Over the next few weeks there will be some new series beginning that I hope you will find interesting… in the meantime…here are the posts from the week in case you missed any.

A look back at 2018 and a thank you to the regular contributors who write such amazing posts for the blog. Also a look at what is to come in 2019.

Thomas the Rhymer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-happy-new-year/

Paul Andruss gave us a New Year’s Gift of a four part story The Legend of the Golden Flower, set in ancient Japan and filled with wonderfully researched detail. You can read the complete story and also follow the link to a follow up post on the background to the tale.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-legend-of-the-golden-flower-by-paul-andruss/

I was delighted to welcome Annette Rochelle Aben to the team with the first of her monthly Numerology posts. The first looking at our universal energy for 2019 and the month of January.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-with-annette-rochelle-aben-your-monthly-universal-energy-january-2019/

Linda Bethea with more tales of her extended family – life in Houston has its ups and downs. The Pink Cupcake, the Hussy and the Promise..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-linda-bethea-the-pink-cupcake-the-hussy-and-the-promise/

The new season of the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome new interviewees to the interview series, and if you have participated before.. no worries, just pick a different five questions to answer..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-2019/

I want to share this post again for any authors who are new to the blog – The Cafe and Bookstore is a FREE promotional opportunity to showcase your work on a regular basis here on the blog and across my social media. 

The first step is a ‘New Book on the Shelves‘ promotion, followed by regular updates in the twice weekly posts. Any new releases will also have their own individual post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-2019-free-book-promotion/

I did a tongue-in-cheek look at New Year’s Resolutions… with some suggestions how you might get them achieved!!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/something-to-think-about-so-how-are-those-new-year-resolutions-going-for-you/

Another trip down memory lane to 1995 – mechanical bull riding (or destruction) and Annie Lennox.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1995-east-anglia-and-annie-lennox/

To get the New Year off to a good start (for your body anyway) I began a short series – The Gentle Detox.

I don’t approve of starving a body into submission, especially after a period of indulgence. I especially do not recommend ‘crash diets’ as this can cause a great deal of stress physically and mentally.  Here are the posts so far….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-introduction-and-phase-one-before-you-begin-your-weight-loss-programme/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-two-eat-food-your-body-recognises-and-can-work-with/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-part-three-willpower/

A series that is worth repeating for the benefit of those who missed the first time around – Cook from Scratch.

In this post I share an alternative breakfast that I ate several time a week in the 17 years I lived in Madrid… Spanish style tomato cocktail on toast..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-tomatoes-for-breakfast-spanish-style/

I try my hand at a new format that Colleen Chesebro has introduced us to in the first of her Tuesday Poetry challenge No. 117 – Poets choice.   A Shadorma… if you have not participated in this challenge, I do recommend as it stretches both our poetic muscles and your creativity.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-poetry-challenge-117-poets-choice/

The first of the Cafe updates for 2019 – a place to share recent reviews and new releases.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-mary-adler-rachele-baker-dvm-marina-osipova-and-terry-tyler/

D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies shares some of the funnies from around the web… and I find a joke from my archives.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-new-material-the-cornier-the-better/

Thank you for starting the New Year with me and I hope that you have enjoyed the show so far. Look forward to seeing you again soon.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with! by Sally Cronin


Part one of the Detox can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-introduction-and-phase-one-before-you-begin-your-weight-loss-programme/

The Gentle Detox – Part Two – Eat food your body recognises…and can work with!

In my previous posts you will often find me having a poke at the diet food industry – well actually more than a poke. There are certain products that are health related that I do not have a problem with, but I don’t have much time with slimming bars and shakes. I do not care how many nutrients they say are in them, they are not in the form that the body understands or wishes to. We are designed to take our nutrients from natural foods.

I do agree to an extent that what we assume is a nutrient packed vegetable or fruit is not as nutritionally dense as it used to be. Farming methods have changed in the last 50 years or so and we also have to consider the addition of fertilisers that may not be of organic origin. However, despite having busy work or family commitments it is easy and quick to bulk prepare vegetables for several days and it is a great deal cheaper.

There are other times of the year when spending at least two weeks in a transitional mode as far as your diet is concerned is a good thing.

Around May time I get a yearning for the crisp crunch of lettuce, the peppery taste of watercress and Rucula, the smooth buttery taste and feel of avocados – I lose my appetite for parsnips and stews with mashed potato and butternut and carrot soups, preferring gazpacho, cold and tangy with an omelette for lunch.

The same happens again in September when I start to think about more root vegetables and warming foods. I think you get the idea.

Our bodies over the last hundreds of thousands of years, would have been sustained by seasonal foods, both animal and plant. It makes sense that we would therefore get the most nutritional benefit from seasonal foods, with the added benefit of an abundance of other fruits and vegetables that we now have year round. It is wonderful to have this access to so many varieties because they offer us so much more than our ancestors could scratch together.

I am fully supportive of any ‘diet’ programme than encourage us to only use fresh produce and cook it from scratch, but some trendy diets out there are a bit too restrictive, and you need to include other fruits and vegetables and other food groups that were not necessarily available to our ancestors.

If you make seasonal fruit and vegetables your primary choices, you can add in others to provide a more varied and balanced diet. This is why I follow the Gentle Detox seasonally every three months and not just at the beginning of the year. It marks the change in different eating patterns from the more stodgy, carbohydrate driven diet for the winter months to the lighter spring available food and the even lighter summer options and then back again.

Doing any form of detox should not put your body under increased stress but alleviate it. Which is why, this programme is not intended to be used as a crash diet, with few calories and nutrients. Even if you wish to lose weight as well as detox your system, you must not consume below 1500 calories if you are a woman or 1800 as a man.

How many calories do you need each day?

Basal metabolic rate – BMR establishes the approximate calories your body needs to function. At rest, with your digestive system inactive. So basically, first thing in the morning when your organs have been idling, rather than fully functional. This is dependent on your age and gender and as we age our requirement for calories decreases which is why you need to make sure you are compensating by including plenty of activity.

The simplest thing is to give you a link so that you can establish according to your age and gender what the minimum calories your body requires. However, it is important to point out that whilst calories are vital, it is also critical that those calories be as nutritious as possible. Particularly, if you are planning on cutting down calorie intake to lose weight.

http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

For example my basal metabolic rate at 66 is 1450 calories per day. That is not taking into account the calories required to operate my digestive system, organs such as my brain and heart, lungs, liver and kidneys etc. If you are not desk bound, walking around, doing shopping, housework, etc. you will use about 100 calories per hour – in activity and operating the body. That will add about 500 calories per day.

Men use slightly more because of body mass so I use 2000 calories basic requirement for women and 2,300 for men.

I never drop calories for an individual to less than 1500 for women and 1800 for men per day.

These calories should be nutrient dense and be sourced from good quality fresh produce. Your meals should be prepared from scratch using these ingredients, and if you are not very experienced in the kitchen, then do get yourself one of the many excellent cookery books available that promotes healthy produce and preparation. You can find some great recipes courtesy of Carol Taylor in the Food Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

Don’t buy pre-chopped salads and vegetables

To prepare these meals you have to first buy your ingredients and in step two I would like you to think more carefully when you buy produce. For example buy whole vegetables and fruits rather than pre-chopped. Cabbage will lose at least 50% of its nutritional content once it is chopped and the longer it sits there in that plastic bag the more it will lose. This also applies to bags of chopped salads. It is also a more expensive way to buy your vegetables and fruit. Check the prices but I am pretty sure that the extra that you pay for convenience multiplied over a year will easily pay for a week if not more of shopping.

Also do not be afraid to buy cheaper cuts of meat and get out the slow cooker to prepare a casserole or a roast while you are out at work. You will save both time and money. Visit a farmer’s market and buy your vegetables without them passing through the hands of the distributors. You may find they are all shapes and sizes, rather than beautiful but the nutrients in them are the same.

Bring them home and blanch in salted boiling water for five minutes and then freeze in Ziploc bags. They will only take a few minutes in a microwave or in boiling water to finish cooking.

Here is a basic shopping list you can cut and paste into a word document and take with you when you do your next shop.

As you can see it is not restrictive to the same degree as some of the very rigid detox programmes, but is intended to give you all the food groups in moderation.

Vegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (Any other fresh seasonal produce you enjoy) At least five or six portions a day – use a cupped handful as an estimated portion size.

Lower Fructose Fruit – Bananas, kiwi, strawberries and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. Enjoy all fruit in season at least three portions a day.

Hot lemon and water first thing in the morning will not only give you a Vitamin C hit, start your digestive process off but will also help with sugar cravings.

Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness. Carbohydrates are an important food group.

However, as we get older and less active you really only need a large spoonful of rice or potatoes on a daily basis. If you suffer from a Candida overgrowth be aware that it may not be the yeast in bread that causes a problem but the sugar or its substitute.

Fish – Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals. (Any fish that is available fresh not from farmed sources)

Meat and poultrychicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, (processed meats should be used sparingly) Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers.

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.

Dairy and Eggs Milk, butter -yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four eggs a week.

What is very important is that you eat dairy from grass fed cows, not grain fed.. and if you buy meat, it should also come from grass fed animals. The reason being that the vital vitamin K2 is only present when protein comes from grass fed stock. (more about that in a new series on deficiencies later in January). The butter will be yellow in colour and it should state on the label that it comes from a grass fed herd.

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff. For cooking use ordinary virgin olive oil with a dash of sunflower or butter but do not heat to very high temperatures. You can also use coconut oil which tolerates higher temperatures well and has some additional health benefits.

Honey and extras You really do need to avoid sugars refined and in cakes, sweets and biscuits but honey is a sweetener that the body has been utilising since the first time we found a bee hive and a teaspoon in your porridge is okay. Try and find a local honey to you. You can also use a small spoonful of Manuka Honey which is produced in New Zealand. To obtain the medicinal benefits the honey should be classified as 15+.

Sauces – If you buy your sauces in jars and packets they will have a great many more ingredients than you bargained for. One of the worst is sugar or its substitutes. The greatest cooking skill you can develop is to be able to make a wide variety of sauces from scratch. If you do this you will be not only using fresh produce with its nutritional punch but also taking hundreds of pounds of sugar out of your diet over a lifetime.

FluidsGreen Tea and other herbal teas including dandelion, peppermint and a combined detox tea., tap and mineral water, coffee 1 cup a day (not instant but ground coffee) Black tea also has antioxidants so drink a couple of cups a day. Try with sliced lemon and get some Vitamin C. (depending on the climate and altitude at which you live you will need to experiment to find out how much fluid you need. If you have very low humidity you will need considerably more. Average is around the 2 litres per day of combined fluids).

Next time I will covering willpower which is another ingredient required a few days into any new health and lifestyle upgrade….

 You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gentle-detox-2019/

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Twelfth Day of Christmas with guests Paul Andruss, Olga Nunez Miret and Carol Taylor


We have finally reached the last of the Christmas parties.. and in this one I want to do a personal thank you to the remaining regular contributors, and someone who has helped me with my books this year, who have not as yet featured in the parties. Paul Andruss, Olga Nunez Miret and Carol Taylor.

Here is Slade to kick the party off with Merry Christmas Everybody. Amazon

Over the last eleven parties I have shared my memories of Christmas past, and I have enjoyed stepping back in time. I am so pleased that so many of you have shared yours too, as it demonstrates that the best gift of all is the time spent with those we love.

I hope that you have an amazing few days, however you choose to spend it. There will be a few things posted over the next week should you be at a loose end.. and a very special treat from the 27th to 31st with a wonderful Japanese short story from Paul Andruss which will have you captivated.

There will also be some funnies and videos and I will be in from time to time to catch up on all of your festive posts.

Now time to get on with the party…..

A favourite carol of mine as a child was  “We Three Kings” original title “Three Kings of Orient”, also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are” or “The Quest of the Magi”, is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City.

Here is a wonderfully dramatic version with fabulous graphics by Clamavi De Profundis

Time to meet my first guest Paul Andruss, who has already saved his most favourite Christmas Gift ever in a separate post that you can find HERE.

Paul has been the Writer in Residence and Gardening Expert for the last 18 months. He stepped back from his regular posting in the autumn as he was working on his own projects. He has popped in from time to time, as with the short story later this week, and hopefully he will be back occasionally in 2019 when he has the time.

I am very grateful for the amazing posts covering such a broad spectrum of subjects, all meticulously researched and brilliantly written. The blog has definitely been enriched by their inclusion. And I can highly recommend that you read Thomas the Rhymer which is Paul’s fantasy novel especially if you love Harry Potter.

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Anyway, I was wondering what I could give Paul for his virtual gift and thought perhaps being a very keen gardener, and bearing in mind his Japanese themed story later this week…..he would enjoy this.

Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): It is a celebration of the life and works of St. John Neumann (1811-1860). He was born in Bohemia but emigrated to the US and became a Catholic priest and later Bishop of Philadelphia. He was the first American bishop to be canonized due to his devotion and also for founding the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelve drummers drumming and all the rest of the verses that have gone before with both their alleged coded and spiritual meaning and the more modern acceptance of this cumulative song probably of French origin. There are many different versions that are sung around the world with local and national gifts replacing the originals. The spirit of the song however is still maintained from the Faroe Islands to Australia as children get excited about the upcoming holiday season.

In many countries Twelfth night is a huge celebration with parties to celebrate not just the Christmas season but also the official end of winter which began on October 31st on All Hallows Eve or Halloween. This practice goes all the way back to the Romans and their celebration of Saturnalia and different cultures celebrate in various ways. This would be the day that the Christmas cake would be eaten, or roles reversed between master and servant or King and Queen of the night with licence to behave disreputably!!

Having lived in Spain for 17 years we celebrated Christmas with our friends and also their festival on the 6th of January of Dia de Los Reyes. It is almost as important as Christmas itself in Spain, especially for children who have waited twelve days before getting their presents, although I suspect there are still plenty opened on Christmas Day. However the party starts on the 5th with parades in all the towns and villages with Three Kings leading the crowd and throwing sweets to the children.

The Spanish version of the Christmas cake is a Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread covered in glacier cherries and sugar. A plastic toy rather than a sixpence is buried inside the mixture, so dentists do quite well in the days following! Although for those whose teeth remain intact they will get good luck for the remainder of the year!

This leads me very nicely into my next guest Olga Nunez Miret

Olga has been a wonderful friend and support for the blog and for so many others in the last five years. She is an avid reader and writes in-depth reviews that delight their recipients some of the reviews are on behalf of the Rosie Amber Review Team.

About Olga Nunez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.

This year Olga translated Tales from the Garden Volume 1 for me into Spanish. If you are looking to reach a new market for your books that I can highly recommend her services. She also asked if I might like to participate in an anthology in aid of victims of domestic violence and my story ‘Diana’ was included in ¡Que entre la luz!  published in the summer. Olga and I were interviewed on When Women Inspire on the anthology by Christy D. Birmingham.

¡Que entre la luz!

Read the reviews and buy Olga’s books in English and Spanish: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B009UC58G0
Blog: http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Please visit Amazon or Olga’s blog to view all her books.

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One of the early reviews for Deadly Quotes.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this latest book in the exciting “Escaping Psychiatry” series by Olga Núñez Miret! It’s “Deadly Quotes. Escaping Psychiatry 3.” This isn’t just another “psychological thriller” — it’s written by a real-world forensic psychiatrist, and her expertise is clear in the entire series.

I see catchy quotes everywhere I look. I’m okay with that – I confess that I like quotes. So I got a kick out of the fact that the author used quotes as part of the mystery. Psychiatrist and amateur detective, Mary Miller is back – and she’s dealing with a thrilling take on quotes. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Happy reading.

I wanted to find something beautiful for Olga as her virtual Christmas gift and found this.. which I hope she enjoys…Louie Schwartzberg

On the subject of food…here is one of my most remembered Christmas puddings. The sherry trifle and even as a very young child I would finish every last morsel. I think my mother was under the impression that if sherry went into a meal it was non alcoholic….

Like most of the traditional foods featured during the last twelve days trifle has a long and illustrious history dating back to the end of the 16th century. Originally trifle referred to a thick cream flavoured with spices like ginger and sweetened with sugar and sometimes rosewater. In the middle of the 17th century eggs were added to form a rich custard. Another 100 years and the custard was poured over jelly using gelatin.

The trifle that we now consider to be the jewel in the festive dinner crown has the addition of sponge soaked in sherry or sometimes port or brandy and layered with fruit such as peaches, jelly, custard and thick whipped cream…Here is an Australian site with plenty of different variations for trifles to suit all tastes…Trifles galore

There is a phenomenan attached to the dessert. If there should be any trifle remaining in a bowl that has been placed in the fridge overnight, the next morning it has usually disappeared except for a couple of pieces of glacé cherry on the bottom of the bowl and a scrape of cream on the side of the dish. Legend has it that after all the gifts have been distributed and the work is finished for the year, Santa allows the elves a night of revelry and permission to visit any home where trifle has been on the menu and indulge….yeah that is the official version, honest!

The obvious choice of guest to follow the food selection is our own food and cookery expert Carol Taylor, who ran a very busy catering establishment in Thailand before retiring.

 

Carol has worked tirelessly this year to bring wonderful recipes to the Food Column including two amazing Christmas menus for a traditional dinner and a vegetarian alternative. She is taking a well earned break over Christmas, spending it with her family who live close by in Thailand. I am so delighted that we connected two years ago and I hope that if you do not already follow Carol on her blog that you do that now.. You will not only find recipes, but a wonderful array of exotic Thai ingredients and articles on avoiding waste food and the environment at CarolCooks2

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

I asked Carol for her most special Christmas gift………

Years ago when I worked for the Halifax I had a love/hate relationship with my line manager he was a nice bloke but very straight laced at work and sometimes we clashed as to certain things I was not prepared to do come hell or high water…But had touches of being really funny in his lighter moments or at staff jollies.

One day after such one staff jolly and definitely too much to drink …When I got home I threw up…The next morning..I was missing a tooth the only tooth I had on a plate and it must have disappeared down into the system of no return…

So it was an emergency dental appointment and a call to work…
The dentist also thought it was highly funny as did Andrew at work…

Some months later at our staff Christmas Party when we pulled a name out of a hat and bought appropriate presents for the said person…I will say he must have thought about this for months…lol

He got my name …I received a 6 pack of Becks Beer and a bag of sweetie false teeth…He kept his distance as maybe he wasn’t sure whether I would see the funny side I did, and still do…as did everyone else but it was the best present and still makes me smile…

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a set of false sweet teeth, but I think that’s because the dog ate them….

And that is not as far fetched as you might think…….Merry Christmas Carol…

Thank you for dropping by today and have an amazing Christmas… thanks Sally…

 

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – More Christmas Funnies


I have been delving into the archives with the saucier side of snowmen and women…..and our resident foodie Carol Taylor Food Column found a wonderful one and shared last week on Facebook.

Christmas at the races.

Riding the favourite at Cheltenham, a jockey was well ahead of the field. Suddenly he was hit on the head by a turkey and a string of sausages. He managed to keep control of his mount and pulled back into the lead, only to be struck by a box of Christmas Crackers and a dozen mince pies as he went over the last fence.

With great skill he managed to steer the horse to the front of the field once more when, on the run in, he was struck on the head by a bottle of sherry and a Christmas pudding. Thus distracted he succeeded in coming in only second.

He immediately went to the stewards to complain that he had been seriously hampered.

After being away on business for a week before Christmas, Tom thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift.

“How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk.

She showed him a bottle costing $50.

“That’s a bit much,” said Tom, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.

“That’s still quite a bit,” Tom groused.

Growing disgusted, the clerk brought out a tiny $15 bottle.

Tom grew agitated, “What I mean,” he said, “is I’d like to see something real cheap.”

So the clerk handed him a mirror.

A special gift for Christmas

A guy bought his wife a beautiful diamond ring for Christmas.

After hearing about this extravagant gift, a friend of his said, “I thought she wanted one of those sporty four-wheel-drive vehicles.”

“She did,” he replied. “But where was I going to find a fake Jeep?”

T.V game show

The TV game show was really close. One contestant was asked to name 2 of Santa’s reindeer. The contestant gave a sigh thinking that he had finally been given an easy question, “Rudolph and Olive!”

The host asked the contestant, “We’ll accept Rudolph but can you explain Olive?”

The man looked at the host and said, “You know, ‘Olive,’ the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names..

 

Thanks for popping in and hope it has brought a smile to your face.. why not spread them around.. Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Sixth Day of Christmas with Guests William Price King, Annette Rochelle Aben and Jan Sikes


Welcome to the sixth party in this series and today my guests are the amazing William Price King, American Jazz singer, crooner and composer who has been providing the music content for Smorgasbord for over four years. Joining him today is friend but also new and very welcome collaborator, who has a background in broadcasting and music, Annette Rochelle Aben who will be writing her own Numerology column from the New Year. Also with a wonderful career in both publishing and the music industry, is my third guest, Jan Sikes.

All will be sharing their most cherished Christmas memories throughout today’s post.

My Christmas memories…

In early 1965 a film was released in the UK that was to be a turning point for me and the start of a lifelong crush on the lead actor. Christopher Plummer was 36 at the time that The Sound of Music became available to the general public and not just musical theatre goers. I was just twelve but I saw myself as Maria from that moment on. I saw that film three times in the next 18 months and I could rattle all the songs off at a drop of hat including The Lonely Goatherd with requisite yodelling.

My ardour did not diminish, and when we returned to Portsmouth in 1967, I managed to coerce a school friend into forming a double act. At age 14 we were encouraged to reach out to the community at Christmas, and undaunted by the prospect of performing publicly, my friend and I dressed ourselves in replicas of the film costumes. Actually my mother was missing a pair of old curtains, so we did not stray too far from the script…and we offered our services to three old people’s homes in the local area.

We would turn up after school in the weeks before Christmas and join the residents for a cup of tea and a piece of cake before performing our repertoire of songs from The Sound of Music. I must admit that a couple of songs in and there was a fair bit of nodding off…not to be outdone I would burst into The Lonely Goatherd and it served to enliven the audience who would look around bemusedly at the sound of a strangled cat in between the verses.

I did however have a ‘moment’ in my early 40’s. We were on holiday in the French Alps one summer and had hiked up one of the surrounding mountains. We reached a plateau that was dotted with alpine flowers and after we had consumed our packed lunch and with no one else in sight, I took my chance. I stood in the middle of the meadow and gave the title song as loud a rendition as I possibly could. I threw my arms wide as I finished and turned in a slow circle to receive the applause of my husband, only to find that a large group of Japanese tourists had just reached the edge of the plateau and were snapping photographs and clapping madly…I think they thought that it was especially laid on for their lunchtime entertainment. A quick descent was called for in the opposite direction.

As my first guest is William Price King it seems more than appropriate to get the party started with one of his own performances. We will meet him in person a little later.

My thanks again to Why Christmas for their detailed information on the traditions around the world. The Falkland Islands are in the South Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles from the east coast at the bottom of South America. They are a British Overseas Territory even though they’re about 8,000 miles away from the rest of the UK. There are only around 3,000 residents of the Islands with most living in the capital Stanley, and considering the land mass occupies around 4,700 square miles, it is hardly over populated.. But there 150,000 sheep.

It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere and being British the Islanders share many of the traditions with the UK. It is very windy which means few trees, but artificial ones are on display. As you might guess roast lamb is the most likely Christmas dinner and it is very expensive to fly turkeys in from South America.

As at home, pantomime is very popular and children on the more remote parts of the islands get their presents flown in from the capital. Carol singing takes place under a ‘Whale Bone Arch’  constructed from the jaw bones of two blue whales… and on Boxing Day the horse races attract punters and spectators from all over The Falklands.

Time now to meet William Price King and find out about his most favourite Christmas gift ever..His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour. You can find out more about William and his career in his latest Music Column

William shares his most treasured Christmas memory...

It was Christmas Eve. Before starting the day I called our youngest daughter who lives in Germany to wish her good luck for her performance as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” that evening and to get confirmation that she and her boyfriend were still planning to celebrate Christmas at his parents’ home in Düsseldorf. She answered affirmatively and said that they were looking forward to it as they had done in the previous years. We spoke for a moment and then I wished her a good show and said we would call them on Christmas.

I finished decorating the tree and put the presents in place. Wakanda, our cat, took quick possession of her Christmas box and happily installed herself under the tree. In the meanwhile my wife and I continued preparing for the big day and began making the final touches, reminiscing over the good old days when we had the entire family at home for Christmas. Those days were gone.

Around midnight we went to bed happy that everything was ready for our Christmas celebration in anticipation of seeing the grand kids frantically open their gifts. Around 6 a.m. my wife woke me up and said that she heard someone walking in the house. I told her it must have been a dream, as we live alone. Plus, why would Santa be walking around in our house at 6 a.m. on Christmas day, right? My wife insisted it wasn’t a dream. She really was frightened and believed that someone had broken into the house. A bit annoyed I lurched downstairs, opened the living room door and there stood our opera singer with her boyfriend. “Merry Christmas!” they shouted gleefully. My mouth dropped in disbelief. I pinched myself to make sure it wasn’t I who was dreaming this time around. I knew that life could yield unexpected surprises but this one beat them all. It was the first time that she had come home for Christmas in 10 years, a gift from the stars, and the best Christmas gift I ever had.

Definitely a wonderful Christmas memory and I can imagine that the celebrations were fantastic.

I spent some time wondering what William might enjoy for his Christmas gift… and I hope that he will enjoy something from his home town. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with O Come O Come Emmanuel. Courtesy of Thomas Trimborn

The Sixth day (30th December) is dedicated to St Egwin of Worcester. Egwin was of noble if not royal blood and was born in the late 600’s and became a monk. Because of his lineage the royal court and hierarchy in the church pushed for his elevation to Bishop in in 693. He had strict moral code and was a benefactor for the poor and orphans. He was also very strict with worshippers and clergy alike and became increasingly unpopular when he began insisting that marriage vows should be taken seriously and that the clergy should be celibate… In the end tired of the resistance to his firm stance on these issues he took himself off to Rome to get the blessing of the Pope.

A number of ‘miracles’ occurred on the route and having received vindication from the Holy Father he returned to Evesham. He lived until between 917 and 920 bringing about many changes including founding Evesham Abbey which was one of the most important Benedictine Monasteries of medieval times. He died and was buried there but all was destroyed in the purges in the 16th century.

 

Six geese a laying – some say this symbolises the six days of creation but most assume it was a continuation in the bird theme from the Four Colley Birds, Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves and a Partridge in a Pear Tree…..

Time to meet my next guest, the delightful Annette Rochelle Aben – Annette has an attitude of gratitude that she spreads around on a daily basis… Annette’s Blog and also by interviewing authors on radio Tell Me A Story with Annette Rochelle Aben | The Magic Happens (TMH)

Over the years, Annette has been blessed with having both hobbies and jobs that required her to write. This resulted in her winning the admiration of peers and industry professionals alike. Publication lead to awards, which provided even more encouragement and now, Annette Rochelle Aben is a #1 Best Selling Author! These days, Annette writes poetry books, coaches others through the writing of their books, and edits articles for the digital magazine The Magic Happens.

In the New Year Annette will be joining the team here with her own column Universal energy – Numerology and I am delighted to welcome her to the blog.

Annette shares her most treasured Christmas Gift

Seventeen years ago, at our Christmas gift exchange, I opened the lovingly wrapped package from my nephew Danny, to find a statue of a black cherub sitting on a cloud. I choked back tears because I knew he originally planned to give it to my mother, but she rejected the gift because Angels couldn’t possibly be anything other than white you know.

As I drove home, I hit an ice storm and what would have taken me 45 minutes, took me over 5 hours. The whole way, that Angel sat on my dashboard. I made it home safely.

Very difficult after that very special memory to find a gift that compares for Annette, but knowing her love of angels and music.. I hope that she enjoys one of my favourite tracks In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLachlan

You can find all of Annette Rochelle Aben’s books: http://www.amazon.com/Annette-Rochelle-Aben/e/B00MSQTGUY
Blog: www.annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com

Here is a selection of Annette’s books

booku_cover_for_kindle

A recent review for A Tanka Picture Book

Annette Rochelle Aben writes the most beautiful and heartfelt poetry, most frequently in the form of tanka and haiku verse. Annette bares her thoughts, feelings and soul to the world with her writing and enables you to experience her joy and delight at living with her. One identifying feature of Annette’s poetry is that she appeals to all five of the senses. I frequently find that poems focus on the visual, what the writer sees, but not that many poets manage to capture the smell, sound and touch of life in quite the way Annette does. One of the poems in this book that filled me with delight is this one: We found paradise Filled with rolling hills of green Houses so cozy Paths strewn with flowers fragrant Watercolor painted skies

Over the next few days I will be sharing some of the wonderful Christmas delicacies  that appeared on Carol Taylor’s Vegetarian Christmas Menu 

Ricotta, Blackberry and Walnut Toasts.

• 2 tbsp of maple syrup
• 150 gm blackberries
• 4 slices of your favorite bread I used sourdough
• 100 gm soft ricotta
• 1 tbsp toasted walnuts
• A few mint leaves

To Prepare

  1. Warm the maple syrup in a small pan and add the blackberries cook for 3-4 mins gently squashing a few blackberries with the back of your wooden spoon.
  2. Toast the bread.
  3. To serve spread some ricotta over the toast then spoon over the warm syrup and fruit, top with your toasted walnuts and a few mint leaves.

Enjoy!

And now my final guest today who also has a wonderful life of music and love. Jan Sikes is an Award Winning Author, screenwriter and songwriter. She began her writing career as a young girl. Her first work was a gospel song. She had an uncle whom she loved dearly, but he was an alcoholic and his drinking caused such family discord that at times, resulted in him being banished from their home. So, she wrote a song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus. That is her first memory of feeling the passion deep down to her toes for writing and for music.

And here is Jan’s most favourite Christmas gift of all time

The best Christmas I can remember is 2003. Rick was just finishing the recording of his new music CD and he had a jacket monogrammed for me with the album cover on the back and my name in the front. I couldn’t have been more surprised or proud! That year all of our children, my mom and aunt came to our house for the celebration. There was an abundance of food, laughs and love. It is a sweet memory.

Another tough challenge to find a gift for Jan following that heartfelt memory… but I hope that this will make her smile and remind her of the first song that she wrote for her uncle. A wonderful Gospel Christmas.

Featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra again with The Pointer Sisters and  Adam L. McKnight..- Amen courtesy of Adam L. McKnight

You can find all of Jan’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK
Website: https://www.jansikes.com/

One of the reviews for Home at Last

Almost Home is the third book in this series and every bit as exciting as the first two books! Mrs. Sikes lets us into their lives, finally lived together, and their love that continues to grow! Ms. Sikes has written each novel with such depth of emotion that I felt virtually every feeling along with Darlina as I was reading! I spent plenty of time with tissues in hand! The pace was very steady and my attention never wavered. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t reach the end of each book fast enough to move on to the next!

It was a mesmerizing story from beginning to end! The story of Darlina (Jan Sikes) and Luke (Rick Sikes) is a love story for the ages and fraught with challenges seemingly every step of the way. This series is made more poignant for me by the fact that it is the true account of two people, fictionalized for the benefit of the author! I give Almost Home by Jan Sikes five cups of steaming hot Room With Books coffee and I highly recommend you read it!

Now time for something to drink…..Whilst it is customary to see cranberries in a sauce on the Christmas Dinner Table, you can also enjoy in a cocktail during the holiday period. Cranberries have a great many health benefits…. which might be slightly diluted when adding alcohol.. but here is a video that will give you a recipe to try.

Thank you for dropping in today and tomorrow my guests are Jessica Norrie and Marjorie Mallon… I hope you will join us.. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – Weekly Update – Christmas parties, guest posts, books, Traditional Christmas menu and music.


Welcome to the weekly round up and I am sure that you are all in the middle of getting your own Christmas or holidays sorted. We have family staying this week and a dinner planned with visitors which we are looking forward to.

We actually tend to hibernate from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day and it has become a tradition to drop whatever we are doing online (except for an hour a day – otherwise I get cranky)… and spend time together enjoying movies, meals out and laughing. Christmas is for family and we will be Skyping my sisters on the day, as they will be together for dinner in Portsmouth.

With just the two of us, we tend to not get a turkey and will be having aged sirloin steaks, chips, onion rings and ice-cream for our dinner. We might start with some scallops and prawns if I can find some fresh ones and any other of our favourite foods I can locate. A glass or two of good Spanish red and then a power nap I think before Quality Street and a rerun of one of the classic Christmas movies.

It has been a busy week with the Christmas book promotions and parties so I will stop chatting and get on with it.

As always very grateful to my regular contributors and you will find a couple of your favourites popping in over Christmas to entertain you. Including a four part story set in Japan by Writer in Residence Paul Andruss, who has taken time out from his writing sabbatical to share.

And thank you too for visiting, liking, commenting and sharing the post, it is much appreciated.

This week William Price King introduces us to the magical Alice Coltrane pianist and harpist.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-alice-coltrane-pianist-harpist/

Last week Carol Taylor delighted with her Vegetarian Christmas Menu.. and this week she created a feast for those of us who like some turkey for our dinner… with all the trimmings. An amazing amount of work and I am so grateful for all her efforts in the last 18 months.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/smorgasbord-christmas-celebrations-the-food-column-carol-taylor-traditional-christmas-menu/

Geoff Le Pard entertains with the second of his guest posts this Christmas…Traditions Le Pard Family Style

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-christmas-guest-post-hristmas-traditions-le-pard-family-style-by-geoff-le-pard/

Delighted to announce that from January Annette Rochelle Aben will be writing a new column for the blog.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-coming-in-january-2019-your-monthly-universal-energy-numerology-with-annette-rochelle-aben/

This week there are three prompts as part of Colleen Chesebro Poetry Challenge no. 114, 115, 116 as Colleen is going to be taking a well earned break.. So no recaps until early January. But Colleen has left you the prompts for those three weeks if you would like to continue with the series. I felt like going off piste this week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-poetry-challenge-off-piste-with-season-of-goodwill/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-for-christmas-fascinating-new-yorkers-power-freaks-mobsters-liberated-women-creators-queers-and-crazies-by-clifford-browder/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-for-christmas-alchemist-gift-alchemist-series-book-1-by-mark-d-giglio/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-for-christmas-romance-forgetting-my-way-back-to-you-by-karina-bartlow/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-collaborations-kim-blades-and-robbie-cheadle-john-w-howell-and-gwen-plano-jane-risdon-and-christina-jones/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-thrillers-short-stories-luna-saint-claire-jan-sikes-and-kristina-stanley/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-mystery-adventure-fantasy-andrew-joyce-daniel-kemp-teagan-riordain-geneviene-and-linda-g-hill/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-mysteries-and-satire-anita-dawes-christoph-fischer-sue-hampton-allan-hudson-and-ian-hutson/

Jessica Norrie

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-relationships-italy-scotland-mystery-with-leslie-tate-patricia-salamone-john-quinn-and-jessica-norrie/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-doglovers-romance-fantasy-poetry-patty-fletcher-miriam-hurdle-sandra-j-jackson-and-deborah-jay/

The First Day of Christmas with guests Mary Smith, Jacquie Biggar and John Howell sharing their most memorable Christmas gifts, with music, food and traditions from around the world.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/smorgasbord-christmas-celebrations-the-first-day-of-christmas-with-guests-mary-smith-jacquie-biggar-and-john-w-howell/

The Second Day of Christmas with special memories from Darlene Foster and Miriam Hurdle.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-christmas-the-second-day-of-christmas-with-guests-darlene-foster-and-miriam-hurdle/

The Third Day of Christmas with their most favourite Christmas gifts Jennie Fitzkee and Lisa Thomson

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-christmas-the-third-day-of-christmas-with-guests-jennie-fitzkee-and-lisa-thomson/

The Fourth Day of Christmas with guests Norah Colvin and Amy Reade sharing their most favourite gifts ever.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/smorgasbord-christmas-celebrations-the-fourth-day-of-christmas-with-guests-norah-colvin-and-amy-reade/

It is the season for Christmas parties and family gatherings and at this time of year there is the additional pleasure of getting kissed under the mistletoe – of course it all depends on who is doing the kissing, but having fresh breath before embarking on this lovely activity is essential.  Reach for the Peppermint

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/smorgasbord-health-column-heading-under-the-mistletoe-indigestion-reach-for-the-peppermint/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-time-to-get-the-party-started-christmas-funnies/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-christmas-fun-from-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-festive-joke-from-the-archives/

Thank you very much for visiting and hope you have enjoyed the Christmas celebrations.. more to come next week.. thanks Sally