21 December 2008

Sugar-LESS Cheesecake


Every Christmas has a challenge. Previous years have seen Norwalk outbreaks, flooded basements, and the oven breaking (necessitating our cooking chicken over the wood stove in the basement). This year, it is making Christmas as diabetic friendly as possible.

So I've been looking around the 'net at diabetic recipes, normal recipes, and plugging everything in to some of the more reputable recipe analyzers to come out with a desert that will make the family happy, but not raise their blood sugar. In a strange incident where Lady Murphy seemed to be absent, I've hit upon a near success right off the bat. Well... not so much near success, as success that I can see tweaking just a smidge for next time.

This cheesecake recipe is based on Anna Olsen's Honey Yogurt Cheesecake. I'm emphasizing the less in sugarless here because there is still sugar in the graham cracker topping, and the raspberries. But, these are well within an allowable intake according to the Diabetes Association information that my Dad has received.

2 c. 1% Yogurt (plain, balkan style is good)
2 c. low fat Ricotta cheese

Mix these together and place in a strainer lined with paper towel, perched over a bowl. Refrigerate for 24 hours, emptying the bowl of liquid every so often. In 24 hours you'll have a very thick mixture of yogurt and cheese. NOTE: I did this for less than 24 hours... and it turned out way less custardy then I would have liked. Best just think ahead and go the full 24.

Add to the yogurt and cheese mixture:

1/4 c. granular Splenda (or less if you aren't fussy on the Splenda tang)
zest of a lemon
splash of vanilla
1 large egg

Blend this until nice and smooth with a spoon or whisk. Evenly divide amongst 12 lightly greased muffin tins. Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

In the meanwhile, thaw and mash up some frozen raspberries. Squish these through as fine a strainer you have to get rid of most of the seeds (or not... I just hate getting raspberry seeds stuck in my teeth). If the raspberries are super tart, add some Splenda to taste if you like.

Also, crush up enough graham crackers to equal one cracker per person (so 12 if you are going to be serving all 12 cakes). Add a little melted butter until crumbly, spread on a small sheet pan and toast for 5 minutes (or less... don't burn it).

Once the little cheesecakes have been chilled in their tin, run a knife around the edges, and then turn them out onto a cutting board (just easier than using a plate or platter).

Just before serving, place a cheesecake on a plate, drizzle with the raspberry mixture (about a tablespoon does the trick), and top with some graham cracker crumble.

Voila! Your very own little cheesecake measuring up to 139 calories, 8.3 g of protein, 6.3 g of fat, 6 g of sugar, and 1.3 g of fibre.

19 December 2008

Snowmaggedon? Wimps.

So, now that southern Ontario is getting a snow storm, the media is dubbing the little-more-than-a-foot of accumulation "Snowmaggedon". Pshaw... where were they when central Ontario, specifically the Haliburton Highlands, got 24 hours and over 18" of the white stuff?? Seriously journos... come up where I live... where real winter has been here for 4 weeks already.

To steal my sisters wit: Madness? THIS.... IS.... WINTER!!!!!!

That isn't to say I don't see the humour in Snowmaggedon. It is funny...

And the snow is a royal pain in the ass. I was really happy this morning to not have to brush off the car and scrape ice of the windshield. The snow falling right now is really light and fluffy... the kind that is super easy to move around, but kicks up when you're driving and makes it hard to see. Last week it was really heavy and sticky... the kind that soaks into your trouser cuffs and boots and makes your feet cold for the whole ride home.

I got off work early today because the college I work for shut down. It was pretty funny because it was actually the two main campuses to the south that shut down, and made everyone else shut down with them. Everyone in Haliburton just sort of looked around and went "and this is unlike any other day up here how?" These are people who drive to work along a windy road with hills when there is a foot of snow on it with ice underneath.

*sigh* But I don't work there anymore. I'm off to other things... specifically Western's MLIS program in January. I'm not relishing the drive to London in January... but I am looking forward to being down in the cultural mecca of southwestern Ontario... and being somewhere I can perhaps go out on a date with someone who I don't have to do a genealogical background check on.

Do have to say though, I am looking forward to Christmas. Not for the presents, but for the time off with my family and cousins. Oh, and that brings us to the food part of the blog... there was a food theme wasn't there?

Turns out Dad has type II diabetes. Went to the hospital for a stomach bug (which turned out to be just your run of the mill oh-please-kill-me-now stomach bug), and came back with metformin and an information package. So, this is going to be a sugar-less Christmas, which has me trolling the web for new recipes and ingredients to create diabetic-friendly desserts. I'm going to do some experimenting this weekend, so expect a blog entry on that soon!

11 October 2008

My trip to Alaska (June 2008)

Check it out.


I had an awesome time over there with my friend Lesley. She and her family showed me wonderful hospitality, gave me the grand tour, and even made me fear for my life once or twice ;).

Edit 08/2014: Check out my album on Google+

08 March 2008

Les joies de l'hiver

Right now we're experiencing quite the blizzard, and expecting 2ft of snow by the end of it. I don't deny that I am a wimpy Canadian. I hate winter. And because I hate winter, I complain about winter. At length. Ad nauseum.

I was thinking today about winter and the K├╝bler-Ross grief cycle... and I think that how Canadians react to winter actually follows the cycle quite well.

Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.

After coming out of a sweltering summer, and having only enjoyed about 12 hours of temperate fall weather, we all observe the first snowfall and exclaim "Isn't that pretty?" But really, we're all in horrible horrible shock over the fact that any hope of consistently nice weather has been snatched away so soon.

Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.

This sets in around the end of January after the Christmas and New Year's elation has worn off. It peaks around February 2nd when we actually believe what that rodent Wiarton Willy has to say. This is where we start saying "Spring is just around the corner." Yeah, right.

Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.

This starts in March when the calendar mocks you with it's vibrant green four leaf clover, when our surroundings are anything but. Also when suggestions of roasting Willy on a spit start to float around. But it's not his fault, we're the ones who put our faith in a groundhog after all.

Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.

Middle of March. We start saying "You know, if we could just get one nice day." and start listing off the things we'd do with that one nice day. As if we're trying to strike a deal with Mother Nature, pleading for her to let the sun out, and promising not to squander her efforts by spending the day cooped up in the office.

Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.

End of March. It's a sad sad time...



Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.

We begin finding innovative solutions to our winter woes.

(Er... yeah, it's in french... I don't understand most of it... but I think some things are universal... stick it through to the end)

Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

April has arrived, and the snow has began to melt in earnest. We still get a freak snowstorm here and there, but the end is definitely in sight. We can now look forward to an all too short but temperate spring, before we start complaining about a hot and humid summer.

And the cycle continues...

04 January 2008

4 months later...

As you might have noticed, the header (and the colour -- sorry, pink was the only one left in this template) has changed! Yes, I'm back in Minden, and have been for 4 months. I figure I should at minimum wrap up the Scotland thing with a sort of "where am I now". I figure on keeping this as a travel journal... and perhaps adding the odd thing when the muse strikes.

I enjoyed the train ride home from Halifax - gave me a sense of perspective of how far from home I was. We were picked up in Oshawa by Dad and James, and told that our male Siamese, Buster, had run off and was missing for 3 days. Turns out he was just miffed at us, and was home within hours of our arrival.

I spent the first little while recovering from the whole M.Sc. thing. It is amazing how difficult it was in retrospect, although it didn't feel like it at the time. Suddenly not having a deadline of one thing or another looming is like running into brick wall. It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop.

Then I was flown out to Halifax by SMU and did a public lecture out there and set up a booth at the International Kids Day event. Took James out with me - weathered his first plane ride like a pro (I weathered my 8th like a sniveling baby), and he enjoyed his first real vacation. We spent an extra day out there seeing the sights, eating the food, and watching movies at the hotel. Both flights were turbulent, with the flight home being the worst. Landing was pretty rough as well.

November and December was spent at the Museum again, this time researching for our Sesquicentennial in 2009. I absolutely love this kind of work. Minden's history exists in bits and bobs all over various publications, land registry records, spontaneously written blurbs on censuses, oral histories and various other eclectic sources - which makes it a challenge to piece together. I spent 8 weeks piecing together what I could, and will hopefully continue on sporadically on a volunteer basis until they can get me back again.

Then it snowed.

And it snowed.

And it snowed.

Seriously, I miss one Canadian winter and it's got to throw the whole lot at me at once! Oh, and we were even treated to -30 C temps the other day. Dry or not, that kind of cold seeps straight into your bones and requires a hot cup of tea to get you back to normal. Nostril sticking weather. Blech!

I'm currently gainfully employed at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Haliburton as a Marketing Intern. The great thing about these internships is that they offer lots of experience building tasks and they pay pretty well. The downside is that they are rather strict on hours and my time is no longer as flexible as it was. But, it will help pay off some of the debts, and everyone there seems rather nice. The work is going to consist of helping to book and run events, doing presentations to schools about the college and it's programs, etc. Although the position has started out slow, and really has nothing to do with my field of study, underneath all my cynicism I'm actually looking forward to sinking my teeth into this job. Having a college campus in Haliburton County is such an asset, and I'm already enjoying learning more about what it has to offer, and what draws people to it.

I'm still looking for Forensic Science jobs, and more research oriented jobs. This is the hardest bit of the whole experience - what to do with the degree at the end. I've carved out a place at home (and believe me, with my 27th birthday looming, living with my parents is not something I envisioned at this stage in life), am attempting to make any sort of living I can while paying off my debts, and at least trying to act like I'm a productive member of society. But, as with all things, patience and persistence is required. So, I'm still plugging away on the job front. Despite my frustration though, I wouldn't trade my Strathclyde experience for anything.

Oh! And I forgot to mention graduation. I graduated in absentia. Sort of sad I couldn't make it over, but the budget was broken by then, and I couldn't justify the expense. But I did graduate with merit, which I'm very proud of.