19 August 2010

Vegetarian Mushroom Stroganoff
Preparation Time: 12 mins. Cooking Time: 12 mins.

The inspiration for this recipe came from a need for a vegetarian alternative to the classic beef stroganoff. Brown mushrooms give a stronger flavour and portabellas give a meat-like texture.


8 oz whole fresh mixed Mushrooms (white, crimini, portabella or shiitake)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme (1/2 tsp/2 mL dried)
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (1/8 tsp/0.5 mL dried) 2 mL
1/2 cup Each vegetable broth and sherry
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1 tsp Each cornstarch, Dijon mustard and tomato paste*
1 tbsp minced chives (optional)


Quarter the white and crimini mushrooms; remove stems from shiitake mushrooms. Slice shiitake and portabella mushrooms. In large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Sauté
mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and rosemary for about 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add vegetable broth and sherry; bring to boil and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile mix sour cream, cornstarch, mustard and tomato paste until smooth. Add to mushroom mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to boil stirring constantly and boil for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve over cooked noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with chives if desired.

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 side dish servings

*For convenience purchase tomato paste in a tube.

Recipe Adapted from Fleming Colleges' entry into the Make it with Mushrooms Student Chef Challenge Fall 2007. Recipe received second place.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers
Preparation Time: 20 mins. Cooking Time: 18 mins.
Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

A wonderful vegetarian meal or side dish that can be microwaved if you prefer.

Budget Friendly: Under $2.50 per serving


2 large red, yellow or green peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Each diced celery and onion
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup Each grated Parmesan cheese and ketchup
1 tsp Each dried basil and oregano
1 cup grated mozzarella or crumbled feta, divided


Cut peppers in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out seeds. In large skillet heat oil over medium heat, sauté celery and onion for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté another 3-4 minutes or until starting to brown; stir in garlic and remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, ketchup, basil, oregano and half the mozzarella. Spoon mixture into peppers and place in shallow baking pan or casserole. Bake 15 –18 minutes in 400°F (200°C) oven or until peppers are tender; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Return to oven 1-2 minutes just to melt cheese.

Makes 4 servings

Tip: Chop celery, onion and mushrooms in food processor to save time.

Variation: Add ½ cup (125 mL) chopped green or black olives.

Microwave Method: Place stuffed peppers in shallow microwaveable casserole, cover and cook on high for 5-8 minutes or until softened and heated through (time varies depending on size of peppers and wattage of oven) top with cheese and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes to melt cheese.

Weather or Climate? - Dianne Saxe

From: Mondaq.com

Canada: Weather or Climate?
by Dianne Saxe

It's hard to know whether individual weather events are just random fluctuations, or whether they are growing signs of climate change. What we need to look for are patterns- is the weather changing? And how do the changes that are actually happening compare to those predicted for climate change?

Three years ago, two federal government departments (Natural Resources Canada and Health Canada) published reports on the damage climate change was already doing to Canada, and what we should expect to follow. No one paid much attention, but the predictions just keep coming true, in Canada and around the world.

Time to read only one? Health Canada predicted that global warming would increase Canadians' exposure to diseases that are endemic in animals, including: bubonic plague. Plague? In Canada?!? The black death that killed one third of the population of medieval Europe? Last week, Parks Canada announced that a prairie dog in a national park had been found, dead of.... bubonic plague.1 They recommend that people take "precautions".

NRCan's report, From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007,2 predicted summer heatwaves that are more extreme and longer, leading to deaths, reduced crop growth and wildfires. This year looks as if it will be the hottest year in recorded history.3 Wildfires burned again in BC. The Yukon had 32,000 hectares of forest burned by early June.4 Quebec's May forest fires required people to evacuate their homes, and burned over 350 square miles (880 square kilometres) in a week.5

A recent study says that heat waves have already surpassed worst-case projections, but will become more intense and unpredictable.6 Toronto's sweltering summer pales against what is happening in other northern countries. As we write, everyone who can is fleeing Moscow because of fire and smoke7; Russia has had an estimated 15,000 deaths from heat.8 The heat is also predicted to reduce Russian agricultural and industrial output by $1.5 trillion.

Here are more of NRCan's 2007 predictions, compared to recent news reports (in italics):
Northern Canada will see decreases in permafrost, sea and lake ice and snow cover. Recent research confirms: the Devon Island ice cap, one of the largest and most important arctic ice masses, has been shrinking steadily since 1985.9 Arctic ice cover may be at its lowest level in several thousand years.10 There will be a shift in the types and number of species of plants and animals, with competition by species that move north, and introduction of new diseases. An epidemic of spruce bark beetle will likely lead to decimation of white spruce trees.

There will be more frequent and intense storms in Atlantic Canada. Sea levels will rise, increasing erosion of the coastline and flooding. Storms in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick brought power failure and flooding in February.11 Last year brought record wet weather.12

In Québec and Ontario, extreme weather, like heat waves, drought, intense rain, ice- and wind-storms, will be more frequent, stressing water, energy and transportation infrastructures. Much of southern Ontario and Quebec is facing dry to record dry conditions this year.13 Near-record-low precipitation has deprived hydroelectricity operators of the water levels needed to turn they turbines.14 Ontario had an astonishing 29 tornados in 2009.15

The Prairies will see a shift in fire and insect disturbances, and an increase in non-native species. Water will become more scarce; wildfires and severe floods will occur more often. Northern Prairies are exceptionally dry this year, while the south wallows in very wet conditions.16 In July, heavy rain triggered the most severe flooding ever seen in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.17 Calgary had $400 million in hail damage in July, one of Canada's most expensive storms ever.18

Last year, the Red River had record floods.

Some regions of British Columbia will have more water shortages, and more competition among uses for the water (e.g., for power, irrigation, municipalities, recreation). A melting glacier triggered an avalanche of mud near Pemberton this month, resulting in evacuation of 1500 residents. 19 20 Fires and pest infestations will affect forests. Last year, there was a 7-fold increase in BC forest fires.21 The largest known outbreak of mountain pine beetle has killed millions of trees, and is spreading rapidly.

And as to the floods in Pakistan? They are exactly the sort of extreme weather that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted.

Coincidence or pattern? I'm worried; are you?

2. http://www.adaptation.rncan.gc.ca/assess/2007/pdf/full-complet_e.pdf
3. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/its-the-hottest-year-in-recorded-history/article1643338/
4. CBC news. Yukon mine braces for wildfire. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2010/06/02/yukon-nwt-ffire-conditions.html
5. Bloomberg. Quebec Forest Fires Send Smoke, Haze South to Boston (Update2). May 31 2010. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-31/quebec-forest-fires-send-smoke-haze-south-to-boston-update2-.html
6. Ganguly et al., Higher Trends But Larger Uncertainty And Geographic Variability In 21st Century Temperature And Heat Waves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009. Fulltext at http://www.pnas.org/content/106/37/15555.full.pdf+html
7. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/europe/smoke-from-forest-fires-choke-russian-capital/article1664389/
8. Bloomberg. Russia heat wave may kill 15,000, shave $15 billion of GDP. Sugust 10 2010. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2010-08-10/russia-may-lose-15-000-lives-15-billion-of-economic-output-in-heat-wave.html
9. Boon S et al. Forty-seven years of research on the Devon Island ice cap, Arctic Canada. Arctic 2010 March;63(1):13-29. See news report "Decades of research show massive Arctic ice cap is shrinking". EurekAlert Apr 12 2010. At http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-04/aion-dor041210.php
10. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/06/arctic-ice-cover-at-lowest-point-past-several-thousand-years.php
11. CBC news. Power outages, flooding still concern N.B., N.S. February 28 2010. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/02/28/nb-ns-power-outage-flood-red-cross-254.html
12. Environment Canada. Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories For 2009 http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=en&n=645a8f9c-1 target=blank
13. Drought Watch,
http://www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/drought/nlrl365dy_e.htm target=blank>
14. Globe and Mail, August 12, 2010. http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20100813.RBPOWERHYDROMCCARTHYATL/TPStory/?query=Companies
15. Environment Canada. Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories For 2009 http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=en&n=645a8f9c-1
16. http://www.agr.gc.ca/pfra/drought/nlrl365dy_e.htm
17. CBC news. Flood emergency declared in Yorkton, Sask. July 2 2010. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2010/07/02/sk-yorkton-flood-1007.html
18. http://www.ibc.ca/en/Media_Centre/News_Releases/2010/08-11-2010.asp
19. Times Colonist. 13 campers airlifted after melting glacier triggers avalanche http://www.timescolonist.com/news/airlifted+after+landslides+tourist+spot/3368909/story.html
20. Vancouver Sun. 40-million-cubic-metre Pemberton avalanche second only to Hope Slide. August 9 2010 http://www.vancouversun.com/news/million+cubic+metre+Pemberton+avalanche+second+only+Hope+Slide/3372960/story.html
21. Environment Canada. Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories For 2009 http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=en&n=645a8f9c-1
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Focus on the essentials

From: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/simple-productivity-10-ways-to-do-more-by-focusing-on-the-essentials.html

These days our lives are busier than ever. We work more than ever. We are more stressed and exhausted than ever before. And yet we get less done and are not as happy.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The problem is that we are overloaded with information and tasks, and we try to get everything done instead of just the most essential things. Solution: focus on only the essential, eliminate the rest, and allow yourself to get into that beautiful state known as “flow”.

And although it can be hard to give up all the busy-ness that we’ve grown accustomed to, the change will have tremendous benefits on our sanity, our stress levels, our happiness, and yes, our productivity.

Here are 10 simple ways to be more productive with less effort:

Clear your head. It’s impossible to gain perspective, and to know what is truly essential, if we are in the middle of an information stream. Take an hour, or half a day if possible, to shut off the information flow, and to get a larger view of your life and your job. The time you take off will be well worth it. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all communications, shut yourself in somewhere private, and take some time to think about what is important. What do you want? Where are you going? What will it take to get there? Another good way to clear your head, which is necessary for focus, is to write down everything that you need to do, all your tasks and projects and ideas. Dump the contents of your mind on paper, and then stop thinking about them for a little while.

Focus on the essential tasks. Once you’ve gotten your head cleared, you need to figure out what tasks are most essential. Ask yourself this magic question: “What task can you do that will get you the most return on your time?” Figure out the project that will get you the most recognition, win you awards, or get you the most business. Something that will pay off big. Not something you’ll forget about in a week, but something that others will remember you by. This is an essential task. Make a list of these types of tasks — they’re your most important things to do this week.

Eliminate the rest. Now look at your overall list. What’s on there that’s not essential? Can you just drop them from your schedule? Or delegate them to someone else? If not, put them on a “waiting list”. Then, as you focus on your essential tasks, check back on this waiting list every now and then. Sometimes you’ll realize that the less essential tasks weren’t really necessary at all.
Do essential tasks first. If you’ve got a list of things to do today, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning. Don’t wait until later in the day, because they’ll get pushed back as other urgent stuff comes up. Get them out of the way, and your productivity will truly soar.

Eliminate distractions. You can put essential stuff on your list all year long, but if you are constantly interrupted by email notifications, IM, cell phones, your RSS reader, gadgets and widgets, social media, forums and the like, you’ll never be productive. Turn these things off, disconnect yourself from the Internet if possible, clear your desk of all papers, clear your walls and surrounding areas, and allow yourself to truly focus.

Use simple tools. Don’t fidget with a bunch of gadgets or the latest and coolest applications. Find a simple notebook for writing things down, a simple to-do list (no frills) and the simplest application possible for doing your work. Then forget about the tools and think only of the task at hand. If you’re too worried about the tools, you’re not actually doing anything.
Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a waste of time. You can’t get things done with a million things going on at once, pulling for your attention. Focus on the essential task in front of you, to the exclusion of all else, and you are much more likely to get it completed, in less time, with less effort.

Find quiet. In addition to a quiet working environment, you need time every day that you can call your own, where you don’t have to do work. This could be through reading, taking a bath, walking in nature, going swimming at the beach, going jogging, meditating. Not reading your feeds. Get away from the information overload and find that peace that will allow you to truly focus when you do work, and to review your day in your mind, and to get the perspective to see what is essential.

Make the most of your work. It’s one thing to write something great, or to create something fantastic. But it’s entirely another thing to make that great thing explode, to get you attention, to earn the recognition you deserve — which will lead to more business or more opportunities. Once you’ve created the Next Great Thing, promote it, show it to others, find a way to have it carry you as far as it can take you. Don’t just create something and move on to the next thing. Use your energy and talents to their fullest extent.

Simplify some more. Once you’ve simplified down to the essential, and eliminated distractions, you should become productive. But distractions and the unnecessary have a way of creeping back in and accumulating. Every now and then, take a look at what you’re doing, at the information coming into your life, at how you spend your time and the tools you use. Then simplify some more.

Leo Babauta blogs regularly about achieving goals and becoming productive through daily habits on Zen Habits. Read his articles on 10 Ways to Reduce Your Work Week, Zen To Done (ZTD), the Top 50 Productivity Blogs, doubling your productivity, keeping your inbox empty, becoming an early riser, and the Top 20 Motivation Hacks.