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Get ready to break out of those winter doldrums Londoners. There are two fabulous events going on in London, Ontario this weekend that I have to tell you about. Get out of the house and go check out the Lifestyle Home Show and take in a bite to eat at Londonlicious!

The 20th Annual Lifestyle Home Show will be held at the Western Fair District this weekend. The show is back for another fabulous year, from January 25-27, 2013. Doors will be open 12-9 pm on Friday, 10 am – 8 pm on Saturday and 11 am – 5 pm on Sunday. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and is free for children aged 12 and under. There are over 350 vendors scheduled to be there with a wide variety of products and services for your home. If you are thinking about building, renovating or decorating this year, you have to head down to the show. There are contests to enter and prizes to be won, but the best part will be all the ideas you get as you wander around through all the buildings. That’s right, the show will be held in the Progress Building, Special Events Building, West Annex, Canada Building, as well as in the link and East Annex. That’s a lot of floor to cover, so be sure to wear your walking shoes. Don’t worry if your feet get tired though, as you can always stop to take in one of the many workshops running all weekend long.

When you have had enough of the Lifestyle Home Show, your next stop should be for dinner. And Londonlicious has some serious good eats that you need to consider. If you didn’t make it to last year’s event, let me tell you how this gastronomical extravaganza works. Londonlicious is a celebration of food in London, Ontario that over 35 restaurants are participating in. For anywhere from $15-$35, you can get a three-course meal at any one of the local participating restaurants. Select from your chosen restaurant’s prix-fixe menu and be ready to be swept away. Your taste buds will be in heaven! Whether it be for lunch or dinner, contact the restaurant, make a reservation and enjoy.

Wondering what restaurant to consider? Why not try Aroma Restaurant, Blackfriar’s Bistro, CHE Resto Bar, Delta Armouries, Garlic’s of London, Kettle Creek Inn or the Runt Club? If you want a view, try The River Room inside Museum London. If you want entertainment, head to Top of the Fair for harness racing while you dine (plus its conveniently located in the Western Fair District as well!). The historic Windjammer Inn is situated a short drive away in lovely Port Stanley. If you have ever wanted to dine in a manor or mansion, reservations at either the Windermere Café or Villa Cornelia Restaurant should fit the bill. There are restaurants ranging from pizza to upscale dining, and ethnic fare to pub grub. Grab a deal at your favourite restaurant or maybe even discover a new favourite place to eat! Londonlicious runs from January 17th – February 3rd, 2013. Make your reservation today!

Rain one day, fleeting sunshine the next; that is how the autumn is going this year. We need the rain for drought-starved trees, rivers and more, but it certainly makes fall cleanup a little more difficult. After all, who likes to rake soggy leaves? Not my wife! It has to get done though (I keep telling her).

So the kids end up heading out to tackle the task.

Joking! But seriously, there are plenty of tasks to accomplish around the house before winter sets in. Odds are that the kids will want to help with some of them too (by jumping in the leaf piles you rake up). Whether you like it or not, that snow is just around the corner, so get on that to-do list soon people!

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE PROJECTS

  • Grab a stack of yard waste bags and dig into that pile of leaves in the backyard. It’s time to rake!
  • Keep watering trees right up until the ground freezes
  • Raise the blade on your mower for one last pass on your lawn, then say goodbye to cutting the grass for a season. Make sure to sharpen the blade on your lawn mower and pull the battery out of your riding lawn tractor, if you’ve got one. Don’t forget to pour in that engine stabilizer while you are at it!
  • Drain your outdoor hoses and turn the water off to the outdoor faucets
  • Clean, sharpen and oil as necessary all your yard tools
  • If you haven’t already, put a cover on your a/c unit to keep the leaves out of it and protect it from winter damage
  • Climb up on your roof to inspect shingles and fix as necessary. While you are up there, scoop any leaves or other debris out of your eaves troughs and gutters as necessary. Finish it off with a few taps to any loose nails holding the eaves troughs on, for added protection once ice and snow are a reality
  • Inspect and clean your chimney, to prevent any potential chimney fires. Birds, squirrels and raccoons might just think that Santa has something on them heading down the chimney, so inspect it before that first fire of the season
  • If you are really on the ball, you could even think about putting up your Christmas decorations. It’ll be November next week and the warmer temperatures won’t last forever! Just a thought

When you come in from all that outdoor work, enjoy the aroma of your delicious Autumn Vegetable Beef Stew simmering in the crock pot. The newest addition to Crock Pot Corner comes from Southern Food and is perfect after a day spent outside in the crisp Autumn weather. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Bon appetit!

AUTUMN VEGETABLE BEEF STEW

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 slice bacon, diced
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (about 5 or 6 medium potatoes), diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced rutabaga
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Directions:

Cook bacon, beef, and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until the beef is browned and the bacon is cooked. Put the beef and onions in the slow cooker with the bacon, beef broth, apple cider, potatoes, carrots, celery, rutabaga, bay leaf, rosemary and pepper. Cover and cook for 7 to 9 hours. Combine flour with cold water to form a smooth mixture. Stir into the beef mixture, turn to HIGH, and continue cooking for 15 minutes longer.

Grace has been said and a turkey was sacrificed in the name of feasting with family and/or friends. We have all given thanks for that. After eating more than  you ever thought was humanly possible, you’ve pushed back from the table. Dishes have been cleared, washed and put away. So I guess you figured that Thanksgiving was over then, right?

Not quite!

What about all those leftovers? At what point did you realize that a 25-pound-turkey was a little more than you needed for your intimate gathering of eight? Oops! Now what do you do? Like all good Canadian families throughout the land, you declare that it’s the “Week of Leftovers!

There are turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pies and of course the standard reheated turkey dinner that you began with, all up for this week’s menu. Think turkey casserole, turkey sheppard’s pie and maybe even turkey burritos to tempt the kids with! The anti-turkites among you might be screaming in horror, but I bet that there are a far cry more people that have their very own favourite leftover turkey recipes that get passed down from Mother to Daughter/Son through the ages.

Or perhaps you are looking for something new to turn your leftover turkey into? Once you are done with the turkey sandwiches and the stuffing is gone for re-heated turkey dinners, are you at a loss? Are you getting desperate looking at the seemingly never-ending plate of turkey meat? My friends, do you need a few more ideas for what else to turn that remaining turkey into?

Jim is here to save the day…

Leftover Turkey Recipes

Here’s a recipe from DIY Reviews, to help you use up some of that leftover turkey that is still in your fridge. It’s cooked in my favourite kitchen tool, the crockpot, to ensure that dinner is ready as soon as you walk in the door tonight.

TURKEY TETRAZZINI IN THE CROCKPOT

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • 2 cups broken uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 can (10 3/4-ounce) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mushrooms, with liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  • Spray inside of slow cooker crock with cooking spray.
  • Place broken up spaghetti on bottom of crock pot.
  • Combine water, soup, pimiento, and mushrooms.  Stir in the cheese, turkey, onion and parsley.  Pour other mixed ingredients over spaghetti.
  • Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until spaghetti is tender.

***

What about a turkey sandwich with a twist from the folks at Allrecipes.com Canada and their barbecued turkey pocket;

BARBECUED TURKEY POCKETS

Ingredients:

  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey breast
  • 3 (6 inch) pita breads, cut in half

Directions:

  • Heat the soup, water, sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat to a boil.
  • Add the turkey. Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Spoon the turkey mixture into the pita halves.

***

And what about something completely different from Canadian Living‘s kitchen – Turkey Potato Patties! Uses up your leftover mash as well!

TURKEY POTATO PATTIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) diced cooked turkey
  • 1 cup (250 mL) mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) dry bread crumbs
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

Directions:

  • In bowl, beat egg; mix in turkey, potatoes, bread crumbs, green onion, parsley, mustard, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Form into eight 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick patties. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)
  • In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; fry patties, turning once and reducing temperature if browning too quickly, until crusty and golden, about 6 minutes.
  • Great with eggs!

What’s your favourite leftover turkey recipe?

It’s a rainy day in my part of the world today. Fall might not have officially arrived just yet, but I don’t think Mother Nature cares that there’s 4 days of summer left that we should still be enjoying. It’s a lazy, indoors kind of day that makes me think of toasty warm evenings by the fire, hot baths that melt the day away and crock pot meals that warm you up from the inside out. I suspect that there will be plenty more days like today in the future and that got me to thinking. When you are feeling rushed from a hectic day and less than energetic when it comes to mealtime, crock pot meals can be a salvation. You walk in the door and are greeted by the delicious scent of dinner, done and waiting for you. What could be better?

So since Autumn officially begins this week, I thought perhaps I would add something new to the old blog here. We all appreciate suggestions and ideas to make life easier, right? How about some crock pot menus to tempt your taste buds with? Mum wasn’t far off when she went out and bought that brand new invention back in the 70s. That’s right, this household staple was only invented in 1970, originally as a bean cooker.

Today, there are slo-cookers that range in size from 500 ml to 7 litres. They come in round and oval shapes, but have one thing in common. You place ingredients inside of them, twist the knob and come back hours later to a fully cooked, fabulous meal. Sure, some crock pots have various settings (high, low or auto),  but once you close that lid, the heating coils begin to heat up the contents of  the ceramic or porcelain insert. The lid keeps moisture in, temperatures steady and even helps to distribute flavours throughout the content of the pot. It’s a fairly basic concept, but brilliant when you have thought to dust off the old crock pot for a quick and healthy evening meal before jetting back out for extra-curricular activities.

Enough about the pot though. I am sure you have one (wasn’t it a gift from Aunt Gert at the wedding shower?), so get ready to pull it out in the weeks and months to come. I am going to tempt your taste buds with some new and delicious recipes to whip up in your handy-dandy crock pot. Think soups, stews, roasts and more; I’ll be searching for the best for you! And with more rain in the forecast for later this week, I think I have picked the perfect time to crock! So unless you have a personal chef at your disposal, why not try this seasonal soup recipe from “Recipe 4 Living” to use some of those tasty veggies that are coming ripe in your garden.

 

CROCKPOT VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped (1/2 C.)
  • 3/4 C. 1-inch pieces green beans
  • 3/4 C. chopped onion
  • 2/3 C. uncooked barley
  • 2/3 C. fresh whole kernel corn
  • 1 1/2 C. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 14 oz. cans beef broth
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes with garlic, undrained
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a 3 1/2 to 6-quart crockpot. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8-9 hours (or high heat setting for 4-5 hours) or until vegetables and barley are tender.

 

It’s that easy folks! Experiment with your ingredients on hand, but know that dinner will be ready when you are tomorrow night!  Enjoy!!

What’s going on London, Ontario? We are down to the last weekend of August and summer is slipping through our fingers fast. What did your summer look like? Did you travel the country or relax in your very own backyard? Did anyone make it camping or were you lucky enough to escape to the cottage? How about all those festivals? Did you make it to any? If you somehow managed to miss them all, I happened to have heard of a few more festivals to entertain you with before the summer winds to a close.

LAST OF LONDON’S SUMMER FESTIVALS

FESTA ITALIANA

You might start the day in downtown London, but prepared to be whisked away to Italy this coming weekend. From August  24-26, 2012, Covent Garden Market will be transformed into an Italian cultural hub during Festa Italiana. If you go, you will be treated to delicious Italian delectables, as well as be able to watch live cooking demonstrations, but it doesn’t stop there. Italians love their music and the festival is no exception. Orchestra Italiana London (OIL) will tempt you to fall in love with Italian tunes, as will the likes of many talented tenors and sopranos. A fashion show will also be held Friday night. And if that’s not enough, make a point of catching the opera on Sunday at 7pm, when the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra presents La Traviata. Not something you get to see every day, and well worth checking out for its magnificent homage to all things Italian. The hours of the festival are 11am-midnight (Sunday to 11pm), so make sure you bring some dancing shoes to take it all in with. It is sure to be a buon fine settimana!

FALL FEST

Back for a second year in a row, Fall Fest is returning to Victoria Park from August 31 through to September 3, 2012. If you missed it last year, you have to make a point of checking out this great new free festival in the core. From 11am-11pm, all weekend long, tempt yourself with carnival rides, visit the food vendors, listen to live music, plus get a taste of fall fun with a biggest pumpkin contest, live animal displays, craft displays, wood-working demonstrations and competitive arts competitions (like quilt, bread and wine making). It’s a great way to say goodbye to festival season at Victoria Park, so head down to say goodbye to summer in London!

LAMBETH & COMMUNITY HARVEST FEST

If you prefer your festivals with a smaller town feel, then look no further than the South end of London for the 34th annual Lambeth & Community Harvest Festival from September 6-9, 2012. This is how a fall festival is meant to be! Look forward to a teen dance, adult dance, a golf tournament and slo-pitch tournament, a “Show & Shine” car show, Saturday pancake breakfast, children’s fun fair, arts and crafts shows and so much more! You want horseshoes? You got ’em! Have a hankering for a trip to the beer garden or food concessions? Help yourself all weekend long. Everybody loves a parade, so be there sharp at 10am to watch the march. Live music more your speed? How about tunes from Sarah Smith, Radio or Super Falcon to appease you? Perhaps you would rather enjoy fireworks? Show up Sunday at dusk then. With venues around Lambeth, you will get a feel for the slower pace and huge heart that a small community offers.

And just so you know, if you are tempted to move a little closer, let me know! I can always help you make your Lambeth love a reality!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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