I woke up one morning last week and heard robins singing. They have such a beautiful, melodic song that pretty well everyone recognizes. But I still haven't seen a robin.A friend told me she saw 20 robins on the lawn next to the LCBO store. and others have reported seeing them, but not me. It seems to tell we Canadians that spring is here, or coming? But I see the "out of the way" signs: spider in my bathtub, a small bug crawling along the kitchen floor, kids downtown in their shirtsleeves.Now that I'm an authority on shingles (ha, ha), people want to share their experiences with me. A friend ran across the road and said, "I've something to show you," lifted her shirt and ' sure enough ' shingle sores!I've had a couple of questions about my so called "Doctor's Book." It wasn't as old as I first thought. I've been using it for years so I thought I had had it for much longer. But it first came out in 1990: "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies," put out by the the editors of Prevention Health Books. The editors spent months interviewing medical experts, asking for home remedies and had thousands of answers to all questions, and they shared 2,300 methods for 230 problems.In 1990, they felt it was the one book, one healing companion, to choose. Of course, nearly 20 years have passed but I still think it is the best.One of my Bridge foursome feels she's out numbered when it comes to election talks. Three of us are of Liberal persuasion, but I tell her she has no excuse as her cousin was a very active Liberal member of Parliament in Ottawa. When it came right down, we all felt that the promises made are never kept, but as our family had a member in the Parliament for 30 years ' he was the senior Liberal ' we learned from him that one has to bend to the majority, unfortunately. But I'll keep you up to date; I'm sure you are very, very interested.And I had my first prank call, the first one I've ever had, and the biggest mystery is "why would they call little old me?" Maybe I should feel honoured? I have their number and I'll try to get back at them, April Fools Day is coming up (tomorrow, as I write this column ' which is turning out to be a column about nothing!). I'll keep you up to date on that one???And that brings me up to date on a book I've been mulling through. The book calls it muddling through life. This time, it's a book that I have had for many years, going back to 1954. It is called "How to Live 365 Days a Year." It has been stuck at the back of a bookcase and, as I'm trying hard to eliminate books that I never look at, I uncovered it.Maybe it's a book I should have been using to guide me through all these years. Having the shingles, the biggest question I have had is "do you have pain?" Fortunately, I missed most of that part of shingles, but this book says most of us live with pain most of the time, but we never think of it.If you ask a person that question, most will say, "except for these aches and pains, I'm doing all right, of course." In the book, author John A. Shindler, M.D. and chairman of the Monroe Clinic of Munroe, Wisconsin, goes on to ask, "do we really want to muddle our way through life?"So, do as he says: "look for happiness every day in your life. It is there, all it takes is a good attitude." This might be a little too hard for me to get back to you, on this one. I feel I'm over my head.Easter is around the corner and some people still take to the idea of giving up something for Lent. It used to be a great game years ago and, as a kid, I always participated and so did my friends. But it is also a joyous time of the year and I have two great recipes that will make you shout for joy or at least bring some happiness into you home.The first one is for an appetizer that a friend who came to dinner brought with her. I could have made a dinner out of it. It's a great starter for your Easter Weekend entertaining.Bombay Dip1 package cream cheese (have at room temperature)3 tablespoons sour cream3/4 teaspoon curry powder1/2 cup grated old cheeseBlend the above ingredients together and spread onto a fancy serving dish.Spread over top: mango chutney or apricot jam.Sprinkle on top: coconut, chopped nuts (almonds or pecans), currants, and chopped green onion.Serve with pita chips or your favourite cracker.Chocolate-Applesauce CakeThis recipe came from the same The White Horse Tavern Cookbook I used last week. It's large cake, one you would take to a family gathering, as it would easily feed 15-20 people, depending on size of serving. I felt after making it that it didn't need the glaze, it is very moist and a slice with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and a drizzle of leftover canned chocolate syrup would make a lovely dessert. It could be made 1-2 days ahead.2 1/2 cups sifted flour1/2 teaspoon baking soda6 squares semi-sweet chocolate1 cup canned chocolate syrup1 teaspoon vanilla1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)1 cup butter2 cups sugar4 eggs1 1/2 cups canned applesauce1 cup chopped nuts (pecan, walnut, hickory)Sift flour and baking soda. Over low heat, melt chocolate squares, stir in chocolate syrup, vanilla and almond extract. Set aside to cool. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add cooled chocolate mix and flour alternately with applesauce. Bake in tube or bundt pan at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Cool on wire rack, ice or not as you choose. (I think a chocolate glaze would be best).
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