Easy supper – Pasta Genovese

I saw some fresh green beans on the market today and some new potatoes and it made me think of a pasta dish that my friend Gloria always serves me when I visit their family in Italy.   The Genovese word comes from Genoa, a city in northern Italy on the Mediterranean Sea where, probably, this recipe either originated or was adopted as local. There is another meat dish with the same name.  Don’t ask me how these two very different pastas have the same name.

There are variations on this but here is how I have ended up doing it.  A very simple meal, vegetarian, making use of fresh vegetables from the fall garden.

Pasta Genovese


DSC03057New potatoes

Green beans

Pine nuts ( lightly toasted in the oven)

Fusili pasta ( I use this but I think that the recipe may be more “original” with a long thin pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle.)

Pesto (I buy it ready made up and use about half a jar in the recipe. You can make your own from olive oil, pine nuts and basil if you are adventuresome.)

Parmesan cheese on top. (when I visit Gloria in Italy she always takes me to a local market where I can buy a huge hunk of aged Parmesan to bring home with me.)

Shopping for Parmesan at the San Michele grocer.

Shopping for Parmesan at the San Michele grocer.


DSC03060Prepare the potatoes and beans.  Scrub the potatoes and cut them into cubes, maybe one inch in size and cut the ends off the beans and slice them into smaller bits.

In a large pot add a tablespoon or so of sea salt to cold water.  Put the potatoes into the pot, cover it and bring it to a boil.  DSC03061Let it boil for a couple of minutes then add the green beans. Let them boil for three or four minutes then throw in the pasta and cook it for about 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is “al dente”.

Drain the lot and dump it into a large bowl.  Add half the DSC03062bottle of pesto and turn the ingredients in it until coated.


Serve it onto a plate with grated parmesan cheese. (and a few tomatoes for colour.)

I don’t measure the ingredients, just throwing in a balanced lot.  Leftovers store well in the fridge and are even more tasty the second day when the pesto has leeched into the potatoes.

Thinking of you, Gloria, as I enjoy this treat.

The hills by San Michele, Italy

The hills by San Michele, Italy

Sharing good news from Kadok Secondary School in Uganda

I started today with a delightful email from a school in rural Uganda that we are helping through the CanAssist African Relief Trust.  Kadok MapAt this remote area near Kumi, the community is trying to improve educational opportunities for students of secondary school age who have no local school to attend.

In Africa, most kids who go to secondary school, attend boarding schools. This is deemed to be a better education as the students are kind of corralled at the school and not as easily distracted by other activities or even household duties demanded of them when they are at home.  For girls this is also thought to be more important so that they are not subjected to sexual advances or even abuse.   Unfortunately the cost of attending a boarding institution is prohibitive for many.

In some communities there is an attempt to provide day schools when boarding facilities are not close by or out of the financial reach of so many.  Students attending these schools sometimes feel like second class citizens. When I visit them I let them know that day schools are by far the most common form of secondary education in Canada and are by no means inferior.

Parents and community members at Kadok are trying to build up classes for teens in their district.  They are quite prepared to sacrifice to have their kids become better educated.  The school operates out of some temporary buildings and rooms at the back of stores along the village street.

These are the deplorable sanitation facilities previously the only accessible toilets for the students at Kadok Secondary School.

These are the deplorable sanitation facilities previously the only accessible toilets for the students at Kadok Secondary School.

They have had no sanitation facility that can be used by the students at the school (or by others who live along this street or frequent the village for shopping).  CanAssist is building latrines to help with this deficiency and hopefully improve sanitation for both the pupils and the community.

This progress report is a real treat to me and I hope that our supporters find it equally delightful.  This is only one of many projects currently underway with CanAssist funding.

The total cost of this will be about 20,000,000 Ugandan Shillings ( approximately $8000 Can)

The work for community projects like this one is all done by hand. And with bare feet!

The work for community projects like this one is all done by hand. And with bare feet!

In July, CanAssist mounted a challenge to our donors and were excited with a response that netted over $20,000 in donations, a number that will be matched by the Sasamat Foundation in Vancouver.

The Kadok school will be the first of many communities that will benefit from these gifts to CanAssist.  They have already received half of their allotment and today sent photos of the progress so far.  Notice that the work is all done manually and with no access to safe work gear.

Paul Abunya reports some of the challenges they have encountered including:

  • Latrine 4During the digging of the pit, the bedded rock got blocked reducing the speed of digging.
  • Also trucks could get stuck on muddy grounds as we were ferrying building materials.
  • It took time for the beam and Nero cement to set. Extending days to put the slab since its rainy season.
  • Despite the challenges we have accomplished the following:
    1. There is overwhelming feelings and support from the community.
    2. Community has donated more land for the expansion of the school.
    3. There has been continuous increase in enrolment of students.

Things are moving ahead.  Labourers in the community are being provided with some small work, construction materials are purchased locally and eventually the community will have toilets for the first time.

Thank you to our CanAssist supporters – feel good about what you are doing to help.

CanAssist African Field Representative, Daniel Otieno visited the school in May 2015 to confirm project details.

CanAssist African Field Representative, Daniel Otieno visited the school in May 2015 to confirm project details.

A Kick and Push Grand Slam

The lead line in the Kingston Kick and Push Festival programme booklet says “This will be no ordinary theatre festival…”  They were right! I was excited earlier this year to see that Kingston was to host a summer festival of five theatre pieces scattered I both time and venue around the downtown core.  I vowed to see them all and this weekend I fulfilled my goal.

All of the theatrical events (not quite right to call them all plays) had interesting production features and all told stories in varied ways.

A Chorus Line is a fairly typical Broadway-type musical that lends itself well to be presented by young aspiring singers and dancers.  I have always enjoyed the productions mounted by Blue Canoe, the company that put this show on at the Grand Theatre in mid-July and this was no exception.  Lots of enthusiastic talented young folks giving a polished set of personal vignettes as they audition for a dancing role in a show.  A most enjoyable evening.

Jacob James and Sophia Fabiili in a scene from Shipwrecked! An Entertainment.

Jacob James and Sophia Fabiili in a scene from Shipwrecked! An Entertainment.

Shipwrecked is a three-actor tall-tale about an adventurous life on the high seas.  I really liked the imaginative presentation that immersed the audience in the story.  The audience was literally washed over by a huge wave,  flooded with ping-pong ball pearls, taken to meet south seas natives and introduced to a very friendly dog named Hugo.  Kudos to Brett Christopher who directed this show for his creativity and to the small cast that included my friend Jacob James who returned home to Kingston for this show. A delight.


Zahshanne Malik, Audrey Sturino and Zachary Arndt in a scene from Totally Nana’s Ride – one of the Autoshow playlets.

Autoshow was a series of ten minute short plays that happened in and around cars in Market Square.  I particularly like the one called Totally Nana’s Ride that happened by an old Dodge parked beside the Bank of Montreal.  Some of these playlets were better written than others. Three of them ended with death, which was a bit of a downer.  The street noise sometimes made it hard to hear the dialogue sometimes.  Some of the plays actually had one or two people get right into the car where the action was happening.   At one point a homeless woman passing across the square wandered into the middle of the action and for a couple of minutes actually joined our small audience  group to peer into the back of the car where the action was happening.  This, of course, added to the whole presentation, rather than take from it.

IMG_8008Tall Ghosts and Bad Weather is a play with some historical background and was presented after dark outside in the graveyard beside St Paul’s Church on Queen Street – the same graveyard where Molly Brant is buried.  It was a curious mix of modern day and a hundred years ago, all intricately entwined as actors from both vintages came in and out of the mix, sometimes almost bumping into each other as they moved past one another, seemingly oblivious to the presence of each other.  The atmosphere was great and the actors did a good job of presenting the story.  A particular credit to them was that, despite three of them being in Autoshow, which I had seen an hour earlier, I did not recognize them in their transformed characters in the graveyard.  The Stone Cellar group that produced this play is a local troupe that specializes in historical dramas.  Will look for more from them.

My favorite, however, was Ambrose, a personal journey through nooks and crannies inside and outside the Grand Theatre, once again with a series of vignettes all revolving around the theatre magnate Ambrose Small, who disappeared mysteriously in 1919.  His ghost, it is said, still haunts the theatres he owned, one of them being the Kingston Grand.  In this theatre adventure, audience was taken one at a time through one of two tracks of stories.  I spent ten minutes alone with a psychiatrist, lying on a couch and answering questions about my deepest secrets, had a drink at an abandoned bar in the lobby with a sexy distraught woman who managed the theatre, read love letters with one of Ambrose Small’s showgirl paramours, watched as a young masked woman talked with me about taking risks then proceeded to scale part of the wall inside the theatre, huddled under a blanket with a slightly crazy recluse in a creepy dark machine room, and got tied up by three young phantoms after climbing down a fire escape into the  alleyway outside the theatre.   Could you ask for more in an interactive theatrical production?  I understand that some folks actually bailed out at some points, finding the personal involvement too intense.  But if you were willing to immerse yourself in the improv nature of this show it became just so much fun.

Earlier in the summer I also enjoyed the Salon Theatre’s Walking in John A’s Footsteps that runs twice daily downtown throughout the summer.

I was disappointed to see  the audiences for these many fine productions so small despite the most expensive ticket being $25.   How can we expect to have this wonderful, creative, immersive theatre in our community if we don’t support it.  I didn’t see anyone I knew in the audience any of the five nights I attended the different shows. Where were you?

With photos shamelessly lifted from the Kick and Push Facebook page!

Summer day by the lakeshore.

The long weekend at the first of August had perfect summery weather here in Kingston although it seems that some of Ontario experienced severe thunderstorms.  I spent a few hours yesterday by the lake taking about 300 photos of folks enjoying the day.  I won’t drop them all on you but hope this few gives you a taste of the day.

IMG_8001Waterfront 2K4K9waterfront 3IMG_7998IMG_8002K6IMG_8003Waterfront 1