Tomato Soup and Tricks of the Trade

April 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last summer I ran out of time to make all my tomato sauces so instead I chose to freeze the extra 40lbs. of tomatoes.  That was probably one of the best moments of the year.  These tomatos have ended up becoming some of the easiest and best soups I have ever made.  Remember I am the master of easy !  If a recipe goes beyond a halfpage my mind has drifted to other things.  Why did I run out of time last year – well it was the frenzy of cheating issues that came my way.  What is this obsession with cheating on your partner I asked myself?  Noone is exempt from this destructive behavior – 40 yrs of marriage poof – destroyed with one foolish decision.  New marriages levelled before they have really even started.  Egads!  Why are people not happy with the partners they chose?  After all is a can of tomato soup not  just a can of tomato soup?  Are there that many variations?  Well apparently yes – there are!

I started sniffing around to find out what was going on.  First I stumbled across a blog that gave people tips on cheating effectively – basically Tricks of the Trade.  So here they are:

  1. Have a separate credit card.  Apparently its difficult to explain to your spouse transactions that do not benefit the family.  Money leaves a trail!
  2. Be up front with your lover that you are in a relationship.  Be in control of your cheating arrangements.  Explain it is just sex and nothing else (this really worked will in Fatal Attraction didn’t it)
  3. Don’t act guilty.  Dont adjust your behavior – guilt can change people.  Express your feelings towards your spouse normally – no moods!
  4. Have a secret email account.  Duh.  Guess how General Petraeus got caught?Did you know that one in five men has a separate email account?  – check out the article and that was five years ago!
  5. Erase voice mails and texts – texts are a killer if you are a cheater.  get them off your phone or have a separate phone.
  6. Cheat with someone out of town.  If this is not possible aim for another city.
  7. Practice safe sex .  Does this really need to be spelled out anymore?
  8. Dont be careless.  Cheating is serious business – you have to be on top of your behavior and your receipts and your commitments.  Miss one and the house of cards might come tumbling down.
  9. Know when to call.  Dont continue the affair if the person has reservations.  Move on.  One night stands are far less complicated.
  10. Dodge marital espionage. Knowing when and where to cheat is critical if you dont want Ms. Private Investigator tailing you.    Remember their client is your spouse and they have all your information so catching you turns out to not be that hard.

The headings are quoted from a  article on Infidelity – the sarcastic wording is mine.   The article was written to help people enjoy cheating; though dangerous, it could be fun and exciting.  High risk apparently equals high rewards.

These tips can also help the partner that is wondering whether their other half has started the cheating game.  Use these as your tools to determine whether cheating is occurring.

As an investigator I am always asked Why?  Why does my husband, my wife cheat?  I don’t have answers; I have through experience developed some theories.  One is that people get bored in their relationships – they get too comfortable and forget about including some excitement and romance back into their lives.  Spice up that tomato soup I say!  Be sexy, be fun, be challenging, be difficult, laugh with abandonment, get away from the TV, the computer, whatever it is keeping you in the same place.  Review your role in the partnership – maybe its time for a switch; maybe your partner needs to start taking care of the finances and you get a break;  treat your partner like they are the best tomato soup you have ever had!

Speaking of tomato soup – here is my Slow Cooker recipe for Easy and Filling Tomato Soup.

  1. Take your tomatoes out of the freezer (I usually have five frozen together in a ziploc bag – I am talking about beefeater tomatoes here) and put them in the slow cooker for 8 hours (this should be the low setting) and cover with water.  I do not peel or core them – all of that is nutrition that you are removing.
    1. After they are cooked thoroughly take your  immersion blender  and go to it.  Blend it all – skin included.
    2. Now you have a slightly orangy-red broth.  This is what you want!
  2. Have prepared – about one cup washed barley; half cup washed rice (neither is cooked), nicely chopped up carrots, celery, onions if you want, turnips, parsnips – what ever you like in your soup.
  3. Throw this into your broth.
  4. Add your herbs – thyme, oregano, herb salt, pepper, chili flakes and so on.
  5. Add some more water.
  6. Cook in slow cooker on medium for about four hours.

You will have a nice thick healthy organic tomato soup that is delicious!  What spices and flavour you add to it depends on your preferences.  I like my soup spicy so i add a lot of chili flakes.  For those that like it milder stick to the tame spices.


Remember its alway easy to add spice later but you have to start with a solid foundation! Kind of like a relationship – the basic ingredients are worth building on. Don’t cheat – separate, divorce, but don’t betray your partner, your children, and your whole way of life.  That’s like eating that cheap tomato soup in the can.  It just isn’t good for you.






February 21, 2017 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Maintaining a blog is another job on the toolkit requirements  for small business!  Although it has been on my to-do-list now for eleven months I found myself having difficulty deciding what to write about.  After all this is an investigative blog that provides you with some great recipes.  Additionally you are supposed to laugh about the issues.  Life is so serious that we all need to laugh more!  We also need to eat better food more!  We also need more sleep!  I don’t know about you but at any given time one of these  is out of balance in my life.

Lately I have been wondering how valuable blogs actually are in terms of promoting a business.  Does a blog bring in more new customers? Does it introduce your company to a larger base?  Perhaps if it is published on a regular basis – I will give you that!  But I have concluded it really does not.   How many blogs are thrown at your email daily – I receive at least 20 a day I have signed up for and really intend to read – but I don’t.  Recently a speak on CBC announced that blog are dying out.  This may very well be the case.  They are only useful if you actually read them.  In conclusion if you are following this blog I hope you take the time to read it!

Writing is not an easy task !  If you want to be original you have to hunt through your mind for something of value and then find the words to make it interesting.  Sigh.  You need a topic, an outline, the merging, in my case, of investigation and food.  Hard work!  As hard as investigating!

Months ago I wanted to write about homemade pizza but had a hard time connecting it with investigations.  Then I thought about my surveillance issues – food, bathroom, feeling hot, feeling cold, food.

Surveillance is one of those situations that often make me laugh. One of the constant concerns I face each surveillance day is what to eat that meets my gluten-free vegetarian requirements.  Yes i can drive through Mcd’s for fries but then my figure will be affected!  Timmies has great coffee but very limited gluten-free veggie offerings!  Sushi can accomplish all of that but have you ever been on surveillance and just as you are going to jump into that spicy salmon sashimi the subject pulls out of the driveway – messy – very messy situation!

But lets face it – we get hungry on surveillance!  So I have been playing around with recipes for a while that accomplish my food requirements, my taste requirements and my satiation requirements.  Guess what i found – PIZZA!  YES THAT WONDERFUL COMFORT FOOD – PIZZA.  No not the one you pick up at the pizza delivery place but homemade and healthy.  Bearing in mind that i am a vegetarian you can simply add your meat requirements to your heart’s content to the recipe.

So first you need a bread machine.  I love bread machines!  Why are you paying $6.00 for a speciality loaf of bread when you can make it yourself for about 1.00?  Plus you don’t have to knead it, yeast it etc.  – just put your ingredients in your bread pan and go do something – maybe write a blog!

So read the recipe for your bread machine to make pizza dough.  Add to the recipe chili pepper flakes and some other herbs you enjoy – oregano, garlic, spice,  and so on.  The dough becomes very flavourful.  Your machine will make enough dough that you can split it in half and produce two thin crust bases.

Now here is a secret ingredient – forget about tomato sauce and ketchup.  Go and buy yourself a jar of Ajvar – Croatian vegetable spread – SOOOO GOOOD.  Most European delis have this.  Put this on your pizza base – you will not regret it.  They usually come in mild, medium, hot.  I prefer hot but then I am a kind of spicy p.i.  gal!

Now throw on top every kind of vegetable you can imagine (avoid veggies like turnip, squash etc, unless they are pre-cooked and you can slather them on) You can slice cooked potatoes, tomatoes, kale, spinach, feta cheese, daiya cheese, any kind of cheese – add more than one .  Now I know this does not sound exciting to most people – but if you want something to eat that will not bloat you, will not put ten pounds on you, will fill you up – homemade and healthy  and portable –  pizza is the way to go!  img_20160822_203846img_20160822_203924


Fill up your food supplies with cutup pizza, fruits, dates, nuts and you are ready for healthy surveillance days!  Writing this has made me hungry!  Its lunchtime!


Coming soon – Tails of the City with The Boss and Belle and their associates!



Don’t forget my great book is still available on Amazon and or Self-counsel press.  Tips to run a great business!



Sleuthing at the Stove -Plums and Social Media

April 27, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]There is no doubt that everyone in their working life will make a mistake – might be small or might be large.  In business clients can become upset over many things.  Sometimes they are upset because they owe money and they have decided to not pay it.  I remember learning about the gratitude scale at university.  It works something like this: at the beginning of an investigation the client is very grateful and hands over that retainer with minimal difficulty;  that gratitude continues until the investigation is completed – that is when you get the client to pay any outstanding fees – the gratitude starts decreasing once they have the results and the harder it becomes to collect.   So no verbal results or report is handed over until the bill is agreed upon and the client has handed you the outstanding funds.  It makes sense.  Twice I have been left holding the bag because I did not follow what I preached and had to place accounts in collections or small claims.

In the meantime many of these unpleasant clients resort to social media to defame the company or the owners or both.  SOCIAL MEDIA – the over-valued communication system used to promote business and evaluate business.  Most businesses find this way too demanding to keep up with – twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat,linkedin, and on and on.  At the same time your haters use the same media to attempt to destroy your business or your reputation .  Worse is that you probably do not even know it is happening because you are so busy working your business.   So many negative reviews are completed on almost every business because the reviewer has a bone to pick, or is simply a nasty person, and more importantly who are the food critics today?  Everyone has an opinion on a restaurant – based on what experiences I ask?  But enough of that.  I was pondering this fact about social media the other day when I heard on CBC that an individual had won his court case against his neighbour who had made very negative comments on facebook about him due to a neighbourly dispute.   Reference –

So google reviews, yelp reviews and what ever else exists out there should require that the person identify themself through some form of identity verification so that they cannot hide behind a pseudonym – the person stalking and harassing our company goes by the name “Marilyn Monroe”.  Her statements are untrue and unfair and when we catch them we reply.  But now we have another job to do with social media – not just send out info but keep on top of the haters.    The good news though is that now we can sue these people for defamation.

I am undecided on whether or not Social Media is a good thing.  Sometimes I long for the quiet of years of past.

So i thought a good recipe to post would be something plummy.  You know all prunes are plums but not all plums are prunes.  Sums up social media for me.

Here is a great Croatian recipe for Prune Plum Crumble

1 lb. Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 Tbls. flour
2 Tbls.(or other raspberry/black raspberry liqueur or syrup

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup white or coconut sugar sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
6 Tbls. butter, cut into small cubes

Makes 1 9-inch round dessert

Grease a 9-inch glass pie pan lightly with oil or butter and set it aside. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

prune pie


So good… i think i will make one now!


Sleuthing at the Stove -Dogs and Turds

March 30, 2016 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]  I find it interesting that my blog was totally ignored while I was working on my book and that a year passed away without anyone noticing.  So obviously my blog audience has not been craving my wit!  This I find a shame as if you know me you will find that I am quite accurate in my summations of human behavior.  As I get older though I find myself less tolerant of whiners, excusers, self-identified victims, and entitled folks.  These moods often find me in the kitchen – pounding the crap out of some dough.  (flour not financial).  I was thinking about how Rockford files so accurately portrayed the reluctance and/or deliberate refusal to pay an investigator for services provided.  Do you remember Jim Rockford?  I never understood his desire to live in that tacky trailer by the ocean.  Great location to live; terrible decorating.  So here I am making dog cookies in the shape of humans.  Why? Because some humans deserve to be devoured and pooped out in the shape of the turds they really are.  Recently I worked on a file for a distraught couple who were upset that their granddaughter was involved with unsavory men.  A difficult file given the expectations of the grandmother and the fact that she would pass on all information  provided to her to her granddaughter and subsequently the man she was involved with.  This is after multiple cautions to the client to not do this!   The information that the client wanted was provided.  At the end of it all she owed money.  Why? Because a bad business decision was made to let her approve the continuation of the file verbally and pay upon completion.  Yes we have a contract. Yes we take retainers from private clients.  Yes we sometimes trust the clients.  SO HERE IS THE BUSINESS LESSON OF THE YEAR.  Do not do any extra work for anyone without funds in hand.  No matter who they are – no matter how they represent themselves – no matter the background they claim to have.  No money – no work.  I am not new at this business but I still make this mistake because at home, in my heart, I still trust people.  Some people would call this a good quality but every time i do trust someone like this I am stiffed on the bill.  So yes, Jim Rockford, I relate to you.  Often nice gals finish last.

So if you are interested in my personal recipe for dog cookies (they go through them like crazy) here it is.

Easy, yummy Dog Cookies – you can eat them too!
As you know i believe in easy easy… If i have to read four pages of a recipe you have lost me. so enjoy making these.
Ingredients – Dry
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (can use quick oats as well)
1/2 cup dry milk
1/2 t. salt
Add some herbs – parsley is great for dog breath; basil for flavor… 1 tablespoon.
Stir the dry ingredients.
Ingredients – Wet
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter – any kind
1/2 cup cold water (may need a bit more – use your judgement to make the dough cohesive.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Roll the dough into balls.
Put on cookie sheet.
Flatten the balls using the bottom of a wine bottle or glass – depends what you are drinking at that moment!
Bake for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the type of oven you have. i dont have a clue so check on your cookies so that they are not burned.
I made about three trays of cookies – about 48.

Check out my facebook page TheFarmersWife for more great recipes.




March 2, 2016 at 9:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]  Today I am summarizing some tips from my new book – Start and Run a Security Business (details at the end of the blog on where to purchase the book).    No comparison to food this time but I have thrown in a great vegan recipe for you to enjoy if you make it through the article.  Enjoy both!


Achieving your dreams through self-employment requires a lot of sober reflection. Here are ten tips to review prior to starting a security business.

  1. Why the security business?

Make sure you have a passion for security. Do you have the background to tackle client concerns? Do you have a working knowledge of physical security, manpower requirements, locksmithing, alarms, and investigations? Knowledge of the industry and its services is critical to success. Are you prepared to go into an industry that operates on a 24/7 timeclock?

  1. Do you have the finances in place to start your business?

I believe you need to be financially prepared to support your business for a period of three months. While some recommend working fulltime and starting a business after hours this rarely works well in the security industry. Have your finances in place and then put your heart and soul into the new business. One of the first obstacles you will face is that banks view the security industry as service with no assets to lien against.  Often you will be required to have equal funds to the line of credit you are seeking.

  1. Do you want a company or a job?

Some people go into business for themselves so they have a fulltime job – in other words you are not looking to build a business you just want one or two contracts to yourself that you can work and invoice. If you are looking to have a larger structure, decide how to go about it – a corporation? A partnership? A proprietorship? How is your support system? Will your family support you through the trials and tribulations of business start-up? Does your business partner offset your skills? Be clear on what your goals are – both short- and long-term. Plan for success.

  1. Start your sales and marketing.

If you know the industry then you already know who your target group is. Many security guards start their own companies after working on sites and seeing the client dissatisfaction. If you have heard via the grapevine that a client is unhappy, approach them with your plan highlighting why you are a better bet for security.  Sales is simply talking to the client – there is no magic. Always work the networks prior to the official starting date to ensure viability of the business and a cash flow.

  1. Line up your professional support!

This is standard business information – organize your professional support. Choose your corporate lawyer, accountant, banker. The most helpful to your success will be a client mentor in the security industry who will hire you and work with you to build success. For investigators that may be an insurer, for guards a large corporate client, for locksmiths a contractor of substance.

  1. Organization

This is often forgotten and results in hours of unnecessary work and troubleshooting.  On top of standard business administrative tasks, you need to factor in industry-specific requirements: licensing, bonding, firearms certificates. Prepare all forms, contacts, contingency plans, think of disability insurance, life insurance, and key man insurance. Have you organized your governmental licensing, workers compensation, tax registration? All of this should be in place before you open the doors.

  1. Personal Care

Security is a particularly stressful industry therefore setting a personal care plan is especially crucial. You will need energy to work the long hours that come with starting this business. The expectations are high, staff turnover is high, results are often preventative and therefore not quantitative. Burnout is a major issue. Whether you walk, run, meditate or just breathe deeply – build it into your schedule!

  1. Networking

Have you decided where to network? Choose one industry- and one or two community networking groups which target your field and will bring business your way. Is there a property management or a loss prevention group you can join? These are your potential clients.

  1. What makes you the company to hire?

So what makes you better than the competition that has been around for a while? There is little left that is new in this industry but you might be the person to come up with that idea.  Are you offering  technological advances in scheduling, monitoring, access control ?  Remember in business you don’t just bid on new work you also bid on existing work.

  1. Prepare your business plan.

You should have all your answers written down so you can develop your plan in writing Make sure to show all your alliances that will build and support the security company.  They should include companies that supplement yours, professionals who will recommend you, and suppliers whom you can reach out to as needed. Now with these questions answered you are ready to start your Business Plan.

Book can be purchased through self-counsel press,, chapters.  ISBN 978-1-77040-246-1 Continue Reading TEN TIPS TO A SUCCESSFUL SECURITY BUSINESS…

Kale chips and 50 Shades of Fucked – not a book, not a movie, but a reality.

December 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Yes the title is crude.  That is how I feel about some of the cases I have worked on lately.  I used to smoke – I used to smoke a lot.  But like many women with children I quit before my pregnancy.  Now I chew on things – pretty well anything appealing.  292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]Sometimes wine gums, sometimes Lays Vegan ripple chips (mmmmm) and lately a lot on kale chips.  Guilt free pleasure and stress release.   Great recipe at the end for you.

So lets talk about my cases.   Pictures – I get pictures and then have to find the person.  Why you ask?  Well a picture is the only concrete piece of evidence some women have about the man they have been having a sexual relationship with for the past several months or in some cases years.  Yes it is true.  They may have information this predator has provided them but most often it is altered and untrue.  And of course the men are never married.  (read sarcasm and snicker here).  Its about this point that I start ripping the leaves of the kale stems… grrr.

I have decided that these men are actually sexual predators of a kind that has not come to the attention of the public yet.  They feed off vulnerable women that are desperate for love and a committed relationship.  These are not ‘equal’ relationships where both parties are acting out their fantasies.  These are situations where the woman believes she is participating in a committed situation but the man knows full well he is not. The women are victims.  You may argue that they are stupid and often I have wondered that myself.  But most often what I meet are desperate women – recently divorced, survivors of abusive relationships, lonely, very lonely, lacking self-confidence, esteem issues from long ago still lingering, often timid in life, kind, caring, generous, loving, and believing.  These predators see this, sense it, feed it, and before you know it the sexual relationship commences.

It basically works like this -they meet online and like the profiles put up,  the woman can only reach the man through email (he has many reasons he cannot give her a phone number), he attends at her residence only, he gives vague information about his employment – never does he give a work number or actual location, usually his work involves ‘travel’ which allows him to spend time with his main family, he always has some hard luck story about relationships – volatile exwife,  only sharing the house until they divorce …, he has total control of this situation.  I refuse to call it a relationship as it is just a titillating sexual thrill for the man.  For the women it is a real investment of themselves.

We all know abouimages[5]t the Nigerian internet scams  of money that have been visited on gullible  women – the catfish.  Well these men take away not money but more – the soul of the woman.  These are men without character, morality, integrity, ethics.  These are users of the worst kind.  During the day they are the marvelous family man with a great supportive wife; most often they have children; often they coach sports; play sports, have positions that allow them flexibility of their schedule and yes they are the guy next door.  Now the kale is in the bowl and I am hand mixing it with vigour…. mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and I always add chili pepper flakes (getting hungry now) and mix mix mix.

The damage these vile people do to their victims is long-term.  Trust, confidence, sense of self quickly disappear when you realize you have given this man time and your feelings and your body.  The other victims of course are his family – wives that just have no idea their husbands are putting up profiles on various sites – sometimes multiple trolling profiles.  The shock is unfathomable. I have been privy to the female victims at both ends one too many times.

For a long time I have spoken out against online dating sites.  For a long time I have counselled women that if they are going to go online they need to vet the person they are thinking of being involved with.  THIS PERSON IS A COMPLETE STRANGER AND THE FACT YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED SOME KIND OF COMMUNICATION ONLINE DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE SAFE. For years I have lectured on this topic and advised women to meet in safe places, report back to a person that knows where they have gone, take license plates and text them, protect yourself.  Then this year I meet another slew of clients that did the opposite.  Where’s my bag of kale chips????

So I say way too many people are willing to participate in 50 shades of fucked.  Surely you have enough discipline to restrain from ‘stranger sex’ at a time when so many health issues alone should caution you.  Surely your sense of personal worth prevents you from being treated like an object.  Ladies, these men can go to a hooker to fulfill their fantasies – but they have to pay for services rendered.  So not only are they real creeps – they are cheap creeps.

I am not a young woman and I am not an old woman.  But I am a woman that recalls the fight of women for equality and fair job access and have worked in a field that has struggled with accepting women.  But I know that if you do not treat yourself with respect nobody else will.   I know that if a man does not give you a phone number where you can reach him at he is married.  I know that if its too good to be true then it usually is.

So my final comment is Women – snap out of it!  Go rent yourself a copy of Looking for Mr. Goodbar.  A movie from the 70’s that applies today.  Scared the crap out of me when I was a kid – hope it does the same for you.

Predators – I hope soon someone will decide there should be criminal charges for this kind of behavior – a sexual predator of a different kind.

Readers – take some time to make some kale chips = they are so good for you and addictive!

kale dehydrator trayRecipe

Kale – as many bunches as you want. ( Wash and dry off).  Use local or organic please!

Strip the leaves from the stalk (I keep the stalks and freeze to use for veggie stock later)

Throw the leaves in to a bowl.

Add olive oil – yes I like the leaves to be coated nicely not sparsely.

Spice it up – use pepper, chiliflakes, mixed salts are the best.

Throw onto the dehydrator trays (oops forgot to mention that a dehydrator is superior to the oven) and set the time.

When done pig out!



Saturday Snooping

June 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of my favorite activities on a free Saturday is to check out the local garage sales or estate sales.  If nothing exciting is listed on Craigslist  then I head to a garden store.  This weekend I chose Gardenworks!  I found their organic and non-gmo tomato plants to be quite reasonable at $3.29 a plant compared to regular tomato plants at $2.49.  But I do find their herbs overpriced at $3.99 individually unless you purchase 6 – then they drop to $3.79.  I was running out of time so went for them!  The key to having an organic garden is to only buy organic seeds or starter plants – I know this sounds simple but it was a challenge to find everything I was looking for.

However  I rebel at buying seasoil from Gardenworks at $7.99 when the exact same soil is sold at Home Depot for $6.99.  I mean really – the same product.  It is a hassle going to the other store for soil but when you end up buying several bags within a month it can amount to  $10.00 and up.  Gardening can become an expensive hobby at the best of times so keep your costs down in this department.

On the other hand while I was standing in the lineup at Home Depot several people were commenting on the poor quality of the plants sold there; all of them had the plants die on them last year. I confess to having had the same problem but had attributed it to my neglectful approach to watering.  It appears I may have been incorrect.  A key factor to purchasing quality plants I think is to purchase them from the nurseries.  After all this is their primary business and as such focus should be on customer satisfaction.  This year it was seeds or starter plants from nurseries.  I hope it is an improvement over last year.

One of a private investigators best skills is the ability to notice the unusual.  This skill carries into one’s personal activities too – often to the detriment of your kids (who are always trying to pull one over on you).  Shopping becomes a logistical analysis of the product, the price, the value, the options available , the stores that carry the item.  So in a sense shopping can be exhausting!



Sleuthing at the Stove – Summer Yummies and Found Monies!

August 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Once upon a time I decided to plant my home garden in such a way that my standard Vancouver city lot of 33′ by 120′ would be an amazing example of organics in the middle of the urban setting. Out the back of my property ,which consisted of a  downwards slope from the lane to the kitchen, was grass.  A lot of grass.  I am not a fan of grass and find it overrated in general.  So I began the process of terracing my property.  Now we have five levels from the carport at the lane to our kitchen door at the bottom.  The most common question I am asked is: “HOW LARGE IS YOUR PROPERTY?”292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]

I did not do my research  and check the soil or the sunshine or placement of my fruits and vegie gardens – I was impatient to obtain results.  As you can appreciate a lot of mistakes were made in the process of growing this garden.  There were also a lot of joys and surprises – the kiwi plant and the fig tree.  Firstly I was told kiwis would not grow in our climate.  Year after year my crop of kiwis defies this statement.  As for the fig tree – I just haphazardly placed it mid-section next to my neighbours on the north.  That tree is hardy.  I got swept up in life and never had time to really do what you are supposed to do  with fig trees – pruning and all that!  The end result was  my tiny fig tree becoming a fig bearing monster.  The wildlife are in love with it.  Buffet at  the top  of the tree – inaccessible to mere humans.  The dogs love the figs when they fall and splatter  all over the brick!   So do the ants and any other ankle animals.  Of course these figs are a danger to hapless humans trudging around my backyard.  If they do not look where they are going it is possible to find them laying on the ground in no time at all.  The dogs find this highly amusing.  Over the years I have wondered if the cats are in on placing these figs in the most unlikely places….a thought to ponder.


The fig tree was a gift.  When I first moved into my house a Croatian friend left two house warming gifts for me – a fig branch and a walnut branch to plant.  The walnut never made it.  The fig is a testament to endurance and neglect.  Over the years I had to explore solutions to all the figs.  I have to admit I was never a great lover of just sitting and eating the figs. Even a glass of wine would not help.  So I began the process of making fig jams and preserves.  Some worked out amazingly well and some I will not repeat.  One of my favorites is the Balsamic Fig Jam.  When I first made it I was not impressed.  I let the jams sit for a year and now they are mouthwatering. A  vegan wrap, some goats cheese, and some balsamic fig!  A good glass of homemade Croatian wine, sunshine, a good book and I was in heaven! (all recipes will be posted for you to try.  )

The best thing about canning the jams and preserves is access to the figs year round. A cold snowy evening in December and out comes the figs – you can put them in anything.  Crepes? yes!  Panini? Absolutely – add cheese! Baguettes – mouth watering!  But my whole fig relationship was not with out trial and error – similar to some investigations I have worked on.  As I am writing this blog my daughter enters the kitchen and asks if there any figs that have not been turned into jam.  I point at the tree. She grimaces. Loads are out there waiting for some action on my part or the freedom to fall to the ground.

Figs remind me of the pieces of investigations.  You think you have picked all the figs but there they are – more of them – hiding cleverly IMG_0523

under the leaves.  Investigations have layers as well – sometimes layers of deceit, layers of confusion, layers of deliberate misdirection, layers of unknown misdirection, layers of neglect,  layers and layers to work through.  What makes someone want to do this for a living? It is the completion of the puzzle; finding the answers to the questions; closing chapters for some people.  Not all investigators can do this work.  Many are surveillance operatives only. This is not a negative – it is reality.  Just as you hire a criminal lawyer if it is a criminal matter and a litigator for civil suits you need to determine the expertise of the investigator.  Some are highly skilled and highly educated individuals that have chosen to work in a field that often does not recognize their abilities.  Some will never leave their vehicle and be seen by the public.

Recently the Bank of Canada announced there were millions of dollars in forgotten accounts.  Monies left by people that have moved on, passed away, or just forgotten they had these accounts.  It is easy enough to find out if you are one of these people.  Just go to the site and search your name. That’s it folks.  You do not need to pay anyone any money to do this!  Avoid all companies offering you a percentage to find funds in your name!  Waste of your mullah!IMG_0529 IMG_0530 IMG_0531

I was recently hired to find the relatives of someone that had left substantial funds in their account and there was no known family. Difficult?  Well I thought it would be relatively simple based on the information on the internet today.  Again, just like the planting of my garden I made some impatient assumptions.  It could not have been harder.  Never mind that the surname was Smith – of course right?  He had passed away in the Yukon and therefore I thought well its a much smaller populace to deal with.  By the time I had finished that investigation (something like the hidden figs) the clues took me all the way to the Gold Rush and back.  What an investigation that was!  What great history I learned about the Yukon!  It was fascinating, thrilling, rewarding, and at the end of it all disappointing.  There was no family left to receive this bounty – another family that has faded into the history books.  Just like preserving figs I think we need to preserve the stories of these individuals.  They are not celebrities.  They are not the movers and shakers of the world.  They are the core – the foundation of our society.  They are forgotten.  I have the privilege in my job of learning about people and often feel that we need way more books about the average Joe/Jane of our society.  Who was he? What did he do? What were his interests? What was his life like?  I confess to an incredible inquisitiveness that sometimes is placated when hired by a client to do this work.  Once the file is over and the documentation is saved in my files I move on.  Perhaps it is time to start a book on Me, you and figs.


Vegan Sarma Recipe

March 9, 2013 at 10:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30cd7c7e1a102b854456f97ad9708516[1]Most of my recipes still look like this!  I love the feel of the paper and the words handwritten on the paper by the person who gave me the recipe.  Of course they could all be put onto a computer data base but it would remove the memories from the recipe!   (FYI – the picture is for illustration not a recipe i have used)
So here is my recipe for Sarma:


1. one head of sour cabbage

2. one pack of Yves vegie ground round

3. One onion

4. Cup of uncooked rice

5. Spices – garlic, pepper, salt

6. Large jar of saurekraut


Line the bottom of your pot with sauerkraut. – as much as you like.

Take the head of cabbage and cut the end off – throw that in your pot or eat it.  No rules here!

Take the outermost leaves and put them on the sauerkraut.

Start filling the leaves until you run out – of leaves or filling!

Roll, place on sauerkraut; repeat until you have two or three rows (or more) and cover with a couple of sour cabbage leaves.  Fill the pot with water (and add a dash of organice smoked flavoring if you really need that touch).  Cook on medium until boils; then lower temperature and cook until you cannot take it anymore!

The filling:

Take a bowl and throw in the vegie ground round, chopped onion, cup of uncooked rice, and all your spices.  Spice to your own preference.  I like my food spicy but keep this recipe close to mom’s original!  Mix well.

Thats it folks !  The myth of cabbage rolls is dispensed.  You do not need  a large kitchen or ten ethnic women trained in the arts of cabbage rolls to make these.  Simple and wonderful.  Enjoy.


Sleuthing at the Stove – Winter Blues and Comfort Food

March 9, 2013 at 10:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

292183_212336108868978_100002777705705_269924_1884003815_n[1]I spent my childhood eating in the kitchen of a Croatian mother and so did my friends! No one could enter our home without being stuffed full of some home made food, pastries, palacenke, or vegies from the garden. Not one helping but at least two – otherwise mom thought there was something wrong with her cooking. Feeding family and friends was part of the process of having a conversation – people sat around the table for hours – talking, arguing, resolving and eating. There was no large kitchen or granite countertops or stainless steel appliances. None of that was needed. Food preparation did not require the latest and greatest appliances or settings. Good food came from the hands and heart of a cook that wanted to make people happy and full.   What a great foundation to build on!  Winter time meant great stews, soups, and of course, my all time favorite comfort food – SARMA – commonly known in Canada as cabbage rolls!  Wonderful, filling, tasty, endless amounts of cabbage rolls.  My mouth is watering as I write this.  A large pot on the stove full of cabbage rolls slowing cooking away with slabs of smoked back bacon, home-made dry sausages, sauerkraut, rolls stuffed with a combination of pork, beef, lamb and rice…. mmmmm – unbearably delicious!  Complete and total comfort food.

Comfort food became more complicated to prepare once I became a vegetarian (which to this day the majority of my family still thinks that means you can eat chicken !).  Experiments – many.  Catastrophes – many. Success – eventually!   As I write this article my new fridge is still sitting awkwardly to the west of my island – blocking easy access.  Sometimes the process of sleuthing and cooking interfere with other renovations.  This winter was an endless series of rainy days – light rain, harsh rain, stormy rain, angry rain – you name it – we had it.  Did I want comfort food – absolutely.   What I really wanted was SARMA – a pot of “good to eat for many days” SARMA.  So the problem became how to make it without meat??? My Croatian friends, after they stopped laughing at me said – Impossible!   That is the wrong thing to say to a sleuth ! So off I went to find a recipe.

At the same time I was handed a missing person file.  Looking for a person – looking for a recipe – basically the same skills required.  As always my kitchen helpers and vacuums were present – Triggz and Madi. madi kitchen triggz in kitchen

My missing person was a woman last seen in Ottawa about 35 years ago.  Fortunately her family was all located locally and I thought this will be a piece of cake.    In the meantime I had googled and found a bunch of vegan recipes for cabbage rolls.   So off I went to find Mary and make my rolls.

Perhaps it was the mind numbing dullness of the rain or my vanity that deluded me into thinking either of these two tasks would be simple. Never have I dealt with such a negative family as Mary’s.  Seven siblings – all alive and not one would talk to me.  None of them would even acknowledge she existed.  This woman was coming into a substantial inheritance and do you think one of her siblings would even agree to give her a message – no!  A group of miserable, unhelpful, resentful, and angry people – each and every one of them.  I did not have the time nor the interest to figure out what their problem was.  Suffice to say the job became more difficult.  A search across Canada of databases – obits, vehicle ownership, land ownership and so on all came back negative under any and all names she had been known to use.  Her employer at that time had been the Government of Canada – need I say more as to why this went nowhere?  Frustration set in – i really needed those cabbage rolls!

The first problem with the cabbage roll recipes I found was that they used tomato sauce in their soup base and  NO NO NO that is not how it is made from my part of Croatia.  Ahhhhh… So I made my own recipe combining moms meat recipes and my taste buds!

Before you even begin to think of making cabbage rolls you have to locate organic sour cabbage (I have my own supplier – hehehe – Uncle Matt) and then recover from being robbed at the checkout.  Fortunately every piece will and can be used!  I usually just obtain a medium sized head (what is left over I throw in my hot and sour cabbage soup)and find that I can make about fifteen or more rolls!  Just remember the leaves can be delicate so a gentle approach is required.  So grab a good pot – stainless steel if you have one ; if not whatever is in your cupboard and can hold your SARMA.  I line the bottom of the pot with sauerkraut and a few leaves of sour cabbage (usually the top ones that are not so pretty to roll your SARMA ingredients in).  This provides a nice soft and flavourful bedding for your SARMA.imagesCA2C8XGW

One time I purchased vegan smoked apple sausage in an attempt to recreate moms meat based dish but the critic (also known as my daughter) asked me to not put them in as the flavoring bothered her.  So I decided to be a puritan this time and just go with a clear water broth that will adapt the sauerkraut flavoring during the cooking.  The process is actually quite simple.  You pull off each wet leaf gently and fill it with your concoction and roll it.  Rolling is a bit tricky – but just think of those wonderful Greek grape leaves that are rolled around rice (again mouth watering effect) and you will realize that to prevent the filling from coming out you have to tuck in the ends.  So take a leaf in your hand – cradle it in such a way there is a little valley created the size of your palm and put in your fill.  Then, while still holding the filled leaf, tuck the ends in with our other hand. Voila!  Now take the little leaf and gently fold over one side then the other and for a final flurry – roll it carefully.  Place it in your pan and continue until you have one row of pretty little rolls!  Done? Now top them with more sauerkraut and and start all over again.  I usually do three rows and top it all off with large sour cabbage leaves and then place on the stovetop to cook on medium until the dish is boiling.  Then I lower the temperature to the very lowest and leave it for about an hour.

The aroma will waft through your house and it will be hard to not pick at the pot!imagesCARMJM48imagesCAQC12C0

The end result will look like this.  Remember you can keep the rolls in your fridge (if they last that long) or even freeze them in batches for later eating.


So my cabbage rolls were made and what perfect food for Vancouver winter weather!  Did I find Mary – not yet!  But I am chewing on some new ideas!

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