Community Barbeque

October1

As you know if you frequent this space, D and I are very busy with family, the lake, church and travel. Last winter, we really felt as if we had lost touch with our neighbours so we tried to rectify that. The Saturday after new year’s eve we invited our immediate neighbours over for a cup of good cheer and some nibbles. We had such a good time all together that we pledged to extend the invite to a larger circle in the summer. It is decidedly not the summer here in the middle of the Canadian prairies, so we almost missed the opportunity. Or should I say D did because the community barbeque that we held this past Saturday was entirely his vision.

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He found out at our winter gathering that the family across the street were from Argentina. D and the gentleman of the house started chatting about meat grilling and it turned out to be both their favourite topics. So the two conspired to get out their barbeques and treat the neighbours to the resulting fare. Both had live charcoal barbeques so when the coals were lit there was a pleasant waft drift over the neighbourhood.

The invite said 3 o’clock for kids activities and our enthusiastic young neighbour was in charge. She had made a hop scotch on the sidewalk, set up face paints, bubbles, had freezies available for the kids and the piece de resistance-a bouncer! Some of the kids wanted their parents to go and see what the offerings were but soon the kids started to interact with encouragement from our enthusiastic young neighbour. When it was time to depart there were tears of resistance but I am getting ahead of myself.

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We had asked for pot luck contributions of side dishes and dessert and the resulting array was a thing of beauty.

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So too, the barbeque offerings-slow roasted chicken drumsticks and pork loin in a bun. Both were prepared with patience and love and the results were nothing less than sensational.

D received many thanks for putting the event together but without the other barbeque master, the child whisperer, all the food and the muscle offered for take down, it wouldn’t have been such a success.

D and I often sit in our front yard in the evening with a glass of wine. In truth our back garden is even nicer but we intentionally sit out front to engage with the neighbours. We are blessed to live in a part of town where there still are sidewalks and front yards and we don’t immediately enter our house from an attached garage (actually-we don’t even have a garage!) In 2019 North Americans seem to spend too much time indoors watching Netflix and on our tablets. This has got to change or we won’t know our neighbours! So the next balmy day, pull out the lawn chairs, or park the barbeque in the front yard and see what develops.

Kath’s quotes: “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbour”.-Gilbert K. Chesterton

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALove never fails.

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The Frenchman and a Real Dutch Oven

September24

Recently while we were at the beachhouse with Boo an the Frenchman we had a delicious meal that was painstakingly prepared.

The latter is an exceptional cook. We get to enjoy his creations on a regular basis as we rotate the preparation of meals among us when we are at the lake. He also does most of the cooking for his family and is an exceptional baker. On this day, he said he was a little behind schedule at 9:30 in the morning. He typically has his fresh bread dough commence its rise before this time.

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It wasn’t really a beach day and so when he started to prep the rest of the supper, we gathered round the fire pit to observe.

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The most crucial piece of equipment for the meal was his authentic Dutch oven. Not the Le Crueset variety that I love the muted colours of, but a cast iron one with an old fashioned handle that could hang on a spit over a fire. In addition, the lid must have a deep ridge around its circumference. More about that later.

The Frenchman is one of those Renaissance men-a big burly guy, who is a craftsman and artiste, often tears up we talk about his family and loves the outdoors and mastering survival!

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When we first met him he would astonish us that he knew how to make chainmail (I didn’t even know what that was, but here’s a link), as well as mead and medieval food recipes. We often spoke of having a medieval feast one day in the back yard but somehow school, work, weddings, home-hunting, career changes, etc. etc. filled in the time.

But on this day, we got a taste of his ancient skills.

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He tossed a beef roast in flour and seared it over a high heat.

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Later he added veggies, herbs and a beer (good thing we always have lots of 1919 in the beer fridge) and stock to create a brine for everything to wobble around in. Perhaps this doesn’t sound out of the ordinary to you. The thing is this was accomplished while he made his own live charcoal from the firepit which he first cradled the iron oven onto. The pot had to be constantly be moved away so that more coals could be heaped upon the bed.

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And then there came a time where he would also put the live coals on the lid of the pot. This is why the lid had to have a deep ridge so that the live charcoal could stay in place as he constantly tended to the coals.

At dinner time, he pulled everything out of the dutch oven to rest and used the remaining stock to make a savoury mushroom gravy.

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In the mean time he put the risen bread in the oven in a pot too. This was so the the inside would bake along with its crunchy crust. The bread had 4 ingredients and was sublime!

This meal could only be eaten outside so the Frenchman cut up big wedges of the bread, we poured more beer and tucked in!

Kath’s quote: When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

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Love never fails.

 

 

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Argentinean Barbeque

September16

If you live on the Canadian prairies, you will know that August didn’t exactly feel like summer. Friends, neighbours and family have been consoling themselves by saying “maybe we will get another little burst of summer in September”. Well, we are in the middle of that burst.

Yesterday might have been a beach day to make up for the ones that we never enjoyed while on holidays. But we had a commitment in the city, so we drove in from the lake early Sunday morning. In the afternoon Doug enjoyed the weather while cutting the lawn (and a neighbour’s too). Typically his reward for yard work is  to plunk down in a awn chair with an icy cold beer. Since a neighbour across the street was cutting his lawn simultaneously, D asked him over for that beer. Our neighbour did one better, he said:” It is such a gorgeous day, why don’t you come over for a barbeque?” D was quick to say yes as our neighbour happens to be from Argentina, a country widely known for their barbeque meat.

I threw some veggies in the oven to roast an D packed up some beer.

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When we arrived we found Adolfo hard at work. He had pork, chicken and sausage all on the barbecue. The latter being a type that we had not seen before. The coals were live and when the lid was closed, there were two chimneys coming out of the top. Soon after there was a knock on the back gate and neighbours John and Jodi were joining us at the lovely table set out in the garden. They had just returned from Italy and since we leave in a month’s time, we were glad to chat.

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First up was a taste of pork. It was perfectly prepared to a succulent doneness and the salt and spice combination (a secret) were just to our liking. The bites of chicken, sausage and beef were equally delicious.

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By this time all the meats had been placed on the table and I added our vegetable dish. I had roasted sweet potato and beets in some truffle salt that had been gifted to me.

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The meal was lightened up with a crisp salad of apple and walnuts contributed by the back lane neighburs.

By this time the strings of patio lights had come one and we lingered over wine and beer with stories of travel and neighbourhood living. It was the perfect night.

Kath’s quotes: “Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.” James Beard

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Lover never fails.

 

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Anniversary Weekend

September7

This past weekend D and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We were married on the Sunday of a Labour Day weekend because it was the only long weekend we could find that was celebrated in both Canada and the US, where D’s family is originally from. We have marked the occasion in many ways over the years, with trips, weekend getaways or romantic dinners out. This year was memorable for a completely different reason though. We celebrated with our three kids and three grandkids up at our Beach House.

We typically divide up the groceries and meal prep between families but on this weekend J1 and Boo, said to D and I: “we’ve got this”. I was intrigued when J1 got to work early on Saturday morning-cooking bacon and mashing potatoes. I wondered what new brunch meal he was prepping for us. Turns out he was prepping for Saturday night!

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Here is the dynamic duo in the kitchen.

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The Wee Ones were dressed in aprons we purchased for them in Portugal. They told us the specials, took our drink orders and served our first course!

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Since D and I met at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, the kids put together a Keg menu starting with a creamy Cesar salad and the mot decadent garlic cheese toast I have ever tasted.

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There were twice baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and Sirloin Oscars made with shrimp, scallops and asparagus in Bearnaise sauce! We are a family who uses food as a love language and D and I felt very loved indeed.

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Dinner was so delicious and we were so stuffed afterwards, we had to go on a family walk!

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The next day we hosted a special Happy Hour so that the extended family could celebrate with us in addition to a couple of close friends who made the drive out from the city. Happy hour extended into a bonfire and we had the chance to reminisce about marriage and love and family.

Kath’s quote: “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

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Love never fails.

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Guest Blogger Sister #3-Loncheria Nicol, Isla Mujeres

September4

Each year, when I get back from my trip to Isla Mujeres, the thing I miss most about the food is the ability to pick up a wide variety of unbelievable yummy items to go. Sure, in Canada we can order a pizza, or drive through for a burger, but I miss the corner taco stand, the churro cart, the rotisserie chicken shops. One thing that is becoming more abundant in my home city of Winnipeg is fried chicken. Gone are the days when the option of KFC or maybe Chicken Chef if you happened to be in the right neighbourhood. Recently we have welcomed Jollibee, Mary Browns, and Popeyes. But the best fried chicken I’ve eaten recently was from a little Loncheria in Isla Mujeres called Loncheria Nicol.

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Owner Luis moved six years ago from Akil, a small community in the Yucatán, to Isla Mujeres where he opened Loncheria Nicol. Named in honour of both his Father-in-law Nicolas, and his niece Nicol, this little take out joint has become a new favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. Located on Avenida Jesus Martinez Ross beside the Comex in the Meteorologico neighbourhood, it is pretty central for those in the colonias, but fear not if you are not close by, they deliver all over the island!

This year, on our last day on the island, we thought we would order some deliver to our hotel for a light snack while we packed up our belongings and got ready for the next day’s departure. We ordered from Loncheria Nicol and our delicious food was delivered right to the door of our hotel, fast and hot. So nice after a long day at the beach.

There was much more than we needed for our snack, so we decided to pack the leftovers in a cooler bag to tote to the airport. The time between breakfast on the island and dinner at home once you land is a long one and airport food is supper pricey, so we are in the habit of taking leftovers to enjoy as we wait. I think ordering from Nicol’s will be a tradition from this point forward. The Asian noodles were scrumptious served cold, as was the rice, which was full of tomato flavour. We ate all the potatoes the previous day because they were so amazing and would not have been as good cold as they were hot. The pieces of left over fried chicken were still crunchy and tasty, but my favourite was the BBQ chicken which was glazed in a slightly sweet and sticky sauce. The roast chicken was also really good, juicy and succulent. Luis is an absolute delight and made sure we had everything we needed and was so gracious when we sent him our praise for his wonderful food. It you are on Isla now, be sure to pop by or place a delivery order. If, like us, you won’t be back till next winter, be sure to add Loncheria Nicol to your “must do” list.

Kath’s quote: “Everyone loves fried chicken, Don’t ever make it. Ever. Buy it from a place that makes good fried chicken”. -Nora Ephron

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Love never fails.

 

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