Confession time-I have an addiction to renovation shows. My current favourite is Fixer Upper but truly, I love them all. I also love cooking shows, not so much the contest ones but following a home cook in their own kitchen. Pioneer Woman is particularly fascinating because I understand that she started with a food blog just like me. Recently I found a book that combines both my loves. Recipe for Disaster is the story of Anneke as she is forced (due to a lost job and a break up with her chef boyfriend) to live in as she renovates a historic home in Chicago. I was on my way to Chicago so it was serendipitous. As she is demolishing the kitchen she finds the notes and recipes of the house cook that was once employed in the grand old home. She uses the culinary journal to teach herself how to cook. She also relies on the diary to provide practical advice concerning her complicated life. I found this aspect of the novel to be a wee bit hooky, but because I was dawn to both subject matters, overall I enjoyed the read a great deal. Here are a couple of culinary excerpts:
At the end of the day, the difference between being a cook and just cooking is your ability to assess your resources, and make something out of nothing. Any fool can follow a recipe and end up with something edible. But until you can open the larder and see a dish come together in your head, till you have an innate sense of what flavours are good friends, you are just cooking. You cannot call yourself a true cook. Page 240 Used without permission.
I whole heartedly agree with this notion. I feel like a bona fide cook each time I prepare a dish that we call Refrigerator Soup in our house. I typically start with a mire proix, add some stock and then start chopping and throwing things into the pot.
Bread is the staff of life. If you can take, water, yeast, salt and flour and make it into bread, you will never starve. And if you find some skill with it, a loaf and a lump of sweet butter, maybe a jar of preserves, that is a feast worthy of any king. You can be a very good cook without serious skills in pastry art, as long as you can throw together a simple biscuit or cake to end a meal sweetly. There are quality goods in cans and jars available for sale or trade with neighbours, so if you don’t need to stock a cellar for survivial, you don’t necessarily need to can or preserve. But you cannot be a good cook if you cannot put forth a decent loaf of bread. Sometimes, when the stomach is tender, bread is all one can manage to eat, and sometimes when the heart is, it is all one can manage to cook. Page 299 Used without permission.
My Momma patiently taught me how to make bread- a tradition that I hope to pass along to my girls.
I understand that Ballis has a number of culinary themed novels under her belt. Stay tuned, as I read through the collection and mark the pages of some exceptionally fun quotes.
Kath’s quote: “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
― Stacey Ballis
Love never fails.
When I picked up this culinary themed novel, I was not expecting the deep, rich read that it offered up. Told from three different perspectives, the story is as much about the exhausting pursuit of culinary perfection as it is about the fascinating connection between food and love. Here are a couple of my favourite excerpts.
There was one thing that made my mother truly happy: food. In New Hampshire, to save money, she turned off the heat and kept on the oven while she made four varieties of roasted beet soup. She wore pomegranate perfume. At the supermarket, she was like an ant building a hill. At night she slept with yoghurt and honey on her face.
Food was my mother’s life. Sometimes, I wondered if she’d married my father because of his last name: Seltzer. Her maiden name wasn’t really her own. She was adopted. So she took a last name that represented the only part of herself that felt true: food. And seltzer was her secret to delicate crepes, the perfect French onion tart, and fried chicken that actually glittered. (page 17, without permission)
She smiled like she couldn’t help it, and because of that I knew. I knew why she loved the masgouf. And why she loved that recipe, despite her chef-y-ness. I knew why she was always scanning the obituaries. I knew why she was so lonely-not only because of what was inside her, splintered like dried out marzipan where all the joy could slip through, but because Joseph and Victoria were out in the world, not-dying without her. They were making beautiful, delicious food. The only way she could love them, I thought, was for her to eat it and hope that it would fill her up. (226, without permission)
Through a layered story of complicated relationships, Tomorrow there will be Apricots is about accepting and forgiving the persons that we love. The tale is important, significant and beautifully told.
Kath’s quote: “And that’s what love is, I suppose. The one thing that is most worth hoping for, and the one thing that’s most surprising when it lands. Because it’s better. It exceeds hope, makes hope nearsighted.”
― Jessica Soffer, Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots
Love never fails.
Guest Blogger Alice Kulyk has suggestions for the best time and places for mushroom foraging.
A good time to look for new mushroom picking spots is when that variety of mushroom is growing. I also mark the date I first found them growing in my gardening journal. This year I first found chanterelles on July 23 and have been going out once a week to search for more and scouting potential new spots for next year. Last year, I first found honey fungus mushrooms on Oct 4th. They were beautiful buttons probably just a day old so this year I will start looking for them a bit earlier, maybe mid September. Last year I found lots of honey fungus in Birds Hill Park and found a couple of new spots where no one had been picking. The mushrooms were big and old but there were LOTS of them.
A warning to pickers: there may be poison ivy where mushrooms are growing.
Make sure you wear long pants with ankles covered, even rubber boots wouldn’t hurt and be careful when you are picking with bare hands. I did end up with a small case of poison ivy last year. A preventative measure when you get home is to wash your hands and arms with sunlight soap. For me, Birds Hill Park is a great place to pick mushrooms even though there may be poison ivy, as it is only 10 minutes from home. I did notice there was a big sign saying that every car should have a park pass even though the front ticket booth was closed. You could buy tickets at the park office. I took a chance without a pass and was not towed or ticketed in the middle of October.
Find out more:
Kath’s quote: “If you want to go foraging into the wilds of Canada without proper gear, you deserve what you get, even if that happens to include being attacked by an undead moose”.
Love never fails.
Once per summer, I take the opportunity in my Canstar Community Newspaper Column to write about a restaurant located in the beaches area north of Winnipeg. This visit was to the Hillside Eatery 38167 Hillside Beach Road at Hillside Beach, MBat Hill. The eatery’s reputation proceeded itself with accolades on the burgers, fries and pizza. Every word of praise was true; we were very impressed with the quality coming out of the little kitchen. Owner Rene Cyr turns all the praise over to his chef/wife Lori and her selection of fresh ingredients, sending him hither and yon to ensure that everything including the correct bread is purchased for their variety of menu items.
I selected the Ruben sandwich and the authentic rye bread was indeed the perfect choice as was the shaved corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. I often judge a Ruben by how many napkins I had to use to eat it and theirs ranks right up there with the messiest and most delicious.
Others in our group decided upon chicken fingers and burgers and were equally pleased. The burgers were made with hand-pressed beef patties, swarms of sweet sautéed onions and condiments of your choice.
We saw a pizza being delivered to the table next to us that was literally falling off the pizza pan, it was so huge. That is what we will try on our next visit.
The highlight for most of us was the hand cut French fries. Long and crispy with just enough softness in the centre, they were perfectly cooked and abundant. A simple sprinkling of vinegar and a glistening of salt finished them. Speaking of ”finishing them”, I surprised myself and ate up every single one!
The family has just completed the building of a lovely adjoining patio. We understand from Rene that Lori often makes fresh seasonal pies for sale in the adjoining store but you have to get there right away to snatch one up before they are completely sold out, as is often the case.
Kath’s quote: “If baking at Zomick’s bakery is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from one Zomick’s generation to the next one.” ― Zomick’s Bakery
Love never fails.
Today I introduce a new feature and a new guest blogger to Food Musings. I have known Alice since high school. She was older than me and I would admire her and her friends in candid yearbook shots and on the sport team pictures. We were reunited when I discovered that she was married to a partner in the advertising firm that I worked at. Many years pass and her son’s family are friends with my nephew’s family. That son has a summer home at the same lake community as us. Belair Forest is well known for its blueberry and mushroom picking. Alice is a forager and has discovered many treasures in the woodlands. She will be sharing her tips for foraging as the weeks pass.
This is a great year for picking chanterelle mushrooms as there has been plenty of rainfall and very warm temperatures. I visited my favorite spots several times and found a few pounds every time I went.
Even my grandchildren enjoy a few hours in the forest hunting for chanterelles. They have their own baskets and they carry plastic knives which are safe but make for good mushroom cutting. Taking the grandchildren mushroom picking is a very rewarding experience as I am so passionate about picking and teaching them about the gifts the forest offers us. It is also an opportunity to really embrace and enjoy our natural resources and see the beauty in nature. Someone has to teach the younger generation to be appreciative of what nature has to offer.
Now I just have to figure out how to teach them to enjoy the taste of mushrooms. Chanterelles grow in evergreen or mixed woods forest with a mossy floor.
There are lots of areas out by Belair. In July through August, just take a drive north on Hwy 59 and see where cars are parked on the side of the highway and you know they are picking mushrooms. Friends have also told me that the Kenora forests have provided large harvests this summer. I never did find the incredible chanterelle garden I have watched others find on YouTube. Nevertheless, we had several good meals and enough to share or give to friends. I think they are as happy receiving as I was giving.
I will stay hopeful that one day I will find the mother lode.
Find out more:
Kath’s quote: “All of the people who work in the kitchen with me go out into the forests and on to the beach. It’s a part of their job. If you work with me you will often be starting your day in the forest or on the shore because I believe foraging will shape you as a chef”. -Rene Redzepi
Love never fails.