The Frenchman’s 30th Birthday

February21

Three out seven family members turn 30 this year but the Frenchman was the first. Last night’s celebration was particularly noteworthy though. The Frenchman brought a new tradition to us when he first joined our family. For a birthday celebration everyone has an opportunity to express why they love the person we are celebrating. The Wee One decided the order of sharing starting with her Poppa and saving Auntie Boo for last. While her Mom was sharing, the Wee One (three years old) knew that she was next and you could see her wheels turning as to what she was going to say: “I love him because he is so nice and her loves me and he always plays with me.”

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Food traditions were also recognized. D typically finds a good deal on back ribs and prepares them with a lengthy slow roasting procedure which is detailed here: My Man’s Ribs.

The Frenchman (and the entire family) also love chicken wings and so I made a batch from a well-loved recipe and served them as an appetizer:

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Parmensan Chicken Wings
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c parmesan cheese (I use freshly grated but Kraft actually works best in this recipe)
  • 1 t parsley
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t salt
  • ¼ t pepper
  • ¼ t garlic powder
  • 2 lbs chicken wings (tips discarded)
  • ½ c melted butter
Instructions
  1. Measure first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Dip each piece in melted butter, then toss in cheese mixture.
  3. Coat completely.
  4. Place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

A couple of hints:

  • In order to ease back richness and expense, I cut the parmesan in half and add a cup of breadcrumbs. Since the only crumbs I could find were already seasoned, I did not add the parsley flakes or salt and pepper.

 

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  • I am working very hard to lose 10% of my body weight for medical reasons and so I did not partake in the wings or ribs. Instead, I tossed a chicken breast in olive oil and then the parmesan mixture and had this with a pear, walnut & feta salad.

I was perfectly content while the rest of the family indulged in the above and also in poutine. The latter was made with real turkey gravy and Bothwell cheese curds. Even the youngest member of the family (one year) loved the wings and ribs!

Kath’s quote: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”- JRR Tolkien

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Love never fails.

 

 

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Pre-planning for Isla Mujeres 2017

February20

I get almost the same pleasure out of planning and then recollecting our yearly sojourns to Isla Mujeres as I do actually being on the Island. We started researching where we would all stay in 2017 back in 2016 when we were still on the island. As you likely know, we have specific needs  for our gang as we are travelling with a three year old, one year old and we require wheelchair accessibility for Daughter #1.

The lovely owner of the Xbulu-Ha Hotel has assured us that he will modify his front entrance so that #1 can zip in and out and she desires. #1 and her attendant will have a main floor room complete with an accessible shower. J & J and the girls will have a 2 room suite where a play pen can be set up for Jo Jo and the Wee One will have a futon. If the kids need closer contact with J & J their bed has a pull out trundle to accommodate the kids. We will likely designate our room for coffee, light breakfast and lunch fixings and cervesas.

In addition the hotel has a cozy guest lounge where the front desk is located equipped with microwave, toaster, blender, kitchen  sink, table and chairs. They provide free wi fi, beach towels and back pack beach chairs too!

We have also booked our shuttle service through AGI. I have utilized the services of AGI since I first started travelling to the island in 2005. Since then they have continued with each year to expand their offerings and now have many more offerings including VIP DTD (door to door) Service:

  • Meet & greet at the CUN airport,
  • Transportation to the ferry dock on our A/C Mercedes Benz Sprinters
  • R/T boarding passes for the ferry to Isla Mujeres
  • Assistance in Isla Mujeres by our AGI Tours staff
  • R/T transportation to your hotel/villa/house in Isla Mujeres on local A/C taxis
  • For the return leg we will pick you up at the villa and bring you all the way to the airport using the same logistics than on your arrival
  • For groups of 10 or more we can afford to bring you all the way to Isla on the car ferry (given the situation that your flight matches with the ferry itinerary, of course).

AGI’s vehicles are always spotlessly clean and air conditioned. Their drivers are polite and courteous. I highly recommend them.

Counting the sleeps!

Kath’s quote: “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G.K. Chesterton

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Low Fat Low Sugar Bran Muffins

February14

In our efforts to trim down and shape up before a spring vacation in Mexico, D and I have virtually given up bread (except when it is as stellar as the hot/crispy loaf that we had at The Keg last night). I have been on the look out for a low fat, low sugar bran muffin which I think that I have just about perfected. Then recently D inquired about whether I had ever come across a healthy cornmeal muffin. I love a challenge and found another great recipe.

In muffin recipes I completely cut out sugar by using a sugar substitute. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy a white sugar substitute, I am very inclined towards Sugar Twin’s Brown Sugar one. Both recipes call for a scant amount of sweetness anyway.

Low Fat Low Sugar Bran Muffins
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ c dark brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute)
  • 1½ c bran
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • 1½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c applesauce
  • 5 T non fat vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½ c raisins if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins (12).
  3. In a medium bowl mix together the brown sugar, bran and cinnamon.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, applesauce, yoghurt and vanilla together.
  6. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix together.
  7. Add raisins if desired.
  8. Spoon batter into 12 muffin tins.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Since I already had my tray of baking ingredients on the counter and the kitchen machine bowls were dirty, I thought that it would be efficient to make a second batch of muffins; this time the cornmeal ones. My recipe template only allows me to add one recipe per blog post, so I will have to do so separately.

Kath’s quote: “Give me liberty or a bran muffin!”- Colin Mochrie

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Love never fails.

 

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Halong Bay

February13

Halong Bay in Vietnam is said to be one of the most beautiful bays on earth and a “New 7 Wonders of the World”.  Perhaps the area was once home to the owners of the Halong Bay Restaurant here in Winnipeg-Tuyen and Hoa Nguyen. Having been a long time fan of Vietnamese cuisine, I must admit that I am pretty hard to impress but impress they did!

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We started with Spicy Beef Noodle Soup which sounds pretty ordinary but was anything but. The beef was succulent and tender and the noodles abundant and “slurp-worthy”. The broth was nothing short of sensational! When the other dishes arrived I ignored them in favour of the soup. Wondering with each spoonful how they made the broth, for it was bursting with savoury flavours. The stock was so satisfying that one could easily imagine that it had medicinal qualities. Perhaps that is why the restaurant was full of medical personnel from the Health Science Centre across the street.

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Noted as a House Specialty, their rice vermicelli combo came along next. I passed over the spring rolls and enjoyed the rest of the lettuce, sprouts, meat and peanuts.

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I was very, very impressed. I hadn’t had such a fine noodle bowl since I visited Jackson Heights in NYC’s borough of Queens, renowned for their ethnic restaurants. The harmony and balance of noodles and lettuce ribbons made perfect sense, a taste I crave on an ongoing basis.

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We also sampled one of the restaurant’s Daily Specials: a Singapore noodle dish chock full of egg, bean sprouts, carrot, green pepper, onion and curried shrimp. The curry seasoning was an exotic combination of spices and had a little heat (from the addition of chilies), without searing taste buds and removing appreciation for the other tastes.

We arrived after the noon rush and had a chance to appreciate the décor and sun streaming in from the wall of windows. Service was more than efficient with dishes arriving almost instantly.

The Halong Bay Restaurant is located at 772 Notre Dame Ave. Make note of the address as we found the signage deceptive. They are open Monday-Saturday from 11:00 am -9:30 pm. Dine In and Take Out menus are available. The dining room is wheelchair accessible but we did not check on the washroom.

Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.

Ha Long Bay Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “I lived across the street from Noodle Bar. I could barely stand it, because you’re there all the time; you can’t get away”.- David Chang

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Love never fails.

 

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Cyber Wedding Shower

February7

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Dani and her fella are depicted here enjoying the Canadian Rockies.

One of my Goddaughters lives in Australia. I was disappointed that she was going to miss out on an “Aunties” bridal shower but her Mom (who has to resort to technology to stay in touch with her only daughter) thought that she could figure out a way to make it happen. Once we got the time zone thing solved and was able to recruit her Dad to set up his computer and projector in Winnipeg, we were almost set.

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Here are their bevies of gifts via Skype.

In Winnipeg we also needed to work ahead of ourselves and get financial commitments from those attending, so that her Mom could shop for her on line and then have everything delivered to the almost Mom-in-law (who also lives in Melbourne) so that she could wrap everything.

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Of course we also needed to figure out food and libations for the Winnipeg guests. Not surprisingly, the food was amazing and there was way too much of it.

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It was a Saturday evening (making it Sunday morning in Australia) when we assembled to celebrate a love across the pond.

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Here are the happy couple and said Mom-in-law too.

If you think that the thousands of miles would be a barrier to shower the bridal couple with love, laughs and best wishes, you would be wrong. We played a guessing game of Aussie sayings. Who knew that’s what a “budgie smuggler” was!  We ooh and aww as she opened her gifts. We could visibly see that Dani was moved when Sister #3 (another Auntie) and Boo (her first cousin) made their toasts with loving sentiments to the bride. We too had tears in our eyes as Dani tried to express what the shower and outpouring of love meant to her.

Kath’s quote:

A part of you has grown in me.
And so you see, it’s you and me
Together forever and never apart,
Maybe in distance, but never in heart“.-Anonymous

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Love never fails.

 

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