Birthday Celebrations-Part 2

July1

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The evening of my birthday commenced with a thoughtful gift from my Bestie who had to bring a full-sized suitcase with her from TO to accommodate the gift. “60 Shades of Turquoise” was a basket full of little tokens of our friendship and our mutual love of hearts and the colour of the Caribbean sea.

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A careful decision was made as to where I wanted to dine with my husband and my best friend on the evening of my 60th. I had a list of restaurants that I had intended to write about for various publications but decided upon 295 York. I have always found their dining room cozy and sophisticated at the same time, with unusual floor to ceiling drapery creating intimate conversation areas for the dining patrons.

I have met Jesse Friesen the young chef of the urban steakhouse on numerous occasions. I know his grandfather in fact and can speak of the fine family he comes from. He is a shining star in the newish batch of chefs coming out of Winnipeg’s many culinary programs.

Jesse couples the varied selections of beef, pork, veal and lamb with down-home favourites of Mashed Potato, Mac ‘n Cheese (with truffle & herbs) and creamed corn made luxurious with bacon and gouda cheese.

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We started with cocktails and by sharing Coconut Shrimp which is a favourite of mine when we travel to Isla Mujeres. In fact Melinda and her husband have joined us on a couple of occasions. Chef Jesse’s version is elevated by the inclusion of crushed macadamia nuts. I had also been tempted by the Pulled Duck Quesadilla which I had tasted on other visits.

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For our mains Melinda selected the Seafood Trio of prawns, scallops and a half lobster tail

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while D and I shared a Berkshire Pork Chop ( perfectly cooked to medium rare)

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and Seared BC Scallops. All were perfectly prepared and succulent.

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Our server surprised me with a Crème Brulee, but in truth we were too full for dessert and wanted to catch the sunset on my special day, so our next stop was the Whiskey Lounge at Prairie 360.

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Nature’s sunset show was spectacular.

There were two things that we found a bit disconcerting about our time there.  One were the enormous game trophies which hung on the walls and seemed more suited to a hunting lodge.

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Two were the flying saucers that hovered in the sky as we gazed outside…

My soiree was planned for the next day so we made it an early night.

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Kath’s quote: “Condiments are like old friends — highly thought of, but often taken for granted.”-Marilyn Kaytor

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Birthday Celebration-Part 1

June29

Bestie Melinda arrived Friday evening of the weekend of my birthday soiree. We headed from the airport to The Keg Steakhouse + Bar which was appropriate since we both worked there when we had just met at 19. In the lounge that evening was one of the waiters from 40 years prior so we had a little catch up chat with him as well.

The next morning I woke up to greetings and smooches. It was my 60th birthday! D wanted us to vacate so that he could put finishing touches on the house and some of the appetizers that he was preparing for the party. We ended up at the Marion Street Eatery housed in the Marion Hotel, which Melinda remembered from the days when her husband played there in his punk band.

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We both opted for the decadent Eggs Benedictine. The hollandaise sauce was light and lemony and the egg perfectly poached. But the piece de resistance was the just carved slice of old fashioned ham that substituted for the typical Canadian back bacon. Oh so good.

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Still having time to kill, we found our way to the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden at Assiniboine Park. We both loved the play of dappled light through the newly greened trees that landed on the artist’s exquisite renderings.

The afternoon was spent with two other old friends, sitting in the sun and drinking tea. The perfect start to a wonderful weekend.

Kath’s quote:

If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
― William Ewart Gladstone

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

Keg Garry St. Patio

June27

If you live on the Canadian prairies you know how short summer is and likely find ways to be outside as much as possible. When the three sisters decided to convene for an evening recently to officially kick off summer, the Keg Garry St. Patio was high on our list. The established landscaping is beautiful, as is the water feature and outdoor fireplace. We met early to find the perfect table amidst the after work crowd.

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The evening started with strawberry basil mojitoes that were as refreshing as they looked.

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But so was the beer

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and my glass of merlot for that matter.

Soon appetizers to share of tuna tartare and crispy shrimp arrived.

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Sister #2 who was not certain she would like the taste of raw tuna, dived right in. Since you can scoop the fish and chopped avocado up with a crispy wonton noodle, she decided she did!

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The crispy shrimp is a new favourite especially when swiped through the delicious dip that it is accompanied with.

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We are all steak lovers but were looking for an entree on the lighter side so we were delighted when our helpful server indicated that there was a marinated flank steak and grilled shrimp combo on special that evening.  We decided to share the huge entrée three ways and each ordered our own loaded baked potatoes.

Not only was the steak perfectly marinated and cooked but when it was served pre-sliced it was so easy to divide up. By coincidence the shrimp skewer came with three enormous shrimp (I always laugh inwardly when I describe shrimp that way).

With no room for dessert, coffee or after dinner drinks, we settled in for a real good catch up and then headed off into the still beautiful evening.

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Kath’s quote:

“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather; 
To cheer one on the tedious way, 
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down, 
To strengthen whilst one stands” 
 Christina Rossetti, 

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Barley Mango Sweet Pepper Spring Rolls

June24

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At “Life is Good” our summer beach house, weekends are lovely and brimming with family. I love to make suppers from scratch and serve up some special treats of things that the kids might not have the time or the budget to make on their own. With the price of protein as high as it is right now, I love getting wind of a nutritious meal that stretches an item like shrimp into a full meal deal.

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Recently, the team at Go Barley sent me this recipe for Barley, Mango and Sweet pepper Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce including delectable Shrimp. Having cooked often from their award-winning cookbook, I knew that the recipe would be packed with flavour, healthy & simple ingredients and affordable barley!

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I prepared the pearl barley earlier in the day, while I was taking care of the dishes from brunch. This way, we were able to spend the afternoon on the beach with the Wee One, arriving home just in time for me to swing into action.

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I got everything prepped in order to start making the rolls and was able to coax our 2 year old grandbaby to snack on the red pepper and mango to hold her over until supper time. The rolls were fun to put together and I even had a volunteer of our son-in-law to help me out. We have to be particularly resourceful when we are up at the lake because there are a couple of country stores but not one with a full complement of items. Therefore, when I ran out of large rice papers and had to resort to smaller ones, the process got a little bit more time consuming.

When another contingent of family arrived just in time for supper, everything was ready to go for a casual dinner. We knew that there would be snacks around the bonfire later that evening, so we were all content with the lighter fare.

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Barley Mango Sweet Pepper Spring Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 rolls
 
Hint: I purchased round plastic screens from an Asian grocery many years ago to make working with rice paper a breeze. I use them often and strongly recommend them.
Ingredients
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • ⅓ c fresh lime juice
  • 2 T liquid honey
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 2 t finely minced ginger root
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • Spring Rolls:
  • 2 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1½ c cooked pearl or pot barley
  • ⅓ c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 10 large rice paper wrappers
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 10 large cooked shrimp, peeled and cut into half lengthwise (mine were smaller so I kept them whole)
  • 1 small mango, cut into thin strips
  • 2 c shredded cabbage or pre-cut cole slaw
Instructions
  1. To make dipping sauce:
  2. In a small saucepan, combine lime juice, honey, fish sauce, vinegar, ginger root, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  3. Heat gently, stirring, just until honey melts.
  4. Set aside.
  5. To make spring rolls:
  6. In a small bowl gradually add 1 to 2 T dipping sauce to peanut butter, whisking until blended, smooth and the consistency of a thick sauce.
  7. Stir peanut butter mixture and cilantro into barley.
  8. Set aside.
  9. Fill a pie plate with or shallow plate with warm water.
  10. Place a rice paper in water and soak for 5 seconds.
  11. Remove and place on work surface until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds.
  12. Across lower third of rice paper, layer approx. 1/10th of the red pepper and the barley mixture, a couple of shrimp pieces and 1/10th the mango and cabbage leaving 1 inch border at each end.
  13. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, then fold sides towards the centre.
  14. Roll up into a cylinder (mine were more like "packets")
  15. Repeat soaking, filling and rolling with remaining rice paper and ingredients.
  16. To serve, cut each roll diagonally in half.
  17. Serve with Dipping Sauce.

I made a double batch. There were enough rolls for six of us that evening. I served them again as an appetizer previous to our Father’s Day dinner Sunday evening and then D took the remainder to work for lunch. In the mean time I mixed up extra pre-cooked barley, more of the peanut butter sauce, added cilantro and fresh mini cucumbers and enjoyed a tasty barley salad for my mid-day meal.

Kath’s quote: “The keynote to happiness within the four walls that make any home is plain, wholesome, well cooked food, attractively served.”-
Louis P. De Gouy

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

Jimels International Cuisine

June19

Every once in a while, a special moment occurs in my new found career as a food writer. I wanted to sample the services of one of the restaurant home delivery services (Just Eat) and order a solo supper as my husband is traveling for business. I have spotted Jimels International Cuisine as I have driven past it on St. James St so it was on top of my list.

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Although not well versed in Philippine cuisine, I knew that I had enjoyed every dish I had tasted. So I scanned the on line menu and placed my order for 2 House Specials- Tortang Talong (eggplant omelet) and Creamy Sisig (grilled marinated chicken). When the delivery arrived I was blown away by the beautiful presentation, even in those utilitarian Styrofoam containers and the volume of food for the money spent.

I immediately called the restaurant to compliment them and spoke to Imelda (“like the lady with the shoes”-she said) Abao. Her husband calls her Mel and his name is Jim, hence “Jimels”. The sweet woman was absolutely delighted by the call. In fact, she indicated that I was an answer to her prayers. They had come up against some hard times when someone ran off their savings. They were attempting to get back on their feet via the restaurant but she shared: “We have good food and we have lots of space. We just need more customers”.  I told her that I would try to spread the word. The response to a Facebook post and a Tweet was very positive from my followers. Hopefully that and this column will parlay into some business for them.

The suggestion to give them a try isn’t solely based on philanthropic motives; the two dishes that I sampled were excellent, utilizing fresh ingredients with a light hand for seasoning to let the natural flavours shine through.

Imelda shared her secret ingredient through her tear-filled voice: “love-we cook with love”.

Kath’s quote: “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”-Laurie Colwin

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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