Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

“Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke”


Her first taste of chicken feet

Daughter #2 does not like change.  Seems an extraordinary notion when she has just spent last semester travelling in South Africa.  She stayed in a variety of people’s homes, caves and even a jail.  And yet when I try a new chicken enchilada recipe,  she reminds me that she does not like change.

The version that she is attached to is one from my trusty old Campbell’s Soup recipe book.  I am trying to eliminate as many processed foods in our diet as possible and was looking for a more authentic alternative.

For this recipe, sliced chicken breasts (or leftover chicken) are sauteed and then tossed in a 1/2 c of  enchilada sauce (purchased from El Izalco Market on Sargent Ave.).  This mixture is then rolled up in a tortilla-I used spinach ones.

A layer of the sauce was spooned into the bottom of a baking dish and the rolled tortillas were placed on top.  The rest of the sauce was spread on top and baked in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  1/2 c of shredded mozzarella went on top before it was baked for another 15 minutes.

Daughter #2 declared they were okay but not as good as the Campbell Soup version.

Kath’s quote:  “Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days…. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better. But it is true that we have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us. The lines of change are down. We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. “-John Steinbeck

Spicy Giant Ravioli with Tomatoes, Basil & Pine Nuts


This recipe is a true fusion of Italian and Asian flavours.  The key ingredient in the sauce for these ravioli is vine ripened tomatoes.  If good fresh tomatoes are not available substitute canned chopped tomatoes preferably the brands imported from Italy (which is what I had to do).  When you make this challenging dish, keep the rest of the menu simple.

3 green onions, finely chopped

¾ lb ground chicken or pork

2 T ginger, finely minced

1 T grated or finely minced lemon zest

1 T soya sauce

1 T oyster sauce

½ t freshly ground pepper

40 egg roll skins

1 egg, well beaten


2 T olive oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 ½ lbs. vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ c fresh basil leaves (I substituted a heaping T of pesto)

1 c white wine

1 T oyster sauce

1 t sugar

1 t cornstarch

½ t Asian chili sauce (I substituted 1 t of red pepper jelly)

½ c pine nuts

In advance:  Mix with your hands the green onions, pork, ginger, ½ the lemon zest, soya sauce, oyster sauce and pepper.

Within 5 hours of serving, fold the dumplings.  Place 1 t filling on a won ton wrapper.  Brush the outside of the skin with beaten egg.  Lay another skin on top then very firmly press the skins together, making sure there are no air pockets trapped inside the ravioli.  Line a tray with a non-stick paper, then place the ravioli on the paper and refrigerate uncovered.  Do not stack or overlapped the ravioli or they will stick together.

Saute the garlic & onions in olive oil until the garlic sizzles then add tomatoes and basil.  Add wine, oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch, chili sauce and remaining lemon zest.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.

Toast the pine nuts in a 325 degree oven or in a heavy skillet over a medium heat.

Place the ravioli in rapidly boiling, salted water until they start bobbing to the surface (about 5 mins).  Remove to a colander with a slotted spoon and rinse in warm water.  If serving immediately, place ravioli on heated dinner plates  and spoon sauce then pine nuts and Parmesan over top.  If holding for a future meal, place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a wide and flat casserole dish.  Place ravioli gingerly on top then add sauce, etc.  Sprinkle with water, cover and reheat in a slow oven.

Kath’s quote:  “The army from Asia introduced a foreign luxury to Rome; it was then the meals began to require more dishes and more expenditure . . . the cook, who had up to that time been employed as a slave of low price, become dear: what had been nothing but a métier was elevated to an art.”
Livy (Titus Livius) ( 59-17 B.C.)

Lanky’s Grand Beach


It rained this morning at the cottage and ever since the kids were little, we would spend a rainy day at Grand Beach.   Loving traditions, my sis in law and niece joined me for the short drive 5 kms south.    The miniature golf place looks to still be open but our beloved Playland was boarded up with a sign that read “Re-opening Soon”.

To work up an appetitie,  I introduced the girls to my favourite spot-The Spirit Rock Café and Gift Shop and then I continued my search for the area’s best French fry.  Today’s lunch was at Lanky’s which has been around for as long as I can remember.  Other places also hold fond memories of growing up at Grand Beach but they are all long gone-except Lanky’s.  I’m not exactly certain how many years Lanky’s has stood in this spot on the main drag of Grand Marais but an old menu board lists fish and chips for 75 cents.

Even though it appears as if the foot long hot-dogs have not changed (they’re still 12 inches in length), the hand cut fries that we used to love have been replaced with a frozen variety.  But to illustrate that you can teach an old dog new tricks-we sampled a menu item that I have never had anywhere-Garlic French fries.  The fries were covered in a garlic gravy-like sauce and they were garnished with marinated carrot sticks and parsley.  The taste was very unique.  The verdict?  I love trying new recipes but give me a real hand-cut potato fry any time.

Kath’s quote: “Garlic is the catsup of intellectuals.” –unknown

Summer Rice Rolls


I make authentic Vietnamese rice rolls on a regular basis but this variation is a nice summer spin.  I arranged a platter of the ingredients and let everyone roll their own.   I didn’t photograph any of our plates because they were a mess but so delicious that I was content to eat mine with a fork.

The day was warm and I didn’t want to heat the cottage up by using the stove.  I made everything ahead and served when the rest of the gang arrived from the city.  The meal was cool, refreshing, quick to eat and allowed us to make the kick off of the football game across the street at the “big” cottage (we only get 1 station via antennae on our cottage TV).

This is how they were supposed to look.

Thin dried rice noodles, soaked until el dente

Rice paper wrappers, soaked on round plastic screens

1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

1 head leaf lettuce, washed

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 cup loosely packed mixed fresh herb springs, such as mint cilantro and basil

Hoisin sauce, to taste

I added some protein by sautéing 2 sliced chicken breasts in satay sauce.  We were out of avocados so put out guacamole instead.  Strips of purple onion and slices of mango upped the taste mix and the vitamin and antioxidant levels.

Kath’s quote: “Rice is a beautiful food.   It is beautiful when it grows, precision rows of sparkling green stalks shooting up to reach the hot summer sun.   It is beautiful when harvested, autumn gold sheaves piled on diked, patchwork paddies.   It is beautiful when, once threshed, it enters granary bins like a (flood) of tiny seed-pearls.   It is beautiful when cooked by a practiced hand, pure white and sweetly fragrant.”-Shizuo Tsuji

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That Sunday Night Feeling


There are only a few precious times in a year when I can experience this pleasure.  The feeling surrounds the satisfaction of staying on for another week or even a single day at the cottage, when the rest of the world seems to have had a hasty supper, packed up the dirty laundry and empties and headed back into the city on a crowded highway.  And here I sit-in the gazebo, with a lovely cool breeze, a Moosehead Lime and no plans or responsibilities except to make sure that I don’t miss out on the sunset.

I don’t take this feeling lightly or for granted.  For one I am aware that we are extraordinarily fortunate to have a summer property.  For two I also know that there is a pecking order for summer holidays, but I am blessed to be self-employed.  For three, I am certain that there are many spouses that would insist that since they must be in the city, their partner are as well.  And here I sit-knowing that half my family has had a lovely weekend of the Folk Festival & Bomber and Goldeyes games and that the other half can join me out here in the next couple of days.

I have had a wonderful time, surrounded by siblings, nephews, nieces,  my  husband and puppy dogs.  So why am I rambling on about feelings instead of musing about food?  Because sometimes that sense of satiation and contentment does not come from a meal well prepared and savoured-it comes from left overs and other sources of fulfillment. Kath’s quote: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”Epicurus

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