Food Musings

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

Memories of London


I’m tardy with my post this morning because I have been enthralled by snippets of the Royal Wedding.  No I did not set my alarm for a ghastly hour but when I awoke at my normal time, I reached for the remote at the exact moment of the balcony scene.  

I consume a lot of news by osmosis, as my husband is a news junkie.  In fact, he has a newspaper collection and I know that he will purchase two copies tomorrow-one that we will enjoy with our coffee and the second which will be wrapped and put away to pull out in the future and see what the world was like on April 29, 2011.  I spend countless hours with D watching elections and protests and war.   Today I was delighted to witness love and hope and new beginnings.


I have been to London on a couple of occasions but most memorable was my post-university excursion to Europe at just this time of year.  I was a picky eater in those days-I mean horribly so!  The first time I had ever eaten a fried egg was on that trip. 

The London leg of our journey held many other first tastes:  -Salty, crunchy crackling from a suckling pig consumed on a floating dining room on the Thames.  -Bangers and mash at a boisterous pub called “The Spread Eagle”.  -Halibut and chips served in newspaper with malt vinegar and nary a bottle of ketchup in sight.  But most memorable of all: we mistakenly found ourselves in an upscale restaurant where Shahs had been reputed to dine and where a plate of  vegetables was ordered on my behalf.  New asparagus and zucchini; green and yellow beans; the sweetest of beets and tiny potatoes-all tasted for the very first time (except the potatoes of course).  I recall the array of lemon slices and cellars of salt and sweet butter that accompanied the dish.  And then I remember the price: a cocktail and a plate of vegetables for 70 pounds which back then represented a huge percentage of my discretionary budget which was to have lasted seven weeks!

The sting of the memory makes it very real even today as I saw Westminster Abbey and the Mall and Buckingham Palace.  London looked her best today.  I add my warmest wishes to Diana’s precious William and his beautiful Kate.

Kath’s quote: “But I will place this carefully fed pig
Within the crackling oven; and, I pray,
What nicer dish can e’er be given to man.”-

Tortellini Chicken Soup


This is my eldest daughter’s favourite soup and my youngest daughter’s least favourite one.  Its hard being a Mom sometimes.

Even though I and Sister #2 & 3 all make this, I don’t think that a recipe has ever been written down.  You can use left over chicken or turkey if you like.  I find that chicken thighs are a better choice than chicken breasts because there is still a trace of chicken fat on the thighs and the secret to good chicken soup is the chicken fat.  

4 boneless thighs (I know there are 8 in the photo-I was making a double batch), cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

6 small or 4 large carrots, chopped

2 small yellow onions, chopped

2 large ribs celery or 6 celery hearts (I leave the leaves on), chopped

1 small pkg. chopped spinach

10 c chicken stock

1-2  t basil

1-2 t Montreal steak spice (you heard me right)

cheese tortellini, quantity according to taste (I say this because some people like their soup to be brothy and others more stewie), pre-cooked according to package directions

Place all veggies into a soup pot and saute until they sweat.  Add chicken, spices & chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender.  Add pre-cooked tortellini.  Ladle into large bowls and garnish with a sprinkle or shavings of Parmesan cheese. 


Kath’s quote: “Poultry is like meat, except when you cook it rare. Then it’s like bird-flavored Jello.”-P. J. O’Rourke

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Sergio’s Playa Sol Revisited-Isla Mujeres


To make the journey from my cozy bed in Winnipeg to my precious Isla Mujeres is sometimes a breeze. It all depends on what times other planes set down and whether you luck out in the correct line for immigration and customs.  On this particular day, the journey was not too onerous but we still required cold cerveza for the ferry crossing and were hungry for lunch.  So after we wheeled our suitcases to the edge of Centro, we changed into our suits and made our way to Casa el Pio where the rest of our entourage was staying.

We were ecstatic to plunk down in the sand at Sergio’s, order more cold cervezas and gaze at the sea.  To top things off, handsome men started to come over and hug and kiss us (Lionel & Roger) and welcome us back to the island!   Why do I love Isla so, you ask?

We ordered breaded fish,

Chicken Maya

and my first taste of Coconut shrimp of that trip (but not the last).

The Garlic fish was so fresh, perfectly cooked and delicious!   We are always amazed by the quality of food that is put out of the little kitchen window right on the beach.

Kath’s quote:  “How good one feels when one is full — how satisfied with ourselves and with the world! People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.”-Jerome K. Jerome

Oatmeal No-Bake Easter Nest Cookies

[by Guest blogger Lori]
Oatmeal No-Bake CookiesI made the assumption when my mom used to make these cookies for us that you just threw all the ingredients in a bowl, stirred it up and voila!  Having “no-bake” in the name apparently doesn’t mean that there’s no cooking involved and that they’re super easy. Super easy, they are.. but no-cook, they are not. A fun little tradition that my grandma started was making these cookies at Easter. She’d shape them into nests and put a couple of Cadbury Mini-
Eggs in them — who can resist mini-eggs? And now, my mom is making them for my little guy.  I love traditions :)  I recently asked her for the recipe so that I could send them to my son’s daycare. They were a hit with all the little bunnies today!
Recipe for Oatmeal No-Bake Easter Nest Cookies:
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3 cups of quick oats
1 cup coconut (I use the unsweetened one… otherwise these are a little too sweet for my liking)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 – Combine sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.
2 – Add milk slowly. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
3 – Bring to a boil, add canola oil and oats stirring briskly. Cook for 1 – 3 minutes stirring constantly. (3 minutes was the magic number for me — no more or it gets a little hard)
4 – Remove from heat. Add coconut, vanilla and salt.
5 – Let the mixture cool a bit at room temperature so that you can handle it to make the nests (about 10 – 15 minutes).
6 – Using a spoon, scoop a ball of the mixture onto wax paper. Press in the middle to form a nest. Add 2 or 3 mini eggs.
7 – Refrigerate.  These also freeze well!
Happy Easter!!
Kath’s quote:  “Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing.”-Milton Snavely Hershey

Old Fashioned Walnut Slice


Do you ever get the craving to make something from your childhood that still retains that “old-fashioned taste”?  Such was the case when I found a huge bag of walnuts in my freezer.  This recipe is very similar to one that my Mom use to make.  They come out really hearty tasting and chewy-yum.

1 c flour
1/2 c butter 
2 eggs 
1-1/4 c brown sugar 
1 t baking powder
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 c shredded coconut 
1 t vanilla

Note: I doubled the recipe and used a 11 x 17 edged cookie sheet
Rub flour and butter to crumbs and pack tightly in buttered 10×10 pan. Bake in quick oven (400 degrees) until lightly coloured (about 12-15 minutes.) Beat the 2 eggs well, and mix in remaining ingredients; pour over first mixture. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 40 minutes. Leave for 6 hours at least before cutting into small squares. 
Kath’s quote:  “From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting….On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”-E.B.White 
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