Food Musings

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

A Memorable Chocolate Cake


“Auntie’s chocolate cake (was) a moist, sour-milk, two-layer concoction spread thickly with Jennie’s soft, white frosting and covered in grated coconut.  As a child I loved to watch the vinegar -Heinz’s white, not my grandfather’s red-start to sour the warm milk.  If I stared long enough I could see the milk begin to thicken and coagulate from the chemical reaction of the vinegar.  When the cake was pulled from the oven, leaving moist, dark crumbs on the toothpick tester, I loved the sight of it sitting on a cake plate in the center of any of the tables from my childhood, whether it was my birthday’s or someone else’s.”

“A single bite of that cake still conjures up the days when all the characters of my childhood used to sit around Jennie’s kitchen table on Whitney Avenue celebrating the joy of birth, when I was little, when my parents were young, when my grandparents were still only in their sixties.  It keeps those Sunday dinners alive in my memory,”from Paula Buttuini’s “Keeping the Feast”

Well here it is the weekend of Daughter #1’s birthday and what has she requested for her birthday dessert?  A recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake from her childhood-one that I haven’t made in years.  But not surprisingly, I find it in one of my many “Best of Bridge” recipe books and as I scan the ingredients to ensure that I will have everything I see that it calls for sour milk…

Daughters #1 and 2

I’ve run out of time and space this morning but I will post the beloved recipe soon and also dig up one for the requested chocolate cream cheese icing.  Have a wonderful Canada Day weekend.  Find a food treat to celebrate this great country that we live in and the memories of the day will live on.

Kath’s quote:  “We have never been a melting pot. The fact is we are more like a tossed salad. We are green, some of us are oily, and there’s a little vinegar injected when you get up to Ottawa.”-Arnold Edinborough

Quebec Sugar Pie


Universities across Canada have a special exchange program to accommodate English students who wish to become more fluent in French and French students who wish to do the same in English.  Daughter #1 spent a summer of at Universite Laval in Quebec City a couple of years ago.  Sister #3 has hosted two of these students in her home-Emilie last year and this summer Gabrielle.  We celebrated Gabrielle’s last weekend of the program with a pitch in supper last Saturday night at the cottage.  “Pitch in” meaning that everyone took on a dish or a course:

Sister #3 and I shared the appetizer course:  Mushrooms Neptune and Mussels whith bread to sop up the mussel juice.

D broiled the strip loins and shrimp kebabs

and Sister #2 made an artichoke & zucchini salad, a brown & wild rice pilaf,


sauteed mushrooms & feta and local asparagus. 

The guest of honour made the dessert course-a special treat of sugar pie!

Quebecois recipes must be handed down by verbal tradition because Gabby had never written this one out.  I noticed the same thing when I’ve asked the “Frenchman’s” Mom for a favourite recipe and when his sister-Vanessa stayed with us this Christmas.  She had made us crepes and when I requested that recipe she told me that you started with one egg per person and that you added milk, flour and sugar according to look and feel. 

But without further adieu…Tarte Au Sucre

Combine 3/4 c brown sugar with 1/2 c milk, 1 beaten egg, 3 heaping T flour & 2 t spoons melted butter.  Pour into a prepared pie shell and bake at 375 degrees until set.  Topped with ice cream or whipped cream as we choose to. 

Happy Belated Saint John Baptiste Day.  I love that Canada is such a mosaic and people and cultures and food traditions!

Kath’s quote: “Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”-Mark Kurlansky

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“Joy for Beginners”-by Erica Bauermeister


I devoured Erica Bauermeister’s first novel, “The School of Essential Ingredients” and have eagerly anticipated this, her latest offering.  Erica is especially good depicting women and profiles each of a special cluster of friends in this new novel.  The recent history of these women and distinct personality traits are revealed when each of them recieves a “challenge” selected by Kate who is celebrating her good health after having faced life-threatening challenges of her own.

As the vignettes unfold, their themes are various: bread-making, garden tending, book shelf clearing, tatoo getting.  Sounds simple enough, but each of these tasks become crucial, life-changing, pivot points for these women.  

The woman I identified most with was Sara, who was challenged with leaving her growing family at home to travel to Europe on her own.  She set out to redisocover the individual that had been lost, (or perhaps hidden) underneath the duties of wife and mother.  Sara finds herself in Venice and the following exerpt discibes her first night of dining alone:

“The pasta arrived, four plump squarees arranged across her plate, their edges pressed shut in tiny half-moons the size and shape of a child’s fingertip.  Melted butter flecked with thin, dark shavings flowed lanquidly over thier surfaces and formed a golden pool on the plate around the ravioli.  The smell rose up, deep and luxurious, like perfume warmed between the breats of a beautiful woman.

“Tartufo,” the waiter said to Sara’s inquiring expression.  “Truffles.”

“Oh my,” the American woman at the next table said, and directed her attention to her husband.

Sara took a bite and the taste filled her mouth, dense and rich, like the essence of longing, then the pasta gave way to warm, fresh ricotta cheese and the sweet earthiness of procini mushrooms.

“Oh my,” said Sara softly to herself.”

Remembering our recent sojourn through Italy and the food delights that awaited us at every turn, I found this sensual depiction of  tasting, an absolute delight.

The rest of the novel is as tasty as this excerpt-a perfect summe read.

Kath’s quote: “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” – Truman Capote

Four Birthdays and a Cocktail Party


I have posted before about the cocktail party that the three sisters give to our Mom as her birthday gift.  Her birthday is in January but we always wait for the fair weather so that her friends will have an easier time of driving and managing the stairs.  We quite randomly decided upon this year’s date in June to find that it was the actual day of my oldest brother’s 65th birthday, the day before my second oldest 64th birthday and two days before my Mom’s best friend’s 81st birthday.  So it turned out to a multi-birthday celebration.  Celebrating long life, good health, family and friends with food-what a splendid idea!

Chili Rubbed Shrimp

Chicken Satay

Goat Cheese en Croute with a Balsamic Redux

Anti-pasto Kebabs

Jerk Pork tenderloin

Artichoke Nibblers

Mushrooms Neptune

Korean Pork Cups

Asparagus in Phyllo

Last year the food was wonderful but Mom complained that “her girls” were too busy in the kitchen and did not have the time to visit with her guests (she means brag about us while we are in the room).  So we simplified the menu to these selections.  All were prepped ahaead of time and many served cold.  Clean up was a breeze!  Most recipes are already posted here but if there is one that you would like-leave a comment.

Give a party as a gift-it is the gift that keeps on giving…..

Kath’s quote:  “The Cocktail Party – a device for paying off obligations to people you don’t want to invite to dinner.”-Charles Merrill Smith

Untrue in this case.

Bimbo Dogs (I didn’t name them)-Isla Mujeres


We go on our annual sojourn to Isla with a list.  A packing list?  No-I am happy to say that I’ve made the trip so often, that I know that I can pack light and spend most days in a bathing suit, pareo and flip flops.  I also come home with more clothes than I take because our friend and expert dress-maker Hortenzia whips me up a summer wardrobe each time I visit her.

The list that I refer to is a food list-restaurants that have opened on Hildalgo since our last trip, a number of places whose dishes I dream about all winter long (Fredy’s pork chops, La Brisa’s Fruite de Mare Linguine, Tino’s ribs) and undiscovered places that I’ve investigated in the Colonias.  Bimbo Dogs are always on the list too, but have never been checked off. I don’t know if this is their real name or the slang that Isla forum posters use-but this is how we know them.

The street carts are around the ferry landing and when we arrive on Isla we are so excited to head to our hotel or apartment and get settled in that we bypass them.  On other days we are heading to the beach with arms ladened with beach chairs, novels, sudukos, journals and perhaps a cooler full of Sol.

On the last day of our 2011 trip we were ticking many “must eats” off the list: we had breakfast biscuits from Barlitos, lunch at Rolandi’s, La Lomita’s Chiles Relleno for happy hour and were heading for yet another feed of fish and chips at Bally Hoo before boarding the ferry.  We were once again going to say “no gracias” as we walked past the cart but the aroma of the carmelized onions and buns steaming on the grill top was too much to resist.  And did I mention?  Bimbo Dogs are wrapped in bacon!

Kath’s quote:  “The hot dog, as the phrase runs, seems to have come to stay. Even the gastroenterologists have given up damning it…..I am informed by reliable spies that at their convention in Atlantic City last May they consumed huge quantities…..and with no apparent damages to their pylorus.”-H.L. Mencken

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