Food Musings

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

Ham and Three Potato Casserole


Sister #3 missed out on our family Thanksgiving dinner.  She helps D and I take care of the kids when we host our Young Families’ group.  I had abundant left overs and instead of getting tired of them during the days following the Thanksgiving, I repanned everything and put it all in the freezer to feed another large group.  There are approximately 20 of us in the Young Families Group including toddlers and babies, so this seemed like a good time.  I decided that a baked ham would do the trick to adequately feed everybody and that the ham would pair well with my leftovers of sweet potatoes, caramelized onions and roasted garlic potatoes and baked squash and quinoa.  The supper was a success, but then I was left with a new challenge-what to do with the leftover ham?


I dug out an old recipe that I know that my family loves but was amazed at how much fat it contained.  By the time I had finished modifying it, I had written an entirely new recipe.


The recipe indicates using three different potatoes but this is only because I had three varieties in my fridge.  We have loved all the assortment of potatoes in our garden share basket this season.  I used the array of pink and blue (looked more like dark purple to me) ones for this dish.  I would recommend though that at least one variety be a sweet potato because they have different nutrient values that regular potatoes.  In addition, the combination of the sweetness of the sweet potato and the saltiness of the ham, is one of my favourite taste combinations.  Add the tartness from the sour cream and the sharpness of the old cheddar cheese and we are really onto something here….


Since I was using more than one kind of potato, I had a hard time judging how many pounds I was using.  D eyeballed it at five pounds but I thought closer to ten, so I doubled the “moisture” , that is sour cream and cream soup.

Ham and Three Potato Casserole
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: oodles
  • 5-10 pounds potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 500 ml containers of 1% or no fat sour cream
  • 2 cans sodium reduced cream soup (I had mushroom on hand)
  • 2 c shredded old cheddar cheese
  • ½ c chopped green onion
  • 4 c cubed left over ham
  • 1 c bread crumbs
  • ½ c parmesan
  • butter flavoured, canola spray oil
  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender.
  2. Drain but retain a cup or so of potato water in case your casserole sauce requires thinning.
  3. In a very large bowl, mix potatoes, sour cream, soup, cheese, onions and ham.
  4. If the mixture does not seem wet enough, add and mix in the potato water.
  5. Spoon into two 9 x 13 inch pans.
  6. Mix breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together.
  7. Liberally shake onto casserole top.
  8. Cover crumbs with cooking spray.



Under normal circumstances, I would have put the second casserole in the freezer but I love to send our kids home with leftovers after mandatory Sunday suppers, so I did so and now we have enough left for supper tonight!

Kath’s quote: “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” –Calvin Trillin

Love-that is all.

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Adventures with Family & Pizza


Disclosure: This post was created for the Manitoba Canola Growers Be Well Blog .  I was compensated for my work.  My ideas and opinions are my own.

We have always held family pizza nights in our home.  When our now grown children were younger, it was Thursday evenings.  This was a time designated to “us” as a family.  Now though, we are influenced by travel and our favourite Chefs.


Read my Adventures with Pizza and try my Quattro Pizza on Homemade Dough recipe on the Manitoba Canola Growers Be Well Blog and be sure to enter The Great Pizza Story Contest while you are there.  Great prizes to be won including a personal pizza making lesson for you and 5 friends with Chef Mary Jane Feeke of Benjamin’s Foods in Selkirk.

Eat Well.

Kath’s quote: “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”-Yogi Berra


Love-that is all.

Bacon and Ale Trail-Stratford, ON


Hello readers.  Many of you know that D and I recently took a mini vacation to Stratford, Ontario to take in the Festival.  Upon arrival, it was clearly apparent that Stratford is fast becoming more than a theatre town.  Their skilled chefs and exceptional restaurants would be reason enough to spend a week.  One of the many aspects that we enjoyed was following a couple of culinary trails.  The Bacon and Ale Trail was a fun way to add some structure to our “sight”-seeing tour.  In other words: see it and eat it!

In addition to a number of dining treats, the trail included a couple of retail visits as well.  First up was Bradshaw’s for a copy of the Little Black Book of Beer.   Just around the corner to where our B&B was located on Birmingham was Turnbull & Stewart’s where we were gifted with a cellar of Bacon Sea Salt.  I first used it to brighten up some Swiss chard back home and the results were lovely.


We peeked in the windows of Monforte Osteria on Wellington the evening previous and knew that we would love our light lunch the next day as a part of the trail.


We were heading to a matinee at the Stratford Festival Theatre and did not want to become sluggish, so the small plates of house-made charcuterie featuring pork from whey-fed pigs, were just perfect.  The tastes of capicolla sausage, pork confit, summer sausage and a Tuscan sheep cheese


washed down with a half glass of Ontario craft beer celebrated many of the best tastes of the region.


This was our simple perch for lunch.  At another table in the vicinity we listened as visitors tasted water buffalo milk ice cream (did I hear that correctly?) for the first time.


D and I are quite addicted to all the new (to us) wines that we sampled from Ontario vineyards and Monforte promotes a fine selection.


The simple design of the Osteria was so inviting that I would have loved to have curled up with a book and a cuppa tea.  But alas, “the theatre awaits….”

Monforte on Wellington on Urbanspoon

Foster’s Inn Restaurant & Bar was one of our stops on our first evening in Stratford.


We loved this cozy corner in the lounge.  If I were to one day open my own version, it would look a just like this.




I was able to take these between the breakfast and lunch rush on our last day in Stratford.


I had returned for Foster’s hospitality to pick up another item from our trail: country style pork terrine wrapped in smoked bacon and accompanied by tomato chutney.  The delicious treat is usually served with Mill’s Street’s Tankard ale but ours was “to go” and we enjoyed it with the picnic that we had later in the day at the vineyards of Jackson Triggs.

Foster's Inn on Urbanspoon

D attempted to single-handedly complete the Maple Trail as well.  For my international readers (and yes, I do have a few): Maple is a cherished Canadian product which is a natural sweetener produced for centuries from red and black maple trees.


Another addition to our late afternoon picnic were the individual blueberry and pecan pies (they had sold out of the maple pie) that we picked up once we left Stratford at Shakespeare Pies. 

Stay tuned.  There are many more “see it and eat it” adventures in Stratford to come.

Kath’s quote:  “And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words: Away! Go, away!”  – Shakespeare- A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Love-that is all.

Daughter #3 is off to Israel to “Save a Child’s Heart”

My baby girl is off on another adventure this morning.  She stood in our kitchen this morning and said “I will be in Paris at midnight”.  Woa, what a small place the world is.  Her bags have been checked all the way to Israel and she gets there via Montreal and Paris.  She is completing the practicum portion of her Bachelor degree in International Development Studies at the University of Winnipeg. D and I could not be more proud of her.  She is a diligent saver and exceptional planner but best of all, she has an enormous capacity to love.
She will spend the next two months with this organization:

Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project, whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease and to create centers of competence in these countries. SACH is totally dedicated to the idea that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. nnSACH is motivated by the age-old Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. By mending the hearts of children, regardless of their origin, SACH is contributing to a better and more peaceful future for all of our children.

Since 1995, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) has treated more than 3,000 children suffering from congenital and rheumatic heart disease aging from infancy to 18 years of age from the “four corners of the Earth” –  45 countries where adequate medical care is unavailable.  Approximately 50% of the children are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Morocco; more than 30% are from Africa; and the remaining are from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas.  The annual number of children treated by SACH has grown dramatically from 48 cases in 1996 to 298 in 2012.  At any given moment there are thousands of children suffering from heart disease around the world who require our assistance.



Her responsibilities over the next two months will include:

All our volunteers go out of their way to make life for the children and parents at the SACH house, clinic and in the hospital less stressful and more pleasant. They sit with parents or an unaccompanied child in hospital when they need extra attention or when the pressure of the unknown is getting to them, even if it means being in the hospital on a weekend or at night, and for some reason language is never a barrier; they muddle through. It is just something they do to help someone in distress feel more relaxed.  The volunteers give photographs as a remembrance of being at SACH, send emails and photographs to parents who are not here to keep them informed and in short – they help make life a bit nicer for everyone and free the overworked SACH Staff to concentrate on other things that must be done.  After all this is what a family does.Kath’s quote:  “Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased. Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken. But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.”

Kath’s quote: “Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased. Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken. But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.”


At the SACH house – Little Shemsa from Tanzania and Dr. Yayu from Ethiopia, who is currently training with SACH and will become the first pediatric heart surgeon in his country.

Love-that is all.

Mercer Hall, Stratford ON



As we began to meet and chat with Stratford locals, we queried them about their favourite places to dine as we were only going to be able to do so one evening.  The next day, we were seeing both a matinee and evening performance at the Festival Theatre and we knew not to over indulgence before settling into our theatre seats. I expected both The Prune and The Church to be mentioned but afterwards I surmised that they were allocated to special occasion dining among the locals.  Perhaps Peter Mansbridge and his actress wife Cynthia Dale, who reside in Stratford might have been spotted, had we dined there.  But more often a boutique hotel and main floor restaurant was mentioned.


The cuisine at Mercer Hall is described as retaining an Ontario Focus, served in a European Style.  The Ontario focus is a commitment shared with virtually every restaurant and chef that we encountered in Stratford.  The European style is authentic too, as our dining experience was similar to ones that we remember enjoying in Ireland.


The theatres are “dark” on Mondays which makes for a quieter atmosphere around town and also gives the locals a chance to get out and dine.  Mercer Hall designates the evening as Nosh Mondays and offers a flat rate Tapas-style adventure! In my opinion the strategy is brilliant, treating the locals for their hard work over the season, building business on an otherwise slow evening and using up small portions that might have been left over from the weekend.  Stratford restaurants strive to be self-sustaining and this is truly a genius move.  There is no menu, you just nestle in and the steady stream of food starts to arrive until you cry “Uncle”.

Each artisanal plate featured local seasonal items beginning with:


Warm olives and sourdough.  The flavour of olives, subtly changes when warmed.  I am always going to slightly heat olives before serving them, from now on.


Crispy padron peppers stuffed with cream cheese and served with a lime sour cream for dipping, arrived next.  I am not partial to hot peppers and understand that the heat level of a padron can be random.  Mine was mild and subtle.

Even though I did not get a photo of our next plate- a potato & mushroom veloute with shards of Parmesan and truffle oil, this small bowl turned out to be one of my favourite tastes of the evening.  I am a sucker for truffle oil and appreciate that the soup clung to the sourdough bread so that I could soak up a delicious mouthful.

I also did not get a photo of the shiitake mushroom risotto.  We were dining with old friends and had so much to get caught up on, that on a couple of occasions I forgot that I was a food blogger and was just swept away by the evening. Perhaps too, it was the exceptional Malbec that we were enjoying with our tastes.


I was snapped back to attention by the mention of eggplant.  These were petite spheres topped with pickled onion and more Parmesan (the chef finished many dishes with shards of Parmesan which I happen to enjoy a great deal, but may have been a bit excessive).


But oh my, his next dish was sublime.  I was fine with just a taste of the saucy braised bok choy but could not get enough of the crispy brussel sprouts in a sweet and sour sauce!


I am not partial to lamb but D and our dinner quests quite enjoyed the lamb ribs on lentils and arugula with a citrus yoghurt sauce.

My notes say that next up was a shoe pastry but I did not capture a photo, nor do I remember tasting it.  I must have really been having a good time by this time in the evening.  Or perhaps it is simply my menopausal brain…..


Arriving next was a delicate gnocchi topped with broccoli and whey Parmesan.  Carb lover that I am, I would have loved more gnocchi and less veggies (just my preference, not a complaint).


The next small plate was not particularly small.  I would have enjoyed the tastes more had they been delivered on separate plates and at different intervals because by this time, I was verging on throwing in the white towel.  But we had seen mussels being delivered to tables in our vicinity and were holding out for their appearance at ours.  The roasted chicken came with smoked corn on the cob and marinated potatoes!


I was definitely done before the pastrami poutine arrived at the table and even though the guys each had a taste, I thought that this was getting just a wee bit silly…..

So we acquiesced, only to find that just meant that the dessert plates would start to arrive.


First a chocolate ganache (which doesn’t photograph very well-does it?)


and then the piece de resistance (in D’s mind at least)-the cinnamon raisin fritters which reminded him of mini-doughnuts that he enjoyed as a kid.

Here’s the kicker-the cost per person for all you can eat tapas? $35!

Mercer Hall on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “’What I like about gluttony,’ a bishop I knew used to say, ‘is that it doesn’t hurt anyone else.’”-Monica Furlong

Heart cracked foundation_picnik

Love-that is all.

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