Food Musings

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

Cooking up Memories-by Sister #3


When I was little my family didn’t go to very many restaurants, so the ones we did visit had a big impact on me. I fondly remember mom and dad loading us in the car and going to the A&W drive in. Dad placed our order in the microphone next to the car and our food was brought out to us on trays that were hung from our windows. The chilled glass mugs of root beer were my favourite. I always got the baby one which probably only had a few ounces of pop, but I felt like I fit right in with my older siblings. We also took the occasional drive out to Half Moon or Skinners for hotdogs and went to Bonanza steakhouse when my sister got a job there. 

When I was around 12 I began riding the bus downtown for theatre school and decided that my friends and I should start visiting restaurants. We felt so grown up. I bet the waiters groaned when they saw us pile through the door but I recall always being treated with respect. We loved the Old Spaghetti Factory in the exchange district and Mr. Green Jeans in Eaton Place. But the restaurant that made me feel the most sophisticated was the Garden Crêperie.  I always had the crepes St. Jacques that were served with an orange, almond salad. I missed those crepes, so I decided to try to recreate my own version of them. Keep in mind I was probably 16 years old the last time I tasted them. 

For my 60th birthday my sisters and a couple friends rented an Airbnb in Odin Green, just south of Gimli. It had a wonderfully equipped kitchen so I made my version of these crepes and an orange almond salad for one of our dinners. My crepes are a bit more indulgent than the original, I don’t think theirs had Swiss cheese or as much sauce, but they sure are yummy. Here’s the recipe:

Crepes St. Jacques

For the crepes
1 cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups of milk (2%, whole, or half & half)
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp melted butter

For the filling
1 tbsp butter
9 oz raw shrimp (peel and devein)
9 oz small scallops

For the Béchamel Sauce

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cup half & half cream
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp sherry
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

For topping

3/4 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Paprika to taste
3 tbsp freshly minced parsley


Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, whisk together and add the milk slowly, whisking until combined. Then add the beaten eggs, whisking until smooth. Then whisk in the melted butter.

Heat a crepe pan or a medium non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, pour a bit less than 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the batter around until it covers the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook until set and edges start to turn golden brown. 45 – 60 seconds.

Slide a thin spatula under the crepe enough to grab hold of it and flip it quickly with your hands. Cook on the other side for 20 seconds more. Slide the crepe off the pan onto a plate, repeat the process till batter is gone, should make 6 crepes.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan over medium high heat.  Add scallops and shrimp.  Cook just until shrimp is pink and there is some colour on the scallops. Set aside to cool.

For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter and once foamy add the flour, whisk together until a paste form stir and let cook for a minute or two. Slowly add the milk, whisking until combined.

Simmer on medium low heat till mixture has thickened. Then add 1 minced garlic clove and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using gluten free flour you will likely need more milk to achieve the correct consistency.

Lay out crepes and evenly divide the seafood mixture amongst the crepes. There will be juice left in the pan, whisk it into the béchamel sauce.  Ladle 2 tbsp of béchamel on top. Roll crepe and place in baking dish seam side down. Top with remaining béchamel, and sprinkle with cheese and paprika.
Bake at 350F for approximately 30 mins. Then place under the broiler 1-2 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Sister #1 here: They were stupendous!

Kath’s quote: I love French cuisine. From crepes and seafood to the variety of seafood preparations, this cuisine is so innovative and fresh. It offers something for every kind of foodie.-Sonali Bendre

Love never fails.

Have you ever wanted to run a Bed ‘n Breakfast ?-Part 2


The next time that we arrived at Aaron’s on the Lake, we showed up to work. Eleanore escorted us to the guest room in their home. The room is typically designated as the Bride’s Room, so that brides can get ready for their ceremony. There were no weddings that weekend, so it was all ours. We were comfy and cozy.

We couldn’t help but notice that the season has started to change, since our prior visit. The stairs had been removed from the pier and Canadian geese had claimed the south basin of Lake Winnipeg.

Eleanore’s flowers were still in bloom though and I made many trips to her raised vegetable garden to pick one of her many varieties of tomatoes, herbs and edible flowers which she/we used for garnishes.

I quickly learned a Bed and Breakfast tip, as soon as there is a break in the action, enjoy every sweet second of it. I finished my morning coffee at a quiet spot in the garden.

Once we had helped clean up after their breakfast service, we prepared for the guests who would be departing and arriving that day. Soon it was time for the four of us to gather over lunch. Not surprisingly, the Thai coconut chicken soup and the bruschetta that Eleanore and Randy whipped up was absolutely delicious.

We were assigned to charcuterie board making, as well as delivering elements of an exclusive package-handmade chocolates and bubbly to some special guests.

In the mean time, E & R had an opportunity to watch a football game at a neighbours. We took our responsibility as Guest Hosts seriously and took care of the Bed and Breakfast’s greeter/mascot seriously -feeding and walking Jake! He reminded me of another puppy in appearance and temperament-both gorgeous and gentle.

We watched some of the football game too and made a light supper of left overs from their enormous fridge. Don’t you love other people’s leftovers? We did some prepping for next morning’s breakfast cuz we were to fly solo the next day.

The next morning, I was setting the tables in the dining room when I spotted the most beautiful apricot colour out of the corner of me eye, so I abandoned my duties and snuck out to capture the exquisite sunrise.

Doug made this sumptuous cinnamon French toast breakfast, which the guests were very pleased with.

I was responsible for clean up, so that D could get to his regular job, at his normal time. D’s job is a remote one so he can work from anywhere in Canada. E & R let him use their office. Love his view.

After this wet run, we all agreed that the next time we Guest Hosted, we could manage totally on our own. The date is set in October and we can’t wait.

Kath’s quote: “Dip the bread in the egg mixture and fry it up. French toast is like breakfast and dessert all in one.“-authour unknown

Love never fails.

Always keep learning-By Sister #3 (who turns 60 tomorrow!)


I will turn 60 this week. It’s hard to believe, life has flown by so quickly this far. While there are lots of days my body feels 60, thankfully my brain and spirit haven’t  caught up. I think continuing to learn is a vital part of staying mentally young. I love to learn new things about language, culture, and food. Compared to some people I know a lot about cooking. In college I learned proper knife skills, how to make the master sauces, memorized all the fancy French culinary terminology, and practiced cooking the classics. But I’ve learned so much more about food since then. While I think cooking skills are like muscles that strengthen with repeated use I continue to study and practice with new ingredients and different techniques.

A few years ago I discovered the sous vide method of cooking. And I love how tender everything that is cooked this way is and also how much easier it is to keep food at a particular temperature and not overcook it. Here is how it works. You attach what looks like an immersion blender to the rim of a large pot filled with water. Once the water has come to the soared temperature, you put the items you wish to cook into a freezer bag and slowly lower it into the water, allowing the water pressure to force the air out of the bag before you seal it. Then the machine acts like a whirlpool, heating and moving the water around the bag of food. It cooks it to what ever temperature you have set the machine at. It’s a slow cooking method, but when you are making a big meal it is helpful to have your proteins hot and held at the perfect temperature.

While I have used my sous vide for lots of type of meat my favourite thing to cook this way is fish. Here is my recipe for sous vide salmon and beurre blanc, one of those master sauces I learned in culinary school. 

Sous Vide Salmon

4 fresh wild salmon filets (skin off)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Generously salt salmon filets and put into fridge for 30 – 60 minutes before cooking.    

Prepare sous vide bath: Fill water sous vide container (leaving room for water to rise when you put salmon in). Set the temperature on the sous vide equipment to 125 F for medium rare salmon.  Heat water to that temperature.

Wash salt off each filet.  Dry well with a paper towel. Brush all sides of salmon with olive oil, lightly salt & pepper, and place two filets in inside freezer safe ziploc bags and don’t seal bag. Lower a bag at a time  into the preheated water until top of bag is just above water (water will push air out), then seal bag. Or use a vacuum sealer if you have one. Cook for 40 minutes if salmon is 1/2-1 inch thick, or cook 40-60 minutes if salmon is 1-2 inches thick.

Beurre Blanc Sauce
½ cup white wine
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp shallots (finely chopped)
4 oz unsalted butter (cold and cut into ½” cubes)

Combine wine, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons. Strain the mixture to remove the shallots and pour it back into the warm pan. Discard the shallot. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cold butter, one cube at a time, until it is completely incorporated. Continue whisking over low heat until all of the butter is incorporated into the sauce. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt.


Make sure the butter is cold.
Whisk in one cube at a time until incorporated, take your time!
Be sure to keep the saucepan on low when adding the butter heat to avoid “breaking” the sauce. 
If the sauce does break (the fat separates), simply remove the Beurre Blanc from the heat, let it cool a bit and add a very small amount of water. Whisk again and the sauce will bind again.
Once thickened remove from the heat. Like a hollandaise sauce, you don’t want to overheat this sauce or it can separate.

Kath’s quote: “Lessons from a salmon: Spawn new ideas. Show your true colours. Swim against the current. Be a good catch. Cherish clean water. Always find your way home. Don’t give up without a fight.“-authour unknown

Love never fails.

Have you ever wanted to run a Bed and Breakfast?-Part One


D and I have always wondered what the experience of running a Bed and Breakfast would be like. We got very close to doing so when we stayed at and fell in love with a beautiful Victorian Home in Minnedosa, MB. We would have had to completely liquidate to make it happen and so it was not meant to be.

In the mean time Air BnBs came on the scene and we have really enjoyed hosting guests from all over the world into our River Heights home. We do so in the manner that Air BnB’s operate: a coded entry,

communication by texts, on line financial interactions, etc. We have met very few of our guests face to face and that is the piece that is missing for us. D and I have always been in the hospitality business, and we miss the welcome greeting, touring the space with the quests, providing for special requests, etc.

Sister #2 and her husband have a favourite place where they spend their anniversary each year. The property is located on the “other side” of the lake from where we all live at Lester Beach. In their conversation with the Owner/Hosts of Aaron’s on the Lake, Bed and Breakfast, it was determined that as much as Eleanore and Randy loved their business and their work, they would love a respite time where they could play some golf, meet with friends and do so much loved travelling. Sister #2 mentioned to them that D and I had the experience and inclination to run such a lodging and a new adventure had begun.

We started with an overnight visit, reacquainting ourselves with the pleasures of a BnB stay.

The yard, gardens, outbuildings and the main house at Aaron’s (on the Lake) created a calm and pleasurable atmosphere right from the moment we were greeted by Elenore. She was working hard in the garden, but gave us a tour as we settled in.

Their location right on the edge of Lake Winnipeg is perfect. If you open the window of their Lakeview room, you can hearing the gentle lapping of the waves at night.

A special feature at their location is that they are right next door to one of the areas many wooden piers. These are totally unique to us, having never seen one on “our” side of the lake.

D and I walked the entire horseshoe of the bay that first evening and then took our books (and libations) to end the night. Eleanore and Randy joined us for the sunset. I think we were pretty much made up our minds that becoming Guest Hosts at a BnB, made perfect sense.

That weekend, we followed the staff around, learning how to make up perfectly cozy beds, what extra touches were added to each and every room,

Eleanore keeps all their recipes on her phone.

make a sumptuous breakfast and a Aaron’s signature Charcuterie Board.

We drove home later that day, wanting to go to the next step in our training. And so, soon after, we arranged a weekend where we could go solo, with a safety net underneath us. Stay tuned for the details of our next BnB adventure, coming soon.

Kath’s quote: Jobs fill your pockets, adventures ill your soul.” –authour unknown

Love never fails.

Showing Love with Borscht-by Sister #3


I am not Ukrainian, yet I don’t think there is a culture that impacted my youth as much as Ukrainian culture did. My mom was Metis, but grew up with lots of Ukrainian friends. So she knew how to make borscht, perogies, cabbage rolls, and she was really good at these dishes. Her culinary skills were a bonus when she met our handsome Czech/Polish father.

Growing up, both my best friend and my boyfriend were Ukrainian. Terri and I met in grade two and even though she lives in the U.S. now, I still consider her my bestie. While I learned lots about Ukrainian culture from her family, we probably ate more dilly bars and brazier burgers than perogies, as they owned a Dairy Queen store. Whereas, my boyfriend Steve (who I dated from fourteen to twenty four)- his family was all about the food. His Baba was an amazing cook and generously taught me how to make many specialties. I’ll share her amazing holopchi recipe here in the future.

One of my favourite Ukrainian dishes is beet borscht. I recently visited St. Norbert market and picked up garden beets, potatoes, and onions, and pulled out a mound of dill weed from my freezer and went to work to make this rich delicious red soup. The recipe I use is from a friend I used to work with. It has a secret ingredient and while I love all borscht, I think this one is still my favourite.

Donna’s Borscht
4 large beets                          

4 large carrots

3 large potatoes

6-8 cups chicken broth  (enough to completely cover the vegetables)          

1/2 large cooking onion

1/2 lb side bacon               

20 oz can tomato soup

1 cup milk                              

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill                   

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

Peel and cube beets, and potatoes, slice carrots.  Place in a soup pot with enough chicken stock to cover them.  Boil until tender.  Meanwhile cut bacon into small pieces. Fry bacon and when almost done add chopped onion and cook till translucent.  Add bacon and onion mixture to soup pot. Add dill, can of tomato soup and milk. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream on the top.  Tastes even better the next day.

Sometimes I will add thinly slice cabbage to bulk the soup up.  You can skip the bacon and use vegetable broth to make a vegetarian version.

When war broke out in the Ukraine. I felt so helpless and really wanted to do something to help. So I contacted friends and family and offered to make them borscht in exchange for them making a donation to any organization supporting the people of Ukraine. I made 36 litres and together we donated approximately $2,500.00. My charity of choice was World Central Kitchen.  This team of volunteers is headed up by chef José Andrés and quickly set up to feed people fleeing to safety. So many lovely Ukrainians have feed me through my life, it was my turn to feed them. Praying for peace in Ukraine.

Kath’s quote: “The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.” – Tom Robbins

Love never fails.

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