Food Musings

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

Harvesting Herbs-by Sister #3


Growing up, our neighbourhood was full of backyard gardens. People often turned their yards into rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and beans. Even people who didn’t have big gardens, as in our family, at least had a patch of rhubarb or pots with tomato plants. One thing I don’t recall seeing in my childhood was people growing herbs; with the exception of the dill weed that people needed to make their pickles. I never saw fresh herbs until college where my culinary instructors taught me to properly “chiffonade”: a French term meaning “ribbons”. We were taught to stack leafy herbs like basil, rolling them into a tight little bundle and then slicing them into fine thread-like strands.

Turns out herbs are one of the easiest things to grow. I have my herb box just outside my patio door that leads off my kitchen. Every year I grow basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, mint.

I just snipped the last of my herbs in anticipation of a hard frost and will dry and crush them to use over the next few months.

One of my favourite herbs to have fresh, is sage. The smell is unlike anything else you’ll every smell. I love to toss these pale green furry little leaves in browned butter and serve them over pasta, especially my homemade sweet potato gnocchi. The taste of that nutty butter, pungent sage on top of the pillowy balls of slightly sweet goodness, is one of my favourite treats.

Here’s my recipe. Easier to make than you might think. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
8 dinner size servings

2 1-pound sweet potatoes- rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese,
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 2 tablespoons of salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi. Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

Kath’s quote: “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” – Charlemagne

Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report -Arrival Day


D, who works remotely, was very diligent about getting everything at work completed so he could have Friday of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend off. On the Thursday we made our way from the TO Home Exchange apartment that we loved so much to our beloved NYC. Even though we had painstakingly made our way from Pearson to our Little Italy Apartment by ground transportation when we landed in TO, we opted for an uber for our way back to the airport. That turned out to be a good thing because when we arrived at La Guardia, we took subways to get from Queens to Brooklyn via downtown Manhattan. It was a long journey, even though the flight itself was only 1 hour and a bit.

The length of the trip was not made more any more pleasant by the lack of foodservice on our Air Canada flight. We wolfed down a hot dog in Herald Square at one of our subway stop transfers. We were HANGRY but everything melted away when we stepped foot into the stylish apartment that would be our home for the extended Thanksgiving weekend.

We flew open our terrace doors to see what we could see from our pent house. Rain was lightly falling but we started to get our berrings.

We also had roof top access so we leaned over to check out the terrace of the apartment one floor down.

D fetched another snack for us as I put away our essentials so that we could get a fresh start in the morning. In the meantime, I contemplated the blessings in our life – to be able to travel often and stay in such lovely places.

Kath’s quote: “If travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it is a heightened state of awareness, , in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love stories, never really end.” modified from Pico Iyer

Love never fails.

Autumn is Here-written by Sister #3


I wish I could enjoy fall more than I do. Part of the problem is: I am crazy for summer. I love to sit out on my deck and enjoy my morning tea in my nighty. I love to harvest my beans, tomatoes, fresh herbs. I love fresh and delicious summer foods, grilled meat, corn on the cob, tomato sandwiches, and crunchy salads. I always feel sad saying goodbye to those days and hello to the crisp fall air. The other part of the problem is that fall leads to winter, and everyone who knows me, knows I hate winter. I know lots of people dislike winter, but I absolutely hate it. Believe me I have tried. But my body, my heart, my soul, they all dislike winter. So unfortunately fall pays the price because it is a reminder that winter is coming!  

As fall approaches the available variety of fresh fruit and vegetables starts to dwindle and so does my desire to eat anything healthy and instead dive head first into a chicken pot pie. So I have to work hard to ensure I’m still getting my daily servings of fruit and veg. I use frozen fruit for morning smoothies and make sure to treat myself to “special”, and therefor more expensive vegetables, like snow peas for stir fries and fancy mushrooms for pasta al funghi. 

In summer I eat a lot of salads so I decided I needed to create this autumnal salad that, I could fall in love with, to get me through the season. So after much testing I came up with my favourite dish to celebrate the bounty of autumn. 

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Blackberry Salad

For the Kale                                                             
2 large bunches kale                                             
2 Tbsp olive oil                                                       
1/2 tsp salt                                                              

For the Butternut Squash
1/2 butternut squash (24 ounces), cubed
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the Nuts and Seeds                                       
1 cup raw pecans                                                   
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds                               
1.5 tablespoons maple syrup                             
1/8 teaspoon sea salt                                           

For Dressing (makes more dressing than needed)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp soya sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 cloves of garlic

For the Salad
1 pint blackberries
5 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries


Debone and chop kale.  Add olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Massage the kale with your hands for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Spread butternut squash out on the baking sheet. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to the butternut squash and toss until squash is evenly coated. Bake 20 minutes, set aside to cool.

Place all ingredients for nuts into a medium mixing bowl. Toss until nuts are evenly coated and then spread out evenly onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

Roast for 8-10 minutes at 400ºF. You can roast the nuts in the oven with the squash.

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process till emulsified.

Place kale, squash, blackberries, goat cheese, cranberries, nuts and seeds, toss with appropriate amount of dressing.  

Kath here: I am posting this from NYC where we are enjoying a summer-like day. I don’t mind the change of the seasons as Sister #3 does, but I am grateful, when we can travel to stretch summer just a little bit.

Kath’s quote: “As we celebrate this season of thanksgiving, we give thanks for the blessings of food, provision and nourishment. Please grow in us a harvest for the world. Come sow a seed of hope within our souls, that we might yield goodness, patience and kindness in abundance.“-A Thanksgiving Prayer

Love never fails.

Food Traditions-by Sister #3


I love tradition. Some people might think that I’m stuck in a rut, but I love the comfort of the familiar. I especially love traditions that are food focused. If I’m out for Sunday breakfast I’m at the Garwood Grill. If it’s my birthday, we will be eating banana Jeannie’s cake. At Boxing Day brunch I will have made quiche for my family. And if I’m together with my friend Kathy at the lake she will make me her delicious scones.

She has customized them for my taste by using craisins instead of raisins and adding orange zest. They are always so delicious and we devour them hot out of the oven. So when I was menu planning for our recent girls getaway to Gimli, Kathy knew her scones would be an expectation. Served with butter, assorted jams and fresh fruit, they never disappoint.

This is only one of the ways that my dear friend Kathy shows her love. She is so generous with her time, is always at my side for the tough things in life as well as the joyous things. I hope everyone has at least one friend like that. I am blessed to have a number of them. Here is her recipe, with a couple of notes from me. 

Kathy’s Scones

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar 

1tsp baking soda

Zest from half and orange 

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries 

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup lite sour cream 

Mix dry ingredients including zest and cranberries. Mix in butter (gently with hands) until crumbly mixture. Combine egg and sour cream and stir into flour mixture. Turn out on counter and gently need till flour is incorporated. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch round. Cut into triangles or use a glass or round cutter to cut into circles. Bake at 400F for approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they may need much longer depending on the size. 

Kath’s quote. “Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins. There was enough food there to keep a starving family for a week”. -Daphne du Maurier

Love never fails.

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