Food Musings

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

Cold Weather Fighting Cookies

January30

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The cold grip continues in Manitoba and when we say that we are colder than Mars we are not just using a figure of speech. Overnight temperatures (with the wind chill) have been in the -50 range. Because I work from home I am one of the fortunate ones. It is simply treacherous for our eldest who uses a motorized wheelchair to go outside. My beautiful grand-babies can’t get to school because of frozen vehicles (their Daddy, our son has been walking to work). Our 2nd son (son in law) works on the front lines at Siloam Mission and I can only imagine what they are trying to cope in this weather crisis.

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Anyhoo…I was trying to decide on a stew or soup that would keep us warm tonight and I came upon a top ten list of foods that, for various reasons, will keep you warm: cinnamon, dried fruits, eggs, ginger, honey, pepper, saffron, sesame seeds, turmeric and hot soups. The latter being an obvious. This didn’t sound like a soup concoction but it did sound like a spice cookie recipe! I started with a recipe from the Middle East and modified it to incorporate more of the list. It already covered off cinnamon, dried fruits, eggs and ginger. I added honey, pepper and sesame seeds and I swapped  whole what flour for white flour, vanilla whiskey for brandy and raisins for currants.I couldn’t find a way to incorporate turmeric or saffron. Drat.

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The result?

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An unusual tasting but satisfying cookie.

Cold Weather Fighting Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 doz
 
I took a spice cookie recipe and modified it to include more ingredients from a list of top 10 foods that keep you warm.
Ingredients
  • ¾ c raisins
  • 2 T vanilla whiskey
  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1½ t cocoa
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • ½ t each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 quick grind of pepper
  • coarsely grated chocolate to taste
  • ½ canola margarine
  • ⅓ c icing sugar
  • ⅓ c liquid honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t grated orange zest
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Soak the raisins for 10 minutes in the whiskey.
  2. Use hand whisk or stand mixer whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt and grated chocolate.
  3. If using a stand mixer, remove to a second bowl.
  4. Place butter, sugar, honey, vanilla, orange zest and mix with the beater attachment for 1 minute.
  5. With mixer running add the egg, then dry ingredients, followed by raisins and whiskey mixture.
  6. Drop by teaspoons on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool.

So now you can go off of your January diet and have a really good excuse to eat cookies!

Kath’s quote: “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.”-Cookie Monster

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Love never fails.

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Food Bloggers Canada Conference -Ottawa 2017, Part One

November3

The highlight of Food Musings’ year has come and gone. I have attended the FBC conference every year since its inception with the exception of the year that it was scheduled on the same weekend as daughter Boo and the Frenchman’s wedding day. The direct flight from Winnipeg was a breeze and because I was watching downloaded episodes of The Night Manager, I actually wished that the flight had been longer.

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I arrived before my roommate Bridget and was pleased with the view from our 17th floor window.

The afternoon started with a lovely Cabernet Merlot from Peller Estates as we fetched our swag bags.

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I chatted with the wine server about staying right next to the Peller vineyards when we visited Niagara on the Lake a couple of years ago. I had to run my bag back upstairs as it was bulging with loot.

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Green lentil and roasted garlic humus

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Sundried tomato and split pea hummus

Lentils .org was to be the sponsor of our first dinner and kick off cocktail party and they apparently must have thought that we needed a pre-cocktail party nibble and glass of wine. I for one was grateful. It helped me shrug off some stress and allow others to take care of me (not something I usually do).

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Bacon Chocolate Cookie Truffles

The official Cocktail Reception was in the penthouse of the hotel. I did a lap and found the most delectable morsel from the Ontario Pork table. They generously shared the recipe with me. It is below.

Bacon Chocolate Cookie Truffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20-24 pieces
 
Bacon makes everything better, even chocolate.
Ingredients
  • 20-24 chocolate chip cookies (homemade or store bought)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 slices Ontario bacon, cooked, drained, finely chopped and divided
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Crush 2 dozen cookies into crumbs into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 6 slices of finely chopped bacon and cream cheese. Mix together until a ball of cookie dough forms. If dough feels dry, add 1 Tbsp. of cream cheese until desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Roll into 2 inch balls. Place rolled cookie balls onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. While cookie balls are freezing, place chocolate chips and coconut oil into a microwave safe dish. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between, until creamy and lump free.
  5. Dip balls into chocolate with a fork, allowing excess chocolate to drip off.
  6. Place truffles back onto cookie sheet and immediately sprinkle with a generous pinch of chopped bacon. Once all truffles have been coated, place in fridge to allow chocolate to set. Store truffles refrigerated in an airtight container.

Lentils.org also was the sponsor of that evening’s dinner. The organizers had assembled some of Ottawa’s best chefs. The intention was a dine-around atmosphere selecting small plates when we were tempted.

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Representing the Wellington Gastropub was Chef Chris Deraiche. He served a Lentil, Sweet Potato Pierogi, accompanied by Cider Pickled Cabbage and Crème Fraiche. I guess my Slavic roots were showing as I chose the pierogi as my favourite taste of the evening.

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A Lentil Sausage was created by Chef Kevin Benes of Carben Food + Drink.

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Chef Olivia Cruikshank of Pure Kitchen served a Green lentil Enchilada with Salsa Verde, Cashew Cheese and Split Red Lentil Garnish. Unfortunately, I missed out on Chef Joe Thottungal of Coconut Lagoon.

I was lucky enough to snag one of the few dining tables that had been set up. Because chairs were at a premium and everyone was pretty bushed from the day, we had a revolving door of visitors.

The beds at the Delta were divine and I was ready to settle in for the night.

Kath’s quote: “Lentils are friendly – the Miss Congeniality of the bean world”.-Laurie Colwin

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Love never fails.

 

The Cookie Recipe That May Save A Life

January21

As you may know, I am three weeks into my new year’s “kick yourself in the pants” eating plan and everything is going well.  I am wearing my size 6 Petite dresspants today which only seldom fit.  I do like the feel and shape of them (in addition to the fact that I almost always wear black pants) so I sometimes pin them when the button doesn’t close and then wear something loose and flowy over top to create an illusion.  Have you acquired some of these dressing tricks too?

I have lots of energy and enthusiasm for life and I love spending time in the kitchen using ingredients that have been on my pantry shelves for eons.  As reported last post, some of my dishes have been tremendous hits and others, well not so much.  But in my commitment to be totally transparent in this walk, I will share them all.

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My first success and fav snack is baked broccoli (believe it or not).  Your peel the stocks like this.

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Chop it all up.

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Throw it in a zip loc with lots of chopped garlic, 2 T of canola oil, lots of cracked pepper and a pinch of sea salt.  Shake it all about and place on a heavy baking sheet.  Roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes-oh yea!

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I also made a version of Bonnie Stern’s Chicken Jambalaya.

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I added a wee bit of spicy Italian sausage that I had pierced, parboiled, washed and drained and cooked the brown rice separately to decrease the carbs.  Instead I added some corn because I am crazy for the combination of savoury and sweet.  Shrimp is actually high in cholesterol (who knew?) so I did not include any.

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I even got myself all psyched up to make a bean burger which I served on freshly baked whole wheat buns.

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The result was declared a hit by other members of our gang, but I could only have a couple of bites before my tummy started protesting.  I know how good beans are and I want to conquer my prejudice, so I just keep trying.

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I made these two pizzas utilizing whole wheat crusts.  The one on the left is Potato and Bacon.  The baby potatoes are multi coloured and have been parboiled (they were left overs from this weekend).  The bacon was pre-cooked, rinsed with piping hot water and then blotted dry.  The same went with the sausage of the Spicy Italian Sausage and Red Pepper one on the right.  The secret ingredient is that I pulversized a half can of dark red kidney beans and their juice and threw them into my tomato sauce made from 1 chopped onion, chopped garlic and lots of basil.  I sautéed the veggies with the beans and did not have to add any fat.  I find that when you put the toppings on top of the cheese, you can get away with using far less cheese.  The results were delicious, if I do say so myself and a single piece was perfectly satisfying (I am typically a 3 piece gal).

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But the piece de resistance are these cookies that I am still fine tuning.  Made with honey & molasses they contain oatmeal which is known to lower cholesterol and flax which is claimed to lower high blood pressure.  They also contain dark chocolate chips, coconut and roasted walnuts.  But best of all-they are absolutely delicious.  I tried increasing the flax but the second batch was slightly less sensational.

The Cookie Recipe That May Save A Life
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1¼ c oats (quick oats are fine)
  • ⅓ c ground flax
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ½ c honey
  • ½ c canola oil
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1 large egg (beaten with 1 T cold water)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Optional ½-1 c chocolate chips, ½-1 c coconut, ½-1 c walnuts
Instructions
  1. Blend dry ingredients together well, watching carefully to incorporate all the baking soda.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients until well incorporated.
  3. Add the wet to the dry or vice versa.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Add any or all of the optional ingredients and mix again.
  6. Drop by spoonful onto a pan sprayed with canola oil.
  7. Baked at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
  8. Makes 32 cookies.

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Kath’s quote: “Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better.”-Robert Redford

Love-that is all.

 

Grandma Felicia’s Polish Cake

September8

I am writing this as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013.  As we the participants, share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice.

My Dad was a first generation Canadian.  He was born in Poland and raised in what is now called the Czech Republic.  He arrived in southern Saskatchewan (approximately 75 miles south of Moose Jaw) with his Mom Felicia and his little brother.  His Dad had settled a couple of years before, undoubtedly because of having seen the notice below:

Every person who is the sole head of a family and every male who has attained the age of 18 years and is a British subject or declares his intention of becoming and British subject, is entitled to apply for entry to a homestead. A quarter-section may be obtained as a homestead on payment of an entry fee of $10 and fulfillment of certain conditions of residence and cultivation. To qualify for the issuing of the patent, the settler must have resided upon his homestead for at least six months of each of three years, must have erected a habitable house thereon, and must have at least 30 acres of his holding broken, of which 20 acres must be cropped. A reduction may be made in the area of breaking where the land is difficult to cultivate on account of scrub or stone.

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They settled in the community known as Limerick.  My Grandma cleaned the homes of other families while Grandpa continued to work their land and build their little farmhouse.  At the same time, my Dad and Uncle attended a one room school house where the most difficult task was learning to speak English.  When the Second World War was declared, the brothers enlisted in the air-force, eager to defend their new country.  My Dad survived the crash of his aircraft in Europe.  My Uncle never did make it overseas, haven been killed when his training plane crashed into a hill not far from Moose Jaw.

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Her stove looked a great deal like this but is less ornate.

As time went on, my Grandma moved into a house in “town” where she grew geraniums on every window sill and white lace curtains floated in the breeze.  She had a big old stove that took up most of her kitchen.  It would be filled with coal in the morning and then sticks of wood would be added as the day went by.  The beautiful appliance included a cistern where water could be heated and held.  A pot of soup or stew could be placed on top and brought to a rapid bowl and then moved to a cooler area of the cook-top to simmer the morning away.  I can distinctly remember the amazing tastes of Grandma’s potato soup, prune dumplings served with melted butter and cinnamon sugar and freshly killed chickens fried in boiling lard- producing the crispest and juiciest chicken I have ever tasted.

Baking was more problematic as the oven had one temperature and could not be adjusted or moderated.  But she stilled managed to produce the most delectable bread, buns, apple pie, poppy seed roll, thimble cookies and this, her prized cake that we simply callPoli sh Cake.  When Sister #3 was researching the origin of the recipe for a cookbook that she is writing, she found that similar cakes had Jewish origins, so she has surmised that Grandma must have obtained the recipe from a Jewish neighbour in Poland.

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Acquiring this recipe was a task in itself as Grandma did not write any of her recipes down.  My sister-in-law observed Grandma making this cake on one visit and took notes while trying to get Grandma to be as specific as possible.  Years later, Sister #3 took those notes and started recipe writing and testing.  Here are the results:

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Grandma Felicia's Polish Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Eastern Europe
 
Ingredients
  • Filling
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup cream of wheat
  • 6 tbsp Icing sugar
  • ½ cup soft butter or margarine
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • Raspberry jam
  • Cake
  • ¼ cup soft butter or margarine
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of soft honey
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • Sift 2½ cups flour
Instructions
  1. Method
  2. Boil milk then add cream of wheat stir 3 – 4 minutes being sure not to burn it.
  3. Cover and set aside to cool.
  4. Line 2 round pans 8 or 9” cake pans with parchment paper cut into rounds to cover the bottom.
  5. Mix cake ingredients together until dough is smooth but sticky.
  6. Flour a surface and rolling pin and roll cake out a bit maintaining round shape.
  7. Bake in 350ºF oven for 15 minutes or until light brown.
  8. Beat cream of wheat, sugar and butter until creamy.
  9. Add egg and rum extract and beat until stiff.
  10. Cut each cake into three layers.
  11. Take first layer of cake and top with ⅙th of the cream of wheat mixture.
  12. Add a thin layer (2 tbsp) of Jam. (I melt the jam in the microwave to make it easier to spread).
  13. Take the second cake place it on top of the jam mixture.
  14. Repeat with cream of wheat mixture and jam till all layers are added.
  15. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
  16. Taste best if made a day ahead.

My Grandma Felicia lived in her sparkling little house until she was in her 90s.  She picked peas in her garden a few days before she passed away.

Kath’s quote: “Throughout history, the Poles have defended Europe. They would fight, and – between battles – they would eat and drink.”-E. de Pomiand

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Love-that is all.

posted under Desserts | 5 Comments »

Strawberry Pie

July24

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When my Mother-in-law offered up a bucket of strawberries that she had just picked and then I found that rhubarb was being delivered in my garden share hamper, I knew immediately that I would combine the two and make a crisp or a platz.  D had other ideas.  He thinks that rhubarb overpowers the delicate taste of freshly picked strawberries and I now know that he is correct.  I have to guard against being overly frugal.  I am constantly trying to “stretch” ingredients, even free offerings.  D thinks that it is his American heritage that has instilled his love of pie.  Perhaps too, because his Mom makes the best darn pies I have ever tasted.  Living up to her legacy and his memories is a challenge, but one that I am happy to take up.

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I will admit right here that I take one major short cut.  I often pick up frozen pie crusts when they are on sale.  This way I can quickly take advantage of fresh fruit when it is offered up.  There is no way that I could ever recreate D’s Mom’s crust (or Sister #3’s for that matter), so I do not even try.  The rest of the recipe is D’s Mom’s though.  It is as easy as pie (tee hee) to throw together.

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Strawberry Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 4 c fresh strawberries
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • ¾ c water
Instructions
  1. Completely fill the bottom of a baked pie shell with the choicest strawberries.
  2. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  3. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water.
  5. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell.
  8. Chill for several hours before serving.

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Kath’s quote: “Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries thrive here. From these they make a wonderful dish combined with syrup and sugar, which is called ‘pai’. I can tell you that is something that glides easily down your throat; they also make the same sort of ‘pai’ out of apples or finely ground meat, with syrup added, and that is really the most superb.”An immigrant living in Beloit, Wisconsin, wrote to friends back in Norway (November 29, 1851)

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Love-that is all.

 

 

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