Food Musings

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

Winnipeg Show & Save Book of Savings

May14

I sometimes get a call from one of my sister-in-laws asking me about  particular restaurant because they have a coupon that they are thinking of using.  If you have to trek across town and the restaurant is not clean or in an unsafe neighbourhood, even a good deal is not a good deal.  So when D purchased a Show & Save Book to support the fund-raising efforts of one of our nephews, I thought that I would thumb through it and share the reviews that I have of the restaurants listed.

So here goes:

Bellisimo Restaurant & Lounge

Bernstein’s Delicatessen

Beaujena’s French Table

Casa Grande

Clay Oven

Dim Sum Garden

Eat On Samosa

Los Chicos Restaurant Y Cantina

Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano

Papa Murphy’s

Oakwood Café-coming soon

Southdale Village Family Restaurant

Vientiane Thai Restaurant

Wok Box

Kath’s quote: “Contrary to popular notion, truck drivers know nothing about good restaurants.  If you want a reliable tip, drive into a town, go to the nearest appliance store and seek out the dishwasher repair man. He spends a lot of time in restaurant kitchens and usually has strong opinions about them”.-Bryan Miller (NY Times Restaurant Critic)

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Love-that is all.

Food Revolution Day & Sobey’s Potluck Challenge-Our Tastes from Home Dinner

May13

We were delighted to host a potluck in conjunction with Sobey’s Potluck Challenge.  When we invite this particular group of friends over, I am not sure who is the most excited: the parents because they get a breather from their kids (we take the kids off their hands for the evening) or the kids who are anxious to see each other and head down to our play area in the family room.

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But we always start the evening off with a family dinner.  The contributions to our “Tastes from Home” potluck were homemade chicken noodle soup, green bean casserole (a classic modified to be made without cream of mushroom soup) to accompany the macaroni and cheese that I had prepared,

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a make-it-yourself spinach salad and watermelon and brownies for dessert.  The hit in the dining room where D, myself and Sister #3 were supervising the little ones was the chicken noodle soup.  The noodles were lovely and fine and the broth had a hint of what we guessed was fennel in it.  We couldn’t confirm because the home cook that contributed it had to attend another event, but she sent a stock pot full of soup over with her husband and girls. We grown ups in the room loved the green beans and the spinach salad.

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My contribution of Mac and Cheese was modified from an old family favourite.  We have been preparing Best of Bridge’s Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese for years.  But recently, we had been saving the dish for special occasions because it was anything but low fat and low calorie.  I performed a test run of the recipe for Daughter #2’s birthday dinner.  When the original recipe and my version were tasted side by side, no one could tell the difference.

Gourmet Mac and Cheese, Healthied Up
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • canola spray oil
  • 2½ c fibre enriched elbow macaroni
  • ¼ c canola
  • ¼ c whole wheat flour
  • 2 c 1% milk
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T monkfruit extract, 100% natural, 0 calorie sweetener
  • 8 oz. fat reduced old cheddar cheese, grated
  • ⅔ c fat free sour cream
  • 1 1 /3 c 1% cottage cheese
  • Topping:
  • 2 c grated fat reduced old cheddar cheese
  • 1½ c breadcrumbs made from whole grain bread
  • 2 T canola oil
Instructions
  1. Prepare a 2.5 litre casserole dish by spraying with a canola spray.
  2. Cook macaroni until el dente. Drain.
  3. Blend canola oil and flour over medium heat until it begins to bubble around the edges
  4. Add milk and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
  5. Add salt and monkfruit extract. Blend pasta, sauce, cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese.
  6. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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The moist, dense brownies for dessert were perfection.  One bite could truly satisfy a chocolate yearning.

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Now, who wouldn’t want to cook for these adorable kids? They are well mannered, taste everything and have sophisticated palettes for children their age. This is, I am quite sure, because of the example and encouragement of their parents.  All the parents in our circle, simply place wholesome, home prepared foods in front of their families and let the kids take it from there. Soon there will be another little guy around the table, as they have a brand new baby brother!

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In the foreground are three sisters.  They all help their parents in the kitchen and one of their favourite pastimes is flipping through pages of cookbooks.  I kid you not.  When we were invited there for dinner recently, all three of them were on the floor by the cookbook shelf in the kitchen, oohing and awing over various recipe photos, sharing them with each other and then requesting of their Mom that they make the most popular items.

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The Wee One (our Granddaughter) is also a part of this group.  This weekend she tried grilled eggplant for the first time!

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After our successful potluck, the kids donned t-shirts which served as painting smocks and made painted terra-cotta pots for their Moms for Mother’s Day.  These children are truly blessed with amazing Moms who know that time invested in the nurturing of these little ones is their most important work.

So as far as a Food Revolution is concerned, the need is not great amongst our particular circle.  But please do not misunderstand me; we know that we are a privileged group.  We have the luxury of time and can afford a variety of wholesome ingredients to prepare for our families.  Such is not the case the world over and indeed not even throughout our own neighbourhoods and communities.  We try not to take our blessings for granted and know that our responsibility is to share our knowledge with other families by example, with hospitality and with contributions of money and time to organizations that help feed families nutritious food.

I applaud Jamie Oliver and his efforts through Food Revolution Day-a global day of action celebrating the importance of cooking good food and inspiring in children a love of healthy food that will last a lifetime.  Sobeys wanted all Canadians to get involved and show off their cooking skills and that is why they created the national potluck challenge.  I encourage you to host your own potluck but also to tweet and/or post to Instagram about your potluck event with the #PotluckChallenge hashtag.  Sobeys will be donating $1 to the Cooking Towards Independence Project-a joint initiative between Sobeys and the Children’s Aid Foundation that will set up cooking workshops with children across Canada.

Kath’s quote: “As soon as I was old enough to peer over the worktops, I remember being fascinated by what went on in the kitchen. It just
seemed such a cool place, everyone working together to make this lovely stuff and having a laugh doing it.”-Jamie Oliver

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Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger-Sister #3 “Limon, Isla Mujeres”

May12

To say there are lots of dining options on Isla Mujeres would be a huge understatement. Trying to narrow down your selection is a challenge when you only have a two week stay. How do you try out the latest hot spot, that tiny little loncheria you have been wanting to try for years, and at the same time, visit your favourites?  There are places I love because of the atmosphere, places I love because of the staff, and places I love because of the food. Bring all three of those things together and you have Limón. 

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Located in the home of Sergio Cortreras Martinez and Charrissa Gillingham, going to dinner at Limón feels much like being invited to the home of friends for an elegant back yard barbeque.  We have always been fortunate to get a table in the courtyard and being we are often a party of 10 or more that is quite an accomplishment.  I always look forward to getting caught up with Sergio.  His hosting skills are not just about providing you with a lovely setting, great drinks and delicious food, but with fascinating stories of life in Mexico.  So great atmosphere, check, great people, check… now on to the food. 

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Our gang started the evening with a round of hibiscus margaritas.  Yes, that’s right, hibiscus is used in food and beverages in Mexico and adds a delightful floral note to everything it touches.

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On this visit I knew I had to try the tortilla soup.  My niece had it the previous year and spent the entire time between visits dreaming of this soup. Because our reservation at Limón was to take place after she left the island, we made a special trip to pick up a bowl to go that she and another niece enjoyed on their last day.  A base of tomato and juajillo chilli, this bowl of yumminess is chuck full of fried tortilla strips, cheese, chunks of avocado and ancho chilli rings. Creamy and hearty with just the right amount of heat.  I also had the vegetable tempura served with tartar sauce and wasabi.  Because Charrissa is a vegetarian, Limón has lots of meat free options to choose from.

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Another in our party looking for a lighter dinner selection had the tuna lettuce wraps followed by the impressive caprese tower.

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The meat lovers in the gang enjoyed the apricot and pineapple glazed pork tenderloin, cilantro chicken, and the rosemary kababs; a trio including skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp. The oohs and aahs around the table were a sure sign that no one was disappointed with their selection. 

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The seafood options we tried this visit included the coconut shrimp and the marinera, a perfect plate of pasta with shrimp, octopus, mussels and squid rings.  Definitely on my wish list for next year.

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Every plate was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat.  Little touches like the addition of a spring roll here and a bacon-wrapped chilli there bring the food to that next level.   It’s also fun to visit with Serg as he is preparing your meal on his grill just across the courtyard from our table. 

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We were all stuffed at the end of the meal but a few members of our table insisted we indulge in the grilled pineapple with banana ice cream for dessert.  So two orders and 9nine spoons were soon delivered to our table.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect evening.  Needless to say Limón is top of the list for every year to come. 

Kath’s quote: “To invite someone is to take charge of his happiness during the time he spends under your roof.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

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Love-that is all.

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Guest Blogger-Sister #3 “Glee Club Celebrates Mom”

May11

I have written here before about my dinner club GLEE (girls laughing, eating and entertaining).  Over the years these women have become very dear to my heart.  Recently two sisters who are members of the GLEE club lost their mom. So it felt a bit strange planning a GLEE celebration scheduled to take place shortly after their loss.  It was decided that our theme would be celebrating our moms by bringing a dish that reminded us of our moms.  I am the only GLEE member fortunate enough to still have her mom. 

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Our evening always starts with a cocktail to match our theme so in keeping with her mom’s tradition, K provided a fully stocked bar that was prepared to make any kind of cocktail your heart could desire. 

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Her sister H provided the shrimp cocktail and cheese and crackers to enjoy with our cocktails. Their mom Ruth was a hard working nurse and farm wife whose entertainment style was warm and simple. 

B was on salad duty and brought a delicious beet salad served on romaine. B’s mom was a sweet and elegant lady who died this year, just days before her 100th birthday.  

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Our main course was roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, another of Ruth’s staples.  It was accompanied by L’s mom’s vegetable casserole and I provided cabbage rolls in honour of my mom. 

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For dessert we enjoyed K’s mom’s chocolate chip snack cake.

So happy mother’s day everyone. Regardless of if your mom is here on earth or in heaven, be sure to take time to remember her today.

Kath’s quote: “Every year the number of new cookbooks increases, but in spite of them the progress made in this most useful of the arts is not ever overpowering. On the contrary, we must regretfully admit that nowadays people no longer prepare the fine and nourishing dishes that our mothers used to make.”-Anna Dorn, Cookbook Author (1834)

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Love-that is all.

 

Get Cooking-Food Revolution Day is Coming

May9

Research released recently by Sobey’s Inc. includes data that is contrary to our own family’s experience. The study reveals that there is a generation gap when it comes to food knowledge and confidence in cooking (only 31% of 18-29 year olds feel confident in the kitchen).  The survey also revealed that Canadians are consuming too much processed food as opposed to made from scratch food.  This I know is true, even though I make it my mission to not be so with my family.

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The findings do not match up with our family or our immediate circle of friends and I was wondering why this is the case.  I have discovered two primary reasons also through Sobey’s research: 1) “When cooking skills are passed down from generation to generation, there’s more enjoyment and collaboration in the kitchen.” In my parents’ house, I recall from as far back as I can remember, being included in the joy of cooking for our large family.  It started with pretty simple tasks: how to peel a potato and shuck corn, to pinching down the edges of a perogy and cutting out the form of a biscuit with the edge of a glass and finally how to make my Mom’s cinnamon buns and blueberry pies and how to perfectly grill a medium rare steak.

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2) “Canadians who cooked with their parents (57%) are much more likely to love coking as adults and are more likely to involve others in their own cooking, fuelling a virtuous circle.”  So too from a young age, the kitchen has always been the centre of our home.  First toys were Tupperware, measuring cups and spoons and pots and pans.  Water play at the kitchen sink was much loved as well as playing with a piece of leftover pizza or cookie dough.  Our families’ favourite meals have always been: make-your-own salad, make-your own-sub and make-your-own pizza.  Now that our children are adults, together with their spouses and significant others, we can see the fruits of this atmosphere.  We get invited to their homes for dinners; everyone takes turns making meals at our family cottage and they contribute courses for special celebrations like our birthdays. Heck, in our house, we’ve even had family cook-off competitions.

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But we know that we are not typical and that is why Jamie Oliver (a fav in our house)  created a global day of food action called Food Revolution Day to inspire persons the world over to stand up for “real” food.  In recognition of FRD, Sobey’s has launched Canada’s Biggest Potluck Party challenging Canadians to host a potluck leading up to FRD on May 16.

If you want to register your own potluck event, invite friends and plan your potluck luck items, go to http://betterfoodforall.com. You can also access Jamie Oliver & Sobeys recipes, as well as tips and tricks for hosting the perfect potluck party at http://betterfoodforall.com/potluck-inspiration/. You’ll find tons of information there!

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Our potluck is scheduled for tonight when we host our monthly Young Families’ Group-a time for parents to socialize with other parents, while I, D and Sister #3 take their kids off of their hands for an evening.  We always start with a family supper-kids in the dining room with us and parents in the living room, eating off their laps.  Our potluck theme is ” Tastes from Home” and we plan on sharing family favourites.

Kath’s quote: “The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.” -Judith Martin

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Love-that is all.

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