Food Musings

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

Beach House Berry French Toast Casserole



I have decided to create a Beach House category of recipes.  When we are up at our little place on weekends or in the summer, our meals and recipes focus on aspects different from the city:

  1. When it is hot we either try to cook in the morning or use the barbeque or crock pot.  Our oven isn’t brand new (almost everything is a hand-me-down out here) and throws off a lot of heat. 
  2. There is access to just caught fish, freshly picked blueberries and produce from farmers in the vicinity. There is a Farmer’s Market set up on the highway every Friday in the summer so we stop on our way out and then utilize whatever we have picked up. 
  3. We often cook for large groups as my extended family has three other cottages on the road. 
  4. We typically skip breakfast or simply grab a banana, granola bar or yoghurt in the morning with our many cups of coffee and then have a brunch or lunch item at noon when the guys get home from playing tennis at Grand Beach. 
  5. Although there are a couple of well-stocked stores for groceries and supplies, they are all a twenty minute car ride away and once we get here, we try to drive as little as possible.  As a result many of my recipes use what we already have in the fridge or larder.  For example, in this one, I use 10% cream instead of milk because it was what I had on hand.
  6. We try to cook with as few dishes as possible because although the water is plentiful (the water table is so high that we pump it up through an apparatus called a sand point), disposing of water is not as easy.  Lake Winnipeg is in some trouble and we do our part by having our house water drain into a tank which then has to be pumped out and trucked away.  I do recycle water as much as possible by using a “friendly” detergent and then letting my plants drink up the dishwater.



Beach House Berry French Toast Casserole
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch
Cuisine: Local
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
I would have preferred to have used a multi-grain bread but again French bread is what I had on hand.
  • 1 loaf French bread, cubed
  • 1-2 lbs. mixed berries (divided in half) I used fresh Driscoll brand blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Frozen berries could easily be substituted.
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ¾ c cream (milk can be substituted)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • 1 t raspberry liqueur (or vanilla which I was out of)
  • ½ c sliced almonds
  1. Spray your favourite casserole dish with canola spray.
  2. *A word of caution: the dish I used was too deep and took a long time for the eggs to set. Use a shallower dish like an 8½ x 11 pan for quicker baking times.
  3. Place half of the cubed bread in bottom.
  4. Place half berry mixture over bread.
  5. Place remaining half of bread over berries.
  6. Mix together the eggs, cream or milk, liqueur or vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup in a pitcher (easier to pour without spills).
  7. Pour evenly over all of the casserole.
  8. Top with remaining berries.
  9. Sprinkle almonds overall.
  10. Refrigerate for 2 ½ hours or overnight if you wish.
  11. Bake in a pre=heated 375 degree oven for 30+ minutes. Ours took longer because of the depth of the baking dish. Use a shallower dish and you could test for doneness after 30 mins.



I let it sit for 2 ½ hours because that is the length of time I have between D and J1’s departure for tennis and their subsequent arrival back home.  Many mornings I take the wee One for a walk on the beach in her “Chariot” stroller but this morning, I am getting caught up on some writing in the solarium.

Kath’s quote: “O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment.”-Richard Llewellyn

berry heart

Love-that is all.

Isla Mujeres 2014 Trip Report-Day 9










The beginning of another glorious day on Isla.  I sit with my coffee and watch the day come alive and take picture after picture thinking “This will be the last one, the sky can’t possibly get more beautiful than this”.  And then it does and I take another.


For the previous couple of days, I had watched this family assemble on the shore from their rented house a few doors to the south.  On this day, I went over and told them how beautiful they look in the sunlight and took this and a number of other photos for them.








We don’t always walk into Colonias, sometimes we head to Centro but I still can’t leave my camera behind and just walk.  I MUST capture Isla so that I can relive that slow pace and the long shadows of the newly risen sun.



I love this house and the artistry demonstrated in the painting of it.  I wish the lovely woman watering her plant had windows to see her beautiful island though.




We finally arrive at our destination-Café Cito.  We miss Ziggy but still come for the pineapple/coconut/banana jam.


and Mexican eggs


and fried eggs with hash browns and their pretty good coffee.













We set off again, deliberating over the idea of renting bikes for the day.  After waiting for places to open and then checking the condition and price of the rentals, we decide to pass.  I am not really sure why we were so easily dissuaded and then I find out later that a friend of ours who had rented a bicycle was cut off by a scooter and received fairly serious injuries when his bike crashed.  I guess our guardian angel was watching over us.


So we make our way back home but not without a stop at our favourite spot for real fruit popsicles-this one mango.



We spend the rest of the day luxuriating in our own little paradise.  We keep the great kitchen in our apartment at Luna d’Miel stocked with juices, fruit, snacks, beer, wine and enough key ingredients to make a sandwich to eat by the sea.




The blues of the Caribe were particularly vibrant that day.


When I am not lying in the hammock writing or reading one of the zillion books the I devour on Isla, I have a lovely pastime.


I am a beachcomber, collecting heart shaped shells, coral & stones, beach glass-my favourite colour is the very pale sea-foam green and I am ecstatic when I find a turquoise piece.  I also search for the inside spiral of conch shells.  I bleach them and then glue a pin on them to give as gifts to my girlfriends.  The strip of the beach in front of Luna d’Miel is perfect for collecting and I go out bright and early each morning and stand in the surf and let the treasures just wash up and find me.


When it was time for dinner we waited for Sister #3’s cab to pick us up on their way to Monchi’s.  Since every vehicle going north to south and vice versa on the island can only take one of two roads, there was a 50/50 chance that we would be successful.  With Facebook added to ensure that she request the east airport strip with her cab driver, the odds went up to 100%.


The Wee One, J2 and Veektooria were also at Monchi’s, together with Doona’s entourage that we had traveled and dined with on other occasions.  When you add in Bro #3 and his wife, I think there were thirteen of us that evening.




I can never decide whether or not I like Ziggy’s (he has since moved to Barlito’s, by the way) Coconut or Garlic Shrimp.  Lucky for me, Sister #3 was on the fence too, so we each ordered one and then swapped to ensure that we each had a combo.  Most everyone had shrimp of one description or another but orders of grilled chicken and enchiladas were also equally enjoyed.


We stopped to appreciate the beautiful trees growing across from the restaurant before we walked back home.  We often end the day, the way we start it, sitting in our chairs at the water’s edge, sipping a glass of something and gazing at the sky.

Kath’s quote:Second star to the right…and straight on ’til morning“. -James Kirk


Love-that is all.




This weekend we recruited a crew of family members to help us assemble a solarium for the deck of our beach house. Although days are lovely and mild, the mosquitoes and sudden thunderstorms can severely cramp your style on the Canadian prairies without an option of this kind. By noon of the work day, what had been accomplished had to be disassembled and reassembled and by dinner time the last of the roof panels were just starting to slide into their place. A whopper of a thunderstorm was rolling in off the lake and the gang managed to get the last one in place and some chairs pulled in before a deluge began.

Meanwhile, I was taking stock of the ingredients that I had available to create some little sweet and savoury tastes to thank everyone for their efforts. I composed six pairings and these were the favourites:


Savoury Apricot – an onion flatbread with a slice of parmesan salami folded into a compact triangle, a dollop of Smucker’s Apricot jam, roasted red pepper and a sprig of basil.


Surprising Blueberry – a Raincoast Crisp Seed Cracker, a smudge of sour cream, a smear of Smucker’s Blueberry Jam, segments of lemon slices and a drizzle of maple syrup.


Mexican Peach – a mini taco “scoop”, a creamy slice of avocado, a spoonful of Smucker’s Peach Jam, a wedge of roasted purple onion and a nip of cilantro.


Nutty Apricot – a mini biscotti round, a glorious smear of Smucker’s Apricot Jam, a wedge of smoked gouda, a roasted pecan and a twig of rosemary.


To say that the delectable offerings were well received would be a gross understatement.  Every single morsel was devoured instantly but not without glowing exclamations. Everyone had their favourites for different reasons, some preferring basil over cilantro, others loved the crunchy varieties and another pleased with the dairy-free options. All were impressed with the complexity of the tastes and how satisfying each little bite was in spite of its size. 


We often entertain at our beach house and I am delighted that in the future, I can tap into my selections of Smucker’s fresh jams, add a fresh herb, a cracker, a bit of protein and voila, I can be back out into the solarium to sip my bevvie and rejoin the conversation. Life is good.

Kath’s quote: “And the Quangle Wangle said to himself on the Crumpetty Tree,–‘Jam; and Jelly; and bread; Are the best of food for me!”-Edward Lear


Love-that is all.

Smucker’s Pairings are a simple, easy way to create delicious food combinations with jam and other ingredients, designed to help you discover how flavours mingle together for mouth-watering results. Each pairing has 5 ingredients or less, and s ready in less than 15 minutes. Because with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.  For specific information on our jam flavours and varieties, please visit 


Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Smucker’s foods of Canada via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Smucker’s Foods of Canada.

Cream of the Crop



My projects as a food stylist are satisfying work-imagine being paid to grocery shop and spend part of the day in the kitchen. I don’t even mind the early mornings (once I get myself going, that is).   I get to meet fascinating people like other foodies, home economists, dieticians, cookbook authors and chefs.  My favourite Chef thus far has been the pleasure of working with Chef Michael Allemeir.  I knew that his recipes would be stellar and written with care.


Here’s his impressive bio:

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chef Michael Allemeier moved with his family to Hong Kong where he was smitten by the culinary bug at age 12.

He started his first official kitchen job at the St. Boniface Golf Club. He apprenticed with Delta Hotels and the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg. He has worked at the acclaimed restaurant Amici in Winnipeg; Executive Chef of Bishop’s Restaurant in Vancouver; Fairmont Hotels in the Wildflower Restaurant in Whistler; and Executive Chef of Teatro Restaurant in Calgary, where he won numerous awards.

In 2003, Chef Allemeier’s passion for food and wine pairing was realised with the call to Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley, where he launched the Terrace Restaurant, created a culinary school, private dining program, retail line of preserves, designed and built Canada’s first Varietal Kitchen Garden and many other initiatives for sales and marketing.

A Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC), which is Canada’s second highest professional culinary accreditation designation. Chef Allemeier is also a member of the international food and wine organization the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

He is currently pursuing his career-long passion as an educator. In 2009, he started as a culinary instructor at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). Currently, Chef Allemeier is a CMC (Certified Master Chef) candidate, which is Canada’s highest professional accreditation.

Chef Michael is a 1989 Red River College graduate and tells me of his fond memories working with Chef Tony of the St. Charles and Heinz Kattenfeld of Amici!


Chef Michael is currently team up with the Dairy Farmers of Canada promoting their Summer Berries and Cream.  Check out their Anyday Magic website and vote for my friend Jeanine Friesen (aka Baking Beauties) in conjunction with this promo.  You could win a Stainless Steel Cookware set!


I prepared two fabulous recipes for Chef Michael’s appearance yesterday on Breakfast Television.  With permission, I am sharing this fabulous salad.

"Waldorf" Berry Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Classic
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
An exciting twist on a classic summer salad. Celery, toasted walnuts, apples, mixed berries, all tossed in a creamy dressing - using half and half cream, sour cream and Greek yogurt.
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) 10% half-and-half cream
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1-½ cups (375 mL) diced celery
  • 1 cup (250 mL) toasted walnuts, lightly crushed, divided
  • 1 red delicious apple, cored, quartered and diced (skin on)
  • 1-2/3 cups (400 mL) assorted berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or quartered strawberries, if large)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 to 10 whole butter lettuce leaves
  • 10 to 12 celery leaves
  1. In a large bowl, stir together cream, sour cream, yogurt, and lemon juice. Stir in celery, ¾ cup (175 mL) of the walnuts and apples. Gently fold in berries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. In a bowl or on a serving platter, arrange lettuce leaves and gently spoon salad on top. Garnish with remaining walnuts and celery leaves.


I sometimes take the left-overs from a TV appearance home with me for my family to taste but this one was whisked away by the staff on the TV set-it was that good!  After they got tastes of the second recipe “Berry Delicious Potato Salad” I packed up the rest for supper at the Beach House tonight.  A whole chicken with lemon and fresh sage leaves is in the crockpot and I am hoping that D will stop on the highway and pick up some corn.  Ah summer time…..

Kath’s quote: “A cup of coffee – real coffee – home-browned, home-ground, home-made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet,
neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a coffee is a match for twenty blue devils, and will exorcise them all.”-
Henry Ward Beecher


Love-that is all.

Winnipeg’s Culinary Series-The Homegrown Trail


Here is what Peg City Grub says about the rationale behind their “Homegrown Trail“:

Ask a Winnipegger where to get the best home-grown eats and you won’t get the same answer twice.  That’s because the definition of Manitoba Regional Cuisine doesn’t fit into one tidy sentence.  Pickerel, bison, wild berries, wild rice are local favourites found on menus across the city.  But that’s just the beginning.  From ethnic eateries to greasy spoons, from food co-operatives to upscale dining rooms high above city streets, chefs have their own takes on the food found on Manitoba’s prairies, lakes, forests and wetlands.  On this tasty trek across Winnipeg, you’ll sample some of the province’s staples in their traditional and modernized forms.  You’ll taste our past and present, created by some of the city’s most talented cooks.

It was impossible for me to get away on the media preview of Tourism Winnipeg’s “Homegrown Trail” but having been on a couple of culinary trails in Stratford Ontario last fall, I was anxious to see what had been put together in my own backyard, as it were.  We began with Fusion Grill, not exactly in my own backyard but pretty close-a block and a half walk away.  The cafe’s close proximity actually makes me guilty about not dining there more often as owner Scot McTaggart is an old friend of ours from a time when we all worked at a popular restaurant together.  Scot’s culinary philosophy has always been a passion for “local”, years before the trend was in vogue.  Scot declares that his wish has always been a simple one: “to sell carrots from my own backyard.”  As Scot described his memory, my own came back so clearly: He recalls raiding a garden for carrots and scraping off the dirt with your hands.  He remembers the sweetness and the crunch and adds “even the dirt tasted good.”  Being the scaredy cat that I was, I never raided a garden but was able to pick as many carrots as I desired from my Grandma’s garden as a reward for helping her weed and water.  As a very little girl, she taught me how to make a fist around the carrot and pull it through to scrape away most of the dirt.  Even though I didn’t like to get dirty as a child, I recall leaving as much Saskatchewan mud as possible on those carrots because I whole-heartedly agree with Scot: even the dirt tasted good.


On this day, the sample of Panko-Crusted Pickerel cheeks was sublime.  Gutsy Scot was the first of Winnipeg’s restaurateurs to deliver Manitoba regional cuisine like lamb, pickerel cheeks, Arctic Char, Northern Pike caviar and grass-fed beef.  The all-Canadian wine list was also a bold move when he first opened but feels vindicated now with the focus on both food and wine from closer to home.  He believes that Canadian wines are the perfect pairing to chef Lorna Murdoch’s cuisine.

Fusion Grill on Urbanspoon

Next on the trail was a stop that we didn’t make on our mini-tour.  We consider Mise Bistro (although not walking distance) still one of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants.  Over the years we have sampled their pickerel too, loving it with a dusting of corn-meal. Also an old-favourite but not visited on this day was Fude where Chris Fougere passionately explained to us years ago, his spin on deconstructing and reconstructing his restaurant’s dishes.  Fude was the first place we had ever tried chocolate chicken!  We couldn’t place the taste at first and then recalled savouring mole chicken in Mexico, on one of our first visits, years prior. Also not included on our mini-tour was Prairie 360 but coincidentally I got to enjoy lunch there the very next day.  I once lived across the back-lane from the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company where aromas of their cinnamon buns would wake me out of a morning sleep.  For the epitome of home sweet home cooking, Sonya’s across town in my old stomping grounds of EK/Elmwood is on the full trek but not our mini version.  No matter, I can vividly recall owner Steve’s cheerful banter as he served us house make cheddar and potato perogies served with grilled onions and crispy pieces of bacon.


Don’t think that I didn’t eat my fill on this mini-tour as our next stop was Market Burger.  As soon as we sat down a platter of “sides” arrived at the table.  I had a difficult time deciding which I loved the best between their excellent onion rings, hand-cut fries, hickory shoe-string fries or their deep-fried pickles.  I have been unimpressed with fried pickles in the past but this authentic kosher dill pickle (I suspected it was an Elman’s) was elevated by the crunchy batter that adorned it.


I had to stop myself from eating all of the tasty sides as no less than 6 sliders arrived soon thereafter including the Desi (spiced Pakistani-style beef), the Mac ‘n Cheese, the Banh Mi (reminiscent of my favourite Vietnamese dishes) and the Smothered Chili Burger.  I was about to declare the Butter Chicken Burger my favourite until I bit into the piece de résistance: the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger!  Sweet/salty/savoury all in one compact taste-heaven, I’m in heaven……

Market Burger on Urbanspoon


Our last (but certainly not least) stop on the tour was at Peasant Cookery which serves ” real food from the land.”  I have tasted many of award winning Chef Tristan Foucault’s dishes but never had room for dessert, being satiated by his charcuterie, poutine, pickerel or gnocchi.  This stop though was just for dessert and although I thought that I could not possibly consume another thing, I gleefully managed to slurp down all of the berry sorbet and goat milk cheesecake.  The piggy shaped short bread cookies were the “icing on the cake” so to speak.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

So in answer to the question: where should we eat in Winnipeg?-there are just too many choices, so try one of Tourism Winnipeg’s Trails whether you re a visitor to our fair city or “Homegrown” like me.

Kath’s quote: “This little piggy went to market….”


Love-that is all.




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