Food Musings

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

Khachapuri

September6

Truth is, I didn’t know precisely where Georgia was until I got out our big atlas that resides in our living room and is pulled out frequently for my enlightenment.  You might say that I am geographically challenged. Good friends of ours invited us over for a taste of Georgian cooking as she had spent time in that country and picked up some culinary favourites.

Her husband helped me get up to speed with an excerpt from his 2006 blog post:

A Georgian Table

There are two legends that Georgians tell to explain the creation of their country, and fascinatingly, both involve food. In the first, the Georgians claim that when God was distributing land to all the peoples of the Earth, they were too busy feasting and drinking to show up at the appointed time. When they finally arrived, they were dismayed to learn that all the land had already been given away. They explained to God the reason for their delay, and God, obviously recognizing the value of a people who would rather be feasting than fighting over land, took pity on them and gave the Georgians the part of the Earth that he had been reserving for himself – naturally, the most beautiful part. In the second legend, God took a supper break while creating the world, and became so involved with his meal that he inadvertently tripped over the high peaks of the Caucasus, spilling his food onto the land below. This land blessed by heaven’s table scraps was Georgia.

We were not observing supra, which is a feast when a huge assortment of dishes are prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine.

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These feasts are said to go on for hours but we didn’t have hours, just a bit of time before the boys had to go to bed.
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At this meal we enjoyed a lovely salad and a delectable marinated and grilled pork.  But to be honest, what I was fascinated with and couldn’t get enough of was the Khachapuri which I understand is their version of cheese bread and is a a staple of Georgian kitchens.
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Sarah referred to her Nani’s recipe when she described to me how Khachapuri is made.  A simple dough is prepared with the inclusion of Balkan yoghurt. In a separate bowl the cheese filling is mixed together from feta, butter and eggs.  Sarah mixes and kneads her dough in her bread maker.  Then she splits the dough into eight equal parts.  She rolls out each portion and then places 1/8th of the cheese filling in the middle.  She then folds the edges up around the filling, pinches it together and flattens back into a thick disk.  These dense cakes are then heated in a dry frying pan 2-3 minutes per side.  Oh my, I couldn’t get enough of these.
The meal and the Khahapuri tasted like the perfect blend of Eastern European and Middle Eastern cooking.  When I did a little bit of research on the history of Georgian fare, these are the two primary influences of the region’s cuisine.
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A gorgeous trifle was served next.  One of the boys tried very patiently to wait for dessert.
Kath’s quote: “Anybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography.”-Robert Byrne
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Love-that is all.
posted under Breads, Recipes | 1 Comment »

Musings on the First Day of School

September3

Even though my gang is long out of grade school, I still I am both excited and apprehensive on this day.  The jitters that the kids would have, would always be passed along to me and I would wonder about teachers and bullies and besties.  I would hope that they didn’t mind that although their clothes were clean and they had every item on their school supply list, that they would mind (or notice) that their new lunch kit was gifted to me at a golf tournament and that their gym shoes were actually one size too large because they were the only size left on that shoe sale.

My greatest anxiety was typically about their school lunch.  I dreaded the task because no matter how much effort went into it at my end, the bags and Tupperware found in knapsacks, would tell the true tale of what had been considered delicious, let alone appealing.  There were a couple of years where J1 traveled across town to school and then would stay in EK for dance classes in the evening and so lunch and dinner would have to be sent.  I was a dreadful failure at this, believing that he didn’t mind the packaged pasta package that I would send with him, thinking to myself “he’ll need the carbs” for his workout.

Suffice it to say, I am glad that my lunch making days are behind me.  Well, not quite.  This Friday, a friend of the Frenchman moves in with us for the fall and he has requested room and board.  I am relieved because there is no way that I could make the space for his ingredients in my weenie kitchen or overstuffed fridge.  I will be responsible for providing lunch “ingredients” so that he can pack a lunch for himself.  I think that I can pull that off.

I see photos of packed lunches on the Mommy blogs of compartmentalized boxes filled with fresh, nutritious and clever food.  And I think, boy those kids must be so loved that their Mom’s would go to that much trouble.  I hope that mine know that with working outside the home and scheduling extra-curricular activities for them, as well as trying to keep a house and take care of my hard-working husband, I did the best that I could manage.  I also hope that in spite of mediocre lunch bags, they were/are loved more than words can say.

Love-that is all.

“Pomegranate Soup” and “Rosewater and Soda Bread” by Marsha Mehran

August30

Marsha Mehran escaped the Iranian revolution and the heroines of her stories have done the same.  I was drawn to this book and it’s sequel (unfortunately I read them the wrong way around) initially because of the culinary theme but found many other connections to the narrative.  Both stories are about three sisters and their sometimes opposite reactions to the same circumstances of life.

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They run a little cafe together in a community in western Ireland, a place that I fell deeply in love with when we traveled through it a couple of springs ago.  Our most northern stop was Galway which is still south of County Mayo where the action takes place.

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But wandering the streets of Galway and experiencing their commerce and culinary scene has allowed me to create what I think is a realistic mental picture of life for the sisters.  Here are a couple of my favourite excerpts from the first of the two novels.

Chapter 4, page 62

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At only nine in the morning the kitchen was already pregnant to its capacity, every crevice and countertop overtaken by Marjan’s gourmet creations.  Marinating vegetables (torshis of mango, eggplant and the regular seven-spice variety), packed to the briny brims of five-gallon see-through canisters, sat on the kitchen island.  Large blue bowls filled with salads (angelica lentil, tomato, cucumber and mint, Persian fried chicken), dolmeh, and dips (cheese and walnut) yoghurt and cucumber, baba ganoush, and spicy hummus), which, along with feta, Stilton and cheddar cheese, were covered and stacked in the enormous glass-door refrigerator.  Opposite the refrigerator stood the colossal brick bread oven.  Baking away in its domed belly was the last of the sangak bread loaves, three feet long and counting, rising in golden crests and graced with scatterings of poppy and nigella seed.  The rest of the bread (paper-thin lavash) crusty barbari, slabs of sangak as well as the usual white sliced loaf) was already covered with comforting cheesecloth to keep the freshness in.  And simmering on the stove, under Marjan’s loving orders, was a small pot of white onion (not to be mistaken for the French variety, for this version boasts dried fenugreek leaves and pomegranate paste), the last pot of red lentil soup and a larger pt of abguhst.  An extravaganza of lamb, split peas, and potatoes, abguhst always reminded Marjan of early spring nights in Iran, when the cherry blossoms still shivered with late frosts and the piping samavors helped washed down the saffron and dried lime aftertaste with strong, black Darjeeling tea.

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And then just further along on Page 64

So this was how love was supposed to feel, Layla thought, like the ecstatic cries of a pomegranate as it realizes the knife’s thrust, the caesarean labor of juicy seeds cut from her inner womb.  Like the gleeful laugh of oil as it corrupts the watery flour, the hot grease blending the batter to its will and creating a greater sweetness from the process-zulbia, the sugary fried fritters she loved so.  Falling in love was amazing.  Why hadn’t anyone ever told her so?

Kath’s quote: “And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.” –Exodus 28:33-34

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Love-that is all.

Bacon Wrapped Queso Fresca Stuffed Figs

August29

I was reading through a blog post from last week and realized that I had not posted a recipe which I had promised.  This turned out to be one of the hits at the recent baby shower that Daughter #2 hosted for the Wee One.

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I find it mighty hard to leave all this behind.

Truth is, the appetizer was a bit of a fluke.  I wanted to do some of my prep while out at the beach house to lessen my responsibilities once I got into town.  So I  snooped around the freezer and found a pound of bacon.  I discovered that I still had some California figs left when the producers graciously sent them to me.  I tried a ricotta at first with no success-too mild and impossible to stuff without a pastry bag so I rattled around a little more in the fridge and found this deliciously salty cheese that I was going to brown in a fry pan and serve with taco chips.  Best of all, it was firm enough to be cut into little sticks and then pressed into the fig with ease.

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Bacon Wrapped Queso Fesca Stuffed Figs
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package of bacon, cut each strip in half
  • count the number above
  • match that number with the same number of figs
  • match that number with the same number of cheese sticks
Instructions
  1. cut off the stem end of the fig
  2. use your paring knife to gently make a tunnel into the fig, making sure that you do not break through the other end
  3. gently ease the cheese stick into the fig
  4. wrap with one half strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick
  5. line a 8 x 8 square cake pan with parchment paper
  6. place the figs close together in the pan so that they will support each other making sure that the closed end is next to the pan
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the bacon has crisped up to your desired likeness

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So quick, easy and SO delicious.

Kath’s quote: “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”-Doug Larson

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Love-that is all.

The Birchwood Porch

August28

My month at our beach house is winding down.  My time has been exciting and hectic and relaxing and mellow, in turn.  We got to entertain the Frenchman’s family and spend lots of snuggly time with our new grandbaby.  We have also enjoyed wonderful visits with our extended family, a circumstance that I cherish in particular.  Sometimes it is an impromptu coffee, other times an invited dinner and my favourite of all-happy hour when we all assemble, (sometimes by invitation and other times, not) on someone’s deck around a plate of munchies that the host cottage has typically provided.

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We also love to go out for lunches and suppers together.  Le Gouter at Albert Beach has exceptional food.  We love their hand-made burgers, hand-cut fries (especially when topped with real curds  for their authentic poutine) and their ham and Swiss crepes with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Le Gouter on Urbanspoon

The Grand Beach Diner is supposed to be good but every time I try to go there, they are closed.  So I have yet to sample their fare.

I understand that the South Beach Casino serves a wonderful seafood buffet on Thursday evenings.  Family have gone but I have yet to give it a try.  And now that my time is running out, it is unlikely that I will.

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One place that we have been going to for years and enjoyed a couple of times again this summer is the Birchwood Motor Hotel.  We like to sit on the screen in porch which overlooks the sand volleyball courts.  This place is designated for smokers which is not terribly pleasant for us but, you sometimes have to take the bad with the good.  A big outdoor grill is placed in one corner of the porch.  On Wednesday nights they feature a Barbequed steak with grilled onions and mushrooms, Cole slaw, roll, baked potato AND a beer or glass of wine!  On Thursday evenings there are the same accompaniments but the feature is big meaty barbequed beef ribs.  The value of both is exceptional.  When we were leaving last week, the live entertainment was just warming up.

Birhwood Motor Inn on Urbanspoon

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Suppers out while at the lake give us an excuse to gather but also to avoid turning the oven on when days are hot and best yet, not doing any dishes which means we can head to the beach for sunset, get back into our books or catch another TV episode on Netflix.  Ahh, lake life!

Kath’s quote: “The smell of roasting meat together with that of burning fruit wood and dried herbs, as voluptuous as incense in a church, is enough to turn anyone into a budding gastronome.”-Claudia Roden

Love-that is all.

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