Food Musings

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

Isla Mujeres 2013 Day 11

September11

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We can never get enough of Ziggy and even though we had dined at Monchi’s the night before, we saw him at our next meal at Café Cito in the morning.

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D chose the fresh fruit and Mexican eggs and I once again had the scrambled eggs and sautéed potatoes.

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The piece de resistance at Café Cito is the toast (or buns) and the coconut/pear jam.  I can’t get enough of it.

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This was the day that we rented a golf cart and so we boogied around before we settled in for our primary task of the day.

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We were pleased to host a special happy hour that evening in celebration of Sister #2 and Brother #3’s birthday (yes-they are twins).  The preparation made us feel as if we were locals.  I even picked flowers.  Isobel, who’s family owns Luna D’Miel was such a huge help with our preparations.  She is an extraordinary hostess and I would shout her accolades from the mountaintop (except that I am selfish and want to ensure that we can always get our room there).

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Just as our guests started to trickle in, I captured another couple of gorgeous sunset pics.

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Our niece had arrived by this time and even though many of the guests that we had invited did not attend in the end, it was our gang, Jean, Rich, Jan, Bruce and Pollo made an impromptu appearance.  As we had not decided where to go for the evening, we asked Pollo what he would suggest.  He called Sergio over at Limon and low and behold, there was room for us!

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From the outside, I had no idea that the interior would be so sleek and luxurious.  But as gorgeous as the décor was, the food was even better.  We were the last table to arrive that evening and  we knew that we were low persons on the totem pole with the kitchen.  Sergio not only circulates through the dining, he personally oversees everything that comes  out of the kitchen and we know that good food is worth waiting for.

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We were content to catch up with Richelle and imbibe with the red wine that had been poured out at the table.

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After a couple of caprese salad

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and tortilla soups were consumed at our table,

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the staff surmised that we would be more comfortable if we moved out to the gazebo in the garden.  The breeze was lovely and by this time Sergio himself had an opportunity to join us at the table.

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Richelle and I shared the fruita de mare fettuccine-with conch, shrimp and clams.  Tossed in a rich cream sauce, Richelle declared that it was “moan worthy”.

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Doug  tick ‘n chix.

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Donna avocado salad,

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Michael fettuccine bolognaise,

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Kim and Sue hibiscus tacos.  Of the many amazing restaurants on Isla, Limon is now on my “must visit” list for future holidays.

It had been a long day and we were weary.  We decided to grab a cab instead of walking home.  The thing about spending time on Isla is that I am never disappointed when a fabulous days ends because I know that another amazing day awaits…..

Kath’s quote: “This dish is “moan” worthy”. -niece Richelle

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Love-that is all.

Healthy Breakfasts from a Hotel Breakfast Bar

September10

For the past couple of years, I have spent an extended period of time in Thompson, Manitoba.  I loved the setting as it reminded me of lake country.  I was conveniently located within walking distance to the mall, a wine store and a place to watch the Jets games with other travelers.

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My room was flooded with evening light

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and was filled with other ambient light so I felt warm and cozy.

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In fact, the entire hotel had cozy little places to meet with a friend or snuggle up with a book or magazine.  Also important to a single, female traveler: I always felt very safe.

But I got the biggest kick out of their breakfast buffet.  I challenged myself to eat as healthily as possible while there (I have a tendency to eat, to keep my self company).  I was so pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to do so.  I enhanced my selections with a couple of little fresh treats from the mall that I fit perfectly into the apartment sized fridge that is in every guest suite.

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Bran muffin, peanut butter, yoghurt.

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I made up a packet of hot oatmeal that I sliced fresh apple into.  The cashews were left over from one of those salads in a bag that I had the previous day for lunch.  The flax crackers were one of my evening treats.

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This invention became my new favourite: half a toasted bagel, covered cream cheese and crowned with sliced strawberries-oh yum.

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A granola bar crumbled over strawberry yoghurt and a sliced banana.

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They always had hard-cooked eggs, so one morning I made an open-faced egg salad sandwich.

I successfully avoided indulging in their waffles and sausages and felt energized for the day.

I would highly recommend the Lakeview Suites in Thompson- my home away from home.

Kath’s quote: “The keynote to happiness within the four walls that make any home is plain, wholesome, well cooked food, attractively served.”-Louis P. De Gouy

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Love-that is all.

 

Tuscany Will Have to Wait

September9

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Well, it is official.  Unfortunately, we did not hit our minimum enrollment target to make our sojourn to Tuscany a reality.  The vistas of purple hued rolling hills and golden valleys will still be there when we plan our next trip to Italy.  Of course I was already dreaming about and tasting the fine wines and the mind-blowing food! But the vinters and the chefs will also wait for us.

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As is often the case for D and I, we consoled ourselves very successfully.  We spent this weekend celebrating our recent wedding anniversary.  We sat in cozy beach chairs and consumed a lovely bottle of Riesling while surveying the sunset on Friday evening.  We ate mussels poached in coconut milk, garlic and cilantro while watching the last couple of episodes of House of Cards.  The night was warm and clear, so we pulled cushions out onto the deck and gazed at the northern sky for hours, guessing which lights were planets or satellites and shouting out when we saw falling stars.  The next day, after D kept his weekend tennis date, we walked to a secluded area of the beach that we share only with very special people.  We basked in the sun and did the crossword puzzle together.  We walked along many kms of almost empty, glorious sandy beach until we came upon a huge group of kite board surfers.  After perching in the sand and marveling at their antics, we headed back in the other direction.

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True to form, we started discussing and planning our next trips.  We have decided to take in Canadian wine country and will spend some time in Niagara on the Lake, one of the homes of Jackson Triggs, which my good friends know is my favourite Merlot.  We will look up old friends that own and run a successful restaurant in the area.  Our intention is also to head to Stratford, where another set of long-time friends run a B&B.  We intend to take in a couple of plays of the Stratford Festival and the chances are very good that we will drink and sup well there too.

Most excitingly, we are planning our next trip to Europe to coincide with next year’s anniversary-our 30th.  We have great fun discussing our options.  Perhaps we will include Praque and Poland where my Dad and his family were from.  Perhaps Greece and Sicily so that we can visit again with good friends and explore the east side of the island.  Perhaps the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Man, where my Mom’s family originated.  One thing that we know for sure.  We will fly through London.  We were astonished by how affordable airfare is (especially when compared to Canadian fares), once you are in Europe and departing from one of their air hubs.  So London will definitely be part of our itinerary.

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We think that the research that you do before a major trip is a great part of the fun.  We get out our laptops together and start poking around in order to sketch out an itinerary.  We also love getting deals on hotels.  Luxury is not important to us as we literally only sleep and shower there, but location is very key.  When we travel, we love to live like locals, not tourists, and so a residential neighbourhood amidst local shops, pubs and cafes is our preference.  We have been having fun searching through London Hotels.  We can refer to maps of the city and the various neighbourhoods of London.  We can even limit our search by budget which will come in handy.

Will we make it to Tuscany eventually?  Oh, I am sure that we will.  But in the mean while, our next adventure awaits.

Kath’s quote: “Oh, the places you’ll go!” -Dr. Seuss

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 »

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 »
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