Food Musings

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

Old Mother Hubard

November7

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Have I mentioned that I am frugal?  I love the challenge of rummaging around in the freezer, fridge or pantry and whipping supper up with a couple of unearthed ingredients.  Lately though, this particular cupboard wasn’t producing any gems, so I decided to shake out the cobwebs and completely emptied the mess and reorganized.

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I had made a quick trip to a cash and carry restaurant supply store in town and picked up three different sizes of clear deli containers.  Once I had everything repackaged and restacked, I stood back in amazement at the number of items that I didn’t know that I had.  While I was still purging I slow roasted pretzels, Shreddies and popcorn and took it to a Poker party as psuedo nuts and bolts. I thought that it was delicious and I heard at least one other snacker declare so.  Since the weekend, I have made a ham and split pea soup and have plans for homemade granola utilizing the coconut, dry mixed fruit, hemp hearts, wheat buds, whole flax seed, ground flax and sprouted chia and flax seed powder that I now apparently own in abundance.  In combination with the two cases of my Mom-in-law’s preserves that I actually went through in the basement pantry, I am also going to make a pear and peach crisp since I have more oatmeal (both whole and instant), than you could ever desire.  In the crock pot at this moment is 13 Bean chili which came together in a jiffy with her preserved garden tomatoes and her home-made salsa.

Homemade, wholesome food is so satisfying to spoon out and place down in front of my family.  When I have done so without making a trip to the grocery store, it makes it even more so.

Kath’s quote:

“Beautiful soup, so rich and green
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth of beautiful soup?”

Lewis Carroll

Love-that is all.

New Lunch Fare at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

November6

I visit all of The Keg locations often at lunch time because I think that it is the perfect place to conduct a short business meeting.  When I am host for a lunch date, I know that the food quality will be consistently high and that service will be prompt, polite and non-obtrusive.  Although I love to eat steak and other beef selections, I do not often do so at lunch time unless I am planning ahead and not intending to have supper that evening, as is sometimes the case.  Recently while at the Southside Keg, I spied a new steak addition on the lunch menu.  The Manhattan Cut New York is a seven ounce portion which would definitely hold me over if I had an early teaching gig in the evening.

More often though, I choose the hearty Sante Fe Chicken or Cobb Salad.  The latter is topped with chicken in addition to avocado, bacon, hard cooked eggs and crumbled Bleu cheese!  I look forward to going back soon to sample the Lobster and Shrimp Salad which enhances the subtle shellfish tastes with black beans, corn, cremini mushrooms, avocado, mango sesame dressing and pine nuts.

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I also spied the new Lobster Mac & Cheese which will also have to wait for a future visit.  On this day we started by sharing Tuna Tacos.  The mixed cabbage slaw was punched up with jalepenos and a side of Sriracha sauce but in my mind the sleek, subtleness of the ahi tuna was fine with no accoutrements.  The quality of the tuna was exceptional: ahi is another name for yellowfin tuna and is widely used in raw fish dishes, especially sashimi.  For a fish to be served raw, the quality of the flesh must be exemplary.  The filets had a dusting of creole seasoning and had barely touched the grill-just the way I love it.  As a result the meat was cool and silky, like a cold drink on a hot day.

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I am a fried chicken lover from a way back when my grandma would serve just “caught” chickens for lunch.  I know that the thought may be disturbing to some, but the taste of a fresh, free range chicken is like no other.  Even though I was a city girl, I spent summers on the farm and the practice was just a part of everyday farm life.  But I digress, the only way that I have found to achieve this same kind of tenderness is by marinating the chicken first.  Buttermilk is the best manner because the mild acids that it contains, tenderizes the meat.  The Keg’s version then coats the hearty portion with a unique blend of seasonings.  I found the crust to be a bit on the salty side but not in an unpleasant way.  I am supposed to be conscious of reducing my salt, but I could not help going back to the delectable tastes over and over again in the same way that I crave kettle potato chips and buttery popcorn.  The chicken came with a choice of side and I selected the coconut curry soup which was delicious in itself, but offset the chicken in a lovely manner.

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My lunch mate chose a half of the Brie Chicken sandwich with a salad and after I tried unsuccessfully to make it through the portion on my plate, I may opt for this lighter fare another time.

Business was conducted and the meet up was a success in all aspects.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar - Southside on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A cook she certainly was, in the very bone and centre of her soul. Not a chicken or turkey or duck in the barn-yard but looked grave when they saw her approaching, and seemed evidently to be reflecting on their latter end; and certain it was that she was always meditating on trussing, stuffing and roasting, to a degree that was calculated to inspire terror in any reflecting fowl living.”-Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

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Love-that is all.

 

One Fish, Two Fish

November5

D and I know that fish are some of the most nutritious food products that you can eat because they are high in protein and in omega-3 fatty acids (good cholesterol). Studies show that eating fish at least twice a week can significantly reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease, rheumatism, and dementia, among others.  Since I have recently received my first high blood pressure reading, I am researching natural ways to get my readings back into the normal range.

We know that we are not the only ones, many are not eating enough fish on a regular basis, because fish cuisines are generally difficult to prepare. The best way I have discovered is with the use of a microwave. The trusty and versatile cooking appliances can be utilized to cook healthy fish recipes in an instant. Here are two quick recipes that I am going to try.

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Garlic Cod

Get a small piece of cod that is about eight ounces in weight and carefully place it on a microwaveable dish, cover. Set the mic on full power and cook the cod for two minutes.

Take the fish from the microwave and allow it to simmer. Add a knob of butter and crush about three to four cloves of garlic and scatter them over the fish (you can add more garlic if you want). Put the fish back into the mic and put it back on full power to cook the remaining ingredients. Put some lime juice, salt, and pepper and voila your garlic cod is ready to serve!

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Chili Lime and Tuna

Place a small piece of tuna that is about eight ounces in weight on a microwaveable dish, cover. Set the microwave on full power and cook the tuna for three minutes. Remove it and allow it to simmer. While at it, you can put some chilli powder and lime juice to add the zest that you want. Check the fish and make sure that it is fully cooked before serving.

As you can see, cooking healthy fish recipes is quick and easy with the use of microwaves. With these recipes, you can prepare fish cuisines that have healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids and protein without taking too much of your time.

Kath’s quote: “In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible source of perpetual delight.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger J2: Groceries Made Easier for New Moms-Sobey’s

November4

As a new mom of a 3 month old, it is nice to have a few outings during the week. Taking a mom and baby class, visiting friends and going for a walk are all things to which I look forward. Grocery shopping on the other hand, is something that I generally welcome any excuse to avoid. I have even found myself eating KD and tuna for dinner because my fridge is bare and I have no desire to fill it. There are a few things about grocery shopping that can make it a not-so-enjoyable task with a little one by your side. The new Sobeys in Sage Creek is attempting to make this experience a little easier for moms by addressing a few of these difficulties.

#1. Every shopping cart is built differently which means the way the car seat rests in the cart is different. When I bring my sleeping child from the car into a store and struggle to find the right angle to hook the seat in, meanwhile jostling baby around and consequentially waking baby up….I am not a happy mommy. Not to mention the fact that it is not even recommended to rest the car seat on the cart for safety reasons.

Sobeys has eliminated this problem with car seat Safe Docks, making it safe and easy to attach the car seat to the cart while you shop.

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They also have fun grocery carts for kids who are a little older who can pretend that they are steering the cart in play cars.

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#2. Generally when I leave the house it involves a mad rush to feed baby, pack the diaper bag, dress the baby, get her in the car seat, double check that I have at least somewhat acceptable clothing on and run out the door all before there is a meltdown (either by baby or myself). This list does not usually include feeding myself. When the task at hand is grocery shopping, this leaves me feeling lightheaded and slightly nauseous as I try to get in and out as quickly as possible. It also means that I often make less healthy food choices (which is why it is advised never to shop with an empty stomach.)

Now, thanks to Sobeys, I can pick up a ready to eat lunch from the Sobeys Kitchen which includes tons of healthy and delicious options including vegetable fried rice, roasted rutabaga, sesame orange chicken, vegetable noodle dishes and tons more. I can shop with a full stomach and feel good about the food choices that I am making.

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#3. I have posted here before about my beautiful Menu Board that I created a couple of years ago to help with weekly meal planning. I have to admit that since having a baby I haven’t touched this board once. This is in part because we have mostly been eating meals brought to us by friends and families as well as our pre-prepared freezer meals (so amazing!), but also because I don’t have the brain power to think far enough into the future about what we should eat and what ingredients I would have to buy to make those meals.

In comes Sobeys with the Better Food News section of their website that highlights the best deals of the week and gives you recipe ideas for easier meal planning.They also have a new phone app where you can find new recipes, better deals and create a shopping list that you will never forget because it’s right on your phone!

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With aisles of beautiful, fresh produce and Certified Humane meat choices it’s easy to create lots of meals high in protein and vitamins like iron and calcium for a breastfeeding mom. A handsome Jamie Oliver promoting ‘Better Food for All’ doesn’t hurt either.

Kath’s quote:  “A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bank balance smaller, home happier, clothes dirty, the past forgotten and the future worth living for.” -Unknown

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Love-that is all.

Stone Road Grille a.k.a. Rest, Niagara on the Lake, ON

November1

D and I would like to publicly say in this space, that we are lousy at keeping in touch with friends that have moved away.  We declare that we are going to try harder and change our ways but then, time keeps slipping, slipping, slipping into the future…  I suppose it could be considered a good thing that we live in the moment and do not try to hold onto or recreate times gone by.  Happily, many of our out of town friends do a better job of staying connected with us, than we do of them.  Other times, we encounter loved ones who are just as inadequate in this area as we are.  This creates major regret on our part.  The last two points are absolutely true of our friend Perry Johnston who owns the Stone Road Grille in Niagara on the Lake with his wife Heidi.

We had been recently informed by mutual acquaintances about Perry’s stellar success in the restaurant business.  The food, as you will learn is assembled from the best ingredients that the community has to offer but even more so, the hospitality was big and boisterous like we are familiar with on the prairies.  Perry spies his guests from behind the bar where he is helping out, then he bounds for the door to embrace you with bear hugs and kisses.  We thought that this greeting was reserved for us being old friends, but oh no, everyone familiar to him and almost everyone was on this evening, received the same warmth.

We read the accolades that are posted in the hallway of his establishment, to see that the rumours were absolutely true.  Perry and Heidi loved to spend weekends in Niagara-on-the Lake and when Heidi called it quits to her career as a flight attendant, they made their dream, a reality.  I absolutely know that D and I are especially intrigued by our friends’ story because we have talked about doing exactly this, many, many times and have never had the guts to take the big step.

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The food was exquisite, I mean absolutely sublime. Unfortunately, I had taken so many photos of the vineyards of wine country that afternoon that my battery had run down and then catastrophe struck (for a travelling food blogger at any rate), when I realized that my charger was on the fritz as well.  We made due with an IPhone but these photos absolutely do not do the food justice.  Post script, the next morning I was on my way to St. Catharine’s to pick up a brand new charger.

We started with a charcuterie of in house prepared and cured meats including saucisson sec, chicken liver mousse, pistachio mortadella, maple smoked ham , pimento espalette pork crackling and wild boar croquette.  Every bite was complex and satisfying.  We especially enjoyed the melt in your mouth ham and the slightly gamey croquette offset by a delicate crispy coating.

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I had carried a hankering for pasta with me from home and wanted a smaller entrée so that I could keep pace with the pleasures yet to come, so I selected the house-made linguini, tossed with pepperoncini, basil and Stone Road’s own pancetta.  The dish perfectly heralded the oncoming fall with husky and deep spicy tones.

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D neglected to share a taste of his pan-seared halibut because it was consumed too quickly.  I do recall his exclamations as he did so.  Also on Stone Road’s autumn menu were a local farm’s pasteurized chicken with roasted cashew and zucchini curry in addition to a local lamb in the form of braised lamb ravioli offset by a spicy North African Merquez sausage.

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By this time we had switched gears towards dessert: a chocolate tart topped with marshmallow and ice cream, both made in house.

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The last of the Niagara fruit harvest was lovingly crafted into sorbets of blackberry, blueberry, golden plum and raspberry.  The perfect way to end a perfect evening.  But, we were far from done.  First we got a tour of the kitchen so that we could congratulate the chef in person for our wonderful fare.  We witnessed how every conceivable space is utilized for in-house preparations in a self-sustaining manner.  The fresh scraps are even collected to be become feed for the pigs that will eventually “pull their last shift” as Perry puts it, in their restaurant.

We were so impressed with the camaraderie amongst the staff, fostered I am sure by Perry and Heidi themselves.  Perry has included a special opportunity on the bottom of his Niagara only wine list so that you can thank his staff in a meaningful way, by purchasing a six-pack for the kitchen. When the staff had made their way home, we lingered, listening to Sinatra tunes and absorbing every nuance we could about Perry’s passion for the vinters, produce growers and farmers of his little corner of paradise.

Perry is definitely a person that you want to spend time with and we were reticent to leave, not knowing when we would be together again.  Perry gave us a special salute as we drove out of the parking lot.  If you are ever in Niagara-on-the-Lake and I absolutely encourage you to go, visit the Grille marked by the name “Rest” on the outside of the building and ask Perry about it.

Stone Road Grille on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “To make people who have no appetite eat, to make the wit of those who have it sparkle, to enable those who want these qualities to find them — this is the supreme science of a gastronome-host.” Lucien Tendret (1825-1896)

To you Perry, we wish you love-that is all.

 

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