Food Musings

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

Peanut Butter Crunchies Revisited

February8

When our kids were little, we used to read them a story called “A Difficult Day” by Eugenie Fernandes about a little girl who endures a bad day at school, has a little temper tantrum and hides from her Mom.  The Mom makes a batch of Melinda’s favourite cookies, finds her daughter and they eat them together under Melinda’s bed.  Daughter #2 recently had a frustrating day at university and plunked herself in a wicker chair in the kitchen to tell me her woes.  I happened to be making a batch of Peanut Butter Crunchies (that she had just mentioned missing the taste of).  We both remembered the story book and she exclaimed how some things had never really changed.  Except that I try very hard not to have sugary treats in the house like Peanut Butter Crunchies.

This is how I tried to adjust the recipe:

  • where it calls for peanut butter-I used a 100% natural crunchy variety where the ingredients are just peanuts and salt with no sugar or fat.
  • I cut back the brown sugar by 25% but there is both sugar and corn syrup.
  • I did not add any additional salt as the original recipes calls for.
  • I used bran flakes instead of corn flakes.
  • I used a brown rice variety of Kellogg’s rice crispies instead of the regular ones.
  • I sprayed the pan with a bit of canola oil.

Peanut Butter Crunchies Revisited
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Modified from The Best of Bridge original
Ingredients
  • 2 c natural "crunchy" variety peanut butter
  • 1 c corn syrup
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • 4 c bran flakes
  • 2 c brown rice crispies
Instructions
  1. Place sugar and syrup in double boiler, melt.
  2. Add peanut butter, bran flakes and crispies.
  3. Pat into a 9 x 13, sprayed cookie sheet.
  4. Refrigerate.

Daughter #2 declared that they tasted EXACTLY as she remembered them and they contributed to the turning around of her day.  Are they healthy?  Well, all I know is that I feel better about serving them to my little girl (even if she is almost 22 years old).

Kath’s quote: “I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like for always.  As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”.  –Robert Munsch

Love-that is all.

Fit Fiesta Soup-Working with Liz Pearson

February7

When you meet Liz Pearson you want to be just like her: petite and fit, with beautiful skin and twinkly blues eyes.  You might even say to yourself, how could I look like that?  Well here’s how: Liz is a leading Canadian dietician who contends that belly fat, (not the scale) is the best measure of health.  She co-authored Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health and has another book due out this year entitled Broccoli, Love and Dark Chocolate.  We were destined to meet, she is a soul (aka heart) sister.

If you know me, you know that I carry my excess baggage in an area other than my waistline, but I heartily support having a good health barometer other than the bathroom scale, so I got out my tape measure.  According to Heath Canada a red flag should be raised when women have a waist circumference of 35 inches or more, so I guess that it is time for me to be less concerned about my trunk and more about my engine.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working alongside Liz, taking care of the food styling for the Winnipeg leg of a promotional tour.  I learned first hand, what foods to focus and consume more of for my intended long life (I am newly motivated by the just announced summer arrival of our first Grandchild!).  The soup that I prepped for her appearances contain each of these five fat burning foods:

100% whole grains,

high fibre,

healthy fats,

flavonoids

and pepper-based plant compounds.  But most important (for me at least), it tastes like Mexico (17 sleeps until my upcoming departure)!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fit Fiesta Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This delicious soup, is a one pot meal containing ingredients that are linked to reducing belly-fat, including whole-grains, fibre, healthy fats, peppers and favonoid-rich fruits and vegetables. What's more, it's easy to make, taking only 25 minutes from stove-top to table.
Ingredients
  • 2 c (500 ml) Whole grain bows, such as Catelli Healthy Harvest brand
  • 2 t (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ c (50 ml) dried cranberries
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T (15 ml) mild chili powder
  • 1 t (15 ml) cumin
  • ¾ t (4 ml) each salt and pepper
  • 8 c (2 l) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14 ox./398 ml) no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14 oz./398 ml) no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c corn, if using frozen, does not have to be defrosted
  • 4 c (1 l) lightly packed baby spinach
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and red pepper; saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the cranberries, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in 6 c broth and the tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in the beans, bows and corn.
  6. Boil gently, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  7. Stir in the remaining broth, the spinach, jalapeno peppers, lime zest and juice; remove from the heat.
  8. Add extra lime and broth to adjust consistency and acidity to taste if desired.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander.

The emphasis of focusing on foods that promote good health are reinforced for me, since they were first introduced by my friend Mairlyn Smith.  Coincidence?  No, Mairlyn is co-author of Liz’s books.  I love my circle of life.

Kath’s quote: “Some people have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.”-Samuel Johnson

Love-that is all.

Mediterranean Summer by David Shalleck

February6

As I have explained in this space before, I love both fiction and non-fiction with food themes and I especially enjoy when the book is placed in a setting that I am familiar with, in most cases a place that I have visited (because very few books are set in Winnipeg or Manitoba).  Having said this though, if you have not read The Republic of Love by Carol Shields you must as it is not only set in Winnipeg, it writes about many familiar Winnipeg landmarks.  In addition, it is just a fabulous read.  But I digress.  When reading food-themed books, I particularly appreciate when a special meal is being prepared perhaps to mark an occasion or a to celebrate with a certain group of friends.  I often ear-mark these locations while I am digesting a book, in order to go back and savour them later.  Sometimes, recipes are even included-my favourite reads.

Naples

Well I hit the jackpot with Mediterranean Summer, not only is almost the entire book written about the preparation of meals on a private yacht by a chef but many of their ports of call, are places in the world that I have visited and quite literally fallen in love with: Naples, Monaco, Cinque Terre, Positano and the Amalfi Coast.  I really enjoyed the writer’s transparency about his cooking career, especially his frankness about places that he was dismissed from and his insecurity in pleasing the owners of the private yacht, la Signora in particular.  One of the reasons that he is so tentative around the matron of the ship is that he instinctively understands that she knows her way away a menu and a kitchen.  In this excerpt, she is in the galley.

Monaco

La Signora started to cook., placing a little of each oil in the pan while contemplating if she should add more of either.  The onions and the garlic went into the pan to heat with the oil, then simmered slowly to soften and release their aromatics.  She slowly tossed them with a wooden spoon, giving this initial step a lot of concentration to seemingly find the place where a cook becomes focused on the pace of cookery.  She added some of the drained tomato water to the oil to braise and soften the onions.  After tossing them around for a couple of minutes, she scraped out the pulp of each piece of onion and remained the remaining outer layers from the pan, voicing her theory that onions should not be visible in a dish since the solids are hard to digest.  I had never seen anybody do this before.  No wonder she cooked with low heat and asked me to cut them into large pieces.

Riomagiore, Cinque Terre

Then she added the tomatoes and chilies to the pan.  As the tomatoes heated up, the liquid around them came back to a simmer, she carefully crushed them to release more juice.  At the same time, the tomato pulp began to blend with the oil in the pan.  Then she added the lobster-claws, knuckles, and bodies first with any of the water that had fallen to the bottom of the bowl.  After four or five minutes, while she tossed the pieces in the oil, she added the tails, all the time keeping the heat at an even simmer.

Prairiano, Amalfi Coast

I had no idea if I should be making conversation, and I certainly didn’t want to correct any of her cooking, so I found it easier to just sit at the edge of the mess table bench and watch.  In fact, she didn’t need any help.  She cooked with a confidence that impressed me, not only her handling of the ingredients but with her eyes and hands were telling her.  But even better than how she cooked was the way she looked-calm always in perfect posture, every movement and task methodical and precise.  It was clear she’d done this before.

Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Finally the silence got to me, and out of left field I asked her a questions: “Juts curious signora, how come there are no women in the crew?”

She chuckled and made a gesture toward the fo’c’sle,  “With these conditions, do you think a woman could stand it?  There’d be too many problems.

She checked for seasoning, added another chile, and pulled the pan from the stove when the lobster meat in the tails turned opaque.  She kept the bodies in the sauce for a short while longer, gently crushing them with a wooden spoon to get as much flavour out of them as possible before discarding them.  It was hot and humid in the galley, the air thick with the smell of cooked lobster and simmering tomato sauce.  I noticed a light mist of perspiration had formed across the back of la Signora’s neck and shoulders.

‘”Bene,” she said smiling at the results as if just completing a painting, “now I leave the rest to you.”

And so their Mediterranean Summer continues, as I yearn for another one for us.

 Our amuse bouche at Ristotante La Strada, Praiano, Amalfi Coast

Love-that is all.

 

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Joey, Polo Park

February5

When I arrived at the restaurant to meet friends for an annual  get together, I was really glad that I got there early as we were facing a 35 minute wait. Joey’s does not except reservations and even though it was only Tuesday “tis the season” for busy restaurants! The good news – Joey’s knows how to show you great hospitality while you wait.  The host staff was friendly and encouraged me to find a seat in the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail.  I was waiting on three friends, all arriving at different times, so I chose instead to wait in the lobby.  The front hall was lined with bar stools for those who need a place to sit. The host staff came by with small glasses of rich red wine for us to sample along with tasting spoonfuls of their tempura style chili chicken to help prime our appetites for dinner.  By the time the last of my party arrived we only had a 5 minute wait before being escorted to a comfortable booth to enjoy our evening. 

 

The service was very good, with a manager popping by a couple of times to check on our experience. Our dinners were good as usual.  I had the Panang Prawn Curry Bowl with stir-fried veggies in a red coconut curry. K had the same with chicken instead of shrimp. I had been warned that the spice was a seven out of ten, but I would say it was more like a four, which was just right for  my taste buds.

S had her favorite lobster ravioli in a lemon tarragon cream sauce and

D enjoyed the butter chicken served with almond basmati rice and warm naan bread and crispy chickpea flour and caraway seed bread (the name of which now escapes me). 

Joey’s is a place this group of girls seems to gravitate to.  The menu has options for those looking for something familiar as well as dishes with Asian, Indian and Latin influences.  The high energy atmosphere makes it feel special, while the reasonable prices make it feel comfortable.  

Joey Polo Park on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I have always been punctual at the hour of dinner, for I know that all those whom I kept waiting at that provoking interval would employ those unpleasant moments to sum up my faults.”-Nicolas Boileau

Love-that is all.

Mandatory Sunday Supper on Superbowl Day

February4

Event though we do not allow our family a lot of wiggle room with our mandatory supper date on Sunday evenings, D and I take the liberty of rescheduling every once in a while.  For example, when we get invited out to watch the Super Bowl.  We often host Superbowl, so it is just lovely to get an invite out.  On this Sunday, J1 and J2 were out of town, so there were less arrangements to mess with.

I prepared a really light meal, as I knew two things: we would eating rich food while watching the football game and a friend of mine in the catering business had asked us to give him some feedback on cupcakes that the bakery division of his catering company was starting to offer.  Our family  loves the opportunity to test and provide feedback on food.  They take the responsibility very seriously.

I prepare shrimp very simply and cook them very quickly.  These were tossed in Ted Reader’s Bone Dust and then quickly sauteed in a bit of canola oil.  Did you know that olive oil has a lower smoking point and can become bitter when used on a high heat?  This is why we use canola for all of our sautes and add a drizzle of  oil for flavour (and nutrition) just before serving.

The Frenchman cut and peeled sweet potato fries for me while I was at church.  We had three seasonings to taste/test on theses as well: honey/rosemary, smoky barbecue and citrus/cinnamon.  The latter is my personal favourite which I also sprinkle on sweet potato soup.

You can understand why we had a hard time determining the most “delicious” looking cake, can’t you?

I will be sending some more specific feedback to our catering friend but in the mean time, our favourite tasting cupcake from an enormous variety was the Carrot.  We couldn’t decide what was the “most delicious looking” because we all choose a different one reflecting our personal tastes and preferences.

The highest compliment that was paid was from D who exclaimed, while nibbling on a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing “This is exactly what my Mom’s chocolate cake tastes like.”  That is high praise indeed, as Grandma Jean’s cake holds the ‘perfect’ chocolate cake mark on his yardstick.

My gang loves that we are a “foodie” family and that we all accumulate around one table.

Kath’s quote: “Being set at the table, scratch not thyself, and take thou heed as much as thou canst not to spit, cough and blow at thy nose; but if it be needful, do it dexterously, without much noise, turning thy face sidelong.”-Francis Hawkins

Love-that is all.

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