Food Musings

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

Spring-Let it Be So(bey’s)!


This time last year, Winnipeg was in full fledged spring mode: the snow was gone, the sun was warm, flip flops were donned, gardens were being tidied and Adirondacks pulled out of the garage.  This year on the prairies, well, not so much.  The sun is in a different place in the sky and does feel a titch warmer than the weeks previously but OMGoodness, we have a long way to go.  I literally cannot see if my van is still parked on the street for the height of the snow drifts!  And, the worst is still to come because all that snow and ice has to go somewhere when it melts (memories of the flood of 1997).

My Window Box

But because I have always maintained a Katie Scarlett O’Hara attitude, I’m not thinking about that right now, I’ll think about that tomorrow.  Right now I am focused on the spring that is yet to come and how I might beckon it closer in my home, kitchen and dining room.  We are in the midst of renovating our basement family room and the colour that most reminds me of spring is a fresh, young green.  Perhaps this will get the nod for the new wall colour.

The tastes that most remind me of most of spring are cilantro and lime!

So besides planning on preparing cilantro chicken very soon, we are going to unshovel the barbecue to start grilling again.  I have salmon fillets ready to go for this evening.  And this week so that we could remember our favourite treat from last summer-I roasted whole unpeeled beets in a little bit of canola oil with a glistening of sea salt.

I am sure by now that you all know that I am a Sobey’s “Better Food Lover”, but enough about me.  You’re Invited to the #LoveSobeys Refresh Your Flavours Twitter Party!  Join us on Twitter and tell us how you’re getting your taste-buds ready for spring.  Share your best ideas on the freshest tastes of the season and every tweet gives you a chance to win a Sobeys gift card. Up to $1,200.00 in Sobeys gift cards are up for grabs.

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. CDST

Where: On Twitter, using the hashtag: #LoveSobeys

Join me and other Party Hosts:

Andrea Tomkins (@missfish)     Mardi Michels (@eatlivtravwrite)     Laura O’Rourke (@LauraORourke)     Maria Lianos-Carbone (@amotherworld)     Tammi Roy (@MyChaos)     Heather Nolan (@mmmisformommy)     Rebecca Stanisic (@bitofmomsense)     Gina Bell (@eastcoastmommy1)     Jen Banks (@Jen_Banks)     Jody Arsenault (@MommyMomentBlog)    Kathryn Lavallee (@mommykatandkids)

How to Party?  It’s easy to join in—just sign in to Twitter at party time and find “#LoveSobeys”. Chime in to the conversation with your thoughts and suggestions for better food ideas by simply adding “#LoveSobeys” to the end of every tweet. Each tweet gives you a chance to win a Sobeys gift card (up to $1,200 in Sobeys gift cards will be given out). Check out the twitter party rules and regulations and be sure to R.S.V.P by scrolling down the link here.

P.S.  I would never recommend something for you, my loyal readers, that I would not use myself and I just can’t tell you how impressed I am with Sobey’s.  I had to go grocery shopping for a food styling job, after I started this post this morning.  I am feeling like I might be catching a cold, so I wanted to make the errand really easy on myself.  For one, by going first thing in the morning, there were very few customers there and I didn’t have to jostle around other carts and be squished into the aisles.  There was lots of staff on and that was a really good thing as I needed help finding rhubarb and barley flour.  At Sobey’s, they don’t just tell you an aisle number, they accompany you to the place on the shelf where they anticipate finding the product.  If they are unsuccessful, they will check with a manager instead of saying “we must be out of it”.  When there was no grated Monterrey Jack cheese, the fellow restocking the dairy shelves, suggested an alternative and then accompanied me to the deli section, where another staff member grated it for me-at no extra charge!  A deli item on special caught my attention and when I asked what the flavour was like, he sliced off a piece for me to taste.  The cashier cheerfully, tallied my two separate orders and payment and another person bagged my groceries for me exactly like I would have done myself, with dairy in one bag, meats in another, etc.  I love Sobey’s -they make food shopping enjoyable again!

Kath’s quote: “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.” -Al Bernstein

Love-that is all.


Copy Cat Mushrooms Neptune


D and I knew that for the Frenchman’s birthday, we could pretty much fix anything and he would be delighted; that is just the kind of guy he is.  We pulled out some old family favourites, that we hadn’t enjoyed together for a while.  Lemon Oregano Chicken is one of the first “grown up” dishes that I had ever acquired a recipe for, completely on my own.  It was a very long time ago when I lived in a gorgeous vintage downtown apartment and worked two jobs: 1) the Winnipeg Art Gallery and 2) The Keg or the Keg ‘n Cleaver as it was called in those days.  I suppose they dropped the latter word as it came off kind of violent.

My boss at the WAG at that time was from a famous artistic Winnipeg family and her Mom was a renowned cook.  I had heard so many descriptions of dinner parties that had been thrown for Winnipeg’s artistic elite.  The Lemon Chicken recipe was passed from Jan’s Mom to her and then to me.  I passed it to my Mom and two sisters and I understand that everyone in our family makes it a slightly different way.  J1 and J2 have recently requested it to treat a new Mom and her husband and so the tradition continues.

But as usual, I digress.  Mushrooms Neptune have been a staple on the Keg menu for years and years and since both D an Sister #3 were Keg prep-cooks at some point in their careers, they both had the recipe memorized.  I know that Sister #3 has included a copy of it in a family cook book that she has been writing.  On the day that I was shopping for ingredients, I didn’t want to test D’s memory, so I did what everybody does now a days I suspect, I Googled it.  This recipe came through the TSN website and I know that it is authentic because there has been a long standing partnership between the restaurant and the network.

So without further adieu.

Copy Cat Mushrooms Neptune
Recipe type: Appetiser
On this day we only had crab meat, so we increased the quantity instead of using crab and shrimp.
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 c beef broth (I think D used chicken)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Filling:
  • 4 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese, we used low fat
  • 4 oz. crabmeat
  • ½ oz. green onion, finely minced
  • ¼oz. Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  1. Simmer mushroom caps in broth until tender.
  2. Drain and cool.
  3. In the mean time, combine all other ingredients together in a mixing bowl (or food processor).
  4. Filling can be put into a piping bag to fill the caps or gently spooned in.
  5. Bake at 450 for 7-9 minutes until golden brown.

Kath’s quote:“Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom.”Thomas Carlyle

Love-that is all.


Guest Bloggers: J1 and J2-Buick Encore Culinary Event- Part 3


The Buick GM Team had one final meal adventure in store for us on our last night at the Touchstone Resort.

J and I (and everybody else in the group) had a great deal of freedom throughout the day to go off in our Buick Encore to whatever adventure we desired. We would gather together at cocktail time before dinner, to share the details of our day.

On this last evening, instead of going into the regular dining room, we were escorted to the private living quarters of the owner.

We were introduced to the sommelier that had paired wines to go with our meal and discuss why each wine was chosen.

We began with an amuse-bouche of lobster claw with a citrus zest to get the party going.

This led to a grilled spiced pineapple, pan-seared king scallops, citrus foam, crisp pancetta and black lava salt, with a mint dressing.

From there we had a wonderful mushroom soup with an herb crouton with sautéed duck foie gras bites.

Our next course was our salad filled with watercress and avocado, grapes, almonds, and a champagne vinaigrette. At this point in the meal we began with some great meats.

We tucked into a hoisin sautéed duck breast with a pecan and cucumber salad with Riesling infused watermelon (my favourite dish).

We moved from duck to a rack of lamb with a mustard and fresh thyme crust accompanied by a gnocchi tossed in a pea mint puree with a pear poached in aged port.

Next up was a beef tenderloin accompanied by mushroom and poached quail egg, saffron risotto croquettes, honey glazed baby carrots, and a cabernet reduction.

If all of this amazing food was not enough, we finished off with an angel hair sugar basket covered cheesecake with strawberries and a chocolate cake for desert.

J and I had never had a meal like this before, but I must say, we look forward to having one again! This was definitely the icing on the cake of our culinary adventure.

A special thanks again to the GM team and Buick Canada for creating all of these amazing memories. Also, a shout out to all of the wonderful people that we met on the adventure. Canada is filled with talented people who are passionate about love, food and travel and we definitely look forward to meeting you all again on our future adventures.

Kath’s quote: “I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters … food, for me, has always been an adventure.”-Anthony Bourdain

Love-that is all.

Reflections of Isla


We are home after another amazing time on Isla Mujeres.  Here are some random reflections on our time away.

  • The world’s weather is changing.  There were a number of rainy days and brisk winds.  Now because I am not a beach fanatic, I really didn’t mind one bit, but the locals commented quite often that the weather was very untypical for early March in the Yucatan.  If you are still heading away, take one of those rain ponchos that you can buy at a $1 store, pack a deck of cards or an extra book so that you can still while away the time pleasantly, even if the weather doesn’t co-operate 100%.
  • Even though we were there for peak season and the island was at 0% vacancy, there were some restaurants that were empty or had only a couple of tables occupied even at peak times. So in addition to the current high restaurant turn over, we predict even more.  Upon reflection, we are wondering if more visitors are dining at home now that places like Chedrui have opened and have so much to offer.  Islaholics, what are your thoughts?
  • There are so many property for sale signs on the island, by our accounting, more than previous years.  Perhaps this is because even more land has been surveyed, parcelled and available for sale or maybe it is because economic times have created a bit of a glut.

  • The locals are still working from dawn to late night.  Most of our friends have 1-2 and even 3+ jobs to try to make ends meet.  But they continue to work diligently, without complaint and are very appreciative of the tourist business.
  • There have been some more municipal improvements like the new illuminated walkway on the south Caribe side.
  • The Police presence was even more noticeable with a funnelling of traffic to single lanes just south of the navy base.  We wondered about their strategy, but in the mean time, I felt very safe and secure.
  • The day-trippers have an impression that Isla is a great place to get liquored up and menace the roadways.  Something tragic is going to happen and then perhaps liquor will not be freely sold directly to golf cart drivers (who didn’t even get out of their golf carts to be served-as we witnessed).
  • Being on Playa Sol feels a bit surreal.  It is still my favourite piece of beach on the island.  I loved the ever present cool breeze and the shade of a lone palm tree.
  • Best orange juice anywhere in the world with the possible exception of Israel.
  • Hotel staff remain the most helpful people I know-Jill at Casa el Pio and Isobel at Luna d’Meil especially so.

  • The most beautiful sunrises.

  • The most beautiful sunsets.

  • The food was simply amazing but that story will be told many times over in the upcoming weeks.
  • Families still flourish on Isla.  We saw so many babies, born to locals and brought by the tourists.  I still get a little freaked out when I see infants held by one arm as their parent drives a scooter with the other.
  • With all the speed bumps all over the island, I am not sure why the traffic is allowed to race along the airport strip.  It seemed noisier to us than previous years and once again, I hope that the speed of the traffic, does not come to a bad end.

  • The water is still the most amazing colour I have ever seen.

  • The sea-glass picking was exceptional.
  • Villa Bella really does serve “beer so cold that your teeth will hurt”.
  • Many travellers are content to lug their own chairs to sit in the natural shade.  This produces a familiar and social atmosphere like the one that we enjoy at our summer cottage.

  • Islanders still love colour.

I’ve got emails to catch up on, assignments due, unpacking and laundry but I just wanted to record these reflections while they are still in my consciousness.  We’ve already booked for 2014!

Hola from the Winnipeg gang!

Kath’s quote: “They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” – Dr. Seuss

Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Daughter-in-law Jen-Buick Encore Culinary Adventure, Part 2


The next day we met the rest of the participants and the GM team including the lovely Laura Nava – Media Relations Manager of GM Canada. Lunch was served in the hotel by Top Chef Canada star Chef David Chrystian. Chef David designed the menu based on the different aspects of our adventure.

First course up was a Toronto spiced tomato soup with fried sun-chokes, brussel sprouts and cream cheese. Chef David described his hopes that Toronto Spice would one day be a household name similar to Montreal Steak Spice and he included it in all of the dishes (even dessert!).

Next was an Entree entitled “Group of Seven” inspired by the visit we took later that day to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Gallery where we toured the Group of Seven painting exhibit. This included Chicken Tagine, dried fruits, mint puree, olives, sumac and crackling.

The second entree was called “Ice Fishing in Muskoka”. Although it was too warm to go ice fishing (not complaining!), Muskoka was the final destination of the day where we were to stay 2 nights in the stunning Touchstone Resort. This dish was composed of pan seared white fish with sauerkraut, bacon, pickled asparagus and wild rice.

Last but not least, the meal was concluded with a little “Pick Up” of tiramisu.

While we were finishing up dessert we were ushered out to meet the star guest of the weekend- our Buick Encore. We chose the black, luxury model and one of the very helpful GM representatives walked us through the special features including heated seats, heated steering wheel (my favorite feature!), a built in voice recognition system and the very easy-to-use phone sync program. Then we opened the sun roof, blasted some tunes, picked up our favorite travel snack (Miss Vicki’s Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar chips) and were on our way to the next step in our adventure.

Kath’s quote:  “Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.”-Erma Bombeck

Love-that is all.

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