Food Musings

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

“Out of the Kitchen-Adventures of a Food Writer” by Jeannette Ferrary


I am having a hard time paring down my favourite excerpts from this recent read, but I think that I may finally have them. In my life, I have always retained an empathetic quality. Some may even say it is a curse, as I get so engaged with the characters in the non-fiction and indeed, the fiction that I consume or the movies or TV shows that I watch, that I sometimes have a difficult time turning off “their” lives and returning to my own. Ask D about the incident after we watched the movie “Sophie’s Choice” together….  Stories that really engage me, cause me to reflect about similar incidents in my own life and the more similar the circumstances, the more enthralled I become. Some writers have an exception power to enrapture me and so it was when I read this work by Jeannette Ferrary “Out of the Kitchen”.   The first excerpt one is from her Prologue-yes, I was smitten by her words that quickly.

There must have been something way back somewhere, there must have been seeds that eventually flowed into a passion for food, its history and meanings and unending pleasures; the joy of growing and preparing and sharing food with friends, of seeing it as a heritage and comfort and love.
There must have been something.
That’s what this book is all about.

For Jeannette it was this book and for me it is Food Musings. I created this blog for reasons very different from the place that I am at now, three years later. I use this space to explore myself and my complicated association with food.*

It’s miserable when you are three and your’re trying to save face and you don’t know how to manipulate the situation. “Are you hungry?” To be honest, I can’t say with absolute certainty this was the exact moment that I understood the significance of this question. But it was definitely around this time that I learned the power f food, especially with respect to mothers. If you’re hungry, they (mothers) have t say “O.K. Come on upstairs and have your lunch now.” They might even say it will be the red soup with the square carrots and alphabet noodles in it, but don’t expect miracles. If you hobble into the kitchen, they will also notice your scraped knees and put Mercurochrome on them and cover them with new white Band-aids. In other words, if you say you’re hungry they have to pay attention. New little baby brothers notwithstanding.

When I was three, my Mom and Dad had twins and I love my brother and sister with all my heart. Thank heavens my independence was fostered back then, because it has held me in good stead ever since. But, there were some traumatic times, that I remember still. Since I was a rambunctious toddler who had a hard time respecting quiet nap time for the “babies”, my Mom would lock the backdoor behind me when I was playing in the yard. The system actually worked well, because when I was ready to come back into the house, I would ring the door bell which had a single chime, instead of bursting in on the quiet scene. The only trouble was, I was not quite tall enough to reach the bell and so I had to hold the door knob and stretch way over to the opposite side to cover the length. One day, a gust of wind made the door swing open and me with it and threw me down the back cement stairs. The fall, broke the skin under my chin and the bleeding was profuse (at least in my young mind). I still have the scar to this day and I live in a home that notoriously never locks their doors. I am sure that my mother soothed me with food as I have done with my own children. J1 says that is how he developed his love for sour cream and chive chips, because he could choose a package from the vending machine as his reward for paying attention in Saturday swimming lessons.

Maybe because she never felt too comfortable speaking English, we never talked much, a bit about school or how my brothers were doing. Her message was in the brown canvas bag and on the mahogany dining room table, in the Wedgwood bowl and all over the kitchen. It said I love you, you’re too skinny, come back soon. It said I can never do enough for you, it said this is my heritage, this is your heritage; remembering this food will some day change your life. It will be your music, And your song.

I was said to have resembled my little Polish Grandma. In fact, she would call me her little “Payak” (which was her maiden name) because I reminded her of her own sisters. She too struggled with her English, having immigrated to the “new country” with her two young sons, a year after her husband, leaving behind the grave of another baby son in the “old country”. When she couldn’t retrieve an English word, she would say “How, call dis ting”? I can hear it now, even though she has been gone almost 25 years. Our common language was her prune dumplings with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, and her potato soup, and her poppy seed roll. I can taste her fried chicken, in my memory-so fresh, that we had fed those chickens that very morning with “scraps” from our breakfast. She would slice a big piece of her homemade bread and then spear it with a long fork. Next, she would open the side of her wood stove, that was lit every morning, except for the hottest summer days when she would begrudgingly cook on her electric stove in the porch. We would take turns toasting our own bread slice over the coals. Perhaps this is the reason why crostini holds magical power for me to this day.

This is my very long and convoluted way of saying-I loved this book!  I can recommend “Out of the Kitchen” for many personal reasons. The book may also be your cuppa tea, that is, if you are a believer in the equation food=love.

Kath’s quote: “When shall we live if not now?” ― M.F.K. Fisher (one Jeannette Ferrary’s dear friends).


Love-that is all.

*PS. And yes, I use the space too, to make a small income. I do not have a pension and only a small cache of RSPs so I am trying to create a place that will sustain me as I creep ever closer to “retirement” (another birthday is tomorrow).

Lovey’s BBQ & Smokehouse


Does the date of your birthday conflict with other celebrations? I love my May birthday, as the blossoms on our flowering fruit trees typically bloom this weekend and the weather is balmy, without any pesky bugs, that will be along soon enough.  Often times when my birthday arrives though, I feel as if I was just showered with affection and gifts for Mother’s Day and that doing so again so soon, must feel redundant for D and our family.  They don’t display this in the least, it is me, projecting how I might feel in their shoes.

I am more than content to celebrate in the back yard with something fun put onto the barbeque but this just occurred for Mother’s Day and I think that everyone needed a break from cooking and hosting.  So I asked if we could go to Lovey’s BBQ and Smokehouse.  Reputed to be the best barbeque in the city, I had yet to see for myself.

Even with our late afternoon arrival on a Sunday, the place was hopping and our large party was asked if we would like to sit in their party room.  We were having a party, so why not?  We did feel a little bit cut off from the rest of the restaurant, which was not such a good thing when we wondered where on earth people had disappeared to, when they went to place our order.  There was a new cashier on, doing her level best to pick up the procedure, but the poor girl was a bit overwhelmed.  We had no concern about the wait, but because we all have hospitality backgrounds, it was hard not to vault over the counter and help her out.


We got the entire family in 1 shot including the waitress!

Our privacy did mean that we could carry out our birthday tradition started by Daughter #2 for The Frenchman’s birthday this past winter.  We go around the table and share what we especially love about the person who’s birthday is being celebrated.  This is my favourite part about getting another year older, secure in the fact that my short term memory loss and brown age spots aren’t negating the way my family feels about me.  Or perhaps, they do feel differently, but they are all so sweet, they would never tell me so.


But to our dinner…. D ordered a round of Hog Spit beer, Burnt Ends and Fried Pickles.  I especially enjoyed the burnt ends, but some in our family were concerned about the fat content.  I know that fat is what delivers the flavour, but tried to restrain myself.


Dinner choices were varied from Pulled Pork Poutine (Daughter #2’s favourite dish from last summer spent in Montreal),


to a full rack of back ribs


and my half chicken (I ate the wing and the fabulous hand cut fries and packed up the rest for home).


Pulled pork was chosen by the rest of the gang and was also a big hit.  All meat choices were lovely and moist, but still firm, which is our criteria for good pulled pork and ribs.  The barbeque sauce was tasty and so appreciated, that additional cupfuls were requested.

We all know that good barbeque must have a bevy of “sides” and Lovey’s are amazing: a dense cornbread with a pleasant sweetness, homemade pit beans and creamy cole slaw.  D sampled the potato salad but everyone else went for the hand cut fries, which were plentiful and perfectly prepared.


An extra side of real chips was placed in the centre of the harvest sized table and even though we were all stuffed, they were fun to pick at (like peanuts).  I would go back for these even if the meat had not been exceptional.

Our dessert was also a family tradition: Jeanne’s banana cake with a shortbread cookie bottom and lots of chocolate shavings.  Even though I am not a big dessert eater, I could tuck into this cake morning, noon and night and often do so, when there are leftovers after my birthday celebration.

When birthdays are recognized as another year well lived and well loved, how could they be a dreaded thing?

Lovey's BBQ & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is
an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of
meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the
James Beard

FBC Cookie.jpg

Love-that is all.


10 Tips for Smart Shopping


Hello, readers.  Have you spent any extensive time in Europe or the Caribbean?  Have you noticed that in many places in the world, shopping is a daily, not a weekly or bi-weekly event?  I once thought that if I were in a grocery store all of the time, I would be tempted to spend more than my grocery budget, but do you know what? The opposite is true.  Since I have started shopping more frequently, I am saving money and here are a couple of my secrets:

  1. I try to never shop when I am hungry (or thirsty or tired).
  2. I keep an eye out for discounted product usually marked with those fluorescent stickers. Since I am shopping frequently, I can plan to use the product immediately, sometimes that very evening for dinner. This way expiry dates are not an issue because I am not depositing the groceries into my fridge for a week.
  3. Not only am I saving money on groceries for my family, but purchasing items that I may not select on a regular basis, also stretches my creativity in the kitchen. 
  4. Sometimes I come across a tougher cut of meat that I have to braise or place in the slow-cooker. 
  5. If I decide that I cannot use the product immediately, I throw it into the freezer and I am careful when defrosting products to use them immediately. 
  6. I have started reading the labels where the price is stated on the shelf. There are times when you think something might look like a great price but when you look more closely, at the cost per unit, (comparing apples to apples) you can be absolutely certain. 
  7. A bigger bottle of a cleaning solution for example, is usually cheaper than a smaller one and even though you have to shell out more money initially, you save money in the long run.
  8. I have also started buying refills rather than spending the money on packaging every time I need a product.
  9. The best deals often come with a limited number that can be purchased. That is because the grocery store wants to spread the savings around. That is how you know for certain the item is an especially good deal. Today I bought one of my hair products at 1/3 off but I was limited to purchasing only four packages. No worries, I had the room to store them and I know that I will eventually use the entire product up.
  10. I use the calculator on my cell phone for other products, where long-term savings may not be so obvious. For example each Air Wick Scented Oil refill has 50 times more fragrance concentration than a gel cone and is well worth the extra investment.


I use the money that I save on my grocery staples to buy myself a luxurious little treat that makes life more pleasant: perhaps some fresh flowers or a bar of good dark chocolate or the scented oil that I mentioned above.

Life is good, but you can make it that much more so with keeping your living space clean and clutter-free. Throw open the windows and let the fresh air in or when the weather is not co-operating, surround yourself with bright sights and fresh smelling fragrances.  

Kath’s quote: True contentment is a real, even an active, virtue-It is the power of getting out of every situation all there is in it.” –G. K. Chesterton


Love-that is all.

Air Wick® Scented Oils have 50 times more fragrance concentration than a gel cone and last for up to 45 days. Click here to try a FREE Scented Oil Kit today!

BeFunky_Airwick Logo.jpg

“Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Air Wick® via Glam Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Air Wick®.”

Isla Mujeres Day 10




We were up for anther glorious sunrise and just enjoyed our time on the ocean side of Luna D’Miel. 





Brother #3



One of our favourite beach vendors.

Later that morning we went to find Brother #3 and his wife on North Beach. 


When lunch time came around we walked the short distance to the Loncherias (across from Las Palmas).


This little sweetie was on her school lunch break.


Over the years, we have eaten at three of the four Loncherias and decided that it was high time to make it a fait du complete by visiting Poc Chuc. 



D had a chicken burrito and I the poc chuc.


Even though the latter is not usually accompanied by papas fritoes, they very cheerfully accompanied me.





We luxuriated in the setting sun.


That night we visited Ziggy, the personable waiter from Café Cito’s at Monchi’s  in Colonia’s  for dinner.  Ziggy, like so many Islanders, works night and day and in the evening he is the cook at Monchi’s.  It was my first visit and will not be my last.


The evening started with slices of baguette with a garlicky dip.  I ordered pineapple fried rice with chicken where Ziggy scoops out a pineapple then mixes the fruit with a twist on his fried rice recipe including shredded purple cabbage and celery.  


D and Sister #3 loved the coconut shrimp. 


Sis-in-law had the fish special which was stuffed with seafood in a white sauce and wrapped up and baked in a foil packet. 

We all love the chayote (sp?) which tasted like a cross between a melon and cucumber. 


Dona tucked into garlic shrimp. 


Brother #3 was really pleased with his enormous burrito.

Time is slipping away from me since we spent our two glorious weeks on our precious Isla and even though I keep a travel diary, the details are slipping away from me too.  But I can tell you with certainty, the emotions that I was experiencing that day, because they are the same ones that I have everyday that I spend on the island-delight in the rising sun and glorious days spent basking in it; deep satisfaction with the food so carefully prepared by the exceptional Isla cooks; peace while gazing at the turquoise sea and setting sun; and lastly, immense joy when in the company of my beloved family and Isla family. 

Kath’s quote: “He is the very pineapple of politeness!” Richard Brinsley Sheridan


My coffee filters at Luna D’Miel-I kid you not!

Love-that is all.

Sister #3: Wine Tasting at De Luca’s Fine Wines


I think of myself as someone with a pretty good palette.  I can usually identify the herbs in a sauce or what kind of nuts where used in a stuffing, but when it come to wine I have never developed a refined palette.  

In my early days in the restaurant business I was working with a new General Manager who had come to our family style restaurant from a very high end establishment.  He decided that we needed to change the house wine so he did his best to teach me to properly taste wine.  In my twenty year old (at the time) opinion all his sniffing, swirling and spitting seemed a bit ridiculous.   


When it comes to wine I have always been one of those “I like what I like” girls; but I could never really tell you why I like it.  I’ve often been mystified by people who say they taste coffee in this wine and smell freshly cut grass in another.  Really? They don’t actually put things like coffee and grass in wine you know!  When someone asks me what fruit I taste in a particular glass of wine, I’m embarrassed to say “I taste grapes”.

Recently, I’ve been spending time with a friend who has a passion for wine; I decided it is time for me to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of various wines, and how you use my mouth to figure them out.  So when I was invited by a co-worker to girls night out that involved a wine tasting lesson, how could I refuse?


A large group of us descended on De Luca’s Fine Wines’ on Saturday night for our private wine tasting.  Our instructor walked us through each step of how to asses the colour, clarity, smell (AKA nose) and taste (AKA palate) of our wines.  We learned how to taste a sparkling and a port as well as a variety of white and red wines.  We learned a bit about where each wine came from and how it was produced.  Certain wines were matched with certain cheese and chocolate to enhance their flavour.  And I am pleased to report that after learning the right way to aerate and sniff my wine, I smelt the illusive fresh cut grass in one of the night’s selections.  I even smelled leather and tobacco in another. 

It was a fun evening and I learned a lot.  I am still far from being a coinsurer. I still find it   a struggle to not giggle as everyone around me is slurping air through their pursed lips. But at least I am starting to get a feel for this thing. 


I like wine, but I love food, so if nothing else this experience has caused me to be even more intrigued with the concept of pairing the right wine with my food.  I hope to do much more of that kind of research in the future.

Kath’s quote: “Everyone eats and drinks, but few appreciate taste.”Confucius


Love-that is all.





« Older EntriesNewer Entries »