Food Musings

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

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-In Honour of Our Heritage


Today is Louis Riel Day in Manitoba.  It is lovely to have a long weekend in the dead of winter.  On this day I like to reflect on the Métis part of my bloodline.  For those readers who are not familiar with the term, Métis is a French word that literally means mixed.  In my mother’s family, the mix was English, Scottish and Irish men who married Cree and Ojibwe women.  We can trace our roots back to the men who settled this country, and equally importantly, to the women who taught them how to survive in the Canadian wilderness. 

Recently, one of my nieces asked me to teach her something about the food of our family heritage for a university class she was taking.  She was especially interested in learning about Métis food.  But the reality is that we didn’t grow up with Métis food.  Our mom focused more on our Dad’s Eastern European palate, along with the typical Canadian fare that our friends in our middle class neighbourhood were eating.  I didn’t learn to make bannock till I was a grown woman.  To be honest, there was not a lot of pride taken in being part of the first people of Canada when I was a little girl.  I think it was like that for a lot of people.  I remember seeing a documentary by a descendant of  Peter Fidler (of whom we are also descendants) where the filmmaker interviewed her auntie.  The auntie told her that she used to throw a tea towel over their bannock if someone came to the door because she was embarrassed.  She said that now, however, she feels like she should charge people money just to look at her bannock. (Métis humour!)  I too am discovering that the more time I spend with people in Metis and First Nation’s communities, the more pride and joy I find in knowing that they are part of who I am. 


For the past couple of years I have had the privilege of doing some work in Sagkeeng First Nation.

The very best part of this has been the friendship I made with Lillian Cook. While she is close to my age, she has become like an elder to me, teaching me many things about Ojibwe life and way of being. One of the important parts of our visits is always what food we will share. This fall, lots of the people came together for an event and feast in the community. They had hunted a deer and we ate variations of venison for three days. 

I especially enjoyed the stew,

but my favorite food discovery was a little something called fry bread-like a deep fried apple fritter (without the apple). I am very glad that no one taught me to make it or I would be in big trouble, it is that addictive. 


So in the end I decided to teach my niece how I make bannock.  No we didn’t grow up that way, but many in our family are very intentionally reconnecting with our roots.  I hope having her old auntie teach her to make bannock has planted a seed in her and she will be able to find her own “Lillian”, who can teach her the ancient ways so that she too will know the people from whom she comes. 

Kath’s quote: “When the moon comes over the mountain, I will kiss under under the moonlight.”  -Cree love song

Love-that is all.


Guest Blogger: Sister #3-New York, New York…the place so nice they named it twice


On a recent trip to NYC I just had to revisit a couple of places I fell in love with on my last trip….that’s right, the food so nice, I ate it twice!

Ess-a-bagel 3591st Avenue corner of E 21st Street

What could be more New York City than a bagel with cream cheese!  There are bagel shops everywhere you go in this city.  I picked up a bagel for breakfast from the shop right outside the subway station we frequented on this stay in the upper Eastside.  The bagel was good but I kept thinking about Ess-a-bagel– the perfect bagel!  Then, about five days into my trip I found myself back in the Gramercy Park area exploring vintage shops with my travel companion when it struck me….I was walking down 1st avenue, not far from where I stayed last time…that could only mean one thing, as soon as I saw the corner of 1st and E 21st I was thrilled to see it….the bagel mother load. 

I had to stop, bought two plain bagels with a side of lox cream cheese, which fed me for two breakfasts and a lunch.  So glad I found them again!

Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

The Redhead 349 E. 13th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave)

The purpose of this NYC trip was for my friend, whose birthday is the day before mine, and I to celebrate in a very memorable way.  When it came time to pick the location for my birthday dinner I knew automatically that I had to return to the Redhead for the best southern fried chicken I ever ate. This cozy little neighbourhood bistro was such an amazing surprise on our first trip.  It has since been featured on Food Networks – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, where everyone raved about their shrimp and grits and homemade soft pretzels, but I think they missed the boat by  not featuring the fried chicken.


 The first time I had it, it was served with corn bread and a salad and this time came with a waffle and sausage.  While I prefer the first option it was all irrelevant when I tasted that chicken again. Marinated in butter milk and fried in the most amazing batter, nothing can compare. 

Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

The Stage Door Deli 26 Vesey Street (between Broadway and Park Row)

When we planned our visit to the newly opened 9/11 memorial I knew that we had to seek out the Stage Door Deli. Last trip it was shopping at Century 21 that brought us to the financial district as the World Trade site was still in a state of disarray at the time. Right next to the Stage Door there was a small memorial museum that we visited first time around.  It is always fun to visit an authentic delicatessen and hear shouting and feel the energy of the city. We all had sandwiches;

pastrami Panini,

beef brisket,


all delicious, served on fresh bread and featuring the best cured meats.

Kath’s quote:  “the first printed mention of bagels…is to be found in the Community Regulations of Kracow, Poland, for the year 1610 which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth.” -‘The Joys of Yiddish’ by Leo Rosten

Love-that is all.


Black Rice Tropical Salad


Perhaps on Valentine’s Day, you were checking this space for a long dissertation on love.  In my mind, the giving of love, is not about this day.  It is about every other day in a year.  My only other thought, is that I have found joy and happiness in living my life as a love “distributor”.  Love someone new on this day.

I have recently discovered the loveliness of black rice.  Last evening, D and I headed out to an Ash Wednesday service and I wanted us to eat quite light.  So this was perfect! Actually better than perfect.  We were blown away by the flavours-like summertime in your mouth.

Black Rice Tropical Salad
  • 2 oranges, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ c (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 c cooked black rice
  • 2 c mango chunks (I always have frozen on hand)
  • 1 c fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ large red pepper, sliced and add the seeds
  • 1 c sliced red onion (about ½ large onion)
  • ½ c unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  1. Whisk together ¼ c lime juice and canola oil. Set dressing aside.
  2. Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Toss gently with dressing to combine.
  4. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.

Kath’s quote: “Love-that is all.”-Me

Love-that is all.

posted under Entrees | 2 Comments »

Warm Bacon Spinach Salad


I do not believe in completely eliminating a food in one’s diet in order to achieve wellness.  For example our family loves bacon and yet we know that it should be consumed in moderation.  Because the aroma and taste of bacon is synonymous for us with cottage life, we generally only eat it for weekend brunches up at the beach house.  But occasionally in the winter we have it as a “treat” and include it in our evening meal when higher calorie and fat portions are consumed already.  Last night, I wanted a quick dinner before the start of the Jets Game and so  I broiled chicken wings seasoned with “Bone Dust”,  simmered some black rice and the hit of the dinner-an old school warm bacon spinach salad.

Warm Bacon Spinach Salad
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 4 cups of loosely packed spinach leaves, prepared for safe consumption
  • 2 large eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • ⅓ c dried cranberries
  • 8 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 4 T bacon fat
  • 4 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  1. Prepare and place spinach, eggs, onions and cranberries in salad bowl.
  2. Cook bacon until crispy (fried or baked).
  3. Retain 4 T of bacon drippings as your remove the bacon from the pan.
  4. Blot with paper towel, after a quick spray at the sink with very hot water.
  5. Place bacon in salad bowl.
  6. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  7. Adjust with pepper (salt is likely redundant)
  8. Pour over top of salad just before serving.
  9. If time has passed and the dressing starts to solidify, simply place in the mic for a minute.
  10. The hot bacon fat with make the spinach wilt a wee bit-that is what you are going for.

Another trick to reduce fat from a dinner like ours on this evening, is to season the chicken drummettes under the skin and then completely remove the skin before eating.  This way you enjoy all the flavour provided by the skin without consuming the extra fat in the skin.

And if you have not tasted the treat of black rice yet-you must.   The taste is nutty and creamy at the same time and the health benefits will make it a new staple in our house.  Black rice is a soluble fibre that is packed with anti-oxidants, making it a super food on par with blueberries!

Kath’s quote:“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”-Doug Larson

Love-that is all.

posted under Entrees | 1 Comment »

Fruit Crisps


Every once in a while I get a real hankering for wild blueberries which I am happy to say can now be purchased at one of the grocery stores that I frequent.  But even better, is the surprise of finding a container full of them in the bottom of your freezer.  I can’t even say if I picked these myself last summer but no one else in my immediately family is a picker so it must have been me.  Sometimes it is quite lovely to have a memory like a sieve…..

We were hosting our young families group on Friday night, so I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to whip up a berry crisp.  The recipe that I found (modified and posted below) suggests that you make extra batches of topping to freeze and you can have another batch bubbling in the oven in a snap. 

Fruit Crisps
Recipe type: Dessert
Tip: You can make extra batches of crisp topping and freeze it in individual freezer bags. So, at a moment's notice you can bake up a great dessert.
  • Crisp
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • ¾ c all purpose flour
  • ½ c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¾ t cinamon
  • ½ c butter or margarine cut into pieces
  • ⅓ c chopped pecans
  • Fruit Filling
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1 T cornstarch (I had to use flour)
  • 2 c blueberries (wild which were frozen) with juice
  • 2 c mango pieces (I buy the frozen and always have it on hand)
  1. Crisp
  2. Combine oats, sugar, cinamon and salt.
  3. Add butter and rub it with your fingers into the dry ingredients.
  4. Incorporate pecans with your hands.
  5. Filling
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F..
  7. In a large bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch.
  8. Add fruit and mix well.
  9. Pour into a shallow casserole dish.
  10. Sprinkle evenly with crisp topping.
  11. Bake until crisp is golden and fruit juices are bubbling, checking after 45 minutes.
  12. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
  13. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Kath’s quote: “I remember his burlesque pretense that morning of an inextinguishable grief when I wonder that I had never eaten blueberry cake before, and how he kept returning to the pathos of the fact that there should be a region of the earth where blueberry cake was unknown.”-William Dean Howells

Love-that is all.

posted under Desserts | 2 Comments »
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