Food Musings

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

This and That


Where did September go (or the summer for that matter)?  There have been a couple of little things that I have been meaning to mention.  So here goes, in no particular order:

1.  On Labour Day weekend, we invited J2’s parents to join us for a beach day and barbeque.  Unfortunately, the weather kept us away from the beach but we still ha a lovely barbeque supper.  J1 who is a wizard at the grill, created new twist on a burger.

When the patties were fully cooked, he placed them on the centre of a flour tortilla, folded it into a hexagon and then placed it back on the barbeque.

The result was a crunchy version of a burger.   Try it sometime.

2. We are almost at the final week of our garden share with Blue Lagoon Organics.  We have especially enjoyed roasted beets with their jackets still on-something that I am not hesitant to do with organic produce.

We also loved pit pat squash.  It is so pretty and so delicious.  But our biggest surprize were Jerusalem artichokes.  The tuber is not grown anywhere near Jerusalem and the veggie is way more akin to a potato than an artichoke.

Recently, they have been referred to as sunchokes perhaps because their yellow flower resembles a sunflower.  When tossed in a little canola oil, roasted and then sprinkled with sea salt, they are absolutely delicious! The texture is like a potato but the taste is both sweeter and nuttier.

3. The last stop of our “Be Well” weekend was at the Blue Moon Saskatoon Orchard near Rossburn, Manitoba.

We enjoyed one last lunch on the farm and I was enthralled with the purple-edged carrots and the addition of Saskatoon preserves to our chicken wraps.

I now cannot imagine a wrap without the sweet inclusion.

I am not inclined to desserts but enjoy jams and jellies with a piece of multi-grain toast after a hearty breakfast at the lake.

Kath’s quote: “This is not that, and that is certainly not this, and at the same time an oyster stew is not stewed, and although they are made of the same things and even cooked almost the same way, an oyster soup should never be called a stew, nor stew soup.”-M.F.K. Fisher

Love-that is all.

Binh An Restaurant-The Complete Unedited Story


You may or may not know that I write for the Canstar community newspapers.  I recently penned a column regarding “Magic Sushi 2” and when I returned to the restaurant the following week, the family who own it, gathered round me in appreciation, to tell me how happy they were with my recounting but also about the extra business that had been flowing in as a direct result.  D and I are all about promoting the incredible number of exceptional restaurants in the city and so we especially wanted to shed a positive light on a little Vietnamese place that had come highly recommended by J2’s parents.  Unfortunately, I must have been too verbose and the editor at Canstar had to omit the last paragraph of the story which is where the headline had been fashioned from.  As result the story did not make sense and indeed seemed somewhat derogatory, when my intention was the opposite.  So here it is written in its entirety.

“Very good friends of ours (in fact their daughter married our son) have been recommending the Binh An Restaurant (1076 Main St.) for years but because it is close to their neighbourhood and not ours, we have not found an excuse to visit.  They encouraged us for three reasons: they speculated that we would be charmed by the restaurant owner; they predicted that we would love the food and they care for us enough that they wanted to share the healing powers of the Rare Beef Soup with us.

We started with shrimp wrapped around sugar cane accompanied by rice noodles, crunchy, fresh bean sprouts, julienned carrot, slivers of cucumber, romaine lettuce ribs and an amazing herb that I could not identify (unlike the basil or mint I have had in other Vietnamese restaurants).  You get very messy making a wrapped up package of these ingredients and dipping them into either your choice of hoi sin or fish sauce.  My husband and I are not afraid of a little mess and know that good food is worth the extra effort, so we rolled up our sleeves.

When we were deciding on a Vermicelli dish, the owner Binh immediately declared “19”! This deluxe version comes with charbroiled pork, teeny spring rolls, pork ball (more like a patty) and pork hash.  There were also more crunchy bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber and fish sauce.  I tossed all of mine together into a little soup bowl and slurped down every last noodle.

I could have stopped there but in the mean while, my husband was “oohing” and “aahing” over the Medium Rare Beef Noodle soup, which he insisted I try.  We had never tasted a beef broth like it and Binh shared his secret with us: they simmer beef bones for 10 and sometimes up to 14 hours and this he indicates is the reason why the broth is so healthy.  We guessed that the thinly sliced rare beef must be added to the broth raw so as to let the broth itself do the cooking.  The result is absolutely delicious and satisfying.

Binh Le is the owner of the Binh An restaurant and he told with us that the restaurant is named for his son.  He recounts the story of arriving in Winnipeg in the early 1980s via boat with other refugees from Vietnam.  He returned to his home country to marry his wife and they now have four teenage children.  But when his first child was born, the baby boy had a heart issue and had to be cared for by experts in Montreal.  Now his healthy son is 15 and Binh not only expounds about how amazing Canada has been to his family but that the meaning of the restaurant’s name is “everything okay”.  ”

Binh An Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Only the pure of heart can make good soup” –Beethoven

Love-that is all.  (Can you see a heart image in here?  Neither can I, I just wanted to see if anyone was paying attention).

Ten Things I Know About Manitoba Canola Growers


1.  Those beautiful yellow fields that you see in July around Manitoba are canola fields.  (I always thought were mustard fields-duh!)

2.  After the pretty flower has disappeared a pod is formed which contains the tiny seeds that are crushed to make the oil.

3.  Canola growers are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Many farms are multi-generational and the operators and their families are highly educated and care deeply about their land, their crops and our environment.

4.  Many canola growers produce a variety of crops, raise livestock and have “other” jobs too.  They are all trying to just do their best for their families and their communities.

5.  Canola oil tastes really good.  I have recently started baking with canola and have replaced my olive oil bottle with a canola bottle by my stove for sauteeing.  I still will use a drizzle of olive oil for its unique flavour (especially my coveted bottle from our friends’ own olive trees in Sicily).  Infused canola oils are fantastic!

6.  I am still learning about cold-pressed canola but understand that it is “purer” and therefore (in my mind at least) even healthier.

7.  Canola is a key crop which contributes to more jobs in Manitoba and thereby accelerates the growth of our provincial economy.

8.  Manitoba Canola Growers are wonderful community supporters.  You will see their sponsorship at work wherever you go in this province.

9.  Canola growers want us to “Be Well”.  I am taking this to heart and have really stepped up my game in examining many aspects of my life and lifestyle.

10.  Ellen, Jenn and Leanne are decidedly the most thoughtful and considerate people that I know.  Their passion about their product and brand is nothing short of astounding.  They LOVE their growers and speak proudly about them at every opportunity.  They are so kind to those who are considered part of the Canola family.  The attention to detail of the recent “Be Well” camp was meticulous.  Literally every single thing that you could possibly need, want or desired was already planned on our account.  The “campers” felt listened to, valued, coddled and loved.

Kath’s quote:

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows

Love -that is all.

Meet Hannah Kucher and her Family


As soon as we pulled up to the Freefield Organic Farm, we knew that we were expected because three blonde heads were peering out the window in anticipation of our arrival.

The first to burst from the house was eldest daughter Hannah who’s sweet face looks like the yellow flowers that bloom everywhere on the property.

Soon we meet Franz and Erna Kucher who moved from Austria to Inglis, Manitoba with Hannah and their two sons Elias and Jonathon.

Two years ago little Samuel was born and it was this entourage (as well as a neighbour who helps out in the orchard) who proudly led us on our farm tour.  In between the children showing us their wide variety of squashes, Franz and Erna explain how they decided to leave Austria and their full time jobs (he a Policeman and she a Teacher) and move to Canada when they were delivered a wake-up call in the form of a flood.

Over the years, they have moved a number of former schoolhouses onto their property and one serves as the farm house while another has been renovated to become a milling house.  The kids attend school in nearby Inglis and Franz has a job which takes him away from the farm.  Erna, Sam and two dogs keep the home fires burning and the entire family participates in the operation of their 560 acres of land.

They grow Heritage vegetables, raspberries, apples, cherries, plums, currents, hazelnuts and a variety of other berries.  In 2012 they added Golden flax, hulless oats, Red Fife wheat, amaranth and red clover.  Three milling machines have been purchased one by one, so that they will be capable of producing a number of gluten free flours, flakes and bread mixes.  They also press oils and package herbal teas.

The tour has been casual, but so informative, and the enthusiasm of these first generation Canadians is contagious.  It is obvious that the kids are hating to see us go, but they are so polite and obedient that no fuss is made.  As we pull away the family has gathered on the lawn to waves us on and wish us well.

Kath’s quote: “Burn down your cities and leave our farm, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”

Love-that s all.

Asessippi Autumn Feast Dinner


Nestled deep in the Shell River Valley is the Asessippi Resort and Ski Area.  I have to admit, that I have never been to the ski hill in winter and certainly not on a gorgeous late summer day, as this day was.  Tables were set up at the apex of the hill so that we had a stunning view of the valley and for miles around.

The dinner menu was extensive, and all items had been carefully sourced and prepared by Chef Wes Osborne from the Russell Inn.

Our el fresco table had been set with care.

We were invited to serve ourselves from the buffet tables which were literally overflowing with choices.

I tried to chose very carefully so as not to waste any precious food.

My happiest discovery was the array and abundance of Bothwell cheese.

I savoured a couple of cubes with my dessert selection.

These chaps were part of the pre-dinner entertainment.  They might have been called the “Young Neal’s” or something equally as fun.

But for me-this young girl was the absolute highlight of our evening.  She and her younger brother have raised tens of thousands of dollars under the banner “Kids Helping Kids” where they sponsor first generation parents (who have immigrated to the area to work in the agriculture industry) to reunite with their kids.  We passed the hat amongst the foodies that I was traveling with and raised a contribution to go towards their wonderful cause.

The time had come to board the bus for our journey back to the Barn in the Bush.  But first, I scooped another couple of these rhubarb squares (supposedly for breakfast) but I ate them on the way home.  They turned out to be my favourite recipe of the evening and I would love to get my hands on a copy.

Another stunning sunset on another stunning prairie day…..

Kath’s quote: “Never rub another man’s rhubarb.”-Jack Nicholson as The Joker, ‘Batman’

Love-that is all.

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