Food Musings

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

Scalloped Oyster Casserole


D works in the food-service industry and every once in a while he comes home with a purchase from a sale when “dead stock” items are sold to staff members when they have not been successfully sold to customers.  Now because I am the daughter of an Agrologist who specialized in livestock, the term “dead stock” is taking some time to get my head around.  But in the mean time, cooking up some of these items are stretching my culinary skills-and that is a good thing.

Last week D came home with a case of frozen oysters on the half shell.  We love oysters and were excited to give them a try but these in their “raw” state did not live up to ones that we have had at Fat Tuesday parties or our visit to New Orleans.  How could they?  The poor little guys were miles away from their natural habitat and our main complaint was their saltiness.  Well they are salt water creatures, for heaven’s sake, it wasn’t their fault. 

So last night I thawed about three dozen and then removed them from their shells.  Even though my recipe suggested that I reserve the oyster juice, I intentionally discarded it and gave the oysters a quick shower in warm water as well.

Then I followed this recipe and ta da, success.

Scalloped Oyster Casserole

1 lb. freshly shucked oysters

1 c cream (I used 1% milk with good success)

1/2 c butter, melted

1/2 t worchestershire sauce (I doubled this as we LOVE worchestershire)

1/4 t salt (I eliminated)

dash of pepper

2 1/2 c crunched soda biscuits (I used Italian bread crumbs to further reduce the sodium)

2 T butter, cut into slivers for topping (I eliminated, thinking that 1/2 c was quite enough)

Generously butter a glass 7 x 11 baking dish (metal will not produce the crusty brown bottom).  Melt butter & add worcherstershire, salt and pepper.  Place a layer of crumbs in bottom of dish, then layer 1/2 the oysters, pour 1/2 of the melted butter mixture over the oysters (stir butter just before or seasonings will have settled).  Repeat the layers one more time.  Dot with cold butter.  Pour cream (or milk) over top and bake uncovered immediately at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until top is browned and crunchy.

Kath’s quote: “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”-Ernest Hemingway

Bacon Jam-My Latest Obsession


I first tried this crazy concoction this summer at The Keg on a hot dog and have obsessed about it ever since.  A friend made us a jar for our Labour Day Weekend at the beach house.  She also gave Daughter #1 the recipe which I have attempted to secure a couple of times.  When we are together, we get focused on other tasks and then I forget to follow through.  I typically remember that I am recipeless when I am riding down to the main floor of her block in the elevator-drat!  

So I did what everybody else does now a days, I Googled the recipe and know that the one that I have posted here contains most of the same ingredients.

Bacon Jam

1 lb. smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium onion sliced

3 T brown sugar

Tabasco sauce (according to taste)

1 c coffee

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

1/4 c maple syrup

Black pepper to taste

extra water

Fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a light touch, cut into 1″ pieces. Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a c of water every 25-30 mins or so and stir. When ready, cool for about 15-20 mins and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam”.

Here are the ingredients that I assembled for the sandwich lunch that I made with the precious stuff that weekend: chicken, havarti, portebella mushrooms, grilled peppers, mixed greens, tomatoes and chipata buns.

Ta da!

 Kath’s quote: “And the Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,–
‘Jam; and Jelly; and bread;
Are the best of food for me!”-
Edward Lear

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Little Saigon


There is something particularly near to my heart about a family run restaurant.  I suppose it is because our kids have been encouraging D to open one of our own and we just have not has the gumption to do so.  There are toddler toys evident at Little Saigon and I got a glimpse of the newest generation when we were there last week.  Apparently Mom and son are the principals. 

Mom took my order for two Vermicelli Bowls to go when I was on my way to meet my own Mom last week.  She asked me on the phone if I wanted an order of spring rolls and when I declined, she said “no, worry, on the house”.

The very next night I was back again and Number One son took care of us.  In fact, when my sisters and I take our Mom out for dinner, he is almost always our waiter.  We go often with Mom, as parking right out the back door is almost always available and the space is very open and accessible. 

On this night D and I were being treated by a good friend of ours to thank us for our previous hospitality.  A case of paying it forward, as it were.  We had an all-inclusive meal for 4: an appetizer, a soup and four main course dishes to share all for one price ($49).  We started off with Salad Rolls with sliced shrimp apparent through the thin rice paper wrapping. 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls are accompanied by a smooth and creamy peanut sauce and once again Number One son declared “they are on the house”.

Next up was Sweet and Sour Soup.  I love all kinds of Vietnamese Pho (soup) but had never sampled this one-absolutely delicious.

The sizzling chicken in satay sauce, declared on the menu that it would be spicy but we did not find it too hot.

We also enjoyed the beef, ginger and green onions.

The combination seafood and BBQ pork is an old favourite.

The star of the evening, for this and occaisions when we take our Mom was the Salt and Pepper Breaded shrimp with the shell off.  The breading is both salty and sweet and we can’t get enough of these.  Even the shreds of green and red pepper that the shrimp are laid upon to serve them, are delectable.

Little Saigon Restaurant on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: ““Food responds to our soul’s dream as to our stomach’s appetite.”-Joseph Delteil

Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake


Sister #3 is a member of GLEE (Girls Laughing, Entertaining and Eating) and last year they decided to dress up for Halloween and enjoy some scary and delicious treats.  The tastiest was this Martha Stewart pumpkin chocolate cheese cake made by the talented Kathy T.

Pumpkin Chocolate Spiderweb Tart
Makes 1 10-inch tart

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin puree

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup sour cream

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Add butter. With an electric mixer on low speed beat until butter is the size of small peas, about 5 minutes. Add egg, mix until ingredients form a dough. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just more than 1/8-inch. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim excess dough flush with rim. Pierce bottom of shell all over with a fork. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry, about 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle the 4 ounces chocolate evenly over crust; let it begin to melt, then smooth with an offset spatula.

In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, discard the solids. Pour filling into prepared crust, just to top edge.

Bake at 350 degrees until filling is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 30 minutes.

Place the 2 ounces chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring between bursts, until melted and smooth. Transfer chocolate to a resealable bag with a tiny hole cut in one corner. Pipe about 15 evenly spaced lines radiating out from the center of the tart. Pipe curved lines around the perimeter of the tart, connecting each spoke. Continue piping curved lines, spacing them closer together as you near the center. Refrigerate until set, 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Kath’s quote:  “Pumpkin pie, if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy – while it lasts…..Pies that cut a little less firm than a pine board, and those that run round your plate are alike to be avoided. Two inches deep is better than the thin plasters one sometimes sees, that look for all he world like pumpkin flap-jacks. The expressive phrase, ‘too thin’, must have come from these lean parodies on pumpkin pie. With pastry light, tender, and not too rich, and a generous filling of smooth spiced sweetness – a little ‘trembly’ as to consistency, and delicately brown on top – a perfect pumpkin pie, eaten before the life has gone out of it, is one of the real additions made by American cookery to the good things of the world. For the first pumpkin pie of the season, flanked by a liberal cut of creamy cheeses, we prefer to sit down, as the French gourmand said about his turkey: ‘with just two of us; myself and the turkey.'”-The House Mother


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Mom-We’re Having a Bake Sale at School


There was a time when these words would strike terror into my heart.  This was the “super”-mom time in my life when I worked outside the home and had three very busy kids that needed my lunch making, teaching assistance and chauffeur skills.  I was also overly concerned about what other people would “think” about my contribution and would work hard to find the perfect treat-nutritous yet practical and delicious. 

I have mellowed as I have matured and was flattered when Daughter #2 asked for my contribution to help raise funds to get her to a university conference on social justice and humanitarian assistance.  I peered in the pantry, saw that we had coconut, raisins, pecans and lots of brown sugar and made a bold decision-butter tart slice it is! 

I am fond of mixing ingredients up but not of rolling, shaping, pressing, etc. etc.  I love recipes where you get out your biggest mixing bowl-stir it all up and pour it in a pan.  Such is the case with these (recipe is very easy to double):


1 c butter

2 c flour

1/4 c sugar

pinch salt


1/4 c butter

3 beaten eggs

2 c brown sugar

1 T baking powder

pinch salt

3/4 c coconut

1 t vanilla

1 c raisins (I always soak mine first)

1 T flour

1 c coarsely chopped pecans


Cut butter into dry ingredients with pastry blender until crumbly,  Press into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.


Melt butter, add eggs and remaining ingredients.  Mix and pour over crust,  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Cut when cool.

I left them uncut for Daughter #2 to decide if she wanted to package them up by the half dozen or cut and wrap big individual pieces.  Turns out that the way to go now a days is the latter-you sell a large wedge to have with coffee and ask for a donation.  They made close to $300 this way!  That’s my girl.

Kath’s quote:“Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.”- Old Dutch proverb

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