Food Musings

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

Mexican Flan


I could be getting up to date on the Winnipeg restaurant reports that I have piling up but I can’t stop dreaming of our upcoming time on Isla Mujeres. 


One of the most wonderful aspects about our precious Isla Mujeres is that islanders are known by their food specialties: there is Tony the Rib man, D’s favourite Juice man, Maria the Pepita lady and The Flan Lady.  We pass the latter on our walk to and from the zocalo.  She has a cart which she parks outside of her house and it is illuminated by a single light bulb.  I am more inclined to go for a coconut ice cream or lime Popsicle but for some reason, I can’t stop thinking about the flan lady.

Juice Man

I am quite certain that this is not the recipe that she follows.  This one comes from Cocina Islena, Recipes from the Kitchens of Isla Mujeres-a fund-raiser by PEACE Isla Mujeres:

“Flan is a recipe that dates back to ancient Rome.  It was during Roman times that domesticated chickens were first kept for laying eggs.  The Romans, with eggs in surplus, along with the Greek’s knowledge of the art of cooking, developed new recipes-one of which turned out to be this custardy misture known as flan.  It was originally a savoury dish (not sweet but similar to quiche fillings and frittatas).  Flan survived the fall of the Roman Empire, medieval times, and eventually was taken to the new world by the Spanish.  The Spanish version is sweet instead of savory, and is now especially associated with Mexico.

1 c sugar

12 oz. evaporated milk

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

3/4 c milk

3 large eggs

3 egg yolks

2 t vanilla

1 c Media Crema (substitute: equal parts sour cream & heavy cream)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Make the caramel:  Have ready a deep 9 inch glass pie plate and a pair of oven mitts.  Pour the sugar into a small heavy saucepan.  Set it over medium-low heat until the sugar starts to liquefy and form clumps.  Stir slowly and constantly; the sugar will eventually liquefy completely and then begin to colour.  Pay careful attention to the caramel at this point; once it starts to colour, it will darken quickly.  Remove the pan from the heat when the caramel is the colour of a bright, shiny penny.  Scrape all the caramel into the pan, put on the mitts, and grab the pie plate firmly.  Carefully but quickly rotate the pan so the bottom and halfway up the sides of the plate are coated with caramel.  Set the prepared pan in a shallow roasting pan.

 Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla in a blender jar.  Blend on a very low speed a few seconds, just until the eggs are blended,  Add the Media Crema and blend a few seconds, until smooth.  Let stand for 1 minute, and then skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Slide the oven rack out halfway and set the roasting pan with the caramel-lined pie plate on the rack.  Pour the custard mix into the pie plate.  Pour enough water from the kettle to the roasting pan to come halfway up the side of the plate.  Bake about 1 hour until the centre of the flan is set.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature in the water bath.  Refigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

 To serve, centre a large plate over the flan and with one quick flip, invert the pan over the plate.  Give it a few seconds; the flan will slip right out of the mold and onto the plate.  Scrape any caramel left in the mold over the flan.  Serve chilled.  Serves 8.”

Kath’s quote: “Custard:  A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow, and the cook.”-Ambrose Bierce

On the First Day of Christmas


Our first family Christmas of the season has come and gone.  It was a whirlwind of embraces, teasing, laughter and more embraces.  D’s family is knit together by one amazing women. 

Grandma J came home one day from her son’s basketball game to find that her husband had packed a bag and left.  She had no job, very little education and seven kids to fend for.  So she went looking for a job doing the only thing that she really knew how to do-cook for a crowd.

Fast forward thirty years and J is now remarried, spending her summers visiting various family members, kids and  grandkids and her winters in Texas.  If anyone deserves a quiet retirement it is Grandma J.  But J is not yet retired-she makes Christmas her full-time occupation.  She will start shopping for Christmas 2012, today.

We sat the dining room with three banquet tables (another 12 were sat up on the 2nd floor)

Six members of the family were not present this year and I am sure that she mailed those off to Phoenix last week.  The rest of us (32 to be exact) each opened a very large box and inside were a number of other little wrapped packets.  Mine included a book and book mark, a scented candle, bath gel, an embroidered nightgown and an aloe plant with a hand carved hovering hummingbird.  Imagine going to this much trouble with this much thoughtfulness, for 34 people! 

Part of the gang filing downstairs for grace

Another amazing thing about this year’s Christmas story was that we all fit into our just purchased 100 year old house.  I think D saw us gathered there before we had even signed the offer to purchase.

So this year it wasn’t so much about the secret ingredients in the stuffing (pecans and apricots) or the pumpkin, apple and pecan pies that Grandma J bakes and drives in from the county in a specially designed pie rack.  It was about being together in one place, each of us opening packets of love and remembering the reason for the season.

Kath’s quote: “This aniversary is memorable (apart from all religious significance) because it evokes a great slaughter of turkeys, geese and all kinds of game, a wholesale massacre of fat oxen, pigs and sheep; they envisage garlands of black puddings, sausages and saveloys . . . mountains of plum-puddings and oven-fulls of mince-pies….       On that day no one in England may go hungry …. This is a family gathering, and on every table the same menu is prepared. A joint of beef, a turkey or goose, which is usually the pièce de résistance, accompanied by a ham, sausages and game; then follow the inevitable plum-pudding and the famous mince pies.”-Alfred Suzanne

A gift of love was delivered to all mankind 2000 years ago

The Current Revisited


Our original plans had been foiled and we were looking for a convenient (parking) but upscale spot to have a celebratory girl’s lunch.  The Current at Inn at the Forks turned out to be a perfect spot.  I have been to this beautifully appointed restaurant a number of times before and each time, I am escorted to exactly the same table.  And so on this day, I felt right at home.

Laura is a chicken and turkey salad aficionado and she declared The Current’s to meet her high standards.  Their chefs include tarragon and toasted walnuts.  I noticed that something was topping the mixture and it was a grilled Granny Smith apple slice.  This came with fantastic french fries and a just- made savory gravy.  I am especially complimentary about the fries to justify my reaching across the table to Laura’s plate on repeated occasions.

Karen went for the Moroccan Chicken Burger which would definitely get my vote next visit.  The spicy chicken breast was accompanied by a green apple and rhubarb chutney, brie and a coriander mayo.  She chose a crisp Caesar salad to go alongside.

When I am dining, I often don’t make a decision until the server comes to the table.  I declare to lunch dates that “I like to work under pressure” but the true reason is that when confronted with a decision, the most spontaneous answer is almost always the correct one.  In this case, I over thought my decision.  I was really tempted by the pickerel and chips but thought that I should make a “lighter” choice.  So I ordered a shrimp omelette that came with spring greens.  

My Dad showed me very early in life, how to prepare perfectly scrambled eggs and omelettes.  The eggs are to be lightly and quickly whisked  so as to introduce air and infiltrate the yolk and white, but not so much so that they are over mixed as they will become tough.  In addition, I like my eggs to always be served wet as a dry egg is an overcooked egg (imho).  Perhaps this was the case with my choice that day.  I twittered the restaurant to ask if they happen to use a pre-mixed product and Ben assured me that they use only vita fresh eggs.  

With our timelines, the choice was perfect as the server was accommodating and efficient and we enjoyed a lovely visit in a equally lovely locale.

The Current on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I have had, in my time, memorable meals of scrambled eggs with fresh truffles, scrambled eggs with caviar and other glamorous things, but to me, there are few things as magnificent as scrambled eggs, pure and simple, perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned.”-James Beard


How to Build Community


I suppose it is no surprize to my readers that I describe myself as a hippie (both physically and philosophically).  I am a peace, love and groovy, kind of person.  Recently, we purchased a big old house where 5 people will live communally.  I purchased a card for them to have in the house and as I reread it today, I realize that the wisdom is applicable to life itself.

How to Build Community

  • turn off your TV
  • leave your house
  • know your neighbours
  • look up when you are walking
  • greet people

  • sit on your front steps
  • plant flowers

  • play together
  • use your library
  • buy from local merchants
  • share what you have

  • help a dog
  • take children to the park
  • garden together
  • support neighbourhood schools
  • fix it even if you didn’t break it
  • have pot lucks
  • honour your elders
  • pick up litter
  • read stories aloud
  • dance in the street
  • talk to the letter carrier
  • listen to the birds

  • put up a swing
  • help carry something heavy
  • barter for your goods
  • start a tradition
  • ask a question
  • hire young people for odd jobs
  • organize a block party
  • bake extra and share
  • ask for help when you need it
  • open your curtains
  • sing together
  • share your skills
  • take back the night
  • turn up the music
  • turn down the music
  • listen before you react in anger
  • mediate a conflict
  • seek to understand
  • learn from new and uncomfortable angles
  • know that no one is silent though many are not heard-work to change this

Kath’s quote: “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”-James Beard

Fredy’s of Isla Mujeres- Cilantro Shrimp


This will be the very first time (in my entire life) that I will not be having a traditional Christmas dinner in Winnipeg on December 25.  Instead: we are co-hosting 35 for an early dinner this weekend for D’s side of the family and will be assembling with the 40+ members of my side on Christmas eve at Brother #3’s home.

But on Christmas day, we will have arrived on our precious Isla Mujeres-our home away from home.  It was not a difficult decision, to know where we wanted to have Christmas dinner as Fredy is a member of our Isla family.  I already know this far in advance that I will be ordering his famous pork chop.  But in the mean time, I have managed to find a recipe for his Cilantro Shrimp.  This comes from the cookbook entitled Cocina Islena-a fund raiser for PEACE Isla Mujeres.  If you are a Mexican food lover-you MUST have this recipe book.

Fredy’s Cilantro Shrimp

20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

7 ox. white onion, finely chopped

2 T cilantro, finely chopped

lime, salt & pepper to taste

1 t worcherstershire sauce

4 sliced jalepeno chilies

1 t olive oil (important)

1 t garlic

7 oz. manchego cheese (like mozzarella)

In a baking dish, place a layer of cilantro, add a layer on onion, a layer of shrimp, then another layer of cilantro, another or onion and a last layer of shrimp.  Season with lime, salt and pepper to taste.  Add worchestershire sauce, olive oil & garlic.  Once seasoned, add grated cheese covering the entiure surface.  Bake for approxuimately 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove from the oven and garnish with sliced chilies and serve immediately.  Serves 2.


Fredy does not have a website but click here for his Facebook page.

Kath’s quote: “Some writers say the leaves [cilantro] are used for seasoning, but this statement seems odd, as all the green parts of the plant exhale a very strong odor of the wood-bug, whence the Greek name of the plant.”-Vilmorin-Andrieux, ‘The Vegetable Garden’ (1885)

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