Food Musings

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

l’chaim

November15

In the last hand full of years we (the Sisters) have lost two amazing friends to breast cancer.  They were younger than me and in their passing I got two whacks on the side of the head to be more careful with this precious gift of life.  Yesterday we received more bad news and this has effected me in a new way.  The passing was of a young Mom and I am profoundly conscious of the loss.

I have always known what foods I should avoid but am appreciating again what foods I should include in my diet to maintain good health.  Perhaps if I was more focused on what I should be consuming and not finding ways to treat myself with what I should not be eating, the waist band on my jeans might be a little friendlier to me too.

So here’s my personal (but pretty public pledge):

1.  Include more fish espeically those species high in Omega 3

2.  Include more whole grain foods especially flax seed. 

3.  Choose brown over white rice and noodles. 

4.  Select low fat dairy options.

5.   Include nuts and beans in more recipes.  I hate beans (please send me your favourite bean recipes).

6.  Increase fruit and veggie servings to 9+ per day especially broccoli, sweet potatoes, berries, spinach…..you likely know the list.  The brighter the colour, the better is my general rule of thumb.

8.  Liberally use garlic and other fresh herbs.

Food like all other precious gifts in our lives is meant to nourish and sustain not clog and corrode and so we need to do our part and make smart choices.  This sound like a commercial?  Maybe, but it is sent in love.

Kath’s quote: “l’chaim (to life)”

Love endures.

Peasant Cookery

November12

How do two foodies celebrate their last evening together before one of them goes on a vacation?  By finding a new restaurant to try of course.  We had intended to visit this establishment when it was Oui and almost went to celebrate our last wedding anniversary.  But the Urbanspoon reviews were not glowing and when we are acknowledging a special event, we want “glowing”.  So I am not surprized that there has been a change in culinary direction.  I understand that the previous menu was very daunting for the kitchen and this simplified version should ensure stellar dishes from the chef.  Some of the former favourites have found their way onto the Peasant menu.  Simple, well prepared, tasty food is what we are all about and looked forward to tucking in.

We were sat immediately by a really personable fellow and he accurately predicted that we would enjoy one of their round booths.  The decor has not changed immensely and we loved the high ceilings and two walls of windows.  A lovely glass of wine was recommended and a wonderful baguette basket was delivered.  Bread and wine, a simple and yet so satisfying combination that have sustained generations and indeed civilizations.

Thinking ourselves to be poutine aficionados, we couldn’t resist sharing an order.  My husband and I discovered cheese curds together at the Minnesota State Fair which does not just contain a food concession but an entire arena designated to local food preparation  (AND we saw Kenny Loggins in concert that night so I was in heaven).     

The Peasant version of poutine is authentic using a made from scratch gravy and a fairly generous numbers of curds.  But on this night they salted the fries before the toppings were added and even though I love salty foods, it was a bit much.  Next time I think we’ll try a pate.

Remembering my recent trip to NYC where I sampled the most amazing fried chicken at  The Redhead, I was excited to repeat the treat or at least determine if the dish lived up to my Grandma’s recipe.  I would crown her the Queen of Peasant Cookery. 

Although the chicken underneath the crunchy coating was tender enough, I guess my standards were too high as something was off.  The chicken seemed to have been braised or boiled first to tenderize it whereas in my mind a marination works best.  The coating was over salted and also seemed to be overcooked.  And even though I did not finish my portion, the two little drumsticks and thighs did not warrant the price tag (in our humble opinion).  The coleslaw was just okay and the warm potato salad had way too much mustard for our liking.

BUT D’s pork chop was divine!  Well trimmed,  juicy, tender and perfectly cooked to medium.  The accompaniments too were well selected and prepared and lucky for me, D was prepared to share.  I sliced the left overs up for a sandwich the next day and it too was delicious.

So I wish WOW! Hospitality all the best with this concept and know that having peeked into the wine bar and loving the ambience, we will be back.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “A married couple who enjoy the pleasures of the table have, at least once a day, a pleasant oppurtunity to be together; for even those who do not sleep in the same bed (and there are may such) at least eat at the same table.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

Let love be multiplied.

The Turquoise Hutch

November10

D is away on vacation right (the secret to a fabulous marriage) and for some reason I always decide to take on a DIY project when he is away.  I suppose it is to prevent boredom which is crazy because I’ve got every available time slot booked up to hang with the kids, try new eating spots and get caught up with old friends.  And the refinishing project that I thought was going to take all week is already complete.  It was so much fun, I couldn’t stop myself.

I bought a dining room hutch a couple of years ago from a neighbour and the furniture style never worked in our house but because we entertain so many guests, I had to have a place to hold all our dining extras.  I’ve had an eye on distressing it for a long time and I’m crazy for turquoise.  The colour reminds me of the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and having the colour surrounding me, does suppress the desire to live elsewhere.

If I were to do an inventory of what the hutch contains, you would know a great deal more about my family and me: 

-my first set of china acquired just recently and not purchased but handed down from Sister #2 who bought it at our favourite little second hand place

-huge wine glasses, at least a dozen for white and another larger size for red

-heart shaped rocks and shells collected from my favourite beaches

-hand-painted bowls made by Hortensia’s son’s in laws (my friend and one of my favourite inhabitants of Isla Mujeres)

-a set of flatware purchased at Dollorama because they contain all my favourite colours and look like they were hand made

-a set of Blue Willow dishes that I started saving when I was 17 and have just rediscovered

-the fixings for margaritas and martini’s

-a wine skin and wine decanters of all descriptions

-all kinds of colourful and mostly mismatched linen

So what prized possessions are hiding in your dining room sideboard?  Next project-the dining room table….. 

Kath’s quote:  “Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.”-Charles Pierre Monselet

Let love be multiplied.

Jamie Oliver’s Bolognese Sauce

November9

Jamie Oliver is my kind of guy-his recipes use affordable ingredients, he is an ambassador of “real” food, he loves his kids and his wife, his success has apparently not changed his wardrobe and he writes his recipes as if he were standing in the kitchen next to you:  “don’t worry about technique, just chop away until fine”, “if you’re ready to tuck in,  just drape the warm slices over the lettuce and serve” , “it would be lovely if everyone had a go at making things like tarts, tortes or pastries at home…..”

My prized “Food Revolution” Cookbook was a gift from my son and daughter (in law) #3.  This past Sunday dinner (mandatory) I prepared a big batch of spaghetti and then sent everybody home with left overs.  I added a couple of my own modifications and the kids had their own improvement as well.  Here is the result:

2 slices of bacon, chopped

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

olive oil

2 heaped t of dried oregano

1 lb good quality beef pork or (even better) a mixture of the two

28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

s&p

a small bunch of fresh basil

4 oz. Parmesan cheese

1 lb. dried spaghetti

I doubled the recipe and used a lb. of ground pork and a thinly sliced flank steak from the freezer.  I soaked both in milk before cooking (a technique I had seen in another Bolognese recipe) and then finely chopped up the flank steak.

Saute bacon with oregano and cook until golden.  Add veggies and stir every frequently until softened and lightly coloured.  Stir in the meat (drained if soaked in milk) and tomatoes.  Now Jamie adds a can of water but the kids think that this makes the sauce too soupy, so go by your own preference.  Let simmer until veggies or to your desired firmness (approx. 20 minutes).  Add S&P to taste.  Add freshly torn basil leaves.  Cook pasta to your liking and when it is el dente, drain and stir into the sauce.    Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Kath’s quote: “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”-Ruth Reichl

Let love be multiplied.

Hu’s on First

November8

Hu’s is a favourite of many of my favourite people and it had been all too long since my last visit.  It was also been too long since my last encounter with this particular and special friend.  So this became a perfect time over lunch in the best ways.

We started with crab rangoon which I couldn’t assess from the menu description but turned out to be a kind of spring roll.  They were recommended by the waiter and okay.

He made up for the mediocre choice with his Chicken Pad Thai suggestion which we thought was outstanding.  We continued to take one “last” scoop way after we were full.  Kinda like the eating peanuts I guess and that presents the perfect segue.

Also suggested was the peanut crusted Pickerel.  My readers know that pickerel is my favourite fish and this recipe was outstanding.  The fillet was substantial and held up well to the powerful tastes.  The fish was laid upon a bed of edamame and string beans-also lovely.

The place was bustling when we arrived at 12:30 but had thinned out by the time we left.  So if you are looking for a quieter lunch, wait until the noon lunch crowd heads back to work.  I would call the decor “upscale” for an Asian experience as I am accustomed to the more Mom and Pop local restaurants.

Hu's On First on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven’t yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?”-Bill Bryson

Let Love be multiplied.

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