Food Musings

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

University Eats

January28

I graduated from the University of Winnipeg (in the 70s!) with my degree in Dramatic Studies. Since that time I believe it has been renamed the Theatre and Film Program. This meant that in addition to regular class time, we were “encouraged” to participate in theatre productions put on by the department and other community theatrical organizations. This meant for very long days. Thank the Lord that my sweet dad would drive from EK to pick me up if it was after dark or particularly cold.

Although I was a thrifty student and consistently took my lunch to school, there was no refrigeration offered to us (or insulated bags or freezer packs for that matter), so even though I would trust the holding temperature of my lunch for a couple of hours until, I would definitely not do so until supper.

Often times the entire cast and/or production team would head out together looking for somewhere we could eat affordably. I remember one spot in particular-it was an Asian family restaurant run by a new Canadian named Hu. You may remember him from his restaurant called the Mandarin on Sargent or the River Mandarin on River. We would empty our pockets and Hu would count our couple of bills but mostly change, and declare that he could come up with something quite nourishing for us. It would often be a fried rice divided among many mouths. We were quite sure that the value of the dish far outweighed the money that we chipped in. But that was a reflection of Hu’s kind heart.

I recently visited a new Vietnamese place just opposite the University of Winnipeg on Portage Ave for lunch: Banh Mi King and it was full of students. I returned this past weekend for the same meal –their delectable Charbroiled Pork Noodle Salad Bowl. On Saturday at 6 pm it was packed again, but not with students. This time it was bursting with “Skip the Dishes” couriers. Oh my, how the world has changed! In a good way….I think. D and I had seen a Matinee including popcorn and we didn’t want a big supper just something that would fit into a single bowl.

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I remembered the Banh Mi King with their gluten friendly bowl served with charbroiled pork and vermicelli noodles over a bed of greens with herbs, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrots, shredded cabbage and topped with peanuts, cooked green onions, and crispy onions! We immediately tucked in and were surprised when we slowed down with still half a bowl remaining. The tastes were so varied and fresh and clean. We continued slurping up the noodles from our raised bowls with chopsticks. So good!

D calculated that 2 fast food burgers and add ons would have cost more than these wholesome and nutritional bowls.

Kath’s quote: “There is a unique freshness when eating buckwheat noodles cold with plenty of herbs and citrus acidity. I can’t think of any better use of chopsticks on a hot and sweaty evening”. -Yotam Ottolenghi (my newest culinary crush).

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Love never fails.

Outlander Kitchen-The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook

January25

I first read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander in the 90’s when we were busy with kids. I distinctly remember dropping Boo (our youngest) off at her dance class and then finding a spot at a coffee shop near by. A mixture of snow and rain was falling outside and I don’t mean “falling” in a pretty snow globe way but dumping down. As a Mom I was always a nervous driver with my kids in the car and I was already worried about my drive home.

But for 45 minutes I didn’t think about another thing pertaining to my life-I was totally swept away by the story of Claire and Jamie. Fast forward 25 years and our eldest recommends that I catch an Outlander episode. She was quite certain that I would love the music score, the natural beauty of Scotland and the gorgeous cinematography and she was right-I was hooked at the opening credits.

Now it so happened that Sister #2 who is as avid reader as myself had just completed reading the final book of the Outlander series and loaned me a shopping bag full of 1400 page books. It took me an entire winter to move from book two to the final story that Diane Gabaldon had written (until that time that is).

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So now I am addicted to the TV show and addicted to the novels! At the Christmas of that same winter said daughter gave me a cookbook for Christmas (it is her thing for me an I love it!). It of course was entitled Outlander Kitchen. I poured through the book like a work of fiction as Theresa Carle-Sanders had received permission form Diana to include excerpts from the first books. Each excerpt is connected to mention of a dish or a recipe, hence the delightful theme of the cookbook.

I must confess that I have actually not made any meal from the book. That is because I keep my recipe books close at hand in the kitchen and I had put Outlander Kitchen on an office shelf with other books that combine recipes and literature. Well as of today, Outlander Kitchen is migrating to the kitchen shelf. I look forward to sharing my successes with you in the future.

A postscript to all of this, I was at a Food Bloggers Canada conference and I heard on our final day together that Theresa was a fellow blogger and had attended the conference. I tried to no avail to find her because Outlander fans love to connect! Supposedly, I had missed her by thaaat much….. I reread her bio on the book fly leaf to find that she lives on Pender Island in BC- a place I have tried so hard to visit. I believe 2020 will be the year and in the mean time I look forward to reading her newly published Outlander Kitchen II: Journey to the New World and Back Again.

Theresa’s dedication in her first book reads thusly-

Kath’s quote:

To Howard, My Englishman.

You look and sound a lot like Frank,

but your heart, and love is pure Jamie.

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Love never fails.

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2019 Isla Mujeres Packing List

January24

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Many, many people that I know are traveling to Isla Mujeres this year. I thought that I would resurrect a packing list that Sister #3 put together and I have enhanced. I am still almost a month away from my departure but getting out my flip flops and sun dresses adds to the joy of anticipating our trip.

What to pack for Isla Mujeres

Personal Items

Ear plugs (Especially if the person you travel with is a snorer but sometimes you can have noisy neighbours)

Kleenex packs, small hand sanitizer, wet naps (Carry with you as some bathrooms don’t have toilet paper or soap to wash up)

Clear plastic rain poncho-dollar store variety (When it rains it comes fast and hard), easier and lighter to pack than an umbrella

Your toiletries (Most hotels and some casa’s provide shampoo and soap)

 

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Sun glasses, sun screen (Vital as the cost of sun screen if very high in Mexico)

Sun hat (It is very windy on the island so one that has a tie is a good idea)

Blow dryer etc. (I don’t bother with any of this stuff on the island.  I just let my hair go crazy – and it does.  I wear a lot of head bands and scarves to keep my hair out of my face in the wind.)

Clothes

I typically pack the following for two weeks.

Three bathing suits, two beach cover ups

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6 sun dresses, two pashminas, jean jacket (It can get a bit chilly in the evening so I carry one of these so I have something to slip over my shoulders)

2 pairs of shorts

4 t-shirts or tank tops

2 nighties

something light to through on when I get out of the shower.

One pair of long cotton pants and a hoody to wear on the plane.

Flip flops, one good pair of walking shoes.  Don’t bring anything with a heel, the sidewalks are cobblestone and you can kill yourself.

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The restaurants are all pretty casual.  I like dresses as they keep me the coolest.  Remember you can always go see Hortenzia if you run out of things to wear.  She can whip up a light cotton dress for less than $20.00 in a day or two.

You can drop off a load of laundry at one of the many Laundromats and they will wash, dry and fold it for you for later that day.  It is a very affordable option and helps reduce what you need to pack.  Your clothes will come back smelling fantastic.  I wouldn’t recommend it for anything delicate.

Other things to consider

I scan my passport, bank card, travel insurance card etc and I keep a copy in the room safe.  Just in case I was to lose my stuff.

I put the address of the place I am staying inside my bag in case my bag goes missing it can be sent to where I am.

If you have a soft sided suitcase you might want to put the clothing in a garbage bag inside your suitcase as cases can get wet on the ferry ride over or on the airport tarmac.

Tag all your luggage even carry on.

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I also bring

a laptop or iPod to check email

docking station with speakers to play music

digital camera with charger

baggies, cutting boards, containers for food preparation

laundry soap to wash out bathing suits etc.

Clorox wipes for cleaning up the kitchen area

Peanut butter and jam packets to have on fresh buns from the bakery

Tea, hot chocolate packages, salt and pepper, granola bars, homemade granola (to go with breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt or for a late night treat.)

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Bubble wrap and masking tape (to pack breakable things for the trip home)

Beer sleeve, cooler bag (I like to fix sandwiches in our room to take to the beach and a beer sleeve keeps my water or beer cold on a hot day)

I bring tea towels to do my own dishes (I don’t like leaving them for the maid as I don’t want to attract bugs) and a small hand towel to take to the beach in case I get really sweaty. I don’t pack towels as they take up a lot of room and the casa we stay in provides them.

Kath here to add a couple of things that I bring along:

I sometimes pack running shoes and school supplies to leave on the island. At one time WestJet let you take one of these bags for free.  I haven’t check this year’s status.

Pesos or failing that US money. There have been many ATM scams on the island so don’t depend on that. Avoid using credit cards except at Cancun airport.

A journal and a lots of paperback books that can be left in your hotel for someone else’s reading pleasure.

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A beach umbrella. D gifted me with a great one that fits into a large suitcase. One hotel where I am staying provides back pack lawn chairs and the other is right on the Caribbean so we don’t even go to the beach.

A good waterproof sandal (like Merrels) to beachcomb and climb over rocky coral.

An insulated coffee mug (Contigo brand is my fave) because I like my coffee to stay hot as we watch the sunrise and I fill it with ice and water for my walk to the beach.

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I pack more bathing suits and put one on as soon as I get out of my pjs.  Then I wear one of Hortenzia’s dresses over top and I am ready for anything the day throws at me.

Gravol, Imodium, polysporin, band aids because you just never know what may occur.

Kath’s quote: “29 more sleeps!”-me

HEART ISLA MUJERES

Love never fails.

New Year, New Food, New Approach

January23

I have taken a break for the past month to reflect on where I am in life, this space and a fresh approach. Coincidentally the government of Canada’s new food guide was released yesterday and it too is a new look at how we should regard our food.

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I especially appreciate the references to mindfulness, cooking at home more often (avoiding fast and processed food) and eating more often with others-in essence “en” joying eating and food. Now, I have always professed that there is much joy (and love) in food. For me there is both joy in the preparation and in the sharing.

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I also received a beautiful gift this week. I fessed up on Instagram that a good friend and I have girl crushes on Joanna Gaines and that same friend gifted me with Joanna’s beautiful new cookbook: Magnolia Table-a collection of recipes for gathering. I have yet to try one of the recipes but I am enamored just the same by what she shares of food and her family in the Introduction.

Last evening I co-hosted a training evening and we kicked the evening off by breaking bread together. I knew that I was cooking for up to 18 people so I made a vat of my favourite chili. I adapted a Zest Cooking Solutions (Sister #3) recipe. Where it called for a Veggie Ground Round I used ground chicken and I also boosted it with yellow corn for colour and kale for nutritional oommph. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of the recipe preparation or the end result because in truth I didn’t know last evening that today would be the day that my personal reflection was done and I was back to blogging.

New World Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Ode to mexico
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • cooking spray
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded in the food processor
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can black beans, undrained
  • 1 can kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, emulsified with hand blender
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • ¼ c salsa
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • lb ground chicken
  • half a package of frozen corn
  • half package of frozen kale
  • half a bunch of fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Spray the bottom of a large pot with canola or olive oil
  2. Place onion quarters, red pepper quarters and garlic in the food processor to finely dice
  3. Shred carrot with the food processor shredding disk
  4. Add carrot, onion, pepper and garlic in the pot and saute for 3-5 minutes (until onion is translucent)
  5. Add the ground chicken and continue to stir until chicken changes from pink to white
  6. At the this point I added the spices and put the pot in the fridge overnight
  7. The next morning I set the pot on low heat and added the undrained beans, emulsified tomatoes, tomato paste and salsa to the pot.
  8. Once it is heated thoroughly add the corn and kale.
  9. Heat to desired temperature (I let the chili simmer all day)
  10. Serve with cilantro sprigs

Please forgive me for the small m in Mexico. I mean no disrespect but I cannot figure out how to edit it without deleting and starting over again.

I doubled the recipe for the large group. The dish could have been served with crushed taco chips but I decided to make some cheesy corn muffins to go along with it. It was a hit!

Kath’s quote: This meal embodied comfort and safety to me. It felt like home. To this day whenever I eat spaghetti, that warm, fuzzy feeling hits me and I feel like all is well in the world.” -Joanna Gaines

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Love never fails.

 

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Christmas Festivities 2018 continued

December27

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And so this is Christmas and what have you done?

I pick up on our many celebrations from where my Christmas letter left off.

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This was the crew which helped D cater a Christmas banquet which he does each year in early December. Pictured here are family members as well as C, R and D. The former are long time friends who now reside for part of the year in Sicily, the latter, one of our core gang that travels to Isla with us each year. After guests are all served, we eat together. This years menu was turkey, rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, gluten-free wild rice and broccoli stuffing, sweet potatoes topped with apple butter and the biggest hit-Mexican street corn. As I am not partial to turkey, it is my one feed for the season.

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The very next evening we hosted another dinner party for our small group. The good news here was that everyone brought a dish and I was able to serve leftovers potatoes from the evening before (I dislike wasting food).

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Our next Christmas celebration was with our bestie couple friends. We shared plates and lovely wine selections at Passero just off the Commons (pictured here) at the Forks.

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Poppa and I were invited to our first French kindergarten sing-a-long. I have to admit that I didn’t know all the words but I was a happy Glamma nonetheless, basking in the glow of this Wee One.

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When Christmas weekend was almost upon us, it snowed and snowed and snowed. In fact, this may be the first day without snow unless it is predicted for later today. But this is one of the beautiful reasons why we love living in Winnipeg. Whereas Vancouver and Toronto had nary a flake, we are living in a scene from a snow globe!

The Friday before Christmas we celebrated Grandma Jean’s birthday with Chinese food at her place. Her birthday is actually December 24th but we always try to eek out some special time for her. She typically hosts Christmas day but this year could be talked into dinner at one of her daughter’s homes.

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Having renovated their kitchen it was the perfect spot with room for everyone as we gathered around the peninsula for appies and later when we sat down for dinner.

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The Wee Ones got to meet their new (second) cousin, being held here by our Boo.

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The Frenchman and the irreverent Boo (see Santa message above) hosted us for gift opening and Christmas dinner.

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We started with charcuterie on a beautiful board which the Frenchman made himself! Then we went on to an amazing tortiere to reflect his heritage. There was so much butter in the pastry that when we arrived, we thought they were making popcorn!

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Our last family Christmas event was yesterday with my siblings and their families. There are so many of us that we assembled at Boo and J’s workplace that was closed for the day. It was perfect in that we had plenty of space with a kids area, dining space and everyone could see when it was time for our gift exchange.

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The Wee Ones got to be with even more (second) cousins and were pleased to do so.

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This is the youngest on my side of the family. Both D and I are so blessed to be parts of large multi-generational families. The little ones of course make Christmas so very precious.

Kath’s quote: “Another year over, and a new one just begun…” John Lennon

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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