Food Musings

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

Mom’s Pantry-by Sister #3


When my mom moved into a personal  care home, we went to work cleaning out her house and doing some renovations in preparation for sale. It was challenging because it was pretty full of stuff, and for me and some of my siblings it was the only home we had ever lived in as a family. There were so many memories created in that place and it was full of items that reminded us of those sweet times. I was very happy with how hard everyone worked and how smoothly the division of moms things went. Everyone was able to find items that were sentimental to them and there were no items that anyone bickered over. I had asked all my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews if there was anything in particular they would like. Only one item was requested by two people, mom’s white chenille bedspread. But while sorting through the linen closet I discovered that she actually owned two of them. Problem solved!  

Mom wasn’t a hoarder or anything but having grown up during the depression she sometimes had a hard time parting with things she felt were of value. Also a product of growing up in poverty, she had a tendency to stock up on food items on sale and prepare lots of things for the freezer and pantry. Her deep freeze was full of meat and her homemade perogies, bread and cinnamon buns.

Her pantry was well stocked with dry goods, flour, cans of soup, tinned fruit and vegetables, and her homemade preserves. I have wonderful memories of making all kinds of jams and pickles with my mom but I have to confess that I have not since done any “canning” as mom would call it. Part of the reason is a dear friend of mine makes all kinds of things In jars and gifts me with her salsa, jalapeño jelly, cranberry jelly, and turmeric pickles every Christmas. 

The closest thing I do to preserves these days is escabeche, a delicious quick pickle of vegetables I first tasted in Mexico. Here’s my recipe for these super easy veggies.

3 x 16 ounce Mason jars (or any sealable glass jar)

1 cup carrots, sliced

2½ cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch radishes, sliced

2 jalapenos, sliced & seeds removed

6 garlic cloves

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

1¼ teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

Divide peppercorns and bay leaves between the three Mason jars. Peel garlic cloves but leave whole and divide between jars.* Layer carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and jalapenos in jars.

In a pot, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil on the stovetop then simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 30 seconds. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and allow to cool for one hour before sealing and refrigerating.

Escabeche is ready to eat as soon as it’s chilled but it’s best to allow the flavors to develop for a full day.

Escabeche will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

If you aren’t into spicy pickles, cut back or eliminate the jalapeños. Also know that the garlic can turn a funny blue colour, but it’s a completely normal reaction to the vinegar. 

Kath’s quote: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar“. — Thomas Jefferson

Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report Day One-Sweeney Todd!


On our first full day in NYC, we woke up to grey skies but we were determined to make the most of the weather. D had scoped out the neighbourhood on foot by this time and recommended we venture out to find a favourite NYC treat-bagels!

Having never stayed in Brooklyn before and only knowing the term “Flatbush” from a brat pack movie, I was delighted to wander down Flatbush Ave. in search of authentic New York bagels.

Once we had chosen toasted everything bagels, we had the decision to make of what topping from all those displayed in this case. Lox and cream cheese was our choice.

The look and feel of the place was much like Essa Bagel that we discovered when we stayed in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. I couldn’t imagine that any bagel could stack up to an Essa bagel but the Flatbush certainly did a gallant job.

We perched onto stools and lingered over our bagels. We got a kick of seeing various walks of life wander in for their daily fix.

I couldn’t finish mine and together with the extra ones we bought for our apartment, D got the task of walking through the rain the rest of the morning with a soggy brown paper bag.

Although the summer peak of blooms had passed at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, it was still a lovely place to pass a morning, even a wet one.

I saw many of my favourite plants there. The difference was that I grow them as house plants whereas the climate of the state of New York is much more moderate.

Since the rain didn’t let up, I was glad to spy this beautiful structure when I was about half through my walk.

Not only did I get a reprieve from the weather, I was delighted by their bonsai display.

Just outside the conservatory were these beautiful sculptures in the lily pad ponds.

I always gravitate to water and fountains. We even how a fountain and pond in our backyard!

We arrived home to get ready for our special evening out to see Josh Groban in Sweeney Todd. I had seen him four times in concert, but never on Broadway. His appearance was actually the impetus for the entire NYC trip. D worked very hard to secure just the right apartment and other logistics. When we got a break in the rain, we went up to the rooftop of our penthouse for a glass of wine and a selfie before we made our way to Times Square.

The rain prevented us for simply hanging out and we hadn’t eaten anything since our morning bagel, so we headed to an unexplored place where we had a ressie.

We decided to go to the bar before dinner. When we spotted that it was Happy Hour at the bar, we never made it to the dining room.

D and I love bar seats-you can watch the workings of the staff and it is a great place to meet other guests. My guess was that most everyone was a traveler like us.

Bar drinks were the special including Sangria! I became hooked on sangria from my visit to Spain last fall. We enjoyed a couple of appetizers too, but didn’t want to full up before sitting through a 3 hour play.

Our balcony seats were perfect and we were immediately enraptured by the story that we were only somewhat acquainted with.

The theatre was gorgeous, the singing exquisite, the set was full of surprises and the show was unbelievably funny, in spite of its dark story line. The evening was first class in every way and I was so grateful to D for his meticulous planning.

Kath’s quote: “And life is for the alive, my dear. So let’s keep living it.”-Steven Soundheim

Love never fails.

Harvesting Herbs-by Sister #3


Growing up, our neighbourhood was full of backyard gardens. People often turned their yards into rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and beans. Even people who didn’t have big gardens, as in our family, at least had a patch of rhubarb or pots with tomato plants. One thing I don’t recall seeing in my childhood was people growing herbs; with the exception of the dill weed that people needed to make their pickles. I never saw fresh herbs until college where my culinary instructors taught me to properly “chiffonade”: a French term meaning “ribbons”. We were taught to stack leafy herbs like basil, rolling them into a tight little bundle and then slicing them into fine thread-like strands.

Turns out herbs are one of the easiest things to grow. I have my herb box just outside my patio door that leads off my kitchen. Every year I grow basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, mint.

I just snipped the last of my herbs in anticipation of a hard frost and will dry and crush them to use over the next few months.

One of my favourite herbs to have fresh, is sage. The smell is unlike anything else you’ll every smell. I love to toss these pale green furry little leaves in browned butter and serve them over pasta, especially my homemade sweet potato gnocchi. The taste of that nutty butter, pungent sage on top of the pillowy balls of slightly sweet goodness, is one of my favourite treats.

Here’s my recipe. Easier to make than you might think. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
8 dinner size servings

2 1-pound sweet potatoes- rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese,
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 2 tablespoons of salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi. Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

Kath’s quote: “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” – Charlemagne

Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report -Arrival Day


D, who works remotely, was very diligent about getting everything at work completed so he could have Friday of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend off. On the Thursday we made our way from the TO Home Exchange apartment that we loved so much to our beloved NYC. Even though we had painstakingly made our way from Pearson to our Little Italy Apartment by ground transportation when we landed in TO, we opted for an uber for our way back to the airport. That turned out to be a good thing because when we arrived at La Guardia, we took subways to get from Queens to Brooklyn via downtown Manhattan. It was a long journey, even though the flight itself was only 1 hour and a bit.

The length of the trip was not made more any more pleasant by the lack of foodservice on our Air Canada flight. We wolfed down a hot dog in Herald Square at one of our subway stop transfers. We were HANGRY but everything melted away when we stepped foot into the stylish apartment that would be our home for the extended Thanksgiving weekend.

We flew open our terrace doors to see what we could see from our pent house. Rain was lightly falling but we started to get our berrings.

We also had roof top access so we leaned over to check out the terrace of the apartment one floor down.

D fetched another snack for us as I put away our essentials so that we could get a fresh start in the morning. In the meantime, I contemplated the blessings in our life – to be able to travel often and stay in such lovely places.

Kath’s quote: “If travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it is a heightened state of awareness, , in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love stories, never really end.” modified from Pico Iyer

Love never fails.

Autumn is Here-written by Sister #3


I wish I could enjoy fall more than I do. Part of the problem is: I am crazy for summer. I love to sit out on my deck and enjoy my morning tea in my nighty. I love to harvest my beans, tomatoes, fresh herbs. I love fresh and delicious summer foods, grilled meat, corn on the cob, tomato sandwiches, and crunchy salads. I always feel sad saying goodbye to those days and hello to the crisp fall air. The other part of the problem is that fall leads to winter, and everyone who knows me, knows I hate winter. I know lots of people dislike winter, but I absolutely hate it. Believe me I have tried. But my body, my heart, my soul, they all dislike winter. So unfortunately fall pays the price because it is a reminder that winter is coming!  

As fall approaches the available variety of fresh fruit and vegetables starts to dwindle and so does my desire to eat anything healthy and instead dive head first into a chicken pot pie. So I have to work hard to ensure I’m still getting my daily servings of fruit and veg. I use frozen fruit for morning smoothies and make sure to treat myself to “special”, and therefor more expensive vegetables, like snow peas for stir fries and fancy mushrooms for pasta al funghi. 

In summer I eat a lot of salads so I decided I needed to create this autumnal salad that, I could fall in love with, to get me through the season. So after much testing I came up with my favourite dish to celebrate the bounty of autumn. 

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Blackberry Salad

For the Kale                                                             
2 large bunches kale                                             
2 Tbsp olive oil                                                       
1/2 tsp salt                                                              

For the Butternut Squash
1/2 butternut squash (24 ounces), cubed
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the Nuts and Seeds                                       
1 cup raw pecans                                                   
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds                               
1.5 tablespoons maple syrup                             
1/8 teaspoon sea salt                                           

For Dressing (makes more dressing than needed)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp soya sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 cloves of garlic

For the Salad
1 pint blackberries
5 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries


Debone and chop kale.  Add olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Massage the kale with your hands for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Spread butternut squash out on the baking sheet. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to the butternut squash and toss until squash is evenly coated. Bake 20 minutes, set aside to cool.

Place all ingredients for nuts into a medium mixing bowl. Toss until nuts are evenly coated and then spread out evenly onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

Roast for 8-10 minutes at 400ºF. You can roast the nuts in the oven with the squash.

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process till emulsified.

Place kale, squash, blackberries, goat cheese, cranberries, nuts and seeds, toss with appropriate amount of dressing.  

Kath here: I am posting this from NYC where we are enjoying a summer-like day. I don’t mind the change of the seasons as Sister #3 does, but I am grateful, when we can travel to stretch summer just a little bit.

Kath’s quote: “As we celebrate this season of thanksgiving, we give thanks for the blessings of food, provision and nourishment. Please grow in us a harvest for the world. Come sow a seed of hope within our souls, that we might yield goodness, patience and kindness in abundance.“-A Thanksgiving Prayer

Love never fails.

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