Food Musings

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

How A Foodie Can Give Back

Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey

I believe that a God-given skill is meant to be shared with your community. Here in Winnipeg there are so many opportunities to serve. Some of the obvious ones are Winnipeg Harvest and Siloam Mission where they are always looking for volunteers to distribute food or serve a hot meal at their soup kitchen. If youhave never had the privledge of helping in this way, I can tell you first hand, it is a very gratifying experience.

For the past 11 years my husband caters a Christmas party for a volunteer organization. They pay a modest amount to cover the food costs and he uses it to go all out. He researches for days before suggesting a menu. He then shops and cooks for the week previous to the dinner. The menu always revolves around turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce (of course) but he mixes it up every year to serve a unique and special dinner. This year his menu was:
Roasted Beet, Almond and Pear Salad
Sage and Caramelized Onion Bread Stuffing
Buttermilk, Basil and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Gratin of Winter Vegetables
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Crust (back by popular demand)
Ginger Spice Cake with Candy Cane Whipped Cream

Family and Friend Helpers

Family and Friend Helpers

Our family and friends get together to serve and it is a wonderful way to kick off the season. Why am I writing about this in the beginning of March? Today is my weekly volunteer day and I feed people too; they happen to be babies. Every Tuesday afternoon I help out at the Children’s Hospital by feeding, burping, holding and walking sick babies. I feed them formula and I feed them love-the very best food of all.

Not one of "my" babies

Not one of "my" babies

Kath’s quote: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”-Carl Sandburg


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Sunday Rib Man Ribs

Palms on Isla Mujeres

Palms on Isla Mujeres

A weekend tradition for us when we are on Isla Mujeres is lunch from the Sunday Rib Man. This talented cook (and mighty fine dancer) serves the best ribs around on Saturdays as well. But we’ve been ordering from his simple tienda since 2005 when Sunday was his only day of operation and the name has stuck. The first time I tasted his ribs I was staying at Suites Los Arcos around the corner on Hidalgo. The helpful staff at the front desk offered to fetch them for me when they knew that I was going to be away from Centro on a day excursion. This is one of the many kind gestures made by the wonderful residents of the little Island.

So the name is one contradiction in terms and here’s another-we don’t actually order his ribs but his boneless pork that he adeptly chops into strips so that they appear to be ribs. The strips fit perfectly into the stack of mini tortillas that he serves with every order. The other fixings include a cole slaw, a broiled white onion and a couple of sauces; along with the customary lime of course.Donna's Isla photos to March 4 006
I don’t know what size the order was in this picture captured on a previous trip, but recently we ordered a kilo for $180 pesos. Four of us ate til our heart’s content for approximately $4.50 per person.

Sunday Rib Man Ribs

Sunday Rib Man Ribs

We don’t know what he marinates them in or what he adds while they are cooking on the open fire, we only know that they are the most delicious ribs on Isla. A simple work space

The Sunday Rib Man is located near the corner of Matamoros and Rueda Medina in Centro on Isla Mujeres. There is no sign…just use your nose to locate the smoke. If you are there on a daytrip it is very close to the ferry.

Kath’s quote:  “Never eat more than you can lift.”  Miss Piggy


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Best Darn Chili Around

With most ingredients assembled

With most ingredients assembled

Recently we had two families over for dinner with their young children. Because I did not want to spend a lot of time at the table, we had a one-bowl supper. I made chili with a special technique that I claim is because our kids do not like beans when in truth it is because I do not like beans but LOVE a savoury chili.

Bean Frappe

Bean Frappe

I took an entire can of red kidney beans juice and all and plopped them into my Magic Bullet. This made a kind of bean frappe that I added to the rest of the ingredients.

I think that this chili version is my favourite because it calls for a glass of Merlot. Now I must admit I’m a bit stingy with my Merlot and did not want to have it evaporate into my chili so I used half a glass of Medoc and half a glass of Shiraz. I think that flavour of the wine is enhanced by the addition of a generous amount of brown sugar.

Ingredients: 6 oz. hot Italian sausage, 2 cups chopped onion (1 red & 1 white), 1 cup chopped green pepper, 4 garlic cloves, minced, 1 lb. hamburger, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (I ommited for the kids), 2 T chili powder, 2 T brown sugar, 1 T ground cumin, 3 T tomato paste
1 t dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste, 2 bay leaves, 1 1/4 cups Merlot or other red wine, 2 – 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes with juice, chopped, 1-14 oz. cans kidney beans  optional toppings-sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onions

Saute the onions and peppers with the sausage and hamburger. Crumbling with a wooden spoon. Drain off fat. Add spices and tomatoes, wine and frapped beans. Simmer until all veggies are tender: approx. 45 mins.


I also mixed up a batch of cheddar/ cornmeal buns. Using the bread machine recipe but bumping up the cornmeal amounts. Once the dough is mixed, I shape the buns and bake them in a muffin pan.

Before the oatmeal topping

Before the oatmeal topping

For desert I made a blueberry/apple crisp with a rolled oat toping-just like Mom used to make.

PS I hope that this is the best darn chili that you have ever tasted because it took me a week to get this entry posted! I was out of town with limited resources and could not get my pictures to upload and what is a blog without pictures? Apologies to my regular readers-I promise to make it up to you.

Kath’s quote: “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people doesn’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.” Humphrey Bogart


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Pizza Fondue


I recently learned two new things about fondue.  The first is that the word comes from the french word fondre -to melt.  The second is a fun rule that we will have to institute for our next family fondue party: if you drop what is on the end of your fondue fork into the melting pot, you have to kiss someone at the table. 

I had lunch today with an old friend and when he heard that  I wrote yesterday about TV dinners, he was happy to share this delicious one.  Perhaps  you’ll want to make it Sunday night for the Canada /US hockey game.

Pizza Fondue

This is a very simple and delicious comfort food to enjoy while watching a movie or the Olympics. Serve with a side salad and a nice bottle of red wine. Totally to die for.


1 lb. Lean ground beef and/or Italian sausage

1 small onion

10 oz cheddar cheese (shredded/cubed)

1 ½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp. oregano

1 ½ tsp fennel seed or Italian seasoning

Fresh cracked pepper

20 oz can of Meat or Spaghetti sauce

10 oz. mozzarella cheese (shredded/grated)

1 French baguette cut into 1” bite-size pieces.



Sauté the beef/sausage and onion until cooked and drain. Now transfer to an electric fondue pot. Add all seasonings, cheddar and sauce and stir well. Turn onto medium to heat everything up and melt the cheddar cheese. Once it’s all nicely warm and blended, add the mozza cheese and continue stirring occasionally until all bubbly and melty. Stick your bread cubes onto fondue fork, dip, twirl and enjoy.

Kath’s quote: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.” Jack Brooks (song writer) heart-shaped20pizza20shot

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TV Dinners

Canada Germany Olympic Hockey

Canada Germany Olympic Hockey

For two nights in a row I have fixed a quick dinner to enjoy in front of the TV.  I do not make this a habit; in fact I would proudly say that we have raised three kids to adulthood without compromising on this house rule.  But now we are almost empty-nesters and there must be some fringe benefits to this new found status.  My excuse is that the Canadians played Germany last night in Olympic Hockey and tonight they play Russia.  Besides everyone knows that rules are made to be broken.

Mid Prep

Mid Prep

To say I am a frugal cook is an understatement.  Anyone who has read my refrigerator soup recipe on this site can attest to that.  Tonight I found a couple of already formed hamburger patties in the freezer.  Just in case that didn’t taste their freshest, I decided to make patty melts.  Once you add the caramelized onions and melted Bothwell hot pepper cheese, who can detect how fresh the patty is anyway?

I’m happy to say that I was able to create a low fat version than what one might order at a restaurant.  Here you go:  Cook hamburger patties to desired doneness and set aside on a “holding” element.  Saute one sliced onion in 1 t of olive oil until brown.  Add to held patty container.  Clean pan and cover bottom of pan with 1 T olive oil.  Add desired slices of rye bread with a swish through the oil.  Top with a grated cheese and heat on medium until cheese is melted but at the same time checking that the browned side of the bread is not getting too dark.  Assemble all cooked ingredients and serve with a crunchy green veggie and oven roasted sweet potato “fries”.

Patty Melt Platter
Patty Melt Platter

Winnipeg is home to three of the greatest rye bread bakeries on the prairies: Natural Bakery, City Bread and Kub Bread.  Tonight I used Natural Bakery Rye.  Bothwell cheese is also a local company with many award winning selections.   Bothwell’s pre-grated Red Pepper Cheddar was perfect for this recipe.  Buying local is a great way to economize and I would rather spend my money supporting the producer than the long haul shipping company.

It’s the start of the second period-go Canada go!
PS Got this email this am: “I read your post this morning — yum!  I did something similar last night.. tried to find a quick and easy (but yummy) Olympic meal.  I threw a chicken breast in the oven and topped it with ham, mushrooms & cheese for kind of a stacked Chicken Cordon Bleu!” 
What is you fav TV Dinner idea?
Kath’s quote: “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.”-Mark Twain
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