Food Musings

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

My Grandma’s Kitchen


My Grandma on my Dad’s side was a little Polish lady named Felicia.  To my kids she was known as Grandma Saskatchewan.  She was in her 90’s when she died and she had picked peas in her garden that morning.  I spent most summers with her (before I discovered the beach) and learned so much about the celebration of food and how the kitchen is indeed the heart of the home.

poppyShe baked her own bread every week, and simmered potato soup, fashioned prune dumplings with butter and cinnamon sugar and  poppy seed roll and took all day to make fried chicken (fried in lard folks!).  Nobody worried about carbs in those days because you needed the energy to haul water from the town pump, pick stones in the field, chase the turkeys back into their pen and pick your veggies out of your garden.  She ate well and wanted everyone else to as well.  I can still hear her say to my brothers “Dougie, Tommy, eat, eat, you’re too skinny!”

I want to live and cook and feed people like my Grandma.  Those who knew her, say I look most like her and so I suppose I am well suited to the job.  I want all my meals to be “from scratch” and use everything thats in my kitchen or give it back to my garden.

She had geraniums on every single window ledge and a chair in her kitchen….not just a place to sit but a deep, luxurious chair.  It was in the corner near the big Aga stove (that she lit every morning even before she went outside to the biffy).  I would nestle there and chat away as she worked and watch her lovingly produce the most amazing food.  I have a chair in my kitchen.  It is for me when my husband gets home and tells me about his day and for puppy dogs and friends.

Caleb like to sit in my kitchen chair

Caleb like to sit in my kitchen chair

Breakfast in Castellammare del Golfo


Castellammare_del_GolfoAs soon as we heard of the move of dear friends from Winnipeg, we started dreaming, saving and planning our trip to visit them.  The celebration of our 25th weddding anniversary was the perfect time.

After they picked us up in Palermo, we stopped en route to their home in their beautiful village of  Castellammare del Golfo at a a bakery called Vito Navarra for breakfast pasties.   My husband was up before me to pick figs in the orchard behind their home.  IMG_2247_editedWe had cornetti filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate and another filled with pistachio butter.  There were also castells which are ricotta filled perogies. IMG_2249_edited

Sicily was the first stop of our Italian Mediterranean tour and we never encountered sweets as delectable as these Sicilian ones.

Fav Winnipeg Foods


I think you can tell so much about a person by their fav food list.  So here’s a start on ours and please add yours in the comments.  I will get a followers favourite list together with your responses.

cake2Cake-easy…Jeanne’s Banana Cake in the log style because that way you get more icing.  I’ve been requesting this for my birthday since I could speak.  One year I bought one for myself.

6a00d8341c63d853ef00e54faf598d8833-800wiCookie-easy again.  Imperial Cookies.  I like them best from the east side of  Lake Winnipeg.  We couldn’t get in touch with Einfeld’s to order them for our Son’s wedding so we’ve ordered Diplomat cookies from Gunn’s instead.  We heard that Imperial Cookies been served at the upcoming Golden Globes in Hollywood this weekend.

Chips….a bit harder as it is a tie.  They must be kettle chips.  And it is  between the course pepper ripple chips from Costco and the Miss Vickie’s Lime and Pepper chips available most places.  We also loved the Basil and Rosemary chips that Miss Vickie’s had out for a while but we must have been in a minority because we can’t seem to find them any more.  I know I should be saying an Old Dutch variety to support a home town product.  We used to get cast offs from the factory when I was growing up and they were my favourite because they were too brown and folded together.  The first time we tasted a kettle chip was on our honey-moon in Cape Cod and they were called Cape Cod chips.  I’ve also found them in Toronto.

Tortilla Chips-La Cochina hands down.  The tortilla chip I’ve tasted anywhere including Mexico.

Fries-I have an in town version and a lake version.  In town I would say Daly Burger’s but I am willing to continue my quest for the best Winnipeg fry.  I would love to say from the blue chip wagon on the way to Lester Beach but they’ve closed.  Kenora’s fries are up there but I’m a Grand Beach girl myself so I just can’t declare them the winner.

Ice Cream Cone-a chocolate dipped chocolate swirl in a sugar cone, rolled in peanuts from the BDI.

Gelato-one scoop of coconut and one scoop of mango from the little Eva’s on west Corydon near Kenaston.  This was the first Eva’s and is walking distance from our home.

Burger-Pete’s Place on Main St.  Has to have a steamed bun and fried onions.

Breakfast-Falafel House if you can get in.

Fish and Chips-I would love to say the Valley Room at Eaton’s because they had the most authentic served in Winnipeg for many years but Ducky’s on Notre Dame is probably my new fav.

Steak or Prime Rib-hands down The Keg.  Been enjoying these for 35 years the-kegand they are consistently still our first choice.

Dim Sum-Dim Sum Garden on Rupert at lunch time.

Vietnamese-Little Saigon on William.

Thai-Sukhotai on Osborne.

In the pizza category there are 3 categories:

Retro Pizza-Gondola thin crust bacon.

Boutique Pizza-Pizzeria Gusto on Academy.

Friday Night Pizza-I hear Diana’s is excellent but haven’t had a chance to sample.  We like Colloseo’s and Mona Lisa’s but there are really too many for me to declare my fav.  We’ll have to continue the quest for this one as well.

Perogies-Anne’s in the North End are very good but I also like the ones made by the babas as a fund raiser for the Holy Family Nursing Home.  A new entry on the scene are the ones made by the youth group at St. Aidan’s Church.  When my Mom was young enough to make them though-they were absolutely stellar.

Hot Dog- Lockport Skinners of course.  Half Moon a close second but they have to be a European Wiener with the crunchy skin.  When we have wieners on the barbecue I love mine burnt-don’t knock it til you try it.

Salsa-homemade of course but if purchased, another tie between the lime salsa at Superstore and the deli salsa at Safeway.  The mango salsa from Sobey’s is right up there.

BothwellBlackTruffleCheese-Bothwell‘s black truffle!  (enough said)

Bread- Gunn’s marble rye.

to be continued……

Sushi Making Night


IMG_0259We recently had a sushi making party in our kitchen.  Our gang is sushi crazy and even though they have found affordable places to dine and special promotions on certain nights of the week, the cost still adds up when you are a) leaving for South Africa in a few days or b) getting married in two weeks.  Such is the case for our two youngest kids.  But instead of cancelling their night out, they went to Safeway and came home with $10 worth of veggies.  I already had the Norri, sushi rice and panko flakes at home.  Oh yea and we provided the libations as well.  $10 goes a very long way as there is a stack of rolls still in the fridge and a bowl of tempura veggies.IMG_0262

Well the tunes got cranked and they had as much fun making their supper as they would have had going out (they even did an admirable job of clean up).  Instead of getting hung up on certain recipes, they laid everything out and every made their favourite concoctions.  All were delicious but I was especially fond of the tempura yam roll.

For foodies (and a new generation of foodies), it’s the preparation, not just the dining that is fun.  We love to be invited over for dinner and asked to help out in the kitchen.  It is a great opportunity to learn new tricks and visit in a relaxing atmosphere.  My husband has come up with a great idea.  We are PVRing episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which is one of our favourite shows on the Food Network.  Next time we invite friends over, we will pre-plan and have all the right ingredients purchased, then we’ll watch an episode with friends and then proceed to the kitchen to cook it all up.

Bistro 7 1/4


IMG_0286Bistro 7 1/4 is one of my favourite Winnipeg restaurants and I have been going there for years.  Usually it is at lunch with a business colleague.  Tonight was the first time that I had ever been for dinner.  It was also the first time that I went with my husband and the first time that I sat at the “bar” (which is the Chef’s cooking station near the front door of the restaurant).  One time when I was there in the summer, there was a miniature version of Chef Alex assisting in the preparations.  His son has his own Chef’s “whites” and seemed right at home.

I have not sampled very many things on the menu because I absolutely love the way they prepare moule & frites.  There are a half dozen choices but I always have the Pernod and fennel.  I have blathered on about the dish for so long that my husband ordered it as well.  IMG_0288He also wanted to sample a starter and so we also had a “gnudi”.  We had to ask what we were ordering and a gnudi is the Chef’s version of gnocchi but is lighter as it is prepared with ricotta cheese.  Our selection was mixed with corn, jalapenos, shrimp and a lime wedge, then topped with a sharp cheddar.  IMG_0289Before the starter a baguette that was finished in the oven and served hot and crunchy with a tomato pesto and butter and citrus salt arrived.

Everything was beautifully prepared and absolutley delicious.  The skinny french fries are perfectly salted and very close to the top of my best french fry list. IMG_0292 My husband and I were in Europe this fall and he had a big feed of mussels in Paris on our last night.  When he offered me a taste, I said “I know that you are going to have a hard time believing this, but these are a poor substitute for what we can have back home in Winnipeg”.  Tonight he agreed.

Last Dinner in Paris

Last Dinner in Paris

On one side of us at the bar sat a couple who I think ordered buffalo and it must have been very rich as the female took home almost her entire plate.  On the other side were two travellers-one from Toronto who was obviously a regular as the Chef remembered him from previous visits.  He says that he likes to sit at the bar when dining alone because he doesn’t feel like a schmutz.

The place is on the small side and was packed.  For an early Wednesday evening in January that is quite an accomplishment.

Bistro 7 1/4 on Urbanspoon

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