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Two Wifesavers-Politically Incorrect Breakfasts


I tried to go back and reference the first time I heard the term “wife-saver”.  It was from my much-loved “Best of Bridge” cookbook series.  And I say tried because these cook books have been used so thoroughly over the years, that the front cover of this one (which would have included the date of publishing) is long gone.  Suffice it to say, that it was when my kids were babies and my oldest just turned 26. 

So we can safely establish that roles have changed.  But in this particular case the adage is an accurate one.  Sister #2 holds down one of those all-consuming jobs that makes weekends at the cottage particularly precious.  A time when she can sleep in, walk with the dogs, read, nap and rejuvenate for the weekdays ahead.  And so it is, that on weekends (especially long weekends), when she is assigned to the preparation of breakfasts for a gang, she dips into her “wife-saving” repertoire.

Don’t know what this was called, but it was satisfying and delicious.  Some of our gang took left over squares that they could eat on the run without reheating.

8 hash brown patties

2 cups of shaved ham (or chunks of leftover baked ham)

1 c milk

1/2 t dry mustard

4 c grated cheddar

7 eggs

1/2 t salt

Assemble a double layer of hash brown patties in appropriately sized pan.  Place ham on top.  Mix all other ingredients together and pour over top.  Cover and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Prepare for a sweet fix with this dish.  Don’t know the official name for it either but describe it as a “Pecan Carmel French Toast”.

1 c brown sugar

1/2 c butter

2 T corn syrup

1 c pecans, loosely chopped

12 slices of multi-grain bread

6 eggs

1 1/2 c milk

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

Caramel sauce

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c butter

1 T corn syrup

To make this decadent dish even more so-we browned up split pork sausages to serve alongside

Combine sugar, butter, syrup.  Cook on med heat until sugar dissolves and it thickens.  Pour 1/2 sauce into 9 x 13 baking dish.  Place 6 slices of bread on top and then pecans.  Repeat.  Mix eggs, milk, spices.  Pour over bread.  Cover and refidgerate,  Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Make caramel sauce and pour over at table or when serving. 

Kath’s quote: “Often has the affectionate wife caused her husband a sleepless night and severe distress, which, had an enemy inflicted, she would scarcely have forgiven — because she has prepared for him food which did not agree with his constitution or habits.”-Sarah Josepha Hale, ‘The Good Housekeeper’

A Memorable Chocolate Cake


“Auntie’s chocolate cake (was) a moist, sour-milk, two-layer concoction spread thickly with Jennie’s soft, white frosting and covered in grated coconut.  As a child I loved to watch the vinegar -Heinz’s white, not my grandfather’s red-start to sour the warm milk.  If I stared long enough I could see the milk begin to thicken and coagulate from the chemical reaction of the vinegar.  When the cake was pulled from the oven, leaving moist, dark crumbs on the toothpick tester, I loved the sight of it sitting on a cake plate in the center of any of the tables from my childhood, whether it was my birthday’s or someone else’s.”

“A single bite of that cake still conjures up the days when all the characters of my childhood used to sit around Jennie’s kitchen table on Whitney Avenue celebrating the joy of birth, when I was little, when my parents were young, when my grandparents were still only in their sixties.  It keeps those Sunday dinners alive in my memory,”from Paula Buttuini’s “Keeping the Feast”

Well here it is the weekend of Daughter #1’s birthday and what has she requested for her birthday dessert?  A recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake from her childhood-one that I haven’t made in years.  But not surprisingly, I find it in one of my many “Best of Bridge” recipe books and as I scan the ingredients to ensure that I will have everything I see that it calls for sour milk…

Daughters #1 and 2

I’ve run out of time and space this morning but I will post the beloved recipe soon and also dig up one for the requested chocolate cream cheese icing.  Have a wonderful Canada Day weekend.  Find a food treat to celebrate this great country that we live in and the memories of the day will live on.

Kath’s quote:  “We have never been a melting pot. The fact is we are more like a tossed salad. We are green, some of us are oily, and there’s a little vinegar injected when you get up to Ottawa.”-Arnold Edinborough

“The World at My Table”


Every once in a while, I unexpectedly stumble across a gem of a cookbook.  My latest find is this one: a collection assembled from the learners of the former Age & Opportunity (English as an Additional Language) for Older Adults program.  Two of the recipe writers have since passed on and their recipes are a memorial.

I so wish that the recipes from my little Polish Grandma Felice had been recorded somewhere but since they have not, I scan collections such as this for the possibility of her jarred meat, her prune dumplings or her thimble cookies.  Her Poppy Seed Roll was legendary (well perhaps only to her neighbours of the little town of Limerick SK) but stellar in my memory.

In the Recipes from Europe section there is a version but it is from the Ukraine and not Poland.  Still I will give it a try.  Others on my list:

Mullah Potatoes from Sudan

Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Cookies) from Argentina

Fried Milk from China

Lumpia (Spring Rolls) from the Philippines.  I’ve always wondered what lumpia rolls were at Confusion Corner.

and Plov from Uzbekistan (I’m going to have to look that one up in my atlas) 

The collection itself is very user friendly as it has a spiral spine which means it will lay flat in the kitchen.  The design by Jeff Lukin is excellent;  done with a template of clouds on every page as if you were flying the world to savour these dishes.

To find out where you can pick up your copy-contact Age & Opportunity at 956-6440. 

Kath’s quote:  “I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream… I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.”-Mark Twain

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Arroz a la Mexicana


Whenever we come home from a vacation, we try to keep the memories alive by maintaining holiday routines and eating and drinking favourite treats from the trip.  In all honesty, we even do this when we come home from an extended time at the cottage.  When we arrived from Italy, D went out to pick up some milk and fruit but found himself in De Luca’s -throwing salami, olives and capers into his shopping basket.

We asked Daughter #1 whom accompanied us to Isla Mujeres, what she was missing most.  We were expecting the warmth, the turquoise ocean or the friendly Mayan people, but true to form, her reply was-the food!  So when we assembled for mandatory Sunday supper I did my best to recreate the flavours.

D put big thick pork chops onto the barbeque flavoured with mango/chipolte seasoning.  It wasn’t the same as eating Fredy’s prok chops on the sidewalk on Hidalgo-but they were really good.  We are completely out of groceries but I did find a bag of cole slaw in the fridge that was the basis for an Isla Slaw with a sour cream/orange & lime juice dressing.  But the big hit was Mexican Rice.  On Isla, a version of this is even served at “fast food” windows like Tino’s Ribs and Rotisserie Chicken.

Last family trip to Isla

I found this in “Cocina Islena” a fund-raising cook book for PEACE(Protection, Education, Animals, Culture & Environment) -a name for people interested in working together for a better Isla Mujeres. 

1 1/2 c rice

1/3 c oil (I used butter)

1 large chopped tomato (8 oz.)

4 oz. chopped onion

1 chopped garlic clove

3 1/2 c chicken broth

Heat oil in rice pot.  Stir in rice until all grains are well covered, then saute, stirring constantly,  until a light golden colour.  This should take about 5-10 minutes. 

In a blender, blend the tomato, onion and garlic until smooth.  Add to the rice and continue to cook while stirring and scraping the bottom until the mixture is dry.  Add the broth and reduce to a medium heat, uncovered until the liquid has absorbed and small air holes appear in the rice.  Remove from heat and cover tightly, so that no steam can escape, for about 20 minutes and the rice continues to cook in its own steam. I wanted to visit my guests so I put a lid on after I added the chicken stock and simmered on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Kath’s quote: “Rice is a beautiful food.  It is beautiful when it grows, precision rows of sparkling green stalks shooting up to reach the hot summer sun. It is beautiful when harvested, autumn gold sheaves piled on diked, patchwork paddies. It is beautiful when, once threshed, it enters granary bins like a (flood) of tiny seed-pearls. It is beautiful when cooked by a practiced hand.”-Shizuo Tsuji

Christmas “Breakfast”


The 48 hours of Christmas are pretty hectic in our family but when we  make suggestions to skip one of our traditions-we get loud groans and moans.  Don’t mess with Christmas.  The request is made that we start our morning at about 8am.  D puts on a pot of Starbuck’s and there is the option of a liqueur if desired.  This year I served an Italian fruit bread and a homemade banana bread (thanks Lori).  This is accompanied by the Christmas orange that is always in the toe of stockings.

We say a little prayer of thanksgiving for our good health and time together before the youngest starts with a gift from Santa.  Canine Caleb opened this t-shirt that he wore for a week.  If the saying on his chest is hard to make out, it says: “Sorry Santa…I ate all the cookies”.

The next stop is across town at my Mom’s at noon for “Breakfast” and more gift openings.  I use the term breakfast loosely because this is the table laden with food.

Sister #3 co-ordinates the menu every year and my contribution is very small-the sausage rolls you see at the left.  But they too are a tradition that when threatened with elimination, get protests from the gang.  They are so easy to make and freeze well.  They are fun to serve with a winter soup or to fancy up with a mustard dip and take to a cocktail party.  The recipe is from one of my oldest cookbooks:  “Company’s Coming for Christmas”.

Lazy Sausage Rolls

2 cups biscuit mix

1 t onion powder

1/2 c water

pork sausage meat, mild or hot

cayenne pepper

Stir biscuit mix and onion powder together.  Add water.  Mix until it forms a ball.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead 6-8 times.  Roll out into a rectangle about 15 x 18 “.

Mash sausage meat with a fork to make it more pliable.  Spread over dough.  Roll up like a jelly roll, beginning at long end.  Slice 3/8″ thick.  Arrange on greased cookie sheet, cut side down, about 1” apart.  Bake in 450F oven for about 15 minutes (but check after 11 minutes).  Makes about 3 dozen.  I make 3 batches.

This little guy is the youngest of our extended family.  Can you see how how much fun Christmas is at Great Grandma’s place?

Kath’s quote:  “In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.”- Jane Grigson

somebody wants you to find them

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