Browsing: Food Celebrations

Shut Ur Pie Hole!

January21

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“Shut Ur Pie Hole” might be your exclamation if you knew what birthday D celebrated yesterday, with his boyish good looks and effervescent personality.  I wanted him to enjoy a special treat at the end of a long day standing on his feet and chatting to potential customers at a trade show and then attending a course last evening. The perfect opportunity came along when I had a chance to visit my new friend Heather Daymond at the same trade show. Heather a.k.a. the “pie lady” is the genius behind the local business Shut Ur Pie Hole. She sent me away with a couple of her perfectly sized pies in a jar-pecan, D’s favourite!

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Heather is an extraordinary entrepreneur, finessing her passion for pie making into a full time business. While at her gorgeous booth, Chef Rob Thomas dropped in for a visit and to chat about his recent experience on Chopped Canada, which I viewed when I got home last evening. We discussed that the “edge” in the food and culinary world is not simply putting out a great tasting product but doing so in an authentic and vulnerable manner so that potential customers have the satisfaction of a first hand relationship with the food’s creator. Heather, my friend is the real deal.

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Since we had just celebrated Boo and the Frenchman’s nuptials this fall, the knowledge that Heather’s pie display is available to rent for weddings (and other events) was of interest.  Our kids worked so hard to create a homey, comfortable and beautiful setting for their reception at Fort Gilbraltar.  The latter already contributed to the feel that they were going for, but had their reception been in a more “banquet-style” room, Heather’s set would have been a fitting addition. Not to mention, that mini pies in a jar are the perfect party favour!

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Heather has not yet celebrated her business’s first anniversary and in that time frame she has lovingly made an astounding number of pies. IMHO here’s why-pies speak of love, especially the memory of a slice of your Grandma or Mom’s pie. Of course, the pie must be expertly made and delicious and the “Pie Lady’s” pies absolutely are (D let me have a bite)! In D’s family pies were so revered that he and his 7 siblings each got their own full pie for their birthdays. They did not have to share it with anyone if they chose. D says that he would keep his stashed under his bed and luxuriate in a forkful for the week following his birthday celebration.

And so it was that I was able (in an abbreviated fashion) to give him this gift of love and rejuvenation at the end of a long and tiring day.

Kath’s quote: “But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese.”-
Eugene Field

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

The Christmas of Our Dreams

January2

D and I have spent more than 30 Christmases together.  For many reasons this Christmas was the one that we have always dreamed of spending together.  December 25ths were fun when our brood were growing-up but they were hectic with trying to be everywhere that we were expected to be and melt-downs would occur as a result of naps missed and too many sweets consumed. D in particular, has worked very hard to ensure that we have a time just for our immediately family in spite of the fact that we both come from very large extended families.  This year, for the very first time in many decades, we had five glorious hours together on Christmas day.

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In spite of the pile that you see here, we were reminded again this year that it is not all about the gifts. In fact, we try to give our family experiences rather than things, but sometimes “things” provide the way to great experiences. Case in point, we gave the Wee One a mini version of an upholstered easy chair with tiny plaid cushions and a fuzzy throw so that she could enjoy hours of reading her books until she outgrows it.

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J1’s special gift was a pot, not just any old pot but a specially designed one so that he can carefully hone his beer making passion. Well, you get the picture. In truth, the Wee One grew frustrated with the process of opening gifts and reminded us anew that it is hugging a familiar teddy, or reading a well-loved book that brings real joy.

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We have rarely been able to fit around our small dining table and I loved being able to fancy it up with second hand china, D’s Grandma’s napkins, some pops of colour from the dollar store and Christmas crackers, a must-do since Sister #3 introduced them to us, years ago.

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The table was laden with a conglomeration of traditions and favourite foods:

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The Frenchman contacted his mom for her tortiere recipe, a French Canadian tradition that is now a part of our dinner repertoire. I knew that I had to make “Green Bean Casserole” that is an old family favourite but I have invented a modification that no longer calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup.

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Sister #3 who joined us when we called everyone to the dinner table, contributed her Duchess Potatoes-a heavenly concoction of potatoes, egg yolks and nutmeg.

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There were plenty of fresh green veggies and a kale salad because we understand the art of a balanced diet.

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The piece de resistance was D’s roast crown of pork. It is called a crown because it is a rib rack that is bent into a circle and then tied together with kitchen twine. If you tie two racks together there is enough room in the centre of the circle to pack it with your favourite fruit stuffing. Inside this single rack were the meatiest portions of the loin with no room for stuffing. You typically have to special order one from a butcher shop but I was in luck, when just before Christmas, I walked into my neighbourhood Sobey’s and sought out the butcher to place an order. He replied saying that he had one already made up and it was exactly the size that we required for our gang. In the morning, D had made a variety of deep slits into the meat where he inserted plenty of shards of garlic. He then pressed fresh rosemary into the crown and allowed it to be permeated by the flavours while we headed out for Christmas brunch. It slow roasted while we were opening gifts and filled our home with the most amazing and festive aroma.

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He allowed the crown to “rest” while we put the finishing touches on the rest of the dishes and then “frenched” the roast by cutting it into single pork-chop looking slices-exactly what they are!

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I was able to talk a chef into sharing his restaurant’s recipe of real ginger bread with a salted toffee sauce. Made with pureed ginger and lots of cloves, I can’t say more, except that it return on next year’s table.

What made this particular Christmas so special? we are healthy (physically, mentally and spiritually), we are happy and we are prosperous, that is if you consider “prosperity” to mean “flourishing” with time to spend showing each other how much they are loved.

Kath’s quote: “Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!” (from ‘O Holy Night’)

Hearing this each Christmas gives me the shivers (more so if Josh Groban is singing it)-the idea that a moment is so divinely profound that it literally sends us spiralling to the ground! The phrase describes a pulse-racing moment, and creates the same reaction in me.

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Love, came down from heaven.

 

 

Christmas- When Cliches are True

December29

I won’t speak for my siblings and extended family but I was a little bit nervous about our Christmas brunch this year.  Last Christmas we gathered together for the final time at the house that had been our family home for decades. Since that time, the house has been sold and our Mom has moved into a personal care home. By good fortune, Sister 3 was able to secure a room big enough for the 40 of us.  The room was equipped with everything we needed-a small kitchen to heat up the breakfast quiche,

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make coffee and keep the treat of chocolate milk chilled. There was a Christmas tree and best of all…space.

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The menu is pretty much pre-set which saves some hassle for Sister 3 who is the organizer and all of us who pitch in with various dishes. I have made sausage rolls for eons but this year instead of bringing barbeque sauce on the side, I smeared it onto the pastry dough with the crumbled sausage meat. They were a hit.

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Sis-in-law 3 baked an old-fashioned ham and served it with her mustard sauce. The sauce is so delectable that our Mom keeps a jar of it in her little room fridge to have with almost every supper.

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We lined up to make our own choices.

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This plate held cranberry spinach salad brought by Sis-in-law 3, yummy potatoes provided by J1 & 2 and banana muffins baked by Sis-in-law 1

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pictured here with our Christmas angels.

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As already mentioned, there was lots of room to mingle, visit and open the gifts that we exchange each year after selecting names at Thanksgiving.

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There was even space for some of the youngest members of our brood to assemble the Lego that they received that morning.

I regret that I did not get a photo of my Mom. One of my beautiful nieces had gone to Mom`s room early to help with her hair and make up and then wheel her down to her awaiting family.

My worry about the morning was totally unfounded as I realized that being together at Christmas, no matter what the physical space we were in, was the most important thing.  Therefore, the cliché is true…..

Kath`s quote:

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

The Blue Marble

December24

When you are a sole proprietor with no employees, the Christmas season can be a little bit lonely.  I have two friends who are in the same situation and so the three of us get together for dinner each year and invite our spouses.  We’ve been to some of the city’s best restaurants including Sydney’s, and Deseo Bistro.  This year the Blue Marble was suggested and since sharing little plates is our favourite way to dine, D and I were delighted.  Every morsel that we sampled was “out of the world” so I would suggest that the Blue Marble is appropriately named.

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When we arrived, we caught sight of the beautifully custom-built wine cellar. It features over 150 varieties and we decided that for our next party, we’ll set up a table in there.

We had some taxi issues getting out to the Hotel at the Winnipeg International Airport where the restaurant is located, so that when half of us arrived, the first three were already indulging in some gorgeous martinis.  D followed suit but I perused the wine list for a fine merlot.

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We decided that a couple of Antipasto Platters would get us into the swing of things. We speared the assorted meats, cheese, marinated vegetables and olives and placed them upon lightly grilled baquettes.

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One couple decide that we should indulge in some veggies and ordered the Roasted Beets with shaved fennel, peppery arugula, sparkling orange segments and creamy goat cheese. They also selected the unappetizing sounding Stewed Chicken which was a lovely surprise as the chicken was slow cooked with apricots, prunes, raisins, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds and cinnamon and then nestled upon a bed of basmati rice.

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The Berkshire pork tenderloin had been marinated in ginger and was served with pancetta creamed corn, braised leeks, edamame beans and chantrelle mushrooms.  I detected a birch smokiness to the delectable pork.

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Seared pork belly was the crown upon the Cavena Risotto where hull-less oats substituted for traditional rice, stirred up with porcini mushrooms and blueberries, then topped with shaved parmesan and pea shoots.

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When I read that black truffle olive oil and bacon dust adorned the Oxtail Ravioli I just had to order it.  The morel mushrooms and shaved parmesan were the icing on the proverbial cake.

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The last time D and I ate beef tartar we were dining at Le Frog in Nice, France.  The Blue Marble’s version was a deserving equal, likely because it was made by mincing Canadian Prime Beef with northern pike caviar, avocado, horseradish puree and smoked black pepper.  With the accompaniment of truffle potato chips, I will never dream of beef tartar on the French Rivera again.

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Absolutely satiated, D and I passed up desert but the Chocolate Crème Brule served with macaroons and berries certainly looked appetizing.

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The delectable menu is designed around sustainable, locally produced items including the fresh herbs growing right in the dining room under the watchful eye of Chef Anthony. The chef’s resume includes experience at the now-defunct Le Beaujolais, Pine Ridge Hollow and the iconic Dubrovnik Restaurant. He also worked at Gluttons Bistro, the St. Charles Country Club and The Manitoba Club.

The next morning I received this email: “So that was a pretty fantastic evening… delightful laughs, near tears, introspective sharing, light gossip, good food, great friends – when can we all get together again? No reason why the ‘six pack’ can’t make it a twice yearly event.”

Kath’s quote: “Truffles are only really good after Christmas…..So let us allow ignorant fops, beardless gourmands, and inexperienced palates the perry triumph of eating the first truffles.”-Grimod de La Reynière

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

In Winnipeg at Christmas by Rose Fyleman

December23

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In Winnipeg at Christmas there’s lots and lots of snow,
Very clean, and crisp and hard
And glittering like a Christmas card
Everywhere you go;
Snow upon the housetops, snow along the street,
And Queen Victoria in her chair
Has snow upon her snowy hair
And snow upon her feet.
In Winnipeg at Christmas they line the streets with trees-
Christmas trees lit up at night
With little balls of coloured light
As pretty as you please.
The people hurry past you in furry boots and wraps;
The sleighs are like a picture book,
And all the policemen look
Like Teddy Bears in caps.
And oh! The smiling ladies and jolly girls and boys;
And oh! The parties and the fun
With lovely things for everyone-
Books and sweets and toys.
So, if someday at Christmas you don’t know where to go,
Just pack your bags I beg,
And start at once for Winnipeg;
You’ll like it there I know.

– Rose Fyleman

Kath’s quote: “God bless us, everyone.”-Charles Dickens

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

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