Browsing: Food Celebrations

Our Tradition to Kick off the Christmas Season

December9

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Last evening J1, J2, Boo, The Frenchman, Sister #3, SUM, Jon Boy and Dona, joined D and I to cater the annual Christmas dinner for the volunteers of a local charity which we hold near and dear to our hearts. D shops and roasts turkeys for the entire week and Sister #3 and Dona had just put on the Winnipeg Harvest Volunteer Dinner the day before, serving 150! It was the 20th year that Sister #3 had worked on that dinner.

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We began by serving Kale, Brussels Sprout, Cranberry Power Slaw in a Poppyseed Dressing, family style to the tables with an assortment of freshly baked Harvest Bakery Buns. Then we set up a food station to serve the volunteers their turkey dinner. D has been catering this dinner for 17 years and somehow manages to make it fresh, new and delicious for the attendees. This year’s menu included:

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Mashed Red Skin-on Potatoes

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“Jerusalem” Sweet Potatoes with figs (recipe included in this link).

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Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing

Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled & chopped
  • 200g package Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing
  • 1 Floating Leaf vegetable package (included)
  • 1 Floating Leaf cranberry package (included)
  • 1½ cups broth or water
  • 2 cups cubed cornbread
  • 2 tsp pine nuts (optional)
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt unsalted butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic & apple, and sauté 4 - 6 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing, Floating Leaf vegetable package, Floating Leaf cranberry package, and 1½ cups broth or water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread cubed cornbread on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 -20 minutes until crisp & golden.
  5. When Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing is cooked, add the cornbread and mix well.
  6. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  7. Place stuffing in prepared dish, top with pine nuts, season with salt & pepper, then cover with foil & bake in preheated oven for 30 mins.

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Green Beans tossed with Roasted Almonds and Red Pepper

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and of course turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce which you can see by this plate, isn’t necessarily the star of the show.

Desert was Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Pineapple Rum Glaze but I was too busy eating mine to remember to take a picture of it.

Our favourite portion of the evening is when the assembly invites us to join them for taper lighting and the singing of Silent Night.  Last evening there was a profound silence before we blew out the candles-a time to contemplate the real reason for the season.

Kath’s quote: “I am going to church, Watson. I believe such attendance was a prominent element of the Christmas season before the giving of gifts and the consumption of certain fowl became de rigueur?”
-Sherlock Holmes, by J.N. Williamson

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Christmas at Earl’s

December5

I asked J1 to be my date to this invited evening at Earl’s on Main.  Earl’s does a tremendous job of keeping in touch with Bloggers (we are now calling ourselves “Curators”) and the local media.  In fact, Earl’s does many things very well.  I am surprised over and over again by the lengths that they go to in order to get a dish exactly right.

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Case in point: The Royale with Cheese Burger created by Chef David Wong is described as containing smoked cheddar, dry cured bacon, portobello mushrooms and house ketchup.  When in fact local Earl’s Chef Matt Frost has shared with me that first they griddle a shredded cheese blend with a daily house-baked brioche to make a cheesy bun to which they add mushroom ketchup, tomato aioli, tomato relish (all made from scratch in house), mild yellow banana peppers, lettuce on onion.  Topped with said bacon and house made applewood smoked cheddar slices. The patty is ground chuck and Certified Angus Beef.

Even the smallest bite produces a veritable explosion of complex flavours and textures.  I suppose that this is what occurs when a chef of Dave Wong’s stature goes about making a burger. Some background on David: he works full time in Earl’s Test Kitchen. He is an award winning chef from Vancouver, most recently as Executive Chef of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the award winning restaurant ORU. Dave has too many awards and medals to even list but Earl’s would say (and I would agree) that his Gold medal win as part of Culinary Team Canada in Basil, Switzerland and representing Canada at the  Bocuse d’Or held in Lyon, France – are two of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.

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That evening we tasted the burger in a slider presentation as well as a Crispy Tuna Sushi Cones assembled from tempura crunch, Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger and tobiko (flying fish eggs).  The satiny tuna contributed to an over-the-top taste.

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Matt confided with us that he eats an order of Tuna Tostados every day for lunch. Chili rubbed albacore tuna, cilantro aioli, avocado and jicama slaw are all perched upon crisp corn tortillas. No wonder Matt!

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Although the appetizers were sensational, my boy needed some additional sustenance and Matt recommended the Kung Pao Noodle Bowl where vegetables, garlic ginger soy, roasted peanuts, mama Wong’s (I am assuming Dave’s Mom’s recipe) hot sauce are tossed together in a wok.  I was too full to have more than a nibble but J1 gave it accolades.

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We had worked up a thirst with all the delectable ingestion and there were Holiday libations for us to try. I expected a warm and savoury drink when the Cabin Fever arrived at the table but J1 explained to me that it would likely be a take on a Moscow Mule because the blue tin cup that it was served in is a traditional presentation for a Moscow Mule.  In addition to the standard ginger beer and bitters that makes a mule a mule, Crown Royal and port had been included.  The icing sugar frosted pine cone contributed both beauty and flavour.

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We didn’t catch all ingredients of the Clover Club cocktail but detected raspberry juice, Smirnoff and egg whites.

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The extra artistry of the drink was a seasonal touch.

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Before we waddled out into the winter night, we indulged in one last treat: hot Gingerbread with salted caramel sauce.  Ohh my.  I am not a sweet lover but this desert is not to be missed.  The cakey bread was full of deep, earthy tastes and when coupled with

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the salted caramel sauce (we were sent home with a sample of the sauce) was the perfect crescendo to a enjoyable evening.

Earls Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread.”-William Shakespeare

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Driver’s Seat this Christmas

November27

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I was recently invited to a special pre-Christmas event by Ford Canada which included a luncheon speaker to help us all on the “Road to Wellville” this season.  She had these great suggestions to ease the stress in preparation for the holiday season:

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  • Make sure that your vehicle is in top working order so that it always starts, you never run out of gas, your gas line never freezes and you never get stranded on the highway.
  • Have a family meeting to prioritize events and divide up the task list.  Agree to due dates.
  • Always have healthy snacks available while shopping and running errands to avoid eating unhealthy fast food.
  • Stay healthy by eating extra portions of fruits and vegetables.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with blue-tooth or a voice activated feature, make arrangements via phone while driving.
  • Use the time while your car is warming up to take a few deep breaths and consciously relax.
  • If you send cards, create a spreadsheet of addresses for future card sending.
  • It is okay to say “no” over the holidays.

I really appreciated these hints and added them to my own suggestions for saving both money and time over the holidays:
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  • Have an appetizer exchange instead of a cookie exchange with friends and family.  Appetizer ingredients are more affordable when purchased in larger quantities.  The time to make six dozen is not a great deal more than a single dozen.  Baking off larger quantities is also more energy and cost efficient.
  • Grocery shop in the early mornings when there are no checkout line ups and there are clearance stickers on many entertaining items like dips and pate.  Immediately place these items in the freezer when you get home.  When unexpected company arrives, defrost in the mic, place in a fancy bowl with some crackers and voila!
  • Attend bake sales at community clubs and churches.  You will be supporting your neighbourhood, save time and you can buy a variety of hand-baked items.
  • Stick to tried and true recipes so that you never experience a culinary disaster and have to waste food.  My siblings and our families even have a traditional menu for Christmas brunch so I always know that I will be providing the sausage rolls, so I can shop and cook in advance.
  • Mix up spicy cocktails with apple or cranberry juice and spices, that can be quickly heated up.  The taste is extravagant even though the ingredients are not.  Prepare sangrias and punches so that guests can pour their own and you are not running back and forth to the fridge.
  • Prepare some old school treats like nuts and bolts or peanut brittle instead of purchasing expensive alternatives.  Bowls of popcorn and dried cranberries make a pretty and healthy treat.
  • Shop for your turkey early.  Prices can go up just before Christmas when demand is high.  Use every single part of the turkey including saving the carcass to cook up for soup stocks.
  • Plan your dinner menu in advance, then when your guests ask “What can I bring?”, you can be specific and assign a dish from your list.  This also saves your guest stopping at 7/11 to buy you a box of Turtles that you don’t really need.
  • Get everyone involved in the clean up.  You can assign duties by pulling tasks out of a hat.  In my husband’s family, the guys do all the clean up complete with their annual tea towel flicking fights.
  • When you think that you are getting tired of your left-overs, swap yours with a neighbour.  You’ll get to taste someone else’s cooking and the tastes will be new for everybody.

Use the time that you save to reflect on the meaning of the season and take the money that you didn’t spend and pay it forward, you will be richly blessed.

Kath’s quote: “I don’t like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate.” A three-year-old’s reaction to her Christmas dinner.
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Love-that is all.

Get Out Your Jammies

November12

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As if Sister #2 and #3 hadn’t done enough for Boo by hosting an amazing bridal shower (with assistance from the other aunties), then they go and host a second event to celebrate the pre-nuptials.

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The bridesmaids had arranged for a bachelorette night at one of Winnipeg’s clubs but first we assembled for a cocktail and lingerie party at the beautiful home of Sister #2.

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I contributed these breadsticks rolled with arugula, provolone cheese & prosciutto ham and eggplant stuffed with basil, roasted red peppers & ricotta cheese

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and coconut shrimp.

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Sushi was ordered in

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and Sister #2 made two savoury bruschettas

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as well as her infamous phyllo-wrapped asparagus with béarnaise sauce for dipping.

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Sister #3 delighted everybody with her mushrooms Neptune.

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There was fruit and chocolate fondue for dessert.

Gifts were open (no-you are not going to see my baby’s lingerie….) with party games thereafter.  Soon the limo arrived to sweep them off for an evening at a private suite at a club.

In attendance:

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The blushing bride with her aunties.

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Goddaughter #1 with Daughter #1.

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IDS friends and J2.

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Boo with a bridesmaid.

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Beautiful niece and Maid of Honour.

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More beautiful nieces,

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and another beautiful friend.

Kath’s quote: “A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible for it really know what goes in it.” Anonymous

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

“Life is Good” Reflections

November6

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Before the snow flies, I thought that I should get around to writing my summer reflections.  I love many, many things about time spent at our little beach house “Life is Good”: beachcombing for glass and heart stones, family bonfires, strolls through the forest and glasses of wine at sunset.  Not surprisingly, my favourite times revolve around food and the time that my extended family and I spend preparing and consuming it.

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This was one of our first sunsets of the season in early May before the leaves had even come out on the trees.

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The lake was uncharacteristically calm on this evening.

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One of our pastimes is “Robin TV”.  We get to experience two batches of eggs and babies each year when the robin families build a fresh nest on top of their former one.  The ledge of the window keeps them protected from wind and rain and when we are inside, we get a perfect view of the nurturing.

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Our lake routine is that we make huge canisters of coffee for people that come and go.  D and J1 play tennis at neighbouring Grand Beach every chance they get, I go walking with the Wee One on the beach while J2 gets caught up on some much-needed sleep.  Then at noon, we make big breakfasts to stave off hunger until dinner time (or Happy Hour which is another lake tradition).

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There is often a family member at our screen door inquiring if we want to join them for a walk or a meal.

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On this evening D whipped up a batch of bacon wrapped scallops for us to contribute to happy hour at Sister #2’s place.  Her family co-inhabited with ours for years at “Life is Good” and have recently moved to their own place which is much larger and grander than our little beach house.  We teasingly call it “Resch Mahal”.

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Sister #2 is an exceptional cook and we love their frequent invites for meals.  This is either her tequila chicken or a curry-sorry that I can’t recall.  The astonishing thing is that she doesn’t yet have a kitchen in their new place and made this on the side burner of their barbeque.

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Back to “Happy Hour” for a moment…Our little treats with cocktails, craft beer or a glass of wine are typically simple concoctions from items that we have in the fridge or cupboard.  I had been sent a sample of Matt & Steve’s Extreme Beans  which I rolled with prosciutto and a slice of provolone cheese.  They were a big hit.

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We take turns cooking meals for each other.  On this evening J1 and J2 provided a huge pot of their slow-cooked meatballs.

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The next evening, Reb & Seb made us taco salads.

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The Wee One approved of both.

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This happy bunch was photographed at J2’s birthday dinner, which we celebrated on the May Long weekend.

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Her request was anything grilled so D made his famous brined pork tenderloin and a bevy of grilled veggies.  We even had a grilled dessert-strawberries, pineapple and cake.

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There seems to be more time for just doing nothing at the beach house-like Poppa and the Wee One playing in the hammock

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or reading with another one of our little loved ones.

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More of those big breakfasts……

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and another of D’s grilled masterpieces.

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It has been said that our gang can make a drinking game out of every activity.  Here we are playing “Drinking Scrabble”.

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Daughter #1’s birthday was celebrated at the lake too.  Her only request was for a pasta salad so I whipped up a oriental one and we enjoyed an Asian grill.

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Here was another get-together at Resch Mahal with my eldest brother D at the head of the table.

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We always have D & P for dinner while we are on holidays.  Since we will be getting together with them for the first time on Isla Mujeres next spring, P thought that it might be fun to be introduced to island cooking.  So we got into the swing of things by getting out a few Mexican items.  This is an embarrassed Buddy joining in the party.  The life we live on Isla is very similar to our lake life so the theme was very appropriate.

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Photos from both ends of the table.  D made Lavender Margaritas and I

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coconut shrimp and chilies relleno (pictured here).

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This is how you will find me most afternoons-sitting in the shade on the beach enjoying the breeze.

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An August sunset.

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One evening my Sis-in-Law and her sister invited me to share their Ukrainian dinner with them.  They are inseparable and both have places at Lester Beach.  When my brother Tom was alive, they called them Tom’s two wives.  We started with borscht

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and continued with meatballs, perogies and holupchi-yum!

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Later that week Wife #2 invited D and I over to watch the Emmy Awards with her (we don’t have conventional TV).  D made shrimp cocktail with these whopping shrimp!

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I am not even sure who we invited over on this evening but D was at the grill again making Greek chicken topped with grilled tomatoes, olive and feta.

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I often convince myself that the weather will soon turn and I have spent my last weekend at the lake and then lo and behold, I am there again and get to enjoy a bonus stroll down our beloved beach.

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Everyone thinks Life is Good at Lester Beach including this little furry guy.

Kath’s quote: “Life is good when we think it’s good.”-Doug Horton

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

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