Browsing: Food Celebrations

An Important First

August13

As much as my primary premise in life and in this space is that food=love, there are times when I will contradict myself and declare that the food was the least important aspect of an evening and that love was still satiating a time and space.  Case in point: yesterday morning I texted Boo (Daughter #2) to ask if she would be home for dinner.  I had been spending time recently at the Beach House and I was missing her.  She replied “no, but would you and Dad like to come over and share supper with The Frenchman and me at his apartment”?  Was she kidding?  Would we like to?  First-time apartment dinners are a mountain-top experience in the story of a family!  I clearly remember the first time I invited family members over to my Kennedy St. apartment while still attending university.  In those days my budget/culinary skills/epicurean tastes revolved around instant noodles, peanut butter and chicken.  But, I carefully set the beautiful thrift-store table owned by my roomie with the blue willow earthenware that I still have (although they have been retired to add some colour to my perennial garden).  As usual, I digress…  You get the picture: these first invites are a very big deal!

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Boo and the Frenchman carefully selected the location of Seb’s apartment together so that it could be their first home when they marry in October.  But because it is to the “their” apartment, not only a interim bachelor pad, they are unpacking and decorating it  together, slowly and with care.

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The item that holds the most significance for me is their kitchen table which was one of two kitchen tables in our family home of almost sixty years.  My Mom and Dad purchased it upon my advice when a friend of ours owned a funky shop in Osborne Village called Form and Function.  My Bestie worked there (now lives in TO but we are getting together this weekend) but I helped out on the busy Saturdays prior to Christmas.  The table top is authentic maple butcher block and has survived the years with beauty and grace and will continue to for many more.  The Frenchman is just going to give it a light sanding and a massage of olive oil.

My most distinct memory of the table is it being laden with brunch items for our annual Christmas get together as an extended family – a mere 35 of us!

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Supper last night was absolutely delicious: make your own taco salad or soft tacos.  Boo didn’t want me to make a “fuss” about what they were serving because it was such an impromptu get together (in my mind, the best kind).  Even still, the table was thoughtfully set and the variety of fresh veggies carefully sliced.  We got caught up a bit and then continued to discuss wedding logistics and plans.

As we made the short drive home, D and I chatted about the tradition, joy, anticipation and hope that surrounds Boo and the Frenchman and fills their future home.

Kath’s quote: “Whenever I get married, I start buying Gourmet magazine.” -Nora Ephron

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Photo credit: The Frenchman’s Dad

Love-that is all.

Summer in the City

August8

My TO Brother-in-law graciously indicated that I could stay with them for a weekend last month with the proviso that they would be busy getting ready for a barbecue dinner party that evening.  I volunteered to help out and from the moment that I walked in their door, I was assigned my tasks.  I was so flattered that they respected my skills enough to have me pitch in.  They are both exceptional cooks and their dinner parties are notorious (at the very least, within their own circle of friends).

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We had everything laid out and ready to go by the time a couple of people that were hired to help out arrived.

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Included in the staff were these handsome bartenders, which was such a great idea.  With these gentlemen and another at the barbeque, they were able to relax and enjoy being with their guests.

This was their menu:

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Grilled Beef Tenderloin

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin

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Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

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Grilled Shrimp

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Kale and Asian Pear Salad and Quinoa Salad.  I have the recipes-if you want either (both exceptional), just send me a comment.

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Mushrooms Braised in Red Wine

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Grilled Asparagus, Peppers, Red Onions

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Fruit and Cheese

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Not much to look at but I contributed this sour cream, rhubarb and raspberry pie that I had purchased at the Farmer’s Market in Peterborough that very morning.  Holy, moly was it delicious!

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Neil had baked for a week and his Macadamia Nut Squares, pictured in the middle were to die for!  They were so amazing that I wrapped one up and took it in my carry on luggage home to D.

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The night was fair and the company was intriguing.  The conversation and imbibing went for a number of hours.  Summer in the city-at its finest.

Kath’s quote: “Summer cooking implies a sense of immediacy, a capacity to capture the essence of the fleeting moment.”-Elizabeth David

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wee One is One

July29

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The past year has been an amazing one for our family.  One year ago today, the Wee One was born with a bit of a ruckus that I am so pleased is long forgotten (well, perhaps not by her Mom).

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She has made each day of our lives rich with purpose and meaning.  We are so blessed that she (and all our family in fact) live only minutes away from us, so we intercept on a regular basis.  We love to babysit and especially our most recent times with her at the Beach House.  J1 brings her into our little bedroom in the morning so that J2 can catch a little bit more sleep.

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D has always been a fun and affectionate Daddy but he is absolutely transformed as a Poppa.  He can’t stop kissing and hugging her and he is mesmerized by every little thing that she does.  In truth, we all are.  We talk about her over dinner and are fascinated by her every move when she is with the family.

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The Wee One will perform official duties a the flower girl for Daughter #2 and the Frenchman this fall.  Can you imagine?

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Most profoundly is watching her being nourished and grow-both her beautiful little body and her incredible mind.  She has a huge vocabulary and loves books and roll-playing.  She has a quick wit and loves to tease and surprize us.  She is long and lean and has a super-strong core, being able to pull herself to a sitting position for months now.  Her mouth full of big teeth (genetically gifted to her through D’s side of the family) has meant that she has been biting and chewing food with ease.  Plain Greek yoghurt and garlicky hummus are two of her favourites but she also loves the cheerios out of my homemade nuts and bolts mixture and French fries (just like her Glamma).

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Her birthday celebration was her first taste of coconut cream cheese icing.  She resourcefully discovered the best way to attack conquest.

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People ask us if she is ever sad and although it is rare, she was unhappy about something going on here.

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She loved the texture of the frosting and spread it all over her body like her mom does with a massage cream when she is getting ready for bed.  She is being whisked away for a refreshing bath at this moment.

She is so social and loves being with her enormous family and all of J1 and J2’s friends.

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With her Auntie Beep

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and her Auntie Boo. The Wee One already knows that food=love and delights in sharing her favourite tastes.

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With her many second cousins

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and her Uncle B and only first cousin.

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We are so blessed that her other grandparents are our best friends and we share in the joy of her in our lives.

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This was their special birthday gift to her.  They are a family who loves to celebrate life with food too and this seems to me the most appropriate gift.

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Here are two of her great-grandmas.  My Mom hired a cab to drive her from the Misrecordia in Winnipeg.  Love was in abundance.

Kath’s quote: “I know why families were created with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They  are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of  life is not destroyed”.-Anais Nin

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Love-that is all.

 

The Frenchman’s Home

July15

Have you watched any of the “Focker” movies?  When the in-laws of an engaged couple, come together for the sake of their children, it is the pretense for hilarity to ensue.

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Perhaps we are not as eccentric as the families in the movies, because our experience has been one of quiet chats and the opportunity to gaze into the inner workings of a loving family.  This past weekend I traveled with Reb and Seb to his hometown of Peterborough, ON.  We arrived early enough on Thursday for a light lunch and the Frenchman’s Mom began a weekend of loving us with food.

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If any dish embodies a Mom’s love of her family, it is risotto-a dish that I will be frank and tell you that I have never had the patience to make for my own family.  The Frenchman’s Mom on the other hand, is more than willing to spend a half hour or more, committed to the constant stirring and ladling that is required to perfect this dish.

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Every family members gets into the “act” of getting dinner on the big antique dining table.  More chairs are always welcome.

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The pea and basil risotto was accompanied by savoury chicken breasts and asparagus spears.

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Pea and Basil Risotto
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A classic made with love and patience.
Ingredients
  • 2 heaping T butter, separated
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 2 c Arborio rice
  • 8 c chicken or vegetable stock, heated and ready with a ladle
  • salt to taste
  • ½-3/4 c freshly grated parmesan (Romano)
  • 1 c fresh/thawed peas or other vegetable
  • ½ c fresh leafy herb such as basil
Instructions
  1. Melt 1 T butter and canola oil together.
  2. Turn up the heat add the rice and stir constantly for one minute until it begins to brown.
  3. Add first ladle of hot stock.
  4. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  5. Keep stirring the rice as the first ladleful is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add the stock in this way until it is all used (will take between 15 -25 minutes).
  7. Taste the rice for doneness and salt-add time if necessary and adjust taste.
  8. When rice is cooked to your likeness, remove from heat and stir in butter and grated parmesan.
  9. Stir in peas or other veg.
  10. Stir in basil or other herb.
  11. Garnish and serve immediately.

 

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After dinner we were going to take a stroll and then find an ice cream place until the Frenchman’s Mom volunteered to make the ice cream herself.  It utilized fresh strawberries and then she made her own chocolate sauce to ladle over top for an extra helping of love.

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A full moon watched over us.

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The next morning she was at it again with homemade waffles, bacon and scrambled eggs.

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Later that evening, the family was hosting an engagement party for the happy couple.  Their spacious kitchen meant that when it was time to get dinner on the table, there was lots of room to maneuver.

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Mother of the groom and yours truly.  In-laws that love to cook together.  This marriage will definitely not fail.

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The Frenchman’s Mom made the Quinoa salad

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and I assembled this spinach, strawberry, almond and feta salad.

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She stuffed this pork roast with delicious results.

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My favourite was the chicken roasted in a tajine (I can’t wait to get one).  This clay casserole has a chimney-like cover which produces a chicken which is moist and tender.  They supposedly do a great job with lamb too.

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Love-on a plate.

Speaking of love-dessert was an amazingly refreshing and light lemon filled cake.  As pieces were being distributed to all the guests, we shared marriage and relationship tips with the bride and groom to be.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch Master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.”-Keith Floyd

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Love-that s all.

 

 

We Raised Them Right

June5

I recently came upon a statistic about 18-34 year olds depending primarily upon processed and pre-made food and the reason for this being that "from scratch" cooking was not modelled by their parents.  I commented in a recent post, that this was not the case in my family and a couple of weeks ago we had dinner with three other couples where this was not the case either.  In fact, one offspring is a gold-plate chef and two others have sons who are not chefs, but professional cooks.  I recounted our evening together and pondered what we had all done "right" to ensure that our children were comfortable in the kitchen. laura9 One couple was in from Toronto for the weekend and staying with another couple.  One half of the hosting couple was about to celebrate a monumental birthday which was our reason to get together.  None of us wanted the hosting couple to go to a whole lot of trouble because, the dinner was in their honour after all.  In addition, the visiting couple did not want to spend their short time grocery shopping and in an unfamiliar kitchen so I suggested that we order in.  Consensus was that even considering the concerns noted above, it would still be better if we all cooked and contributed ourselves and so..... laura1 laura2 The menu was decidedly simple: D and I provided little plates of sausage, cheese bread, olives and other brined items. laura3 At the appointed time, R fired up the grill showing me how he first brushes the grills with oil and hot sauce to neutralize any flavours from previous use. laura4 First he marinated the salmon in soya, balsamic vinegar and sarachi sauce.  He called the fish "Iphone Salmon" because the trick was to flip the fillets, precisely when his Iphone signalled, to ensure even cooking without over-cooking.  The lid of the grill was lowered for intervals and the cuts were placed crosswise on the grill each time they were flipped to decorate them with the precise cross-hatch marks. laura5 The result?  Perfection! laura6 The salmon was accompanied by boiled baby potatoes tossed in butter and fresh dill, laura7 grilled asparagus laura8 and the lightest, freshest tasting bean salad, I have ever tried.  I am not typically a bean lover but this one was sensational.  So much so, that I had to get M's recipe:
Marie's Very Fresh Bean Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
has a Mexican flare
Ingredients
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1½-2 c Edamame
  • 3-4 small hothouse cucumbers, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ c fine cut green onions (only the green part)
  • ½ red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 c cilantro or Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • ½ t cumin
  • ground chili powder to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Make sure all the beans are drained, rinsed and dried off.
  2. Let them sit on a while on a kitchen towel and use paper towel to soak up excess moisture.
  3. Worth the effort, so that the beans can soak up the flavours of the ingredients.
  4. Toss together all ingredients.

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 Influencers of the next generation of “real” food eaters.

So did we have some fun?  Absolutely!  We were entertained by the antics of the bearded fellow with the parasols stuck into his whiskers.  He kept disappearing into their home and coming back out attired as famous bearded men-think: ZZ Top, Moses, Duck Dynasty, etc.  (Perhaps some wine was enjoyed as well).

Kath’s quote: The basic thing a man should know is how to change a tyre and how to drive a tractor. Whatever that bearded dude is doing on the Dos Equis beer commercials sets the bar. That’s your guy. Every man should be aiming to be like him. The beard is just the tip of the iceberg.”-Timothy Olyphant

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Love-that is all.

 

 

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