Browsing: Food Celebrations

Happy Birthday to Me!

June3

In our family birthdays are a big deal and it is not because of the lavish gifts that we bestow upon each other.  I think that it is because of the care that goes into the celebration.  Take this weekend for example.  My birthday fell on a Friday which typically means that I have a longer break from my computer on some sunny patio with friends.  This year though we spent 2/3rds of the day on the road.  First driving in from Regina and then after a quick turn around right out to our beach house for the weekend.  Besides a salad that I ate in the car and a bowl of chicken soup that we shared with our grandbaby, there was not a lot of focus on food or merry-making.  But on Sunday afternoon, D scooted into the city early so he could start with supper preparations.

bday2

He didn’t have any trouble knowing what meat would be the main, just how to prepare the pork chops that he knows that I love.

bday4

In addition there were savoury grilled potatoes;

bday3

my favourite grilled eggplant

bday5

and also grilled zucchini and onions.

bday7

Sister #3 contributed the salad and everyone loved it so much, that I am sharing the recipe here.

Birthday Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Originally titled Winter Salad.
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • ½ c sugar
  • ⅓ c lemon juice
  • 2 t grated onion
  • 1 Dijon mustard
  • ½ t salt
  • ⅔ c canola oil
  • 1 T poppy seeds
  • Salad:
  • 1-2 heads romaine lettuce, torn
  • 4 oz. cubed Swiss cheese or other
  • 1 c cashews
  • ¼ c cranberries
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 1 unpeeled pear, cubed
Instructions
  1. Mix dressing with a whisk. Makes lots. Use about half.
  2. Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing.

All the food was lovingly prepared and The Frenchman picked up a banana log Jeanne’s cake which is my absolute favourite.  But the highlights of the weekend were the following:

  • Last year I was in Philadelphia for my birthday and although I love to travel to and dine out in various cities, my favourite spot at the end of May is the lake.  The smells of the forest, the surprising warmth of the beach, the new growth everywhere-I can’t get enough.  We live very simply at the beach house and it was only a year ago that we got an indoor biffy.  What a lovely treat when you are all sleepy and cozy from watching movies and drinking wine, to know that you don’t have to make the trek outside one last time before bed.
  • We got to take the Wee One as both J1 and J2 had commitments.  We were thrilled with how easily she just slipped into “lake” mode with us.  In the mornings when D an J1 are off playing tennis and J2 is catching up on some sleep, I walk with the Wee One for her hour nap.  She has this lovely chariot stroller that can be pushed on wet sand and so both mornings, we spent the time on the beach; she singing to herself and watching the birds and the water until she fell asleep and me just basking in the warmth and so happy that spring and the promise of summer had come again to the Canadian prairies.

BeFunky_10438999_10152538876167089_1276973803434509810_n.jpg

  • As is our tradition at a birthday dinner, everyone took a turn sharing what they loved about the birthday girl (me).  This is the most precious gift of all, not only because it is lovely to be in the spotlight every once in a while but because of the beautiful words that my family blessed me with.  Not only was our Mom and Sister #3 there to celebrate with us but Daughter #2 skyped in from Colombia where she is away studying.  Although we felt funny eating in front of her, she visited with us throughout our entire dinner!  I love technology when it brings people together.

In our home, we find something to celebrate most days or at the very least most weekends BUT birthdays are a special opportunity to give and receive love.  Make the most of every opportunity as birthdays also remind us that our days are finite.

Kath’s quote: “That outdoor grilling is a manly pursuit has long been beyond question. If this wasn’t firmly understood, you’d never get grown men to put on those aprons with pictures of dancing wienies and things on the front and messages like ‘Come ‘n’ Get It'”.-William Geist

5892811_s

Love-that is all.

 

 

Great Steaks, Good Friends, (See You Tonight)

May30

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar (or Keg ‘n Cleaver as it was known in those days) originated in Vancouver in 1971.  When they opened their first Winnipeg location on Garry St. I was one of the hostesses that stood out on the sidewalk to get the names from the people at the back of the line as it stretched down the sidewalk.  Those were crazy days for me, university classes during the day and long evenings trying to balance a tray full of Silver Clouds while maneuvering in a skirt that touched the ground.  If you’ve seen the beautiful ladies at a Keg lately, you’ll see that the skirt length has definitely changed!

The Keg management and staff were like family-figuritively and literally!  In those days the Keg was owned and operated by George Tidball (who brought McDonald’s to Canada).  He was a man who believed that if a person was a great Keg employee, their sister or brother would likely make a great one too!   If you were a Chapdelaine, a Grisim, a Kapilik, a Resch or a Furlan you were likely working at the Keg.  Over the years my Mother-in-law, my husband’s two sisters and three brothers all worked there.  One sister-in-law met her husband at the Southside location.  My own two sisters and two of my brother-in-law’s brothers were on staff as well….well you get the picture.  It was a ripple effect and the friends that I made over my long career at The Keg are still my very best friends today.

keg2.jpg

Along the way, I recommended that a couple of friends work there too. Owner of The Kegs in Winnipeg is Gord Howard who I have known and been good friends with since we were both 11 years old.  I’ll come back to him in a moment. “M”, one of my besties (then and now) was a petite woman, with curly hair that I envied and an enormous smile.  She and I were college roommates, traveled Europe together, had our babes together and lived on the same street in Wolseley.  There was a time when she and her eventual husband “R” would include me on their weekend dates, as I was single at the time and not terribly pleased about it. We have been friends through long marriages and the joys and tough times of raising our children even when she moved to Toronto with her husband and their young family and left me here in Winnipeg.

R did not work with us at the restaurant but he spent a great deal of time there and became part of the extended Keg family.  In the meanwhile, they were good friends with another couple: “P and G” (I am using initials because we called each other by our initials in those days for some reason unbeknownst to me).  I was “KK” and Keggers that I meet now still call me this.  P was an artsy fartsy just like me and the G just so happened to be the brother of my brother-in-law.  They too had connected while both were staff members at the restaurant and had subsequently moved their young family to Vernon, BC.  One summer, in 1998, years after we had all met and while both couples were in Winnipeg visiting their respective families, they got together for dinner (at The Keg of course).  They had such a lovely time that they made a pact to do so again.

keg1.jpg

They wrote their pledge onto the back of a Keg coaster and ripped it in two.  They called themselves the KCC-The Keg Coaster Club.  Many years pass, children grow up and move away.  This past year the Vernon couple were down-sizing and G came across the half coaster while sorting and packing.  He mailed a letter to M&R and talked about meeting in Winnipeg for dinner, in order to fulfil the mutual pledge.  I got wind of the date because it meant that I would see M as we always spend some time together when she is here or I am in TO.  I got in touch with Keg owner Gord, to let him know what was going to occur and asked whether he might want to host the foursome.  The answer, without hesitation was yes!

.jpg

Perhaps they ordered an extra glass of wine for the table too.  That might explain why R is “two-fisting” it.

So this past weekend all four of them were in Winnipeg and resurrected a couple of old traditions: one was ordering a “Beer for the table, just in case….”.  “Just in case…what?” I asked M.  “Just in case, I don’t know!” she replied and the second was the dissection of another coaster with a familiar pledge.  This time they wrote the date on it.

keg5.jpg

The evening was a tremendous success.  Not only did the couples love being together again but they enjoyed the Keg hospitality immensely.

keg2

They shared Tuna Tacos and R ordered his favourite Bacon-Wrapped Scallops.

keg10

Dinner was comprised of Dungeness Crab, Grilled Salmon (as the Vernonites are Pescetarians) and Keg Steaks (which R went on and on about the next evening-he was blown away by the quality and flavour).

To bring the loop full circle, at one point in the evening, the General Manager of the Garry St. Keg dropped by the table.  His name is Laurent Chapdelaine of one of the “founding” families of the Garry St. Keg mentioned above.  His Mom was a former Keg Manager too, his sister is currently the General Manager at the St. James Keg and all his sisters worked there in the early years as well.  Our son currently works for his sister…and it goes on.

Kath’s quote: “Friendship is a gift that is fair in all things. It roots from one’s heart and involves memories that stay not for a while but for a lifetime.”-unknown

keg7

My dear friend and I with the Wee One

Love-that is all.

 

 

May Long Weekend 2014

May20

As I write this I am listening to “Q” on CBC Radio and enjoying some left overs for my solitary lunch.  I am alone but not in the least bit lonely.  I have Whitesox always at my side and in fact I wish he would depart for the front deck so that I could get my dirty floor washed at the beach house.  My plans to get my spring cleaning done before the May long weekend went a muck and so when three car loads depart from “Life is Good” (the name of our little beach house) I decided to stay back and tackle a couple of projects.

Last night I wiped down the cedar ceiling and walls, cleaned the grimy oven and painted a couple of pieces of furniture. My windows are now cobweb free and I can see the view of the birch and pines without obstruction.  Then I rewarded myself with a spicy dip and a bowl of whole wheat taco chips for my dinner in front of the Amazing Race Finale streamed on my computer. I snuggled into bed early with my book and in spite of not thinking that I would sleep very well without D by my side, I slept a full nine hours without moving.

long21

The weekend had been as the Frenchman declared “absolutely perfect” with one exception.  Daughter #1 had decided to stay put in her downtown apartment and we missed her.  With this late spring there was still a table of ice and snow on the shore of the beach when I arrived Thursday evening but by Sunday there were folks enjoying the warmth of the sun and a stretch of open water.  We were undeterred by the lack of beach and our flooded front yard.  We made the most of our time together as a family with my extended family, by accumulating on the deck and pulling our lawn chairs with us to follow the sun around the higher areas of the yard.  Games of darts were frequently played with a dart board mounted on the door of the shed.  That same building held another reason for accumulation-D had hauled a slushy machine out from the city.  We enjoyed iced coffees (with Kahlua and banana liquer), lemonade and beer shanty’s, pina coladas and strawberry  margaritas.

long1

Suppers are a “take turns” occurrence and first up were J1 and J2 who invented an appetizer of cauliflower roasted in Frank’s Hot Sauce which tasted like a feed of hot wings (without the fat and calories!).

long2

For our main J1 had rolled enormous meatballs and placed them in a rustic veggie sauce of asparagus, zucchini, red and orange peppers. This was accompanied by Caesar salad.  That night, the first of three family bonfires was held three doors away.

long3

The next morning and every morning of the weekend, we got to sped time with the Wee One.  On this day we hadn’t unearthed her toys so we got out the measuring spoons and cups for her to create a ruckus with.  The other newly established routine was when D and J1 went off to play tennis, I would get the Wee One bundled up for a walk in her “Chariot”.  D took a turn yesterday and was amazed at how peaceful it was to walk in the bush for an hour with no noise but the birds.

long5

The Belair Forrest which we can access from the beach house is a gorgeous part of the province.

long10

After I had successful wheeled the Wee One around for her hour nap, I made up a copy cat version of McMuffins but with real cheese slices and just baked Canadian bacon.

long11

We are so delighted that another chair has been pulled up to our family table.

long12

That evening the Frenchman was the chef and he prepared the ingredients for a wonderful “make your own” taco salad.  Of course this lead to much discussion about the “true” way to assemble this salad: with the taco chips on the bottom so that you can scoop up the bites nacho style, or with them crushed over the top so that every forkful includes plenty of crunch.

long22

That evening was the inaugural bonfire at Sister #2 and SYM’s (Sexy Uncle Michael).  We have co-inhabited with them for 15 years at “Life is Good” so we dubbed their place (for the time being) “Life is Good Too”.

long23

The next morning we were invited back over to Sister #2’s “work in progress” home that is four doors away.  She is famous for her eggs benedict using béarnaise sauce in place of hollandaise.  Since she actually doesn’t have a kitchen yet, she made the poached eggs on the side element of their barbeque.

long13

Later that day, her brood joined us to celebrate J2’s birthday.

long14

The only hint J2 had given me on what I could prepare on her behalf was anything grilled…so we enjoyed grilled purple, yellow, red and sweet potatoes, grilled broccoli and Brussel sprouts with maple syrup, grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms and grilled pork tenderloin (with a zucchini artichoke salad).

long15

I also had what I thought was a brilliant idea (much to D’s chagrin who is our BBQ operator) to make a grilled dessert recipe that I had found on line. First D grilled slices of homemade pound cake which I soaked in coffee and Frangelico.  Then these grilled pineapple slices and strawberries went on top.

long18

On top of everything went a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup!  It must have been a hit as the birthday girl had two helpings.

long19

Just as the sun was setting we ventured over to a third family cottage for another bonfire.

long20

Last meal of the weekend was roasted sausages and pancakes topped with our family favourite of cottage cheese (and left over grilled pineapple).  Shortly thereafter the gang packed up and headed home and left me blissfully alone to tackle the clean up.

Kath’s quote: “Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”-Mark Twain

treeheart

Love-that is all.

 

 

Guest Blogger-Sister #3 “Glee Club Celebrates Mom”

May11

I have written here before about my dinner club GLEE (girls laughing, eating and entertaining).  Over the years these women have become very dear to my heart.  Recently two sisters who are members of the GLEE club lost their mom. So it felt a bit strange planning a GLEE celebration scheduled to take place shortly after their loss.  It was decided that our theme would be celebrating our moms by bringing a dish that reminded us of our moms.  I am the only GLEE member fortunate enough to still have her mom. 

mom1

Our evening always starts with a cocktail to match our theme so in keeping with her mom’s tradition, K provided a fully stocked bar that was prepared to make any kind of cocktail your heart could desire. 

mom2

Her sister H provided the shrimp cocktail and cheese and crackers to enjoy with our cocktails. Their mom Ruth was a hard working nurse and farm wife whose entertainment style was warm and simple. 

B was on salad duty and brought a delicious beet salad served on romaine. B’s mom was a sweet and elegant lady who died this year, just days before her 100th birthday.  

 mom5

mom4

Our main course was roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, another of Ruth’s staples.  It was accompanied by L’s mom’s vegetable casserole and I provided cabbage rolls in honour of my mom. 

mom6

For dessert we enjoyed K’s mom’s chocolate chip snack cake.

So happy mother’s day everyone. Regardless of if your mom is here on earth or in heaven, be sure to take time to remember her today.

Kath’s quote: “Every year the number of new cookbooks increases, but in spite of them the progress made in this most useful of the arts is not ever overpowering. On the contrary, we must regretfully admit that nowadays people no longer prepare the fine and nourishing dishes that our mothers used to make.”-Anna Dorn, Cookbook Author (1834)

4966582_s

Love-that is all.

 

Get Cooking-Food Revolution Day is Coming

May9

Research released recently by Sobey’s Inc. includes data that is contrary to our own family’s experience. The study reveals that there is a generation gap when it comes to food knowledge and confidence in cooking (only 31% of 18-29 year olds feel confident in the kitchen).  The survey also revealed that Canadians are consuming too much processed food as opposed to made from scratch food.  This I know is true, even though I make it my mission to not be so with my family.

frd3

The findings do not match up with our family or our immediate circle of friends and I was wondering why this is the case.  I have discovered two primary reasons also through Sobey’s research: 1) “When cooking skills are passed down from generation to generation, there’s more enjoyment and collaboration in the kitchen.” In my parents’ house, I recall from as far back as I can remember, being included in the joy of cooking for our large family.  It started with pretty simple tasks: how to peel a potato and shuck corn, to pinching down the edges of a perogy and cutting out the form of a biscuit with the edge of a glass and finally how to make my Mom’s cinnamon buns and blueberry pies and how to perfectly grill a medium rare steak.

frd2

2) “Canadians who cooked with their parents (57%) are much more likely to love coking as adults and are more likely to involve others in their own cooking, fuelling a virtuous circle.”  So too from a young age, the kitchen has always been the centre of our home.  First toys were Tupperware, measuring cups and spoons and pots and pans.  Water play at the kitchen sink was much loved as well as playing with a piece of leftover pizza or cookie dough.  Our families’ favourite meals have always been: make-your-own salad, make-your own-sub and make-your-own pizza.  Now that our children are adults, together with their spouses and significant others, we can see the fruits of this atmosphere.  We get invited to their homes for dinners; everyone takes turns making meals at our family cottage and they contribute courses for special celebrations like our birthdays. Heck, in our house, we’ve even had family cook-off competitions.

FRD1

But we know that we are not typical and that is why Jamie Oliver (a fav in our house)  created a global day of food action called Food Revolution Day to inspire persons the world over to stand up for “real” food.  In recognition of FRD, Sobey’s has launched Canada’s Biggest Potluck Party challenging Canadians to host a potluck leading up to FRD on May 16.

If you want to register your own potluck event, invite friends and plan your potluck luck items, go to http://betterfoodforall.com. You can also access Jamie Oliver & Sobeys recipes, as well as tips and tricks for hosting the perfect potluck party at http://betterfoodforall.com/potluck-inspiration/. You’ll find tons of information there!

kids4-300x168

Our potluck is scheduled for tonight when we host our monthly Young Families’ Group-a time for parents to socialize with other parents, while I, D and Sister #3 take their kids off of their hands for an evening.  We always start with a family supper-kids in the dining room with us and parents in the living room, eating off their laps.  Our potluck theme is ” Tastes from Home” and we plan on sharing family favourites.

Kath’s quote: “The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.” -Judith Martin

BeFunky_14-Lovely-Hearts-for-St-Valentines-day-bread

Love-that is all.

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »