Browsing: Food Celebrations

Wild Blueberry Platz

July7

Happy Sunday morning readers.  We were in the city this summer weekend which as you know is very unusual for us.  Yesterday was a perfect summer day-a time for baking and writing and visiting into the wee hours with family and good friends that I don’t see often enough over the summer.  The weekend in town, afforded me the opportunity to write most of this special blog post.  I am honoured to be a part of the Canadian Food Experience Project  which began June 7 2013.  As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. There were 58 participants in the first round up!  This month’s challenge was to write about a regional Canadian food and I choose wild blueberries for a number of reasons: their exemplary nutritional value, their low cost and their distinct connection to the places they grow here in Manitoba and on the Canadian prairies. 

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The beach areas on the east and west side of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba were populated by various ethnic groups that are like the patchwork swatches that make up the provincial quilt.  The French holidayed at Paige Albert, Jewish persons at Winnipeg Beach, the Anglo-Saxons at Victoria Beach, Icelanders at Gimli and the Germans at Lester Beach.  Our family are not German but we have been welcomed into and have been part of the lake crowd at Lester Beach since the mid-seventies when my brother Tom and his wife bought a little two bedroom cottage.  Fast forward almost forty years and there are now approximately 38 of us who take turns staying at various wooden beach houses within a one block radius.  There are some streets where you can hear German spoken amongst the seniors who still enjoy the forest and the sandy beach.  As you walk along the lanes the cottage families are identified by signs such as the one at the end of our road “The Regiers and the birds live here”.

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Friends of ours who have a cabin close by but who we also know from the city, renewed their wedding vows one summer on the beach and then hosted a huge party in the yard.  At supper time an old metal drum that had been split and made into a barbeque was fired up and there were hamburger patties and various sausages grilled up.  A number of salad and accompaniments were contributed by various guests, as well as a bevy of desserts.  There was one dessert that came in various fruit variations: peach, apple, rhubarb and blueberry.  It was called “platz” and it was the most divine dessert that I had ever tasted.

I am not a sweet lover but prefer desserts like this one that are doughy, and buttery with natural sweetness from the fruit and just a hint of sugar to crunch up the crumb topping.  “Platz” is German for coffee cake and many Mennonite homes have one available in case family, friends or neighbours drop in for coffee and a visit.  From my first taste, I was hooked and now make platz on a regular basis.  I love to bake one up in the summer when fresh fruit is at its peak.  The simple ingredients are always at hand and frozen fruit produces an equally fine result.  I originally found the recipe in a book entitled “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” but have modified it over the years to use half brown sugar and even sugar substitutes.

Wild blueberries are plentiful throughout Manitoba and especially in the lake district.  I love to blueberry picking.  Actually, I have to be honest…I love the results of blueberry picking but not the act of picking itself.  Wood ticks are an issue as well as bears, not to mention poison ivy, the risk of getting lost in the bush and coping with the backache, heat, thirst and mosquitoes.  What I am trying to say is, picking is no fun at all but the results make the difficult task more than worth it.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Wild Blueberry Platz
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Mennonite
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c of sugar (or substitute brown, Splenda or Monkfruit Sugar for ½ the white sugar)
  • ¾ c of room temperature butter
  • Scoop out 1¼ c of the above and set it aside for the topping (once it has been blended with a pastry blender).
  • To the balance of the mixture that is left, add:
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ¾ c milk soured with 1 T vinegar
Instructions
  1. Mix baking powder and soda into dry ingredients.
  2. Add beaten egg and soured milk.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Sprinkle with 2 c of blueberries.
  6. Drop crumb mixture over blueberries.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 375 oven.

The time for wild blueberry picking is not yet upon us, as it was a very late spring on the prairies.  But I have noticed an abundance of plants and flowers as I have meandered in the forest, so this summer’s crop is sure to be abundant.  In the mean time, because we so love the nutritious fruit, I always have a pint on hand.  But because I live in a busy house, my plans sometimes are foiled by a hungry family member looking for something to have with their morning granola.  In that case, I go to plan B because I always have frozen berries as well.  When all is said and done, the taste is very close.

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Kath’s hint:  I made a double batch this morning and then split it between three smaller sized pans.  With one I varied the fruit to mango and banana and then added coconut to the crumb mix.  This will go with us to a tropical pool party this evening.  One of the berry cakes will accompany us to a back yard graduate lunch this afternoon.  The third is to just have on hand.  It stays fresh on the counter for a day, can go into the fridge for a couple of days or go immediately into the freezer for future entertaining.

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Kath’s quote: “I remember his burlesque pretense that morning of an inextinguishable grief when I wonder that I had never eaten blueberry cake before, and how he kept returning to the pathos of the fact that there should be a region of the earth where blueberry cake was unknown.”-William Dean Howells (1894)

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Love-that is all.

Fiesta Wedding Shower

July3

There are a couple of families in our life, whose edges are so overlapping and intertwined with ours, that it is hard to see where they end and we begin. Is this true in your circles as well? Recently, we were all together to celebrate the upcoming marriage of one of the  daughters of this large brood.  Sister #2 was the host for the Sunday afternoon event.  Many hands contributed to the food and the success of the event including the bride’s best friend who joined the festivities via Skype from Austria.

The theme was a Mexican Fiesta and the gifts that were showered upon the couple were gifts that they could enjoy on their honey-moon in the Caribbean.  The bride wore a “fascinator” which was a little decorated black sombrero.  The prop did not diminish how positively glowing and elegant she appeared.

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Upon arrival, there were platters of shrimp ceviche and guacamole and chips.

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Sister #2 also found a recipe for a slice made of the same ingredients as chilies relleno.   The tastes were similar but way easier to eat than the classic dish.

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These black bean and goat cheese quesadillas were perfection too.

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Here’s a clever idea: she prepared these little to cups.

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Which we then filled with our desired amounts of meat and cheese

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and topped with our favourite fixings.  A mini taco bar!

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But my favourite appetizer was Tequila Chicken in Corn Bread Muffin Cups.  She said that the cups lend themselves to a scoop of pretty much anything that you might choose.

Kath’s quote:  “A simple enough pleasure, surely, to have breakfast alone with one’s husband, but how seldom married people in the midst of life achieve it.” -Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Where to Eat on Canada Day Weekend in Winnipeg

June28

I think that we live in the most amazing country in the world!  Are you feeling patriotic this Canada Day weekend?  We’re heading up to our little beach house but last evening while we were at the Bomber game, I got an email from my friend Derek Taylor.  He and his wife Fiona needed a foodie to come onto CJOB with them during their Friday Foodie Finds segment.  I started brainstorming about places to eat on Canada Day weekend and thought that you, my loyal readers might need some suggestions as well.

The Forks is the perfect place to celebrate the creation of our magnificent country since it is the birthplace of our fair city.  Depending on what time of day you are commencing your personal celebrations, you may want to visit the Original Pancake House.  I personally haven’t been in a long time but J1 and J2 (and soon to be 3!) love to go and share The Big Apple.  There are a bevvy of places in the food stall area of the market itself.  We recently tried Fergie’s Fish ‘n Chips with a two course dinner starting with a hearty clam chowder, and a main course of fantastic fresh cut fries, coleslaw and Manitoba pickerel fillets.  Why anyone would choose cod or halibut over pickerel, I will never know.  If you have the whole family with you, the Old Spaghetti Factory delights the young ones and can also accommodate your senior parents with their easy accessibility and spacious layout.  Our 86 year old Mom loved our recent visit and remembered artifacts on display from their former location.  If you are looking for a romantic spot for fine dining, you will have a tough decision between Sydney’s  or The Current at the Inn at the Forks.  The upscale decor and culinary creations make them two of Winnipeg’s premiere restaurants.

If you are heading to or from the Living Flag event, which is being held on the grounds of the Leg, you will have a plethora of choices in the downtown area.  The closest is likely Cafe 22 right on Broadway.  We’ve taken our entire family there and shared their terrific pizzas and salads, without breaking the bank.

If Osborne Village is your destination then you are in luck. Two of my favourite Winnipeg restaurants are almost next door to each other-Unburger and Segovia.  Both use the very best local ingredients and concoct amazing culinary delights.  I have not yet had a chance to visit Billabong Gastropub since they have revamped but Sister #3 and Daughter #2 both love their Eggs Benedict for weekend brunch. A spot that I have wanted to try for ages is Kawaii Crepe.  The Frenchman says that the offerings are both delicious and affordable.  Although I haven’t visited Fude in quite sometime, my last visit was so memorable that I recall every detail.  The Chef/owner’s ability to deconstruct typical recipes and reconstruct them in a new and unique manner is well worth the climb up the stairs to their second floor location.  A descent to the Spicy Noodle House is a good bet too.  Try their deep fried pork chops for a decadent treat.

If Assiniboine Park is your destination and you are entering through the south gates, stop first at the Tuxedo Village Family Restaurant.  Excellent Greek cuisine can be had as well as many family favourites.  On the north edge is Sargent Sundae one of the city’s best spots for a cone (rivaling the BDI).  The Star Grill is a cozy place for a dinner for two in the evening and at brunch serves up a bacon and egg pizza that was so much fun to try.  We’ve yet to make it to Gus and Tony’s at the Park but it is on our “must try this summer” list.  Of course there is the elegant Terrace in the Park which I recently declared to be Winnipeg’s most romantic restaurant.  You can order seafood from both Canada’s east and west coast-the perfect way to salute the breadth of Canada’s geography.

Last but not least, is a special Canada Day at St. Norbert Market.  The noshing is always great on site or you could put together a Canadian picnic basket for wherever you are headed.

Take a moment this weekend to contemplate and celebrate all that Canada means to you.  We are so very blessed to live in the true north, strong and free!

Kath’s quote: “My food is Louisiana, New Orleans-based, well-seasoned, rustic. I think it’s pretty unique because of my background being influenced by my mom, Portuguese and French Canadian. There’s a lot going on there.” –Emeril Lagasse
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Love-that is all.

Red River Exhibition 2013

June19

Hello readers.  Are fairs and exhibitions, permanently etched in your memories as a way to mark time?  They are in mine.  The Red River Ex was a must do when I was a youngster along with a tour of the Eaton’s windows at Christmastime, the Shrine Circus and Ice Capades.  It was truly limited to these major events.   Now a days, this number of activities could be on a elementary schoolers’ one week agenda.  The Ex was always one of my favourites because it marked the end of the school year and the official beginning of summer.  We used to take the bus to Polo Park and I can still remember the roar of the mobile generators, the music blaring from the rides, and the carneys trying to lure us into going for the big prize.  The smells were unmistakable of cotton candy and grilled onions to top the burgers.  We took our kids almost every year as they were growing up and then there was this big long gap in attendance for us.  In fact, this year was the first time that I have attended at the new exhibition site!

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This past Monday was a perfect summer evening to start a new era of the Red River Ex for us.  We wandered around the beautifully accessible fair grounds with no cables to climb over like the “olden” days.  There were plenty of washrooms and shade and in my mind the new set up is just about perfect, except that with everything so stretched out, it seems to lack the vibrancy that I remember so clearly.  Perhaps, busier days deliver this.

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But to the food….

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We did a lap to check out all of our options.  After taking note of the sign below, we decided to start with a couple of the many healthy choices available to fair goers.

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When D suggested that he wanted to order a combination of kielbasa, cabbage rolls and perogies, I heartily agreed and grabbed a fork to sample a taste.

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I was happy with my supper choice of Pad Thai.  I never thought that I’d live to see the day that I could order noodle boxes at the fair.  By the number of stir fries being enjoyed at the tables around us, they were a big hit.

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This talented artist was our dinner entertainment while we sat at communal tables and also indulged in our favourite fair activity-people watching.

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We then promptly forgot about the size warning for the rides (heck we had no intention of going on the rides anyway) and performed another lap to seek out our next course.

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D had to satisfy his sweet tooth so decided upon a caramel and apple pie.

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When given a choice, I also go for salty and had these homemade kettle chips for my extra treat.

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Somewhere in between we also tasted Lemon Pepper wings at Little Bones

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AND what turned out to be our favourite new taste of the evening: Seafood Poutine from the Poutine King.

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If, we had any room whatsoever, we have sampled the authentic Mexican fare from this concession, but alas, it would have to be another time.

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As we waddled to our car, singing along with the songs of Glass Tiger from the main stage, we enjoyed watching the thrill seekers on the midway.  Being one of those adrenalin junkies seems like a long time ago, and I like it that way.

Kath’s quote: “I don’t like to eat snails. I prefer fast food.”-Roger von Oech

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Love-that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-Glee goes Italian

June11

Sister #3 gets together with a group of long-time friends on a regular basis to eat, drink and be merry together.  Glee is an acronym for a phrase which I can’t recall at the moment.

“Gone are the days of stopping by the video store and picking up the movie you want to rent.  Sure there is Netflix but I’m still pretty old school and my computer equipment is not current enough to accommodate such things.  So with an upcoming Glee dinner to host, I sat down with my remote and searched MTS Video on Demand for a film I could build a dinner party around.  I decided on Woody Allen’s From Rome with Love. Primarily so I could make the theme: Italian.

The evening started with Heather’s bruschetta and sparkling Ruby’s; a combination of Italian Ruby port and prosecco. Kathy provided the salad, our best guess at Amici’s house salad made of butter lettuce and toasted pine nuts with a “from scratch” dressing.  I decided to be politically incorrect and make veal. Breaded in Italian bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, it was fried in olive oil and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. I picked up my veal, port and prosecco at Piazza Di Nardi along with some of their fresh spaghetti and made a delightful clam sauce.

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Here’s the recipe I found on-line.  I’m so glad I did as it was scrumptious!

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce to Die For!
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T anchovy paste (I know, but it won’t work if you don’t use it!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • ½ c dry white wine
  • 1 can chopped clams with juice
  • 1 can chopped clams - no juice
  • ¼ c fresh chopped parsley
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put oil, minced garlic, red pepper and anchovy paste in a large skillet. Heat on medium low. Do not brown the garlic. Mix and incorporate the anchovy paste until it dissolves into the oil.
  2. Add wine and clam juice and bring to a boil for five minutes, until water starts to evaporate. Turn heat off, add clams and mix.
  3. Cook one pound of spaghetti. Add pasta and parsley to the sauce and mix. Let stand for 5 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

Barb and the other Kathy did what they do best, went shopping!  Barb’s visit to Goodies Bakery resulted in a lovely variety of mini cakes for us to sample and Kathy provided the wine.  An integral part of any good dinner party.  As for the movie…..not so much, but the food was stellar and the company unsurpassable!”

Kath’s quote: Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought– particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things. -Woody Allen

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Love-that is all.

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