Browsing: Food Celebrations

Our Canadian/American Family Gathers-Part 1

August14

Grandma Jean and I worked together years ago at the same restaurant.  I boldly told her that I was going to marry one of her sons, and years later, even I was surprized, that this fore-telling came to be.  D’s family is even more enormous than my own.  Whereas we are very concentrated in North-East Winnipeg and at the same cottage area, they are spread between TO to the east, Calgary to the west and Phoenix to the south.  This is why Christmas and reunion weekends are so important in their clan.

D’s cousins, Aunt & Uncle who live in and around the lake area of Minnesota, invited us  (and extended family) for the August long weekend, so we Canadians would have some extra time to travel.

We arrived late on Friday evening and assembled in the Pavilion for hugs and hellos (D had not seen one first cousin since they were both 6)!  After a relatively early night, our cottage full assembled for coffee and breakfast together and then we headed to the host cabin for the rest of the day.

There were no arranged activities for the morning so we assembled in little groups to catch up and reminisce.  For those that required a quiet spot, there were many available for blissful times spent gazing at the vistas.

Lunch for 40 was a significant fete.  A variety of cooking stations were set up.  Cousin Danny had one of those propane turkey fryers that was filled with water and was able to accommodate a number of cobs at once.

A crock pot full of melted butter was set beside for dipping the cobs into.  I honestly do not need any other addition to Minnesota corn.  The ears had just been picked and then husked that morning and the sweetness was astounding.  Some family members had three cobs!

Bratwurst were being grilled slowly at another station.  This practical live coal barbeque was fired up.  The wood is lit in the small chamber to the side and then when at the optimum temperature, the smoke and heat enters the large chamber where the grills are placed.  As a result Darnelle (the cousin with the tongs) is not actually working over an open flame, which means that many sausages can be cooked at one time without worrying about flame ups or hot spots.

Lucky for us char lovers, she cooked some extra well.  These were served with mustard and sauerkraut just like at a Vikings game.

Big wedges of watermelon were out (my meager contribution) and what for dessert?  Well apple pie of course (and pecan to be accurate).

Grandma Jean had baked these in her country kitchen in rural MB and transported them safely across the border.  Grandma Jeans pies were one of the many reasons for my early matrimonial declaration.

The fun and eating continues in Part 2.

Kath’s quote: The pie should be eaten “while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges, (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!) of a mild and modest warmth, the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied, the morsels of apple neither dissolved nor yet in original substance, but hanging as it were in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood…then, O blessed man, favored by all the divinities! eat, give thanks, and go forth, ‘in apple-pie order!'”-Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

Love -that is all.

Celebrating Family & Cousins

July19

I have shared with you previously, that we are a large extended family.  My children are 3 of 14 first cousins.  The entire 14  live in Winnipeg (at the moment) and the gang relishes excuses to get together.  The perfect reason was provided last month when one of the cousins returned from an extended stay in Australia with her new beau.  Instead of his having to meet everyone on an individual basis, Sister #2 hosted a backyard BBQ so that he could be introduced to everyone, en mass.

Daughter #1 with the wife of Nephew Number#2 (tee hee).

Our son J1 with Nephew #2.

Daughter #2 with the couple of the evening.

Since it was cousins only, Sister #3 and I had to create the excuse of helping with the dinner in order to sneak a peak at the new fella!

We were actually put to very good use-Sister #3 sauteing the Pow (or was it Bam?) Shrimp and I putting together the salad, garlic bread and baked potatoes.

Sister #2 planned a simple meal with guaranteed appeal: “My Man’s Ribs” (recipe posted on this site)

and extended fixings for over sized baked potatoes a.k.a. a Baked Potato Bar (a take off on a salad bar).

The children of Sister #2 and Brother #3.

D borrowed a commercial blender from his office and made rum fruit slushies to get the party going.  A good time was had by all, as the saying goes…

Nephew #1 with fiancee of Niece #4.

Wife of Nephew #1 beside Niece #1.

Daughter #3-J2 with Wife of Nephew #4.

The Frenchman and Nephew #3.

I mistakenly missed a photo op of Nephew #4 and Nephew #5 and his girlfriend arrived after I had put the camera away.  Are they not a good looking bunch?  My angels, all of them.

Kath’s quote: “Digestion is one of the most delicately balanced of all human and perhaps angelic functions.”-M.F.K. Fisher

Love-that is all.

Winnipeg Caterers-All Seasons Catering

June6

The question that I get asked most often as a food blogger is this: “Do you know a good caterer?”  Up until now, my repertoire of endorsements has been limited.  But I follow Chef Brent of All Seasons Catering on Twitter and Facebook (social media at work), so when I was asked this same question recently, I had an answer at the ready.  In the mean time Chef Brent and I got to meet in person at a Manitoba Food Bloggers event.  That was just days before I had the pleasure of sampling his wares, for our friend who asked for my suggestion, then graciously invited us to their event.

Sampling little nibbles at a cocktail reception is my favourite way to eat and as I understand it, what ever food you consume while standing has no calories-right? We enjoy it when they are scattered tables around where you can go up and admire and then choose a single item to enjoy and then go back and do the same with another item later.

Cranberry & Almond Brie

Fruit Platter

Roasted Garlic, wild Mushroom, Shallots & Herb Savoury Cheesecake

Pork Tenderloin on Potato Crisp with Mango Salsa

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Mini Quiche

Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms

Chicken Tostadas with Spicy Slaw

Fruit Tarts

One of the Gorgeous Tortes

Chef Brent hard at Work

We were very honoured to be included on the guest list to witness the renewal of the wedding vows of our friends.  In addition, I can now fully endorse a caterer if you ever need my suggestion.  Chef Brent, his wife and the rest of his team will put together a gorgeous evening with all of the details taken care of on your behalf, so that you can mingle, enjoy your quests and celebrate life with food!

Kath’s Quote: “I’ve been married so long I’m on my third bottle of Tabasco sauce.”-Susan Vass

Love, that is all.

Young Families Dinner

June1

The table was set to reciprocate for the meals that we had shared over the winter.  The young families that we host at our home monthly, wanted to thank us for our cozy times with a spring dinner celebration in our honour.

And were these folks organized!  This was the task list posted in the kitchen.  And here were our handsome chefs.

It was a spring time citrus theme and while the guys were busy in the kitchen, amazingly delicious cocktails were served in the yard as the little ones picnicked on quesadillas (which looked pretty darned good too)!

Soon we were called to dinner and assembled around the dining room table which was set up in the sun-filled living room.

The timing of the event was consistent with our mandatory Sunday dinner and so our gang was invited as well as Sister #3 who assists us when we host the group at our home every month.

On to the food:

The ribs were succulent.

As was the cauliflower in a rich and creamy bechamel.

Throughout dinner we were entertained with instrumental renditions of our eclectic music choices as well as a special treat of music from one of the beloved Moms who is a concert pianist and was performing later that evening.

The menu and recipe (but not the inspired setting) came from this cookbook:

The collection provides all the information necessary for busy families to shop and prepare nutritious and balanced meals for their families.

All the ingredients and timing of the preparations are clearly outlined.

As well as step by step photos of the process.

The piece de resistance of the evening was when the kids changed into their waiter attire and each served us our dessert.

Look at the joy that asking the kids to participate can bring!

And how seriously and with determined concentration, the tasks were taken on.

The bananas in lime juice were divine but in truth, I could have been fed anything and I could not have been more surrounded with love.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.”-Craig Claiborne

Love-that is all.

Ireland Revisited

May28

The rain has started to fall on a Sunday morning at the lake.  D will soon be home from the tennis courts as the guys who assemble each week, will be forced to delay their weekly matches.  I would love to be on the overhang of the deck but a Momma Robin has perched upon her nest of blue eggs and every time I have to venture past, she vacates the nest.  So I am in our cozy cottage instead, with the window flung open to hear the birds singing in spite of the rain.  My Mom once told me, that this is the sign of a long rain.  If the birds cease to chirp, it is because they know that they will soon be back at it.  But if they continue to sing, it is because the rain will continue for hours.

This is one of my favourite weekends of the year as we are a family of dancers and this is recital weekend.  There was a time when this meant hours of preparation, but now we just show up and take it all in with enormous smiles on our faces.

We left directly from the auditorium for Lester Beach in order to have dinner with D2 and P.  It was our post-Ireland dinner, when we could relive our favourite moments of our trip.  We certainly get our monies worth out of our vacations, would you not say?

As we walked in the door, the Celtic music was blaring and we were swept up in a quadrille (well not exactly because we only had half of the required four couples) and handed Smithwicks and glasses of Guinness.  I told you we were a family of dancers.  Perhaps we could be described as a family of imbibers too-not as complimentary….

But to the food!  When we were in Ireland, D had a craving for seared scallops which D2 and P remembered.  They wanted to treat D to a little delight to thank him for being our chauffeur on this trip.  D2 sizzled up the butter until the colour was a gorgeous bronze and then quickly turned the nuggets over the heat for just moments-exactly the way that we love them.  They served this with Molly’s Irish bannock that they managed to search out in St. Boniface.

Next up was a hearty potato and clam soup, reminiscent of one we had for our pub lunch whilst circling the Ring of Kerry.  D2 added white pepper to finish the silky spoonfuls with a little bit of heat.

A spring time salad of strawberries and pecans came next.

By this time, we were recreating a Limerick exchange that we had so much fun performing with a related Murphy while we were in Ireland.  That one took place, with an ocean between us and this one with Lake Winnipeg separating us.  At least there was no time difference as the last go round had our sparring partner up until 3 in the morning!

The entree was an amazing meat pie with the flakiest of pastries and a savoury filling.  The honeyed parsnips that I prepared in the city were P’s request from our pre-Ireland get together.

For dessert we indulged in ice cream, topped with Baileys Irish Cream and a plummy glass of port.

By this time it is midnight, at it is time to go.  We do not have far because our cottages are almost across the street from each other.  The journey took longer than one might expect though, as we had neglected to turn on any lights at our little place and did not have the fore-sight to bring along a flashlight.  We managed to find our way without incident back to our summer house, appropriately named: Life is Good.

Kath’s quote:

“For ….we can make liquor to sweeten our lips

Of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips.”

-Henry David Thoreau, ‘Walden’

Love-that is all.

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