Browsing: Food Celebrations

Kid Food

November14
One of our little visitors

One of our little visitors

Once a month we invite four young families over right after work on a Friday evening.  We all sit down to a family dinner of soup or pasta.  We have booster chairs set up on dining room chairs and other portable high chairs all around.  The kids are learning some table manners like “may I be excused” and “thank you for dinner” but mostly it is the hands into mouth kind of experience that I miss from my family’s younger days.  This past Friday I made spaghetti and you can imagine the fun (and the mess).  I bulked my from scratch sauce up with some extra vegetables and Abby who seemed to enjoy it (for the most part) was able to pick and flick every little shred of spinach that she came across.  We finished with oreos smeared with peanut butter and a banana slice.  The parents go and have coffee and an adult conversation and we take the kids downstairs for a play.  The parents love the hour without worrying about the little ones and my husband and I love the pseudo Grandparent time-so everyone is blessed.

Another Little Guy

Another Little Guy

When our family was growing up we loved to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory.  We’ve have to put a halt to the number of sough dough bread loaves that we consumed before the pasta actually came.  The kids usually ordered spaghetti and meatballs but D&I had a special favourite.  We had the Manager’s favourite which was half white clam sauce and half burnt butter and mizithra cheese.  We blend it all together and it was absolutely delicious.

We still have many favourite places for pasta, as Winnipeg has a large number of great places to choose from.  Our favourites are Mona Lisa (at the end of our street), Tomato Pie and Colesseo.  I leave it to my gang to order new and different things-I have fruita de mare or clam sauce almost everywhere I go.  At Tomato Pie my choice is not on the menu but they are very accommodating.  From my guess at the recipe they sauté purple onion and garlic in a good olive oil add the clams and perhaps some white wine and then a bunch of fresh parsley-yum.

Shopping for authentic Italian ingredients is also lovely in Winnipeg.  Our favourite is De Luca’s on Portage Ave. as we used to live in the Wolseley area and it was a stroller walk away.  We typically pick up their olive bread, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage and some good olives.  We are ever searching for the exact ones we had in the bar at our hotel on the Amalfi coast.

at Luigi's in Prariano Italy

at Luigi's in Prariano Italy

When we asked the proprietor Luigi he said they were “small, round green” and the quest goes on.

Do you have a favourite Italian restaurant? A favourite place for Italian groceries?  A favourite pasta recipe?

Its Coming on Christmas

November13

I know that it is (coming on Christmas) when my sister sends out her annual cookie exchange email.  I don’t know how many years that this has been going on (I’m horrible with dates and numbers) but I do know that one of my first years I had a different kitchen table and so that must mean that it has been at least ten.  This is the way my memory works backwards…it would be a challenge for me to tell you how many months old my babies were when they took their first steps but I could tell you what they were wearing and what colours the leaves on the trees were.

There are usually eight of us and this year the list is shaping up like this: ginger cookies, almond bars, pistachio thimble cookies, shortbread and a pecan chocolate bark.  Baking day can be a bit harried because of the quantities required but when the exchange takes places-it seems like a breeze.  Sue has us all over to her place to drop off and pick up.  We have an eggnog together and toast the start of the season.  The bakers are very imaginative with their packaging and you come home with a beautiful bundle of sweet treasures.

I understand that the Costco here in Winnipeg now sells baking trays.  I recently sampled one at it tasted very authentic but was more the kind of selection that you would get at a baby shower not a Christmas party.  The craft and baking sales that occur at many Winnipeg church and community clubs at this time of year is also a great way to stock your freezer with Christmas goodies (and you’re helping a good cause as well).

It is important for our family who loves the Christmas tradition and the food that surrounds the celebration to give back in some way.  For years we volunteered at Winnipeg Harvest’s Share Your Thanks and often on the morning of Christmas Eve.  Everything tastes better when it is savoured with the knowledge that you did what you could to share your bounty.IMG_0237

Lunch for B&B friends

November11

The four of us (on separate trips) had recently visited mutual friends in Sicily and we had not had an opportunity to compare travel notes.  I decided to cook something Sicilian to get the memories flowing.  I chose a selection from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook entitled Jamie’s Italy.  His preamble indicated that the dish had been on the menu at a restaurant in one of the roughest parts of Palermo_44207495_sicly_afp_416b We too had enjoyed a similar dinner near the train station in Palermo.  We were able to sit outside in a former train car.  We all had pastas-clam, swordfish, shrimp/basil and sardine/fennel.  Everything was mopped up with great Italian bread and downed with a fine local red wine.  The owner came around with complimentary lemoncellas.  We weren’t certain if they were always offered or if it was because we were so obviously tourists-taking pictures of our meals and each other.

Ahh Italy

Ahh Italy

Ah Italy….I digress.  Jamie’s version was tossed with arugula.  I made my version with peas for two reasons a) it was one of the few vegetables left in my fridge and 2) I had been so impressed by how Sicilian recipes were the delicious combinations of fairly simple ingredients.  Here’s a rough idea of the recipe.  Heat 3 glugs of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and toss in 2 cloves of chopped garlic and chilli seeds to your liking.  Brown a bit and add a pound or so shrimp.  I then added ½ cup of sake because I was out of white wine as the recipe called for in addition to a 2 heaping tablespoons of mashed up sun dried tomatoes.  Next came the zest and juice of one lemon before I made sure that the shrimp was cooked and then tossed in the peas and cooked spaghetti.

When we served the bowls, we offered a drizzle of truffle oil that we had brought home with us from the Cinque Terre area of Italy. We had learned that it was inappropriate to offer parmesan as Italians don’t add cheese to a seafood pasta. I had also baked a 9 grain bread that I served with balsamic and an olive oil that our Sicilan friends gifted us with.  It was from their own olive tree and was pressed in the community press.

As it was lunch time, we didn’t even serve dessert.  Just put on a pot of tea to look at pictures of their trip.

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