Browsing: Food & Travel

“The Hills of Tuscany-Turn Left at the Madonna” by Ferenc Mate

December28

I have a “gift” of being entirely swept away by books and movies.  This can be a difficult burden when I despair over the sad ending of a movie or the conclusion of a book, even if it had a happy ending, but simply because I will miss the characters as part of my life.  The great part though, is that when I read a story set in a foreign place, it is as if I am living there too (this really saves money in our travel account).  So too, when I read well-written descriptions about food, I can smell and savour and ridiculous as it may sound, feel “full”.

These are the hills of Sicily (not Tuscany) where we have traveled.

I have just finished this wonderful accounting of a couple’s desire to live a simpler life and their move to rural Italy to do so.  It is entitled “The Hills of Tuscany-A New Life in an Old Land”.  I have a crush on Ferenc Mate.  He is originally from Eastern Europe (like my Dad), lived for a while in Canada (the best country in the world!) and then the Caribbean, Paris and New York (all of my favourite places on earth).  He writes so beautifully about very simple pleasures which ring so true for me.  He also loves abundantly-his wife, his little piece of property and food!  Here is his description of dinner at a little Tuscan Trattoria.

 

The food was as simple as the place.  For appetizers there were assorted crostini-fire-toasted bread, some smeared with chicken livers, others with sauteed mushrooms.  Then of course came pasta.  We both had pici– a homemade, hand-rolled, unevenly thick spaghetti-Candace with a sauce of wild boar and I with a sauce of mixed wild mushrooms.  We were slow in eating, savoring every bite, and looked up as the little girl’s Mamma came and asked if the sauces were fine.  Candace complimented her on the food and apologized for eating so slowly.  A big smile broke on her face, “Piano, piano, con calma,” she said.  Slowly, slowly, with calm.  The came the meats: for Candace roasted pheasant with parchment-like brown skin, and for me wild boar stew marinated in red wine and juniper berries and tasting like heaven, and a plate of Tuscan white beans drenched in olive oil and crushed garlic, and a salad.  And we kept emptying wine glasses, toasting the little girl, her Mamma, Tuscany, the boar, the beans, the toasts.

We ate, with calma, and drank, with gusto, and the little girl and her doll had said good-night long ago, led upstairs by Nonna, Grandma, from behind the bar, and then Mamma went up, too, to say good–night, and we swooned from the heat of the fire and the wine, and thank God Nonna came back and brought us two espressos to bring us to, then she quickly thought it over and brought two glasses of grappa, to sink us once again.

As we left, they both came and said good-bye-handshakes and smiles as if we had been acquaintances for years.  Then we went out into a silver flood of moonlight.

We breathed the night air deeply, utterly content.  And it wasn’t just the food and the wine, but also the family.  There was something heartening in three generations together there-at home.  We felt as if we had dinner at someone’s house.  And the place was so honest, unpretentious, that you knew what counted was not the walls and floors, but the people they comforted.  And it felt reassuring that the vegetables came from their gardens, the wine from the small vineyard across the road, and that the boar and the pheasant were hunted by Grandpa.  We talked about this as we ambled in the moonlight.”

For a moment, didn’t you feel as if you were there with the heat from the kitchen, the smell of roasting meats and basking in the attention of this Grandma and her daughter?   Come back for a couple more installments in the days to come.

Kath’s quote: “Arm in arm in the autumn light, calmed by the warmth and the pitcher of red wine we had at lunch, we ambled in contented silence up the hill towards the piazza where the mosaic facade of the cathedral blazed like a million tiny stars.”-Ferenc Mate

Love-that is all.

10 Things I Loved at She’s Connected

October24

1.  My new gel nails- that exactly match the turquoise of my business card and my bracelet from World Vision.  These were lovingly applied by the nicest team from Bio Seaweed Gel at the Shades of Grey party.

2. My gorgeous new ilashme eyelashes-I feel years younger with them on.  They take five minutes to become accustomed to because they are light weight but securely affixed.  They make your eyes open wide and make me feel sophisticated and sassy at the same time.

3. Molson Canadian 67 Sublime -I was already a lover of the beer all by itself but I now have fun recipes for cocktails that I can’t wait to try out and the knowledge of cheese pairings to impress with at my next dinner party.  I was blown away that a company like Molson’s hires so many savvy women in key roles.  My understanding (and reverence) of their product has been elevated.

4.  Meeting Stephanie from World Vision-I am quite sure that we will stay in touch.  Her enthusiasm and passion was genuine and something just clicked when I spoke with her.  I am so impressed that an organization like World Vision understands that female bloggers are a key way to get their message out in a compassionate way.

5.  Getting to meet Heather, her staff and the rest of the Canadian Beef Ambassadors from Canadian Beef IRL (in real life)

over dinner at the Lonestar Texas Grill (amazing steak sandwich).  The opportunity to attend the conference was because of Heather for the purpose of meeting the rest of the team.  I was so impressed (and rather humbled) that I was in the company of such successful bloggers.  Christine, Alexa, Lina-you have already coached and connected me in so many ways.

6. The Speakers for She’s Connected-I cannot even begin to list and share all that I have learned.  I must admit I did some day-dreaming in a couple of sessions but that is good because I have been inspired to write a third blog that I can’t wait to get at.  Stay tuned.

7.  The hard-working Ambassadors for She’s Connected-(including my roommate Little Miss Kate), SoberJulie, Life On Manitoulin and Mommyoutsidethebox you all welcomed me into your circle and I cannot express my gratitude. I look forward to staying connected with you and blogging alongside you.

8. Donna Marie the founder of She’s Connected-I finally got a chance to introduce my self to her on our last evening.  In spite of all the details, stress and people that she had encountered at the event, she recognized me, knew my work and praised me for it.  I was very touched and look forward to spending more time with her in the future.

9. Getting to hang with the lovely ladies from the Manitoba Canola Growers.  Thanks Jenn and Leanne.  It was a comfort to start the conference off with friends from home.

10.  Being in TO again.  The city energizes me with its diversity, culture and natural and man-made beauty.  I love to visit and I love to come home.

The view from my office window at home.

Until next year, lovely ladies….

Kath’s (overheard at conference) quote: “Go big, or go home.”

Love-that is all.

 

 

Meet Pat and Paul Orsak-Memories

September25

Saturday of Manitoba Canola Grower’s “Be Well Camp” was a packed agenda. First stop was in the Binscarth area where we toured the Silver Creek Bison Farm.  In this setting it was not difficult to imagine herds of these majestic animals that once populated our prairie provinces. No wonder our founding politicians chose a bison to be our provincial animal.

Next stop was the Orsak Family Farm where we warmly invited by Paul and Pat, in spite of it being right smack n the middle of harvest. The Orsaks are another fine example of the education, love and commitment that Manitobans have for their land, their crops and the environment.

I am a proud prairie girl and feel right at home in the midst of a grain field.  The beauty of burgeoning land is really stunning in my opinion.

We were treated to anther Lunch in the Field.

I am amazed by what is planned and served using all of the freshest ingredients that the local gardens have to offer.

I would love a cookbook which held all of the tips for getting such delicious hot and cold food out to the field, not knowing when the combine team is going to be able to break.  Hey maybe with more research, I could write one!

We ate our lunch in the shade of the trucks because the day was glorious and warm. Paul shared his passion for farming and made such an impression that our discussion continued around our bonfire that evening.

And then it was back to work. Even though I spent every one of my young summers on a grain farm, I had never been inside a combine and was enthralled by the perspective from the cab.

I have also never been inside a working grain elevator, in spite of the number of them that once stood in a long line marking the south border of Limerick, SK where I spent my summers. I was fascinated by our elevator tours in Russell and Inglis.

I had been inside one of these old trucks though. When my Grandpa’s could no longer be repaired, it sat on the edge of the farm yard and we used to play in it as kids.  We would scare the living daylights out of ourselves when we pressed the old starter button on the dashboard, as it would still try to fire up.  Grandma could hear us from the garden, if she were there picking peas and we would get shooed away.

Kath’s quote: “As a work of art, I know few things more pleasing to the eye, or more capable of affording scope and gratification to a taste for the beautiful, than a well-situated, well cultivated farm.”-Edward Everett

Love-that is all.

 

Barn in the Bush

September24

I was skeptical about sleeping in a “Barn in the Bush” but enthusiastic about our rustic adventure.  My speculations were totally unfounded because the facility is remote but contains every amenity you would desire in a hotel room and more.

The room that I shared with my new found friend Wendy from Vancouver, was cozy and inviting after a considerable amount of bus travel that day.  There was a sleeping loft and another bed nestled under the stairs.  The futon, perfectly positioned for movie watching on the big screen TV, could also accommodate more sleepers.  With a fully equipped convenience kitchen, the place would be perfect for a family reunion or a gang of skiers who wanted to explore the slopes close by.

When we arrived it was in the dark and so we had no idea how beautiful the landscape in the Lake on the Prairie area was.  We discovered that in the morning with a brief early morning walk.

And this was the view of the birches at sunset.

As a departure gift, the entire gang of the Manitoba Canola growers “Be Well” Camp were presented with Bonnie’s (Bonnie and Steve Morrison are the owners) secret recipe for fish seasoning and batter.  We had occasion to use it on pickerel up at the cottage this weekend-yum!  I served the pickerel with Floating Leaf Wild and Brown Rice, and roasted spaghetti squash boats filled with the sweetest of cherry tomatoes, feta, olives and oregano flowers.

The departure treat was appreciated but not necessary, as staying at The Morrison’s delightful guesthouse was gift enough.

Kath’s quote: “The smell of coffee cooking was a reason for growing up, because children were never allowed to have it and nothing haunted the nostrils all the way out to the barn as did the aroma of boiling coffee.”-Edna Lewis

Love that is all.

Guest Blogger: Sister #3-GLEE does Hawaii

August29

The dinner club I belong to known as GLEE (Girls Laughing, Eating and Entertaining) is almost always based on dinner and a movie. Usually the dinner theme comes first, i.e. Greek food and the movie options; My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Shirley Valentine, Mama Mia, follow.  This was not the case with the last get together that I hosted. The girls and I were all eager to see “The Descendants” with George Clooney.  The move was picked first so the theme of Hawaii was what we had to work with. Determining a menu for a Hawaiian dinner party is not as easy as one might expect, especially in the Canadian prairies in the dead of winter where its hard to find a nice pineapple, never mind banana leaves. Lots of the food is hard to find and can be complicated to prepare, anyone want to dig a pit in the back yard to slow cook a suckling pig?  The cuisine’s identity is sometimes had to pin down being a mix of American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese influences.  But we set forth doing the best we could and the end result was a pretty yummy dinner.

We started the evening with this cocktail

Hawaiin POG Punch
Recipe type: Beverage
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups passion fruit Juice
  • 3 cups Guava nectar
  • 1 ½ cups Orange juice
  • (I couldn’t find all these ingredients so I used a mixed juice that included these juices)
  • 10 oz Malibu rum
  • 750 m. bottle of dry champagne
  • garnish with pineapple slice
  • makes 10 cocktails

Along with this we enjoyed our Pupu chicken appetizer created by my friend Lucille.

Kathy T#1 brought a mandarin and almond salad and Kathy T #2 made a lovely pineapple rice dish to accompany the vegetable medley and macadamia nut crusted Mahi Mahi that I made. http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipes/Salad/Herbs/recipe.html?dishid=3505

I made the onion Maui onion salad but forgot to serve it.

It was hard to pick what was yummier, the food or George?

Dessert was pulled together by Barb who kept it simple with angel food cake, fresh pineapple, chocolate sauce and whip cream.

Kath’s quote: “He who receives his friends and gives no personal attention to the meal which is being prepared for them, is not worthy of having friends.” –Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Love-that is all.

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »