Browsing: Sister #3’s Recipes & Reflections

Blessing my home 25 years later – by Sister #3


In 1998 I decided to give up apartment living and buy a house. My mom was helping me look and we hadn’t seen many places when we came across my house. On a lovely tree lined street in little Italy, its location was perfect.  I had lived most of my adult life in Osborne Village and wanted to stay central but also wanted a less transient neighbourhood with some history.

The house had good bones. Built in 1904 it had a solid foundation, level floors, and straight walls. But I had to look beyond the surface appearance to discover what the house truly had to offer. The fellow who lived in my house was a slob. The place was a mess. It had been on the market a while and he had obviously grown tired of putting in any effort in preparation for showings. The place reeked of cigarettes and cat pee. His furniture was sparse, tattered and covered in cat hair. Besides being dirty, the house was painted stark white and lacked decoration, so had absolutely no personality.

Worst of all there had an alter of plywood and cinder blocks in the upstairs box room, covered in items that indicated the owner was worshiping something that I would never invite into my house. I remember the look on my real estate agent’s face when we entered that room. I’m sure he thought he wasn’t making a sale that day.

But there was something about the place that showed me it was going to be my home. The pitch of the 3/4 story second floor ceilings felt like a cozy hug, the high fluted baseboards and door jams with their corner carved medallions showed that this house was built with love and pride of ownership. The large windows filled the place with so much light. I knew she had potential. So I put in an offer and got a great deal on the place.  

The day I took possession my friend and pastor, Merv met me at the house in order to walk from room to room, blessing it and ridding it if any spirits that may have been left behind. The owner hadn’t bothered to move most of his things out of the house, including his make shift alter.  Merv tore it all apart and hauled it to the garbage, cleansing my house so I could start to rebuild it on a new spiritual foundation, fill it with colour, and beautiful things, and restore its personality. 

Recently I hosted a dinner party and invited Pastor Merv, his wife Susan and another couple of our friends to my home for dinner. I wanted to celebrate 25 years in my home. I love my little house and all the memories she holds. All the celebrations, and sleepovers, all the deck visits over cups of tea. That night we had a lovely time reminiscing about my first day in the house.

Anyway, this is a food blog so here’s the recipe for the soup I served as my first course for our dinner party. Hope you enjoy. 

Butternut squash soup 

Makes two litres 

1 large butternut squash cubed approx. 8 cups

1 yellow onion cut into medium dice

2 large carrots peeled and cut into large dice

2 garlic cloves peeled

3 Tablespoons butter melted

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon curry powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup apple juice

3 ½ cups vegetable stock

6 oz cream

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger pulp 

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Place butternut squash, onion, carrots, and garlic on a parchment lined sheet pan. Combine melted butter, olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, curry powder, kosher salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle it over the butternut squash mixture and toss until everything is coated. Roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Once cooked and cooled, spoon vegetables in batches into blender with enough apple juice and broth to process. 

Pour into large saucepan on medium heat. Add ½ cup pumpkin puree, any remaining juice or broth, ginger pulp and cream. Stir until well combined and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Serve and enjoy.

Kath’s quote: “Our house is a very, very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard.
Now everything is easy ’cause of you
.”-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Love never fails.

Mom’s Pantry-by Sister #3


When my mom moved into a personal  care home, we went to work cleaning out her house and doing some renovations in preparation for sale. It was challenging because it was pretty full of stuff, and for me and some of my siblings it was the only home we had ever lived in as a family. There were so many memories created in that place and it was full of items that reminded us of those sweet times. I was very happy with how hard everyone worked and how smoothly the division of moms things went. Everyone was able to find items that were sentimental to them and there were no items that anyone bickered over. I had asked all my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews if there was anything in particular they would like. Only one item was requested by two people, mom’s white chenille bedspread. But while sorting through the linen closet I discovered that she actually owned two of them. Problem solved!  

Mom wasn’t a hoarder or anything but having grown up during the depression she sometimes had a hard time parting with things she felt were of value. Also a product of growing up in poverty, she had a tendency to stock up on food items on sale and prepare lots of things for the freezer and pantry. Her deep freeze was full of meat and her homemade perogies, bread and cinnamon buns.

Her pantry was well stocked with dry goods, flour, cans of soup, tinned fruit and vegetables, and her homemade preserves. I have wonderful memories of making all kinds of jams and pickles with my mom but I have to confess that I have not since done any “canning” as mom would call it. Part of the reason is a dear friend of mine makes all kinds of things In jars and gifts me with her salsa, jalapeño jelly, cranberry jelly, and turmeric pickles every Christmas. 

The closest thing I do to preserves these days is escabeche, a delicious quick pickle of vegetables I first tasted in Mexico. Here’s my recipe for these super easy veggies.

3 x 16 ounce Mason jars (or any sealable glass jar)

1 cup carrots, sliced

2½ cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch radishes, sliced

2 jalapenos, sliced & seeds removed

6 garlic cloves

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

1¼ teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

Divide peppercorns and bay leaves between the three Mason jars. Peel garlic cloves but leave whole and divide between jars.* Layer carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and jalapenos in jars.

In a pot, combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil on the stovetop then simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 30 seconds. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and allow to cool for one hour before sealing and refrigerating.

Escabeche is ready to eat as soon as it’s chilled but it’s best to allow the flavors to develop for a full day.

Escabeche will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

If you aren’t into spicy pickles, cut back or eliminate the jalapeños. Also know that the garlic can turn a funny blue colour, but it’s a completely normal reaction to the vinegar. 

Kath’s quote: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar“. — Thomas Jefferson

Love never fails.

Harvesting Herbs-by Sister #3


Growing up, our neighbourhood was full of backyard gardens. People often turned their yards into rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and beans. Even people who didn’t have big gardens, as in our family, at least had a patch of rhubarb or pots with tomato plants. One thing I don’t recall seeing in my childhood was people growing herbs; with the exception of the dill weed that people needed to make their pickles. I never saw fresh herbs until college where my culinary instructors taught me to properly “chiffonade”: a French term meaning “ribbons”. We were taught to stack leafy herbs like basil, rolling them into a tight little bundle and then slicing them into fine thread-like strands.

Turns out herbs are one of the easiest things to grow. I have my herb box just outside my patio door that leads off my kitchen. Every year I grow basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, mint.

I just snipped the last of my herbs in anticipation of a hard frost and will dry and crush them to use over the next few months.

One of my favourite herbs to have fresh, is sage. The smell is unlike anything else you’ll every smell. I love to toss these pale green furry little leaves in browned butter and serve them over pasta, especially my homemade sweet potato gnocchi. The taste of that nutty butter, pungent sage on top of the pillowy balls of slightly sweet goodness, is one of my favourite treats.

Here’s my recipe. Easier to make than you might think. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
8 dinner size servings

2 1-pound sweet potatoes- rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese,
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 2 tablespoons of salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi. Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

Kath’s quote: “Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” – Charlemagne

Love never fails.

Autumn is Here-written by Sister #3


I wish I could enjoy fall more than I do. Part of the problem is: I am crazy for summer. I love to sit out on my deck and enjoy my morning tea in my nighty. I love to harvest my beans, tomatoes, fresh herbs. I love fresh and delicious summer foods, grilled meat, corn on the cob, tomato sandwiches, and crunchy salads. I always feel sad saying goodbye to those days and hello to the crisp fall air. The other part of the problem is that fall leads to winter, and everyone who knows me, knows I hate winter. I know lots of people dislike winter, but I absolutely hate it. Believe me I have tried. But my body, my heart, my soul, they all dislike winter. So unfortunately fall pays the price because it is a reminder that winter is coming!  

As fall approaches the available variety of fresh fruit and vegetables starts to dwindle and so does my desire to eat anything healthy and instead dive head first into a chicken pot pie. So I have to work hard to ensure I’m still getting my daily servings of fruit and veg. I use frozen fruit for morning smoothies and make sure to treat myself to “special”, and therefor more expensive vegetables, like snow peas for stir fries and fancy mushrooms for pasta al funghi. 

In summer I eat a lot of salads so I decided I needed to create this autumnal salad that, I could fall in love with, to get me through the season. So after much testing I came up with my favourite dish to celebrate the bounty of autumn. 

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Blackberry Salad

For the Kale                                                             
2 large bunches kale                                             
2 Tbsp olive oil                                                       
1/2 tsp salt                                                              

For the Butternut Squash
1/2 butternut squash (24 ounces), cubed
1.5 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the Nuts and Seeds                                       
1 cup raw pecans                                                   
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds                               
1.5 tablespoons maple syrup                             
1/8 teaspoon sea salt                                           

For Dressing (makes more dressing than needed)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp soya sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 cloves of garlic

For the Salad
1 pint blackberries
5 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries


Debone and chop kale.  Add olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Massage the kale with your hands for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Spread butternut squash out on the baking sheet. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to the butternut squash and toss until squash is evenly coated. Bake 20 minutes, set aside to cool.

Place all ingredients for nuts into a medium mixing bowl. Toss until nuts are evenly coated and then spread out evenly onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

Roast for 8-10 minutes at 400ºF. You can roast the nuts in the oven with the squash.

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process till emulsified.

Place kale, squash, blackberries, goat cheese, cranberries, nuts and seeds, toss with appropriate amount of dressing.  

Kath here: I am posting this from NYC where we are enjoying a summer-like day. I don’t mind the change of the seasons as Sister #3 does, but I am grateful, when we can travel to stretch summer just a little bit.

Kath’s quote: “As we celebrate this season of thanksgiving, we give thanks for the blessings of food, provision and nourishment. Please grow in us a harvest for the world. Come sow a seed of hope within our souls, that we might yield goodness, patience and kindness in abundance.“-A Thanksgiving Prayer

Love never fails.

Food Traditions-by Sister #3


I love tradition. Some people might think that I’m stuck in a rut, but I love the comfort of the familiar. I especially love traditions that are food focused. If I’m out for Sunday breakfast I’m at the Garwood Grill. If it’s my birthday, we will be eating banana Jeannie’s cake. At Boxing Day brunch I will have made quiche for my family. And if I’m together with my friend Kathy at the lake she will make me her delicious scones.

She has customized them for my taste by using craisins instead of raisins and adding orange zest. They are always so delicious and we devour them hot out of the oven. So when I was menu planning for our recent girls getaway to Gimli, Kathy knew her scones would be an expectation. Served with butter, assorted jams and fresh fruit, they never disappoint.

This is only one of the ways that my dear friend Kathy shows her love. She is so generous with her time, is always at my side for the tough things in life as well as the joyous things. I hope everyone has at least one friend like that. I am blessed to have a number of them. Here is her recipe, with a couple of notes from me. 

Kathy’s Scones

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar 

1tsp baking soda

Zest from half and orange 

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries 

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup lite sour cream 

Mix dry ingredients including zest and cranberries. Mix in butter (gently with hands) until crumbly mixture. Combine egg and sour cream and stir into flour mixture. Turn out on counter and gently need till flour is incorporated. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch round. Cut into triangles or use a glass or round cutter to cut into circles. Bake at 400F for approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they may need much longer depending on the size. 

Kath’s quote. “Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins. There was enough food there to keep a starving family for a week”. -Daphne du Maurier

Love never fails.

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