Browsing: Sister #3’s Recipes & Reflections

Waste not, want not-Sister #3


My parents were raised in the midst of the depression. As a result, we kids were taught to never waste food.  While the results of finishing everything on my plate likely accounts for my tendency to be overweight, there were some good things that came as a result of this theology.  This week’s blog include some of my favourite ways to upcycle items that may otherwise go in the garbage, or sometimes, into already full tummies.

Freezer Fried Rice
I learned this one from my sister Kath.  At the end of a meal when there is a bit of leftover meat or vegetables, wrap them up and put them in the freezer. I have a special bin for these bits and pieces.  I also freeze the plain white rice that comes with a Chinese food delivery, as my favourite restaurant includes chicken fried rice with a large enough order.  Then when I have a craving for good fried rice, I pull out my rice, meat, veggies, add soya sauce and an egg and voila! A yummy dinner.

Refrigerator Soup
My father was the master of refrigerator soup. It’s a great way to use up what you’ve got on hand.  And I use this method all the time.  The only problem is, if you create a delicious meal, it’s not always possible to “re”create it. Sometimes I make a vegetable soup while cleaning out the crisper. Other times it’s the freezer and those frozen veggies get cooked up in a broth with onions and garlic, then put through the blender.  

Another favourite is taking some of the bits of meat with left over veggies from the fried rice bin, adding a can of tomatoes and frozen pasta.  A new creation every time, and pretty much free food.        

Smoothie Bin

I am awful at estimating how much fruit I need.  If I want a variety, I end up with too much, because it takes one person a long time to eat a whole melon and I refuse to pay more for store cut fruit.  Living alone and buying a pineapple often means I’m tired of it half way through, or worse, I cut it all up and forget it in the back of the fridge.  So before the berries get mushy or the peaches get grainy, I flash freeze them and put them in baggies in my smoothie bin.  This way I have plenty of frozen fruit and just need to add juice and yogurt, or some almond milk to the blender and I have a yummy way to start the day.

I often make my smoothie on the thicker side and turn into a bowl.  I top with nuts and seeds, some nut butter and fresh fruit and it’s very satisfying.

I think that one leftover food we can all relate to is bananas.  Why can I never buy the right amount of bananas?  I’m always peeling and freezing bananas. Thankfully I like them in my smoothies, but sometimes I can’t keep up and end up making muffins, or my very favourite banana bread recipe-most certainly more of a dessert than a breakfast item.  I got this recipe years ago from my friend Sabina. Hope you enjoy it.  

Banana Nut Chip Loaf


3 large ripe bananas, mashed 1 cup white sugar

2 medium eggs                       1/2 cup oil

1 1/4 cup flour                        1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips          1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into a buttered loaf pan. Cook for 1 hour or until loaf comes away from the pan and a wooden toothpick come out clean, keeping in mind the chocolate will be melted and stick to the toothpick.  

Kath’s quote: “Give me liberty or – just some leftovers will also do”. Author unknown

Love never fails

Christmas Love-by Sister #3


I have always expressed love through the sharing of food. And Christmas is a time where this takes on a special significance. Every year I am blessed to coordinate a turkey dinner with all the fixings for the folks at Harvest Manitoba. I started in 1994 and this was my final year. While it’s exhausting, I’ll miss it.

This year I also got to pack hampers at the Christmas Cheer Board-a wonderful way to bless people during the holidays. 

The older my friends and I get, the less we need gifts for Christmas. Most of us are blessed to have everything we need and are focused on downsizing, not accumulating more.  So, many of us have started buying each other consumables; nice lotions, bath products, candles and the like. My favourite consumable gifts have always been food related.

For many years I organized a cooking exchange where about 8 of us would get together and bring seven dozen cookies to swap with each other. It really cut down on the work of Christmas baking because you only had to make lots of one thing but would go home at the end of the evening with a wide variety of baking. Then I would pull together plates of cookies for work colleagues, my hair salon, vets office, etc.

I no longer do the cookie exchange because for the past number of years a dear friend of mine has gifted me with a basket full of Christmas treats, to augment my baking, that I can share with my family. She also includes her homemade granola, salsa, cranberry sauce, mango jalapeño jelly and turmeric pickle. All yummy concoctions. 

I used to make this particular friend a Bûche de Noël for her to serve for Christmas dessert, but recently I’ve switched to a more practical gift of casseroles to be delivered to her family a couple times in January. This year is turkey tetrazzini and lasagna roll ups. 

I’m trying to make life more simple, so for the past few years, I have been gifting boxes of homemade nuts and bolts. Here’s the base recipe I use, but I change it up every year as it’s not always easy to find this variety of Chex cereal. I’ll substitute with bugles or cheese bits. 




4 cups Corn Chex

4 cups Wheat Chex

3 cups Rice Chex

2 cups Cheerios

3 cups skinny bite-sized pretzels

1½ cups salted nuts


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 heaping teaspoons seasoned salt

1¼ teaspoons garlic powder

¾ teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon dried thyme


Preheat oven to 250°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.

Combine the Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, Cheerios, pretzels, and nuts in a large disposable aluminum pan or roasting pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme. Pour slowly over the snack mix, stirring as you go, to coat evenly. Continue stirring until snack mix is well coated with the seasoning. Bake for 1½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Let cool, then serve or store in an airtight container.

Note: You can omit any of the snack mix ingredients as long as you substitute something else. The idea is to keep the ratio of snack mix to butter seasoning the same. Also, be sure your oven is fully preheated before you put the snack mix in. The initial surge of heat to preheat the oven will burn the snack mix in a heartbeat.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The snack mix can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Cool completely before freezing.

Kath;s quote: ‘Food is symbolic of love, when words are inadequate“. -Allan Woodfelt

Love never fails.

Boxing Day Brunch-by Sister #3

About one third of our gang is my brother Tom’s family.

We are a large family. I am the youngest of six children. All of my siblings are married with children. Most of my nieces and nephews are married and about half of them have children. So when we get together as a family, there are 50 of us. Most of my family live in Winnipeg or within an hour of the city. One niece and her husband live in Australia and a great nephew and his partner live in British Columbia, but come home often, including at Christmas. So figuring out how to gather together to celebrate Christmas is a challenge. We find that Boxing Day is our best option and even then not everyone is able to join us. We are, however, still a big group with 45 hoping to attend this year. We have long out grown meeting in someone’s house.

For a few years we met in a hall in our Mother’s personal care home as well as in the party room at our sister-in-laws apartment building. A few years back we started to gather at Little Brown Jug, a local brewery where a couple of family members work. It’s a great setting. Centrally located, it means family coming from all corners of the city don’t have too far to travel. I think it would make my beer loving father very happy to know this is where we celebrate.

There isn’t any beer involved as we come together for brunch and to exchange gifts. There are gifts for all the little ones and we older folks pick names (if we elect) to participate in the gift exchange. I am always so impressed with the gifts that are given. They are always so personal and show that people really took the time to think about their shopping, and also that we all know each other pretty well.

Our brunch menu is pretty extensive and for many years my contribution has been quiche Lorraine.  Here’s my recipe.  Enjoy!


Pie crust*                                         
1/2 lb. bacon**

1 onion, chopped                            
4 eggs                                    
1 tbsp dried parsley 

1 cup, Swiss cheese shredded***

cereal cream, 1 cup

Salt and Pepper


Dice bacon, and fry. You’ll need a tsp of oil if you are using back bacon. Remove cooked bacon and use the same pan to fry diced onion. Remove some of the bacon fat if you used side bacon. Place the bacon, onion and cheese into the pie crust. Beat eggs and mix with cream. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour into pie crust. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes.

*These amounts are based on a store bough “deep dish” pie crust.  I make my own crust and my pie plates are a lot deeper so I increase the recipe by 2 eggs and ½ cup of cream.

** I use back bacon ends that you can buy at Fresco.

*** It’s harder to find blocks of Swiss cheese these days.  I’ve been buying mine at Bothwell.

Happy and merry everything!

Kath’s quote:

Love never fails.

Christmas Tradition-by Sister #3


I love tradition. I’m especially fond of traditions that are connected to holiday memories. One of the strongest food memories I have of our family Christmas is my Mom’s butter tarts.

According to my mom, this recipe dates back many generations on the Jones side of our family. I even have the special tart tins Mom used to bake them. I’m not sure how many generations used these pans but suffice to say they are well worn.

These tarts are different than the traditional Canadian butter tart. The shells are quite shallow, the pastry thin and crumbly. They feature currents, as opposed to raisins, lucky for me as I am not a raisin fan. The filling is sticky and crispy around the edges. They are delicious and bring me immediately back to my childhood.  

When I bake them I feel my mom beside me, telling me to roll the crust a wee bit thinner, and how much filling each tart needs. I wonder if she used to feel her own mother’s presence when she made them for the many years after her mother’s passing.  Recently I’ve been working on the recipe as the notes my mom had written down were a bit vague. For instance the recipe never said how many tarts you would get, and in the past I’ve just gone by feel. Rolling out tart shells and filling them as I go. When I ran out of filling, I was finished baking and would wrap up the remaining pastry for another purpose. But now that I’m sharing them I have done my best to fill in some gaps. So fingers crossed that they work for you.

I was thrilled to be asked to share them with my honorary niece and nephew (children of my BFF).  Ashley even went to thrift store on a visit to Winnipeg and found the exact tart pans I use. So over Zoom, connected to St. Paul Minnesota and Silver Spring Maryland, I showed the kids the ins and outs of the recipe. There was a bit of a struggle with the crust, lard is not readily available in the U.S. and shortening comes in a 20oz block and not a pound like here. But we muddled through and the end result was a hit. It was fun to do some Christmas baking together. I am pretty sure that one of my blood nieces or nephews will pick up the torch and continue to make these after I am gone. And I hope they can feel me telling them to roll that crust just a little thinner. I hope everyone who eats them can feel the love of all of the past generations that has been passed on from one to the next. Hope your Christmas baking is going well and you find ways to celebrate your own family traditions. 

Mom’s Butter Tarts


For crust

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1 lb Tenderflake lard

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 egg, lightly beaten

Ice water

You will only need about ¼ of this dough for the tarts, the rest can be kept in the fridge and used for another purpose, also freezes well.

For filling

1 cup butter                 2 cups brown sugar

¼ cup milk                  1 cup currants

2 eggs, beaten             2 tsps vanilla


For crust: Whisk together flour and salt. Cut in Tenderflake with pastry blender or 2 knives until the lard is pea sized within the flour. In a 1 cup measure combine the vinegar and egg. Add the ice water to make 1 cup.

Gradually stir liquid into Tenderflake mixture, adding only enough liquid to make the dough cling together. Gently knead the dough a few times, but be careful not to overwork it.  Just want it to come together, then gather the dough into a ball and divide into 6 equal portions. Wrap the portions and refrigerate. After 15-30 minutes your dough is ready to work with. Roll out one portion on a lightly floured surface. Cut into appropriate size circles of dough that has been rolled thinly.  Less than 1/8th of an inch thick. The remaining portions of dough can be frozen for later use.

For filling: Use non-stick spray to coat tart shells. Place dough circles into pan. Place 1 tsp of currants in each raw tart shell. Over medium heat, melt butter, mix in brown sugar and allow sugar to melt.  Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, stir in milk, egg & vanilla.  Pour mixture into tart shells about ¾ full.  Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes. The filling may overflow the crust a bit so it’s important to use the non-stick spray.

Makes approximately 3 dozen tarts

Kath’s quote: “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed down from generation to generation.” – Regina Brett

Love never fails.

Building my Culinary Repertoire through Travel-Sister #3


When I travel, one of the things I look most forward to is experiencing the food. The reality is that the version of ethnic food that we get here in Canada is not the same as when you taste it in its country of origin. Sometimes the food has been altered to better suit the North American palate. For instance I knew that my trip to Beijing China would be full of culinary surprises and there is no restaurant that I have encountered here at home that would come close to the crazy and diverse food I was offered there. Frog stew anyone?

Sometimes the difference comes from the fact that the produce is readily available in that country and looses something when it is shipped here. I love to sit on the beach in Mexico and eat fish that was caught that morning, served with guacamole made with avocados of perfect ripeness. There is just no way to capture that freshness 2,000 miles away.

Three Sisters in Dublin
In Prague
In Malaga

I love tasting food prepared by hands that have been making it their whole lives. I always want to sample things a place is known for. Last autumn alone, I ate boxty in Dublin, schnitzel in Prague, tapas in Malaga.

Many years ago I traveled through Turkey and Greece I discovered that many of the dishes were almost identical. They both have versions of tomato, cucumber, onion, olive, and feta salad, as well as crispy filo pastry with nuts and syrup. The difference is one country just seems to have better cooks than the other. I won’t tell you who I thought did it better. There is already enough rivalry between the Turks and the Greeks.

When I return from a trip, I like to find recipes for the foods I ate on my trip and try them at home. Below you’ll find a recipe for Turkish lamb stew cooked in paper- a uniquely Turkish dish.

I think the trick is to be as open minded as you can when trying food from another country. I remember I was traveling with a Canadian woman who mid trip announced “You can’t even get a good hamburger here” to which I replied, “it’s pretty hard to get a really good kebab in Winnipeg”.

You can pretty much rest assured that not everything you eat will be to your taste, but try it all, or at least the things you are brave enough to try. Scorpion on a stick anyone, anyone? And you might be surprised at the fabulous taste sensations you discover along the way.

Kagit Kebabi (Turkish lamb stew in paper) Serves 6

1 lb. potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 lb lamb, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 tomato, peeled and diced
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a fry pan, brown meat evenly. Add onion and carrot, cover and cook until the juices are absorbed. Add the potatoes, tomato, peas, tomato paste dissolved in a little water, and vinegar. Cook for a few minutes more. Then add 1 cup of water, cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour. This is a good time to add your salt and pepper. It will need a significant amount of both. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cut six generous size pieces of parchment paper. Place equal portions of the mixture in center of each sheet. Sprinkle with herbs. Gather the sides together and give a twist. Place the parcels on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve in the packages. If you don’t wish to cook in paper you can let the stew continue to cook in the pot for 20 minutes longer but I don’t think it’s as good.

Kath’s quote: “Eating good food is a global achievement and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!”-author unknown

Love never fails.

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