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Family Celebration at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar


When D and I dine at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar, we often look about to see multi-aged families dining together and we marvel at their ability to do so.

Boo and The Frenchman are soon off to Greece on their honeymoon as Boo was in school when they were married in October of last year. As a result, they will be away on the day of her birthday. We were hard-pressed to find a mutual date for us to gather together but finally agreed upon this past Monday evening.


We are all infatuated with The Wee One so she just had to be in attendance. Even though she is a seasoned diner, she is only a year and a half, so my expectations for our experience were what I would deem “realistic”.  The Keg certainly knows what they are doing when accommodating children. I suppose they understand that a happy child, means ecstatic parents and the chances of lingering and/or returning (often) increase accordingly.

We had made a reservation even though it was early on a weeknight. Upon arriving at the table, there was a high chair strategically placed set with a children’s menu, crayons and an activity sheet. A complementary child’s plate of crackers, oranges, strawberries and celery sticks arrived thereafter and between scribbling (“I colouring!” the Wee One declared) and snacking from her plate we were able to settle in and enjoy our birthday traditions.

On birthdays, we take turns as a family sharing what we love and appreciate about the birthday honouree. In my personal opinion, this is a gift greater than any material one that could be exchanged. We ordered our drinks and a plastic Keg cup with a straw so we could toast the occasion. The Wee One enthusiastically joins us for this custom, having practiced “cheers” with drinks and even food, ever since she could talk.


Appetizers were chosen for us to share around the table: new items of Tuna Tartar, Crispy Shrimp and Mediterranean Chicken Wraps were savoured along with an old favourite- Mushrooms Neptune.


The Wee One enjoyed her Chicken Fingers and Fries from the Kid’s Menu in two courses and supped on the fries while we passed around the tapas plates.


At meal time New York Steaks, Blue Cheese Filets, Pistachio Salmon and Seafood Chicken were selected by those among us who still had an appetite. The girls and I went a bit lighter with Boo selecting a Prime Sandwich (she took half home) and Beep and I sharing a Mushroom Chicken entrée (she had to take her Stuffed Baked Potato home too).

A celebratory wedge of The Keg’s famous Billy Miner Pie arrived with a plate full of spoons and we concluded the evening with a minimum of disruption to fellow diners. This did mean, Umma (me) walking the Wee One to see the fireplaces on repeated occasions and Poppa playing peek-a-boo over a half wall in the dining room. These distractions were a small price to pay for a contented family. In addition, I didn’t have to shop, cook, do the dishes OR clean up the litter under the dining room table, so it was a win, win, win kind of evening.

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Kath’s quote: “The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.”-Judith Martin (Miss Manners)


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


Cozy Up in Winnipeg


Fresh snow on the ground and 20 below temperatures make me (and I am guessing many Winnipeggers), think “cozy”.


For me, cozy is being inside but seeing the wind blow the snow around outside.  You can do this and enjoy savoury soups at Prarie 360, Terrace 55 in Assiniboine Park or the Tapastry at the Niakwa Golf and Country Club. The Peasant Cookery has a couple of snugly booths to enjoy gooey poutine (to add an extra layer of insulation).

Sipping a glass of red wine in front of the fireplace at Confusion Corner Bar & Grill or any one of the Keg Steakhouse + Bars can warm up an evening-especially if you are getting caught up with a close friend.  The toss cushions and soft drapery of the Clay Oven on Kenaston is sure to cozy you up and an order of their Vindaloo Shrimp guarantees it (you can decide the fieriness). The natural wood details at The Chew, Deseo Bistro and Segovia can get me thinking about a walk in the forest. Truth is, I walk work through anything to taste the offerings of these three restaurants.

The wood burning ovens at Pizzeria GustoFood Evolution and Bonfire Bistro are sure to throw some heat.  Doesn’t matter what you order-its all good!  A hot made- from -scratch cocoa at Chocolatier Constance Popp’s or Baked Expectations should increase your cozy quotient.

If an intimate pub is your cup of tea, head to The Grove or the King’s Head for a pint and fish and chips.  Speaking of tea-special local blends are concocted at Cornelia Bean on Academy and are also served up, down the road at Saucers Cafe.  Isn’t it lovely to warm your hands around a cuppa?

Somehow just “being” in St. Boniface especially during Festival is a toasty time.  Chaise Café and Lounge and the Promenade Cafe make you forget that it’s even winter outside.  Muddy Waters Smokehouse is a fun place to warm up after a skate.  Any of the Osborne Village eateries are good destinations when you stroll down the Riverwalk.

Kath’s quote: “Soup is cuisine’s kindest course.  It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.”-Louis P. De Gouy


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


My 1,000th Blog Post


Whenever a blog post is created, it is numbered and so I knew that this milestone has been coming for a couple of months. I wanted this post to be monumental in some way.  I have created more than one draft and then known that it was not what I wanted to say. In the end, it all comes down to this: love. Hokey, I know. But “love” is what I want to share and celebrate on this frigid day. In no particular order, this is what I love:


I love all of my in-laws.

I love to read. I love The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, The Mitford Books, everything by Marlena de Blassi, culinary fiction, anything about Mexico, Italy and France.

I love to curl up and watch TV with D: the Jets, Survivor, Amazing Race and Amazing Race Canada, Suits, Newsroom, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Homeland, House of Cards and House Hunters International (actually I watch this last one after D has instantly fallen asleep).


I love artichokes, eggplant, potatoes, crusty bread, pork chops, lime, cilantro, truffles and  feta cheese.


I love the people (friends) that I work for and with.


I love to travel and am looking forward to one day seeing Prague, the Isle of Man, Tuscany, Spain and returning to Italy, Greece, Israel and France.

I love my husband. After 30 years, I still get excited to know that he is on his way home from work. He kisses me every morning as he gets out of bed even when I am still asleep and he kisses me each night before he instantly falls asleep. He writes me love notes and works diligently so that I know that I am cherished.


I love my daughter and son-in-law and their parents and their siblings.


I love the Wee One. Oh. how I love her! I have known what fierce love is like before but the love of a grandchildren is a wonderful mystery that I am still coming to understand.


I love my Mom. I love her sense of humour. I love the pleasure that food gives her. I love her pride and passion for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


I love my sisters. They are and always have been, my best friends. They know everything about me-warts and all. They have helped us raise our family, traveled with me and share my passion for food.


I love my brothers and miss the one we lost on earth, each and every day.


I love that my siblings all still live in the same city and that their children and grandchildren live here too (with one exception but I love her just as intensely). I love that we want to be together at Lester Beach or on Isla Mujeres.


I love Lester Beach. I love collecting heart shaped stones on the beach, sipping wine whilst watching the sun set, the communal bonfires, happy hours, dinners shared, eating freshly caught pickerel, walking in the woods, riding my turquoise bike, enormous breakfasts shared on the deck, the crackling fire in the woodstove and the cooling breezes which blow across our bed.


I love Isla Mujeres. I love that it is a single plane ride away and that I can leave in the early morning and be there by lunch time. I love watching the sunrise over the water from my bed or wrapping up in a pareo, grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting to wait for its appearance. I love the locals and the fellow travelers that I have met there. I love a particular Mexican family that we have befriended. I love that they invite us to their home. I love Isla’s food! I love escaping to the warmth. I love collecting beach glass and the crashing waves. I love that the constellations look different there. I love the familiarity of being on the little island; of knowing where to fetch the staples for our temporary kitchen, which market stall has the best avocadoes and limes, where to buy the cheapest cervesas, Kahlua and rum. I love the turquoise sea.


In fact, I love everything turquoise.

I love my five Godchildren.


I love my bestie M, who does not live in Winnipeg but who whenever I speak to her or see her, feels like she is still just down the block.


I love the Media Mavens-a group of woman, some of whom I have worked with for over 20 years.


I love my foodie friends, in Manitoba, throughout Canada and the US.


I love my church and my church family. I love the twenty year history that we have shared together, experiencing each other’s victories and defeats.

I love my neighbours. We watch out for each other and share our joys and tough times.


I love my neighbourhood. I love the exceptional restaurants all within walking distance: Fusion Grill, Saucer’s Café, Kudara, Inferno’s, Pizzeria Gusto, Bonfire Bistro, Chew, Enoteca, Mona Lisa, Bernstein’s Deli.


I love my city. I love the rivers and the parks and trails that lie adjacent to them. I love walking over the Provencher St. bridge, past the Canadian Human Rights Museum and into St. Boniface to hear French spoken and eat its amazing food.

BeFunky_2009 Kate's Grad B's Bday 073.jpg

I love our little house. It is not luxurious, it is not pristine, it is not new. But it is cozy, comfortable, warm and well located. There is lots of room in the yard to host summer gatherings, tend to my perennial garden and have a little pond.


I love this country. I love our gentleness, dignity, loyalty, diversity and how great we play hockey.


I love our children. I love that they love to be with us. I love that they all live within 10 minutes of us. I could fill an entire blog post with all things I love about them but I will leave that for another day.

One thousand words in this 1000th post. Thank you for reading and your continued support.

Love-that is all.


The Celebration of the Life of a Mann


I once wrote a cook book.  This was pre-computer days and I typed it on a IBM Selectric typewriter and it was difficult to hide my corrections made with white out.  You might say that it was a pretty transparent work.  Next I had a small number of copies covered with a sheet of construction paper and “spined”.  The title and dedication were on the cover.  “I Cook, Therefore I Am”.  I thought that the title was absolutely brilliant! Even in those days with a repertoire of Jean Parre, and Best of Bridge recipes, cooking for my loved ones, defined me. 

Yes, I love to cook but I will admit this:  I especially love to cook for an appreciative audience.  I am blessed that D and our children and their significant others are my biggest fans. But back in those days, and I am speaking of a time thirty years ago, I was friends with a man who I dubbed a “Famous Eater” in this same dedication.  He didn’t just enjoy good food, he loved everything about the act of eatingHis appreciation oozed out of him as you watched him eat.  His Caribbean blue eyes glinted, his musician’s hands gestured and his voice, that famous voice-praised.  Not with phrases like “oh, this is good” but with accolades that indicated the he understood why you had prepared it just so.  He got food.

The gift of this cookbook was at a wedding shower that I was hosting.  This man was marrying one of my best friends.  She was (is) a beautiful, vivacious woman but I had a grave concern.  She could not cook in those days.  But oh how she tried.  She wanted to love her new husband with gifts of food and so I decided to help her along.  And so I compiled this cookbook of easy recipes that I knew would please.  I loved them both so much that I wanted her to be able to successfully love him with the offering of food.

The next line of the dedication was this “A Collection of Recipes given to Trish on the occasion of her marriage to David Mann-A Famous Eater”.  I so clearly remember that in Trish’s surprise and excitement, she unwrapped the cookbook and read the dedication like this: “I cook, therefore I am a collection of recipes”.  I recall that we all giggled at her error and yet, I think that her statement is absolutely true.

I was the only female attendant at their wedding-their “Matron of Honour” (matron not maid, because I was married to D).  Trish told me yesterday, that she loves to look at the picture in their home of us all together.  She told me this yesterday, at the memorial service for her husband David.  He had succumbed to cancer of the esophagus.  The irony of this does not sit lightly with me.  Not only was it his voice that was the reason for our becoming acquainted (he was the morning man at Q 94 and I was the Marketing Director for The Keg ‘n Cleaver Restaurant) but his esophagus delivered the food that he delighted in, to nourish his body.

David loved Keg Steaks, but also 529 (where he and his family celebrated birthdays) and Rae and Jerry’s.  Rae and Jerry’s catered the refreshments at his memorial service yesterday.  In fact, they cater every celebration of life service at the church that we attend.  There was a time when I loved their fancy sandwiches but recently I only ever eat them when I am very sad.

I introduced David and Trish to each other.  My D was living in Toronto finishing his degree in foodservice and hospitality at Ryerson.  Trish traveled a lot with her work with Estee Lauder.  David and I often found ourselves together by default.  He once called me to say he had been loaned a motorcycle and wanted to drive to Lockport for a Skinner’s hotdog but it wouldn’t be the same without someone on the back of the bike and Trish was not available.  I was afraid of motorcycles as I had lost two acquaintances in separate accidents but somehow David talked me into it.  He promised me he would drive slowly. Liar. David loved speed.  He loved the wind in his hair.  At that time his car was a Scirocco, so named for a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe.  He was fond of quick acceleration times.  I chuckle when I think of this because Trish was the opposite.  As we raised our young children together, she would run alongside the toboggan as it slipped down the hill, for fear of injury to the kids.

D and I and David and Trish have not been close in recent years.  David was our financial planner and we decided that it would be best if we kept the relationship a professional one.  But it was also this:  I try to live my life without grudges but I allowed one to stand between me and Trish.  I believe that she has forgiven me.  I know that I have forgiven her.  David would have wanted this.  I have promised that I will contact her next week as she tries to get back to some normalcy in her life- a life without the father of her children, without the Famous Eater.

Kaths quote: All things ever after. -David Mann

Love-that is all.

What makes a great Dad


I think a lot about my Dad on Father’s Day and what being a great Dad really means.

When I was 18 months old I contacted spinal meningitis and then shortly thereafter, the measles.  I understand that I spent weeks in the hospital on intravenous medications that I would attempt to pull out on my own, so the medical staff’s solution was to secure me into this handy little device that they borrowed from a different area of the hospital-a straight jacket.  Hospitals had different policies and approaches in those days, parents were restricted to the same visiting hours as everyone else and my parents were able to visit me for an hour in the afternoon and another hour in the evening.  They spent most of this time trying to coax me to eat as I was notoriously picky while a child (ironic).  I refused all hospital food and my parents would sneak up bologna and 7 up during their visits.  I have been told that there was some concern during this time, that I may die as other children had succumbed to the condition, while still others were left deaf or blind or with mobility issues.  I survived unscathed, with the exception of night terrors while I was growing up, a fear of men (ironic) and an exceptional close relationship with my Daddy.

Years later, I have married a man who has many qualities of my Dad and we have two beautiful children.  Daughter #1 is coming down with what we though was a flu so D and J1 head down to Minneapolis for a short vacation without us.  My Dad helps me nurse her back to health.  We were told to get any calories into her as we could because her violent vomiting seems to have subsided.  Dad comes over with fish sticks and freezies and suggests that he stays while she has a nap and I try to take a bath.  While I am in the tub, I hear her give a little cry from the couch in the family room.  I go to her to find that she is completely paralysed.  My Dad follows in his car while an ambulance whisks us to the hospital.  Daddy sits in the corner of the emergency room while murmurs of meningitis and brain tumors are being discussed with me by the doctors.  I remember him saying something which I could not make out.  When I asked what he said, he spoke up “Oh God, not again”.

After a day of various tests and a ct scan, D and J1 leave our car in Minneapolis and fly home.  My Mom and Dad are with me when he arrives and we get the news that there is no tumour on the brain.  Our beautiful, smart and perfectly healthy 5 year old has meningoencephalitis, a combination of swelling of the meninges (the tissue that surrounds the spinal column) and the brain.  They will not find out for a number of weeks what has caused the infection.  They set up a bed for me in the hospital room and indicate a chair for D.  That was the only night that I tried to sleep beside her.  I was pregnant with our youngest and our little 3 year old son was waiting for me at home.  D slept in a chair for a month by her bedside, would shower in the morning and then head to work for the day (we owned our own restaurant at the time) until one especially kind, family doctor encouraged D to go home with me and sleep in our bed.  He reassured D that they would be there every time Daughter #1 needed something through the night.  My Mom and Dad were there every day for afternoon visiting hours to bring little gifts of encouragement for our daughter and food for me.

I get really annoyed when I hear the phrase: “It is the thought that counts”.  My friends, it is not the “thought”, it is the act of being there every day; it is sleeping in a chair, it is “action”, not “thought”.  For me and for my children: action and devotion is what makes a great Dad.

How do I honour my husband on Father’s Day?  It is hard, no-impossible, for him to know what he means to me and our family, so I do what you all do.  I buy him a weed-eater and a nice pair of shorts and I fix him a dinner which he requests.  But then the next morning I am compelled to write something to share with the world.  He is the BEST Dad I know and I was loved by my own BEST Dad too.

Kath’s quote: “The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road.” ~Angelo Patri


Love-that is all.

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