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Culinary Kids

November22

I am convinced that  my love of preparing food for others (and as a love offering) was instilled in me at an early age.  My Mom was very wise and knew that if she made the process fun and not a responsibility, she could encourage our help.  There were six of us kids, only one working parent and my Mom made everything from scratch. 

She would always leave a heel of pie crust so we could make our own mini pies filled with jam and wedges of bread dough so that we could fashion our own version of her amazing cinnamon buns.  Her cabbage rolls and perogies were legendary and I recall the afternoons when Sister #2, Brother #3 (twins 3 years younger than I) were perched up at the kitchen table to help her roll, stuff and pinch.

I still recall the day when I prepared an entire dinner for the family and a business associate that my Dad was bringing home for dinner.  I do not remember all of the ingredients but I do know that that the main course was meatballs in a mushroom sauce and buttered noodles.  I am quite sure that I was eight as that was the year that Sister #3 was born.

Cooking with kids is brilliant for so many reasons: 

it teaches order, process, measurement, fractions and other math concepts

it teaches basic scientific interactions between ingredients and cause and effect concepts 

it teaches about good nutrition, vitamins, fibre and the healthy living benefits of anti-oxidants

it teaches about the importance of purchasing local and the planting and harvesting cycle

it teaches how to create grocery lists and budget and read a recipe (the only recipe book that I recall in our home was Madame Benoit’s)

I could go on and on but most importantly:

it teaches that food made with care and attention is an offering and a gift to show those you love, that they are precious and important to you

Kath’s quote: “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me.”-Cookie Monster

We Day Winnipeg-Keg Connections

November15

We are a socially-conscious family.  D spent many years as the Operation Manager at Winnipeg Harvest, Daughter #1 works for one of the Canada’s largest disaster relief organizations, Daughter # 2 is studying International Development and has travelled to El Salvador and South Africa to work on specific children’s initiatives.  Son #1 and Daughter (in law) #3 travelled to the Phillipine’s together to serve as Midwife and Pediatric Medic.  And me, well as my readers know, I volunteer each week as a baby hugger at the local children’s hospital.

Our kids know that it is cool to care.  They have taught us, even more so than we have taught them, that we can all find our place to create long-lasting global change.  We strive each day to associate ourselves with like-hearted organizations who put their actions (and money) where their mouths are and that is one of many reasons why we are so proud to be alumni of the Keg family of restaurants.

Over the last 10 years the Keg Spirit Foundation has raised over 5.5 million to support more than 300 local charities helping youth in need.  Until November 27, 2011 The Keg is featuring a special menu, whereby $2 for each entree served is donated to the Foundation.  We recently dined and enjoyed the Deluxe Chicken which was served on a bed of goat’s cheese cream sauce and topped with crumbled goat cheese- a delicious way to support a wonderful cause.

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar is a sponsor of We Days across the country (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg) and The Keg Spirit Foundation supports the We Schools in Action program.  This program operates in classrooms across the country.  Each classroom is encouraged to take on a local and an international initiative, and raise both funds and awareness. 

On November 23, 2011 thousands of Winnipeg students are invited to attend We Day at the MTS Centre to learn about some of the most pressing social issues of the day and that they are not alone to make a difference.   We Day, is the largest youth empowerment event of its kind and is put on by the Free  The Children charity.  Co-founders Craig & Marc Kielburger have assembled an amazing line up of world-renown social activists to inspire and ignite the passion of young people gathered at We Day. 

We can all make a difference.  End apathy.  It is cool to care.

 Kath’s quote: “I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”-Marcel Proust

Give Thanks in Manitoba

October7

I am thankful for the talented Chef’s who run our restaurants.  They could succeed anywhere but make Winnipeg their home: Bistro 7 1/4, Deseo, Segovia, Wasabi Sabi, The Grove, Hermano’s, Billabong and oh so many more. 

I am thankful for the wholesome and local ingredients available to preapre for my family: Morden corn, Altona sunflower seeds, Lake Winnipeg pickerel, Winkler farmer’s sausage and oh so many more.

I am thankful to shop in Winnipeg’s north end for Jeanne’s cake, bagels at Gunn’s Bakery, Tenderloin’s kubasa, and oh so much more.

I am thankful the exceptional and locally owned restaurants within walking distance of my home: Bernstein’s Deli, Mona Lisa, Pizzeria Gusto, Fusion, Saucer’s, The Frenchway Cafe and oh so many more.

I am thankful  for Winnipeg’s affordable cost of living so that D and I can (on modest incomes), support the kids while they attend university but still own a little beach house for the glorious summers and afford to get away in the winter.

I am thankful for the work that I do and the people that I interact with every day: Laura, Walter, Gord, Lori, Karen, Ric, Ben, Diane, Gwen, Cheryl, Kim (x2) and Clare.

I am thankful for my blended heritage and its food: the simple and honest starches of Eastern Europe and the Metis influences of wild rice and blueberries.

I am thankful for the new cooking influences in my life: Fredy and the other talented chefs from Isla Mujeres, the narrow restaurants of New York City and friends Connie and Roger from Sicily.  I am also thankful for the teaching of chefs I have never met like: Laura Calder &  Jamie Oliver.

I am thankful for my almost 85 year old Mom who encouraged me to cook when I was “knee high to a grasshopper” and taught me how to make cinnamon buns and good soups.  I am thankful for Sister’s #2 &#3 who complete what I am not in the kitchen, and are my very best friends.  I am thankful for my son and his wife who by example, show me how to use less prepared ingredients and love everything I cook.  I am thankful for my daughters who look to me to share my knowledge and recipes and to pass along our food heritage.  And I am thankful for D who said just last night “thank you for loving me with your food” when I whipped up a pasta with hot Italian sausage, red peppers, onions, garlic, feta and fresh spinach but whose favourite meal is still my meatloaf and mashed potatoes and niblet corn.

I am thankful for my readers who inspire me when I pound away at my keyboard in the dark of the morning, in my turquoise housecoat.  If you are reading this: I am thankful for you. 

This weekend, celebrate life with food made with love.

K

 

Dinner for One

August22

We are just at the conclusion of our two week stretch at the cottage. 

Preparing food for each other and guests has been a primary focus for D and I and I have loved every minute of it.  But I will also be glad to be home and reacquaint ourselves with the kids and our mandatory Sunday suppers.  Tonight the breeze is actually very cool and I also look forward to the time of making soups and stews with ingredients that I intend to fetch from St. Norbert Market-a pleasure that I also miss when at the cottage. 

I am also anticipating the opportunity to eat alone again.  This is a complicated feeling and one that I cannot express as eloquently as Ann Patchett in this excerpt from “Dinner for One, Please James”.  I read a wonderful collection of food essays earlier this summer in a collection entitled:  “Alone in the Kitchen an Eggplant” (edited by Jenni Ferrai-Adler).

“So while it is with deep and genuine pleasure to nuture those I love, it is an equal pleasure to be off the hook for the responsibility as well, to pass over food that is delicate and beautiful and complex in favour of the item that is likely to spoil.  Eating as a simple means of ending hunger is one of the greatest liberties of being alone, like going to the movies by yourself in the afternoon, or back in those golden days of youth, having a cigarette in the bathtub.  It is a pleasure to not have to take anyone else’s pleasures into account or explain why I like to drink my grapefruit juice out of the carton.  Eating, after all, is a matter of taste, and taste cannot always be good taste.  The very thought of maintaining high standards, meal after meal is exhausting.  It discounts all the peanut butter that is available in the world.” 

Kath’s quote: “Oh, the pleasure of eating my dinner alone!”-Charles Lamb

 

On Her Way to China-by Guest Blogger Sister #3

August13

Today I leave for China to visit Priscilla, and international student who lives with me during the school year.  I have been preparing myself for this trip for months, yet I really don’t have any idea what to expect.  Sure I have looked at the websites and talked with others who have made the trip, but I think that China is going to be a totally mind opening experience for me. 

Of course I am looking forward to experiencing the food.  People from Asia tell me the food is very different from what we Canadians think of as “Chinese” food. When Priscilla and I go out to eat we love to go for dim sum which she says is similar to what she would eat at home, although she had never heard the expression “dim sum”.  I am thrilled to hear that lovely steamed dumplings and noodle soups are what I have to look forward to. I doubt that there will be a deep fried shrimp in sweet and sour sauce in sight and to that I say hallelujah, bring it on. A few friends that visited Beijing told me about street vendors serving live scorpions and beetles on a stick, something I will be sure to avoid. I am an adventurous eater, but there are limits.  I am most looking forward to trying Beijing “Peking” Duck. 

On the day I picked up my Chinese visa I stopped at my favourite Chinese place, The New Hong Kong Snack House. Owner, Robert likes to give me a hard time about not visiting as often as I used to. I once worked with a woman who ate there twice a week so needless to say I was a regular.  I treated myself to his wonderful hot pork noodle soup and beginner plate which includes steamed shrimp dumplings, sweet pork bun, Peking perogies and yummy meatballs.  A great way to get my taste buds ready for the culinary adventure I am about to undertake.

New Hong Kong on Urbanspoon
 

Kath’s quote:  “(In Canton) the Chinese fondness for snacks and small eats reaches a kind of apotheosis.”E.N. Anderson

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