Browsing: Food Celebrations

Jerusalem – A CookBook

October23

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We invited a friend of ours to dine with us recently. We know that she loves Ethiopian food but I confess that I have not mastered those culinary skills. She has also been to Palestine recently so I pulled out my beautiful Jerusalem Cookbook. I have only prepared a couple of recipes from the book so I looked at the occasion as a great excuse. She was familiar with the book, not because she has cooked from it but because she read it like a regular non-fiction work instead of a cookbook. The narrative reads that beautifully.

Every single ingredient that I purchased for the dinner was from the produce department. I pulled a bag of shrimp from my freezer and a can of clams from the pantry.

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I prepped everything that afternoon. The sweet potatoes and eggplants were ready for roasting, the red peppers and onions were ready for sauteing and finishing the sweet potato dish, the tomatoes and oregano were ready to submerge and then bake the shrimp.

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The sweet potatoes called for fresh figs that are already out of season so I substituted them for little jewels of pomegranate.

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The recipe indicates that you leave the potatoes unpeeled and although I was skeptical of this, they were perfect. The dish was completed with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The spuds were even delicious cold.

The shrimp baked with clams, tomatoes and feta were also a hit. I mixed the leftovers with a pasta a couple of days later and it too was exceptional. Perhaps my new tomato sauce recipe will simply include oregano and sugar as this one did.

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If you are a regular visitor to this space, you will know that I love eggplant. Pictured above are the scored eggplants ready for roasting with Chermoula. Confession time…I misread the directions of the recipe and baked these with the topping that I had prepped in advance, when in fact they were to be roasted “bare naked” and you were to spoon the topping on after they came out of the oven. Unfortunately some of the raisins got too well cooked in the process. I had tasted the topping before I had baked it and knew that it would be fabulous on its own.

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I didn’t have Bulgar so I used a mixture of a variety of rices (brown, wild, long grain) which had been pre-cooked in my rice maker. To this I added pre-soaked raisins and slices of green olives for that sweet and salty combination that I love. Fresh tastes came from ribbons of fresh mint and cilantro. A silky olive oil and generous squeezes of lemon added the acidity and finished the dish beautifully. I made this up on a Sunday night to enjoy for lunches for a busy week.

I sent our friend home with leftovers as the recipes were of generous potions. She returned the container with a gift and this note:

In Kenya, I learned one does not return a plate (or container) to its giver, empty. I share with you my sister’s wonderful Masala Chai jelly-the bite comes after the fact! but so good. And a little memento of Jerusalem.

We enjoyed a taste of the jelly yesterday on our toast. And so the circle of giving and sharing was complete.

Kath’s quote: You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Weddings and No Funerals

September12

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D and I were invited to four weddings this summer. This was a record for us. They were all very different from each other.

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The ceremony of the first was at our neighbourhood church. It was particularly meaningful for us as the couple attends our house church. The reception for the first nuptials took place in the elegant Fort Garry Hotel where the bride’s Mom and Dad also held theirs. The setting matched the couples’ chic style.

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The food was classic and elegant. The speeches and dancing were a delight.

We were involved in the second wedding in a lovely and unique manner.

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Sister #3 (aka Zest Cooking Solutions) was the caterer of the rehearsal dinner the evening before the nuptials.

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We helped put out this delicious Greek dinner of lemon potatoes, moussaka, chicken souvlaki and peasant salad.

The second wedding also took place at our church and was another meaningful time. The bride is a singer and had assembled her friends to offer up a lovely layer to the ceremony.

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The beginning of the reception was held outside at Pine Ridge Hollow where we arrived to the serenades of a jazz ensemble.

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We were surprised and blessed to sit at the “Liverpool” table with family and guests from the groom’s city of birth.

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At Pine Ridge the portions were country sized. The meal was hearty and delicious. Since it was a Sunday evening and our carload all had to work the next morning, we unfortunately had to leave after the speeches.

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The third and fourth weddings occurred on the same weekend. The third wedding was of a nephew and all our family attended.

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The ceremony was held in a shady spot next to a glorious canola field. This wedding was relaxed and had an authentic country feel.

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The reception took place in this enormous tent that had been erected on the property of the bride’s family.

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The bride’s family was Ukrainian and we enjoyed a delicious ethnic buffet dinner of perogies, cabbage rolls and all the fixings. Since we had to be up early to be back in the city for the fourth wedding, we couldn’t stay terribly late. We heard the reception went on until the wee hours of the morning.

The fourth wedding also held at our church was an absolutely joy. The bride and groom were ecstatic that the big day had finally arrived and their enthusiasm simply poured over the rest of us. The church music was rocking and made the ceremony itself a whole lot of fun.

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The reception venue was my first time to Hawthorne Estates. With their rural setting and rustically elegant room, I hope to return on other occasions.

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1919 by Little Brown Jug (where our son is the head brewer) was the exclusive beer and we were touched by the honour and enjoyed it immensely.

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The delicious buffet dinner had been prepared by the groom himself (a professional chef). You could taste the love with every bite.

For dessert the groom arranged for a Belgium friend to prepare us waffles with all the trimmings. I was so anxious to tuck in that my photo turned out blurry! Formal festivities were over quickly so we had a chance to join in the dancing and still make it home at a reasonable time.

In each case, D and I were blessed and honoured to be part of the celebrations.

Kath’s quotes: Faith makes all things possible. Love makes all things easy.” -Dwight Moody

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

“Oh How She Glows” Dinner

August31

I have stated before and I will do so again: in my world, food=love. When one has the opportunity to prepare a favourite food for a loved one, it is an honour and a blessing for both the cook and I hope the receiver. Recently I had the opportunity to demonstrate love to a person that I had not ever met in person. Through inquiry, I knew that due to health concerns she was vegan, dairy and gluten free. Whereas I sometimes consider these dinners a challenge, I was happy for the task to cook for and thereby welcome a new person into our lives.

I don’t have a lot of experience with vegan cooking but I knew exactly where to go. A blogger friend of mine who is also vegan once gave me a “Oh How She Glows” cookbook. I had not used it often but I knew that the recipes were well-written and tested and that I should have most, if not all of the ingredients.

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These nibblies were actually all things that I had in the fridge and cupboard: mango salsa, red pepper hummus and antipasto. We also love these gluten free sweet potato crackers and sesame rice crackers.

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For the main I put out a kale salad and mixed fresh tomatoes, cucs and olives for a pseudo Greek salad. I also treated them to a taste of beach French fries which I reheated.

The focus of the dinner were avocados stuffed with black beans and corn and lovely fresh tastes of lime juice and cilantro. Cumin added a smidgeon of heat. I also soaked barley to add to my nephew’s and my dinner but left it out for the guest of honour to ensure that she was eating gluten free.

We had a lovely visit and I learned a whole lot more about her life in Australia. I think she might have acquired a bit more knowledge about my nephew (her new beau) as well, because I was able to add antidotes about our blended families and the joyful times when nine of us shared a 500 square foot cottage.

Kath’s quote: “Love grows best in little houses”. -Doug Stone

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Love never fails.

Willard Lake Revisited

August24

We met the first year of university where we were both in Dramatic Studies at the University of Winnipeg (now called the Department of Film and Theatre I believe). She was petite like me and I loved her smile and her head of curls. From there we traveled to Europe together and both worked at the same restaurant where we met many more hard working friends. Years later, we intentionally bought a house on their street so that our kids could grow up together. We sent the kids to the same kindergarten and elementary school and before that, we shared the same Nanny.

We arrived at Willard Lake for a lateish dinner on Friday evening.

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Our wires got crossed and even though D and I brought a supper of antipasto,

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they had prepared wings and salads, the latter one of melons, blueberries and Bocconcini.

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I had made a batch of artichoke nibblers earlier that day to share as well.

I remembered that the artichokes were a recipe we enjoyed when we were young married couples. Our times in those days were like the show “Thirty Something”-with  wine-filled impromptu dinners, complaints about work and kids playing somewhere in the house together.

Friday evening we started with our fare and moved to theirs. The food was all delicious

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especially the carefully rubbed and barbecued wings.

I understood their move to Toronto but I was sad just the same. Sad that I would lose my dear friend and our son, his best buddy.

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We started both days with coffee on the dock as we watched the resident loon teach her baby how to dive and fish.

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R & M provided a delectable Saturday breakfast of barbecued bacon and sausages as well as blueberry pancakes, fruit and maple syrup.

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D and R headed out for their annual kayak and although M intended to have a swim, we both were content to stay put, continue to chat and watch a great blue heron who was fishing near by.

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D and I provided Saturday’s appetizer of chili rubbed shrimp (recipe courtesy of Zest Cooking Solutions aka Sister #3) and D whipped up some corn bread.

Even though it had been in ebbs and flows, the four of us have kept in touch and have found fairly frequent reasons to visit each other and even holiday on the same Mexican island.  But our annual sojourn to their summer home on Willard Lake was the best time of all. As you could tell, we did very little except visit, cook, eat, sip and then start the cycle all over again. The time was sweet, very sweet indeed.

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The grand finale was Saturday evening with a feast of corn on the cob, garden beans, roasted beets, ribs and lemon chicken. R’s chicken & ribs were nothing short of sensational!  I made an apple platz and D produced a pot of hot custard. We were all absolutely stuffed but still we continued to chat and didn’t want the evening to end.

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Sunday morning D and I provided a late breakfast of smoked salmon and potato pancakes

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and then we ended our visit with a short walk to a special church in the vicinity.

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On our drive back to the city D and I reflected on how peaceful and relaxed we all were together.

Kath’s quote: “One measure of friendship consists not in the number of things friends can discuss, but in the number of things they need no longer mention”.- Clifton Fadiman

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Love never fails.

What’s on the menu? Love, you say?

August16

A dear friend of mine wanted to repay us for helping out with the pre-wedding festivities of her two offspring. Now in truth, no thanks and definitely no repayment was required but I must admit, it was lovely to have our efforts acknowledged.

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The table was set beautifully when we arrived.

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There were little gifts at every place settings-dark chocolate and a fragrant candle.

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The host of the evening is a transplanted Brit and we were honoured that she included a number of her traditions from home into the evening. We started with a “prawn” cocktail where succulent shrimp were tossed in a homemade sauce and enhanced with slices of silky avocado.

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The entree was a chicken breast poached in a luxurious sauce. Cilantro was included so that the dish sparkled with a light, fresh taste.

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Accompanying the main were carrots and peas, green beans and fabulous roasted potatoes. I thought that the latter may have been blanched first but our host indicated that they were simply roasted with olive oil, garlic paprika and rosemary.

I was prepared to have another helping of those potatoes as my dessert but I had forgotten that our host was about to prepare another of her traditions -hot custard which we poured over apple platz. Ice cream was also available to adorn the pair.

The last course was the sharing of a special bottle of port and lovely international cheeses. I was partial to the hard Bella Vitano cheese and felt sure that it heralded from Italy. In fact with research, I find that it is make in the cheese state of Wisconsin. It was sturdy at first bite and then had a lovely mouth feel. I also loved a smoked Gouda, especially with light and thin beet crackers.

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As the evening of being basked in love came to a close, I set the left over platz at the front door so that I would be sure to remember it. Another ‘lady” realized that she hadn’t had enough treats that evening and only stopped slurping down the platz, when we pulled the dish away from her. I warned my husband as I crawled into bed beside him, not to be tempted to eat the dessert that was in the kitchen sink.

We are all very different people who speak different love languages. My love language is food and hospitality in the giving and the receiving.

That evening I felt so loved and appreciated. The gift of the evening itself and the actual gifts that I took away, were blessings to me from a woman I consider a sister.

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Kath’s quote: “Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you”, and proved it.”

Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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