Hamilton Stopover

September20

D and I recently took advantage of the reasonable airfares provided by the new Swoop airline. We had a stopover in Hamilton en route to Halifax and then Charlottetown. We don’t particularly like airport food but love to check out an unexplored city, so we used the stretch of time to jump in a cab and head to a Portuguese restaurant in the vicinity. Toma La-The Portuguese Pitstop was a 10 minute ride from the airport.

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While visiting Portugal this past January, we feel in love with their Super Bock beer. Since the pitstop doesn’t have a liquor license, we had to settle for a non-alcoholic version that was still delicious and satisfying. As was the passion fruit soda.

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We were so delighted to find our favourite Portuguese choices on the menu that we “over” ordered, selecting 2 enormous dishes that were quite obviously too much food. But we were delighted with the half chicken dinner. We learned that all meat was marinated the night before, therefore, it had absorbed all the natural seasonings. The famous Portuguese style BBQ Chicken was served with their very own “Toma La Piri Piri Sauce” and a choice of sides. The chicken was slow-cooked over an open fire charcoal pit for the authentic Portuguese tasting chicken! We chose a hearty salad simply tossed in oil and vinegar in addition to these fascinating potatoes. We had discerned that the potatoes has been roasted in a tomato sauce, but how did they get every potato to be exactly the same size?

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For the second platter of food, we were in a real pickle: we didn’t want to miss out on the Portuguese potatoes but we were also hoping for hand-cut fries like the ones we enjoyed while we were away. Alas the fries were frozen so we didn’t miss out on any delicious potatoness (not a word, I know). There were two pork chops on the platter, so we could have easily share a half pork chop dinner and a 1/4 chicken dinner. But the succulent chops had also been marinated over night and cooked over live charcoal, so we didn’t protest too much.

After our early dinner, we flew to Halifax, rented a car and drove 3 1/2 hours to Charlottetown. D really appreciated the left overs for a late evening snack so we wouldn’t be tempted to fill up on junk food.

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Our server mentioned that their pastries were made fresh daily and we knew that Portuguese confections were exceptional. We couldn’t purchase these Pastel de Nata in pairs so we settled for a half dozen. We groaned as our mouths remembered the flaky pastry and the luxurious filling. D enjoyed another one en route to PEI and then there were exactly three to share with our Charlottetown host.

That first stop commenced a long weekend of amazing eating.

Kath’s quote: “The fine arts are five in number, namely: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture, the principal branch of the latter being pastry.” -Antonin Carême

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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“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.

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Guest Blogger: Sister #3 Visits Khao House in Winnipeg

August29

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“Recently a friend told me they thought I would enjoy a Netflix show called “Somebody Feed Phil” and they were right! Philip Rosenthal, the creator of great work such as “Everybody Loves Raymond” possesses the kind of humour that I love. He never puts anyone down, and is able to laugh at himself and cause others to do the same. He is goofy, has horrible dad jokes, and is super endearing. I could tell from the first episode, his trip to Bangkok Thailand that I was going to be hooked. I have since binge watched both seasons and am hoping for a season three.

On his trip to Thailand, he ventures out of Bangkok to the far North where he tried Khao Soi, a dish also found in Burma and Laos. I just couldn’t get the description of this coconut based noodle soup out of my mind. So I googled “Khao Soi in Winnipeg” and low and behold, there it was on the menu at Khao House, makes sense with the “Khao” being a common denominator. This was a place I had been meaning to try since it opened a couple of years back. I had been hearing great things about the fare being offered by chef Randy Khounnoraj and his partner Korene McCaig.

Located at 126 Sherbrook, in a quaint old west end house, the restaurant was uncluttered and filled with light. We were there for lunch and the vibe was casual with Korene toting around their little one who became fussy part way through the lunch hour.

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We started off with house made iced teas that were refreshing and not too sweet. Just like I like them.

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My lunch companion ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and this was coming from a woman who has eaten her fair share of ramen.

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I obviously ordered the Khao Soi, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The broth was bursting with flavor and the smooth taste of coconut was such a comfort to me. The noodles were sublime, and the crunchy noodles on top where the perfect addition. While there was chicken in the soup, the Thai eggplant was more of a feature. It was not overcooked and still had a bit of crunch without coming across as raw. I thoroughly enjoyed every spoonful and will be back to continue to explore their small, but comprehensive menu.”

Kath’s quote: “Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”
-Norman Kolpas

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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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.

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