Browsing: Sharing Food

Gifts of Love

May24

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a sleeping newborn girl on my chest and that may account for why I am feeling all warm and fuzzy today. She is the youngest Wee One and I am already particularly fond of her as her second name is in honour of me. She has peach fuzz on her head and the most beautiful pink skin-a perfect peach.

Mom, Dad and little sisters were with us this past long weekend at the lake. D and I are very close to the Wee Ones and the lakehouse is a very strong reason why. The girls love being there whether with or without their Mom and Dad. I guess that is why I was able to slip into their life so effortlessly this week, helping out while Dad stayed with Mom and baby in the hospital. (Boy things have changed since my babes were born).

J1 and J2 live in Wolseley, a nugget of streets with parks, schools, bike trails and the most neighbourly folks you would want to meet. They all new that Tuesday would be the baby’s birthday and they sent their families’ good wishes. There were neighbours who would walk the eldest Wee One to school and others who would have their nanny pick her up and feed her lunch if we were running late. Another neighbour offered up a dinner and so on and so on.

When I prepared a couple of J1 and J2’s favourite one pan dinners, I doubled the batches for a friend who has knee surgery coming up. As I drove around to drop off gifts of food, it occurred to me for the zillionth time that the preparation and sharing of food is an important love language, especially in my immediate circles.

And of course there is the most intimate gift of all. This new one naturally knowing just what to do as she found her Momma’s breast.

Kath’s quote: “A person cooking is a person giving. Even the simplest food is a gift”.- Laurie Colwin

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The eldest Wee One on her first day on earth.

Love never fails.

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Opportunities and RAW:almond

February12

by guest blogger Lori Dyck

When was the last time you were given an opportunity?

Ok.

When was the last time you took an opportunity.

See, if you wait for them.. they may never come. Today I took one and I’m so glad I did.

I wanted so badly to go to RAW:almond restaurant this winter.  When a friend tried to book us in for dinner this year and told me that it was sold out I was incredibly disappointed. RAW:almond, a unique winter dining experience on the river at the Forks in Winnipeg is only open for a short time… and it’s tough to get in. A few weeks ago I received an email invitation from Sara Comrie who organizes an informal group I belong to called the Media Mavens. I hadn’t attended a Media Mavens get together in some time due to family commitments, but when I saw the subject line from Sara that said “Register now for an exclusive RAW:almond lunch on the river!”, I said, “I’m in!”.

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I didn’t know the guest speaker Susan Krepart before walking into the luncheon. I’m now so glad I’ve heard her story. She talked about exactly what brought me to the luncheon in the first place. Seizing opportunity. Susan was the woman who single-handedly organized the Magnus Hay Formula Drive when she heard that Winnipeg Harvest didn’t have enough for their Hunger for Hope program last Christmas. And by organized I mean, she drove all over the city picking up donations and stored them in her dining room. Oh THAT Susan! Of course I had heard of her! She’s a Manitoba Hero, after all!

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Susan’s message resonated with me.

“We often think and feel a lot and don’t do anything about it.”

We don’t have the time, we don’t have extra money to give, right? But when it comes down to it, like Susan said:

“Babies going hungry in Winnipeg is unacceptable.”

For the occasional formula I gave my own babies, I know how expensive it is! Many Winnipeg families depend on Winnipeg Harvest’s Hunger for Hope program to feed their babies and for many, formula is the only option. Susan undoubtedly inspired every single person that attended the luncheon today, which was organized by the Women in Communications and Technology (WCT).

RAW:almond was actually the perfect setting for today’s event. Not only because the food is amazing but because of what the restaurant is about. Chef Mandel Hitzer, co-creator of the pop-up restaurant explained to our group why he started this concept in the first place: to bring people together, to share food and stories. Mission accomplished, I’d say.

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Media Maven co-ordinator Sara Comrie with RAW: almond creator and chef Mandel Hitzer

Oh, and the food! You can’t go to RAW:almond and not brag about the food you just ate! Our lunch was served family-style along the wood-topped table runner. Plates of roasted beets, parsnips, radishes topped with a yogurt dressing and fresh dill, arugula salad with asparagus and bulgur, and deliciously seasoned skin-on chicken topped with baked fries. So good. Glad I took this opportunity to have lunch with these women today, to check out this fabulous Winnipeg restaurant and to hear Susan’s story. I left full and inspired.

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Beef in a Jar

October8

I am writing this as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013.  As we the participants, share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice.

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Our topic for this month is “Preserving: Our Canadian Food Tradition”.  I am not a “canner”.  I so wish I was.  I even purchased my first preserving recipe book this spring and then life swept me away this summer (new grand-baby and all) and I didn’t get a single jar into the larder.

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I am fond of pickled beets and a really good polski ogorki.  I also love jams and jellies of every kind but my very favourite food is jarred beef (believe it or not).

This Canadian Food Experience takes me back to my little Polish Grandma as it did in my previous month’s entry: http://foodmusings.ca/recipes/desserts/grandma-felicias-polish-cake/.  Living in southern Saskatchewan there was always plenty of beef and often a surplus.  Every fall, Grandma Felicia would “put down” (her slang for canning) jars and jars of beef stew.  I am surmising that the reason was financial as well as practical.  Although there was always food on the table, cash flow must have been an issue for my grandparents.  In addition, they did not have a chest freezer in those days and the small one on top of their fridge could not accommodate all the meat required for a winter.  When winter storms hit and they often did, a jar could be fetched from the hand dug mud cellar, and a warm dinner could be on the table in minutes.  Boil some potatoes and root vegetables. also from the cellar and presto-fast food!

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The other reason that beef was jarred was that it made the meat taste so darned good.  The preserving process contributed to the tenderizing of the meat producing a tender and savoury mound of beef, onions and gravy.  Homemade bread would be cut into thick slices, speared with a long fork and toasted over the coal fire that was lit summer and winter.  We would tear the bread into kid sized pieces to mop up that gravy.  Oh my, I can taste it now…..  I have never tried to do this myself and I do not have Grandma’s recipe to follow, but here is a link to a recipe and process that must be pretty close: http://www.wikihow.com/Can-Meat

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The only time that I have even heard about canning meat is when my eldest daughter asked me if I wanted to volunteer to can meat because the Mennonite Central Committee’s  mobile canning unit was going to be in town.  Here is some information about this resourceful practice that feeds people all around the world.

 Today the canning unit is mounted on a flat-bed trailer, enclosed with fold-up sides. Four MCC volunteers operate the canning unit, traveling to 34 locations in 13 U.S.A. states and two Canadian Provinces: Manitoba and Ontario.  Operating a seasonal schedule from October to May, local meat canning committees purchase meat and arrange for facilities, fundraising and volunteers. The work of the local committees is the heart of the program.  Currently the canning unit processes an average of 9,000 pounds of chunked turkey thighs per day; 9,000 pounds of pork; or up to the equivalent of 20 head of cattle per day.

Who knew?

Kath’s quote: “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.”-Lewis Carroll

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Love-that is all.

 

Chris from Siloam Mission is My Food Hero

August7

As a participant in the Canadian Food Experience (began June 7 2013. As the participants share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.),  I have been asked to declare a local food hero and the gentleman that I would like to point the spotlight on is Chris of Siloam Mission.

I have heard it said that we are all two paycheques away from homelessness.  The causes of homelessness are numerous (this excerpt is from Siloam’s 2012 Annual Report):

…poverty, migration, famine, unemployment, prejudice, mental illness, urbanization – all of which we can find in Winnipeg.There is no doubt that homelessness negatively affects children and families. Children in families experiencing homelessness are more likely to have health, emotional, academic and behavioural problems. Many have been exposed to violence and trauma. Families experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer separation, and homeless mothers are more likely than other mothers to experience major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and drug abuse.

For the last 25 years, Siloam Mission has been seeking to address the needs of the less fortunate – homeless
persons and families – in Winnipeg.

I have been aware of Siloam’s good works for years but even more so now that “The Frenchman” (our youngest daughter’s beau) has been hired as one of the few paid staff members.  He continually told me about his new friend Chris who head’s up Siloam’s Kitchen and their meal provision program.  I volunteered at Siloam Mission this past February so that I could meet Chris face to face and learn more about his passion for Winnipeg’s homeless.  As I arrived, the breakfast service was just commencing.  Because of the cold, Chris wanted all of the patrons to have a bowl of something hot so porridge was served with toast, peanut butter and fruit.  Hot coffee is unending.  Chris thought that French toast would be nice for the next day and he happily mentioned that there are times when he can serve the patrons scrambled eggs or omelets from Burnbrae Farms. I met the good folks from Burnbrae at a bloggers event in Toronto; they will be happy to know what joy their donations bring.

I was on lunch detail with the rest of the crew.

On the menu was a choice of turkey noodle or mushroom potato soup, a slice of pizza (generously provided by Little Ceasars pizza), a freshly made ham sandwich and a sweet.  In the summer months, Siloam substitutes the soup with a salad.  One of the dessert choices was my favourite Mennonite treat of blueberry platz.   I was tasked with slicing the ham and then took my place on the sandwich assembly line.

The other volunteers that I worked with that morning were an enthused bunch and kept remarking how they couldn’t believe that they were in a “soup” kitchen and not a multi-starred restaurant.  This is what I was most impressed with.  Chris could cut cooking corners and used packaged stocks filled with additives and excessive salt but he painstakingly made the stock from scratch to ensure the quality.  In addition, from scratch cooking is truly the best use of food and monetary donations and Chris and the folks at Siloam must intrinsically know this.  Of course, “from scratch” methods cannot occur every day, but as often as Chris has the volunteer resources to do so.  Everything is carefully used BUT when I say everything, quality is never compromised.  A volunteer preparing the lettuce for the sandwiches asked Chris if she should use the lettuce if it was discolouring and he responded “the rule of thumb is-we don’t serve it to our patrons, if we wouldn’t eat it ourselves”.

Another of my tasks was slicing up pulled turkey for the soup.  Chris explained how the roasting of 150 turkeys has already commenced for Easter dinner (update: they already have all their turkeys cooked for Thanksgiving 2013) and that every single bit of the bird is utilized.   Turkey necks and wings had been roasted the day before to make the nutritious (and tasty) stock.  When the sandwich line was cleared away, Chris began a fresh pasta making session.

All of these steps went in place, to produce this delicious and nutritious soup.  Why go to this much trouble?  Because food=love and the patrons of Siloam are loved beyond their wildest imaginations.

Our Frenchman and Chris.

Kath’s quote: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” -Matthew 25:35

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Love-that is all.

Clever Fund-Raising Idea- A Cook Off

May8

Hello readers?  Would you consider yourself a competitive person?  I do not.  I know that one of my sister-in laws would disagree because she witnessed me in a match of some kind with her sister.  I will admit there are some people that I would like to “beat” because they seem so determined to do the same to me.  So does this mean that I AM competitive?  I would prefer to deal out a game of solitaire than play a round of cribbage, any day of the week.  Recently though, I entered a culinary challenge and when I got Daughter #1 and D involved in the tasting process and they commented: “yeah, that is very good” I probed further: “what would I need to do to take the taste from “very good” to prize winning?”  So I suppose I do like competition, but only when I am competing with strangers.  I would be uncomfortable putting my skills up against those persons whom I love and cherish because I would want them to win and that may influence the way I approach the competition itself, perhaps with a goal to d-rail my own success.  I sound pretty mixed up, don’t I?

The Frenchman

The Frenchman let me post this photo of him to illustrate to Daughter #2 (currently in Nicaragua) that I do not just post unflattering pictures of her in the midst of eating. 

This past weekend, instead of assembly around our dining room table at home for mandatory Sunday supper, we did so in the fellowship hall of our church.  D, J1 and J2 were entered into a Sweet or Savoury cook off but it was also a potluck, so while the official entries were being judged, we could get our meal started.  I personally wish that I had left that table unvisited because once an official dish was assessed, it was put out for the rest of us to share and the entries were magnificent! My personal favourites were almost entirely in the Savoury category which is typical of my palette.

Here were to entries, in the order that they were registered:

Jambalaya

Southern Cajun Gumbo and Rice

Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce

Swedish Cream

Biriani Lamb

Indian Butter Chicken

Beef Bourguignon

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Pecan Pie

Japanese Chicken

Classy Chicken

Fruit Crisp

Sriracha Balsamic Glazed Ribs

Mustard Rubbed Pork Roast with Blackberry Sauce

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Apricots and Walnuts

There were three esteemed judges: one a cook from a popular Italian restaurant, one a foodie blogger known to me and then I am not quite sure what the claim to fame was of the third judge, but he may have been selected for his neutrality, because he had interned at our church, but had returned to his home church.  The task of “neutrality” was a difficult one, because in addition to three members of my immediate family, Sister #3 had entered two dishes as well, one each in both categories.

I decided to cast my “People’s Choice” vote outside of my family.

Mustard Rubbed Pork Roast with Raspberry Sauce

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Had I not, I would have had a difficult time voting between D’s dish and the Frenchman’s.  The latter was a combination of sweet and salty tastes in the Savoury category and as my readers know-this is absolutely my cuppa tea!

When all was said and done, my foodie family came away with the most prize ribbons:

Beef Bourgignon

Sister #3 took 3rd place in the Savoury category with her Beef Bourguignon

Sriracha Balsamic Glazed Pork Ribs

and J1 took 1st place with the Sriracha Balsamic Glazed Pork Ribs.

Whit Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Sister # placed again in the Sweet category having made her luscious white chocolate raspberry cheesecake,

J2 1st Place in Sweet

whereas J2 took top prize with her Fruit Crisp.

Cook Off Winnres w. Judges

A second family collected a couple of ribbons as well: Bob Blanchard for the Biriani Lamb and his wife Madelaine for her Cranberry Cake with Butter Sauce.  People’s choice went to our Musical Director Julian for his rendition of Indian Butter Chicken and J1 was called up a second time for the “Best of Show” award.

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This was a delightful way to spend a Sunday evening.  The cost to enter a dish for competition was only $3 and the money raised will go to youth mission work this summer.  Around our dinner table we agreed that in addition to this price, the cost to attend could easily be $20 per person (and not simply providing a potluck dish, as it was in this the first year).  We were stuffed with some of the finest tastes we had enjoyed in a very long time.  When I saw Sister #3 the next evening, she was still full!

Kath’s quote: “Competition is easier to accept if you realize it is not an act of oppression or abrasion – I’ve worked with my best friends in direct competition”. -Diane Sawyer

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Love-that is all.

 

 

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