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Thursday, 31 January 2013

OTTAWA, DIM SUM, and . . .

Spring, 1967

For 3 years, I had been working on a double major in Psychology and English.  Now, I was graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba, and needed a job. 

One morning, my friend, Carolyn, asked me if I’d like to come along and write a test for a government job.  The IQ test led to an interview and then a letter offering me a first class ticket on the Canadian Pacific Railway to Ottawa.  Dad drove me and my trunk to the station in Brandon. 
That year, 3 groups of junior executive officers were hired by the Public Service of Canada, with about 30 in each group.   With another trainee, I shared a bachelor suite on Lisgar Street, right near the Parliament Buildings. 

Margot introduced me to Sunday Dim Sum breakfasts in a big downtown Chinese restaurant. The moment I bit into my first sweet, chewy Sesame Paste Ball, I was hooked. 

It was an amazing year!


It’s disappointing that so many restaurants no longer have Dim Sum carts.  I always like to order at least one new thing, and it was so much easier when the waiters lifted the lids on the little bamboo containers and you could see and smell the tempting morsels.  

I especially hope that newcomers to Dim Sum may not be disappointed and discouraged.  In Hong Kong, the menus at least have pictures.  

Here are some of our tried and true favorites -- I've indicated who likes to order what:
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Everyone!)

Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce (Anastasia)

Barbecued Pork Steamed Buns (Bryan)

Sesame Paste Ball (Guess who J)
 (The color of the filling varies.  This one is filled with black sesame seeds.)

Steamed Baby Squids in Curry Sauce (Me again)

 Custard Tarts (Eleanor and Bryan)


All delicious, but I couldn’t eat like that every day.

Nothing wrong, though, with making my everyday breakfast a little more exotic.


When you make 2 servings of oatmeal porridge, just add ¼ cup unsweetened coconut and ¼ cup drained, crushed pineapple.  

Top with brown sugar – yum!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Beauty alone does not feed a man.
(old Ukrainian proverb)

Here’s another excellent recipe for when you have potato or other vegetable water sitting in your fridge.  It’s also a good way to use up some fresh herbs. 


2 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
1 green pepper (optional)
2 carrots
½ cup fresh mint leaves (optional)
1 tbsp fresh basil (can substitute parsley or cilantro)
2 celery stalks
¼ cup butter
Canned tomatoes (28 ounces or 796 ml)
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp powdered cloves
10 cups water (include any saved from boiling vegetables)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup orzo
2 to 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (make it as spicy as you like)

1.     Finely chop garlic.
2.     In a food processor, finely chop the onions, green pepper, carrots, mint leaves, basil, and celery.   This must be done in stages.  Add the garlic.
3.     Melt butter in large stock pot.  Add the vegetables and cover the pot.
4.     Over low heat, element set at 3 or 4, cook vegetables for 30 minutes.
5.     Add the tomatoes, onion salt, pepper, and cloves.  Stir. 
6.     Add the water. 
7.     Crush the bouillon cubes and add.  Cover pot and bring to a boil.
8.     Add the orzo, lower heat to medium, and simmer for 35 minutes.
9.     Add the Worcestershire and taste for salt.

Christmas Sleigh Ride in Sudbury, Ontario, 1980s  

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Food as Art 

The Globe and Mail presented a picture of an art installation under a restaurant chair in Paris -- a figurine of a tiny waiter standing beside a half-eaten croissant.  The artist, Slinkachu, is making, according to the reporter, “a statement about our foodie (some might say snobbish) obsessions”.  

                                                                     The Art of Food

                            Dinner at my brother's is worth obsessing about!

Cheers, Nestor and Kathy!

Monday, 21 January 2013


My nephew, David, and I in the Dark Ages

Happy Birthday, David!  I’m thinking you should start your day off with something really good:


Inspired by Janet Nixdorf, The Herald (Winnipeg), Feb. 18, 1998

1 lemon
2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp liquid honey (or melted)
1 egg
1 tbsp veg oil
2 cups buttermilk

1.      Zest the lemon.   Set aside. 
2.     Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
3.     Combine lemon zest with flour mixture.
4.     Squeeze enough lemon for 2 tbsp juice.
5.     Beat the egg.
6.     Combine lemon juice, egg, honey, oil, and buttermilk.
7.     Gently stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients.  There should still be lumps in the batter.
8.     Makes about 12 small pancakes.
9.     Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

 David and Crystal

Their family

Friday, 18 January 2013


For Christmas, 2012, Marilyn pickled grapes and jalapeno.  How did that go, Cousin?

I love Marilyn’s sense of humour – at least I hope she was kidding when she wrote, “I am seriously eyeing the leaves on this plant to also pickle.”

                                                    And what about this?

                                                 Candied Tomatoes

                                           Marilyn is definitely an adventurous cook. 

 Marilyn also really enjoys telling us cute stories about her grandchildren.  Like when Natalie (aged 5) met Sophia 
and asked her mom, “Where can we buy one?  I want one.”

Marilyn has boundless energy.  Following all those food blogs and decorating blogs . . .  My goodness, Cousin, where do you find the time?

Marilyn, you used to write a blog.  How about putting some of that zest to work and starting it up again?   Now, that would be a winner!



1 tsp sugar

1 ¼ cups lukewarm water

1 envelope (2 ½ teaspoons) yeast

Flour:  2 ¾ cups and just enough more to make a non-sticky dough (one or 2 tbsps)

1.       Stir to dissolve sugar in lukewarm water.
2.       Sprinkle the yeast onto the swirling water.  Do not stir.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
3.       Put 2 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl.
4.       Measure another cup of flour and set it to the side.
5.       Stir the yeast and water into the mixing bowl.
6.       Sprinkle some of the extra flour onto a working surface.
7.       Drop another ¼ cup flour onto the dough in the bowl.  Now turn the contents of the mixing bowl out onto the working surface and start kneading.
8.       Sprinkle additional flour from the cup onto the dough as needed to make a smooth, non-sticky, but still tender dough.
9.       Sprinkle more flour onto the working surface.  Set the dough on this and cover with the mixing bowl.  Leave to rise for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the pan and the toppings.  Letting it rise for 45 minutes will give you a thick crust pizza.

Brush the pan with 1 tsp of vegetable oil

Place oven rack at lowest level.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Prepare the toppings:


1 pound pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 garlic clove
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
213 ml can of tomato sauce  
1 cup well-drained stewed tomatoes
1 cup well-drained sauerkraut
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Cook sausage and onion together with spices and garlic until sausage is cooked.
When you lift the bowl over the dough, you will find the dough will be in a soft, round shape.  With floured hands, gently lift it and place in centre of oiled pan.  Press and push the dough to fill the pan. 

You can cover the dough in the pizza pan with a tea towel and put it to rise again for 20 to 30 minutes or you can skip the second rising.  

Bake dough at 500 without any toppings for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven.
Reduce oven temperature to 450.
Cover with toppings.  

Place toppings on pizza dough in this order:
-          spread about half of the can of tomato sauce over the crust
-          sausage mixture 
-          drained, chopped tomatoes
-          sauerkraut
-          shredded mozzarella
-          Parmesan

Return to oven and bake the pizza for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.

 I was really doubtful about trying this recipe but it turned out a winner, too!


Monday, 14 January 2013


Ian Mosby, a food historian wrote for the Globe & Mail about finding “well-loved, tattered cookbooks” for sale at thrift stores.  In his favourite, a woman wrote about getting the cookbook when she was 18 and some details about her long, happy life with her husband.  This old book, “smelling vaguely of mildew and flour, with its spine broken and held together with clear tape” inspired him to acquire his own grandmother’s heavily annotated cookbook.

Do you write in your cookbooks?  I like to put in the date when I make something, who was there, and whatever comments were made about it, as well as my own verdict.  “Never again!” can be very helpful years later, whereas I am disappointed when I see a recipe that has a date but no comment.  



From Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
1 cup hot water

1.      Preheat oven to 375.
2.     Grease a 6 cup jumbo muffin tin and a 6 cup regular muffin tin.
3.     Cream together butter and sugar.
4.     Boil water in a kettle.
5.     Beat in egg and molasses.
6.     Mix together the dry ingredients.
7.     Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture.
8.     Gradually beat in the hot water.
9.     Fill the muffin tins.
10.                          Bake the small muffins for 20 minutes.  The larger muffins may need 3 more minutes.


The covers have fallen off this old cookbook which was given to me by a friend as a wedding shower gift.  I still use it though, and the notes in it tell me that the first time I made Ginger muffins was in 1982.   In the 1990s, my daughters had a sleepover and their friends, Susan and Alison, “ate these” . . .  noteworthy because little people are often fussy about what they eat.

Nicole says that "old cookbooks are the best--they put jell-o in EVERYTHING!!"

Thursday, 10 January 2013


  Maureen, Bryan, and Donna

Maureen and her daughter, Angela

Maureen is very interested in her family’s Irish heritage and has visited Ireland twice.

An outdoor museum shows the interior of an Irish dwelling in ancient times.

Abandoned house, possibly 19th century

A replica of  a ship that carried Irish immigrants to America.

Pub in Ireland

POTATO CAKES (makes 8 cakes)

From   MY IRISH COOKBOOK   by Monica Sheridan

1 lb potatoes, freshly boiled
3 tbsp butter
¾ cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder

1.      Rice (or mash) the potatoes.
2.     Blend butter, flour, salt, and baking powder together in a food processor.

3.     Mix flour mixture into the potatoes with your hands to make a dough.
4.     Cut dough in half.  Pat and roll each half of the dough into 2 circles.  Cut each circle into quarters.
5.     Heat a griddle.
6.     Bake cakes on ungreased griddle to brown both sides well. 
7.     Serve hot with butter.

I served the Potato Cakes with Ukrainian Jellied Pork Hocks and Salad.

They also tasted good with Sweet Potato Syrup from Thomasville, Georgia, U.S.A..

How does one say 'Bon Appetit' in Gaelic?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


                          Based on CZECH CUISINE by Joza Brizova and Maryna Klimentova

4 thick, large slices of white bread (Italian or French style loaf)
¾ cup milk
Sliced cheese  
4 eggs

·        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
·        Grease 9 inch square cake pan (or casserole) heavily with butter or you'll have trouble when you’re serving. 
·        Heat the milk but don’t boil it.

·        Line the casserole with the 4 slices of bread.
·        Spoon ½ cup of the milk over the bread slices.  They should be moist, but not soaked.
·        Put the casserole in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
·        Meanwhile, slice the cheese.   
·        Distribute the cheese on the bread slices and place an egg on each.
·        Sprinkle with salt and paprika and the rest of the milk.
Bake until eggs are set – about 20 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes)

Serve with a lettuce salad.

Nicole commented:  “It’s like a rarebit, only milder. . . I really like it.”   Then she added, “They do say when you’re cooking with simple ingredients, the secret is to use really good ones.” 

 I used 150 g (5 ounces) of smoked cheddar – Ilchester Applewood cheese. . . delicious!


Christmas is officially over -- after our light brunch, Nicole flew home today. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Peekaboo!  I hope you have a wonderful day, Madison.

Here’s a picture of your mom, Nannetta, when she was a little girl!

   Since your mom is a busy, working mom, here’s a recipe that's quick, easy, and delicious:

        from The New Purity Cookbook: the Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking

1 ½ cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar

½ cup softened butter
2/3 cup milk

3 tbsp frozen concentrated orange juice:  thawed
2 eggs

1.      Preheat oven to 350.
2.      Grease an 8 or 9 inch square pan.
3.      Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
4.      Add butter and milk.  Beat for one minute with mixer.
5.      Add concentrated orange juice and eggs.  Beat 2 minutes.
6.      Turn into pan and bake for 35 minutes.
7.      Meanwhile prepare  topping:

½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
¼ cup melted butter
1 tbsp orange concentrate: thawed
½ cup chopped walnuts

8.      When cake is done, turn broiler on to preheat and move oven rack higher.
9.      Spread topping on hot cake.
10.  Broil 2 to 3 minutes.  Watch so it doesn’t burn.
11.  Serve hot for extra yumminess.  It’s very good cold, too, but I do like to warm it for a few seconds in the microwave.

P.S.  Your uncle Doug liked this cake, Madison.  So does your Great-Uncle Bryan.