Category Archives: Food

Dave’s Tomatoes- A New Plan

You may remember that last year my husband Dave in an attempt to relive his childhood on a tomato farm in Leamington Ontario planted tomatoes in an outdoor garden box near our home. His plants were lush and fruitful but he didn’t get to eat any of its products because our neighbors, workers in nearby offices, and Exchange District visitors kept picking them before he could. This year he came up with a new idea. He would plant two plants outside and have two plants in pots in our condo just in front of our sunny livingroom window. Both his outside and inside plants are loaded with lovely tomatoes and we have been eating the ones on the indoor plants. Dave has already spotted a few of the tomatoes from his outdoor plants ripening on the window ledges in offices nearby.  It seems Dave’s new plan is a winner! We get tomatoes and so do other tomato lovers in our neighborhood. 

Other posts……..

Checking Up on the  Guerilla Gardener

I’m Married to a Guerilla

Finally a Ripe Tomato


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Filed under Food, Nature, Winnipeg

My Friend Is A Food Artist

We had dinner at our friends’ home on Saturday night. While Terry served as the barbeque chef, Audrey prepared our meal for the grill and she was the artist who skillfully arranged the beautiful platters of food we ate. I was telling Audrey about the Netflix series Chef’s Table. The artfully presented dishes of the award-winning chefs profiled make for stunning cinematography. The time Audrey spent creating the artistic platters and lovely dessert plates for our meal reminded me of that. dessertAustrian born chef Wolfgang Puck said “preparing a meal is like creating a painting.”  If that’s true our meal on Saturday night was a masterpiece.

Other posts………

Chef’s Table

Talk About Presentation

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Trying Something New

This week I did something I’ve never done before.  I bought my groceries online and had them delivered to my door.  We are a one car family and because of the fact my husband’s part-time work, many athletic endeavors, and hobbies require him to have a vehicle, I rarely have access to ours.  

This week Dave’s busy schedule left absolutely no time for me to go to the grocery store.  Since the nearest one is several kilometers away I was going to bike there and fill up my saddle bags with groceries.  But some unseasonably cold weather deterred me. I had often seen the Save On Foods van outside the door of my building so I figured some of my fellow condo dwellers were having groceries delivered, and thought maybe I should give it a try too. 

save on foodsIt couldn’t have been easier. I registered online, found the things I needed and put them in my ‘shopping cart.’  Then I picked a delivery time.  I noted that if you chose less popular delivery times the cost of delivery was as low as $4.95.  What a bargain! Someone would pick out my groceries for me in the store, bag them and deliver them right to my door for $4.95?  If I figured out my time shopping, gas for the car and monetized the effort spent hauling the groceries from my parking garage up to my condo I was even going to be ahead financially.  I also found I stuck to my list better shopping online and wasn’t enticed by other ‘deals’ I might have succumbed to shopping in the actual store so my weekly total was quite a bit lower than usual. 

Then I had the loveliest chat with the young man who delivered my groceries and realized I was helping to provide a much-needed job for him.  What a win/win situation. 

I’ve already started my grocery list for next week. I may never go to a grocery store again!

Other posts……….

Galileo’s Grocery List

To Market, To Market



Filed under Food, Winnipeg

A Night at De Luca’s- You Have to Talk About the Food

dinner at de lucasThursday night I attended a cooking class at De Luca’s restaurant with my sister and two of her friends. tony our hostOur affable host Tony welcomed us to his well-known family establishment which opened in 1968chef mikeand introduced us to Chef Mike who would show us how each dish was prepared. tomato soup First up was a tomato soup served along with three kinds of fresh bread. owner de lucasTony was on hand to answer any questions we might have about ingredients or cooking methods. Television screens at key spots in the room allowed us to see the chef’s hands in action. He prepared a mouth- watering mushroom gnocchi next.  There was time in between each course for us to talk about travel adventures, work, our families and of course the delicious food. A chicken breast arrived next complete with pine nuts, a sweet potato sauce and kale. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite the tiramisu was delivered to our table , too decadent and delicious to refuse.

It was interesting to hear the chef talk about the food, our host talk about the food, and to talk about the food with each other.  Kurt Vonnegut was right when he said………..

You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too.”   

Other posts………..

A Chocolate Evening with Beatriz

Cooking Up A Storm in the Yucatan

Home Grown in Newfoundland

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Filed under Food, Restaurants

I Cry Every Episode – Chef’s Table

I have been enjoying a Netflix series called Chef’s Table.  Each show follows the culinary adventures of one of the world’s great chefs.  But……… you not only see them creating all this amazing food, you also learn their life story. To me that is every bit as fascinating as their skill in the kitchen. Every time I’ve watched Chef’s Table there’s been a moment in the episode that has brought me to tears. 

I just saw the story about Michelin Three Star chef Dominique Crenn.  A meal at Dominque’s restaurant in San Francisco is a very personal experience.  She likes to greet her guests, shake hands with them and talk with them. She writes poetry and when you enter her restaurant you will receive a printed poem instead of a menu.  Different lines in the poem refer to dishes you will eat that night.

Dominque Crenn at work in her kitchen

Her restaurant is called Atelier Crenn and pays tribute to Dominque’s late father Allain Crenn who was an artist. His paintings decorate her restaurant. ‘Atelier’ means workshop and Dominque’s father had an artist’s workshop or studio in the house where Dominique grew up. She named the restaurant to honor her father who loved her dearly and told her she could be anything she wanted to be! During the episode of Chef’s Table featuring Dominique, she goes back to her childhood home in France to see her father’s old studio/workshop and visit her father’s grave. At that point both Dominique and I were in tears.  

Mashama Bailey in her Savannah restaurant

Then there was the episode about Mashama Bailey an award winning black chef who operates a restaurant in Savannah called Grey in an old bus station from Jim Crow times when black and white travelers had to wait for the bus in separate areas of the station, use separate washrooms and drink from different fountains. Reminders of those days of shameful segregation deliberately remain in the decor of the restaurant where Mashama serves southern comfort food.  

There is a scene in the Chef’s Table episode about Mashama where her parents tell her how proud they are of her and how proud her grandmothers would be to know their granddaughter was reclaiming the history of that bus station with her restaurant where people of every race and culture can enjoy soul food together.  You could tell how moved Mashama was at her parents’ praise and I was ……. in tears. 

I haven’t been a big fan of cooking shows in the past but Chef’s Table is different. In each episode you see an incredible artist creating sumptous and gorgeous food but…….. you also learn that their talent and drive is inspired by some very deeply personal experiences that are bound to make you cry. 

Other posts……..

A Chocolate Evening With Beatriz

Cooking Up A Storm in The Yucatan

First Supper in Lisbon- My Husband Has Great Instincts

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Filed under Food, Media

A Chocolate Evening With Beatriz

Getting to know Beatriz the mainstay of a family business called Fela Chocolate was the highlight for me of a chocolate workshop we participated in one of our last days in Merida, Mexico. Beatriz is a highschool teacher, mother of three, grandmother of two and she runs chocolate making workshops for tourists. The business was the brainchild of her son who studies business and economics at a university in Idaho. Her son’s fiancée, Lisbeth, who is an elementary school teacher, helps her future mother-in-law by welcoming guests to the Fela Chocolate establishment, a business that has only been in operation for about six months. Lisbeth showed us pictures of Beatriz’s mother and grandmother. It was Beatriz’s grandmother Fela on the left in the photo who taught Beatriz how to make chocolate and the business is named in Grandmother Fela’s honor. Neither Lisbeth or Beatriz spoke much English but Elias arrived soon after we did and told us he was an engineering student at a Merida university and would be providing the English translation for our tour.

Dave and Rudy listening to Beatriz

You could tell Beatrice was an experienced teacher because she led an excellent, interesting and informative workshop complete with numerous relevant visuals, the opportunity to ask lots of questions, plenty of hands on involvement and a collection of interesting artifacts for us to explore. Here she is explaining that the cacao fruit grows on the trunks of trees not their branches. The colourful  fruit which is actually quite tasty is harvested for its seeds which are used to make chocolate.As Beatriz taught us about the cacao seeds we each had some spread out in front of us and were encouraged to experience them with our five senses. Beatriz gets her cacao seeds or beans from the Mexican state of Tabasco. Cacao is grown in the Yucatan but on farms owned by European business people. They ship the beans home to their own countries to make chocolate and don’t sell their cocao in Mexico. Beatriz talked to us about how important chocolate had been to the ancient Mayan inhabitants of the Yucatan. They made a drink from the cacao beans that they believed had many health benefits.  Beatriz told us the first step in the chocolate making process was roasting the beans.

Beatriz shows us the flat stone and other artifacts Mayan women would have used to prepare beans for chocolate.

Mayan women would have roasted the beans on a flat stone with a fire built underneath it.

Our friend Rudy stirs the roasting beans as another workshop participant Chris who hailed from Ohio looks on.  

We roasted our beans however in a small pan on a hot plate. Beatriz had us keep sniffing the air as the beans roasted. The smell of the roasting chocolate changes three times and when Beatriz gets the tell tale whiff of the third aroma she knows the beans are ready. Now it was time to husk the beans and remove the outer skin. This wasn’t as easy as it looked.  Beatriz asked us to save the husks because she uses them to make a delicious tea. She provided a sample for us to try.There are numerous ways to make the chocolate beans into a paste.  Our friend Rudy demonstrates how Mayan women would have done it long ago using a stone called a matate. Berniz also gave us each a mortor and pestle to use as an alternate method of crushing the cocao beans into a paste. She provided cinnamon, sugar, sea salt, pepper, almonds, peanuts, and chilis as things to add to our chocolate. Eventually Beatriz brought out an electric blender which made quick work of creating a paste out of all of our chocolate beans.

Now it was our turn to work the paste with our hands, adding sugar to taste. Beatriz told Dave not to worry about the chocolate on his hands. Chocolate is actually great for the skin and there are places in Merida that will give you a chocolate massage.Next we used moulds to make three or four little rounds of chocolate to take home. While we worked Beatriz served us hot chocolate and chocolate pastries. Later I bought a few chocolate samples made by Beatriz from the attractive display in the shop entrance.  I have friends and two daughters-in-law who love chocolate and I wanted to get some of Beatriz’s products for them. Since the official workshop was over Beatriz and I had time to chat through the interpreter about our teaching, our grandchildren, our children and some of our interests.  It was lovely to get to know this enthusiastic, warm woman who has all kinds of irons in the fire to try and make life better for her family. We parted with hugs. 

The workshop was great and I loved learning more about chocolate but the best thing about it was getting to know a grandmother in another country, who isn’t so very different than I am, and realizing how easy it can be to establish connections and cross-cultural understandings when we share our life experiences.  

Other posts………..

Giving Something Up For Lent


Cooking Up a Storm in the Yucatan

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Filed under Food, Mexico

Indian Dinner

at the indian dinner in merida

Dave and me at the Indian dinner in Merida

My sister and her husband rented a home in Merida that wasn’t far from the English Library.   The place is full of English books to take out or buy but it also serves as a meeting place for all kinds of tours and events for English speaking residents and visitors to Merida. We decided to attend a dinner the library was hosting  in the home of the president of the library’s board of directors. It was catered by a chef from India.

The home where they had the dinner looked pretty plain from the outside but inside it was a beautifully restored old mansion filled with interesting art and furniture 

I was fascinated by this piece of art that showed Jesus on the cross in a boat surrounded by a variety of religious and church folk and then outside the boat some very interesting characters trying to get in. I showed this photo to my sister later and we found all kinds of small details in the painting to talk about.

I wished the dinner had been during the day because the home in which we enjoyed our meal had such interesting architecture and art but was also dimly lit for the dinner so I wasn’t able to see all the fascinating details of the beautifully restored turn of the century home.

The kitchen area from which our drinks were served. Check out the coat of arms on the fan over the stove. 

We sat near the door that opened onto the patio and pool area of the house

My sister chats with one of our table companions

We shared our table with a retired tax accountant and his friendly wife who told us they had homes here in Mexico, in Minneapolis, in Sarasota Florida and in upstate New York.  They talked about some of the positives of spending the winter in Merida but also some of the challenges.

Two more of our table mates at the dinner

Our other table mate was a middle aged man who seemed unsure of where his exact home was but he was working towards establishing a base in Merida on more of a full time basis and seemed to make his living giving travel talks and teaching travel courses to seniors. 

Our menu for the dinner

The buffet table adorned with India flags

Dave and our friend Rudy with their full plates

The house was packed with people and each place setting had a copy of the menu on the plate so we knew exactly what we would be enjoying for our dinner later on. 

The evening was interesting and took us to a part of Merida we hadn’t been to before. It also confirmed for us the diversity of the expat population here in Merida which includes folks from many different countries.

Other posts…………

Sweet, Sad and Spicy

Love in a Lunchbox

India Assaults the Senses

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Filed under Food, Mexico