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Filling a Hole

It’s a day off today, so we made a plan for our free kitchen time. In the spirit of Sunday morning, a day of traditionally indulgent eating, we chose to make donuts.


My dad and I made cake donuts a few times when I was a kid and it was a very fond memory. We did it again years later when I was in my thirties; we couldn’t find the original recipe so we worked out another one. We called the recipe “Born Again Donuts“, as it was a resounding success.

Today I went wild and created a new variation (it’s listed with the recipe in the link). My dad loved an adventure; I’m pretty sure he would have approved of the new chocolate orange flavour. I got a kick out of the new Rabbit Hollow-inspired shape, too.

My hubbie decided to make a yeast donut, so that we could have a variety of flavours. He created a chocolate caramel glaze for the usual donuts with holes, and then filled some round donuts with strawberry jam we had in the fridge (not a house-made preserve, but strawberry is the kind of jam you need to put in a donut). I also made a rosewater honey glaze that we dunked a few twists into, just for a bit of sticky fun. All those flavours covered the retro and foodie angles nicely.



Donuts are certainly not a healthy food, what with being deep-fried and coated in sugar or honey. However, homemade with no chemicals or preservatives they are at least natural. And they can provide a sense of emotional wellness.

My dad would have been tickled pink if he could have sat down with us to sip on a cup of fresh coffee and a homemade jam buster.

Here’s looking at you, Daddy!

 

The Taste of Memories

Today would have been my Dad’s 74th birthday. He passed away almost 10 years ago, but every year on his birthday especially, my thoughts are of him. He and I were close, and some of my favourite quirky food memories are of times with him. So it seemed only fitting that today’s entry would be in his honour…

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When I was a kid, my diet started out with rather small parameters. My mom says I used to eat mostly fruit as a baby, and that sausages were one of the first – and only – proteins I liked. I did get over that picky stage, but we were a Prairie family and my dad was a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy back in those days. My mom cooked what he liked. Pork chops and applesauce, or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and turnips were regular stand-bys. My dad’s contribution was the traditional grilling component: he did cook a mean steak, and he mastered vegetables in a tinfoil package with butter and herbs, steamed over the coals. (I still love doing these with steaks in the summer.)

I was a baker long before I was a cook, but my dad never had much of a sweet tooth. He loved a good cookie (not too crunchy, of course – we agreed on that) In true Prairie fashion he also loved apple pie, with a slice of cheddar cheese. But his favourite dessert was jelly roll.

When I was a teenager, my parents took a trip to California. After that, food changed. All of a sudden we were having nachos with salsa, and eating more fish. Then the stuffing for the turkey at Christmas had nuts, and there was no going back. By the time I was an adult, my mom could cook anything and he would try it. My dad had started to cook and even bought cookbooks. He made salads with dried cranberries and toasted pecans, veal piccata, ice cream sundaes.

My favourite foodie memories with my dad are in the years when I was first married, and we both lived in Vancouver. My hubbie was working some nights and so Daddy and I had a standing date on Friday for appies and drinks. We would while away the evening over tidbits he had made and wine I had brought. Our conversations ranged from trivial tidbits to solving the problems of the world. I would often bring dessert, as I was working at Senses, a gourmet food store and bakery that featured the treasures of Thomas Haas. My dad finally gave up jelly roll as his favourite dessert, replacing it with Thomas’ Stilton Cheesecake with Rhubarb Compotethomas-haas-stilton-cheesecake

In later years, we didn’t get to share many meals between the miles and my dad’s ill health. I am very grateful we shared so many memories for me to enjoy. Every time I taste jelly roll, or salad with dried cranberries and toasted pecans, I think of him. When I taste something new and exotic, I smile and think of how he would have enjoyed it.

I’m also due for a piece of Stilton cheesecake on my next visit to Vancouver. Just for old time’s sake.

 

 

As Time Goes By

Earl and KPL - dinner in Maui

Eight years ago today my Dad passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, often wishing that he could be there to share in a special moment. Many of those are foodie moments; my Dad developed a real passion for food as he got older. He went from a meat-and-potatoes Prairie guy to a West Coast cool dude that cooked three course meals and tried all kinds of exotic dishes. When I was a kid the family shared meals and valued time around the dinner table. Once I grew up, my Dad and I would share meals together in all kinds of places, and discussing all kinds of worldly problems.

It is not hard for me to think of food memories, possibly because as a kid I hardly stopped eating. My father used to say I had a hollow leg – I could eat like a horse and I just kept growing taller and eating more. I remember him saying that maybe if he put bricks on my head that would slow things down and it seemed that might be the only remedy. I could have new pants in the spring and be watching for the flood before summer was over!

I don’t want you to get the idea that all we did was eat though… after Sunday breakfast I remember the whole family sometimes having some goofy family time. Music was often playing and it wasn’t just hippie tunes, either. Sorcerers Apprentice broomsI have great visions of all four of us marching through the house to the classical tune, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, just like the brooms Mickey Mouse tried to control. My father would lead us around from room to room like a parade marshal, even going up and over the beds!

These are favourite memories of mine because they make me smile and that in itself makes me proud. I think it is a great testament to the way I was raised that I can look back and say I had such a great time.

This time of year the memories seem to flood in. I eat a fried egg sandwich and I remember the early mornings he got up to make me one before basketball practice. I snack on peanuts in the shell and I am reminded of being little and sharing some of Daddy’s treat as he sat watching a bit of TV, with a paper bag on the floor to catch the shells. I sample a new delicacy and I am taken back to the Friday nights when I lived in Vancouver and we would share an evening of nibbles at “the treetop bistro” in his West End apartment, swapping stories and solving the problems of the world.

All those smiles and tastes far outweigh the sadness I feel, and they remind me of his love of life and sense of adventure. I know he would be proud to see that I am making the most of my experiences. Here’s to you, Daddy – cheers!Earl close up

Birthdays are for celebrating

birthday candles

Today would have been my Dad’s 70th birthday. He is gone now, but if he was around I think he would have hoped to have a big celebration for what he called the start of his New Year. Birthday parties were a big deal when I was a kid, and my parents did a bang-up job of creating wonderful celebrations.

One year, I remember we had a party for my little brother in our rec room, which was the funky space downstairs with a mural wall that included the family dog, a huge tree in the corner with Impressionist leaves, and a giant flower. We didn’t play any mundane games like Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey at the Peturson house… we played “Pin the bee on the flower”. Can you tell my parents were hippies? pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey

When my brother and I got older, the family went for dinner at a restaurant to celebrate. I don’t mean White Spot or Swiss Chalet; we went to places that served savoury crepes or Spanish paella and caesar salad made at the table. My parents enjoyed wine, and we got to try things like mussels or lamb. Talk about feeling spoiled on your special day!

Years later, my Dad and I enjoyed a fabulous vacation in Maui, and food was one of our favourite memories from that trip.

we stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani, where the view at dinner was spectacular

we stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani, where the view at dinner was spectacular

We had our server prepare crepes at the table for us, and he was brilliant in his presentation. He decorated my crepe so that it had chocolate sauce wings with fruit coulis patterns and whip cream “fuzz” over the crepe body. Then he prepared my Dad’s crepe with more mottled colours, and for the piece de resistance, threw the spoonful of whipped cream on the plate and said, “Oh darn, your bug hit a windshield.” My Dad laughed till tears rolled down his cheeks. We talked about that dinner till the day he died.

Interestingly enough, though, my Dad did like comfort food even after years of expanding his food horizons beyond the meat and potatoes of his prairie childhood. His favourite dessert was jelly roll, and it was one of the first desserts I learned to make, in his honour. Earl birthday jelly roll It was one of my first real accomplishments in life, to flip that pan and then roll that sponge with the filling inside with enough confidence not to blow it 🙂

So, here’s to you Daddy. Thanks for all the great memories, and for reminding me that birthdays deserve to be celebrated in grand style.

Earl and KPL - dinner in Maui

My bucket list is full of snacks

I just had another birthday and of course that brings with it all kinds of memories and more than a little thought about what is left to do on my bucket list. I had the good fortune of finishing last month on a foodie trip to Terra Madre 2012, and that refueled my passion for exotic food experiences (pardon the pun). Being a foodie, many of my bucket list items include a mention of food, so I thought it might be fun to share them…

  • I’ve always wanted to see the New England states, doing a bicycle tour. A bit of Maine lobster, perhaps a New Hampshire breakfast, and of course a whoopie pie! And who wouldn’t want to try a Smuttynose beer?

    Any company that has “Old Brown Dog Ale” is definitely alright in my book 🙂

  • I love convivial music, and seafood, and a bit of spice, so The Big Easy (New Orleans) is definitely on my bucket list.

    I can taste the crayfish and hear the music …

  • I have read about popular chefs and their restaurants for decades, and one place I have still never been is Spago. Wolfgang Puck is a kitchen icon who has survived a long time in a fickle world. 

    It’s just so quintessentially LA, don’t you think?

  • Although I’m not a fan of haggis or salt cod, I would like to visit the countries of my heritage – Scotland and Iceland – and enjoy at least some of their specialties on home turf. 

    Lunch in the Highlands, anyone?

    Who knew there were so many specialty foods so far north?

  • I want to go truffle-hunting. I have hunted for chocolate truffles in France 🙂 but never black truffles in Italy. I got to eat them in Turin last month as part of the truffle festival, so now I just want to see them in their natural habitat.

    Mmm, Italian decadence.

I like travelling because I get to experience different cultures, and a large part of culture has to do with food. Markets showcase specialties, and meal formats are linked to climates and family structure and business patterns. When I share those experiences in a new place, I feel privileged. I enjoy the kinship that comes from the humble sharing of food at a table.

Of course, even at home that can be special. Sharing a meal with friends and family always creates new memories, and this time of year is especially good for that. We will be hosting our yearly dessert party for neighbours and friends in a couple of weeks, an event that always warms my heart. Deep down,  I guess my bucket list is about sharing happy times with others, and often that happens through food.

Do you think I’m crazy or obsessed? Do you dream about great meals too? I’d love to know if I’m the only one who sees the kitchen as the centre of the universe.

Well, that’s enough for tonight. I have to go choose the wine for Sunday dinner 🙂

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