Day One
Thursday, August 5, 2004
I love my mornings. When university is in session, I am up at 5 a.m. so I could do my prep. while the house is quiet. These days, I can sleep in until 6 a.m. I take our daughter to work at her summer job at the hospital, then I get to relax with my breakfast and second cup of coffee.
Today, I sat on the deck, a cup of Tim Horton's brew-at-home with Coffee Rich creamer, 2 slices of toast with my home made peach/apricot/pineapple conserve. I love this stuff on toast, ice cream or just by itself as a snack. The recipe is one handed down by hubby's Nana Campbell. She even used bits of apricot pits in her recipe. It added a touch of bitterness to the sweet and tang of the fruit.

For lunch, my daughter packed a roll-up made with whole wheat tortillia, poached chicken breast, a handful of spring greens with raspberry vinegrette, shredded carrot and juilenne cukes. 

At home, we had wonton soup with shrimp egg noodles, Shanghai bok choy, shrimp and lap cheung.

I needed a nap after my won ton soup but Dejah's kitchen had hungry family to feed for supper.

Most of my postings in Egullet have been in the China and Chinese Cuisine Forum. As mentioned in one of the threads, I am a lo wah kiu . . . a Chinese immigrant who's been here a long time.  Our family's involvement with food began with my paternal grandfather, who worked as a cook (on the CPR railroad crew).  Later, working as the cook for the first water commissioner of Winnipeg (Manitoba's capital city), he saved enough money to buy himself a little hotel and restaurant in the small village of Newdale. My dad joined him from China when he was 16 years old. They didn't serve any Chinese food at that time . . . just good hearty prairie fare, translated to mean meat and potatoes!

Newdale was well known by many avid duck hunters . . . especially our American neighbours to the south. Clark Gable was said to have been a frequent visitor.  During hunting season, Dad always had a big pot of stew, made with beef short ribs, big chunks of vegetables and buttermilk biscuits.  It remains one of our favorite comfort foods.

So, as requested by my sister, who doesn't do much Canadian cooking, I spent my afternoon cooking stew, biscuits, and another of my Dad's signature dishes -- home-made banana cream pie.

For the stew, I used beef short ribs and brisket point. Stew never seems to taste as good without the fat and the bones. The meat is seasoned with salt, pepper and flour, then browned  in my stew pot. While the meat waited patiently in a pan, I  browned chunks of onion, celery and carrots in all that gooey stuff on the bottom. The meat went back into the pot, with enough beef stock (made from leftover roast beef, au jus, and rib bones) to cover. To this, I threw in bay leaves, 4-peppercorn steak spice, and about 1/4 cup of Italian herb blend. Brought this to a boil for about half an hour, then transferred everything to my big trusty old stainless steel roaster. This concoction "stewed" in the oven at about 300F for acouple hours. About 45 minutes before supper, I added new potatoes, more carrots and celery. It went back into the oven, without the cover.

While waiting for the stew, I mixed up 3 batches of the buttermilk biscuit recipe.  Once the roaster came out, I popped in 12 biscuits at a time. They were ready by the time everyone (14 adults 3 kiddies) came to the table. We're not really knowledgeable about wines, but we did have acouple bottles of Australian Wolf Blass Pinot Noir which went well with the stew.

Oh, we also had peaches and cream corn on the cob.  The West-Coasties liked their corn with lime juice and crushed peppers! Even Atticus, our Great Pyrenees dog, got into the act. Someone slipped him a verboten cob of corn -- he never turns down "human food." Any under-the-table contraband is a welcome change from his usual Pedigree "rice and lamb" pellets for sensitive stomachs,

Also made banana cream pies in the afternoon. I was supposed to hand whip the cream like Dad did, but my Kitchen Aid insisted on helping. ;-)
Hubby then dashed off for rehearsal with a Christian rock band, getting ready for Faith Festival on September long weekend. Knowing his religious inclinations, it must be his musical talent that prompted them to select him as lead guitarist for the gig.  ;-)

Tomorrow's schedule will be making dim sum and food for Saturday's crew. My head is spinning!


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Bill and Sue-On Hillman, Inc.