Archive | October, 2014

A mostly true story, with recipes to follow, at some point.

16 Oct

We came to Canada in the late 1960’s to escape both the student riots in Paris which we found dirty, boring and unnecessary and our parents who were not dirty or boring, but were cultured, well dressed, and refined, but sadly, they were broke; their lack of capital made them unnecessary.  Our Papa who lost the family fortune in some unfortunate dealings with crooked diamond mine owners in South Africa, or so he said.  Our sweet Mama had only one wish and that was for my sister and I to marry well and restore the family’s dignity and fortune, but not in that order.  My sister Georgette and I couldn’t stand even the thought of marriage; we were too young, too pretty, too wild, so we fled, to Canada.  Georgette had once met a wild eyed poet with a head child like soft brown curls. He spoke French, he was from Quebec and he was a “fier separatiste.”  To us, Quebec seemed like a romantic place with lots of opportunity for independent women that we were; we were young, beautiful and French, what more would we need?

As it happened, we were unable to live off our good looks alone, unless we were willing to get married, which we were not.  We were hopeless when it came to the regular work during the day, getting up early was torture. Secretarial work was hazardous,  the ink from the typewriter ribbons ruined our clothes, and we were unable to tolerate the dirty old men pinching and patting our derrieres like they owned us.  It was me who always got us fired as I could not abide their base behavior, Georgette was more patient as she could put up with the occasional pinch in return for a good meal.  Something that we couldn’t afford on our own.  Luckily it was now the spring of 1967 and we were able to find work at the French Pavilion at Expo 67..  It was work that we were well suited for; socializing, talking about French culture and food and pouring glasses of French wine.  We loved it and it paid the bills, but all good things seem to come to an end and before we had saved any money, another winter was upon us and Expo 67 was over.  We were out of work again.  One night over cigarettes and coffee, Georgette and I made a list of the things that we liked to do and what we were good at doing; going to parties, giving parties, drinking wine, eating well, and as if we were both hit on the head by inspiration at the same time, we cried out, “a restaurant, we’ll open a restaurant.’  We were French after all and as everyone knows, the French know a thing or two about restaurants.

At about the same time ( I don’t remember exactly it was so long ago) things were starting to become so serious in Quebec; student protests, and the FLQ, people weren’t smiling in the streets as they once had.  We decided that unhappy people weren’t good for business, it was time to move again, but where to?  During the summer we had met a young woman whose job was serving bad wine at the Canadian Pavilion, she would often sneak over to ours to share glasses of good wine and cigarettes with us.  She was from a city in Ontario, London Ontario.  Georgette and I had always adored London England, we considered it a sign, it was our destiny.  We loaded up our unreliable Volkswagen Beetle, the one without any heat  and headed south west, at the very least, it would be warmer than Montreal.

To be continued…


Never under estimate the power of a good scone

16 Oct

It was a sad, weary disappointly cold day in February and I was tired of winter, and not unusually for me, I was roaming the downtown streets by myself.  I have always been a loner, and I’m good with that as I’m rarely bored by my own company…but to the point, I was cold, hungry and tired of my cold feet, time to find somewhere warm.  I was not a typical teenager, I wore vintage clothes, and my hobbies included collecting Depression glass, cookbooks and watching old black and white movies, Mildred Pierce was one of my favorites, I was also a food snob. So, instead of heading to a diner for french fries and a Coke, I went to Say Cheese, for soup, warm apple cider and a scone.

Say Cheese was to me a paradise; located in an old building, it was the first time that I ever saw exposed brick walls, mismatched tables and chairs, carpets on the old pine floors and delicate french lace curtains in the windows.  I felt at home there, I felt as if I belonged, a feeling that was rare for me growing up.  I would sit there with a book, and always order the same thing; cheese soup, a mug of warm apple cider and a cheese scone warmed with butter and strawberry jam.  Of course, when I think about it, I can still taste all of it, the cheese soup, always smooth as custard, sharp with the flavours of good cheddar and dry mustard, the apple cider spicy with cinnamon and cloves, and then the scone, warm, buttery, salty and then the jam, cool and sweet.  I can recreate that meal, I can make the soup, it’s not hard and then the scones, in half an hour, out of the oven, just as buttery and rich as the ones that I remember.  But it wouldn’t be the same.  Everything is different, even the building where Say Cheese once was is now gone, a hockey arena stands in its place.  It’s not possible to completely and authentically recreate place and time, all we have is now, so, I’m offering a different scone recipe, it’s a good one, thirty minutes from an idea to your plate, hopefully to share.

Bake them and create your own happiness, your own food memories.


Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powdwe

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cold salted butter, cut into small cubes

1/3 cup good quality sour cream

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Maple glaze recipe to follow

Oven to 400 degreesF.

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients ( I don’t think that I need to tell you which ones are the dry ingredients), stir with a fork until combined.  Either using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like oatmeal.

In another bowl, combine the sour cream, pumpkin and vanilla, stir to combine then ass to dry mixture.  Get in there with your hands and give it a good mix until it comes together, it will only take about 2 or 3 minutes.  Then, knead it on the counter once or twice and pat it out into a circle about 7 inches in diameter and maybe an inch thick. Cut it like a pie into six equal pieces.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about twenty minutes

Apple Cider Cream Pie

15 Oct

It’s time to start writing again.

I have to ask myself “why did I stop?”  I can think of a few reasons, none of them good, but all of them understandable…it doesn’t matter.  I’m doing this for me…I made two pies this past weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving, one, the usual and obligatory pumpkin, the second, a recipe I found in an old Food and Wine magazine; Apple cider cream Pie.  There were only three of us for dinner, but I made two pies, I always over cook, a hold over from my restaurant life.  i needed to bake, I need to be creative and I need an outlet, I’m happiest when I’m in my kitchen.  It’s late here, well not really, eight o’clock, not too late but late for me, so, tomorrow the recipe.

Thanks Danielle for inspiring me to pick up where I left off.