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The Art of Potlucks; why potlucks are more than food!

In the calendar year I attend or host about 15-20 potlucks. Most are ok, some are great and very few are so engaging that having to end one leaves you wanting just a little bit more.

An assortment of food dishes at a church potluck.

An assortment of food dishes at a church potluck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people view potlcuks as a mean to be frugal. Different occasions call for potlucks where the host can’t possible feed everyone at once, usually when the number of people are over 10. I see them as a great opportunity to practice hospitality. Many potlucks held at my place are either right after house church or some other Congregational event involving larger crowds like baptisms, birthdays and the like.

In my mind the responsibility falls on the host, the person whom house the event is happening at, unless there’s a party planner involved. If potlucks are not coordinated properly the table ends up with very similar dishes. Last Sunday 3 dishes had chicken drum sticks, luckily they were all different flavours. The host has the opportunity to address the guest before the day and direct the flow of food people will be bringing and dedicating specific people to bring specific things, i.e. such and such person can bring salad, others can bring refreshments, others dessert and so on. Furthermore, the host also has the opportunity to set the mood, plan games and start conversation pieces, setting the tone for the evening/afternoon. Opening your home is one the bravest and coolest thing you can do to practice hospitality. People will see how you prepare, live and treat those who you consider close and loved. In Roman’s 12 we are encouraged to practice hospitality, opening the doors of your house is inviting people to your world. People will see you for who you truly are, allowing them to come in our home places the host in a vulnerable position. Many people don’t open their homes unless they’re in immaculate shape, which of course is not likely if you have children.  I’m a huge believer in saying food brings people together. The camaraderie  and time spent in company allows people to share and get to know one another.

Good times are to be had in proper planned potlucks and get together’s.

Share with us your potluck stories?

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October 21, 2013 · 9:13 pm

For The Love of October

October is the best month of the year. Not only do I get to celebrate my birthday, watch the Major League Baseball fall classic extravaganza,  bask in the crisp October weather. I also with much delight get to cook and enjoy  the world of squashes.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash (Photo credit: Suzies Farm)

 

I love me a good squash. Boiled with butter, spiced roasted, puréed, in soup, creamed, candied, baked in pies. Squashes are the hearth of fall, they represent the change of season and the long hard work of our farmers. The squash season is long and arduous. In order to grow one, one must plant them in early spring and allow them to receive ton of sun, God providing of course.

Many a recipes will surface on the internet, cooking shows or even your grandma’s recipe Rolodex for your favourite dishes, including the much dreaded Pumpkin Spiced Latte (YUCK!) (no wait double YUCK!). One of my favourite squash is the spaghetti squash. I love how it flakes into strings and can be moulded in any shape and flavoured deliciously since it has a very light and delicate taste. My other best squash is the butternut squash. It roasts really well and makes a great purée and soup, and how can I forget the vast realm of zucchinis? I have some squashes here, right now and I’m going to start cooking some for this evening.

 

What’s a squash recipe you love? 

 

 

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Today I Make: Olive Oil and Sea-salt Popcorn

Long has been since we’ve made microwaveable popcorn. Instead we pop our own with a theater style popcorn make, thanks to my mom. It’s so as the title suggest, the flavor is delicious. Using 1/2 tbsp organic Olive oil for 1/4 cup of popping corn adding sea salt to taste. It truly is a wonderful treat!! Enjoy! What are some treats you like?

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There’s only one Caesar! the drink that is.

There’s a huge chance that only my Canadian friends will understand why the Caesar should be left alone. Since it’s Canada day weekend, I decided to speak about something really Canadian. The Caesar! a drink that is equally delicious as is awesome and truly Canadian. There’s been many variations of this drink in other countries but they simply fall short.

Getting our tastebuds ready for #CaesarJun6 .....

(Photo credit: hanspetermeyer.ca)

Quick history; It was invented in CalgaryAlberta in 1969 by restaurateur Walter Chell to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the city. It quickly became a popular mixed drink within Canada where over 350 million Caesars are consumed annually and it has inspired numerous variants. However, the drink remains almost unknown outside the country. It consist of Vodka, Clamato juice, Hot Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, and ice. Served in a  Celery salt rimmed galls, garnished with a celery stick or pickled been, and lemon wedge.

Last father’s day we ended going for lunch as a family. My wife and I ordered 2 Caesar’s variant of the original and they were awful. Since it’s inception many have tried to replicate or re-create this drink. They add seafood, cure meats skewers and other types of alcohol like Tequila, Gin or Rum. It just doesn’t work. They may be OK variants and may taste enticing but the truth is the original is really, really good. Nothing beats a well made Caesar on a hot day. I was so disappointed with the one I had on father’s day. I had the Mojito Caesar which had tequila instead of Vodka. Not a good mix.

Caesars are really simple to make if you can get your hands on Clamato which may not be as easy to our friends south of the border. A Mott’s company mixed drink made from Clams and tomato juice, its they key ingredient and cannot be substituted. Tabasco sauce is the traditional hot sauce of choice while Worcestershire sauce is the final and last key to the puzzle. Bloody Mary’s are not the same, just saying! (trust me on that one)

HAPPY CANADA DAY EVERYONE!

Try this amazing drink and tell us what you think! I guarantee you’ll love it.  

NOTE: don’t try it if you have seafood allergies since Clamato and Worcestershire sauce are made using shell-fish and/or fish. 
 

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Tourettes and Twitter

A great article about how twitter took over your twitter handle to bring awareness of the this Syndrome.

Lindork: Tweets get people talking about Tourettes | Columnists | Opinion | Edmonton Sun.

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Today I Make: Moro (pigeon pea rice)

This one brings me back to my childhood in the Dominican Republic. It’s a really simple dish.

Arroz con guandules!

Arroz con guandules! (Photo credit: urbanlatinfemale)

It’s been years since I’ve had pigeon peas (guandules) and when I finally found out what they were call in English (pigeon peas) I looked for them right away. Long and behold, I found them in the Caribbean isle in the supermarket. Funny enough I also found out the name “guandules” is only known to Spanish speaking Caribbean countries. Which is why I couldn’t find them anywhere.

This is one dish I dreamed about. Moro De Guandules, it involves dice onion, garlic, peppers, tomato and tomato paste. Seasoning, oregano and thyme are also key components of the dish but what really brings all the flavours together is coconut cream (milk). I on the other hand used coconut oil, its way more economical and you still get the same results. The flavour element is bang on while not compromising the rest of the dish.

Name a nostalgic dish by leaving a comment? Tell us how they bring you back to times of old memories! 

 

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The Open Menu Curse

One of my goals for this blog is to peel the layers of the onion and unveil some truths about the ins and outs of the restaurant business and the hospitality  industry. Albeit, I will never do it justice like Anthony Bourdain does in his legendary book “Kitchen Confidential”.  In this edition  I will break down the last hour of a closing shift in most commercial kitchens.   A sense of ease comes to all when the dinner rush winds down. Cooks start to go for after dinner brakes to ease tension and serving staff starts to dwindle down on by one. In my opinion this the one of the worst hours in cooking altogether.

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One big problem with this last hour of business is the closing duties. Managers and restaurant owners are so focused in saving money that they cause their kitchens to under perform and load the remaining cooks with a huge work load. In order to save money managers cut cooks and server shifts. One by one the cooks are sent home leaving behind 1 or 2 to flip the line, wash the dishes and set for the next day, plus they need to be done by the time doors close. All of this is happening while the restaurant is sitting new customers. Most restaurants open their tables when the reservations are over or until is time to close the doors. Here in lays the problem. The kitchen is expected to produce to the current customers and start the closing duties with a diminished crew and no extra time to clean up.

I’d be really weary to enter  a middle of the line restaurant in the last hour of service. You will not get the best service, food or attention by your server. The experience will be inadequate at best. Though not every restaurant suffers from this phenomenon most are guilty of cutting short the service and cooking staff in the last hour to save a few dollars. Cooks will curse and say abominable things about you the new customer coming in thinking you still have 45 minutes to eat! BE CAREFUL.

Don’t be fooled by pretty smiles and quick food when adding to the work load of a few disgruntled employees looking to close shop for the night and release stress. Unless you know the establishment really well it’s better get your food delivered or take it to go!

Leave a comment and let us know of any horrible experiences you’ve had while dinning.  

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