Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Gatherings

(As seen on

We just had the pleasure of visiting with relatives that we only get to see about once a year. With everyone's busy schedules and growing families, the visits have changed in frequency and duration. The traditional 9PM dinners need to be pushed up a couple of hours to facilitate the young ones bedtimes and the martinis don't flow quite a freely as they used to, but we still know how to eat. And boy, do we eat!

I think one of my favourite aspects of the big family gathering is the opportunity to share my recipes and favourites with my family and in turn, get an opportunity to try other people's favourites. There's always someone looking over the cook's shoulder, watching them prepare, taking careful notes (and sometimes just ready to mix a new batch of cocktails!). A flurry of emails often ensues in the following days from the eager sous-chefs clarifying ingredient lists and cooking times.

This past weekend was no exception. During the 3 meals we shared as a group, everyone contributed to the planning, preparation, and service in our own ways. One of the great things about everyone preparing a favourite is that you get such a variety food. For appetizers we enjoyed my signature Sangria, along with an amazing maple, pecan, chili and ice wine torte on pinot noir and black pepper biscotti (from Dana Shortt Gourmet), an assortment of cheeses, homemade spring rolls, and garlic scape pesto on fresh baguette. I posted the recipe for scape pesto on my last blog post. Since scapes are only in season for a couple of weeks, I thought ahead and froze some for this occasion. Dinner later that night was even better: butter-soft rib steaks, Caesar salad, sauteed mushrooms, my Dad's signature zucchini rice dish, and of course, a few bottles of nice wine.

Why do family events always involve food and drink? There's something about food that brings us all together. Conversations flow as freely as the wine, laughs are had, and memories are made. I know that some of my best memories are made around the kitchen island or the dining room table. Perhaps it's because food is the one thing we all have in common. We've all got to eat, so why not do it together?

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