Category Archives: Food

Hump Day: Keeping up with Martha Stewart can be exhausting

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

A few months ago, I wrote about my bad habit of tweaking successful recipes and ruining them. It appears that I struck a chord since the reaction was quite strong. It’s like I lifted the rug hiding a dirty little societal secret. So many people have confessed to me: ‘I do that, too!’

Well, Thanksgiving is less than four weeks away (insert horrified scream sound effect here) and it’s time once again to take on the thankless job of trying to find some unique, uppity dessert that no one will eat again this year because they only want the same desserts they’ve been eating since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Trying to break my family of its traditions isn’t easy. I don’t know why I even try. It isn’t enough that I plow through cookbooks and online recipe sites, but I spend hours watching television cooking shows to try and come up with some new delicious sweet treat that will have everyone at the table crumbling into tears of joy and exclaiming they didn’t know there was a God until that very moment. Instead, I usually get “Oh it’s good.”

Just…‘good?’ Do you realize I drove all over Moncton for that one ingredient you can’t even taste in it but that I had to have because the recipe called for it? Do you realize I ran my tires bald driving so many kilometres that I needed an oil change at the end of my search for that one specialty pan I saw ‍Martha Stewart use on her show?

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart

Actually, I had a bit of a surreal experience on the weekend when I was searching for my family’s ‘new favourite dessert’ while watching good ol’ ‍Martha Stewart. In fact, she doesn’t use fancy ingredients, but she sure loves her uncommon cooking tools. Whenever I see her use one, I go into my ‘that’s gonna change my life’ coma and walk like a zombie into every store in Moncton holding up a picture to some poor store clerk who just started that day while pointing and grunting. “Must. Have. This! ‍Martha. Told. Me. To!” They invariably never have it and then point me toward something that will do the same job, which never suits me, of course.

Anyway, as I was watching the show, she started showing a recipe for steamed cranberry pudding – something similar to a Christmas plum pudding. She mixed all the ingredients and then she took out her specialty steamed pudding pan. I blinked in shock. I owned the exact same one! I couldn’t believe it! I nearly ran to the cupboard, grabbed it and sat down in front of the television.‘See, ‍Mar‍‍tha? See? I am worthy! I own the same one you do! I drove all over Moncton one day five years ago looking for a steamed pudding pan and found it! We’re now best friends, ‍Martha! The bestest friends ever!’

I called my mother afterwards to tell her I’d discovered a new recipe and actually had the ‍Martha Stewart-approved pan to bake it in! Even though we’d both agreed in the past that I was never again to bring another strange dessert to her house at any holiday gathering, I was all excited and she suggested that it would be a good idea to bring it over at Thanksgiving. Clearly, my mother’s an enabler.

Oh, I just know everyone will love it this year! Twenty years of dessert failure will not get me down! After all, I have that same pan ‍Martha Stewart owns! It will turn out perfect and everything will be OK in the world again!

Flash ahead four weeks from now and I can assure you that one of two things will happen: 1) The dessert will be a huge hit, meaning that the next time I make it I’ll have to change the recipe and ruin it; or 2) It will be inedible because ‍Mar‍‍tha Stewart didn’t personally make the dessert – I did! And even though I followed the recipe right down to the last speck of flour, it just didn’t work out because I’m not allowed to have anything pretty.

I don’t know what I’m going to end up doing. Do I waste my time making something only so-so again after promoting the new ‘best dessert in the world’ to my family? Or will I actually hit one out of the park and create a new tradition? So far, no one has said, “Make sure you bring that dessert again this year! It wouldn’t be (fill in the holiday name) without it!’ A boy can dream, though. Maybe this is my year.

Thanks to St. Ann’s for 50 years of memories… and lobsters!

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

I was listening to the news the other day when I heard that the venerable St. Ann’s ‍Lobster Suppers on P.E.I. would be closing after 50 years in business. It was the first weekly ‍lobster supper on the Island and was a financial godsend for the parishioners of St. Ann’s Church located between Stanley Bridge and New Glasgow. For years, it kept the parish in the black and created employment, including for a number of my relatives.

My mother grew up within sight of St. Ann’s. It was her family church. Whenever we visited, we had to go to church on Sunday. It would be treasonous to do otherwise. We didn’t go often at home, so I couldn’t understand why we had to go whenever we visited our grandparents. “But Mom,” I whined one day when I didn’t feel like going, “we never go to church when we’re home!”

My grandmother’s ears perked up like a fox who’d just spied a delicious rabbit with a limp at the edge of the forest. Easy prey. “You don’t go to church back in Moncton?,” she asked, incredulous at our family’s heathenish tendencies. Meanwhile, my mother (who my grandmother couldn’t see from her vantage point) was giving me looks that could kill, waving her arms and motioning for me to stop talking right that instant or risk losing some of my favourite body parts.

Let’s just say that on the ferry ride back to New Brunswick, I stayed away from the railings on the deck in case a certain mother decided to get revenge for me getting her in trouble with her own mother! I’m not sure if I could have conquered the Northumberland Strait after falling off a ferry.

St Anns
St. Ann’s Church in Hope River, P.E.I., was home to the venerable St. Ann’s Lobster Suppers for 50 years. Click on the photo for a larger version. (Image courtesy of Facebook.)

Our family went to St. Ann’s ‍Lob‍‍ster Suppers a number of times over the years and always enjoyed it. The brains behind the operation was their one-time parish priest Rev. Denis Gallant. “Father Denis,” as he was commonly known, had a booming voice and a commanding personality (including an ego to match!) – and I don’t think he ever met a mirror he didn’t like, either. He would come to visit my grandparents from time to time and would get the best chair in the house as he sat back with a cigarette and pontificated about something or other.

But big personalities often have big ideas, and St. Ann’s ‍Lobster Suppers certainly was a great success over the years, sometimes serving up to 1,000 meals per night. Everything was homemade by locals and the friendly Island customer service kept people coming back for years.

Eventually, however, others started to copy the format and eventually eclipsed St. Ann’s success with spacious, bright dining halls with windows – unlike St. Ann’s which held its ‍lob‍‍ster suppers downstairs in a cramped church basement located down a flight of stairs. Over the years, St. Ann’s just couldn’t compete with more modern facilities that cropped up here and there, including the very popular New Glasgow ‍Lobster Suppers just a few kilometres down the road.

As an adult, I avoided St. Ann’s and would opt for the much more spacious and less claustrophobic New Glasgow ‍Lobster Suppers instead. My grandmother would turn over in her grave if she knew. At the end of my days, in fact, she’ll likely be standing at the end of that tunnel of light and shaking her finger at me for having abandoned St. Ann’s in favour of ‘the enemy.’

My strongest memory of St. Ann’s ‍Lobster Suppers was when a family member had a bit too much wine during a visit and got slightly tipsy. At one point, they fell off their chair, causing the organ player providing live entertainment to start singing, “Show me the way to go home; I’m tired and I want to go to bed; I had a little drink about an hour ago; And it’s gone right to my head.” I heard my father tell that story for years afterwards, coupled with much laughter.

In any industry, there are always pioneers. St. Ann’s ‍Lobster Suppers was that for P.E.I. for many years, and I’m sure it attracted its fair share of patrons from New Brunswick every summer. The delicious desserts were made from scratch, as were the rolls, potato salad, coleslaw and everything else. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t keep up with the times, but the many memories made there by 50 years’ worth of tourists are definitely a lasting legacy.

With the demise of St. Ann’s, though, at least I can now eat at the New Glasgow ‍Lobster Suppers without feeling my grandmother on my shoulder saying,“ Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!”

Food Depot launches 30 Days of Community Caring Campaign for 2014 holiday season

fooddepotToday, Food Depot Alimentaire announced the support of several groups and organizations in conjunction with their annual 30 Days of Community Caring Campaign which kicked off today and ends on Dec. 20.

Over the next 30 days, a number of activities will take place in the community with the shared goal of raising food and funds in support of the Christmas box program along with sustaining FDA operations throughout the winter months.

Christmas and the cold winter months create additional costs to low-income families who must turn to food banks for assistance in helping them juggle this financial burden. In past years, FDA would be approached by various organizations on an individual basis to provide assistance. These individual offers of support are now joined together under one huge effort known as the 30 Days of Community Caring Campaign.

“The response by the community over the next month really allows us to sustain our operation through the dreary winter months and into spring,” said Dale Hicks, president of Food Depot’s board of directors. “Without this combined effort many food bank shelves would be empty by early January.”

The 2013 campaign saw the community donate 4,800 turkeys, fill and deliver 1,750 Christmas food boxes, collect 15,000 pounds of food and raise $20,000. “The total in terms of a dollar value exceeded $300,000,” said Mr. Hicks. “It is a significant response and a testimony to the generosity of the community we live in”.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.fooddepot.ca or call 506-383-4281.

The photos below show just a few of the many organizations and individuals who showed up to pledge their support at today’s event.

Rotary Ribfest being held July 4-6 in Moncton

Rotary Ribfest
Get ready to get your hands messy and your toes tapping from July 4-6! The City of Moncton and Riverfront Park will be host to Rotary RibFest Moncton 2014 – a community fundraiser and family event organized by the Rotary Club of Moncton West and Riverview. Admission to the festival is free, yet donations will be gratefully accepted.

You’ve never had ribs so delicious, so tender, so finger-licking good and created by the best ribbers in the world. Rotary Ribfest Moncton will host the best in barbecue, cold drinks, free outdoor concerts and fun for the whole family downtown this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If your mouth is watering now, just imagine what’s in store at Rotary Ribfest Moncton! Complete meals, sides and non-meat options will also be available thanks to several local vendors! For more info, visit www.rotaryribfestmoncton.ca.

At RibFest, you pay for the food and beverages you want. Each ribber has their own menu posted on a giant board in front of their mobile kitchen and smoker on wheels. A full rack of ribs will cost in the range of $20-$25 and you can also get half or one-third racks, pulled pork or barbecued chicken. Top professional ribbers from Canada and the U.S. will compete in a cook-off for trophies and bragging rights with the smell of delicious barbecue wafting through the air.

Kick back from noon until late night with the sounds of Old School, Slowcoaster, Francelle Maria, the BackYard Devils, Theresa Malenfant, Katey Day and many more.

My grandmother’s steamed Christmas suet pudding

Steamed Christmas suet pudding
Steamed Christmas suet pudding. If your mould has a hole through the middle (like the mould I used for this pudding), you’ll need to reduce the steaming time from three hours to two — even perhaps a bit less. This pudding is resting on a full-size dinner plate. This pudding was made in a mould made especially for steamed puddings and purchased at Paderno (paderno.com) in Moncton. (See a photo of the mould at the bottom of this post.) Click on the photo for a larger version.

When I mentioned this recipe online, I received several requests for copies, so here it is!

The recipe is my maternal grandmother Rose Pineau’s of Prince Edward Island. My mother had lost the recipe, however I found out my cousin Claudette Longuepee had it, so she was kind enough to share. Here it is:

Pudding:

– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp ginger
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 cup molasses
– 1/2 cup sour milk (add 1 1/2 tsp vinegar)
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 3 cups flour
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup suet (chopped finely)
– 1 1/2 cups raisins

Beat eggs and add sugar. Add suet and molasses. Stir, then add the flour. Dissolve the baking soda in the sour milk and add to flour mixture. Add spices and raisins. Pour into buttered mold (i.e. coffee can or mould made specifically for steamed puddings), cover mould with tight-fitting lid and steam for three hours.

PLEASE NOTE: If your mould has a hole up through the middle — such as in a “real” steamed pudding mould that resembles a bundt pan — you should reduce the steaming time by at least one hour, otherwise your pudding will be overcooked and very dry. The three-hour boiling time is for a coffee can. If you don’t have a cover for the coffee can (obviously a plastic one will melt), simply fold over a couple of pieced of foil and tie tightly with string.

To steam, place your covered mould in a large pot filled with water. Water should be about 2/3 of the way up the mould. Water should be kept simmering.

Check your pudding after 2 hours to see if it’s done. Again, the three-hour time is for a coffee can.

Hard sauce:

– 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
– 2 cups water
– 2 tbsp flour
– 2 tbsp granulated sugar
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1/2 tsp vanilla (or more to suit your taste)

Serve the pudding warm in a bowl with warm hard sauce. This is a very sweet pudding.

Steamed pudding mould from Paderno
This is the steamed pudding mould I made for the photo of the pudding above. It was purchased at Paderno (paderno.com) in Moncton. The above pudding was badly overdone and dry, which is why I recommend a much shorter steaming time if you use a mould like this with a hole up through middle. (If you take the cover off, you’ll see the hold inside like a bundt pan.) Click on the photo for a larger version.