A Very Dramatic Dinner

This Apron Strings guest post is from Shoshana Sperling a Toronto based writer/performer and musician. She is the frontwoman for the awesome kids’ band The Monkey Bunch creating music that appeals to kids and parents alike all the while “creating an army of children who will be the heroes of our world.”

I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan in the 70’s. As you can imagine not a lot of dads were working on their domestic skills at this time. My father, a political science prof was black-listed and found himself at the U of R. I spent my youth at protests and marches and dinner time was a time of discussion about the latest injustice.

Maybe after all that Marx, Lenin and Trotsky he needed to relax over a new recipe from Julia Child. The day of a “Dad Creation” would begin with a visit from the Hutterites at 6am bearing a whole sheep, complete with brains, which he would put into our downstairs freezer. And then the recipe.

With radio blasting CBC opera and the smell of warm onions and wine, he would ask me to taste the day’s special while I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework. He sang along with the radio in “Italian”, “German” or “Russian” while his concoctions bubbled away on the stove. At serving time he would present it to us with a gleam in his eye.

We knew it was a special occasion when dad made Veal Prince Orloff. The name says it all. And I remember it taking 5 hours to prepare and going to bed full and happy.

My father is still one of my favourite chefs. Every year, he creates a huge traditional Russian meal and gives a reading of an Anton Chekhov short story while a violinist and accordionist accompany the feast. At the end of the story, he eats a blini swimming in sour cream, salmon, herring, caviar and melted butter. As the story goes, after one bite of this amazing morsel the protagonist goes into an apoplectic seizure and dies. And…. my father reads the whole thing with a Russian translator building the suspense and then… he falls to the floor to the cheers of the lucky guests.

As a result, I love to cook and entertain. My brother went on to cooking school in Paris, Barcelona and China and he now owns and chefs at 2 restaurants back in Regina. I guess I took after dad’s dramatic flair instead.
Happy Father’s Day and thanks Dad.

Lamb Cutlets with Vine Leaves and Lemon


  • 12 lamb chops
  • Black pepper, sea salt
  • 1tsp. Olive oil
  • T tbs. Shredded lemon zest
  • 1 tbs oregano leaves
  • 2 tbs. Olive oil, extra
  • 4 small vine leaves
  • Trim the chops of fat, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat large frying pan over medium to high heat.
  • Add oil, lemon zest and oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Add chops and cook for 3 minutes n each side or to your liking. Remove chops and set aside.
  • Heat the extra oil in frying pan and cook the vine leaves (they come in a jar with brine–make certain to wash them in cold water and dry well) Fry for 2 minutes or until crisp. Serve the lamb chops with mashed potato that has been drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and place a vine leaf on the side.
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