And The Winner Is.…

The votes are in and they’ve been care­fully tallied.

Thank you to every­one who par­tic­i­pated in the Apron Strings con­test by sub­mit­ting entries and vot­ing for your favorites. Three blog posts came out on top. They are:

All three win­ners will receive Fiesta Farms gift cer­tifi­cates. We’re already look­ing for­ward to next Father’s Day.



Dare the Heat!

Mary Lou Kuipers sub­mit­ted this hot post to the Apron Strings Contest. Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings con­test sub­mis­sions and rate them. The lucky win­ners will receive gift cer­tifi­cates to shop at Fiesta Farms.

My father and his two broth­ers every year would plant the hottest hot pep­per plants that they could find. Sometimes would even save the seeds and try to grow the hottest from the pre­vi­ous year. They would nur­ture, water, fer­til­ize and watch their crops grow until it way time to har­vest. They would brag to one another, watch out, I’ll be the win­ner this year!

The broth­ers would get together and would jar the heat seek­ing mis­sile pep­pers and test out on a home made pizza! All 3 would sit at the table, pass­ing the dish­cloths over their heads, sweat pour­ing off their brow, turn­ing red in the face, until they would admit to one another who had grown the hottest pep­per! Now it’s become a fam­ily tra­di­tion, who can dare the heat!



Advance Australia Fare

This Apron Strings con­test sub­mis­sion comes from Jennifer Beer who rem­i­nisces about her Dad’s taste for Australian fare that has forged a place in her heart for blood pud­ding and kip­pers. Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings con­test sub­mis­sions and rate them. The lucky win­ners will receive gift cer­tifi­cates to shop at Fiesta Farms.

 

My dad tended to be the dis­tant sort. When we were grow­ing up, there tended to be a lot of “hush, your father is sleep­ing” or “hush, your father is read­ing the paper.” But some­how that made the time we did spend with Dad more precious.

Usually it came in the form of Sunday morn­ings, when we’d make break­fast in bed for Mum. We had an inter­com because their room was fairly dis­tant from the kids’ rooms, and we’d put a pil­low over it so we wouldn’t dis­turb her (it was only years later than she let us know she could still hear every word we said).

Because Dad was Australian, our break­fasts were some­times a lit­tle “dif­fer­ent” from what my friends would have… for exam­ple, I don’t know many other peo­ple with a life­long love of blood pud­ding, kip­pers (both of which I’ve bought at Fiesta Farms), and fried toma­toes for break­fast. But because these were the foods I shared with Dad, they have a spe­cial place in my heart and stom­ach – I have so far failed to pass these loves on to my son, he strangely prefers pan­cakes and maple syrup.

He did have some more kid-friendly break­fast spe­cial­ties as well: pikelets (a sort of pan­cake – or grid­dle­cake, as he would say – but smaller and thicker and puffier), crepes sprin­kled with sugar and lemon juice, apple frit­ters (apple rings dipped in cin­na­mon sugar, then pan­cake bat­ter), por­ridge, and scones.

Usually it was crepes or scones for Mum’s Sunday break­fast in bed; I seem to be the only one in the fam­ily who devel­oped a fond­ness for blood pud­ding and kippers.

So many mem­o­ries of him involve his par­tic­u­lar tastes: french bread with apri­cot jam and old ched­dar, sar­dines on toast, beer­wurst, but­ter­ing the bread before you slice it, mar­mite, and tea by the gallon.

Seeing as there was not much avail­able in small-town Ontario in the 1970s, he would often bring strange treats home from the city: crusty chewy kaiser rolls from a Swiss bak­ery, star fruit, pas­sion fruit, all kinds of things we couldn’t get close to home. He used to exper­i­ment in the kitchen (I remem­ber the first time we made pesto alla gen­ovese — all that raw gar­lic was a bit of a shock to the taste­buds), with some­times mixed results. Like the time he put all of our dry goods into unmarked can­nis­ters, and then made an apple cake, acci­den­tally sub­sti­tut­ing icing sugar for flour. Or those ham­burg­ers with the chunks of raw onion and bits of not-well-beaten egg (and some­times even shell).

It’s four years now since he died, and I com­mem­o­rate his birth­day and Australia day every year with a big break­fast fry-up in his hon­our. I might pick up some blood pud­ding tonight. I will leave the mar­mite for some­one else to enjoy, though.



A Square Meal at the Family Restaurant

This sub­mis­sion to the Apron Strings con­test comes from Suzanne Didiano who fondly remem­bers restau­rant din­ners that were far bet­ter than what Dad could pre­pare. Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings con­test sub­mis­sions and rate them. The lucky win­ners will receive gift cer­tifi­cates to shop at Fiesta Farms.

Mom was very busy tak­ing care of her own aging Mom, and had to leave the fam­ily for an extended time.

Dad and the kids vis­ited a local restau­rant for Sunday din­ner and was noticed by a famil­iar fam­ily friend from church who knew Mom was away. “So this is how you cook up a quick meal while your wife is away!.” In a loud tone so the cus­tomers at the next tables could hear.

He was embarassed, but I was glad at least my fam­ily was hav­ing a square meal–not just pasta with sauce.



Papou’s Pickled Grape Vine Shoots

Food blog­ger Peter, from Kalofagas sub­mits this post for the Apron Strings con­test.  Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings con­test sub­mis­sions and rate them. The lucky win­ners will receive gift cer­tifi­cates to shop at Fiesta Farms.

Stories of my ances­tors were usu­ally related by my mother or one of her sis­ters. Stories kept my fam­ily con­nected with my mother’s side of the fam­ily who mostly still live back in Greece. My mom would paint sto­ries of how my grand­mother was like, how my grand­fa­ther was like, how aunts and uncles were like.

I would always ask my mother to tell me another story about my grand­fa­ther (her father). Papou (grand­fa­ther) Konstantinos (Kosta) was a sturdy man with a bit of a belly, he danced with panache, raised five chil­dren and shel­tered grand­par­ents and fed other hun­gry rel­a­tives dur­ing WWII and Greece’s ensu­ing civil war.

My mother’s maiden name was Kapetanopoulos (Kapetanopoulou fem­i­nine form) and the sur­name was adapted from a vil­lage nick­name (parat­souk­lio) given to a string of strong men that were pil­lars of the com­mu­nity, lead­ers, Captains! My Papou Kosta had a gen­eral store in the vil­lage of Agios Panteleimon in the Prefecture of Florina, near Amynteo — wine grow­ing country.My Papou Kostas with his five chil­dren (and daughter-in-law)

My Papou, his father and grand­fa­ther would make wine from the local Xinomavro (sour-grape) vari­etal which is a hard grape to make wine from. The wild nature of the Xinomavro is tamed by few. My Papou would make wine for home use and to sell at the gen­eral store. He earn awards for his wine, a tal­ent passed on to him from his father and grandfather.

I am not going to get into wine­mak­ing is this post but I must con­fess my love of good wine, espe­cially Greek wine and the by-products of mak­ing wine. In coun­tries like Greece, grapes offer so much life and the spin-offs are end­less: grape must used to make a grape molasses (petimezi), sour grape juice (agourida) used as an acid when vine­gar or cit­rus wasn’t avail­able, wine vine­gar, grape leaves picked at Spring time and pre­served in jars to make Dolmades through the year and today’s easy pre­serve — pick­led wild grape shoots.
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