“The Avial Master”

This blog post comes from Radha Rayasam whose blog Radha Rayasam’s Home Made Sumptuous Meals reflects Rhada’s skill in the kitchen: “I’m a self taught cook, and I’ve always received flattering complements from everybody.” Thanks for the great post Rhada!  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 gave me the recipe for this dish. I still remember the whole event.

I was getting ready to leave to school. I was sixteen years old. I had several strict rules in the house, like I could not go anywhere after 6:00 PM, no make up whatsoever, and I had to be accompanied by a family member to all of my freinds’ houses. I realized at that point of time that the world was very cruel outside the home, and my parents were trying to protect their precious princess, their only daughter!

I was in 12th grade, dressed in my all white churidhar, white canvas shoes, white ribbons braided in my long, oiled hair, tied next to my ears and looking like eggplants! The other girls in my class refused to tie those ribbons and let their hair loose. Letting my hair down was a big no-no in my home. So I had to wear those horrendous ribbons. The boys in my class called me saamiyar (the holy one who had renounced all worldly pleasures) and the girls in my class laughed at my title. I never cared, I just was busy in my own world. I had a best friend, and we both would giggle and talk about the latest movie songs featured on TV. You guessed it, we were not allowed to go to the theater to watch movies! We went as a family to watch old ‘golden’ movies that were supposed to instill good character in us!
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Making maple syrup with dad – Quebec Maple Syrup Pie

This Apron Strings contest submission comes from Aube Giroux, a documentary filmmaker and food blogger, won Saveur magazine’s Best Single Video about preparing rum babas for her late mother’s knitting club friends back in the Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia. (congrats Aube!)  This story has been condensed from an article she wrote for this year’s spring issue of Edible Toronto magazine – you can see accompanying photos and a video of my dad making maple syrup & me making maple syrup pie on my video cooking blog on the kitchenvignettes blog

Photo Credit: Aube Giroux

Last year I received a bottle of homemade maple syrup from my dad. For several years now, he has been tapping five large maple trees on his property just east of Montreal. He loves to brag about how energy efficient his process is since he evaporates the sap in big pots right on his woodstove, which is chugging away all winter regardless, heating up his whole house. He jokes that it’s the lazy way to do it, since the maple syrup basically makes itself. To get a litre of maple syrup, you need forty litres of sap, so it takes some time for that much water to evaporate, especially when you’re doing it the slow way, like my dad. Continue »

Saskatoon Berry Pie: A Taste of Home

This guest post was written by Mary Wiens. Mary is an award-winning journalist and producer who can be heard weekdays on CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning on 99.1 FM in Toronto. Mary studied journalism at Ryerson University and has been with the CBC for 25 years. We’re running this piece Mary wrote about Saskatoon Berries in the lead up Mother’s Day and the launch of the newest Apron Strings videos. Enjoy.

Growing up in Manitoba in the 1960s and ‘70s, a large family could still be counted as an asset.  Much of the work involved actual hands and backs — stacking hay bales on flatbed trailers in the field, and then riding back, one of a jostling group of siblings, to the farmyard where we piled the bales once more into mountainous stacks in the hayshed, supervised impatiently and energetically by our father.

My mother also put the hands and backs of her children to work — in the garden, the kitchen, and in ‘the woods’, as we called the uncultivated land bordering my father’s fields, where we descended during the hottest weeks of the summer to pick plums, chokecherries and saskatoon berries as they ripened. Continue »

Making Cookies with Mom: An Every-Holiday Ritual

Guest post by David Ort. David cooks, grows vegetables, eats out and writes about all of it for his fantastic food blog Food With Legs. You can also follow his insightful food missives on Twitter @ortdavid. We’re running this piece he wrote about his mom Nancy in the lead up Mother’s Day and the launch of the newest Apron Strings videos. Enjoy.

There are some mothers I know who really go all out with the Christmas baking. When I was a kid I definitely counted myself as a lucky seven-year old connoisseur of cookies because mine made ghosts for Hallowe’en, hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs for Easter, and these St. Claus cookies that bear an uncanny resemblance to pink helicopters for Christmas.

The shapes and icing colours changed to suit the holiday but the dough recipe was always the same. In fact, I don’t really know what  to call them other than holiday cookies. Continue »

Made with Love: Granny’s Fried Chicken

Submitted by Chris Alward. Chris is Director of Market Development at Local Food Plus. That means he’s one of the people responsible for certifying food as local and sustainable food so consumers can make better choices.

This photo was taken the very day Chris’ Granny taught him to make fried chicken.

My mother moved to Eastern Canada from Louisiana in the early seventies and went from boiling crawfish to boiling lobster. Most years, we’d trek from New Brunswick to New Orleans and, after a long day in 3 or 4 airports, we’d wind up in the small southern town where my Granny lived. We’d usually spend a couple weeks fishing on the bayou, shooting fireworks, complaining about the heat, and being teased about our “ehs” and “aboots”.

But there was never any joking around when it came to food.

Granny’s house was where I complimented her pumpkin pie only to learn that I’d eaten sweet potatoes (which I refused to eat at the time), where I learned that a bowl of Butter Beans doesn’t contain any actual “butterbeans”, where I learned about fishing and hunting and respecting the animal (“If you ain’t gonna eat it, then don’t shoot it”, my uncles would preach). I learned about po’boys (aka subs) and crawfish and roux and gumbo and cast iron and cornbread. Those last two are inseparable, apparently. You can’t get a good crust without a good cornbread pan – it turns out all that cast iron pans are cornbread pans, and that these two go together like macaroni and cheese.

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