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.
Continue »