Why Uptown Saint John Is a Great Community

Chop Chop 2015 logoIf you remember this year’s Chop Chop Week (and who could forget?), we were all battling winter’s snows and the Uptown was under a state of emergency. (And this memorable winter still isn’t done with us – at least not yet.)

Despite the conditions, Saint John’s inexorable foodies wouldn’t be denied and came out for the best the city’s chefs had to offer.

We were thrilled to find out that Uptown Saint John was able to present Lunch Connection a cheque for $3,774 on behalf of the Chop Chop restaurants of Saint John and SJ foodies!

“Lunch Connection is a program which provides a free hot meal at lunch time in a safe environment at our local schools in vulnerable neighbourhoods.” We were glad we could be part of Chop Chop again this year and are grateful to be part of such wonderful community of restaurants, food lovers, and fine, fine people. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Chop Chop cheque presentation to Lunch Connection

Chop Chop cheque presentation to Lunch Connection

 

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Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding Recipe

On Monday I wrote a post about some of my favourite nostalgic childhood foods. I promised to try the rice pudding recipe from my mother and report back, keeping in mind that the last time I had this recipe was 35 plus years ago! So, I made it.

The house smelled great and I couldn’t be happier with the results!

Tasting it was EXACTLY as I remember it as a child. The creamy custard-like topping from the eggs, sugar and vanilla is the key – my blast to the past!

(See more, including the recipe, below the pic.)

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

Some like to pour milk on top when it comes out of the oven, but not me. Eat it warm. The hard part was saving some for others.

Speaking of others, I was so excited that it turned out I wanted others to share in my excitement. Others, like my husband who returned home while I was out.

With enthusiasm and eagerness in my voice like a kid at Christmas, I called to tell him that I had just made the rice pudding from my childhood years and it was on the stove. There was laughter in his voice as he said, “I know!”

I immediately asked what was so funny, thinking that he ate most of it because it was so friggin’ good. He said, “I don’t like rice pudding.” My heart sank.

Well, I brushed off my bruised ego of enthusiasm and then took some rice pudding to my business partner Gord’s house for dessert after dinner. He said, “I don’t like rice pudding.”

OMG. Is there anyone who likes it?

So, I brought it into work. With 10 people on staff, finally it was eaten.

What did I learn?

The majority of people I know don’t like rice pudding, bread pudding, or tapioca.

Not everybody gets excited about all foods like I do. (Remember that I ate worm poop in Italy two years ago.)

I eat everything and when I meet fussy or discerning eaters, I don’t get it. I hope you give it a try (if you like rice pudding). Or give it to someone who does.

One substitute for me: All I had was brown rice, which I made but then decided not to use it. Searching my cupboards I found Carnaroli rice in my cupboard. It’s the same as arborio rice or better known as ‘the caviar of rice’…who knew?

Creamy Raisin Rice Pudding

by: Margaret Harriman

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 3 cups milk (370 ml can of Carnation Evaporated Milk + 1.5 cups water)
  • 1 Tbsp. margarine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg (I personally prefer cinnamon)

Directions:

  1. Place raisins and cooked rice in buttered deep dish.
  2. Heat milk and margarine to scalding.
  3. Lightly beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and stir into heated milk.
  4. Then pour over raisins and rice. (do not stir)
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cover with lid.
  6. Set dish in shallow pan surrounded with hot water.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

(This could easily feed 10 for dessert after a meal.)

(This post written by Liz.)

Childhood Memories of Food (Maritime Edition)

Customers often ask if they can have the recipe for one of our Deli menu items. I’ve received emails from as far away as England and Australia for a recipe. People usually want comfort food dishes like our meatloaf sandwich. Our meatloaf sandwich simply stated is comfort food. It’s food you crave.

As I thought about comfort food I began to also think about some of my childhood comfort foods.

I remember leaving home as a young adult and returning for visits. My mother would ask me if there was anything I wanted.

Aurora Diced Tomatoes

I always said macaroni, which meant macaroni, ground beef and canned diced tomatoes. I’m not even sure if there is a ‘technical’ recipe name for this dish.

Do you recall how something just tastes better based on the atmosphere it is consumed in? My macaroni always tasted better at home.

My husband likes me to add a can of tomato soup but what I’ve come to learn is if you use a good canned tomato like Aurora diced tomatoes you don’t need the tomato soup. (Aurora tomatoes can be bought at Sister’s in our City Market…go see Di).

Another one of those childhood favourites was rice pudding. I remember eating rice pudding as if I was a contestant in a food eating contest because there were five kids at home and nothing lasted long.

A friend of ours, Kristin, remembers, “After church on Sundays we used to go the Riviera Restaurant in Saint John for a coke and rice pudding.” Sadly, the Riviera was lost in a gas explosion in April, 1986.

April 1986 - Saint John Gasoline Explosions

April 1986 – Saint John Gasoline Explosions

I’ve tried rice pudding brands from places like Costco but I don’t get those fleeting childhood memories. Not even close. So a couple of weeks ago I asked my mother for the recipe she used to make for us.

Carnation MilkIt came as no surprise that there was Carnation Evaporated Milk in the recipe because that alone is a childhood memory. Who in my old hood doesn’t remember giant bags of puffed wheats and Carnation Evaporated Milk in the cupboard?

(The powered milk sat beside the puffed wheats and on the label it read ‘from contented cows.’)

I am making the rice pudding recipe she gave me today and I will post on the results. It’s been over 35 years since eating this particular dish from my mother. I can’t wait!

More childhood foods that bring back memories

  • Salted fish, boiled and drained a couple of times, Carnation Evaporated Milk added to the final round of fish water, then spooned over mashed potatoes with yellow and/or green beans
  • Cream peas and/or tuna on toast – hahaha
  • Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose Figurines

    Red Rose tea with the animal figurines in the box

  • White peppermints – My grandmother use to hide them in her top drawer. I was her favourite so she would take me in her bedroom and sneak me one on every visit and tell me not to tell my siblings :) (She was Elizabeth, my namesake.)
  • Overcooked roasts (plus mushy peas from a can)
  • Fondues – They were a treat in the 70’s.
  • Puffed wheats
  • Milk in glass bottles delivered from the milkman (rare for us)
  • Eggs in the hole
  • Ben’s white bread
  • Potato pancakes (with apple sauce!)
  • Beans and wieners
  • Kraft Pizza Kit (in a box) – I bought one for nostalgic reasons and will make it soon. (Our friend Kristin recalls cut up wieners being put on the pizzas.)
  • Divinity Fudge
  • Pop Rocks
  • Stew – Omg….I use to drink a glass of water for every bite of the vegetables in the stew, especially turnips. Hated it. Now, vegetables are my favourite items on my plate.
  • Chicken fricot with dumplings (love, love, love dumplings)
  • Biscuits – I recall them being made in mere minutes using the Tupperware rolling pin that you filled with water and a big plastic sheet also, from Tupperware, for rolling them out on. It actually had the biscuit recipe on the sheet.
  • Birthday cakes with a quarter in them – Whoever got that piece was the old maid /man. Hilarious when you think about it in today’s world.

What are your childhood food memories?

Better still, if you have a dish that you want to challenge us to make, send us your recipe (or add it to the comments below) with the childhood memory it stirs. If you live in Saint John, we are more than happy to invite you over to test our take on your recipe.

We’ll give your recipe a try and share it with you on our Blog. And yes, of course we’ll give you the credit :)

(This post written by Liz.)

We Made It in and We’re Open

Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
(Victor Hugo)

Crazy? Yes we are, but amazingly some of us made it in today and we’re laughing at our determination.

But it’s Chop Chop Week and it’s worth it. So, we are open as usual today 11:30am to 3:00pm. If you live in the Uptown, or work here and managed it get in, wander on over and say hello and have a bite.

Chop Chop Week Winter2015

 

Our Donna Hay Cookbook Night

The New Classics - Donna HayJust before Christmas I was given the Donna Hay cookbook titled ‘The New Classics.’

While browsing through the cookbook I was in awe of her food photography. One of my first thoughts was if the recipes were half as good as the pictures then this book would be fantastic!

My second thought was how simple things appeared (ingredient lists and the recipes themselves). It reminded me a bit of Michelle’s food shots and recipes at Bite by Michelle.

Two friends also bought the cookbook after browsing through mine and that is what prompted the birth of our Donna Hay Cookbook Night.

Our recipe for getting there…

  1. You have a wine meeting to go through the cookbook in detail (again) and flag all the recipes that appeal to you – most of them did.
  2. Determine any guests with food allergies or diets. (After Christmas, everyone is on a diet.)
  3. Narrowing down your recipes before your wine is gone is no small task. We would have been there for hours discussing the recipes without the wine time limit.
  4. Challenging the person who loves to bake to stay out of the dessert section and stretch themselves. Trying another chapter is always fun.
  5. Reading your recipe in its entirety is critical. Michelle taught me this. Well, actually I learned the hard way and she let me – I just like to dig in.
  6. Now sticking to a recipe is also very difficult (for me). I always want to tweak things before I’ve even tried the original recipe. (It may be confidence, arrogance or ignorance – or a combination of all three!). I hear my sister Michael-Ann’s voice saying ‘just make the recipe the way it should be and then tweak it’. So I did.
  7. We agreed to prepare our dish(es) at home, to the point of just being able to finish them at the host home.

We, the re-creators of the Donna Hay recipes, made a pact to not deviate from her recipe directions. Other than not being able to find yellow zucchini in the middle of winter, we honoured our pact.

Plus, once I fixed my problem of purchasing the wrong ingredients for the wrong recipe, I was well on my way to my chicken dish. (It’s that reading thing I was telling you about.)

These are the recipes we chose to prepare from the Donna Hay cookbook titled The New Classics and each of them was fantastic! 6 out of 6 wins!

Taking photos of our dishes and comparing them to her cookbook’s pictures was a lot of fun … as you can see (below). The cookbook pics are on the left side of the picture and our dishes are on the right. Just in case you couldn’t tell the difference. :-)

  • Cauliflower Puree pg. 220 (was served with fish; however, we eliminated the fish)
  • Chinese Spice Pork Loin Rack pg. 156
  • Sticky Lime and Ginger Chicken pg. 127
  • Zucchinni and Mozarella Salad w/ Lemon Vinagrette pg. 268
  • Porcini Gnocchi with Creamy Mushroom Sauce pg. 52
  • Coconut Palm Sugar and Bananna Upside Down Cake pg. 343 (We missed this pic)

Where Did We Get the Book?

We picked up our copies of The New Classics at Costco. It is also available at Chapters/Indigo. (We couldn’t see it on Amazon except as used copies – and they were pricey.)

Smiles, Volunteers and the Saint John SPCA

On Christmas Eve day we had our annual fundraiser for the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue and it was a fabulous day! We had our volunteers in the Deli wearing big smiles and hustling and bustling and helping us to raise $810 through tips and donations! And in just a little over three hours!

We want to send a big thank you to all our volunteers and to our wonderful customers who helped us raise funds for one of our favourite causes. The pictures are below of a truly fun day filled with the spirit of the season. Thank you everyone!

Helping to Help the Saint John SPCA

SJ SPCA logoTomorrow, Christmas Eve day (24th), we’re going to do what we did last year — and the year before and the year before that and … It’s our fourth year of having some friends and regular customers volunteer to be our servers as we try and give our staff some time off. They’ll be on the floor starting at noon until we close at 3:00.

AND as they give serving a try, we’ll also donate all the tips to a charity — The Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue. They’re great people doing wonderful work and can use help. So we’re hoping we can send something their way through the tips tomorrow (December 24th), all day, from opening at 11:30am to close (which is 3:00pm — see our holiday hours.)

NICHOLAS_01

If you are looking to find the perfect animal for your family the SPCA Animal Rescue can help!

If you’re in the Uptown tomorrow, drop in for a bite.

And keep in mind, any tip you give goes to Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue.

Happy holidays! And for the holidays, here’s a fun video of a dog and its owner performing a faboulous dance routine. :-)