Tag Archives: cooking

Cuba on a shoestring

Snow. But it’s spring! Sigh.

I was lucky this year; I was able to visit Cuba for the first time. Wanting to escape this frozen city, I thought leaving in late March would be timely enough to come back to spring. Instead, I got back to fake spring…you know… when you get a warm day or two and then it snows? Fake spring. Or Winnipeg’s cruel idea of an April Fool’s Day Month joke.

To beat those winter blues (or in our case, spring blues) you need a getaway. A tropical, sun-filled, exotic getaway. If budget is an issue, then WPL has everything you need to visit Cuba as an armchair traveler. Here’s how to plan your adventure.

You know you are in Cuba when you see cars from the 50’s driving by. Locals do everything they can to keep them running since new cars are beyond the affordability of everyone except the government, the military and the diplomats. We hired a local company and were picked up in style in a 1950 Chevrolet Styleline. Herminio, our chauffeur (and also a welder, electrician, upholsterer, painter and mechanical engineer) explained to us that he and his Dad had replaced the motor with a diesel one, used Hyundai parts to keep it running and installed an air conditioner in the grill and a GPS on the dashboard. To get a visual of the Cuban surroundings, borrow Cars of the Fantastic 50’s.

A holiday is not a holiday without some Cuban Cocktails. Rum is the spirit of choice and there are two popular local varieties: Havana Club and the pricier Santiago de Cuba. They come in a variety of flavours and colors which range from clear to a rich chocolaty brown. Our tour guide Adita (and also a university professor of foreign languages) tells me that each one is used for different cocktails; the clear rum is best for mojitos, the buttery 3 year rum is used for piňa colatas and the caramel 5 year old rum is used for Cuba librés (essentially a rum and coke with a twist of lime). The 7 year old rum is best for sipping straight – it’s the good stuff!

But don’t drink on an empty stomach. Cuban food is simple but tasty and easily re-creatable here at home with some of our recipe books like The Cuban Table. Adita and Herminio brought us to the most wonderful local restaurant in Matanzas, the Bella Vista where we had a table for two on the edge of the bay. The main plates were a large portion of meat: we chose from lobster, shrimp, fish or chicken. Side dishes consisted of white rice or rice and beans. My favorite take-away was how Cubans serve their salad. A large plate of veggies arrived: shredded cabbage, carrots and lettuce, chopped onions, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, beans and pickled beets along with two bottles, one of oil and one of balsamic vinegar. So simple, yet delicious!

But what about the beach? Sure Varadero is gorgeous, blue skies and white sand, but a day at Grand Beach in midsummer is comparable. I know, it’s fake spring and the hot weather is a distant memory.

Until then, you can get the scenery of Cuba by immersing yourself in some photographic books like Havana History and Architecture of a Romantic City . Or install a Varadero screensaver to warm your heart and avoid looking out our own desolate windows as we wait for our glorious summer.

But perhaps you need more than photos. Dive into Cuban culture by reading fiction from some of the local authors. In the Cuban episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain interviewed Leonardo Padura who is known for his mysteries set in Havana. You could also delve into the novels of José Latour who decided to write in English after being labeled an “enemy of the people” by the Cuban government. If you prefer something more classic, The Old Man and the Sea is a good choice as Hemmingway wrote it while he was living there.  Need something more political? You might enjoy a graphic novel about Castro or a biography about Che. Statues of Jose Marti are everywhere in Cuba since he is considered a national hero. We viewed one where he is biting a sword to depict his ability to cut with words; you might appreciate his Selected Works.

Or you could decide to host a Cuban party instead. Entertain your guests with some hot Cuban music! Grab some cd’s from WPL’s collection of Cuban musicians: Buena Vista Social Club, José Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Ernesto Lecuona, Chachao or Manuel Mirabal Vazquez. Surround yourself with the beautiful Spanish language! In fact, learn some Spanish with our help; WPL has an info guide with dozens of resources. I downloaded the DuoLingo app and managed to learn common phrases, how to order in a restaurant, get around at the airport and ask simple questions (Dondé es el baňo?).

Your trip to Cuba on a shoestring would not be complete without a Cuban cigar. If you don’t smoke, you can enjoy a short documentary called With a Stroke of Chaveta on our Kanopy app. It takes you into the world of tabaqueros who cannot imagine working, rolling cigars, in the factory without someone reading to them. Those Cubans, so literate! They actually have one of the highest rates of literacy in the world.

So, we may skip from winter to summer this year, but we can enjoy the beauty, flavours, sounds and sights of Cuba with a simple trip to the library. No budget required.


A Tourist at Home

Call me an optimist, but I truly feel Manitoba is one of the best places in the world. Where else can you find the awe inspiring flatness, breathtaking beaches, deserts, white water rafting – don’t even get me started on the food! Allow me take you on a day of touring Manitoba.  If you are not convinced, do yourself a favour and take a look at HomeFree: Exploring Manitoba by Adam Kelly! So, bring along your sun screen, comfortable shoes, and a full cooler for a BBQ dinner.

When you wake up, stop for a great coffee at any one of our many local coffee shops.  Start your day with a 5 km walk around the historic Forks beginning at Fort Garry Gate, walk towards the Forks, down Tache, then return to Fort Garry Gate.  You can find this walk among others in Prairie Pathfinders Winnipeg Walks.

A short drive from Winnipeg, along the scenic River Road, you will reach Gimli.  From the lake front views, the film festival, and museums, you can get lost in Gimli, but today we only have time for lunch in one of the local fresh fish and chip shops.  Gimli Harbor and Fishery: An Illustrated History by local author and Professor Andy Blicq is about the history of this fascinating town – he can fill you in on the rest.

An hour north from Gimli is the beautiful Hecla Island.  Be sure to say hello to Lundi Moose in Riverton, one of Manitoba’s giant town statues. In Hecla you will find self-guided and interpreter-led hikes. One 5 km hike starting from the Gull Harbour Boat House  is perfect for all skill levels.  Prairie Pathfinders also have Manitoba Walks: Your Adventure Guide to Day Hikes & Town Walking Tours where you can find many other hikes throughout Manitoba.

To end our day we will be driving to Lundar Manitoba, about an hour and a half from Hecla.   The sunset views over Lake Manitoba are absolutely beautiful.  There is a provincial park here where you can lay your head, start a fire, and cook your dinner over an open flame. Try a perfect BBQ recipe from Winnipeg Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Top Chefs by Robin Summerfield. I recommend the Chicken Burgers with Zucchini Relish on page 28.

For many more daytrips check out A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province.  You might be amazed at what you can find!


Happy trails!



Gut Check

Did you grow up with the story that the appendix doesn’t matter and we have no idea what it does? Spoiler: we do know and it is rather useful. There are certain things I used to think – or not think — about the gut. Firstly, and probably most telling of all, is that I didn’t even realize that the colon is actually just another name for your large intestine. This was my starting point on gut-related knowledge when in early January I launched myself headfirst into The Psychobiotic Revolution by Scott C. Anderson. Now, at the beginning of May, I could regale you with torrid tales of just exactly how your food makes its way from teeth to tush. While that, I’m sure, would make for a scintillating blog post all on its own, instead I will share with you the book titles that got me started on my adventures in treating my chronic anxiety and depression with the cheapest, readily available medicine: real, good food.

psychobiotic The Psychobiotic Revolution: mood, food, and the new science of the gut-brain connection by Scott C. Anderson

The title of this book won me over right away. The concept of your gut acting as a second brain? Sign me up! Anderson, a science journalist, is joined in this book by two medical researchers who are actively studying the brain-gut connection and all those tiny little microbes that live within your belly. Written for the lay person, this is an immensely readable, often humourous, introduction to this new branch of science exploring the relationship between our diet and chronic conditions like mood disorders, autism, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more. The sheer number of microbes (AKA bacteria AKA your fellow travelers on this crazy roller coaster we call life) that reside within our guts is staggering: they outnumber our own cells by more than 10 to 1! Anderson also includes reviews of probiotic products and explores the foods that best feed the beneficial bacteria calling you home, ensuring they camp out in your belly for as long as possible and crowd out potential pathogens by lighting up tiny little NO VACANCY signs.

If you liked this title you can also try Brain Maker: the power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain – for life by David Perlmutter, MD and The Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer, MD.


gut Gut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ by Giulia Enders

I figured I was the only person ever to be interested in reading about the minutiae of how food is passed through your body but apparently not! While science journalist Mary Roach’s Gulp dates back to 2013 and provides some excellent coverage of digestion, Enders’ Gut (2015) was recently republished for 2018 and includes updated information on the science behind your second brain (your gut) and its delightfully complex microbiome. Also delightful? The strangely adorable illustrations that accompany some decidedly less-adorable subject matter. Plus, this is one title that will finally answer the question you asked your biology teacher back in middle school: what’s the deal with the appendix?


happiness The Happiness Diet : good mood food by Rachel Kelly

Now armed with the knowledge that our gut produces around 90% of a person’s serotonin (a feel-good chemical that is often the focal point in medication used to treat depression), it is not so surprising that what we eat (and how it is used by our bodies) has a noticeable effect on our moods. This book is part cookbook, part nutritional guide providing a handy chart of foods based on their impact on your mental well-being and overall health. The chapters are divided into therapeutic themes like Steady Energy and Beating the Blues. With lots of accessible science behind the recipes this is a great title to provide a less clinical introduction to nutritional therapy.

For more recipes, try Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut by Dale Pinnock. With its matter of fact approach it calls for ingredients you may actually have on hand and the recipes don’t require you to juggle seventeen prep stations at once. Having a hard time saying “goodbye” to sugar? Try the Date, Almond and Chia Balls.


nosugar Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

After the realization that sugar was likely a big contributing factor to my own chronic conditions it was encouraging to find tales of other people trying to drop the sweet stuff from their diets. In Year of No Sugar Eve Schaub not only stops eating sugar but she somehow convinces her husband and two school-aged daughters to go along with the challenge as well. Schaub’s exploration into the world of no-sugar brings up some very familiar territory for me regarding the limitations of using bananas and dates to sweeten everything and just how far one is willing to go to find sweetness in a refined-sugar-less existence.


food Food: what the heck should I eat by Mark Hyman, MD

This last title is the one currently on my side table: Food: what the heck should I eat? by Mark Hyman, MD. If you’re as confused as I was about all the incongruous studies being published about food – okay, are eggs good or bad? Does all meat really raise your risk of cancer? Wait, drinking cow’s milk causes osteoporosis?! – this book takes a hard look at the scientific food studies past and present and sifts out the accuracies from the inaccuracies. Slightly irreverent, Hyman calls his preferred diet “pegan” — a cross between two contradictory diets (vegan and paleo) – and it focuses on whole, anti-inflammatory foods that don’t mess around with your blood sugar. Having this title on hand to get a level-headed look at what you’re about to put into your body is immensely helpful.

All this newly acquired knowledge of microbiomes (food cravings are actually those billions of little beasts living in your gut whispering to your brain about what they’d like to eat), the processes of digestion, how this all affects your mood, and just how to go about getting those systems firing on all cylinders can seem overwhelming. Changes to your daily routine are hard to make and it helps to go a bit at a time rather than dive in headfirst. Read one book, maybe two and see where they might lead you. Have you made any changes to your diet lately? Let me know what you’ve been reading — or eating!


A Collection of Love-ly Books

Well, here we are, mid-February already! I know it’s been cold and windy, but every day we are just a bit closer to spring. Spring means sunshine, flowers, and the start of wedding season! Cue the bells!

Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day are all big moments for wedding proposals, so there is a good chance that you might be receiving a save the date sometime in the near future (or maybe you’re the one sending them out… in which case, congrats!)

Now, the library loves love (have you seen our romance collection?), so don’t you worry, we have your back when it comes to all things weddings! Here are just a few of our newer titles to get you started:

knot  The Knot Yours Truly: Inspiration and Ideas to Personalize Your Wedding by Carley Roney

A great choice for those who want every detail and aspect of the wedding to be just as special and unique as the couple tying the knot! You’ll find lots of inspiration in these pages.



stonefox Stone fox bride : love, lust, and wedding planning for the wild at heart by Molly Guy

If you’re a fan of non-traditional, uber-personalized weddings, this book is a great place to look for advice and reassurance when the planning gets to be too much!  Less focused on how to actually plan a wedding, the author shares some personal stories and rounds it out with some beautiful images that are sure to get your imagination and creativity flowing.


Equally wed : the ultimate guide to planning your LGBTQ+ wedding by Kristen Ott equallyPaladino

Looking for some help with the step-by-steps of wedding planning? Palladino has you covered, walking you through the latest wedding trends and providing some sample budgets (US prices) to help you get a sense of how much your dream wedding could cost!



The wedding book : an expert’s guide to planning your perfect day–your way by Mindy weddingWeiss

Weiss walks you through just about everything in this multi-tasking title, from announcing the engagement–including whom to tell first and what to do when someone isn’t happy about the news–to getting to the altar, from planning a honeymoon to preserving the bouquet when you return. It includes lists, schedules, budgeting tools, and timelines.


newlywed The newlywed cookbook : cooking happily ever after by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore

Who amongst us doesn’t like the sound of no-fail recipes? This book aims to help you get the most out of those wedding registry appliances, and comes filled with lovely pictures and tasty recipes, just for two. It also includes a helpful “Kitchen and Pantry Basics” section towards the back, so it’s easy to make sure your kitchen is well-stocked and ready to go.


marthastewart Martha Stewart’s newlywed kitchen : recipes for weeknight dinners & easy, casual gatherings

Looking for more cooking inspo? You can’t go wrong with a little help from Martha Stewart herself. She’s got you covered from quick dinners to brunches to parties of all kinds!


So there you are, just a few places to get your walk down the aisle started! Of course, this just barely scratches the surface of what we have available, so make sure to come in and have a look or scan through our online catalogue!

Wishing you a happily ever after,


Autumn Tool Kit

There’s a chill in the air most mornings now, and our regular activities have resumed after our summer break. Time is running out to finish that yard work and all that’s left to do is to batten down the hatches in preparation for the long winter ahead. Some people love autumn, and others find it difficult to get through. I’ve put together a little “Autumn Tool Kit” to help make it a little easier on those who struggle, and make it even better for those who love it.


First Snow, Algoma. A.Y. Jackson


One of the things I like about autumn is getting our slow cooker down off the top shelf and coming home to the delicious smell of something that’s been cooking away all day. My favourite “go to” recipe is super easy. You just stick a boneless pork roast in there, cover it with a can of Coke, and cook it on low all day. About a half an hour before you eat, pull the pork apart and throw in some BBQ sauce. If you want to get REALLY fancy, you can chop up an onion in the morning and throw that in with the pork (but you don’t have to). Toast up a couple of buns, and bingo bango: you’ve got pulled pork for supper. Trust me, it’s easy and delicious, but if you’d like to venture out and try other slow cooker recipes this fall, why not check out one of our slow cooker cook books? One of our newer ones is “Adventures in Slow Cooking” by Sarah DiGregorio.

Another fall activity you can try is canning and jarring. We had a presentation on jam making and preserving basics at the Louis Riel Library last month. Judy, our presenter, talked about Fruit Share Manitoba, an organization where you can sign up if you have fruit bearing plants in your yard and you don’t think you’ll get around to picking them yourself. If you register your fruit trees or bushes on the website, then people interested in looking for fruit can connect with you. The idea is that the pickers get to keep a third of the fruit, you as the fruit tree owner get a third, and a third is donated to charity. Once you have the fruit (or vegetables for that matter), the next step is to preserve them for the winter ahead. America’s Test Kitchen has a new book out called “Foolproof preserving: a guide to small batch jams, jellies, pickles, condiments and more”.

Now that we’ve got food covered, you’ll need an activity to keep you occupied on these long nights. If you are interested in trying out knitting or crocheting, we’ve got you covered in one book called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting” by Barbara Breiter and Gail Diven.


Once you feel like you’ve got the basic hang of it, why not come out to Louis Riel’s Knit Night? We meet the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm. (Our next meeting will be on November 7). Although it is not a knitting class, it is a chance for knitters of all experience levels and talent to come together, share projects, and work together on individual projects. Most months will include a presentation on a particular topic. Give us a call at 204-986-4573 to register. We even let crocheters come, but we draw the line at macramé.





Cookbooks still #1!


Do you love browsing through cookbooks? You’re not alone! Cookbooks are consistently in the top ten subjects that are checked out at Winnipeg Public Library and are usually in the number one spot. Cookbooks currently make up 11% of Winnipeg Public Library’s non-fiction circulation – more than Psychology at 6% and Diet and Fitness at 4%. Fortunately, there are  a lot of new cookbooks being published and the Cookbook clubs couldn’t be happier! Here’s  a look at some of the new titles available at Winnipeg Public Library.

Cheryl made the Breakfast Crepes and Wonton soup from Cheryl pancakesGwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy. Both of the recipes were simple to make and delicious. cheryl soupThis book would make a great coffee table book, as it contains a lot of beautiful pictures of Gwyneth and her family, as well as the food. (A trend we’re noticing with more of the celebrity cookbooks.)

Shirley already owns all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, so she had to purchase her latest, Cooking For Jeffrey. Rosie also decided to review this cookbook and made Rosie appthe Camembert and Prosciutto Tartines, using tortillas instead of crusty bread – delicious! She also had a look at Alton Brown’s Everdaycook – a really fun book to read. It reads just like Alton talks on his popular TV shows. The Cucumber Lime Yogurt Pops call for 1 tsp. chile powder, but Rosie cut that in half and they still had a nice kick to them.

Star Chef Recipes features several celebrity chefs, with nice pictures and simple, easy to follow recipes. Jackie Chorizo MeatballsJackie made the Chorizo Meatballs, Jackie Stuffed Mushroomswhich can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. The stuffed mushrooms were easy and delicious, but could use a little less Herb d’Provence in them.

The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz tries to do it all – Japanese, Italian, Nadene soupGluten Free – all with a healthy twist. Oz uses a lot of fresh ingredients and offers good substitution options. Nadene made this really quick Kale, Sausage and White Bean soup for her family.


Ed would recommend you check Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook out of the library instead of buying it. Ed chiliThe traditional Texas Chili contains no beans or tomatoes and involves making your own chile powder by re-hydrating dry chiles. It was ok, but Ed prefers the Home Sick Texan’s recipe.

Linda ThaiLynda and Maureen loved Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. “All of the recipes we tried turned out fantastic and tasty. Chrissy has a refreshingly irreverent writing style with humorous, interesting comments about each recipe. Linda saladShe may be a supermodel but she’s got the appetite of a lumberjack, apparently.” They tried several recipes, including Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice and the butter Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese and Cayenne Candied Walnuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow To Bake Everything by Mark Bittman is true to it’s title, providing lots of information and 2000 recipes! Dianne tried the Cornbread with Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos and liked all of the different variations Bittman gives for his recipes. She also reviewed Oprah Winfrey’s latest book, Food, Health and Happiness and made the Turkey Burgers, which were well received.

The Happy Cookbook by Marg 1Lola Berry offers a whole foods approach to cooking, with gluten-free recipes, minimal dairy and no refined sugars. Margaret tried the stuffed mushroom caps, which tasted really good…with the addition of some bread crumbs.

After borrowing Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook from the Library last year, I ended up buying it, so I wasn’t surprised that I Carole macaroonshad to buy her second book – Oh She Glows Every day! Liddon provides excellent plant based recipes that have become staples in our house. I recommend the Fusilli Lentil Mushroom Bolognese, with roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Tahini, which adds a nice creaminess and flavour. We’ve also made the Shepherd’s Pie several times and my new favourite – Vanilla Bean Coconut Macaroons.

Well, are you anxious to get cooking? Borrowing cookbooks from the library is an excellent way to try before you buy. Happy cooking everyone!










You Got the Power

“That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.”

― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

After a course in leadership and management I tried to define for myself the meaning of “power.” My strategy was to search through Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue for books with the keyword “power” and then read all of them. While I am still pretty well stuck with the definition by Leo Tolstoy at this point, I managed to work myself through a whole mountain of books, some of which I would like to recommend.

Power Politics

The New York times has called Noam Chomsky, “arguably the most important intellectual alive” and “perhaps the clearest voice of dissent in American history.” Our expectations of Mr. Chomsky will not be disappointed by the collection of interviews in Power Systems : Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Chomsky explores many of the immediate threats to the U.S. and the dangers they pose to the “U.S. Empire.” Regardless of the fierce backlash he faces in his own country, he continues to be undeterred in his activism. He compares 9/11 to Bill Clinton’s bombing of a factory in Khartoum, Sudan, that resulted in as many as tens of thousands of Sudanese deaths. He charges the U.S with “stabilizing” countries by invading and destroying them. Regarding Osama Bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. troops he comments, “We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” Chomsky’s words will not find universal acceptance, but he isn’t afraid to speak his mind; and that is what makes his writing particularly exceptional and this book very worthwhile reading.

Power Yoga

I have to admit that I tend to be more of a couch potato than an athlete, but I do love yoga and its many benefits. This is why Power Yoga for Athletes, by Sean Vigue, caught my attention. I was not disappointed. Whether you’re looking to improve balance, focus, control, breathing, posture or flexibility; strengthen your back, joints, or core; or reduce or heal injury, yoga has been recognized to help with all of that. In this book, however, the author goes a step further and adapts yoga practices to the sport of your choice, to enhance performance, strength, and focus. Each pose features step-by-step directions, instructional photography, the muscle groups being worked, the overall benefits, and the sports for which each is ideal. Whether you already practice yoga or not, this book is a great addition to your regimen of athletic development.

Power Cleansing

Cover image for Power souping : 3-day detox, 3-week weight-loss plan : 50+ simple and delicious recipesMany of us may be familiar with the idea of juicing for weight loss, detoxification and boosting energy. In Power Souping, nutritionist Rachel Beller explains how souping can do all that, with the added benefit of being low in sugar and high in fiber. Plus, with the colder months not so far off (sorry) a nice hot soup sounds a whole lot more enticing to me than juice. Good bye juicing! Hello souping! Beller offers more than 50 delicious soup recipes, most vegan and many gluten free. The book also contains an easy 3-step action plan:

  • 3-Day Detox: pure, clean souping to jump-start your weight loss
  • 3-Week Transformation: shed up to 15 pounds with tasty soups and other healthy meals
  • Maintenance Method: tips to keep you on this simple and sustainable plan

What makes this book soup-erior (again, sorry), though is that it offers not only a practical, science-based weight-loss method, but also a guide to feeling your amazing, energetic best. This book is definitely worth a look, even if you do not need to lose weight and just want to boost your energy.

Power Horticulture

Cover image for Power plants : simple home remedies you can growPlants and their healing properties have been known and used for thousands of years. Unfortunately, much of this traditional knowledge has been lost to the western world. Two of Canada’s top authorities in their fields, gardening expert Frankie Flowers and alternative medicine expert Bryce Wylde have teamed up to help regain some of the lost art of harnessing the healing powers of plants. You do not have to go wildcrafting to reap the benefits of certain plants. Power Plants: Simple Home Remedies You Can Grow introduces you to a carefully selected list of forty-nine plants that can be grown in almost any Canadian garden. With Flowers’s easy instructions you can go step by step from planting to harvesting. Bryce then picks up with clear guidelines on how to put the plants to work; fighting everything from constipation to heartburn, high blood sugar to bad breakouts. Even if you have the legendary black thumb the book will help you out with simple substitutions. So go ahead and plan to supercharge your health with a simple trip into your garden.

Power Eating

Cover image for Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitnessWhat do Canadian endurance athlete Brendan Brazier, world class tennis player Venus Williams, and Canadian two-time world champion pairs skater Meagan Duhamel have in common? Other than being super athletes, they are also vegan. Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitness by Rea Frey is a guide to finding the foods that will power your daily life. The idea behind power eating is not a fad diet. Rather, it is about incorporating foods into your life which make you feel good, are easy to prepare, and are fairly inexpensive. I am confident that you will find more than one dish in there that you will thoroughly savour. The book is filled not only with tips, but easy 30-minutes-or-less recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks. Whether your goal is gaining energy, building muscle, or simply feeling and functioning better, you will be provided with the tools to get healthy while avoiding all-too-common pitfalls. This handy guide is not about being tied to the gym or the kitchen, but rather about creating a lifestyle for yourself that keeps you fit and healthy while being kind to the planet and all its creatures. In this complementary article you learn about Meagan Duhamel’s journey as a high-performance vegan athlete. Be encouraged to follow in her footsteps!

This is just a very small selection of materials I have found in the Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue under the keyword “power”. There were so many more I really enjoyed, which got me interested in different subjects and broadened my horizon in a variety of fields such as history, politics, nutrition, sport and social psychology. As always the library has been a true treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment. A treasure trove right at your fingertips to explore, enjoy and challenge your brain, because “There is great treasure there behind our skull and this is true about all of us. This little treasure has great, great powers, and I would say we only have learnt a very, very small part of what it can do.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer


Euro 2016 and Armchair Eating

The UEFA Euro 2016 has started! The international men’s football (soccer) championship of Europe is being held in France, and runs from June 10 to July 10. For the first time, Euro is being contested by 24 teams, instead of the usual 16-team format. Many of the countries represented have participated in past tournaments, including FIFA 2014 World Cup winners Germany, Italy, Russia, Euro 2008 and 2012 winners Spain, England, Czech Republic, hosts France, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, and Ukraine. Five teams secured their first-ever visits to the competition: Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales. I’m disappointed that my beloved Flying Dutchmen didn’t quality. (They lost both home and away against Iceland and Czech Republic, and away with Turkey with a resounding 3–0 score. Iceland, people, Iceland. OK, maybe I’m a bit bitter, too.)

During the last Euro competition in 2012, I put together a list of books by authors from each of the 16 countries represented. I considered doing the same thing this year, but frankly that’s boring, so I thought a different focus was warranted. Thanks to a suggestion from my co-worker Phil, I’m going to combine football with another one of my favourite things: food! After poring through many of the library’s cookbooks (note to self: next time I will wait until after lunch to do this), I’ve selected recipes from some of the 24 countries to try out during the competition. I hope you also find them enticing. If you haven’t already done so, check out the happenings of our cook book clubs!

Baked Swiss Dumplings (Switzerland)
Recipe found on page 33 of The Alpine Cookbook: Comfort food from the mountains  by Hans Gerlach
Serves 4 (makes 12 dumplings) – Prep: 35 minutes + 1 hour inactive time + 25 minutes baking time

For the dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
7 tbsp clarified butter
½ cup milk
caraway seeds and Fleur de Sel to sprinkle on top

For the filling:
1lb 2oz (500g) pointed cabbage (or other white cabbage variety)
3½ oz (100g) Salsiz, pancetta or smoked bacon
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup beer
1 bunch parsley
3½ oz (100g) Tomme Vaudoise (a soft Swiss cheese) or Camembert
2 tbsp shredded Alpine cheese (such as Sbrinz, Gruyère, or Allgauer Bergkase)
freshly ground salt and pepper

  1. For the dough, combine flour and one large pinch salt in a bowl. Bring clarified butter, milk, and ½ cup water to a boil and pour over the flour. Stir using a large kitchen spoon until you have smooth dough. Cover and cool for about one hour.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filing. Quarter the cabbage, remove stalk, and chop into thin slices. Peel and dice the Salsiz. Melt the butter in a pot; add the cabbage, Salsiz, salt, and pepper. Steam for 5 minutes with the lid on, deglaze with beer, and cook for an additional 5 minutes without the lid until the liquid has almost all boiled off. Season to taste and allow to cool. Pick the parsley leaves from the stem and chop; cut the Tomme Vausoise into small cubes, and add to the cabbage mixture along with the parsley and shredded Alpine cheese.
  3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (200ºC) or 360ºF (180ºC) (convection oven). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 14 by 19in (36 x 48cm), or until about 1/16in (2mm) thick. Cut into 12 squares (4–4 ¾ in (10–12cm) edge length). Add a heaping tablespoon of filling to each square, brush the edges with water, and form into triangles. Seal the edges using a fork or trim using a serrated pastry wheel.
  4. Transfer the triangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with water and sprinkle with caraway seeds and Fleur de Sel. Place on the second rack from the bottom of the over and bake for 22–25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Tepsi Böreği (Turkey)
Recipe found on page 204 of Mediterranean Cookbook: Fast, fresh, and easy recipes from Spain, Provence, and Tuscany to North Africa and the Middle East
Serves 6 – Prep: 30 minutes + cooling and standing + 1 hour cooking time

2lb (900g) spinach
7 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 red onions, finely chopped
2oz (60g) dried apricots, chopped
2oz (60g) pine nuts, toasted
6 sheets of phyllo pastry, 16 x 12in (40 x 30cm), thawed if frozen
salt and freshly ground black pepper
10oz (300g) feta cheese, crumbled
flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
lemon zest, to garnish

  1. Rinse the spinach, shake off the excess water, and pack into a large pan. Cover and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 8–10 minutes, until just wilted. Drain well through a sieve, pressing the spinach against the sides to remove as much water as possible. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter and cook the spices with the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 7–8 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in the apricots and pine nuts, and then set aside. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Grease and line an 8in (20cm) springform pan.
  3. For the pie, melt the remaining butter. Brush the pan with the melted butter and cover the bottom with a sheet of phyllo, leaving the edges overhanging, and brush with butter. Continue with 5 more sheets, brushing each with butter.
  4. Blot the spinach with paper towels, then chop finely. Stir into the onion mixture and season. Pile half onto the pastry crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese, then cover with the remaining spinach mixture. Fold the overhanging phyllo over the spinach, piece by piece, brushing with butter. Brush the top with any remaining butter and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before carefully releasing from the pan. Serve hot or warm, cut into wedges, and garnished with parsley and strips of lemon zest.

Swedish beet and apple salad (Sweden)
Recipe found on page 117 of Mouthful of Stars: A constellation of favorite recipes from my world travels  by Kim Sunee
Serves 6–8

3 large beets
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1 (8oz) container crème fraîche or sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 to 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, coarsely grated
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp coarsely chopped capers, rinsed of salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
  2. Rinse the beets and place in a large piece of aluminum foil. If they are very different in size, cut the larger ones in half so they will take about the same amount of time to cook. Drizzle with the olive oil and wrap tightly. Place on a baking sheet (to catch any leaking beet juice) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy when pierced with a fork. Remove the foil and let cool until able to handle. Peel the beets and cut into thin strips (about ¼in (6mm)).
  3. Combine the crème fraîche, dill, horseradish, vinegar, and white pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir in the roasted beets, apples, onion, and capers. Taste and add more pepper, vinegar, or horseradish as needed. Chill until ready to serve.

Patatas bravas (Fierce potatoes)
Recipe found on page 169 of Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The world’s most delicious food made easy by David Joachim
Serves 8. Hands-on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 3 hours 29 minutes

2lb baking potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ tsp saffron threads, finely crushed
¾ tsp salt, divided
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 bottled roasted piquillo peppers of 1 bottled roasted red bell pepper, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)
1½ cups unsalted tomato puree (fresh or canned)
1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground red pepper
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

  1. Soak whole potatoes in ice water in refrigerator 2 hours; drain. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Steam potatoes, covered, 9 minutes or until just tender. Rinse with cold water; drain and pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 450ºF (230ºC).
  3. Combine 1½ tbsp olive oil and saffron in centre of a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 450ºF (230ºC) for 3 to 4 minutes to bloom saffron. Scrape oil and saffron into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Return pan to oven. Add potatoes and ½ tsp salt to saffron oil, tossing to coat.
  4. Spread potatoes on preheated pan; bake at 450ºF (230ºC) for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, stirring twice.
  5. While potatoes cook, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining 1½ tbsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and bay leaf; sauté 1 minute. Add roasted pepper, tomato puree, paprika, and ground red pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Place pepper mixture, remaining ¼ tsp salt, and vinegar in blender. Remove centre piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escap); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Spoon sauce onto plates or a platter. Top with potatoes, and sprinkle with chives.

Seafood crêpes (France)
Recipe found on page 167 of International Night: A father and daughter cook their way around the world  by Makr Kurlansky

For the crêpes:
3 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1½ cups buckwheat flour
1½ cups milk

Beat the eggs with the melted butter, buckwheat flour, and milk. The batter should be thin but creamy. If too thick, add more milk. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day: Once you’ve melted some butter in a big pan, pour in a ladle full of the batter. Then, using the round bottom of your ladle spread the batter in a circular motion until it’s pretty thin. Once the centre part is dry, it’s ready to flip. You’ll also see that the batter will darken slightly, and even get a little bubbly. Then you slide a spatula, a big one, under the crêpe. Lift it and turn it on to the other side.

For the filling:
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1 leek, thinly sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
½ tomato, finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
a large pinch of salt
5 tbsp butter
½lb fillet of sole, cut into strips
½lb bay scallops
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
3 small heads endive
2 tbsp butter

Sauté the shallots, leek, mushrooms, tomato, thyme, and salt in about 2 tbsp of butter. After everything is thoroughly sautéed, add the sole, scallops, and wine. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Lift out the fish and scallops, place some on each crêpe, and wrap. Pour the heavy cream into the skillet with the liquid and cook vigorously until it has reduced its volume by about half. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of butter and stir vigorously until completely incorporated in the sauce. Pour sauce over crêpes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chives.
Serve with endive that is sliced lengthwise and sautéed in butter.

Sweet Ricotta Crostata (Italy)
Recipe found on page 240 of The International Collection: Home-cooked meals from around the world  by Canadian Living
Makes 24 servings

For the filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese (1½ lb/675 g)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
2 eggs
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg yolk

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Pastry: In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until in fine crumbs with a few larger pieces. Add eggs; toss with fork until dough starts to clump together, adding 1 tbsp cold water if too dry. Press into disc; wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together ricotta, sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and cinnamon.

Cut off one-third of the dough; set aside. On lightly floured surface, roll out remaining dough into 13-inch (33cm) circle. Fit into 10-inch (25cm) round tart pan with removable bottom. Scrape in ricotta mixture, smoothing top. Trim dough to leave ½-inch (1cm) overhang.

On lightly floured surface, roll out reserved dough into 12-inch (30cm) square. Cut into twelve 1-inch (2.5cm) strips. Weave strips, about ½ inch (1cm) apart, over filling to form lattice top. Trim strips even with edge of overhang.

Whisk egg yolk with 1 tsp water; brush some under each strip where it meets bottom pastry edge. Press to seal. Turn overhang inside and flute edge.

Brush remaining egg yolk mixture all over top of tart. Bake in 350ºF (180ºC) oven until pastry is golden, about 55 minutes. Let cool on rack.

Bàbovka (Czech Republic)
Recipe found on page 125 of The World on a plate: 40 cuisines, 100 recipes, and the stories behind them by Mina Holland
Serves 10–12

14 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 1/8 cups Czech flour (polohrube mouky) or all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the cake pan
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ tbsp vanilla sugar, or 1 ½ tbsp super fine sugar and 2–3 drops of vanilla essence
4 medium eggs, separated
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
confectioners’ sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Butter and 9½– to 10-inch ring-shaped cake pan, sprinkle a little flour around the sides and shake out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with approximately two thirds of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla sugar. Slowly beat in the egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Add half the flour and the baking powder and beat well, then stir in the rest of the confectioners’ sugar and the flour. Don’t mix too much from hereon or your mixture will become too sticky.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form peaks, and then gently fold these into the mixture. Be careful not to overmix. The mixture should fall off a spoon in lumps, not drip. Halve the mixture and separate into two bowls. Sift the cocoa into one half and mix well. Keep the other half white.
  4. Spoon the light and dark mixtures into the cake pan in layers, running a fork through the middle in a swirling motion to create a marble effect. The pan should be two thirds full.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan and sifting some confectioners’ sugar over the top to serve.

T’boftë mire! Smakelijk! Dobar tek! Dobrou chuť! Tuck in! Bon appétit ! Guten Appetit! Jó étvágyat! A ligean ar ithe! Verði þér að góðu! Buon appetito! Smacznego! Bom apetite! Poftă bună! Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnogo appetita)! Dobrú chuť! ¡Buen apetito! Smaklig måltid! Afiyet olsun! Смачного! (Smačnoho) Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

Fermentation 101: A Cook Book Club Update

Fermentation is a process that dates back more than 6,000 years, when it was likely used by our ancestors to make alcoholic beverages and preserve food. Fermented foods are enjoying a renaissance.  Examples include making alcohol from fruits and grains, kombucha from tea and sugar, kimchi from vegetables, yogurt or kefir from milk, and sauerkraut from cabbage.

fermentationfort garry

Danielle Nykoluk promoted the benefits of fermented  foods at a recent Taste Buds Cook Book Club meeting at the Fort Gary  Library. Danielle is a founder of The Real Food Revival which offers traditional food skill-based workshops for folks who want more choice and control over their health and the health of the environment. She demonstrated how to make the health-supporting elixirs kombucha (a fermented tea) and kefir (a tangy drink made from fruit of milk) or a fraction of the cost at the grocery store.

What is fermentation? In a nutshell it is the use of beneficial bacteria and yeast to preserve food and beverages. In scientific terms, yeast, moulds, or bacteria convert sugar and other carbohydrates to acids, gases, or alcohol.

Not only does fermentation preserve foods and enhance flavour, fermented foods are good for digestion. Eating these foods actually improves the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of eating pre- and pro- biotic foods, which help to improve digestion and regular bowel function, enhance the immune system, ease anxiety and alleviate allergies.

For more recipes and instructions on how to make your own homemade fermented foods such as bread, cheese, yogurt, beer, pickles and other foods, check out these books:


The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

An in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world by a leading expert in the field.


Ferment Your Vegetables

A fun and flavourful guide to making your own pickles, kimchi, kraut and more.



Fermented Foods for Health 

Use the power of probiotic foods to improve your digestion, strengthen your immunity and prevent illness


Join the growing movement of home fermenters and get great taste and good health with probiotic foods.


Going Vegetarian- A Cook Book Club Update


Aside from devouring a raw bison liver in his Oscar winning performance in The Revenant, Leonardo Di Caprio is an avowed vegetarian. Di Caprio helped to launch the 2015 Netflix film Cowspiracy, a condemnation of animal agriculture as a  major contributor to global warming through production of methane gas, inefficient use of water, habitat loss and pollution from pesticide use. By avoiding meat, consumers also refuse to support an industry that raises animals in crowded pens, denies them  fresh air and sunlight and  then trucks them to inhumane slaughterhouses.

Besides reducing one’s carbon footprint and promoting animal welfare, there are some other feel good reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet. Health benefits include weight loss, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure and reduction of the incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

The key to a responsible vegetarian diet is to include a wide variety as no one food source is complete. For sound advice on kick starting your plant based diet consult Dietitians of Canada or Toronto Association of Vegetarians to ensure you include enough protein, Vitamin B12 and other nutrients in your diet.

Other tips include:

  • Incorporate “Meatless Mondays” into your week
  • If you can’t give up one animal product, give up all the others
  • Try substitutions – bean burritos instead of beef, marinara sauce instead of bolognese, veggie burgers instead of hamburgers
  • Eat out at ethnic restaurants which often have vegetarian options on the menu such as Thai, Indian, Chinese or  Mexican

Check out one of the many vegetarian cookbooks Winnipeg Public Library  has to offer. Here are some of the recipes tested by members of Fort Garry Library’s  Taste Buds Cook Book Club who made a foray into the world of plant based foods.

lentil-a-roni   Carla’s Lentil-a-roni from Isa Does It

chuckitin    Melinda’s Chuck It In Chef’s Salad from
At My Table: Vegetarian Feasts for Family and Friends

veglunchbowl2 Anne’s Vegetable Bowl from Mason Jar Salads

With a little effort it is easy to eat well, help to save the planet and embrace compassion for animal welfare.

Give peas a chance,