Sunday, May 25, 2008
Sometimes I feel like I’m related to half of Canada. My parents come from big farm families; I have seventy-two first cousins on my mother’s side alone. We have relations dotting the eastern and western edges of Canada, with a few provinces in between.
One day my mother and I were driving the long, lonesome plains of Alberta and stopped in at a tiny café. Since phone books in Los Angeles have about 20 pages of people who share my last name, I peeked at the phone book out of curiosity. It was about a quarter-inch thick.
My mom pointed out, “See, that’s your Uncle John. That’s where we’re going. And that one there is his sister."
I asked, “You mean there are only 3 people in the phone book with our last name and we’re related to two of them?"
She said, “Oh, we’re related to HER too, but we’re not speaking.”
One cousin tells the story of wandering into a hall of records to research the family tree. The desk clerk called into the back for someone to come help her after hearing the family name. The woman just happened to be a second cousin.
As a result, there is giant network of Canadians who travel to and from each other’s homes staying in an endless array of guestrooms. They stay up all night drinking tea and visiting. They hardly ever go out to eat.
Relatives usually don’t understand my aversion to restaurant chains. They don’t understand my dedication to exploring local cuisines. They don't understand my mission. When I try to explain that I want to eat something that I can’t eat back home, I am usually met with blank stares. They don’t believe Canada has a “local cuisine.” And so Iusually have to make do, Tim Hortons after Tim Hortons. Luckily most of my relatives are excellent cooks.
Auntie Jeanette’s Nanaimo Bars
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 egg, beaten
2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Mix together butter, sugar, cocoa, egg, crumbs, coconut, and walnuts. Press into a 9x9-inch pan.
Combine sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Pour over base. Cool in the refrigerator until set.
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
Uncle Pat’s Irish Cream
8 ounces Irish whiskey
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
I Tablespoon chocolate syrup OR ¼ cup Kahlua
1 Tablespoon vanilla.
Blend well. Keep refrigerated.
(You can add 1 cup table cream if you’re a big sissy)
Saturday I was trying to stay positive, but the trip was grueling. It involved changing planes and hours of walking. We had a Chicago dog from Gold Coast Dogs on our layover – I had a nice Polish dog with Chicago toppings - except I didn't try the crazy green relish. I like the crunchy exterior and greasy insides. Mom had the dog with the day-glo relish.
The peppers perked me right up.
Posted by Elise Thompson at 6:44 PM