Author Archives: eatbysix

The Mechant Boeuf is tres Mechant

This weekend I’m in Montreal for the International Jazz Festival. Last night we thoroughly enjoyed a dinner of oysters and a trio of tartare’s at a restaurant called The Mechant Boeuf. The food was amazing. The oysters were shucked right in front of us, nice size (not too big, not too small), and a nice sauce with cilantro. We also got a trio of tartare’s…salmon, beef, and bison. They were all super fresh and yummy. This place has the coolest vibe. It’s a restaurant with about 30 4 top tables, another bunch of stand up tables and a great bar. The d.j. Played classic rock mixed with dance or funk, the bartenders were friendly and fun. I loved it!!! It remi des me that how you feel while you’re eating might be as important as the food itself.

Home By Five – Eat By Six

This is my dad and I.  I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him.  I wonder who took the picture??

This is my dad and I. I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him. I wonder who took the picture??

I’ve met so many people who have trouble getting a meal on the table at the end of the day. Maybe it’s a lack of experience or knowledge of how to cook. Maybe it’s a need to follow a recipe. Maybe having one more thing to do at the end of the day is overwhelming. Maybe there just isn’t an example to follow.

When I was growing up, my mom made dinner every night. She stayed at home when we were really little, but then went back to work as a high school teacher. Every night, I helped her with things like peeling carrots and potatoes and setting the table. I was the youngest in the family, so it seemed the easiest place for me at that time of day was in the kitchen with my mom. I loved it, and remember having my own step stool so I could be at the same counter height. I learned funny things like how to butter bread all the way to the corners, and how to chop walnuts like a pro.

We didn’t eat the same things all the time, and there wasn’t a menu on the fridge to follow. She just decided what we were going to have and then made it. Sometimes she asked us what we wanted, but not very often. Things didn’t come out of a package. There wasn’t a microwave. I remember meals like ‘corned beef hash with an egg on top’ or ‘spaghetti with meat sauce’ or ‘creamed chicken on toast’ or ‘pancakes’. I know, we wouldn’t necessarily make those choices today, but they were all made from scratch, they all filled up our bellies, they were all tasty, and they were all on the table by 6.

What I learned, and practice with my own family, is that eating together is important. And feeding your family is a pleasure, not a chore. I also know that a lot of relationship building happens around food. My kids sit at the kitchen counter, on the laptop, while I make dinner. They play me music I’ve never heard before, and tell me stories, and read to me about crazy things they find on the internet. They see me cook, and they learn by osmosis. My younger son can make crepes from scratch without a recipe, and he’s been inspired to just try — he makes amazing pasta carbonara, or spaghettini with olive oil and capers.

The most important thing is to have confidence, and be inspired by what you know. My dinner plans come together in one of three ways. Either I start thinking about it before I get home – “man, I’m hungry…what should we have for dinner? …what’s in the fridge??”, or when I get home, I open the fridge and get inspired by an ingredient. Or if I’m particularly organized, I would have already prepared something from the night before or in the crockpot. (The third option is rare)

One way or another, there is not much time to make dinner. When I get home, everyone is starving. I’m the kind of person that just keeps going after work. I immediately start multi-tasking and getting things done. I prefer to get all those things done, then when I sit down to relax, I don’t feel guilty and I’m done for the night.

As the kids got older, many times we were rushed for dinner so everyone could get to their activities – swimming, Scouts, school plays, soccer. And when I’m hungry…or my kids are hungry…we all get pretty surly. Now my kids are older, 16 and 19 (both boys), and they love to eat. Personally, I think it’s the food that keeps them coming home on time and looking forward to seeing me.

If all else fails, before you get frustrated at the end of a busy day. Before you give up and go to the drive through, have a yogurt and chill out for a few minutes before getting dinner on the table. But my advice, and my modus operandi, is to just keep moving until it’s all done.


Anthony Bourdain’s boozy trip to Montreal — I think I love him!

I grew up in Montreal, and I still visit as often as I can.   I have to say, Anthony Bourdain does it right.   For anyone who hasn’t seen the Quebec episode, you’re in for a treat.  Warning, you’ll be hungry and you’ll be left with a feeling of longing for Montreal and it’s resident’s ability to enjoy life, food and friendship.  

Big Sandwiches – When Your Kids Ask For Them, Just Say Yes

Quick dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. As long as everyone is happy and full, then I’m happy too. My kids call them Big Sandwiches — they really aren’t that big, but they’re meant to be enough to fill up at dinner. The trick to Big Sandwiches is fresh ingredients and….Brie or Camembert cheese. Choose ultra fresh buns…we like Portuguese white rolls from our local bakery. Then we add all of Tony Soprano’s favorites: capicolo, mortadella, and ham. Add a nice mustard and a couple of ooey gooey slices of Brie or Camembert cheese. Voila, Big Sandwiches. sandwich

Glazed Meat Balls – Sounds Weird, But Tastes REALLY Good!

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 egg

Mix all ingredients with your hands, and make small-ish meatballs. Put in a large skillet and brown at medium-high heat. If your meatballs are about inch round, it will only take about 10 minutes to brown.

Add 1 cup of chili sauce (I use Heinz or No Name brand) and 1 regular size jar of grape jelly. Stir gently (so you don’t wreck the meatballs). These ingredients will melt and glaze the meatballs. Cover the pan and let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I serve these as appetizers, or as a main dish with rice. I’ve also made meatballs sandwiches. Very versatile and everyone loves them — especially kids.


Easy Souvlaki – Who Doesn’t Like Souvlaki?

souvlakiThe other day pork tenderloins were on sale. I bought two and put them in the fridge. Last night I saw them and thought “Souvlaki!” This whole process only took about 15 minutes. I used a sharp knife to remove the silver skin from both the tenderloins and cut them into bit sized pieces (maybe 1″ square) and put them in a plastic bowl. I put a large skillet on the stove and heated up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. While the pan heated, I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pork, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and dried mint. I also had a ‘greek spice mix’ in my spice cupboard so I threw some of that in too — and stirred it all together so the pork was covered. Then I put all the pork in the skillet at once and moved the pieces around until brown (maybe 5 minutes). I put a lid on the pan and turned the heat down to simmer/low and let cook for another 5 minutes.

On plates I put tomato salad (see other post for recipe), tzatiki sauce that I had bought from Loblaws, and rice which I cooked while I was making the pork. Yum. Yum. Yum. The whole dinner from fridge to table might have taken 30 minutes.

Tomato Salad with Croutons – Nice and Soggy!

tomatoThis is an easy, tasty salad especially if you like fresh tomatoes. Rough chop a whole ripe tomato. Finely chop about 1/4 of a medium sized red onion. Mix these two ingredients together in a bowl or on a plate. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste (you’ll probably need more salt than you think you do!). If you have capers in your fridge, add some! Add 1/2 cup of good quality croutons, then mix the whole thing together with your (clean) hands or a couple of spoons. Let sit a few minutes and serve. Makes two sized portions.

You can’t live without food — and why would you want to?


Food is necessary. Food is one of the basic ingredients in a happy and healthy life. It took me a long time to like making meals, but now I love it. I never spend much time slaving over a hot stove, or incessantly chopping onions. My goal for most days is to be home by five and to be at the table eating by six. I’d like to share my meal ideas and prep methods with you! Let’s eat!