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Sundays at Amma’s house
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Sundays at Amma’s house

When I was young, my family used to go to my Amma’s house for dinner on Sundays. “Amma” is the word for grandma in Icelandic, for anyone who may be wondering. I can’t remember if it was every Sunday, or once a month, or even once every couple of months. It seemed like a regular occurrence, and I remember it as such.

We would pile into the car and make our way to her building on Sargent Avenue. She’d buzz us into the building and as we waited for the elevator, my sisters and I would always try to guess which of the elevator doors would open first. Funny enough, the kids and I still do that.

When we got to her floor, we would run down the hallway to greet our Amma, who would be standing in her doorway waiting for us. I always think about that now when I see my own kids running down the hallway of my parents’ condo building to greet them.

Shelley with her Amma in the 1990s. (Suppplied)

The table would be set with her best china — the plates with the yellow roses and gold trim, and the silverware with clusters of flowers on the stems. She always used the special dishes when we went to her place for dinner. The menu was always roast beef, perfectly cooked from what I remember, with some kind of jelly or ambrosia salad, and roasted vegetables. We’d feast. Everything tasted nice… even the jelly salads.

Then, after supper, my sisters and I would go into the den to watch The Wonderful World of Disney until it was time to go home.

These memories of Sundays at Amma’s house are all clumped together in my brain. I couldn’t for the life of me pick out a particular time that was more special or memorable than the other, or even tell you when this tradition started or when it ended. But it’s there, in my memory and in my heart. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have that tradition back.

It’s funny how the simple things like family dinners can evoke so many warm feelings.

Shelley with her Amma before her death in 2015. (Supplied)

The reason I was thinking about these Sunday dinners is because I was talking to my colleague Eva Wasney yesterday about the community cookbook project she’s working on in celebration of the Winnipeg Free Press’ 150th Anniversary. The book is called Homemade, and she’s asking people to submit recipes and the stories behind them. The recipes can be anything from a cherished family favourite to an easy weeknight staple. A food or recipe that, in some way, is important to you.

I’m still thinking about which recipes (if any) I have to share for this project. I only have a handful of recipes from my Amma, though sadly none of them are for roast beef or any of the fixings. If she used recipes for those Sunday night dinners, they are long gone.

If you have a recipe that you’d like to submit—whether it’s special to you, or just darn delicious and you think everyone should try it, you can submit it here.

Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook, Columnist

Shelley Cook

GOOD NEWS

I got to write a bonus column this week (lucky me!) about a teacher named Stephanie Rempel from Harold Hatcher School in Transcona. Stephanie received the most amazing random act of kindness at McNally Robinson last weekend. She was buying books for her Grade Three students with a purchase order. She was coming close to her budgeted limit, so she asked the cashier to put some books aside. A generous stranger overheard the conversation and plunked down money on the counter to pay for some of the books for the kids! The story was magical to hear and an honour to write. Please check it out here.

Stephanie Rempel with books she purchased, with the help of a random stranger, at McNally Robinson this weekend.(Curt Cawson photo)

My colleague Ben Waldman is such an incredible and gifted storyteller. This week he wrote about Roy’s Florist on Notre Dame — but not just about the flowers, or even the annual event that is Valentine’s Day. He wrote about the story behind the shop and its owners. This little bit of history about a well-loved Winnipeg institution was so nice to read.

Roy’s Florist is one of the oldest stores in the West End. It was opened in 1955 by Roy and Ron Kaita, taking the name of the elder brother as is the Japanese custom. (RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

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There is kindness all around us. This week Aaron Epp captured some of it in his story about Kristie Pearson, who founded Linking Hope, an organization that helps Winnipeggers in need. She saw how many people and agencies needed help and jumped into action to do something about it. She put out the call, and others have joined her. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear stories about the Kristie Pearsons of the world more than ever these days…

Kristie Pearson completed her latest donation drive earlier this month, co-ordinating the delivery of food, diapers, baby formula, winter clothing, underwear and hygiene products. (RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

In some AWESOME science news: A 64-year-old U.S. woman with leukemia became the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS!

READER BRIDGE

This week in Reader Bridge: Gabrielle Piche checked in with the Manitoba Filipino Business Council for their virtual community check-in. The meet-up happened on Jan. 26 and was the second the business council’s new board has held. The board — mainly women — is taking "pulse checks" on its community as best it can during the pandemic, president Jackie Wild said.

Jackie Wild, president of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council, in front of a mural of Dr. Jose Rizal, a national hero in the Philippines.(JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

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