Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Wasabi Peas

I am going to start this off by saying, I am a wimp when it comes to spicy foods. I never much liked hot wings or overly spicy chili. I’ve eaten these in the past, but I don’t like the burn in my mouth. Or my bum after… (ya, I went there. We all know what happens- what goes in must come out…)

But my spicy guilty pleasure is wasabi.

I love eating it with sushi- it makes the fish taste POP. And I devour sushi regularly. Years ago, my wife introduced me to another treat as well when we first met- Wasabi Peas.

These things are glorious. The way the dried peas are coated in a wasabi shell makes them look like little boogers. Toss a couple on your tongue, and the stinging sensation starts. After nibbling a few, a sweet honey-like taste emerges. Making the undeniable urge to crave more.

Pure, mouth watering, tongue burning evil… in a can. A treat that I cannot stop eating once I have opened a package. My wife is upset that I finished this last can without her. She likes to point out that she originally gave me some when we were dating as a joke because she knew I didn’t like spicy. Little did she know that it would be a favorite treat of mine.

Is there any foods you normally don’t like but make an exception for a variation of it? Do you really hate tomatoes, but can’t eat fries without ketchup? Let me know in the comments.

All That And A Bag Of Chips

Valentine’s Day is about love. I have found over the years that expressing love today doesn’t need to be flashy and over the top. Nonetheless, moments like that are beautiful and memorable. But you can be romantic in simpler ways as well.

For my wife, I gave her a bag of Lays potato chips and a case of pink grapefruit soda. It may sound silly to everyone, but I know that it meant a great deal to her. That’s because when we first began dating, this was her comfort snack while we cuddled.

“Dee-ah-tay Pample-Mousse” as we called the pop, is a great refreshing beverage. My wife used to enjoy having a 2 liter bottle at the side of the bed. She would have it sitting there for days on end, just slowly going flat. But that’s how she liked to drink it.

Memories like this are what makes Valentine’s Day a bit more romantic in my eyes. Looking back at our younger selves with awe and amazement that we have been together for over 20 years now. If I could, I would go back in time. Not to change anything, but rather to relive the moments once more.

Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart. I’m glad that you are all that- and a bag of potato chips.

I Forgot To Take Pictures- But It Happened

Today my wife and I had a lunch date at The Trading Post in Fort Langley. It was a double date with some coworkers of mine. We went to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brewery. There was live music and good food. Pics or it didn’t happen.

I took one photo. It was as I waited outside the eatery before anyone met up with me. My wife was waiting in the car to keep warm prior to the opening. Our friends were only a couple minutes behind us. I was first in line. Just like my other years of attending their anniversaries.

We had a great time talking and eating. So much so that I didn’t take any photos. We just all lived in the moment. No sharing of life on social media. Lots of good laughs and intimate personal conversations. It was good to share in person.

So no photos. But it did happen. I’m glad it did- my wife and I needed a break from this week. A mental health break of sorts. It felt good.

Weight Loss?

I’ve never been one to push weight loss on anyone. The human race comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I myself am a tall, lanky fella. up until almost six months ago I also drank heavily. Deep fried foods are still a favorite of mine, but I’m also trying to eat somewhat better.

For years I enjoyed taking in a craft beer or six on my days off. I wasn’t exercising or eating very healthy either. My body was not very happy with me. It started to give up and went with it. This tall skinny guy had begun to create himself quite the Beer Gut. I would shrug it off and just say, “It’s my Dad Bod.” But I also began having some heart palpitations more regularly and that finally scared me.

So I took on Sober September 3. Only instead of giving into drinking on October 1st, I stayed sober and have been since then. I didn’t lose the “Dad Bod” right away. In fact, over the Christmas period I was eating loads of rich foods and my gut was just hanging out, wondering where the beer was. Somehow in 2021, my body decided to adapt to this new predicament.

My wife got me back into using a Fitbit just after Christmas. So I began tracking my steps and watching my sleeping. She also picked up a Fitbit scale and every so often I stepped on it. Yes folks, I have lost weight. And it’s the good kind of loss. My gut has diminished finally.

There were no extreme diets. No crazy exercise regime. Just walking and being alcohol free. It has taken me almost six months to look and feel better. Both physically and mentally.

Tomorrow I am going for a lunch date to the Trading Post. What was once my favorite beer place is still my favorite restaurant. I can enjoy the atmosphere without the drinking. Besides, I am finally starting to look and feel healthy. I’m not about to shake that up.

Frugal February

Ever just go online and start searching for stuff to buy? Even though you don’t need it? I caught myself doing that last night. I came to the realization that I like to “window shop” but do eventually purchase something frivolous.

For example…

Last night I went onto Amazon and looked up men’s roller skates. Why? I dunno. Maybe because I had a pair of black boot roller skates as a pre-teen before my first pair of inline skates. I thought that maybe it would be neat to own a pair again.

Gorillaz

But it took me down a rabbit hole of accessories as well. Different wheels, knee pads, wrist guards, and even Bluetooth headphones. The type that looked 80’s retro. Why? No idea. It just seemed to match.

And that got me to look at 1up arcade games. I think it would be neat to have a collection of them. But at $400-600 each it seems a tad bit eccentric to own a few, even though I love the cabinet artwork.

In the end I didn’t buy anything useless. I am choosing to go with a “Frugal February” and not buy stuff. Besides the obvious necessities. I’m also thinking that I won’t spend money eating out. That would be a good addition to the “Frugal February” mentality.

Tastes Trapped In Time

Fresgo. Forever trapped in Surrey.

Yesterday I took my daughter out for a late lunch date. We went to a place that I haven’t been to in twenty years. Fresgo Inn (Don’t bother with the website as it feels as if someone in the late 90’s attempted html). It has not changed in all the time I can remember. Nor was it very updated two decades ago either. This restaurant is trapped in some weird time vortex. Plus it was really difficult to locate. As if the Matrix had moved it two inches to the left.

My daughter and I walked into the cafeteria style restaurant and the first thing we noticed was the way the tile floor was grooved out by all the decades of foot traffic. Behind the plexiglass cabinets were styrofoam plates (styrofoam? Who uses that?) with oversized dessert portions. The same style of desserts that have been sold for ages.

The meals we chose were simple. Montreal style poutine and a cheeseburger. Massive portions, for the price we paid, created by a chef in one of those tall cylindrical paper hats. We ate our lunch at a table with mismatched chairs from the 70’s.

We ended up bringing plates of desserts home. The chocolate pie was rich and artificial tasting. The cheesecake tasted as if the chef had been smoking prior to starting his shift. Stale smoke filled every bite. It was like stepping into a time machine and taking a bite out of the 1980’s.

Besides the awkward feeling the restaurant has, it’s not my regular fanfare of foods. But it was worth a trip down memory lane. If I avoid it for another couple of decades- it may turn into The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Which it was already on the way to become.

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!

Milk Life Hack

Just like the rest of you, I see videos of “Life Hacks” in my newsfeed all the time. Some are kind of neat, others are down right ridiculous. I found one that I had seen numerous people do and claimed to work, so I put it to the test.

Our daughter received a mug for Christmas. She loved it. But upon the second or third time using it, she noticed it had a hairline crack.

Liquid would essentially “bleed” out the side of her mug. What I found strange is that there was no visible crack on the inside. Off to the Internet I went in search of how to fix this. Turns out people say to use milk.

So I did what the Internet recommended. Boiled the mug in some milk. Then let it cool before cleaning it off. You know what?

It didn’t work.

The mug still leaks. Perhaps I did something wrong. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t work. Either way, my daughter still has a lovely pen holder mug.

Da Ba Dee

Last year I wrote about Blue Monday. Well, here we are again- it’s that time of year once more. Blue Monday.

This year I don’t feel so negatively as I have in the past. So I figured why not be a bit more upbeat? Eiffel 65 was the artist behind the video I’m Blue from the 90’s. Most everyone I know will hate me for getting that song stuck in their head.

Besides getting my family and friends to hate me for that song, there’s going to be a tasty treat for later. My family picked up a can of soda from an Asian market today. It’s in a blue can and it’s called “Candy Flavor”. How fun! And I’m guessing sugar coma inducing.

What better way to beat the blues than with music and sugar! Like a party created for six year olds! Let’s beat those blues away.

Nikko Sushi

My wife and I were welcomed to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch today. It was quiet in the restaurant, but we were still seated in one of the closed off booths for added privacy. We have been coming here since they opened their doors- 20 Years Ago. Our Loyalty for great sushi is with them.

Every time we arrive, the staff (its a family run business) talk to us as if we were part of their family. At first we only went for birthdays and special occasions. Now we end up going there once a month it seems. The quality and value is unsurpassed.

When Nikko first opened, and for a couple of years following, they would take our picture. If you look closely in a few of the booths you will find our family up on the wall. For twenty years, the staff at Nikko Sushi has watched out family grow. Even today, when it was just my wife and I, they asked about our kids.

Because of our commitment to them, we are treated like royalty when we walk in those doors. Almost every meal we end up getting a sample of some sort of treat they have. And every year for their anniversary, we have been given a gift. Previously we have received bottles of wine, this year was a lovely hand towel (that our oldest daughter has claimed.) We also leave a generous tip as I have always proudly supported small business.

If you haven’t eaten at Nikko Sushi, you absolutely have to try it. Trust me, it is quality food. I plan on still going there over the next twenty years!

Will Purging Ever End?

It feels like we’ve been tackling the clutter in our home for ages. With so much space comes so much stuff to fill it. It’s crazy to think we’ve been collecting items for years now. A combined 95 years if you add our ages together- not including kids. The collection of junk happened so slowly.

Yet after a couple of weeks it still feels like we haven’t made a dent in this “editing” thing. In fact it feels as if we’ve gone in the opposite direction. Our home seems messier than ever. We are stumbling over boxes and trinkets trying to rearrange our lives.

Our theater room for example has become a hoarding nightmare. For the longest time I would collect CDs followed by DVDs. I cannot tell you the last time I listened to a CD. Yet my wife and I have a collection of around 500 of them. If you were to do the math from back in the day at $15 average/cd we spent at least $7500 on music alone in that format. Seriously though, if we bought a cd every week for about ten years- that’s how we came to possessing such a large collection.

As well we have trinkets and things that we acquired over the years. All to just fill shelves and floor space. Some of it still “Sparks Joy” so those items need to be left out. Other things will be stored until a later date when we can decide what to do with them. And some things are just being given away.

This is just one room. We still have five bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, and closets to get through. Maybe by 2022 we will be done the cycle of clearing out the house only to start in the first room once more.

Resolution Schmezolution

Ten days into the new year and I haven’t made any resolutions. So I didn’t feel guilty eating fast food at my desk for lunch.

I went all out and enjoyed bacon as my lunch. Baconator burger with bacon poutine fries. Truly unhealthy, but so tasty.

And then it sat in my gut for the rest of the afternoon making me feel like crud. Not the best feeling let me tell you. Before heading home I ate my orange and apple in hopes that some minuscule amount of healthy would balance this meal out.

Who was I kidding? My heart-attack burger with extra mayonnaise and gravy fries meal probably put me one step closer to death. No amount of fruits or vegetables were going to turn back time and prevent my decision. In fact, given the chance- I’d probably make the same mistake again.

It was messy, repulsive looking, and oh-so delicious.

Stealing Lunch Treats

Being a father is great! You get to never grow up. Kids want you to play with toys, watch cartoons, dress up, all that fun stuff.

I love the fact that I get to steal my kids’ lunch snacks and pack them into my lunch. My son has accepted this and even packs treats for me to enjoy. This time was a couple pieces of strawberry Nibs candy. It was a pleasant surprise.

Back in high school I used to buy big boxes of Super Nibs every week. I’d keep them in my locker. As people wandered the halls, they knew to stop by for a treat if they saw me at my locker. I’ve always been the sort of person to share if it brings people joy.

Inadvertently I have bestowed that quality in my son. It brings me joy that he wants to make others happy with simple gestures as I do.

I’m still going to steal granola bars and cheese and crackers for my lunch. But a Nib or two is always welcome.

Cheesecake

Our recent obsession is watching “The Golden Girls” on Amazon Prime. I had no idea how often these ladies just pulled a cheesecake out of the freezer and sat around cracking jokes. I have been throughly amused by this show and remember bits and pieces from when it ran the first time around.

I have always loved cheesecake. I was eating cheesecake when I saw my first crush as a teenager. Later in life, my wife and I had cheesecake at our wedding instead of wedding cake. Whenever my wife and I are on a date and cheesecake is on the menu- I like to enjoy a slice to end the evening. To me cheesecake is kind of romantic.

My wife and daughter scratch made a delicious lemon cheesecake the other day. It was fantastic. It made me realize that we could have cheesecake more often. I think it shall be a possibility going forward- especially if someone else is making it for me…

My love of cheesecake will always be around. When I get older, I’ll probably eat just as much as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia do. Nothing wrong with solving your problems over a cheesecake.

Brisket Leftovers

Instead of a turkey this year, we made a brisket on our new BBQ. Usually I cut the meat into two or three smaller meals, but this time I decided to make the whole thing. That meant there was a lot of leftovers for us.

The brisket was larger than a turkey and a much more solid piece of meat. After our initial dinner, we still had more than 3/4 of the meat remaining. Since then I have had a few slices on sandwiches as well as frying a couple of pieces to go with eggs and toast.

But my favorite leftover has to be the brisket soup my wife made in our slow cooker. It was a tasty beef and barley soup that infused the Smokey flavor of the meat into each spoonful.

Tomorrow night’s dinner will be beef dip and fries. Perhaps we will be closer to finishing the meat at that point. With so much beef in our diets in such a short time- that means we will likely move away from red meat for a few weeks. I also can’t wait until spring and summer to start enjoying fresh vegetables once more.

Ferrero Rocher

I’m not a huge chocolate eater. However, I have a guilty pleasure that only gets satisfied at Christmas.

Ferrero Rocher

And my wife spoils me with them each and every year. My stocking gets a few individual ones tossed in and I get a case of 48 all to myself as well.

I enjoy them so much that I made little wings for the ones to give our kids. It makes them look like “The Golden Snitch” from Harry Potter. I also received a Squishmallow toy last year and named it Ferrero.

There’s something delicious about those little Golden experiences that I just love. Do you enjoy Ferrero Rocher? Or do you have a different favorite chocolate that you indulge in at Christmas?

Christmas Eve 2020

Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.

A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*

Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…

As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.

So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.

Getting Baked!

It’s December- that means baking season is upon us!

Yesterday we had breakfast for dinner. My wife whipped together cinnamon roll pancake batter and a cream cheese icing. I cooked them up in our snowflake shaped frying pan. A perfect look and taste to get us sweetened for our next few rounds of baking.

This morning, my wife and I just finished our Costco run. That means we have five dozen eggs, an abundance of sugar, flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and everything else we could possibly need to get started. Now to look at our list, check it twice and find out which cookies are tasty and nice! I cannot wait to fill our Christmas cookie jars and tins.

Are you baking for this holiday season? Any favorite recipes you am have? Please share them with me. I love to bake!

Chai Concentrate

Recently I fell in love with Chai. My family has enjoyed it for years, but for whatever reason I had never tried it. I had a cup the other week as I have been delving into various teas as a part of my liquor avoidance. My enjoyment of loose leaf tea has been growing.

The other day, my wife decide she wanted to try her hand at making Chai Concentrate. She found the recipe on Tasty Yummies and set to work. She filled the slow cooker with ingredients we never had in the house before. After a few hours, the smell that flowed through our home was absolutely heavenly.

Once the process in the slow cooker was done, our oldest set to work filtering out the chai concentrate. A large pitcher was filled and then another half pitcher. The Chai was left alone to allow more of the sediment to form at the bottom.

We then sampled the Chai in some milk. I was astounded at how delicious it was. My wife has since had about a half dozen glasses and there is plenty leftover remaining.

Besides a delicious beverage to be had, my wife found pleasure in constantly saying “Chai Tea” in order to irritate our 18 year old. Random had to correct my wife by asking why she insisted on saying “Tea Tea”. I was just amused by the banter throughout the process.

I recommend others to make the Chai concentrate- especially if you drink Chai lattes on a regular basis.

Trading Post Temption

Yesterday my wife and I went on a quick date. We went to one of my favorite eateries in Langley- Trading Post. We always do our best to support the small businesses in our community. The only problem was I enjoyed drinking their beers- a lot.

My wife enjoyed a small glass of their cranberry sour, while I enjoyed a bottle of non-alcoholic craft root beer. I had been avoiding this location while I pushed myself into sobriety. I was worried that I would be unable to resist the urge for “just one beer.”

But I did. I’d like to say it was easy. It was in the fact that I was with my wife. Had I been with other friends or coworkers, I may not have had the strength to resist a beer. For the foreseeable future I think I’ll just keep myself out of temptation when out with friends.

Okay, maintaining our core bubble during Covid is helping. So there’s something good coming out of this.

Mushrooming

My wife mentioned how some of her coworkers go out and collect wild mushrooms in autumn. Today was a perfect day for me to explore our yard for such fungi.

I downloaded an app that allows me to take a photo and it would tell me if it was toxic or safe to eat. I downloaded “Picture Mushroom” and it has a free trial for the week, but costs $29 for the year. So why not try it out since this was my first foray into mushrooming. And I don’t think I will be out in much more of the world to search for ‘shrooms, so after this week, I’ll likely delete the app. (If anyone has an app they enjoy using- please let me know).

The afternoon turned into a fun hunt for my wife and I. We gently collected a variety of mushrooms, keeping them separated so that we could cross-check afterwards just in case. We don’t want a sick family because of a lack of knowledge.

Turns out that we had quite the collection of various mushrooms growing on our property that were good for consumption! My wife and our oldest daughter went to work cleaning the funguses and we stored them away in paper bags until tomorrow night’s dinner.

In our front yard, we also happened to find a smattering of toxic mushrooms. The kind that cause hallucinations. We collected them up and told our teens about them and the effects. Ingesting these types of mushrooms is not on our radar at this time. But we removed them from the yard anyways.

Do you go mushroom hunting? Any good recipes to share? Or perhaps any ill effects happened?

Let me know in the comments. (And no, we are not selling the psychedelic ones!)

Crisco

Two weeks ago I mentioned how it was getting close to choosing Music for November. Specifically Christmas music. I’m not going to lie, I’ve snuck in a couple playlists since then. Especially on Saturday when we pulled out the decorations.

I love playing music. Over the past few months I have enjoyed Spotify as it plays on all of my devices.

Last night as I was driving home, I wanted my iPhone to play some Christmas music. Only this time it wasn’t in my car or on my phone. My Spotify account was still connected to our home. So my music was being played for my family and not me.

They got to enjoy some Christmas Disco. Or as my daughter has decided to dub it, CRISCO. Probably my most favorite term this year now. And very fitting considering how much baking we do during the holidays as well.

From here on out, when I’m baking and listening to Christmas music- it’s only Crisco for the whole household!

Halloween 2020

For obvious reasons- this year was a very subdued Halloween. We gave out candy to three groups of children for a grand total of eight kids. Our teenagers went up and down our cul-de-sac to hunt out some candy. Even though we had no real plans- my family still dressed up.

Considering how few homes they stopped at- they end up with a good haul and shared the candy amongst one another. Hooray for sugar!

For the notable costumes- Random did a mash up of Jack Skellington and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. Pretty good make up considering how she did it within a half an hour. Toying around with make up is one of her favorite things to do. Especially if it makes her look spooky.

For my costume- I did a fun take on Vincent Price from back when he showed up on The Muppet Show in the 70’s. Price is such an icon when it comes to classic horror. But I wasn’t sure how to portray him. I think it turned out doggone amazing.

I enjoyed my evening of viewing people’s costumes on Instagram all night. Some were very creative. As well, many people had small children who looked really cute.

How was your Halloween? Were you dressed up? Or did you just pig out on candy?

Festive Food for All Hallow’s Eve

Everyone thinks of pumpkins and candy when it comes to Halloween. And while I enjoy both, it’s also fun to make regular meals with a spooky twist.

Last night I made meatloaf and potatoes. But with a twist.

The meatloaf was a couple of severed hands. I used onions as the finger nails. It didn’t take much longer to make than it would regular meatloaf. I only wish I had sliced mozzarella to put on top as a “skin”.

As a side dish I made “shrunk head” baked potatoes. Again, really easy and didn’t take too much longer to create. But the final result was a fun dinner that was outstandingly flavorful.

Do you have any Halloween dinners? Perhaps cute mummy hot dogs? or ghostly concoctions.

Let me know in the comments.