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.

Carving Pumpkins 2020

This year I bought some pumpkins for carving. My two daughters and I try and push the limits on our skills as well. Both of them are getting much better at pumpkin carving all thanks to my advice and assistance.

Although I will say, our oldest is getting to a point of almost surprising my skills. Take a look at the detail in her “Audrey 2” carving.

The leaves and the lips have definition and realism added! This took her about five hours to complete. I am truly impressed.

Our other daughter has been at her carving for hours. She even took a break and started working on it again today. She still isn’t finished, but I have faith in her. She’ll get her meme completed by Halloween!

I did one of my favorite fandoms- “Firefly”. In my carving, I love the way the light shines through the title. My spaceship isn’t quite as detailed as my daughter’s pumpkin. It still took my nearly four hours to complete. Of course, immediately after I took my photos of the pumpkin lit up, I dropped it and it broke in half.

I was a bit upset. But not angry. Pumpkins get thrown away after as it is. So for me, the carving is the therapeutic exercise that I enjoy. I’m glad I got the pictures at least.

How are your pumpkins looking this year? Ever have a failure like I did after hours of hard work?

Let me know in the comments.

Victoria: Day 3- Walking

We started our final day in Victoria by walking around Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There were the typical shops filled with cheap knickknacks. It was most fun to just squeeze down the narrow alleyways and admire the brickwork of the buildings.

We tooled around the tourist part of downtown Victoria and stopped in at a bookstore followed by a macaron shoppe. Both places were greeted by our kids with enthusiasm.

On our drive back to the ferry terminal- we stopped at The Butchart Gardens. I always wanted to visit this place, but never made the time to do so. Unfortunately, because it is autumn- the garden was rather lackluster. I’m sure it is far more vibrant and lovely in the spring and summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

I did enjoy walking through the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. The time of year was good for the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Perhaps one day I shall see it in the spring time. But it has taken me until ages 44 to go my first time, so there may not be a second time. Especially since there is so much more of the world to explore.

At the end of the day we got lucky and made it on a ferry an hour earlier than planned. All of our walking had made us very tired, so that hour made all the difference in our trip. I do look forward to visiting Victoria once again some day. I have always enjoyed traveling there.

Victoria: Day 2- Impressed by the Empress

On Sunday we booked High Tea at The Empress in Victoria for the family. Over the decades of traveling to Victoria- I’ve always wanted to see the inside of The Empress. My wife and I wanted to make this trip to Victoria special for our daughters. Our sixteen year old had never been here, and our eighteen year old needed a way to celebrate her high school graduation.

Walking into The Empress is overwhelming and intimidating. Every bit about it was elegant. From the piano player to the china with which our tea was served- posh is the word that comes to mind.

We did our part by dressing in our Sunday Best. The kids behaved in their best possible manners as well. We got some great photos with beautiful smiles.

My wife and I chose a Rose tea that was a favorite of Princess Diana. Our children each chose a flavour that matched their palette. The food which was served was decadent and delectable. We were presented with fabulous tea sandwiches and desserts.

This trip was probably the most extravagant experience we have ever shared as a family. From staying in the penthouse suite to experiencing a high tea- this weekend getaway was a one of a kind local journey.

Moments like these matter most to us. My wife and I hope that our children will talk about this in years to come.

Victoria: Day One

We arrived in Victoria, BC at 9:55 Saturday morning. We were all extremely hungry, so we lined up at Jam Cafe and waited an hour to get in for some of the most amazing brunch meals ever. Seriously, I had an eggs Benedict on top of deep fried chicken- my belly was in love. My espresso was perfect and well needed to get me through the day.

Afterwards we headed for a walk towards the Royal BC Museum. We took a couple of tourist photos along the way including in front of the parliament building and The Empress hotel. We also had some fun with our photos.

After a three hour wander through the museum, we headed to our hotel- Victoria Regent Hotel, turns out we got upgraded to a penthouse suite on the top floor! The kids love it. We watched the sun set over the harbour and caught a sea plane landing from overhead.

As night fell, we enjoyed the views of the lights and my daughter and I decided to head out for an evening on the town and took some more tourist pictures. Lots of walking had us passing out early and ready for another day of adventure.

Home Made KFC

I love my deep fryer. My wife is trying to convince me to get an air fryer in order to eat healthier. But I am proving to her that I am a deep fry king! In fact, as lunch was cooking she mentioned how wonderful it smelled in the kitchen.

Today is deep fried drumsticks for a late afternoon lunch. I modified a KFC recipe I found online and added some herbs from our garden into the flour mix. I’m also going to get some French fries down for more salty goodness!

My favorite part about deep frying is the old oil adds flavors to the foods that come afterwards. That is why when I change the oil- I start with donuts and churros. No one wants onion ring flavored desserts. But onion ring flavor mixing with popcorn shrimp is completely acceptable.

I’m about three more meals like this away from clogging my arteries. But life is for living- so I shall enjoy these moments of unhealthy choices until I decide that I need to be better with my heart.

And get an air fryer.

Audrey 3

I love musicals. I have shared my love of them with my family. In turn, they have grown to love them as well.

One of my favorite musical films is “Little Shop Of Horrors”. A great comedic cast that pulls it together in such a way that I couldn’t imagine anyone else performing the songs.

Over the summer, our middle child and I would play the soundtrack on Spotify repeatedly. I think we have memorized each and every song. Much to the chagrin of my wife… but it’s still fun.

Back in the spring, I planted a red cabbage in our back garden. Our oldest named it “Audrey 3”. It thrived nicely with the other vegetables. I harvested it this afternoon for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by how big it had actually grown.

About half of Audrey 3 will be enjoyed tonight with our apple and Brie pork loin. Otherwise, that’d be too much cabbage! And the results would be far scarier than a lean green mother from outta space.

Recipe Or Story?

Last night I was looking for a food recipe online. Every single time I clicked on a link, there was a ten page story prior to the recipe being shared. This seems to be the norm when people share recipes it seems.

Not only do I have to read a story about how delicious the homemade spaghetti on a cold winter’s Fourth of July at the cabin was, but I have to endure the pop up ads that take over half the of my phone’s screen. The same ad shows up repeatedly as I scroll endlessly to find the actual recipe.

After three hours of swiping down to the “20 Minute recipe” there still isn’t a list of ingredients. Just a shortened version with the back stories of how a specialty frying pan is made in Singapore or how to tell a tomato is ripened. The directions are smattered amongst these tales making it impossible to tell if this is still the back story.

Then I find the ingredients at the bottom of the page. A list of the basics, like salt and pepper, followed by whatever food corporation is sponsoring that blog. Why in the world do I need Hellman’s mayonnaise in my taco? Or some really obscure ingredient that makes no sense having in the recipe. Then you take the liver from the koala bear and sauté it in the sap from a gum tree of South Africa. Just like grandma used to make.

Once I substitute a few ingredients, I have to scroll back up to find the directions. The same ones that now have new pop up ads for Tylenol, because the website knows what a headache it was to deal with.

I know I wrote a recipe back in July, about Blueberry Flan. But my story was a single paragraph. Followed by a quick recipe. This is probably why I’ll never write food blogs. Besides, everything would be wrapped in bacon.

Unplanned Meal Additions

I’ve already finished day two of my four day weekend. Most of my time has been spent driving around for the kids. The other majority has been playing with my 3D printer and the props I’ve been making.

During all of this, I have been finding the time to make some decent dinners. My wife and I have been doing our best to get back into meal planning now that there is a set schedule for school. It sounds easy, but it really isn’t. My days off means I am the master chef.

I’m pretty bad at including vegetables in the meals. I usually just plan the meat portion and a side of potatoes, rice or pasta. This week I was behaving myself and adding in more vegetables. Last night was roasted cabbage and carrots. Tonight was pesto and tomato chicken.

For whatever reason, I never think of what vegetables to add. Perhaps one day I’ll get better at at. Until then, it’s roast beef and potatoes for Friday nights dinner!

Dinner Bundt Bread

Last night I decided to experiment with incorporating fresh baked bread with dinner. I came up with a dish worthy of being repeated, with a few tweaks.

I made a French bread dough recipe from scratch. After letting the dough rise, I took 2/3 of it and rolled it out as flat as I could so that it would fit nicely in a greased bundt pan.

I then put a thin layer of homemade pesto, sprinkling of feta cheese, added some cooked and seasoned ground beef, poured on some tomato sauce, finished with a layer of grated marble cheese. Then I folded over the balance of the dough and sealed the edges.

I baked it in the oven at 375° for 25 minutes. It came out golden and crisp. The flavors melted together beautifully. My only complaint was that the beef was crumbly. When I make it next time, I may need to add some bonding agent such as eggs or more cheese. It will change the taste once a bit, but not enough to make it drastic.

I chose to make this because I want to get into baking breads. Plus we rarely use our bundt pan. It seemed like a good combination for a dinner plan.

What do you make in your bundt pan?

Do you make fresh bread from scratch?

Farm Fresh Country Living

Our one acre of privacy is surrounded by larger acreages. Some have horses, many are hobby farms. Personally I don’t want any other animals to take care of as our dog is the hardest one to look after lately. He’s getting old and it makes me sad. But I want to talk about our neighborhood instead of our puppers.

Wandering around our neighborhood there are a few little stands set up. One is from a couple little kids. They are selling a variety of zucchini and squash. It’s really cute that they are trying to be entrepreneurs. Pretty sure they got “backing” from mom and dad. As in harvesting their vegetables.

The other type of stands that are around are for “Free Range Eggs”. We have a couple of these in our neighborhood. I have not purchased from them. My wife has in the past and was not thrilled with the color of the yolks. I won’t go into detail, but store bought eggs are more reliable in her opinion.

There is also an herb stand around the corner as well as a few small businesses. Such as a Christmas tree farm, a turkey farm, and a few vegetable greenhouses. Having these nearby is unique and pleasing. I do enjoy the freshness of the vegetables as well as the luxury of having these places nearby.

Are you more city or country? Perhaps you love the suburbs.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

S N O H

S N O H. Say those letters quickly a few times.

A SANDWICH

I love making sandwiches. I mentioned how much we love Bread yesterday. Making sandwiches is the best part of eating bread. Like most people, I also do the following when making sandwiches:

I leave my knife on the edge of the sink while I go and eat my meal. You know, just in case I want to make another sandwich. Because clearly, I know that my sandwich is a work of art that I may want to duplicate and enjoy a second time. Although, it is rare for me to make a second sandwich for myself.

My children also do this. But they leave the knife there until someone else puts it in the dishwasher. That’s a tad bit frustrating.

Are you guilty of leaving a knife on the edge of the sink? Don’t lie. I know most of you are.

Bread

Bread is a big part of my daily diet. Toast, burgers or sandwiches- it’s a regular occurrence in my life. We go through bread products so much in our home that we rarely bother to make it fresh. It’s so much easier to just buy a few loaves each week and leave them in the cupboard.

Or on the counter apparently.

But the biggest issue I have is how to wrap or seal the bread bag once it’s opened. Our family has not come up with one style. Nor have I been able to find the culprit behind leaving the bag OPEN!

Unfortunately I taught my children how to flick snapped bread tags. So usually the tags are removed and found on the floor throughout the kitchen. Bad parenting decision from years ago. Do not teach your children this trick. Trust me. Your bread will stay fresher longer if those tags go back on.

How do you close your bread? Have you ever flicked bread tags? Let me know in the comment section.

Ice Cream Man

Yesterday as I was leaving for work, the familiar childhood tune of “Turkey In The Straw” was echoing through our neighborhood. Living in a very spread out neighborhood filled with acreage- it can be heard for blocks. It is also rare for the ice cream truck to come by. This happens maybe two or three times in the summer.

A few minutes later I was in my car driving. At the stop sign, I saw the ice cream truck stopped in front of my neighbors. A mother and her kid were walking away, and then a boy was walking up with another boy beside him. This other boy was my son.

So I pulled over and walked up to them. My son looked guilty as if I had just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. As I walked up, the other boy’s father also walked up. He told me that Theory is a really great kid and that the ice cream was their treat. Which was mighty neighbourly of them.


Besides going to see what my son was up to, I knew who the ice cream man was. No, it wasn’t Freddy Krueger…

Back when I finished high school, I would work four afternoons a week as a gas station cashier. An older fella worked the graveyard shift. This was Nelson. I would see him at turnover and we didn’t have much in common since he was twice my age at the time. We were both let go when the gas station changed ownership. I went off to eventually work at a variety of jobs. Where as Nelson went to be an ice cream truck driver. The year was 1996.

We spoke briefly, mostly exchanging pleasantries and a bit of idle chitchat. I felt bad for this 61 year old guy driving a truck with faded paint and signage. So I ended up buying some overpriced frozen treats for the rest of my family in order to support this former coworker. Sure, he looks kinda creepy with his coke bottle glasses and missing teeth. He’s also been delivering ice cream for ages, listening to the same tinkling of bells, and dealing with children; he must have lost some marbles along the way. I swear it’s the same truck I saw him driving when he first started the gig.

If you stop at an ice cream truck in Langley and see the old guy with greasy black hair and 1980’s glasses, rummaging through his old Viking freezer for the $4.00 bar your kid so desperately wants- make sure you say “Thank you Nelson”.

His smile will be genuine because he really does love his job.

Summer Cooking

It’s so hot these days that it is difficult to want to cook dinner. Making the kitchen extra hot using the stove or oven is unbearable. Even getting out at the grill is tough. The heat and humidity makes for a challenging cookout.

The other day, my son was grilling over the open flames. Even I didn’t want to hang out by the fire as it was a sweaty evening already. But he did pretty well at his first attempt at open flame cooking. I stayed in the kitchen to make some guacamole stuffed potato skins as a side dish. Those were equally as tasty!

But we needed to eat quickly while it was still hot out. It has become apparent that once it begins to cool off outside- the ‘Skeeters come out. Nothing like getting eaten alive while eating.

Sitting outside is generally pretty nice. We eat on the back deck at least 9 months out of the year. Getting through these excessive hot spells and mosquitoes is the only complaint I have about summer. That, and I hate Sweating.

Hot Dog!

I’m a sucker for hot dogs. Especially a Costco Hot Dog! A buck and a half for a beef wiener and a soda? Hell yeah!

I swear that no matter what Costco you go to, their hot dogs always taste the same. We’ve done road trips up and down the west coast of British Columbia, the United States, and into Alberta- stopping for a Costco hot dog is a must. The price is a reliable $1.50. Ever since the mid 1980’s!

Costco Hot Dog with mustard- it’s my dinner tonight since it’s too hot to make a meal at home.

Blueberry Flan

My father used to make a flan once, maybe twice a year. Either filled with canned peaches or fresh blueberries. Today I made his recipe with 3 cups of fresh washed blueberries. I think it turned out quite well. Here’s how I made it:

Recipe from my father.

1 pkg yeast (I used 17.5grams of fresh yeast today) mixed with 1tbsp sugar

2/3 cup milk 1/3 cup warm water

Mix together to activate yeast


3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

Mix everything together and set aside to rise. Do not be surprised- this is a sticky dough. Approx 30 minutes to have it double in size. (Make sure it is covered with a slightly damp tea towel.)


Preheat oven to 350°. Once dough is risen, roll it out on a floured surface and place in a greased cookie sheet. Push into the edges and leave 1/2 inch or less of space.

Spread 3-4 cups of fresh blueberries, peaches, or what ever fruit you want. A thin layer is all you need since the juices from the fruit will spread out as it bakes.

Make the crumble topping with 2 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp sugar and 4 tbsp flour. I enjoyed using our pastry blender for this. After the topping was spread out, I sprinkled extra sugar because I like it sweet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Boom- Flan!!!

Oh look, a blog post with a story followed by a recipe. Not my usual style, but I enjoyed making it. I’m hoping the family enjoys eating it as I haven’t made this in ages. So long ago that my kids don’t remember ever having it.

Cheerio To Eating Breakfast Cereal

Yesterday morning I decided that a great way to start my day would be eating a big bowl of Cheerios in milk. In all my years of eating breakfast and growing big and strong, I knew that in order to really enjoy a bowl of Cheerios I had to be the first to eat a bowl from the new box.

I also knew that once I opened a fresh box and poured out the cereal- I’d have to act quickly in order to enjoy these little, round, mini oat donuts. The spoon needed to be at the ready inside the bowl, underneath it’s first scoop. The bowl of cereal had to be on my dining table waiting patiently. And only then, would the milk be added.

Then I shovel those crunchy, (what I assume is sawdust and glue infused) oat circles into my mouth as quick as possible. Like an Olympic swimmer, you have to plan your breathing and time it between scoops. I eat my Cheerios so fast that the milk barely has time to penetrate their inner circles.

Within seconds, the bowl is filled with nothing but a milky desert sand coloured liquid. No more bites. Now to drink!

Do you tilt the bowl and continue on the animalistic path of slobbery? Or do you elegantly utilize your spoon and savor the new milk?

If you chose “tilt the bowl” you are my kind of cereal connoisseur. Like a kid rushing to be ready for school- one needs to get this meal in the body as fast as possible. No one likes soggy cereal and thick milk.

I’m older now. And after yesterday’s breakfast- much wiser. It turns out my adult body doesn’t like milk the same way as it once did. Turns out that scarfing down a bowl of oat cereal can upset my tummy tumtum. What I once enjoyed in the bowl- now upsets my bowel.

I can safely say that I am ready to move on. I shall no longer eat bowls of cereal with milk. Even if it’s the first bowl of freshly opened cereal. The best bowl.

Who needs an enema when you can have a big hearty bowl of Cheerios to clean you out… And clear out a room.

Grad Dinner..?

Our oldest Graduated three weeks ago from Grade 12. Besides the ceremonies being cancelled, so was the Grad Dinner. My wife and I have been trying to get our daughter out for a special dinner since then, with no luck. Our oldest originally wanted a special meal like the one my wife and I did Last Year at the Bacchus French Restaurant. But it hasn’t opened yet because of restrictions.

Today, we finally went out for a meal. Our oldest also wanted her siblings along, so we ended up at Ramen Bella in Langley. Where we each got a large bowl of ramen, and our daughter got herself a Poké Bowl.

It was a good treat for everyone and also very filling. I’m glad our oldest picked a place that the family could enjoy, even though my wife and I were trying to offer her something special just for her. It seems as though our daughter is still very family oriented and loves sharing experiences with her brother and sister.

To me, that shows she is growing up into a wonderful young lady. Each day I am becoming more and more proud of her.

Fresh And Fruity

We have so much fresh fruit in our yard! I love it.

In the very back of our yard, there is salmonberries. Which just so happen to be ready for consumption! We also have a bunch of huckleberry bushes throughout the yard. Once they are ready, the kids load up on them.

This year, I discovered our cherry trees are producing fruit. It’s been a couple of years since they did. I’m looking forward to enjoying them. Our pear tree is also producing an abundance of fruit which should be ready in a few weeks.

We had a plum tree- but it ended up being diseased and had to get cut down. Those plums were juicy! As well, we used to have an apple tree, but alas it fell over one year in a storm. I have since planted a new apple tree a couple years ago- this time with four different types of apples infused into the branches. Currently I only get an apple on each branch, but one day- variety!

Do you have fruit trees or bushes that you grow? Summer is the best for walking the garden and eating right if the limb.

Upcycle To A Greenhouse

Last year when I Built a set of doors, I had removed the old sliding glass door and set it aside. It was pretty massive, with each panel being four feet wide. Today I finally began to do something about them. I made a mini greenhouse.

I had my son as a helper once more as we measured out some boards for the frame. I figured we could make a TARDIS shaped greenhouse. Just the right size to get some of the plants started.

These boards came from our old deck that was in front of the old sliding glass door. We ripped that deck out in 2014. Many of these board have been used for projects such as an Axe Throwing Target. I kept the long ones just in case. Today they became the frame of the mini greenhouse. I also added an old busted sliding window for the roof. That way it can be opened to allow airflow.

All that’s left is adding a door and maybe some painting of the boards. If I can find a small can of blue paint- you know I’ll be making a TARDIS door! It’s fun being a Whovian. Pretty sure my wife will be okay with that idea.

I think she will also appreciate this Great Glass Elevator in our garden.