Berry Good

Living in the countryside means fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. There’s a place I stop at throughout the summer that has cheap hothouse peppers in red, orange and yellow that are extremely tasty. I love to sauté them on the bbq with a bit of garlic or red onions.

We are also close by to not just one, but two berry farms. I love eating Fresh Berries in the summer. It means that I’ll be making more waffles, smoothies, putting berries in my sparkling wine, toppings for yogurt and ice cream or just eating them straight out of the bowl. Juicy, healthy treats.

Today I stopped by both berry farms. Mainly I wanted to see the difference in quality and price. Krause is all flash with a winery and food available. While Driediger is mainly just berries. Both have U-Pick available which is nice for a morning out with the family. Honestly, even though most people love Krause for its high end look, Driediger has better quality berries that are sweeter and lower in price as well. I do enjoy Krause for a bike ride to sample wine with fruit.

Whichever you choose to hit up, just remember that you’re supporting a local business. Which always adds sweet karma to your meals.

Death Of Our Maker

Yesterday one of the worst things that could’ve happened, happened. It was so sudden that it surprised my wife and I. We were quite distraught to say the least.

Our coffee maker stopped working after five years of daily use. Every morning a full pot of coffee awaited us. Like a friendly greeting by a neighbor that made you smile. A hot cup of coffee was the best way to start our day. (Or end my night shift.) Our reliance on this machine was substantial. Even our children had begun to benefit from the joy a cup o’ java brought them.

As a quick substitute for this morning’s drinks, I pulled out our French Press that we take camping. It makes a great cup of coffee but requires more effort and I can’t set it the night before. The convenience of “Set it and forget it” was gone today. A tear ran down my cheek as I pressed the knob down on my fresh pressed coffee.

As our former coffee maker barely has a chance to hit the recycling bin, I am already on the hunt for it’s replacement. Tomorrow we shall bring home a new maker all set for our weekend wake ups. I don’t have the patience to wait for an Amazon delivery of this magnitude. Perhaps it’s time to up our coffee game with an espresso maker for only $3300… Naw. I’ll stick with the same brand and almost identical coffee maker we once had for $60. Our Oster lasted a long time and the value is there.

Breakfast of Champions

On my days off, I love to make a big breakfast. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, waffles, pancakes, sausages, etc… My family loves it as well. In fact, my eggs seem to be just as happy.

Scrambled eggs are one of my favorite breakfasts to make. First I cut up a couple of slices of bacon into small bits. Then I fry them up in my Cast iron pan. While that’s cooking- whisk up two eggs per person with a bit of milk. Once the bacon is cooked- gently add the eggs. I leave the grease from the bacon in the pan to help prevent the eggs from sticking. After a couple of minutes, I carefully slide my spatula across the pan making sure the egg mixture gets evenly cooked.

Did I mention that I preheat my oven to 225°? I do this so as to warm the plates and bowls for breakfast. Once the scrambled eggs have been flipped and there’s no more liquid left, I begin to remove them into a serving bowl. I put a small layer of eggs then shred some cheddar cheese on top. Layer, repeat; layer, repeat. Then into the oven to melt the cheese.

Big breakfasts are the best. Oftentimes we make it a brunch because I enjoy sleeping in on my days off. What’s your go-to big breakfast? Let me know in the comments.

Little Donkey

There’s a small food restaurant in Fort Langley that we enjoy eating at. So much so that our teens get excited about the prospect of having a meal there. Our kids ask quite often about going. Obviously this means the food is outstanding.

We go to a place called “Little Donkey” located just up the road from The Fort. The prices are reasonable and the burritos are huge. And tasty beyond description.

Feeding a family of five is expensive. Finding a place they can relax at and enjoy is challenging as it is. Finding delicious burritos is equally as tough. I’ve taken a few coworkers here as well now, and they’ve been impressed. So if you find yourself in Fort Langley looking for a delectable meal- check out their burritos.

You won’t be upset.

I love to promote small biz. I don’t get any “kick backs” from my blogs. I just love sharing quality service and products in hopes that those who follow me get the most out of life.

Peanut Butter

The number one food staple in our home is peanut butter. We always have a jar of it in the cupboard. It’s the “Go To” breakfast and snack food choice. It’s great on apple slices or crackers. But mostly it goes on toast.

I put a lot of peanut butter on my bread. So much so that it usually oozing over the edges. I love peanut butter. But it has to be the super cheap stuff- not the stuff that’s organic or fresh tasting.

I want the kind of PB that will last forever in the cupboard. I want the type of peanut butter that doesn’t require refrigeration and stirring before usage. The sort of peanut butter that you can take to work and eat by the spoonful because you’re too lazy to pack a real lunch. The kind that is so smooth you’re not sure if it’s even made from peanuts.

That’s my kind of food product.

The Fixin’s

Our friends invited us out for dinner a while back. A dinner that I won’t ever forget. Chili. But chili with “The Fixin’s

As if homemade chili wasn’t good enough, our friend took it to the next level. Now when I make chili at home it has to come with more than just a dinner roll.

Slower cooker chili is pretty basic to make. Brown some beef, add some tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, peppers, onions, and of course spices; then let it simmer.

The Fixin’s:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Chives
  • Corn Chips

It’s that easy. And that amazing. So much so that my family goes for seconds almost immediately.

Chewbacca Cake

For my son’s birthday, I baked him a chocolate cake. Unfortunately I couldn’t find our round cake pans, so I made a bundt cake instead. When I was growing up, this was oftentimes the style of homemade cake I would receive for a birthday. There was never anything fancy about those cakes- just the fact that my father took the time to bake them himself.

So my son ended up with a chocolate bundt cake this year. Kinda plain looking- but I did have some milk chocolate icing in the cupboard to put on top. At least then it’ll feel like a birthday cake. Sugary sweet!

Once I finished the crumb coat, I realized that smoothing out the surface would look okay-ish. So instead I tapped the spatula on as I added more icing. The cake began to look kind of like fur. Since my son enjoys Star Wars as much as I do- I figured why not make this into a Wookiee inspired cake. But how? Off to the pantry again.

I found some leftover mini marshmallows and some baking chocolate we had since Christmas. Chocolate and marshmallows don’t go bad, right? I heated up a small pot of water and melted the chocolate in a glass bowl. This was easy since the bowl fit perfectly on the mouth of the pot. I was able to stir the chocolate constantly and keep the moisture out with ease. Once it was a silky smooth mixture it was time to pour it out into a straight line.

We own a long serving platter that I figured would be perfect. But the chocolate would end up not being a thin strip like I wanted. So I taped down a couple of chopsticks and lined my newly made rectangle with tinfoil. Pouring out the chocolate and placed the mini marshmallows along the edges was the perfect way to make Chewbacca’s bandolier. Into the freezer for about ten minutes and it was set.

Not bad for a quick Star Wars themed cake. Chewy would be proud. I know I am. Bonus- my kids loved it too. But hey, it’s chocolate. All kids love chocolate.

Fancy Feasts

My wife and I have enjoyed a lovely overnight excursion into the city of Vancouver. We were celebrating the Anniversary of of first meeting 19 years ago. Besides just enjoying a spa escape and a wonderful hotel experience at The Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, we indulged in some extravagant meals.

First we enjoyed a lovely tea at the spa prior to our treatment. Then we enjoyed a glass of wine back in our hotel room. The afternoon was starting off delightfully.

Before dinner we walked around Vancouver and found a wine sampling at Sutton Place Wine Merchant. My wife and I tasted a few varieties from West Kelowna from a winery called Kalala. We picked up a bottle of white wine for our night back in the hotel room.

We headed back to our hotel afterwards because we had a dinner reservation for 6:30pm at the Bacchus French Restaurant. They seated us in a quiet booth and we were given complimentary sparkling wine for our anniversary. We don’t normally indulge in fine dining, in fact this was really our first time ever. The waiter placing the napkins on our laps kind of fine dining. As much as we felt a bit out of place, the staff was friendly and courteous throughout the experience.

Our meal began with Amuse Bouche followed by a half dozen Creuse Oysters. The main course for myself was Yarrow Meadows Duck Breast with Duck Sausage Terrine served with Pomme Dauphine, Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Leek Fondue.

My wife enjoyed Beef Tenderloin “cooked to her perfection” served with sweet bread and broccoli purée. She asked for blue rare and that is exactly what she received.

Dessert was a couple of soft biscottis and a fruit gelatin. The dinner was delightful in every way possible. we decided to walk around Vancouver some more before retiring to our room.

We stumbled upon a gala event at the Nordstrom’s department store where my wife and I enjoyed some more complimentary drinks and she got her hair done. It was a fun last minute experience that cost us nothing but time.

We returned to the hotel afterwards to find a couple of gourmet cookies awaiting us. We were also treated to complimentary chocolate covered strawberries. We shared a bottle of wine and relaxed, feeling like the upper crust.

We didn’t think we could attend the Bacchus Restaurant again for breakfast. So we had it delivered to our room. The sun was shining as we enjoyed a meal overlooking Robson Square. A great way to end some distinguished culinary experiences.

We may do this type of night away again in the future when we need it. For now, the memory and relaxation was worth the time and money to get away from our regular lives. Vancouver City is a beautiful place to visit- now back to our country living where we can just take it slow.

Chicken And Rice Done Right

Some days you just have no idea what to do for dinner. what do you do?

The fridge door opens. Leftover rice. Ok. Seems like a good side dish. Open the freezer. A package of frozen spinach and chicken breasts. Now we’re getting somewhere. Why not combine all of these?

Josef- you are a genius.

After the thawing was done, the chicken was cubed and fried up. Throw on some spices during the cooking- because- spice up your life! Aromatic. Next step? Toss the rice into a cast iron pot. Because Cast Iron cookware is AMAZING! From the stovetop to the oven or open flame- cast iron kicks ass.

But I digress, the fridge rice needed to get mixed with the thawed spinach. Old rice needs a pick-me-up otherwise it stays crunchy. Why not add some water? Still missing something. A-Ha moment ensues!

In the pantry is that fantastic staple for last minute dinner plans- a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup! It adds exactly what you need to fill out a meal like chicken and rice. As I said- using cast iron is the best. A quick mix of all the ingredients and toss in the oven to heat it up. Let’s try 350° for 30 minutes covered. Seems reasonable.

Boom! Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Dinner was delicious. Everyone was happy. *pats self on back* Great last minute plan.

Pub Night Fundraising

Last night my wife and I attended a Pub Night Fundraiser. The fundraiser was for the Grade Seven Camping trip coming up in June. This is probably the third Pub Night we’ve ever attended with the last one being back in October of 2016. This time it was for our son and his classmates. We had to make this one.

The tickets included a beer, burger and fries. I wasn’t expecting much because of previous experiences at Pub Nights in other locations. But I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived. I forgot how good the food was at Jimy Mac’s.

Image: Jimy Mac’s Facebook

Jimy Mac’s is a well established sports pub. It’s been around since I can remember. My first job when I was sixteen was across the street from them back in 1992. When I turned legal drinking age, it was only one of two locations nearby my home to go to. However, I don’t think I’ve been inside the pub for about fifteen years.

The Pub Night was fantastic. Our fundraiser section was packed. The burger was delicious- you could tell that the pub has done these fundraisers before. The service was outstanding by the wait staff. They were very attentive to the needs of our group. Not only was the pub well organized, but the volunteers of the event had set up a 50/50 draw, twoonie toss, and prize giveaways. All proceeds going towards the camping trip.

My wife and found a spot at a long table and were joined by some parents we knew and some we hadn’t met before. We had such great conversations that I completely forgot to take out my phone to snap some images. That is a sign of a good time.

Fundraising isn’t always fun or easy. But the event last night proved to be successful. I want to offer a big thanks to Jimy Mac’s Pub and the fundraising volunteers for creating such a wonderful night.