Ramen Bella

Today I took my daughters out for lunch. We stopped in at a local eatery that opened up late last year- Ramen Bella. We have been to a variety of Ramen restaurants in Seattle, Calgary and even Tokyo. Finally having a Ramen Restaurant nearby our home made me happy. So naturally we had to test it out.

They have some unique fusion styles of noodle soup. I enjoyed the Matcha Latte Ramen. Which is exactly as it sounds- and it had a side of lime.

My oldest enjoyed The Black ramen. It had a very dark shoyu tare broth seasoned with garlic flakes.

My other daughter opted for the traditional miso style broth. All of our ramen came with the same style noodles, sliced pork, and corn in the broth. We left satisfied with our meals and full bellies.

Supporting small business is always something I encourage. Trying new restaurants and sharing positive experiences is something else I like to do. If you live in the Fraser Valley- head out to Ramen Bella for a lovely meal.

Fireplace Cooking

The other day I mentioned how we love to use our Fireplace. After discovering a better way to warm our home with it, I wanted to go the next step. Let’s cook!

I’ve also always loved Cooking with Cast Iron. The versatility of the cookware is amazing. I love having the ability to move the cookware to any type of cooking area. Be it stove top, oven, BBQ, or open fire- Cast Iron is fantastic.

Last night I chose to make dinner in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven while using our fireplace. I already had a warm fire going for a couple of hours. I moved the fire and embers to one side of the fireplace and lay a cast iron griddle across the grate on the other side.

I prepared an eye of round roast with a dry rub of salt, pepper and Montreal Steak Spice. I put that into the Dutch oven and let it cook using indirect heat. I kept the fire going on the opposite side in order to keep the heat at a continuous hot temperature. I ended up cooking the roast for approximately 2 hours in order to fully cook it. Once o removed the roast from the fireplace I key it rest prior to carving it.

While I kept the fire going, my wife and daughter worked on the side dish. Roasted Root Vegetables. This included potatoes, garlic, beets, and carrots mixed with olive oil and some rosemary stems. My wife cooked them on a baking sheet at 400° for approximately 40 minutes. The vegetables turned out amazing.

The roast also turned out perfect. Inside of the dutch oven was quite a bit of liquid, so we made a gravy for dinner as well. For a first time using our fireplace to cook with, I’d say dinner was eligible for a repeat occurrence.

Have you ever cooked in a fireplace

Eating Healthier

Over the winter break, there is an over indulgence in eating. Lots of treats and rich foods that show up during that time of year. With a New Year comes all those plans to start eating better and live a healthy lifestyle.

Yesterday my wife went out and splurged on fruits and vegetables. I say “splurged” because it’s winter and many of those foods are greenhouse grown this time of year and cost far more than they do any other time. But it’s back to school time today and the kids need balanced food groups. Some favorites are in our home- such as apples, oranges, and bananas- all for consumption to offset those cookies from last month. My wife even bought a dragonfruit- a family favorite.

I’m not sure how to explain her purchase of “Oreo Flavoured Candy Canes” though. Perhaps a little bit of sugary treats are still desired. I guess she can’t expect us to go über healthy all at once, right?

Brambles Bistro

We are two days into January and my wife and I had our first date of the year. We went for breakfast in Abbotsford at a place called Brambles Bistro at Tanglebank. It was a quiet location with only two other patrons inside.

Besides having great company (my wife!) we enjoyed some local farm fresh meals.

I ordered the Short Rib Skillet: Braised short ribs, au jus, roasted potatoes, smoked cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, apples and two poached eggs. It looked like it wasn’t going to be a very large meal, but by the end I was definitely satisfied and full.

My wife ordered Huevos Rancheros. It contained smoked yams, charred corn and beans, smoked cheddar and two sunny side up eggs. It was served with avocado, pico, lime, and cilantro. A fantastic mix of sweet and spicy.

We savored our breakfasts then wandered around the shop. I could see how this place would be busier in the summer as the bistro is a part of the nursery and garden. I’m surprised that this was our first visit here since the Bistro has been open since 2012 and the Nursery since the mid-nineties.

As I love supporting small businesses, this is another one that I’d recommend to everyone.

Bailey’s Blues

I’m going to start this off by saying, I’m not an alcoholic. Now for some background into that statement.

Yes, I do enjoy having beer, wine and other spirits. I have shared plenty of stories of my journeys to a variety of breweries and distilleries. I also go long periods without a drop. I don’t tend to buy a lot of hard liquor or flavored liqueurs. Most often is around Christmas time to share with family and friends.

I pick up a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream every year. For the past few years it has been coming with a free mug that we have been gifting to our daughter- and she loves them. In fact, she gets upset if anyone else uses one. So her brother and sister know to stay clear of those mugs, as do my wife and I. I look at it as buying a $20 mug and getting a free bottle of Bailey’s.

This year, for whatever reason, my best friend has been gifting me a bottle of Bailey’s every time he comes out. And every time he comes over- the bottle keep getting bigger. We received one in July, one in October and another in December. Plus the one we pick up in order to get the mug- that adds up to a ton of Irish Cream. Basically the large one he brought us last week and the one I picked up are still full.

If I keep adding it to my morning coffee, I’m going to become immune to the effects and start increasing the doses until there’s no more coffee in my mug. How do I ask my friend to stop bringing me such a tasty beverage without sounding ungrateful?

Or rather, how do I convince him that next time he should bring Kahlua?

Rich and Egg-citing Foods

The winter season is all about food. Yesterday I mentioned Leftovers and previously I wrote about Christmas Baking. But there are other rich foods that I love and only enjoy this time of year.

Egg Nog.

The thick, sweet, dairy product that makes me feel bloated with joy. As an adult I have moved on from adding dark rum to this beverage. Now I mix it with Fireball or Gingerbread Rum. It makes my insides feel like I’m getting tipsy on what Christmas should taste like.

Deviled Eggs

Oh my. I could eat a plate of these little creamed yoke treats. But my brain knows that my body would be unhappy afterwards. So one, maybe two, are enjoyed. A simple delicacy that was often found at picnics or potlucks of the 70’s and 80’s. Now they dawn our table at Christmas. Our son made these ones and they turned out delicious- as always.

What rich foods to you over indulge with over Christmas?

Holiday Leftovers

We enjoyed a variety of food over the Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day that we do not need to prepare meals for the next few days.

Half of our fridge is filled with storage containers of a variety of foods. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cheeses, meats, desserts and all of the other sides that went with the meals. If the kids get hungry- they can mix and match the leftovers.

Yesterday and today I’ve been working on a turkey soup as well. Boiling the remainder of meat off the bones. It has created an excellent aroma in our home that adds a coziness to our castle. That’s tomorrow night’s lunch/dinner. Later today we will make what we call “Turkey Slop”. Mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey meat all mixed together in a pot. I cannot wait to enjoy it this evening.

Did you make an abundance of food over the holidays? Do you enjoy leftovers as well? Let me know in the comments what you do with your turkey leftovers.

It’s Christmas Time

Last night our son wanted to help with dinner, so I had him make pretty much all of it. And it turned out delicious. We made schnitzel together. It was the first time he has helped to make it.

It’s the dinner I had every Christmas Eve growing up. I’m not sure why, but schnitzel at Christmas always tastes better than schnitzel any other time. Last night was even tastier because of it being made by our thirteen year old.

Carrying on traditions and engaging our children in them makes me happy. We have many other traditions that we keep up with. But this dinner is my favorite.

What do you have for dinner at Christmas? Have you shared with your children how to prepare and cook meals? Let me know in the comments.

And Merry Christmas to one and all!

Orange You Glad?

When you’re happy- it’s good to share some smiles with the world. On Saturday our daughter decided to mark up our mandarin oranges with some attitude.

I take two of the oranges with me to work each day. To be honest, this actually brightens my days more than I expected. Our daughter shared the picture on her Instagram and her friends loved it as well.

Sometimes a simple gesture or a bit of fun can make people happy. Orange you glad I shared this image today?

More Christmas Cookie Baking

My wife turned me on to a wonderful tradition- baking cookies for Christmas. I bake a variety of cookies throughout December. The problem is that the cookies I baked two weeks ago are all gone. Now it’s time to buckle down and bake more for the winter break.

When my wife and I first met, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on gifts for family and friends. So baking cookies, handmade candles, cards, and ornaments was a good way to show we cared. Crafting and baking was also a fantastic way to get some quality time.

Now, years later, I bake solo for the most part during this time of year. I’ve had the kids help periodically, but our weekends and evenings are filled up with activities. I bake during my days off with some Christmas tunes playing. I have a pleasurable time dancing around the kitchen.

I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. No, it’s not Wookiee Cookies, even though they are top notch! I want to share one of the most basic recipes ever that is from a cookbook from 1979. I received the book in 1980 or 1981 and I’ve made these Peanut Butter cookies ever since. Only once did they turn out awful. That was a mix of the peanut butter I used (don’t use crunchy!) and the fact that I thought making them bigger would make them tastier. I was about 10 years old at the time- bigger should’ve meant better, right?

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup regular sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In large bowl mix shortening and peanut butter. Add both kids of sugar, stir until mixed. Then stir in eggs and vanilla. Mix throughly.
  • In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Then mix all ingredients together.
  • Form dough into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently flatten with a fork to create a “hashtag”.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
  • An optional change I have made is adding a cup of Reese’s peanut butter chips into the mix. The chips don’t melt and really bring out more peanut butter flavor to them.

    Enjoy this recipe! I’m now onto making those Wookiee Cookies and moist ginger snaps. Maybe I’ll share those recipes at a later date.