Today is our youngest’s birthday. He turned 16. It’s a big deal because now he can go and start to learn how to drive. That’s truly exciting!
He also wanted to do something else more grown up- he wanted to make dinner. He asked if I could help him make schnitzel the way I make it. Which is a variation on the recipe my father used to do. Theory’s comfort level with cooking is getting better. Dinner was delicious!
In true teenage fashion, getting a nice photo of him wasn’t happening. So I ended up with a bunch of blurry, hands in the face, head turning photos tonight. But in the end, he wanted to spend time with me. Both watching tv and making dinner. That was more a gift for me I think.
The one gift I’m really happy about that we gave him was a license plate. It was hand painted by a street artist who tags rail cars. His name is also Theory. I reached out to him a while back and paid for a piece in order to gift it to our son. I’m really happy with how perfect the gift was for Theory since he will soon be driving.
So a big shout out to our son on his birthday!
Happy birthday Theory! Who also goes by these names:
We love you buddy. We are so proud of who you are becoming.
Yesterday was National Pretzel day (as well as Alien Day). So naturally pretzels needed to be eaten. Something wonderful about eating fresh made, salty, doughy treats! I do enjoy store bought crunchy pretzels as well. Those go great at parties.
Homemade pretzels and pretzel bites are something else. Check out Terri’s amazing Pretzel Bites Recipe here. Super easy recipes that kids can make. Of course these soft pretzels needed mustard as a side.
Delicious soft pretzels… especially if served hot and fresh… can make you feel so good. I’ll even order some at a pub or Oktoberfest because what besides mustard, what else goes good with a warm pretzel? Beer! I just wish I had one of those last night, but alas no beer was available for me.
Did you enjoy some pretzels yesterday? Or did you watch Alien? Perhaps both like I did?
Las Vegas definitely has a lot to offer. But the one thing that was outstanding was the burgers we ate.
Two days in a row I hit up In-N-Out Burger. I’m not going to lie, they serve up the best fast food burgers in the Western United States. I have never had a bad experience at any of the restaurants. I have blogged numerous times in the past about In-N-Out Burger and how much we love it. (My wife is upset that I went twice on my trip!)
But the best burger I have ever eaten in my life was at Gordon Ramsay Burger. I can’t even… seriously… absolutely delicious! The quality of beef, the spices, the cheeses, the bun- all of it was cooked to perfection. I also had it medium done, which was something I have never had in a burger.
If I didn’t spend $60 USD on a burger and beer, I’d consider going there again. But I do worry that in doing so, I may not love the food as much in the future. It’s the sensation that the memories and the first time experience are most vivid and exciting.
At the end of the day, I’ll always have In-N-Out Burger. They have not disappointed.
My wife and son have taken off to Quebec for a few days. Our son is competing in a speed skating event this Thursday and Friday. So as they are off jet setting to the icy tundra of central Canada- I am at home with our middle child.
It started off not so great. I was at work, and She went off to school. But right at the start of her day- she texted me that she had lost her Compass Card (that’s the bus pass for the Vancouver and Fraser Valley). I had just put $30 on it the other day to make sure she had a way to get to and from school. Needless to say, I had to cancel that card and move the amount to another card. She had to borrow $2 from a friend to get home.
I was certain that this event would make for a crummy start to our week at home together. Luckily, I was wrong.
I came home to a messy kitchen. Darwin decided to make fresh pasta for dinner! She was hoping to be done and cleaned up before I got home. I am so happy that she didn’t let the little set back affect her attitude today. Now I’m cleaning the kitchen and we are getting ready to have a nice dinner together.
I’m going to cut my blog short so we can hang out. I do hope we have more ups than downs this week!
This weekend there is a Food Truck Wars going on just up the road from our home. My wife and I took our middle child and wandered around. There was so much food! Plus it was busy. Feels as though we are getting back to a sense of normalcy in the world.
We hit up four of the trucks in order to sample some of the goodies. By far the Greek Honey Balls were the favorite of ours. But all of it was delicious. We spent a little over an hour there wandering around trying to figure out what to eat. The lineups were huge, but well worth the time spent!
I haven’t had much in the way of food truck foods. In fact I can count it on one hand how many times I’ve eaten street food prior to today. All of these vendors are good at what they make. I do enjoy supporting small businesses as well.
If you’re looking for a chance to get out and enjoy the sun- hit up a food truck or two!
Today was a day of shopping and just having fun. My fun consisted of the following:
Finished shopping at Costco, so I sat in a prime spot and ate my hotdog. Numerous people wanted my spot, but I just sat there eating. Now don’t go thinking I’m a jerk. First of all- there is no seating at Costco, and who wants to drive home and eat a cold hotdog? Secondly, I built some karma points to offset this by helping and older lady lift some heavy items into her trunk. I was also being kind to drivers on the road and allowing merging from store driveways. So there’s that.
For the afternoon, it’s time for some European treats. My favorite drink combo: IRN-BRU and vodka will bring forth some memories and fun. The chocolate Flake bars will also necessitate a sugar high.
My wife and I have been at odds over how to keep the pantry organized. I put things in the way I like it, and she re-arranges it to how she likes it. In the end, I have to concede and like it the way she likes it.
My way of organizing was so that I could see the stuff I wanted to mostly use at eye level… for my height. My wife wants things to be at “normal” eye level. It’s not my fault that genetics made me over two meters tall at six foot eight inches. Currently in our household I am still the tallest.
My wife and I have often made meals together. I guess now, she’s the one who has to get the items from “eye level” and I get the things from the upper shelves. Most of the stuff is at her height because that how she likes it.
I will say I do like the organization of items. I guess that’s a popular thing to do these days- take stuff out of packages and put it into new containers. In the end, if my wife is happy, then I’ll be content with the organizational style.
As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.
We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.
All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.
Last night my wife took me out to a fancy dinner at the hotel we were staying at. We went a bit early to enjoy the lounge because there was live music being played.
We sat across from the piano player. He mentioned that he was taking requests. So I asked for “Easy” by Commodores. He played it immediately and my wife and I grooved to the song. When we were being seated for dinner, the maitre’d asked if we still wanted to be seated near the piano. So we did.
We had a beautiful dinner together. I requested a couple more songs, and the pianist obliged. He played “Memories” by Dean Martin (the piano player said he will add this to his repertoire after) and “Your Song” by Elton John. Our dinner was elegant and by far the best meal I have had this year.
I enjoyed my birthday dinner tremendously. The company was exactly what I wanted and the entertainment was on point.
All my life I have been very conscious of my spending. I’m not always good as saving money, but I do my best. Shopping is a lot of what’s on sale and price matching.
If I choose to eat fast food, which is maybe twice a month, I will order from the value menu or use coupons. Last night I order some McDonald’s using the app. And I saved big time. (No, I am not sponsored by the Golden Arches, nor do I really consider it a healthy food choice.)
My total should have been $10.58 plus tax. Instead I paid $1.05 after taxes for my order. That’s because the app gave me a coupon for a $1 burger which I used. But because I generally use the app to order food (I find the accuracy of my order has increased) I am now gaining “Points”. So I used some points and got a free large fries. I felt really proud of myself for such a good deal.
However it got me thinking… since it was so cheap does that mean I can get an extra day of fast food this month? The other question that arises is, what is the dollar amount that would constitute a “meal” because clearly spending one dollar isn’t it in my mind.
For now, as I try and sleep after a night shift, I’ll just let the stomach pains tell me it was a bad idea- and that twice a month for junk fast food is more than enough- no matter the cost.
This morning was a hustle and bustle kind of day. Kids to school, get gas, hit Costco, grocery store and Home Depot… rush home to unload and then off to a different Home Depot to buy what I wanted. Kind of frustrating trying to get a patio set these days it seems. But I was successful in acquiring it!
What was great was the sales associate at Home Depot was happy to help me load up my car- it meant they didn’t need to find a place to store the set as it was on a palette and in the shipping area. Once at my vehicle- two more employees came to help load it up. Which was awesome! I strapped everything down and drove home.
I got home and my wife came to meet me in the driveway. I was taking the straps off and we took the table off the roof rack. The remaining benches and chairs were in my vehicle and very heavy! my wife made a comment that I should wait until I could get friends over to help move the set. At this point, some random jogger stopped and offer help to move it from my vehicle to the garage. Awesome! Totally appreciated it. Then he ran off.
Because of all my running around, I didn’t have time to make a nice lunch for myself. So I went old school living on my own style. Mac n’ Cheese with a can of tuna and a cheap beer on the side. Perfect for just myself. Honestly, who am I trying to impress these days?
I’m looking forward to the spring and summer when I can really enjoy the weather. Even the small glimpse of it was a nice addition to my day. But I want to give out a big cheers to the three Home Depot employees and the random jogger who helped me today! You guys are the mvps of my day! Thank you!
On Saturday afternoon my wife and I braved the Costco hordes. Not the smartest thing to do. Parking was a nightmare (as it always is on a weekend). And everyone seemed grumpy. But we were there for something completely different than our regular shopping.
I finally got myself a Costco Membership. The last time my name was on a Costco Card was in 2004. I had needed it working at Chuck E Cheese’s for last minute food items.
My wife had been sharing a membership with her parents for nearly 20 years. It worked out that at one point my wife and her parents were technically at the same address when they signed up for the card. Everything was working well up until recently.
My wife used to have a work schedule she would be able to maneuver around in order to go shopping when it was slow. But since we moved, she has been working steady 8-4 Monday to Friday and is stuck late evenings to go shopping or the dreaded weekend.
Now it is my turn to do the grocery shopping. I have been going out on Thursday mornings after dropping the kids off at school. But since I couldn’t hit up Costco, she would have to go again for another shop. I’m legitimately thrilled that on my days off, I can do this shopping. It will allow for more quality time with the family not running errands anymore.
The challenge will be to not spend an abundance on things we do not need!
So my wife bought something from Costco the other week that she was really excited for. It was a snack food item called Smucker’s Goober.
This item is peanut butter and strawberry jam in a single jar. I had heard of this from the 70’s and 80’s, but never tried it. Which is really very odd since I grew up during that time when snack foods were heavily processed and my mother actively brought home many of the iterations of food products for us to consume. I was always more partial to orange marmalade and honey vs jelly and jams.
As pretty as it looked, I was unimpressed by the taste and texture. My wife was also a bit disappointed and assured me that the grape jelly flavor is superior. I don’t doubt that. But grape jelly is not one of the flavors we ever have stocked in our home even if it’s not pre-mixed with peanut butter. My wife prefers raspberry or mixed berry jam and I’ll eat strawberry jam on occasion.
Perhaps we will try the grape/pb Goober one day. Or that may end up being that special treat that we will have in our pantry as we get older and are closer to retiring. Like when we eventually get An RV To Travel it would make sense to minimize how much stuff you have.
Have you tried Goober? Is the grape flavor better, the same, or worse than strawberry?
Let me know in the comments while I go and make a goober sandwich.
This afternoon my wife and I took our kids out for lunch in White Rock. We hit up a restaurant that my wife and I had been to over twenty years ago on one of our first dates. Charlie Don’t Surf. The last time my wife and I went there, we went for a walk hand in hand along the pier. When suddenly a lightning storm began. We enjoyed the strikes out in the ocean moments before the rain forced us to run to our car and head home. At home, we cuddled on a beanbag chair with my wife’s dog and continued to watch the storm as it passed.
It was a romantic memory to share.
This time was more family oriented, interest of romantic. We enjoyed a meal of fish and chips followed by my daughter and I having a New York Style Cheesecake. It was a nice mid-week afternoon treat for the four of us.
After lunch, we wandered up and down the pier enjoying the fog and watching a couple of BNSF trains going by. It was a nice peaceful walk before we headed back home for a relaxing afternoon.
Sharing an old memory and creating a new one is circled around a fun and tacky decorated restaurant. A good day all around.
The other day I picked up a piece of pork that we had never tried before. It was a leg of pork with the bone in. The cost was reasonable for the amount of food we were getting. Pretty much like the size of a turkey, so I cooked it in the roasting pan.
I scored the fat and put some spices and rock salt on top. I threw it in the oven on a high heat for 30 minutes, then dropped it down to 350° for a few more hours to cook. Our home smelled lovely as it cooked.
When it was done, I pulled the pork out and let it rest for another 30 minutes. Dinner that night was great! We also had leftovers for days. We did some pork tacos the next night. Tonight, my wife is using the bone to create a bone broth for a ramen dinner and then a pulled pork soup in a day or two.
After this first piece of pork and the tastiness of our meals, I am planning to buy it more often in the future. Making it similar to having a turkey dinner with leftovers. Inexpensive and great for leftovers and future meals.
It is another sad day when an icon passes away. Today we lost singer/actor Meatloaf.
First time I remember seeing or hearing of Meatloaf was from “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. That movie changed my adolescence and I became more aware of sexuality. Shortly after me seeing that film, Meatloaf released the song, “Anything For Love”. I enjoyed the single immensely and continue to have it in rotation in my playlists. His ability to make epic rock opera/ rock ballads was exceptional.
Meatloaf also appeared in one of the greatest mind fuck movies of all time- “Fight Club”. I was working at the cinema and saw the film about five or six times. His name is Robert Paulson. Somehow he was able to be made fun of with the monologue; yet be able to portray a lost man needing something to grasp onto that the audience could connect with. I was a young adult at the time struggling with questions about life and depression. Seeing that struggles come in all shapes gave me hope.
As I looked through my photo memories today, I came across a series of pictures from 2012. It was the Epic Meatloaf dinner that I had made for friends. I filled a turkey roaster with nearly 40lbs of meat and cheese that day. Tonight I shall be making another meatloaf, albeit a regular one, as an homage to the late singer.
Planning when to eat during a night shift is tough. I know some people who choose to fast the entire night. Others eating junk food all night. Usually I like to have leftover dinners before midnight and later on a breakfast type of snack to get me through the last few hours before I go to bed. Sometimes it’s a granola bar, other times it’s oatmeal, and on a rare occasion it’s a Pop Tart.
Towards the end of my night shift today, I ate a sandwich that I had brought with me. Everyday for the last two weeks at work I have brought a peanut butter sandwich. I took a bite of my sandwich this morning and immediately my brain went haywire.
What the hell is wrong with this sandwich? It doesn’t taste like peanut butter at all. Yeah, that’s because I made myself a salami and cheese sandwich with mayo and mustard instead. I had completely forgotten that I had changed it up.
Not sure if I’m getting forgetful as I get older or I just exhausted at the end of a night shift. But man, did I ever feel stupid. Good thing no one knows what goes on in my head. But let me tell you- my tastebuds were expecting one thing and got totally Rick Rolled with another. A complete mental shock. A bit unsettling as well.
Anyhow, I vow to make myself a peanut butter sandwich for tonight.
I love eating honey. If it wasn’t so gosh darn expensive, I’d eat it twice as much. But like many people, our honey doesn’t stay liquid the entire time. No matter what type of container we keep it in, at some point the honey crystallizes.
Enjoying small jars of flavored honey from local shops is one of my favorite treats. But for daily use type of snack, we buy the larger bulk sized honey. The farm fresh honey is usually whipped and will generally stay smooth and spreadable. The store bought one usually starts out as liquid. Eventually that honey won’t flow easy.
Crystallized honey is still good to eat as it really has no expiration date. Some honey has been found in tombs from thousands of years ago. The natural sugars keep it flavorful as well.
The old truck my mother taught me was to run the jar of honey under hot water to liquify it once more. This usually got the outside edges of the jar to liquify, but not the entire things. A few years ago, our daughter tried to microwave a plastic jar of honey. That worked for the first attempt and a short amount. However, the second time warped and melted the bear shaped plastic bottle. Probably not good for our health at this point.
Research online has shown me that I need to be patient. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Then remove it from the heat for about five minutes. Finally put the jar of honey in the water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Letting the hot water slowly liquify the honey is the best and safest way to go.
In order to prevent crystallized honey, you need to store it in warmer temperatures. As it gets colder, it crystallizes. Spending the winter in a garage or cold pantry is what changes it’s consistency. So keep that liquid honey warm and you won’t get stiff. But like I said, it’s more an inconvenience than anything once it hardens a bit.
It’s that time of year when rich foods fill you up and your brain becomes mushy. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is the time to overindulge and the have a reason for working out in January. I do the eating part. Not the workout part. Oftentimes I’m filling up on cheese. It gets tough to know when to stop.
We turned a meat and cheese charcuterie into a meal the other day. It was a lovely foray into the various cheeses that we know and love. Goat cheese (of all varieties) has become the most popular for this spread.
Sometimes we do a baked Brie that doesn’t last long either. But with all the other cheeses we bought, we didn’t pick one up this season. But tonight we will be having a cheese fondue. Normally that meal is saved for New Year’s Eve. But we moved it up a couple of days and plan on doing a “Deep Fry Fest” on December 31st. End the year with a greasy bang!
Do you get filled up on cheese during this week? Any favorite flavors that are a must have for the winter season?
Since I was a child, I always remember Christmas Eve day as time spent in the kitchen. There was dinner to get ready, fancy sandwiches to make, even a breakfast bake to get ready. This year is no different.
Having a large kitchen has made this year’s meal making an easier experience. My wife and daughter worked together making potato salad followed by the breakfast bake. I was able to work on the other side of the island and stay out of their way.
Besides just making the meals, we were also teaching our kids about cooking. Such as sharpening knives, proper mixing techniques, and the use of taste to create a palatable meal. As well, our son took great pride in laying out the sandwiches.
The sandwiches are called “Fancy Sandwiches” and was a tradition in my home growing up. My father always made fresh baked bread, so I followed suit and baked two loaves this morning. The smell of fresh baked bread fills the house with what I consider the smell of Christmas Eve.
Spending Christmas in the kitchen with the family is stressful, fun, and creative. By the end of the day, we all get to enjoy the food that we worked so hard on preparing.
Saturday my wife and I went all out and baked a bunch of cookies and treats. Normally we start baking at the start of December, but that also means the cookies are gone before Christmas Eve. This year, we have a bigger kitchen and better oven, so we worked cohesively in the kitchen.
We utilized the island to prepare the baked wares. Then used the stove top to allow the cookie sheets to cool, and the counter by the sink had the cooling racks to finish the job. Our sink was constantly filled and we washed up as we went.
We started at noon and finished baking by five. Although my wife pre-made and refrigerated a couple types of cookies ahead of time, we were still hopping in a busy kitchen. In the morning, my wife bought the elusive “Mint Chocolate Chips” that we had been looking for since November.
So in the end of one day we made the following cookies:
Peanut Butter with peanut butter chip.
Double mint chocolate chip.
And Rice Krispies Treats.
Before Christmas my wife has a few more cookies she wants to bake. Unfortunately I have to go to work, but coming home to fresh baked goodies is also a pleasure!
Are you done baking yet? How many different cookies do you make?
In the middle of our vacation to Mexico, we decided to take a day on the beach. The beach first thing in the morning was impressively pristine. So we spent all day hanging out there.
Our friend, Megan, joined us while we relaxed. We had a few drinks, read our books, and frolicked in the ocean. I did my attempt at being David Hasslehoff running out of the ocean. The service was great as well, and the drinks kept coming.
Mid-day was a PCR test. We require this in order to get back into Canada. Not really a highlight, but it was quick and over with in a matter of moments. Soon we were back at the beach. That was when a couple of vendors came by selling jewelry, towels, blankets and dresses. I did my best negotiating and haggling and picked up a couple of souvenirs.
Shortly thereafter, my wife and I went to get a back massage on the beach. This was a fantastic way to relax and get those tense muscles loosened. The sound of the ocean in the background was tranquil and soothing.
Afterwards we headed out for dinner at the Teppanyaki again (it was by far the best experience for dinner). Once dinner was over, we headed to the theater and enjoyed a burlesque show. The theatrics and acrobatic dancing was intense. The show was well worth watching. My throat was sore from all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ I was doing.
“Set amid lavish gardens on a half-mile-long stretch of pearlescent beach named Playa Del Secreto (The Secret Beach), the adults-only, all-inclusive Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya boasts one of the most breathtaking swimming pools in Riviera Maya, Mexico!”
That blurb doesn’t do this resort justice. Having never traveled to Mexico, this is our first taste of what the country, and an all-inclusive, has to offer. It has been nothing but friendly and fun for our first day. Pools, beaches, booze and friends made us feel welcome and comfortable.
We arrived by 9am, and check in wasn’t until 3pm. The resort held our luggage and we were off to begin enjoying the amenities. First thing was to get some breakfast and coffee into us. Of course mimosas began flowing steadily as well. My wife and I were warned by our tenants to not over indulge on the booze on day one. That was going to be challenging. But since water and food was also in abundance- we survived day one without issue.
Drinks were coming pretty regularly mind you. So we tried a bunch of new drinks. We also enjoyed some food truck tacos and an elegant dinner with some friends.
The night ended with my wife and I going for a stroll and enjoying the stars. Relaxing without concern is a great feeling. I can get used to this life and am already able to see what people find appealing about this style of vacationing.
I love to experiment with food. Baking and cooking make me happy. On my days off, I tend to take the time to create new meals for the family. Last night I tried something new.
We bought some of those large shell pastas the other day. I boiled them like I was supposed to. I also fried up some ground beef and stuffed them along with a chunk of cheese. Then I wrapped another shell over top. I was a little bit clumsy at times and ripped a few shells. But was over all satisfied with them. For the next step I decided to deep fry them in order to create a crunch and melt the cheese.
Deep frying them did exactly what I wanted. However, they each fell apart in the oil. So I had to pull the basket up and fish out the bits and put them in our dinner bowls. They were served with salsa and sour cream. Taste wise- the family enjoyed… mostly. The downside? These shells turn into little scoops that collected the oil from the deep fryer. So we got the occasional slurp of oil added. Nothing like drinking canola oil at dinner.
I suspect that each of us won’t be trusting a fart all day today. Those who know, know. Next time I might just deep fry the shells alone and then strain them before adding beef. Creating little scoops for our dinner. Sometimes you win at experimenting with foods, other times you carry a roll of toilet paper with you all day.
Due to the floods and slides cutting off Vancouver from the rest of Canada, a State of Emergency has been declared. This is affecting many of us locally. The biggest issue to happen is “Panic Buying”.
Until December 1st, the government has mandated that people only be allowed to purchase 30 liters of gas. For many of us, that’s somewhere between half to two thirds of a tank. More than enough fuel to get you around town for the week. Yet people lined up and bled the stations clean not following the orders. Jerry cans got filled and people went way beyond the limit.
Greed and hoarding also pushed people into clearing out the grocery store shelves. Again, no reason for it. Just fear and panic. People seem to forget that the only reason we run out is because of panic buying! The roads may be cut off for a bit longer still, and the railroads should be up and running in the next few days. Why can’t people eat what they have at home in the meantime?
If people just purchase what they need, then everyone can get what they need as well. Clearing the store shelves of food is ridiculous and it disgusts me to think that people don’t look out for one another. During panic buying times, we avoid shopping.
We keep about two weeks worth of canned and boxed goods in our garage on a regular basis. Our pantry is the size of a broom closet, so it doesn’t require much to fill the shelves. We always have pastas and keep our large freezer filled with meals to last for emergencies. Just like this one it seems.
Normally myself wife and I would be buying fruits, vegetables, and dairy products on a weekly basis. But for this week and next, we can enjoy frozen or canned vegetables instead to get our nutrients. Once people realize that there is no food shortage, perhaps they will calm down again.
Because in the end, it’s the “Panic Buyers” that are creating the shortage.