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!)

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Joe-Toberfest

Today I really wanted to make full sized soft pretzels. I decided to make them a part of our dinner. Besides mustard, what could I make with dinner? I remembered back to Oktoberfest 2018 at Trading Post. I didn’t make a cheese dip, I went with something else.

I took some Italian Sausage and squeezed the meat out of the casings. I fried the meat in a cast iron pan before adding two cans of tomato soup. I then added some sour cream and Dijon mustard. I served the soup as a side for the pretzels. We also had some sweet potato fries as our vegetable. Although deep frying them probably negates any health benefit.

I chose to have a Czech Pilsner with dinner. Having finally figured out how to play Spotify throughout the house the other day, I put on some Polka music. Because, why not? The family devoured dinner and we had a great time enjoying the music. I’m not sure we will ever get to Oktoberfest in Germany. But who knows. Maybe one day.

Cheers!

Salty Joe

I love eating salty foods. Chips, fries, popcorn, pretzels… that sort of thing. Foods like that goes well with beer or sodas. We all know I like my beers… my belly shows it all too often.

Tonight I made Pretzel Bites with the help of our son. It was from a recipe by Terri. She introduced me to donuts! Here is her Pretzel recipe: Perfect Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Dip. By the way, the dip is great as well!

The family gathered in the kitchen to make dinner and do dishes. So we snacked on the pretzel bites while dinner was made. Lots of smiles and pigging out on this little appetizer before dinner. Like a regular Kitchen Party!

You have to make the pretzel bites. So amazing. My wife said I need to make them weekly now.

In The Trees

The weather has become ab-fab. That means more time outside again. Having a yard and the space like we do makes for a relaxing time.

This afternoon I put up some lights in our tree deck with the help of my son.

For dinner, I stopped at a fish n’ chips place called C-Lovers and grabbed some cod. We had a picnic on the deck.

I played some music on a Bluetooth speaker called “Songs to Sing the Shower”. My wife danced on the deck. I took some pictures as I watched from above as the kids played frisbee and they sang.

Life is really good if you let it.

Deep Fried Pickles

I’m not a big fan of pickles. But yesterday I made a quick snack out of boredom and curiosity- I mean pickles. We only had baby dills, so the pickles turned out snack sized vs meal sized.

I started with hollowing out half a dozen pickles with a knife and potato peeler. The peeler worked great as it fit nicely as I spun it around. Once the pickles lost their innards, I squirted a few drops of sriracha sauce inside. Followed by some cream cheese. I wrapped these babies in ham then dipped them in a beer batter before they hit the deep fryer.

The final result was an amazing flavor of vinegar, hot sauce, the hint of ham and a mouthful of cream cheese all cooked nicely with a breaded coating. The downside is that I will have to make these again! Only next time with bigger pickles.

Homemade Pizza

We have been enjoying baking and dough making over the past few weeks. Last night I made pizza dough and we put on our own toppings for individual pizzas.

It was like returning to my time at Chuck E Cheese’s. I made the dough, weighed it out into 200g balls, put oil on them, covered them in plastic wrap and let them rise before rolling them out.

While the dough was proofing, I prepared all the toppings. Slicing peppers, onions, tomatoes, then grating cheese and frying sausage. once the pizzas were made, into the oven for 15 minutes at 475°. The final trick to making the pizzas taste delicious once out of the oven was 100% from the Chuck… A brushing of melted garlic butter on the crust.

The family loved dinner. We will probably do it again in the future. And for dessert- my wife made fresh cinnamon rolls. Baking is awesome.

Beignets

We’ve been making lots of desserts lately. I was never a big sweets fan, but add my deep fryer- man I’m going to get fat! And the food is amazing!

We made Donuts three weeks ago. And again about a week after once we got better yeast. Two weeks ago we made Disneyland Churros. Which we made again a few days later because they turned out perfect.

Disney Blogs shared another recipe. Classic Disney Beignets. Naturally, I had to make them. They turned out fantastic! These are so mmmmmmmmm good. Definitely a repeatable treat.

These foods help us emotionally because we are missing Disneyland. We have been singing Disney songs and watching Disney films quite a bit lately. Last night we ended our evening watching Fireworks from Disneyworld. We know that our trip is getting cancelled this summer and it sucks. But at least we are trying to keep our spirits up. Mostly through all the other senses.

Are you trying new foods lately? How are you keeping your sanity?

Melt My Heart! Loving Cheese.

I love cheese. Something about those dairy products makes food so delicious. Grilled cheese sandwiches, shredded mozzarella on pizza, Smoked Gouda in an omelette, goat cheese on crackers… all of it unique and tasty- even Limburger (especially if soaked in beer!)

My favorite is Brie cheese. We buy those creamy wheels of softness on occasion. And it’s usually gone as soon as it’s opened. Sometimes I’ll just cut some pieces and eat it like that. Other times I’ll bake the Brie. Ok, I almost always bake the Brie. It just depends how I want it tasting. Stuffed with garlic? Mmmm… savory. Or like we did last night- brown sugar and butter with some cinnamon sprinkled on top. Soft and sweet cheese on fresh baked baguettes. Who could resist?

Tonight is grilled cheese sandwiches. Easy to make and go well with tomato soup! Lord knows we are lacking in the vegetable intake these days, so the soup will help up those numbers.

I love a good cheese. I’ll even eat “Cheese Product” like Kraft singles or Cheez whiz. The only thing I don’t like is bleu cheese. That stuff is the red headed step child of the cheese industry.

Clam Chowder!

After work, I came home to the smell of a delicious dinner. a dinner I haven’t had in ages. Not one that we make very often, even though it’s not very difficult to make.

My wife made clam chowder for dinner tonight. It was amazing. Bacon, onions, garlic, potatoes, clam, cream sauce, all put together in one amazing soup. But my wife did something extra for our dinner.

My wife made fresh bread bowls for our chowders. The buns were so hearty that we each filled our bread bowls a second time. And scarfed those down as well.

The dinner was so good, we ate the bowl. And my daughter let me take pictures of her. It was a Chowder Miracle! One that doesn’t come around very often. So I took full advantage of it.

I always enjoy our family meals. We have a great time talking and joking. We also like to repeat dinners that are easy and tasty at the same time. Hopefully Clam Chowder makes a reappearance in the future.

Can’t Stop Cooking and Baking

Our children are adamantly wanting to be doing more cooking and baking these days. Over the past few weeks we’ve made Pasta, Churros, and Donuts. Today, we made all of them!

We are getting better at the recipes as well. There’s still the occasional blunder- adding the butter a bit late in the churros or the donuts not rising because of old yeast. But we are still enjoying all of the splendors. My wife also made her first ever cheesecake the other day. It was delicious!

I want to start working towards some more recipes that are savory instead of sweet. Maybe learn to make my own potato chips or something. Who knows, but my deep fryer has been turning out some fantastic desserts.

Have you been baking more these days? Or trying to expand your horizons a bit? Let me know in the comments.

Easter Hunt 2020

Our kids aren’t kids anymore. They have become teenagers. Two of which are cresting the second half of their teen years as well. Driving, jobs, and teen angst a plenty… Oh my.

However, my wife loves to treat them like children on occasion. Especially when it comes to those childhood memory maker dates. Be it at Christmas, Halloween or Easter. Today was no different.

Last night the “Easter Bunny” hid some eggs, chocolates and candies throughout our living room. The same room the “Santa” visits. Our kids all know this. I guess what I’m saying is that our teenagers still hunt for Easter eggs.

There is the joy of the hunt. Discovering more challenging spots where the Easter Bunny can get to. They also appreciate the junk food that’s for sure.

And as they have done every years for Easter and Halloween- they divide up their haul amongst one another. I think this began when we realized the oldest was always getting the most, while the youngest got the least. Today was the opposite. Our youngest brought in the biggest collection and had to spread it out.

These traditions are important to my wife and I. As our children become adults, the traditions may evolve over time. Or make an egg-ception, like when we went to Tokyo DisneySea in 2018. But we will continue to make sure those imaginary gift givers keep visiting.