17 Years Old

Our oldest daughter turned 17 yesterday. With it came another turning point into adulthood and a fantastic dinner with some friends of ours.

Starting off the day, she wanted a piercing through the cartilage on the upper part of both ears. So we stopped at a place in Calgary called Tribal Expression. The store was clean; the staff were professional and courteous. They also offered a reference to a piercing location near our home- one province over- which eased my mind a bit more.

During the process I still got to be “Daddy” as she wanted to hold my hand while getting the piercings done. That made me feel good inside. Plus, our daughter is happy with her new hoops she got installed for her birthday. Oh, and I was $148 lighter in my bank account.

Afterwards, we stopped at the nearby Starbucks in order to get the very “Instagram Worthy” Tie Dyed Frappuccino. This gave my girls a chance to share pics online and have a good bonding moment while I recovered from the cost and noticeable perforations that are now in my daughter’s ear lobes.

Later in the evening we meet up with some old friends in Calgary at a restaurant called Gorilla Whale. There were hugs and stories to be shared as we all tried our best to contain our excitement of meeting up again. We love these two and they have been long standing friends of ours since we first started going to conventions.

Not only was the company great, but the food at the restaurant was a fantastic mix of Japanese and Western creativity. I opted for the Godzilla burger- which contained wagyu beef, foie gras and unagi. (Cow, duck liver, and eel). The food was awesome and reasonably priced-ish. (I think I’ve spent more money on a regular excursion for sushi at our regular joint.)

All-in-all it was a good day of our daughter experiencing the joys of adulthood. Treating yo’self, sending time with old friends, and enjoying a night out at a fancier restaurant than usual. I hope she continues to enjoy and experience life to its fullest.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Random!

Barbecue Brisket Baby!

Over the past few years, I have been perfecting my ability to make a smoked bbq brisket. I usually only end up making three or four of them a year. That way it keeps the family desiring more and doesn’t overdo the enjoyment of the meal. Last night was the largest one I have ever made.

We do not have a smoker, so I have become resourceful in using our bbq. I put a smoker box on the side burners and place the brisket on the opposite side. I keep the temperature between 200° and 250° allowing the indirect heat to slowly cook the meat over the course of a few hours. Every hour or so, I add some more water soaked hickory wood chips. But before the meat goes on the grill- I have to prepare it.

We have found the best cut of meat for the price is down at the Costco in the USA. Once I open the meat I give it a quick rinse and pat it down with paper towel. Sometimes I’ll trim some of the larger fatty bits if it’s over an inch thick. Then I salt the entire thing, followed by pouring some soy sauce and brushing bbq sauce all around it. Next I add a dry hickory seasoning on the entire brisket to create a crust once the meat is cooked.

As the brisket smokes, my entire neighborhood smells heavenly for hours. (It’s amazing how olfactory senses can add to the enjoyment of a meal.) Last night I also made a different type of potato salad. I roasted some cubed potatoes tossed in olive oil and covered in garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. I baked the potatoes in the oven for 30 minutes turning them every 10 minutes so as not to burn the bottom.

Afterwards I allowed the potatoes to cool in the fridge before adding some chopped up fried garlic sausage, a bit of mayonnaise and two mashed avocados. The meal turned out beautifully. We shared our dinner with a couple of friends and only ate about half the brisket. That means leftovers for lunches!

I love making brisket.

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.

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.