Chocolate

I’m not a big fan of chocolate. But every so often I’ll indulge in a small snack involving chocolate.

Tonight I ate the Belgian chocolate I got for Christmas. To wash it down, I even made a warm mug of hot chocolate for myself. It was a nice little treat before bed. Now I most likely won’t have any chocolate for a while.

I am more of a savory snack person. Chips, popcorn, nuts, that sort of thing. Sweets aren’t my bag. But I do appreciate better quality chocolate than cheap stuff. Oh- I do like gummy bears.

Those are fun and squishy. I like fun food.

Twelve Days of Appreciation: Day 7-FOOD

Christmas is a time of over indulging. I appreciate all the food that comes out at this time of year.

Every year, my wife and I stockpile meats and cheeses. We set out these spreads on the Winter Solstice and continue to graze through the remaining bits until January rolls around. Adding to the delightful feast, I also make “Fancy Sandwiches” which is a recipe I learned from my father many years ago. His tradition was to have them ready for Christmas Eve. Honestly, 30 sandwiches hardly lasts in our home- and it’s just my immediate family eating them!

My wife and I also do a lot of baking during this time. Specifically cookies. A few years back, we would fill large tins with a variety of treats and give them to my wife’s brothers. One year we gave away tins to about a dozen different families who came over to celebrate solstice with us. Needless to say, we love cookies at Christmas, but if we start too soon, we have to make another batch (or two.)

Everyone has traditions involving food at Christmas. Besides “Fancy Sandwiches” we also make schnitzel and liver ball soup on Christmas Eve. And yes, the kids do enjoy the soup. But only once a year as it is fairly rich and heavy. But that’s a tradition my father did for us growing up, so it was nice that my wife wanted to keep it up. I hope our kids will pass it on to their future families and such. Plus we also do a fondue on New Years Eve. That is a family favorite by far!

What are your favorite foods or traditional meals that you enjoy over the holidays?

Making A Meal

I love to cook. In doing so, I also love to experiment with foods. I’m generally pretty good at what I try, but sometimes I have gotten a bit carried away with tastes. A few weeks back I tried to make a peppercorn mushroom gravy on a steak. A tad too many peppercorns were added and it destroyed the taste. But I learned from my mistakes.

On Friday I made dinner for my wife and I. A Cesar salad, potato patty and a lobster tail. Fancier than most of our meals, but I wanted to have a nice evening as a late birthday dinner. I am always surprised at how easy lobster tails are to make. This dinner was the best one yet.

The next day I made a crockpot soup. Specifically a cheeseburger soup. This was pretty amazing as well! It really did taste like cheeseburger. My wife and I loved it, but it was not the hit with the kids I had hoped it would be. I’ll probably make it again in the future as it was the perfect meal to make ahead and slow simmer all day.

With many more opportunities to experiment with foods, I can only hope that our kids will try making something out of their comfort zone as well. You ever know what you may like if you don’t at least try it.

Poco Lightning Christmas Party

Today was a Christmas party at our son’s speed skating club. As always, it was filled with fun, laughter, tons of food and this time gifts and prizes!

The food, as always, was in abundance and delicious. Such a wonderful variety of asian and western food to be shared. My belly was full by the end. Just like the rest of the parents- we plopped down in some chairs and hardly moved until the end.

There was so much commotion that I was surprised we made it through the afternoon. But it was an organized chaos. Lots of mingling of the skater, parents and coaches. Even our middle has become a friend of many of these skaters. They too ended up with a grab bag and a gift in the end.

It was a good afternoon and a great way to unwind after the beginning season of speed skating. We still have more competitions coming up, but a gathering to hang out was well deserved and needed- by both parents and skaters.

Soup’s On

There are some days that you just need a warm bowl of soup. I enjoy making a soup stock/bone broth, cutting fresh vegetables, adding some meat and letting it simmer. It produces a warm, hearty flavor and emanates a heavenly smell that fills your home. Such a beautiful thing to enjoy on a cool autumn night.

Sometimes, you need it quickly as well, but don’t have all day. Tonight, I made chicken noodle soup. From a packet inside a box. The smell wasn’t the same as making soup from scratch. But I did have a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup after about ten minutes. I grabbed some plain crackers from the cupboard which I crumbled a handful into my bowl.

It was exactly what I needed tonight. A quick bit of warmth in my belly. Convenient and easy.

Beetlejuice Carving 2022

This year someone suggested I do a Beetlejuice theme on my pumpkin. Originally I was going to do him from the cartoon with Lydia and the title plate as well. In the end I opted to do the snake version from the original film.

After years of carving pumpkins, I have gotten faster at it. My first intricate pumpkin was a Jack Skellington one that took over 4 hours to complete. Every year I get faster. I am also able to visualize the finish product as I go.

My intensity in pumpkin carving has passed on to my two oldest children. They have also spent hours carving pumpkins. Our middle loves doing anime fandom style. They are busy working on theirs this afternoon as well.

Besides a picture- sometimes I wish there was another way to preserve these art pieces. But they are meant for one night and then they cut up and into breads, soups and pancakes. We don’t just toss them in the trash once Halloween is over.

Do you carve pumpkins? How much time do you invest in doing it? Show me some of your favorites please!

Beetlejuice.

BC Lions

Last night I watched my first ever CFL football game in person. In fact, it was my first CFL game ever to watch. We went to BC Place to watch the Lions vs Blue Bombers. Even though I don’t follow sporting events- it was a great evening out with friends.

My wife and I parked about a ten minute walk away from the arena. As we made our way to the event, the sun was setting, creating a beautiful skyline. When we arrived, we ordered some beer and poutine. Our view of the game was right on the sideline, almost center field and in the second row.

The action was so close to us throughout the game that I found myself really getting into it. I cheered and stood up numerous times as I got excited by the plays on the field.

There is something to be said about the energy at a sports event. The crowd and the buzz that goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed our night out and would gladly do it again sometime. The last sports team I need to see play in BC is the soccer team- The Whitecaps. I have already watched hockey, baseball, basketball (when the Grizzlies were here), and now CFL.

Do you enjoy being at a game? Are you more of a hockey fan instead of football? Let me know in the comments.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Not going to spend too much time writing today’s blog entry. I was working all day and rushed home to be with my wife and kids for Thanksgiving Dinner. So I’m hastily writing a quick note to wish everyone some well deserved time with family and friends!

I’m looking forward to our dinner, and it’s almost time for me to carve the turkey. The table is set and we are about to engage in conversations.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend everybody! Be sure and enjoy your time with those you love and the food that will be served.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Not going to spend too much time writing today’s blog entry. I was working all day and rushed home to be with my wife and kids for Thanksgiving Dinner. So I’m hastily writing a quick note to wish everyone some well deserved time with family and friends!

I’m looking forward to our dinner, and it’s almost time for me to carve the turkey. The table is set and we are about to engage in conversations.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend everybody! Be sure and enjoy your time with those you love and the food that will be served.

Buy The Corn!!!

My wife has been super excited about buying corn this year. She has been mentioning it for weeks on end. There is a small corn stand just a few blocks away from us that we can see from our backyard. There is also a Facebook group devoted to the corn stand. It’s from Bose Farm (which is also the land our home is originally from…)

This morning my wife was up early and watching out the window. She grabbed a pair of binoculars when she saw a car stop. Corn was available! Today was the day to buy corn.

We got out of bed and rushed out to the box of corn. A dozen cobs of farm fresh corn for $5 is well worth the early trip. We will be enjoying it this weekend for Thanksgiving with the family. Yes, I do enjoy corn as well.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can bring us joy. My wife getting that farm fresh corn she wanted is right up there!

Do you like corn on the cob as much as she does? Have you been buying farm fresh corn this season? Let me know in the comments.

Baking For Thanksgiving

As easy as it would be to go and buy a pie at the store, I find it oddly satisfying to bake my own. Today I baked two pies from scratch- using apples from our own tree.

The tree we have is the sort of tree that has numerous varieties on it. On the west side of the tree are a variety of red apples. On the east side is all the green apples. I ended up picking about twenty apples or so of all the varieties. I was unsure how many I would need.

After peeling a bunch of our green ones, I realized I’d have enough apples for two pies. Good thing the crust I was making from scratch was enough for two pies. I also figured that since I was making such a mess in the kitchen, I may as well bake something else.

After a couple of hours, and using the oven in our basement as well- I created two apple pies and two banana bread loaves. The house smelled heavenly. Now to keep the family away from these goodies until Sunday night dinner! if they are snacking- they can try one of the red apples that I picked but never used for baking.

Do You Remember?

Do you remember? The 21st night of September?

My wife loves that song. Her friends often look forward to singing it to her every year. I find it humorous and have written about it in the past: 21st Night of September . Today got me thinking about my wife and how she remembers the way I like things done. Specifically preparing food.

Now, I’m not saying that the way I like my food prepared is right, but it is how I like my food. It used to cause many discussions years ago, but now my wife just goes with it. Usually.

I’m a big texture and taste person when it comes to food. I don’t overly care if different food touches on a plate, so that’s not it. It’s more how the flavors mix. For example- when making a sandwich- the mustard side needs to be the side the meat is on, not the cheese. Cheese on mustard has a very different taste and texture compared to meat and mustard. Trust me.

Mr Noodles… the instructions on the packet are wrong. The noodles need to be placed in the water immediately and then brought to a boil. Once the noodles are soft, drain all the water. Then put the noodles in a bowl and add the flavor packet. This isn’t a soup we are making! It’s called Mr. Noodles not Mr. Soup.

Because of these preferences, I will admit that I am the one who usually ends up making the lunches. My wife will adhere to my choices when making something for me, which is nice, and has on occasion agreed with how I make foods. Like a dash of salt after goulash is served. It brings out the flavor immensely as you are about to eat.

However it’s not just food preferences I need to work on with her. I still need to get her to understand that the toilet paper flap goes over the roll, not behind it.

And with that, I am off to escape to work to avoid confrontation once she reads my blog.

Love you honey!

Oktoberfest 2022

Last night some coworkers and I went out to Oktoberfest at my favorite brewery- Trading Post. We went four years ago at the Fort Langley location (read about it here: Oktoberfest 2018) and had a blast. Last night was at their brewery location- which was really fun.

I reserved a large table last week because I knew there would be at least six of us. At the last minute, I had my boss’s boss join us as well. I was honestly surprised at how little we talked about work and just had a riot.

With the table came three large platters of food. We also ordered one more because with eight of us- we were drinking a lot and eating a lot.

Throughout the night, we enjoyed some Bavarian Oompah music from a trio of musicians. As well, we entered a couple contests- like chugging a 2 liter boot of beer in the fastest time- our group came in second. But at the end of the night, I won a draw and got to bring home a smaller boot of my very own.

If you are wanting to let loose in Langley on a Friday night- there are two more weeks of this going on. Check out the Trading Post Website for more details and to book a table. You won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you have a safe ride home like we arranged.

Cheers!

Harvest Followed by Relaxing

Today was a bit hazy and hot out. My wife decided that it was a perfect day to harvest some of her tomatoes and peppers. That way she could work in the kitchen preparing ways to preserve them.

She began by cutting up her banana peppers into rings. She kept the colours of the peppers separated once sliced up. While she was doing this, she had a vinegar brine solution simmering on the stovetop. I stirred it up occasionally. (I’m helpful!)

We currently have three jars of pickled peppers on our counter. Even though I’m not a big fan of pickled food, they sure did smell good. I have a feeling we will be enjoying these over the next couple of months in a variety of ways.

My wife took a break from doing anything with the tomatoes today. As the sky began to clear up, and the smoke rolled away- we hit the swimming pool for a little Sunday relaxation.

We spent hours in the pool. At one point before dinner, our 16 year old and 18 year old also hit the pool. It was a nice afternoon of using the water to cool off. Summer sure doesn’t feel like it’s over. But nature is sometimes pushing to get autumn onto our doorstep.

We can tell by the fruits and vegetables from our garden being ripe and ready to consume.

Road Trip: Leaving Disneyland

We said goodbye to Disneyland yesterday and began our journey home. It was supposed to be 14 hours. However it took us 16.5 hours. We stopped for lunch and dinner, but we also took a wrong turn at one point.

Starting another early day meant the teenagers were exhausted. They slept and were generally quiet the entire drive. No fighting or bickering was happening. Honestly, they lasted longer than my wife and I did at the parks. The rest in the car was well deserved.

We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger once more. Across the street was a McDonald’s, so we picked up some Road Nuggies as well. This is where things went a bit sideways as we left to get back on the I-5.

At this point we were driving on the I-5 heading towards San Francisco/Sacramento. Somehow my wife was distracted and we missed the split and wandered towards San Francisco. We caught it after about forty five minutes. Time to turn around and get back on track. Worst part- we did the same thing last road trip three years ago! Ugh.

We probably would’ve noticed sooner if we had our cellphones on. But paying a roaming charge in another country is a little bit outrageous. So we had gone old school and printed off directions prior to the trip. Although… maybe we should have read them instead of just driving… oh well.

We finally made it to our hotel by 11:30pm. About an hour and a half later than we wanted. Just enough time for popcorn, some television and sleep. Road trips mean hitting the road early. So sleep is limited- and we are off for the last part to get home.

Disneyland 2022: Day 3- Another Disney Day

We just finished our third day in a row at the Disneyland Park. We were there bright and early again. In fact, we were able to get to rope drop and be first in line.

Once the rope dropped, we hustled to Galaxy’s Edge and got onto Rise of the Resistance without stopping. That walk took us six minutes and was worth the rush.

Most of our day was casually hitting a few rides, meeting some characters and eating. Theory got a set of ears and had them embroidered. We got lucky and we arrived in Tomorrowland just after Space Mountain had broken down. As our son walked up to ask if they knew how long it would be down for- the ride reopened. Again, we walked right on to the ride. Once it was over, three of us walked right back on before the line grew once more.

The rest of the afternoon was shopping, followed by hours at Galaxy’s Edge. Our two kids decided that they wanted to build their own Lighsabers. Which was a pretty cool experience.

For day three, we had a pretty good time. Now onto our fourth and final day!

Road Trip 2022: Beginnings

Wednesday we departed our home at 4:30am. Our trip was taking us south towards California. Because we were so early, we missed the rush hour traffic in Seattle. Shortly after that we paused at a rest stop and traded driving- it was now my turn. That lasted only about an hour until I got a speeding ticket. Now I’m not allowed to drive the rest of the trip.

Anyways… I got us to Voodoo Donuts in Oregon for 11am breakfast. After getting a sugar rush, my wife was driving and we were excitedly bouncing to some sing-along-songs until our next stop.

Shortly after 2pm we stopped for In-N-Out Burger. Seriously good burgers for an amazingly good price. Five burgers for $21. With fully bellies, it was time to get on the road for our final push for the day.

Ok, we drove for about an hour before we stopped at our usual rest stop in Weed. A quick stretch, bathroom break and photos… then it was onto our last stop. About five hours later we made it to the hotel. That last chunk was not so bad, until about the last leg of the journey. Because we knew today was coming to an end. All of us needed to get our bodies out of the car. It was as if we were suffering from rigor mortis.

On the bright side, we are now spaced out and refreshed in our hotel room. With only five and a half hours tomorrow remaining for our trip, I’m pretty sure we will do it in one go. Then we will be free of the car for almost five days. During which time, we will be walking. A lot. But that’s where the fun comes in!

Road Trip 2022: Beginnings

Wednesday we departed our home at 4:30am. Our trip was taking us south towards California. Because we were so early, we missed the rush hour traffic in Seattle. Shortly after that we paused at a rest stop and traded driving- it was now my turn. That lasted only about an hour until I got a speeding ticket. Now I’m not allowed to drive the rest of the trip.

Anyways… I got us to Voodoo Donuts in Oregon for 11am breakfast. After getting a sugar rush, my wife was driving and we were excitedly bouncing to some sing-along-songs until our next stop.

Shortly after 2pm we stopped for In-N-Out Burger. Seriously good burgers for an amazingly good price. Five burgers for $21. With fully bellies, it was time to get on the road for our final push for the day.

Ok, we drove for about an hour before we stopped at our usual rest stop in Weed. A quick stretch, bathroom break and photos… then it was onto our last stop. About five hours later we made it to the hotel. That last chunk was not so bad, until about the last leg of the journey. Because we knew today was coming to an end. All of us needed to get our bodies out of the car. It was as if we were suffering from rigor mortis.

On the bright side, we are now spaced out and refreshed in our hotel room. With only five and a half hours tomorrow remaining for our trip, I’m pretty sure we will do it in one go. Then we will be free of the car for almost five days. During which time, we will be walking. A lot. But that’s where the fun comes in!

Fun Lies To Children

Having small kids is filled with telling them lies. Many of the lies are done in order to calm or control the kids in some way. I know many parents who have told the same lies I have told.

The Three Big Lies

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are the three main lies we have told to our children. These fibs led to some good behavior and some magical moments as they grew up. It is always fun to be the character behind the curtain and make their dreams come true. A few gifts, some candy, a dollar or two. But I have a couple of other lies I have told over the years that I found amusing.

ID4

Telling our children at a young age that the move Independence Day was based on true events brought me joy. I wrote about it here: ID 4. Watching the film every year is one of my guilty pleasures. The kids also enjoy the film, so no harm no foul in telling them that lie.

However, my favorite lie was telling my kids that when the ice cream truck was playing music- it meant they were out of ice cream. That worked for a very long time. Each of them just grew to accept that we weren’t going to buy a frozen treat. Our youngest was the last to discover the truth. One day our son was over at a neighbor’s house and those parents went and bought ice cream from The Ice Cream Man.

I saw him getting a treat as I was leaving for work that day. Not sure if it was guilt in his face for being caught, or the look was the fact that he realized that I was always lying about the music. At least now if the truck comes to the neighborhood, our teenagers have their own money to spend if they choose to.

Is there any lies you have told kids in order to humor yourself, save money or perhaps your sanity? Let me know in the comments.

Finally A Cheap Breakfast

With everything going on in the world, it’s nice to find a deal locally. Food prices are high, gas prices are fluctuating, but sometimes a place just goes against the norm and delivers.

Our downstairs tenants mentioned they went for breakfast yesterday at a local restaurant called “The Henry”. They told us that there is a $4.99 breakfast. Two eggs, hash browns, toast and a choice of bacon or sausage. For five bucks, it was worth a shot.

Honestly, the breakfast was pretty darn good. The service was also good. However, the coffee was not something I would buy again next time. Yes, there will be a next time.

So if you live in Langley or Surrey- definitely make your way to The Henry in Cloverdale for some cheap eats. It’s located on the street just south from the old Clova cinema. Some of my old friends may remember the location as an old strip club (just sayin’). My how times have changed.

I digress. It was a good Sunday brunch. Now to relax.

Aqua Thursday

We had another fun filled afternoon and evening yesterday with our friends. We listened to music, had a few drinks, lounged in the pool, and ate a wonderful meal out on the deck. Our friend even did synchronized pool floatie dancing to Celine Dion for us.

It was a ton of fun, as always. I really enjoy their company and love spending time with friends.

I only captured a couple of photos as my phone is often the one that is playing music. This gives me more opportunity to be attentive to the conversations. A lull in talks didn’t have me reaching for my phone. In fact it was quite the opposite. It meant it was time for a new conversation topic.

Joking and playing around in the pool is loads of fun. Being an adult doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. If anything, I realize that who cares what other people think- just enjoy life! And enjoy it with friends.

We Made Pizzas!

Yesterday we made homemade pizzas. My wife made the dough and then I rolled it out once it was proofed. After the dough was in the pan, I let the pizzas proof a bit longer before we added toppings. That was one of the tricks I learned working at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

We had enough dough that we could have made four large pizzas. However, I only had two pizza pans. So I used a thin cast iron pan, two smaller individual cast iron pans and a baking sheet for the other pizzas. Surprisingly they all cooked perfectly!

The two small ones we put on bbq sauce instead of pizza sauce. Then we added pork, peppers and onions. The baking sheet one was just two types of cheese and super gooey! One of the pizzas we used ranch dressing (with a bit of flour to thicken it) and put only spinach and mozzarella on top.

Every single pizza had its unique flavour. As an added trick I learned from Chuck E. Cheese’s- I spread garlic butter on the crust once each was out of the oven. Best crust ever!

I really enjoy making things with dough. Time to start experimenting with other breads and treats. I think we should make some cheesy breadsticks next.

Home Cooked Memories

Taking pictures of a meal might seem a little bit facetious and cringe worthy at times. But I appreciate that I shared them years ago, because it has inspired me to make the same or very similar meals again.

Years ago, we made a “Surf n’ Turf” dinner. Steak, pasta, and crab. We are outdoors on our back deck- which was always something that my wife and I have done. The blue plates have been put aside for a few years now, same with those old placemats. So I know this picture is a few years old.

Last night we had almost the same meal. A steak with pasta and crab. The only change was instead of an Alfredo sauce, we had sautéed spinach with garlic butter. Again though, we are outside on our back deck to enjoy the meal. This time instead of trees and dusk settling in on us, we were watching the clouds roll on by.

I love to cook and try creating new meals. Sometimes classics are equally as amazing. Once you make a perfect steak- you always want to try and recreate that moment. Taking a picture of some of our other meals has inspired me to make them more often. Homemade breads are popular in our household, yet we don’t make them very often.

Do you take pictures of your meals? I’m glad I do. Especially when you don’t know what to have for dinner. Boom- inspiration.

Theory aka The Roy Turned 16

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:

  • The Roy
  • Theor Bear
  • T Bear
  • Bearbee
  • B Bear
  • Bear
  • Scrufty
  • Boy Darwin
  • Boy Random
  • The Boy

We love you buddy. We are so proud of who you are becoming.

Pretzels!

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?