Take Out Day

Since it was my daughter’s birthday yesterday, we wanted to do a nice dinner for her. Usually we get Nikko Sushi for any celebratory meals. But our daughter wanted to try something different. Due to current health restrictions in British Columbia, we had to order take out.

It also happened to be “National Take Out Day” as well! We picked up some slushies from a corner store, some Indian Food from Taj, and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Besides samosas, my family doesn’t eat a lot of Indian food. We did buy samosas, but we also had coconut chicken curry, butter naan bread, and paneer. It was delicious. I am impressed that our kids are always willing to explore tastes from other cultures.

17? Ugh. As if

The ice cream cake was a delicious end to the meal. Our daughter has been enjoying 80’s/90’s movies all her life and went with a “Clueless” inspired cake. We watched the film afterwards for a good laugh. (Wow, there are a lot of stars that were up and comers from back then! Thanks IMDB for helping me to recognize them.)

Did you enjoy some take out yesterday? What did you have?

Do you like Indian cuisine? What would you recommend we try next time from a restaurant?

Let me know in the comments.

Unappetizing Photos

Everyone loves to take pictures of their meals. Be it at a restaurant or a homemade meal. I am no different. If the food has a delicious presentation, it needs to be shared. “Instagramable” so to speak.

My wife made a lovely turkey dinner last night. So I took some pictures. Dinner was delicious. The plate in front of me was But you wouldn’t be able to tell that by these next couple of photos:

Just look at that bird’s hole. The flash from my phone added a glistening that really made it unappealing.

The cranberry sauce from a can was the perfect accompaniment to the turkey. Check out the ridges on the jelly. Yummy.

It’s amazing how a picture can change a person’s perspective on things. But the food was still just as tasty as ever!

The Final Easter In Our Castle

This morning my wife surprised our teens by having an Easter Egg Hunt in our living room. We have done the hunt every year since we moved into our house.

Always in the living room. That’s because we can hide the eggs the night before and close off the room until we are ready. This is the same room we would celebrate Christmas Day in.

Today was the last time that our kids would hunt for candy in the living room. None of them wanted a picture taken, but I took a stealth one anyways. An Easter Egg Hunt was always something my wife enjoyed doing for our kids. As they became teenagers, I was thinking that it’s becoming a bit much.

But after today’s hunt I could see why my wife enjoyed doing this for our kids every year.

They all sat around the dining room table, dumped out their haul and divided it equally. It’s something they’ve always done (same with Halloween). Seeing them do this once more made me smile.

Our teenagers are getting along! These days it’s hit and miss with how nice they are to each other. Or even towards my wife and I. Days like today are a reminder as to why we love our family. Moments like this will be missed when we move away.

But the memories will be cherished forever.

Vibrant Mediocrity

If I’m not taking pictures of my family and friends, I am usually taking pictures of food or nature. Skylines and trees are my personal favorites.

Sometimes I take a photo “just because.” It could be a picture of a movie title or a unique object. (Sorry… side quest… is it “a” or “an” before the word “unique”? Let me know in the comments if I was correct, and why.) The other day I took the following picture:

It is not one of my better pictures. But the colours and shapes on the kitchen counter bring me joy. Here are the reasons why:

The green glass bowl– I have always loved shaped and coloured glass. The wavyness of this bowl is fun. There’s even a little matching bowl inside.

The red apples– Apples are my favorite fruit. These were nearly perfect apples as well.

The blue canister– It holds fresh ground coffee. Need I say more?

The silver canister– Holds our sugar for coffee and baking. For the little sweetness needed in our lives.

All of them lined up in our kitchen awaiting their turn to be used. To me, the colours just pop. I could’ve used a filter, or adjusted my angle. Each item is as vibrant in their emotional impact for me as are the colours. I ended up overlooking the art aspect of how to take a good photo.

This picture is a Vibrant Mediocrity. And that’s okay as well. Giving it a title like that turns it into art.

Green Food

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, so my wife decided to have some fun with our foods. We added a bit of food coloring to a couple of our meals.

Our pancake breakfast was a colorful way to start the day. This breakfast is always a family favorite no matter what colour we make them. The skillet cooked flapjacks were delicious.

Dinner however…

Dinner was unsettling.

My wife made fried chickpea patties, which are always good. We had a basic romaine lettuce salad on the side. Our other side was rice with a mushroom sauce. The mushroom sauce was dyed green and was most unappetizing looking. That made it a bit more difficult to enjoy, even though it is something we have had in the past (only in its normal state).

One of our kids described the sauce as ogre snot. The other said it looked like Nickelodeon slime. Unfortunately the colour changed how the meal tasted in my mind. I’ve had issues with foods in the past based on texture or smell. Never colour. This was a first for me.

Note to self: do not dye cream of mushroom soup ever again.

Supporting Local as My Birthday Gift

For my birthday yesterday, my wife took me out to support a trio of small business restaurants in Langley. I’m a big proponent of helping out and buying from local businesses as often as I can afford it. To enjoy my birthday, I asked to support locally.

We started off with a late brunch at a place called Egg Bomb. This was the first time my wife and I had eaten there. It was funny because while we were inside, we talked about how the two of us used to attend the original coffee house that was first built in that location. Neither of us had met one another back in the 90’s at Castle Bay Coffee.

Egg Bomb was exactly that. Eggs! And amazing coffee. I had a teriyaki sandwich and my wife had prawn with hollandaise sauce. It was awesome. I would highly recommend them.

For dinner, the entire family went to a favorite restaurant of ours in Fort Langley- The Little Donkey. Burritos that were jam packed with delicious quality ingredients that filled our bellies.

And for dessert, my wife picked up a dozen Boston Cream donuts from Gourmet Donuts and Coffee in Walnut Grove. My wife remembered a story I had shared about my father from my childhood. Whenever he would attempt to quit smoking (this happened about five or six times) he would come home with a dozen Boston Creams for the family.

I enjoyed my birthday yesterday and all the food that my wife took me out for. Spending time with her and enjoying her company in the different atmospheres was wonderful. I really appreciate what she did for me and I’m glad we went out and helped other businesses by enjoying their wares.

Funyuns

Today’s blog is about nothing. Flavored, crunchy air rings of nothingness. A strange chemical concoction that I decided to ingest as a late night snack yesterday.

This snack was salty and filled with all the fakeness you could imagine. A two dollar bag of flavored air rings. A glorious attempt at making them look and taste like onion rings, without actually containing onions.

And I ate the entire bag in one sitting. In my bed. Watching tv. Hating myself with every bite. Disgusted by the fact that I licked my fingers clean afterwards. Worst of all? I didn’t want to share them!

Funyuns. Damn you!

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Wasabi Peas

I am going to start this off by saying, I am a wimp when it comes to spicy foods. I never much liked hot wings or overly spicy chili. I’ve eaten these in the past, but I don’t like the burn in my mouth. Or my bum after… (ya, I went there. We all know what happens- what goes in must come out…)

But my spicy guilty pleasure is wasabi.

I love eating it with sushi- it makes the fish taste POP. And I devour sushi regularly. Years ago, my wife introduced me to another treat as well when we first met- Wasabi Peas.

These things are glorious. The way the dried peas are coated in a wasabi shell makes them look like little boogers. Toss a couple on your tongue, and the stinging sensation starts. After nibbling a few, a sweet honey-like taste emerges. Making the undeniable urge to crave more.

Pure, mouth watering, tongue burning evil… in a can. A treat that I cannot stop eating once I have opened a package. My wife is upset that I finished this last can without her. She likes to point out that she originally gave me some when we were dating as a joke because she knew I didn’t like spicy. Little did she know that it would be a favorite treat of mine.

Is there any foods you normally don’t like but make an exception for a variation of it? Do you really hate tomatoes, but can’t eat fries without ketchup? Let me know in the comments.

Tastes Trapped In Time

Fresgo. Forever trapped in Surrey.

Yesterday I took my daughter out for a late lunch date. We went to a place that I haven’t been to in twenty years. Fresgo Inn (Don’t bother with the website as it feels as if someone in the late 90’s attempted html). It has not changed in all the time I can remember. Nor was it very updated two decades ago either. This restaurant is trapped in some weird time vortex. Plus it was really difficult to locate. As if the Matrix had moved it two inches to the left.

My daughter and I walked into the cafeteria style restaurant and the first thing we noticed was the way the tile floor was grooved out by all the decades of foot traffic. Behind the plexiglass cabinets were styrofoam plates (styrofoam? Who uses that?) with oversized dessert portions. The same style of desserts that have been sold for ages.

The meals we chose were simple. Montreal style poutine and a cheeseburger. Massive portions, for the price we paid, created by a chef in one of those tall cylindrical paper hats. We ate our lunch at a table with mismatched chairs from the 70’s.

We ended up bringing plates of desserts home. The chocolate pie was rich and artificial tasting. The cheesecake tasted as if the chef had been smoking prior to starting his shift. Stale smoke filled every bite. It was like stepping into a time machine and taking a bite out of the 1980’s.

Besides the awkward feeling the restaurant has, it’s not my regular fanfare of foods. But it was worth a trip down memory lane. If I avoid it for another couple of decades- it may turn into The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Which it was already on the way to become.

Nikko Sushi

My wife and I were welcomed to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch today. It was quiet in the restaurant, but we were still seated in one of the closed off booths for added privacy. We have been coming here since they opened their doors- 20 Years Ago. Our Loyalty for great sushi is with them.

Every time we arrive, the staff (its a family run business) talk to us as if we were part of their family. At first we only went for birthdays and special occasions. Now we end up going there once a month it seems. The quality and value is unsurpassed.

When Nikko first opened, and for a couple of years following, they would take our picture. If you look closely in a few of the booths you will find our family up on the wall. For twenty years, the staff at Nikko Sushi has watched out family grow. Even today, when it was just my wife and I, they asked about our kids.

Because of our commitment to them, we are treated like royalty when we walk in those doors. Almost every meal we end up getting a sample of some sort of treat they have. And every year for their anniversary, we have been given a gift. Previously we have received bottles of wine, this year was a lovely hand towel (that our oldest daughter has claimed.) We also leave a generous tip as I have always proudly supported small business.

If you haven’t eaten at Nikko Sushi, you absolutely have to try it. Trust me, it is quality food. I plan on still going there over the next twenty years!

Resolution Schmezolution

Ten days into the new year and I haven’t made any resolutions. So I didn’t feel guilty eating fast food at my desk for lunch.

I went all out and enjoyed bacon as my lunch. Baconator burger with bacon poutine fries. Truly unhealthy, but so tasty.

And then it sat in my gut for the rest of the afternoon making me feel like crud. Not the best feeling let me tell you. Before heading home I ate my orange and apple in hopes that some minuscule amount of healthy would balance this meal out.

Who was I kidding? My heart-attack burger with extra mayonnaise and gravy fries meal probably put me one step closer to death. No amount of fruits or vegetables were going to turn back time and prevent my decision. In fact, given the chance- I’d probably make the same mistake again.

It was messy, repulsive looking, and oh-so delicious.

Stealing Lunch Treats

Being a father is great! You get to never grow up. Kids want you to play with toys, watch cartoons, dress up, all that fun stuff.

I love the fact that I get to steal my kids’ lunch snacks and pack them into my lunch. My son has accepted this and even packs treats for me to enjoy. This time was a couple pieces of strawberry Nibs candy. It was a pleasant surprise.

Back in high school I used to buy big boxes of Super Nibs every week. I’d keep them in my locker. As people wandered the halls, they knew to stop by for a treat if they saw me at my locker. I’ve always been the sort of person to share if it brings people joy.

Inadvertently I have bestowed that quality in my son. It brings me joy that he wants to make others happy with simple gestures as I do.

I’m still going to steal granola bars and cheese and crackers for my lunch. But a Nib or two is always welcome.

Cheesecake

Our recent obsession is watching “The Golden Girls” on Amazon Prime. I had no idea how often these ladies just pulled a cheesecake out of the freezer and sat around cracking jokes. I have been throughly amused by this show and remember bits and pieces from when it ran the first time around.

I have always loved cheesecake. I was eating cheesecake when I saw my first crush as a teenager. Later in life, my wife and I had cheesecake at our wedding instead of wedding cake. Whenever my wife and I are on a date and cheesecake is on the menu- I like to enjoy a slice to end the evening. To me cheesecake is kind of romantic.

My wife and daughter scratch made a delicious lemon cheesecake the other day. It was fantastic. It made me realize that we could have cheesecake more often. I think it shall be a possibility going forward- especially if someone else is making it for me…

My love of cheesecake will always be around. When I get older, I’ll probably eat just as much as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia do. Nothing wrong with solving your problems over a cheesecake.

Brisket Leftovers

Instead of a turkey this year, we made a brisket on our new BBQ. Usually I cut the meat into two or three smaller meals, but this time I decided to make the whole thing. That meant there was a lot of leftovers for us.

The brisket was larger than a turkey and a much more solid piece of meat. After our initial dinner, we still had more than 3/4 of the meat remaining. Since then I have had a few slices on sandwiches as well as frying a couple of pieces to go with eggs and toast.

But my favorite leftover has to be the brisket soup my wife made in our slow cooker. It was a tasty beef and barley soup that infused the Smokey flavor of the meat into each spoonful.

Tomorrow night’s dinner will be beef dip and fries. Perhaps we will be closer to finishing the meat at that point. With so much beef in our diets in such a short time- that means we will likely move away from red meat for a few weeks. I also can’t wait until spring and summer to start enjoying fresh vegetables once more.

Christmas Eve 2020

Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.

A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*

Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…

As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.

So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.

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.