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.

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.