Electric Vehicles – Nissan Leaf

I am seriously considering the purchase of an electric vehicle and, as soon as I said those words to my friends they began to send me articles explaining how impractical and totally inadequate electric vehicles are.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

As a first step towards purchasing electric vehicles, this weekend I took one out for a test drive. Apparently the owner of the EV I took for a test drive had seen the video of my last test drive and did not want to go through a similar experience as the last sales guy so I was not allowed to video my latest test drive.

Other than the fact that the range on the Nissan Leaf is now approximately 150 kilometres (up from 100 kilometres four years ago), the fundamentals of the Nissan Leaf  have not changed all that much.

Let’s consider a couple of the anti-EV points:

First – There would not be enough charging stations if everyone bought and drove an EV. You may have to wait at a charging station before being able to charge your car.

True. However, that is the same as saying there would not be enough gas stations or a distribution network if everyone bought cars that burn diesel. Not everyone is going to buy electric vehicles. Or a diesel.

And further, the vast majority of people can plug their car in at home overnight and then have a full charge in their batteries for the morning.

Second – If you do run the batteries out of charge, your car has to be towed to the next place it can be charged.

True. However, if you have any ability to plan your day, you will not run out of charge. Yep, you have to plan ahead. Same as people who drive a diesel powered vehicle. A little planning helps you go a long way.

Anyway, the fact is that EVs are NOT for everyone. If you need a truck to haul your tools and work supplies around with you, probably no EV in your future.

If you live in Chilliwack and drive to UBC everyday, probably no EV in your future.

On the other hand, if you live in Surrey and drive to Burnaby or Vancouver, you would be well served by trading in your gas powered car and getting and electric vehicle. Not only would you no longer have to pay for gasoline and oil changes, you get to drive in the HOV lane and your tolls are lower!!

The fact is, electric vehicles (EVs) are actually very practical for many more commuters than most people realize.

My Thug Kitchen Inspired One Pot Spaghetti 

My turn to make dinner tonight so where do I turn for inspiration? To my Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook, of course. 

Thug Kitchen 101
One Pot Spaghetti

I love the flavours from their Skillet Beer Chili Mac – a one pot mac and cheese with beer and black beans recipe so I used that as a starting point for dinner this evening.

I put a Dutch oven with some grapeseed oil on a hot element and then added three finely diced onions to the pot. I let them sauté until they had softened up and then added some slices of yellow and red peppers to the pot. Once they were cooked down a bit I added in the spices; smoked paprika, chilli powder, and a little curry powder.

I let that heat up so the flavours of the spices could bloom and then I added three cups of veggie stock and a jar of tomato sauce. A little time to heat that up and then I put in the spaghetti. Brought it to a boil, reduced the heat so the spaghetti could cook, and left it cooking for about ten minutes.

Once the spaghetti noodles were cooked to al dente I removed the pot from the heat and folded in a quarter cup of nutritional yeast to give the pasta a cheese, nutty flavour.

And then just before serving the pasta I added a can of black beans to the pot of pasta. Of course before using the black beans I dumped them into a strainer and thoroughly rinsed them.

The good news? In less than half an hour I had dinner on the table and the one pot spaghetti was delicious, the kids enjoyed it, and I only had one pot to clean after dinner. Another winner inspired by the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook.

New Year’s Resolutions. Sort Of. 

At the start of the new year many people make New Year’s Resolutions. I assume they do this for a variety of reasons but, I also assume they make resolutions in an effort to make themselves better people.

new year's eve
new year’s eve

I’ll be honest, I don’t do resolutions. Not because I don’t need to make myself better. I know that there are things about myself I need to work on but, I have never had much success with making ad sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

However, in an effort to make the world a better place I have resolutions or simple changes that you should make. And of course, I will attempt to adopt some of these changes as well.

First thing we can do to make the world a better place is to eat a vegetarian meal now and then. Simply give up meat for one meal.  Eating a plant based meal once a week will help make the world a better place.

Another thing you can do is to wear your jeans for a lot longer than you currently do without washing them.

There really is no need to wash jeans as often as we tend to do. You don’t even need to wash them once a week or every second week. True story, I’ve got a pair of jeans that I’ve owned for three years and I have worn them everyday for at least part of the day.

I have washed that pair of jeans three and I have given them three cold rinses. When you see me wearing those jeans you would never know it. They don’t stink. They don’t look dirty. And they are super comfortable.

You can’t even begin to imagine how much water I have saved the world by not washing those jeans.

The third thing you can do to make the world a better place is to NOT click on any Facebook link that says “AND YOU WON”T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!”

Typically things like that are Clickbait – a portal into a world of deceitful advertising that is full of advertising and scams and negativity that you really don’t need to expose yourself to. Don’t encourage these rubes and rascals. Ignore the clickbait.

And finally, the best thing you could do to make the world a better place is subscribe to my blog. All you have to do is go to the bottom of any of the things I post on the blog, write a comment and then click the “notify me of future posts” box. You know that this will make the world a better place.

That’s my list of new year’s resolutions or things to I will be doing to make the world a better place. Anything else you want to add to the list?

Metro Vancouver Festival of Lights

Over the Christmas season that recently ended we visited the light displays around Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake, the Burnaby Village Museum, and the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.

Festival of Lights
Lafarge Lake Lights

This year’s free light display at Lafarge Lake is even bigger and more beautiful than previous years because the display now goes all the way around the lake. It is lovely to walk around the lake and see the light displays.

festival of lights
Lafarge Lake Lights

My kids’ favourite part of the walk was the gnomes in the little mining tunnel near the south end of the lake. However, they were quite aghast to see one of the miners in the tunnel smoking a pipe.

Another important consideration before visiting the Lafarge Lake festival of lights – there are no public washrooms around the lake and the Evergreen Cultural Centre is often closed in the evening – plan accordingly.

festival of lights
Burnaby Village Museum

The Burnaby Village Museum is another free festival of lights definitely worth visiting. Sure there are lots of lights at the display but the really cool thing is the old-fashioned village that you can wander through. It feels like you have traveled back in time to a sweet old village; especially when the kids get to visit with an old-world Father Christmas.

festival of lights
Burnaby Village Museum

Of course the carousel at the Burnaby Village Museum is also an incredibly popular attraction for the young and not-so young. My kids love riding the carousel and are filled with joy, especially if they get their favourite horse on the carousel.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights
Van Dusen Festival of Lights

And then on the first day of this new year I went with my family to the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. The light display at Van Dusen is beyond compare. So many lights! It really is a marvel.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights
Van Dusen Festival of Lights

The light displays at the Van Dusen Gardens – simply put – spectacular. And they go on and on and on!! You can wander from one garden zone to another and each is decorated in its own beautiful and unique way.

Similar to the Burnaby Village Museum, at the Van Dusen Festival of Lights there was a carousel, but honestly, this was the one way that the Burnaby Village Museum event was superior. It is tough to top the carousel at the BVM, especially seeing as the BVM carousel is inside whereas the Van Dusen carousel is outside – and it was really cold on the evening we visited!!

Other pluses for the Van Dusen Festival of Lights – they have multiple warming stations located around the gardens, washroom facilities AND food trucks!

My favourite food truck at the festival was the Potato Tornado Shack. They spiralize a potato, skewer it onto a wooden stick, dip it into batter, and then deep fry it to a wonderfully soft condition … pure deliciousness.

They also serve poutine (with a vegan gravy) and smoked meat sandwiches. I sampled a small piece of the smoked meat and I can assure you, I will be tracking down the Potato Tornado Shack

To wrap it all up, like this Christmas season has been wrapped up, Coquitlam and Burnaby light festivals are both free. The Festival of Lights at Van Dusen cost $17.50 per adult and $10 per child 3-12 years of age.

Disclosure; I did not pay for my family’s tickets to the Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens because I won the tickets in a contest/giveaway hosted by Raincity Mama on her blog Raincity Parent.

 

Blugenics Karen Phytoplankton

Canada’s newest superfood is microscopic, but its health benefits are huge. Phytoplankton – found in the ocean and considered the world’s original vegetable – is also known as microalgae, packed with omega fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D and K, beta carotene, dietary fibre, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron and protein.

Karen-Phytoplankton
Karen-Phytoplankton

The Karen brand of phytoplankton – a first-of-its-kind natural health product – is approved by Health Canada and according to company-led studies and anecdotal reports from those who consume it, Karen is effective in treating everything from digestive issues, inflammation, fibromyalgia and migraines to chronic pain, low energy and skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.

The company behind Karen phytoplankton is New Brunswick-based Blugenics Innovations Ltd., which launched in November 2015. In one year alone, sales of its unique superfood have skyrocketed to $1.8 million. Company founder David Hunter credits Blugenics Innovations’ rapid growth to a remarkable discovery he made more than a decade ago when he decided to eat this “fish food.”

“At first I thought it was a joke, but when I agreed to try phytoplankton, it completely changed my life,” said Hunter, who was first introduced to the idea of eating phytoplankton while working at a fish farm, where phytoplankton was fed to shellfish.

For years, Hunter suffered from “barn-burning” migraines, chronic fatigue and severe allergies. Within days after taking phytoplankton, his health improved. “It affected me in such a profound way – I remember feeling as though I had my life back,” said Hunter, adding that his headaches and allergies are gone, his immune system is stronger and he sleeps better at night. “I haven’t had a cold in years,” he said.

Now, Hunter is on a mission to bring the health benefits of phytoplankton to all Canadians. Today, Karen phytoplankton is cultivated in a state-of-the-art facility that is certified according to strict global food safety protocols HACCP and ISO 22,000, meaning the product is non-toxic and entirely safe for consumption.

Recognizing that Karen is a “word-of-mouth champion” and that the majority of Karen users see the benefits within a couple of weeks, Hunter said the company’s focus is to get people to try the health food, offering Canadians from coast to coast a 30-day trial challenge with a full money back guarantee.

“Karen is a single ingredient superfood phenomenon similar to Quinoa, where you have this ancient product that is suddenly seeing a surge in Western society,” said Dr. Melanie Wills, a University of Guelph PhD student in molecular and cellular biology who is part of a team of researchers at Mount Allison University investigating the product’s effectiveness in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems.

Allergen-free, Karen is available over-the-counter at pharmacies, health food stores, and health and wellness centres across Canada in pure powder and tablet form for $49.99. A dermo-cosmetic moisturizing skin cream is available online for $59.99.

Add Karen Phytoplankton powder to smoothies, applesauce and yogurt, or simply mix it with water or juice and drink.

For a list of retailers or to order online, visit www.thekarenproject.ca.

BC’s Agrifood Products Offered to the World

A new international market development strategy is the latest item on the menu offering BC’s agrifood and seafood products to the world. The strategy aims to build on the record $3.5 billion worth of B.C. products exported in 2015.

B.C.’s top five 2015 agrifood and seafood export markets were U.S. ($2.5 billion), China ($343 million), Japan ($190 million), Hong Kong ($62 million) and South Korea ($54 million).

The strategy focuses on providing programs and services that support three key areas: market knowledge, generating investment, and building networks, that collectively support success for B.C. companies in the marketplace.

Research has demonstrated that businesses entering new markets need market knowledge to succeed. The strategy emphasizes that by accessing customized market profiles, cost-competitive analysis and advisory services, as well as attending market readiness seminars and workshops, B.C. companies can be better informed and prepared to succeed in attracting new customers in new markets.

The strategy also highlights the value of government investment in programs that fund the development of new products, practices or technology, help B.C. companies prepare for and participate in targeted international marketing, and support an internationally recognized food safety and traceability system.

The top five agrifood exports in 2015 were $294 million in natural health products and food preparations for manufacturing; $218 million in blueberries; $159 million in baked goods and cereal products; $131 million in mushrooms; and $124 million in chocolate and cocoa preparations.

Export success or failure can depend on the quality and reliability of information and the established contacts on the ground in the new market. The Strategy highlights the value that having B.C. Trade and Investment Representatives in 13 international locations can provide in helping connect B.C. companies with buyers and trade representatives in key markets, as can participating in incoming and outgoing trade missions, and tradeshows and promotional events.

The strategy identifies the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong as priority markets for B.C. exports, as well as 17 secondary priority markets, and others with long-term growth potential. The strategy includes goals and targets for export growth, the diversification of export markets, the development of export capacity, knowledge and skills, and the opening of new markets for B.C. products.

BC's Agrifood
BC Salmon

B.C. food businesses exported more than 600 types of foods to over 150 markets in 2015 with exports reaching a record $3.5 billion.

The B.C. government’s Export Ready Business Catalogue is also now available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean and has been distributed through B.C. government trade offices in all three countries. The guide represents B.C.’s diverse agri-food and seafood sector, and includes profiles of about 100 B.C. producers of fruits and vegetables, seafood, meat, packaged food, natural health products and beverage makers, ready to export B.C. products.

Why I’m No Longer Saying Happy New Year

In an effort to make our society more inclusive and to avoid excluding people from conversations, I am no longer saying happy new year to people.

Let me explain.

Satire:

the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

To begin not everybody celebrates December 31st and January 1st as the end and start of a new year. So if you were saying happy new year to them, it may not have any significance.

Many people celebrate the lunar new year as the end and beginning of a new year. So if you are saying happy new year on December 31st you are being rather presumptuous and ethnocentric in the sense that this is not a new year for them.

And what about people who own businesses? For them the new year may not fall on December 31 or on the lunar new year.

Year end in business is not a happy time. So for you to say happy new year to somebody who owns a business is hurtful and probably brings up a lot of anxiety. There is an incredible amount of accounting that must be done at the end of the year and the beginning of a new year in business.

And what about the people who don’t even use the same calendar as we do? Some people still do not use the Gregorian calendar. So for you to assume that this is a new year another opportunity to cause hurt and exclude people from the conversation.

So in an effort to be more inclusive from now on I will be saying happy December 31st.

Happy December 31st everyone!!

293 Wallace St Restaurant 

I ventured up the Fraser Canyon this week and discovered that road conditions were actually much better than they are in the city. Of course as I traveled through Hope I did the usual and stopped at 293 Wallace for lunch.


With all my Christmas feasting still in mind, I opted for a soup and salad.

The soup was actually a very nice salmon chowder with loads of salmon chunks. Very nice.

The salad was loaded with hazelnuts and spiced almonds. The chunks of blue cheese and the house made ranch dressing added a lovely flavour to the crisp romaine lettuce.

On my return trip I decided to try out a new place – the Mission Springs Brew Company.


For lunch I had their Lumberjack Mac and Cheese. It was more like a massive bowl of brisket, bacon, pulled pork with maple syrup on top of small pasta shells. Outrageously delicious.

I actually only ate half the bowl of mac and cheese because it was so filling. And the side salad…delicious. Loaded with slivers of cucumbers and almonds, cranberries, chunks of tomatoes and crumbled feta. Really nice.

The restaurant and pub are in what looks like a hundred year old barn or machine shop. But it is actually a building that was constructed with lots of salvaged beams and lumber in 1996.

The walls are decorated with hundreds of old farm tools and implements. I was told that the crew from American Pickers came through and wanted to buy up much of the stuff in the brew pub but the owners chose to keep it. Good choice.

  • 293 Wallace Street Restaurant is in Hope BC at 293 Wallace Street.
  • The Mission Springs Brewing Company is located at 7160 Oliver St in Mission BC.

Both are places I’ll happily return to and have no hesitation in recommending.

Cabin Cooking; Brussel Sprouts

This week I took a quick trip to the cabin and as usual, I took the opportunity to cook a dinner of the foods that I enjoy – including brussel sprouts – without worrying whether the kids would eat it or not.

Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts

To start, I did my broiler-brussel sprouts. After cleaning them up, I sliced each sprout two or three times so that each slice was about the same thickness.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Next I sliced the bacon that I had picked up at Meat Craft Urban Butchery into pieces about a half inch wide and then layered it over the brussel sprouts. I hearty sprinkle of sirarcha sauce, a drizzle of olive oil and these sprouts were ready to get some heat.

Broiler Brussel Sprouts
Broiler Brussel Sprouts

I have to admit I was not paying attention so I can’t say how long these little gems were under the broiler – maybe ten minutes? I do know that I took them out at least once or twice and gave them a stir to make sure they were browned all the way around.

I love the way that some of them get smoky and almost burnt! The bacon cooked right down to a perfect little smoky bacon flavour gems and added just enough flavour to give a little flavour explosion. Great flavour combinations!

 

Of course the broiler-brussel sprouts were the “side dish” to my bone in pork rib chop. To cook that solid piece of meat I gave it a thorough coating of dry rub (I can’t remember the brand … Pete’s?) and then into the cast iron pan and under the broiler for 6 minutes.

Pork Rib Chops
Pork Rib Chops

After six minutes, I took the pan out of the oven, flipped the chops over, and then back in the oven for another six minutes.

And of course you may have noticed that baked potato. A beauty of a Russet potato baked without a tinfoil wrap so the skin was beautifully crispy and the spud inside was creamy. I dollop of butter mixed inside and then a couple massive spoons of Avalon Dairy 14% sour cream…wow.

Then I sat down and ate without hearing a single “ew I don’t like this…” or anything like that. It was an amazing meal, but you know, it was kind of lonely without my kids there with me. Even if they do complain about most of the food.