Gaining Pinterest Followers

Against my better judgement I have entered a friendly competition with another blogger to see who can gain the most Pinterest followers.

At the start of the competition we both had about 50 Pinterest followers. She-who-I will-not-name now has 70 followers and I have 66 Pinterest followers. Clearly, she has taken an early lead.

My Pinterest feed is primarily about food with some stuff about teaching and some about leather working. But the good stuff…lots on that!!

Can you help a guy out? If you are on Pinterest, give me a follow? If you want to find me, I  am Stacey Robinsmith at Pinterest.

My First Vlog Entry on Word Choice

I did it. I have a vlog entry. And for those who do not know, a vlog is a blog where the content (blog post) is done by video. So instead of me trying to type up all the words about word choice and using italics and bold font and all that stuff to add emphasis, I did a vlog and you can see my facial expressions to understand what I am saying!

Let me know what you think because I have another vlog entry in development.

French Fries Without the Fryer

My kids love French fries. But I don’t want to give them deep fried food, plus I don’t like using a deep fryer at home!

French Fries

So rather than deep frying potatoes, I have been experimenting with oven baking potatoes. Today I decided to go for a Jenga-inspired oven baked French fries.

And it worked really well! The heat was able to get around the potato slices quite nicely so they cooked quickly. And of course the best part? All the kids loved the oven-baked French fries.

Cabin-Cooking; Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

On the long weekend just passed, I decided to head out of town to the cabin. As well as making bread at the cabin, I also needed something substantial for my dinner so of course I visited Meat Craft, my local butcher in Port Moody.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Greg the Butcher set me up with a beauty of Bone-in Prime Rib Steak. At 22 ounces, it was a relatively large steak but, it was my intention to share the steak with my daughter. I do find it quite funny that the cow that the steak came from lived its life in the Nicola Valley and I go to Meat Craft in Port Moody to purchase it and then take it back to the Southern Interior to cook and eat it.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

As I like to do, I sprinkled both sides of the steak with a dry rub and let it rest on the paper while I let the cast iron pan warm up in the oven under the broiler.
Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Then, once the pan was hot enough to make a dollop of butter sizzle and begin to brown, I set the steak into the pan.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

I set my timer for 5 minutes and then slid the pan with the steak into the oven under the broiler.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

The moment the timer sounded I pulled the pan out of the oven and flipped the steak over.

Back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

And then, as nearly everyone has said in the comments on my YouTube videos of me cooking a steak – I let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. Yes, I let it rest!!

When I did cut into the steak, it was cooked just the way I like it – on the rare side of medium rare.

Bone-in Prime Rib Steak

Of course as I said, at 22 ounces that’s a large steak. So as you can see in the picture above, I did share the steak with my daughter.

Bottom line, at nearly $30, this was an expensive steak. But really, I only buy a steak like this once every couple of months and I enjoy the process of choosing it, watching Greg cut the steak, and then preparing the steak. It is a treat for myself.

 

 

 

Cabin Cooking; the Bread Making Edition 

Family Day is the newest stat holiday in BC so I did my usual routine and got out of the city. I headed up the Fraser Canyon to the cabin.

And as I usually do at the cabin, I got into experimenting in the kitchen. Seeing as I had one of my daughters with me and they are in a phase in which they love to use my iPhone as a video camera – we decided to make a video of me trying out a new bread recipe.

I do apologize in advance for the shaky video. As I said, the camera operator was my daughter.

The ingredients for my cabin bread:

  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 3/4 Cups of water

I first mixed together the dry ingredients and then added the egg, beat that into the dry mix. I then cut the butter into the mixture before adding the water. I stirred it all together for a couple of minutes using a rubber spatula and then plopped the lump of dough into the already hot cast iron pan.

Into the oven for 35 minutes. Out of the oven onto the cooling rack to let it rest, and then sliced bread with butter.

That’s it. Try it.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Evergreen Cultural Centre

Last night I took my young daughters down to the Evergreen Cultural Centre for the Monster Theatre presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

evergreen cultural centre

The production was geared towards children and it was cool to see how readily kids broke through the fourth wall that traditionally separates the players on the stage from the audience.

As a “seasoned” theatre goer, I tend to see the fourth wall as an impenetrable wall. So that even when the players on the stage look into the audience and ask a question, I realize I am not to reply. Nor is anyone in the theatre to reply. Unless you are a kid at a Monster Theatre presentation.

Last night, the players on the stage called into the audience and the kids replied. It was a somewhat risky move that worked well.

The kids replied when expected and became quiet observers for the other parts of the show.

As for the play, it is worth noting that it was not actually a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but a play about the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Confusing? It wasn’t. It was actually really neat. Although not a “tight” performance, it was a very entertaining performance.

The performance had two women and one man on the stage. These three people were able to change from one character to another in a blink of the eye. One second she was Demetruis and then Hermia and then Lysander and then Helena.

The characters changed personas with a simple twist of the wrist to change the mask but more importantly, it was not just the mask that changed. The voice, the demeanour, and the body movements were also changed instantaneously. It was really amusing to see the characters changing so quickly. The best part was how the quick role changes kept the kids in the audience transfixed. As was I!!

I will definitely be taking my kids to check out more of the Monster Theatre productions. Especially if they come back to my local theatre, the Evergreen Cultural Centre.

 

Cavalia Presents Odysseo in the Olympic Village

Although I have not yet found time in my hectic family schedule for us to attend a performance of Odysseo, a re-imagining of equestrian and theatrical arts, a couple of my friends have been to the show and they both said this is a MUST SEE performance.

I have to admit, I am amazed by the images I have seen of the performance so far. So what is Odysseo? And where is it?

Odysseo
Photo Credit – Jak Wonderly

Well, Odysseo’s White Big Top – the largest touring tent on the planet – was erected in Vancouver’s Olympic Village in preparation of Odysseo’s second and final run in Vancouver.

Cavalia
Normand Latourelle of Cavalia

The $30 million theatrical production imagined by Normand Latourelle opened on January 29th with matinee and evening performances now scheduled through February 26th.

Covering a surface area of 5,425 square metres, the size of the BC Lions football field, Odysseo’s impressive White Big Top is a mix of art, technology and advanced engineering.

Cavalia
Photo Credit – Andrew Miller

In order to break through the limitations of standard big top tents, allow for more flexibility in the performance area, and to give the horses the space they need to feel free and comfortable, Normand Latourelle, Cavalia’s artistic director and founder, partnered with specialized companies in Europe and Canada to create this high-tech structure.

Odysseo
Photo Credit Dan Harper

This unprecedented structure is also composed of several exceptional features like the grandiose stage – larger than the Rogers Arena ice rink – that enables large-scale, cutting-edge creative performances.

Odysseo
Photo Credit – Dan Harper

Surrounded by bleachers with 2,074 seats, the 1,626 square metres stage requires 10,000 tons of stone, earth and sand to create so that it offers a vast space of freedom where 65 horses and 48 artists can display their intimate collaboration.

Odysseo
Photo Credit Jak Wonderly

To help immerse the audience in the magical world of Odysseo, images of the most beautiful landscapes from around the world are projected throughout the show onto a 780 square metre screen.

Odysseo
Photo Credit – Jak Wonderly

Never afraid of using unparalleled technical, visual, and sound infrastructure, the Odysseo creative team has invented a feast for the eyes, a multi-dimensional spectacle with staggering effects created by state-of-the-art scenery.

Odysseo
Photo Credit – Jak Wonderly

During the breathtaking finale, a vertiginous virtual waterfall overhangs a lake made possible by an underground drain system that releases 150,000 litres of recycled water onto the stage, in which horses, riders, and artists join to frolic, leaving behind them the traces of their splashes—and an astonished audience.

Tickets are priced from $29.50 to $139.50 + applicable taxes and fees.

The “Rendez-Vous” package is the deal that I am discussing with Sweetheart. That package offers the best seats in the house, exquisite full buffet dining before the show, open bar, desserts during intermission and an exclusive visit of the stables after the show.

This unique VIP experience takes place in a tent alongside the White Big Top. The Rendez-Vous package prices range from $129.50 to $209.50 + applicable taxes and fees.

Special pricing and packages also available for groups, children (2-12), juniors (13-17) and seniors (65+).

You can follow Cavalia’s latest developments at

I hope to see you at a performance!

Stovetop Lasagna from Thug Kitchen 101

Tuesday is one of my days to make dinner so I did my usual and turned to my favourite cookbook, Thug Kitchen 101. And today’s meal? Yep, stovetop lasagna.

Stovetop Lasagna

The recipe calls for some of their caramelized onion-tomato sauce so while a pot of water heated to cook the lasagna noodles I got a smaller pot heated up. Into that pot I slid an onion I had sliced very thin. I let the onions dance around in the heat until they were all wilty and translucent looking.

Stovetop Lasagna

To that pot I added a tablespoon of tomato paste. In hindsight, I wish I had let the onions brown a little more so they would have had a stronger flavour. Oh well. Next time.

The recipe called for a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, but seeing as I did not have any, and I did have crushed tomatoes – substitution time. The caramelized onion sauce thickened up beautifully then!

Stovetop Lasagna

Of course my pot of water had started boiling so the chunks of lasagna noodles were tossed in there. I broke the pieces of lasagna into approximately three inch long chunks and let them cook. I wasn’t paying attention but you know how to cook lasagna noodles – 6-8 minutes?

I drained the cooked noodles and left them in the colander/strainer while I put the pot back on the stove. I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then put the fresh spinach in the pot.

Within a couple of minutes the spinach was cooked down into a wilted mess so I added the lasagna noodles to the pot of spinach. A good stir, and it was all mixed together.

Right after the spinach was wilted down I added the slices of tempeh into the pot. Stir around.

Now here is where I really wish I had followed the Thug Kitchen 101 directions for their stovetop lasagna; it said to also add the caramelized onion tomato sauce to the pot of noodles and spinach. Oh no, I am too smart for that…

Instead I took a baking dish, ladled in some noodle/spinach mix, and then dolloped some ricotta cheese on top of the noodles before ladling on a layer of tomato sauce.

Stovetop Lasagna

Repeat. Another layer of noodles, another couple dollops of ricotta, more tomato sauce.

Seeing as I had dinner ready before the hungry hordes got home, I took another lefthand turn with the dish of stovetop lasagna – I slid the dish into the oven at 250 degrees to keep it warm.

Stovetop Lasagna

I really enjoyed my Thug Kitchen 101 inspired stovetop lasagna. The kids? What’s that saying? Two out of three ain’t bad…the third refused to eat it because there was green in the dish. The other two loved it.  And I have a bowl of it for my lunch!

Red Wagon Cafe Fails to Meet Expectations 

After waiting for months and months and months to get into the Red Wagon Cafe on East Hastings Street, we finally found a moment when there wasn’t a line-up of hipsters out front of the place. And what a total and complete disappointment the entire Red Wagon Cafe experience turned out to be.

First off, the service was typical hipster-pathetic. The kind of attitude where the servers make it clear that they are doing you a huge favour by bringing you a cup of coffee. The servers make it seem like the customers are an interruption to their performance art. Yawn. Honestly, I am so far beyond that kind of attitude.

The other really annoying thing about the Red Wagon Café is that the tables are so close together that if you dare to lift your arm to get food into your mouth you end up bumping elbows with the person sitting beside you who may also be trying to lift their arm.

Trucker's Breakfast
Trucker’s Breakfast

And then the breakfast. When you see a truckers breakfast listed on the menu what do you imagine? I imagine a massive meal. So when you see the Super Trucker’s Breakfast? I imagine a mountain of food.

Instead at the Red Wagon Café the Super Trucker breakfast had two pancakes that would not cover the palm of my hand, one piece of toast that could’ve been used as a brick and two eggs.

We asked for the eggs overeasy and instead they came with the yolks cooked hard. When we told the server that the eggs were cooked way too hard she said she would get it fixed, took the plate back to the kitchen and returned within a couple minutes.

The server returned with the same plate and if I’m not mistaken the same eggs. If they weren’t the same eggs, they were another two eggs that were as equally butchered.

Yes, the small piece of pork belly was good. And the tablespoonful of pulled pork was also yummy. However it’s a Truckers Breakfast – actually a Super Truckers Breakfast! Honestly, you should not leave any restaurant hungry if you have had a Super Truckers Breakfast. Especially if you’ve paid $20 for breakfast.

Total disappointment on this one. We will not be returning anytime soon. Or rather anytime.

The Red Wagon Cafe is located at 2296 East Hastings Street, Vancouver.

At Home With Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups

If there’s one thing that I really enjoy, it is the total premium steakhouse experience.

I love the feeling of a steakhouse. I love the food served in a steakhouse and I love the professionalism of the servers, the dark wood decor, the larger than life plates and the heavy stainless steel cutlery. Best of all, I love the premium soups and steaks that are served in a steakhouse.

Simply put, I love the steakhouse experience.

Unfortunately I don’t get to visit a steakhouse as often as I would like with the kids’ busy after-school schedules and my wife’s never-ending commitments to work. So, it is really difficult to find time for us to get away to enjoy the steakhouse experience.

In fact, more often than not, this is what my dining room table looks like at dinner time. Unruly kids letting me know that they are starving while pounding on the table demanding food … Not even close to what a classy premium steakhouse looks like.

That’s why when the people behind Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups offered to partner with me so that I could bring the premium steakhouse experience into my own home, and to earn the title of the #KingofSoup…

I had to say YES!!

I received four packages of Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups all of which delivered the flavorful, slow-cooked taste of restaurant-quality potato soup straight to my table.

The soups are filled with real Idaho® red potatoes and red potato skins that deliver exceptional taste and texture in every spoonful. Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups are available in four delicious flavor varieties: Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli and Three Cheese Chipotle.

The best part? These soups can be prepared IN FIVE MINUTES!

But that thing about the #KingofSoup…as well as getting to sample great soups that are ready in five minutes, I am also in a contest with a bunch of other cool dads to see which one of us will be crowned as the King of Soup.

To be crowned the King of Soup we are each doing our best to convert our homes from regular homes into a premium steakhouse experience. To see more about who will be the King of Soup you can follow the hashtag #KingofSoup on Twitter or Instagram. I have to admit, I have some pretty serious competition in the run up to my coronation.

Literally five minutes and I had the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups on the table.

To prepare the soup all I had to do was put four cups of water in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil and then add the steakhouse soup to the boiling water.

I whisked it a little, and then left it with the lid off to simmer for five minutes.

I let the soup sit for a couple of minutes to cool down and then served bowls of the Cheddar Broccoli Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups.

I added a little grated cheddar cheese, a pinch of chopped parsley, and the soup course of dinner was ready.

Honestly, the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup was amazing. It is a premium steakhouse quality soup with chunks of potatoes and broccoli, with a great cheese taste to complement the potato. I was very impressed with the soup – especially seeing as I was able to have it on the table IN FIVE MINUTES.

If you want to get social with Idahoan Foods:

Disclosure; As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, I have partnered with Life of Dad and Idahoan® Foods for this campaign, but as always, my opinions expressed in this blog, are my own.