A Parent’s Bucket List

People often talk about a bucket list; those lists of things they want to get done before they “kick the bucket”. People often add stupid crazy or exotic things to their bucket list. They often add things like parachuting out of airplanes or visiting the Amazon or swimming with dolphins. Crazy stuff.

However, as the parent of young children my bucket list is profoundly different than any of those crazy or exotic things that other people may have on their bucket list.

So what would be on my “bucket list”? Well let me tell you.

Bucket List
Ferrari Maranello

The first thing on my bucket list is being able to wake up in my own bed without having a kid wake me up. Waking up when I want, at my leisure.

After waking up I would like to have a fresh pot of coffee sitting on the kitchen counter. Sitting there, waiting for me. I don’t care who makes it. I just want it to magically appear on the counter when I am ready for it.

Waking up and having coffee are neat things to add to my bucket list but there are a couple of really big items on my bucket list.

The first big item on my parenting bucket list is … drumroll please … when my children do wake up I would like them to wake up with a smile on their face and a happy little “good morning Papa.” That first smile is a big one on my bucket list.

Next thing on my bucket list is that when they arrive at the breakfast table, I would like them to exclaim, “Wonderful! You’ve made me a healthy and nutritious breakfast! It looks delicious!” And then to eat it. Without screaming about how it looks like I am trying to poison them. Or that the food is disgusting.

Following them eating their breakfast, I would check off another bucket list item if the kids were able to get their dishes from the table and…gasp…into the dishwasher.

If we want to add another item – getting really wild here – I would like to see my kids get dressed in clothing that is appropriate for the weather and the occasion without screaming about the clothing “being itchy” or being too tight, or too loose or too old or too whatever.

You get the drift. As a parent, my bucket list may be a little more mundane than the dude who wants to ride across the Mojave desert on a Harley Davidson.

Oven Roasted Chick Peas

After many years of trying to convince my kids to eat some of the healthy foods we have prepared for them I finally figured it out; if I get them to help me prepare the food, they’ll eat it!!

Yesterday was my turn to make dinner and rather than making another meal of food they refuse to eat, I asked them to help me make dinner.

Knowing both kids like chickpeas (strange, right?) I decided to oven roast a can of chickpeas.

One kid rinsed them, the other got the stainless bowl and I got the bottle of avocado oil.

We dumped the thoroughly rinsed beans into the bowl, had one kid spin the bowl while I drizzled a couple tablespoons of oil on them.

Next kid gets the spices: curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, and some powdered garlic.

A generous shake of each spice, a kid spinning the bowl, shaking the chickpeas all about, and then into the glass roasting pan and under the broiler.

Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted Chickpeas

After about ten minutes under the broiler, all the while being continuously being watched by my kids, we took them out. Gave them a hearty stir, and then back under the broiler for another ten minutes.

The kids ate them all. Every. Single. One.

So was this because they were delicious or because they were involved with making them? I don’t know but I do know that they ate some healthy food last night!!

 

Poached Eggs on Potato Pancakes

Lunch today was made by students in the Foods and Nutrition class and served to the rest of the students in the school program.

Poached Eggs and Potato Pancakes
Poached Eggs and Potato Pancakes

Two perfectly poached eggs on a couple of potato pancakes with a side of grated carrot and apple salad.

And is there anything better than 14 % sour cream? I’m telling you, I could almost eat that stuff out of an ice cream cone!!

Evergreen Extension Leads to Parking Rule Changes

In preparation for the Dec. 2 opening of SkyTrain’s Evergreen Extension, the City of Coquitlam is introducing new parking options for commuters, which includes hundreds of new Park and Ride parking spots throughout Coquitlam’s City Centre.

Parking
Parking

The City is also implementing new parking regulations – including timed parking restrictions and paid parking – to ensure visitors and customers can still access parking for residential areas, local businesses, and civic centres.

Wherever possible, commuters are encouraged to use other transit options to connect to the SkyTrain.

City Centre parking options, which include timed parking restrictions within 400 metres of the Lafarge Lake-Douglas, Lincoln and Coquitlam Central stations, take effect on Dec. 1. Parking changes around the Burquitlam and Lougheed Stations come into effect Dec. 5.

New parking signage will help guide commuters in understanding the parking regulations and identifying Park and Ride locations. This information, including an FAQ and parking maps, is also available online at www.coquitlam.ca/parking

On-street parking is a shared public asset for neighbourhoods. Time limits are used to encourage turnover of this communal parking and prevent long-term parking so that patrons, visitors and service providers can use the street parking to access businesses, civic facilities, public parks, and residences.

The parking regulations will be in effect Monday to Saturday. As posted, they will typically only be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., which allows for overnight street parking for residents and their guests. Time and pay regulations are also not in effect on Sundays or statutory holidays.

The following highlights some of the parking changes that will be implemented:

Time restrictions will include:

  • Commercial frontages – Typically two to four hours on-street pay parking.
  • Recreational frontages – Typically four hour time-limited or pay parking.
  • Higher density residential frontages – Typically two to four hour time-limited parking.
  • Mixed commercial/residential frontages – Typically two to four hour on-street pay parking.
  • Civic/Institutional frontages – Typically two to four hour on-street pay parking.
  • Designated on-street Park and Ride stalls and City-owned Park and Ride lots will cost 75 cents – $1.00 per hour, capping out at a maximum of $3.75 per day.

Three Park and Ride options will be available in Coquitlam. These include:

  • A new City-owned Park and Ride lot at the southeast intersection of Pinetree Way and Guildford Way (due to open mid-December), with approximately 100 stalls in the lot, and a further 50+ designated Park and Ride stalls on the adjacent streets (for Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station). This lot and the designated Park and Ride on-street parking stalls cost 75 cents an hour and a daily maximum of $3.75. Parking is free on Sundays.
  • The City-owned Lincoln Park and Ride lot, at the northwest corner of Lincoln Ave. and Westwood St., with approximately 100 stalls (nearest Lincoln Station). This lot has a fee of 75 cents an hour and a daily maximum fee of $3.75. Parking is free on Sundays.
  • Coquitlam Central Station, 2920 Barnet Highway (at Lougheed), with more than 1,000 stalls (for Coquitlam Central SkyTrain and West Coast Express stations). This lot is owned and operated by TransLink; it includes approximately 350 new stalls added next to Rona. Fees for parking at this lot are $3/day and are in effect seven days a week.

At this time there is no Park and Ride facility in close proximity to the Burquitlam Station. The City of Coquitlam is working with the YMCA and other potential partners in this area to explore opportunities that could facilitate future Park and Ride amenities.

Parking on streets and in the existing Park and Ride facilities will be monitored by City staff, who will assess parking changes over the next six months to evaluate whether further adjustments are required.

For more information:

  • View the regulations and parking options, including maps and FAQs, at www.coquitlam.ca/parking and at www.translink.ca/parkandride
  • To address questions or concerns regarding neighbourhood parking, contact the City of Coquitlam’s Transportation Division at parkingstrategy@coquitlam.ca
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest information and updates – including the opening day for the Park and Ride lot at Pinetree Way and Guildford Way – by subscribing to the Parking Management Strategy listserve or following the City of Coquitlam on social media.
  • To plan your commute, including bus connections, use TransLink’s Trip Planner at www.tripplanning.translink.ca to help you map out your route.

Stanley Park Brewing Long Table Dinner

Last week I was invited by Stanley Park Brewing to join a group of social media people in the Stanley Park Pavilion for a long table dinner and beer pairing event; I graciously accepted – umm, free beer? Yes, thank you Stanley Park Brewing!!

Stanley Park Brewing
The Menu

This was an interesting event; at the long table dinner people were assigned seats so it was a cool social event – sharing food, tasting beer, and talking with new friends. Very cool.

At each place setting there were four Stanley Park Brewing beer glasses. And shortly after sitting down, the serving staff came around with pitchers and began to fill the beers.

Stanley Park Brewing
The Four Beers

They filled the glasses from left to right; the first beer was Stanley Park Brewing’s Noble Pilsner. Next to that is their Windstorm Pale Ale, followed by the WinterGlow Mandarin  IPA and finally the glass of Foghorn IBA.

Of course the Noble Pilsner was good. A nonintrusive flavour that is simply very pleasing to the mouth. Not overly hopped, just a medium bodied beer with some very subtle hints of fruit.

Stanley Park Brewing
Pilsner and Pale Ale

The two beers that I really enjoyed though were the WinterGlow Mandarin IPA and the Foghorn India Brown Ale (IBA).

It is interesting to stop and think about what I am about to write. Not that long ago people had their choice of beers from the big three breweries who controlled virtually all of the beer market; Molsons, Labatts, and Carling O’Keefe’s. Now we talk about endless beers from seemingly countless small breweries. I love it.

Stanley Park Brewing
The Four Beers

Back to the WinterGlow – the glass second from the right in the pic above. It is a beer with a distinct aroma of mandarin oranges and a strong but not overpowering, flavour of hops.

I am not a fan of the way so many brewer masters are hopping up their beers. It is simply too much of a good thing. The team at Stanley Park Brewing got this one right. Yes, there is a strong taste of hops but for me, it is well balanced with the stronger citrus hints.

Stanley Park Brewing
Grapefruit Panna Cotta

To finish off the dinner we enjoyed a Grapefruit Panna Cotta with a pistachio crumble with a sprinkle of flower petals. The dessert was paired with the Windstorm Pale Ale.

Like the Mandarin IPA, the Windstorm Pale Ale has hints of citrus but with an added bonus of tropical fruit.

To me it was very interesting to see how beers can be paired with different foods. Typically there is great attention to getting the “right wine” with the right meal, it is fun to see how people are now taking the time to pair their meals with beers.

As the old advertisement says, “you’ve come a long way baby!” The world of choices that beer drinkers now have available certainly have come a long way, at least in part due to the smaller brewers like Stanley Park Brewing.

Disclosure: Thank you to Stanley Park Brewing for inviting me to this fabulous dinner event. Although my dinner and the samples of beer were complimentary my comments in this blog post are my own and in no way were influenced by the folks at Stanley Park Brewing. As always, editorial control of what is posted on my blog remains with me.

 

Hasselback Potatoes

The kids have been keen to have me cook potatoes in a different ways and today they basically described Hasselback potatoes.

They like to “explore” new cooking techniques and I certainly encourage them to be imaginative. So today they described a couple of new ways; one was describing something like a Hasselback potatoes while my other daughter was describing a criss-cross pattern cut into the potatoes.

Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes

For the Hasselback potatoes we sliced part way through (I lay wooden spoons on each side so then knife didn’t go right through the potato).

Once the potato was sliced we jammed small pieces of cheddar cheese between as many of the slices as possible.

Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes

We baked the potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour. When we pulled them out they were still quite firm to the bite but the cheese had melted into the spaces between the slices and … delicious!!

More Open Houses for Brunette Interchange Proposed Upgrade

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is holding two additional open houses regarding the future Brunette Interchange on Highway 1.

The information at the open houses will be the same information that was presented at the first two open houses held on this project in early November.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the open houses scheduled for:

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016:
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sapperton Pensioners Hall
318 Keary St.
New Westminster

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Gymnasium, Maillard Middle school
1300 Rochester Ave.
Coquitlam

There are three design options for the future interchange, which will be presented at the open houses.

  • Option A: Brunette Interchange with Separate Municipal Connections and United Blvd. Connection:
    • The main crossing of Highway 1 is separated into two corridors – a two-lane corridor for local traffic and a four-lane corridor for regional and provincial traffic.
  • Option B: Blue Mountain Interchange with United Blvd. Connection:
    • This option extends Blue Mountain St. over Highway 1 to United Blvd. Interchanges become the main access to Highway 1.
  • Option C: Blue Mountain Interchange with Braid Industrial Area Connector:
    • The direct connection between United Blvd. and Brunette is replaced by a two-lane connection from Blue Mountain St. to Columbia St. via a new connector with a two-lane tunnel under the rail lines and Brunette River.

The project team will be present to answer questions. There will also be display boards with more information on the project.

To learn more, or to provide feedback online, please visit the project website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/brunetteinterchange/

Mr Ho’s Wonton House

Rather than go to Chong Qing on Kingsway, our usual Chinese food place, we decided to make a change and try Mr Ho’s Wonton House down Kingsway near Sperling Ave.

In order to get an idea of what their food is like, we ordered quite a number of dishes. And I have to say, one thing I do NOT like when I am in a restaurant is a server “chastising” me for the amount of food I am ordering. I always order many dishes so that I can sample a variety of the menu. So what if I am ordering enough for a large family? I will happily carry the leftovers home! Anyway, other than the servers continuously gasping at what we ordered, the service was very friendly and welcoming.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Hot and Sour Soup

We started with a small bowl of Hot and Sour soup. I didn’t get a picture of the main bowl because as fast as the server set it down she was dishing it into idividual bowls. Oh well. The Hot and Sour soup was a total hit for flavour.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

As far our next favourite dish, the deep fried chicken ball with sweet and sour sauce were on task. Very tender chicken bits that although they were deep fried were not greasy at all. Loved these little balls of goodness!

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Sichuan Style Long Green Beans

Next on the top dish list were the Sichuan Style Long Green Beans. I love ultra crisp green beans and wow, did these hit the mark. Wonderful.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Ginger Beef

The Szechuan Ginger Beef was another “I’ll order that again” dish. Crispy bits of beef with absolute flavour bursts. Loved this one.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Special Fried Rice Noodles

The final dish that we really loved was the Special Fried Rice Noodles. Although they were yellowed with curry, the curry was not overwhelming. In fact, I would have liked a stronger curry hit. The shrimp that were in the dish were beautifully plump and had a nice firm mouth feel as I bit into them. I would order this again but I would ask for it to be spicier.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
Stir Fried Snap Peas

A dish that deserves an honourable mention is the Stir Fried Snap Peas. Once again they were cooked nicely with a perfect snap to the bite. I was just underwhelmed by the boring plating and lack of any flavour. When I dug into the dish I did find lots of chopped garlic that improved the flavour, but overall, meh.

Mr Ho's Wonton House
General Chu’s Chicken

The final dish that was a total hit was the General Chu’s Chicken. We loved the fact that it came in a basket woven from crispy taro root. Although the chicken was full of flavour, it was the taro root “basket” that we all enjoyed devouring!

So for the bottomline – we will definitely be returning to Mr Ho’s Wonton House. The food was well flavoured, beautifully presented, with friendly and welcoming service although I do not appreciate being chastised for ordering more items than the server thinks I should.

And the fact is, we had enough leftovers for three of us to have lunches the next day!!

Mr Ho’s Wonton House is located at 6731 Kingsway in Burnaby. You can also call Mr Ho’s Wonton House for take-out; 604-540-6746.