All posts by stacey

Meatless Monday With Thug Kitchen 101

Meatless Monday today in the Test Kitchen and I kicked up the flavour meter on my Skillet Beer Chili Mac by adding some STR8 Flexin Imperial Stout from my local craft brewery, Twin Sails. The ultra deep flavour profile of the Imperial Stout really adds to the complexity of the mac (and the kids get a kick out of thinking they are getting some beer).

Seeing as this is a recipe from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I figure they won’t care if I mod-out their recipes. So I added in a 1/4 cup of broken up cashews to add a bit more meaty texture to the dish. I also had a yam in the pantry that needed to be put into play … asap … so I diced it up and added it to the pot when I added in the chopped carrot. I didn’t have a bell pepper, so I skipped that. Meatless Monday with the Thug Kitchen. 

The best part – one pot to wash and the kids both ate it. 

New Westminster’s Old Crow Coffee Co

Do you know why the hipster burned his lip while drinking coffee? Because he drank it before it was cool. 

Speaking of hipsters, the Old Crow Coffee Company looks like an atypical hipster enterprise. 

After all, who, other than some hipsters would open a coffee shop on a one-way back street in New Westminster and expect to have success? 

But you know, the folks behind Old Crow Coffee Co are doing good stuff. Of course I only tried an Americano coffee but I have to say, it was a very tasty cup of coffee. 

I will definitely be returning to Old Crow Coffee to try more of their menu. 

The Old Crow Coffee Company is located at 655 Front Street in New Westminster. 

Dr Ian Stirling on Polar Bears and Climate Change

Seeing as I live a pretty wild and crazy life, especially on the weekends, I decided to attend a lecture hosted by The Vancouver Institute that featured by Dr Ian Stirling speaking on the topic of polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

polar bears

Dr Ian Stirling has been studying polar bears for 50 years and he knows his topic very well. He speaks in an easy to understand and very frank manner about polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

It was interesting to note that most of the people in the UBC lecture hall had hair as white as polar bears. However, Dr Stirling did not see that as a “problem”. In fact, he emphasized that while elementary school age children are very powerful agents of change, he added in that the more elderly members of society can also play an important role in “saving the world for polar bears”.

Elderly members of society are better able to meet with politicians and bureaucrats and the people who make the policies that may save the polar ice caps and the polar bears.

Elderly members of society can make investment choices, choose what types of cars they drive, how often they drive, and they can control the thermostat in their homes. Dr Stirling said that as a matter of principle he keeps the thermostat set at 17 degrees in his home and if anyone is cold in the house, they are told to put on a sweater. Or another sweater. He said we all have small things we can do to slow climate change.

polar bears

As for elementary school age children – Dr Ian Stirling said that they get the problem – the polar ice around the Arctic is melting which means that polar bear habitat is shrinking. Very quickly.

In the last 30 years the polar ice around the Arctic shrunk from something like 8 million square kilometres to just under 4 million. It has shrunk by more than half in less than 30 years.

And kids get it; if there is less polar ice, there is less habitat for polar bears. And when kids get it, from a very early age they begin making changes and questioning the way that things are done. They are the future agents of change and disruptors of the status quo.

After Dr Stirling’s lecture and incredible slide show of images of polar bears, there was a question and answer session. He was asked if “polar bear tourism” is having a net positive or negative impact on polar bears.

He openly admitted that he does some work in the polar bear tourism field but he did say that all things considered, people coming to view polar bears is a positive because of the awareness that it brings to more people. He feels that the more people who are aware of the plight of the polar bears, the more people who will be advocates for slowing climate change.

The primary difficulty that polar bears are having is that they hunt ring seals from the polar ice. As I said above, the less polar ice there is, the less hunting grounds for polar bears. As a result, some polar bears have been exploring new food sources and one of those new food sources is the community of Churchill, Manitoba.

With the growing numbers of polar bears coming into Churchill, the conservation officers were having to shoot and kill the bears. They quickly realized this was not the way to handle the situation.

So now, rather than shooting and killing the bears, they are now being kept for months without being fed, in an old decommissioned Canadian Armed Forces base.

Huh? Yes! Polar bears do not need to eat for months on end (they can live for months and months off the fat that they build on their bodies) so they are kept, without being fed, in an enclosure on the decommissioned military base.

As the bears get to the point where they are going to need to eat to replenish their fatty layer, they are taken from the enclosure and transported further north.

This new system of “handling” polar bears that are coming into contact with humans in Churchill has reduced the number of polar bears being shot in Churchill from 30 down to one or two a year.

At the end of the lecture Dr Ian Stirling did emphasize that although it is getting quite late, there really is time to change the path that humans have taken the natural environment on.

Our choices do matter.

Burquitlam Safeway; Price Check On Aisle One

Seeing as I needed a loaf of bread, I decided to make another visit to the Burquitlam Safeway. While I was there I also checked out the layout of the store and the prices in the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

After leaving the fresh produce section of the store you enter the main part of the store. I was pleased to see that they have a relatively large “Wellness Market” where they have a wide selection of vitamins and other health-related products.

Burquitlam Safeway

I stopped shopping at Safeway a long time ago because they stopped being price-competitive with stores like Superstore or No-Frills. However, I did notice that many of the prices in the store have yellow tags on them indicating temporary discounted pricing.

A savvy shopper will be able to save money by purchasing items with the yellow discount tags.

Burquitlam Safeway

Seeing as I was looking for bread, I grabbed a photo of one of the many shelves of bread. You can buy baked in store bread, artisan bread, “grocery store” bread, and some of what I call, good quality grocery store breads.

If you buy two loaves of the Silver Hills bread you get a discounted price of $3.50 a loaf. That to me is a pretty fair price for a decent quality bread.

Burquitlam Safeway

Just like the bread, the frozen veggies seem to be competitively priced.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course butter. A staple in my cooking (if you’ve ever seen me in the kitchen you’ll know what I mean). The house brand of butter is $3.99. I usually buy butter at my local No-Frills for $3.89 so again, competitive pricing.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course the thing that seems to have many people excited; the liquor store. Well, bad news folks; there is no liquor store in the new Safeway. However, there is a liquor store downstairs and outside the new Burquitlam Safeway.

The “Safeway Liquor Store” is actually a separate store from the new Safeway. The word on the street is that Safeway bought up the license or something like that to the Rhino Pub Liquor Store which is across the street in a building that is being demolished to make way for another high-rise tower.

So in effect, the Rhino Pub liquor store is simply moving across the street into a newer, fancier building with the Safeway name added to it.

Bottom line, the people who looked forward to “one stop shopping” for groceries and booze in the Burquitlam Safeway are not really going to get their wish.

All in all, I am still impressed enough with the new store to keep returning.


Dinner With Dad

One of the best ways to get kids who are reluctant eaters (how is it that I end up with a reluctant ester?) to eat is to make bizarre things out of the food. 

Last night I decided to make a low level Jenga game of the potatoes I had chopped into French fry shape. 

While we were eating the object of the game was to extract the baked fries one at a time without making the entire pan collapse. 

They ate the entire pan of potatoes. Mission accomplished. 

Burquitlam Safeway Grand Opening

Friday was the grand opening of the Burquitlam location of the newest Safeway in Metro Vancouver and I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the design and layout of the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

You enter the new store at ground level where there is a sort of market section; there are bulk boxes of fruits and veggies and a floral department.

I suppose they needed to do something with the ground floor because it is the level where people enter from but it is not the main part of the store. Perhaps this area will be sub-leased once the Burquitlam area becomes more fully developed.

Burquitlam Safeway

Then when you come upstairs into the main floor of the store there is a real “market like” feel. It is almost like many small market stalls inside one store. There is a Starbucks, a Bento Box/Sushi place, a thin crust, made fresh on site pizza place, a sandwich store, a fresh juice stall, and more.

Burquitlam Safeway

The feeling that I got from this new location of Safeway is a combination of Whole Foods and Thrifty’s Food. It has a warm and welcoming feel to the store with lower light levels than the typical surgical room brightness that so many stores still use.

Yes, the “main” part of the store, where the shelves of canned and preserved foods are on display is still brightly lit, but they got the lighting right in the market place.

I have to admit, I spent most of my time wandering around what I call the “market place” where all the ready to take and eat foods and the fresh fruits and veggies are on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The soup stand.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

The juice bar. Fresh juices made on site. Including with wheat grass – an idea my Bears were completely perplexed by, “People eat grass?”

Burquitlam Safeway

As I said, there is a clear focus on convenience foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. Food s you can take away and quickly re-heat or take away already hot. I assume the designers of the store are counting on the residents of the surrounding residential towers being frequent shoppers.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is also an impressive selection of baked goods and seafood in the market place.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

Seafood display including an aquarium of doom. My Bears wanted me to buy all the lobsters and crabs on display and free them. However, they also wanted me to buy some of the scallops that were on display and take them home to cook and eat.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is pretty impressive selection of cheeses on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

The specialty deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

And the veggies. Very beautifully displayed. Time will tell if these pretty displays last or if they are too “pretty” and not actually practical.

Burquitlam Safeway

The prices, at first glance they seem competitive…although I was not really paying attention to the prices. I was focused on the design and layout of the store.

Burquitlam Safeway

More produce on display.
Burquitlam Safeway

There is also a large of selection of bulk foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. I have to admit that this is basically as far into the main part of the store that I ventured. I will explore more of the store on my next visit – including finding how Safeway has managed to build a liquor store into this location.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

One more thing I did notice; the check-out counters are thoughtfully designed. While there are some “self checkout” counters, there are also checkout counters that are staffed.

The checkouts are far enough apart that people with strollers, wheelchairs, or buggies full of goods are not being squeezed through a chute like cattle. Thoughtful.

My first impressions of the store are quite positive. On my next visit I will be sure to more closely check prices, find the liquor in the store, and get into the main part of the store.


My Big Orange Bike; the Raleigh Retroglide

If you have been following my blog for awhile now you will know that last summer I suffered a strange shoulder injury that basically debilitated me. I was unable to do much of anything; possibly the worst part was that I could not ride my bicycle nor my motorcycle.

I could no longer bear any weight on my arms or shoulders. No more riding my beloved Kona mountain bike. No more riding my motorcycle.

I love riding a bicycle. I love the feeling of rolling along with the wind whistling by me.

Raleigh Retroglide

Seeing as I am still unable to bear any weight on my shoulders, I decided to get a different style of bike than my mountain bike; a bike that I can sit upright on and not have to ride while putting weight on my shoulders.

I bought a cruiser!! I call it my Raleigh Retroglide my Big Orange Cruiser.

Buying a new bike is an interesting experience these days. Of course before I bought a new bike I went online and did a bunch of research. I researched bicycle manufacturers, bicycle shops, and styles of bikes.

The bike manufacturer I settle on was Raleigh. And the style of bike I settled on was Raleigh’s Retroglide 7.

Next, decide which shop to purchase from. I did the thing where you can find a shop from the Raleigh webpage and narrowed it down to a couple shops – North Van, Langley, and East Vancouver.

Raleigh Retroglide

Once I had narrowed my search to three shops I looked at the shops’ Facebook pages. Any shop that allows customers to post comments and reviews on their Facebook page is doing something right in my opinion. And the comments on the Bikes For All FB page were overwhelmingly positive, nay, they were gushing with praise for the shop’s approach to business!

Off I went on a Sunday afternoon to visit Bikes for All on East 7th Ave in Vancouver.

Raleigh Retroglide

When I got to the shop I talked to sales people and discussed my situation. They listened to me and then made suggestions of a couple of other bike styles. They really made sure I was fully aware of what I was talking about!

The fact is, a Cruiser, a bike like the Raleigh Retroglide is a very unique ride. It is nothing like a mountain bike. And the staff at Bikes For All know their bikes and they know that a not everybody is going to like the ride of a Cruiser.

They pulled out a Hybrid bike and let me ride it around the neighbourhood. They pulled out a less-extreme cruiser style bike and let me ride it around the neighbourhood. They pulled out the Raleigh Retroglide 7 and let me ride it around the neighbourhood.

And you know, I liked the feeling of the hybrid. I liked the feeling of the other cruiser style bike. But I LOVED the feeling of the Raleigh Retroglide 7!!

Raleigh Retroglide

So I bought the Raleigh Retroglide 7 – my Big Orange Cruiser!!

And for the record, I have written this blog post with absolutely no compensation of any kind from Bikes For All.