Category Archives: Food and Drink

Thoughts and observations on the places we go to eat, and the foods we eat, crave and see during our daily adventures.

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.

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.

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.

Meat Craft; Perogies, Bacon, Sausage

I needed to make dinner for the family and a friend of the my daughters this evening and I didn’t want my reputation my dad kitchen skills to be tarnished, so what to do? Stop in to see Butcher Greg at Port Moody’s Meat Craft Urban Butchery to get perogies, bacon, chorizo sausage, and a small tub of Avalon dairy organic sour cream.

Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage
Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage

How is any kid not going to be wowed by quality perogies and bacon?

And I will drop to the bottom line right now and say that the kids – mine and their little buddy were all impressed and ate everything on their plates without any cajoling or bribery. Winning.

To begin, I get a pot of water bowling and then lower the perogies into the pot. I typically add them one by one so that they do not stick together or make a mess. I do it very quickly but I like to treat the little dumplings with respect.

Brewer's Row Bacon
Brewer’s Row Bacon

As soon as that pot is on track, I get another fry pan hot before I add in the 1″ chunks of sausage. I get them warmed up and then add in the bacon. And, I may add, the bacon is made right there at Meat Craft.

Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies
Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies

I like my bacon quite crispy so I let it cook down. I like to lift the bacon out of the fat and then drain the fat out of the pan before I put the bacon back in to get it a little more crispy. Once the bacon is ready, I use a slotted spoon to lift the perogies out of the bowling water and add them to the pan with the crispy bacon.

I give that a little shake about to get the perogies covered in bacon fat and then I let them brown just a bit.

Plated Perogies
Plated Perogies

Then it is time to plate. A dollop of that Avalon Dairy sour cream (14% for the pure decadence factor). And then we eat.

*That squishy looking orange thing? It is a failed experiment – I left the yams in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil for too long and they turned into squishy orange things with very little flavour.

Roasted Carrots for a Snack

The kids decided to leave the roasted potatoes alone for a day and instead asked me to try roasted carrots. So that’s what we did this afternoon.

Roasted Carrots

In the pan above, which was a clean pan until we drizzled balsamic vinegar and avocado oil over the carrots and then rolled the carrots around in the oil and vinegar mixture.

After that we added some spice; a shake of paprika, garlic powder, salt and then a hearty grind of pepper corns.

I slid the pan of carrots into the oven for 45 minutes at 375°.

Roasted Carrots
Roasted Carrots

Then we feasted. Once again, partially because the kids were involved in making the food, they loved the roasted carrots and ate them all up. In fact, I really wish I had more of them because the kids liked them so much. And as any parent knows, if your kid likes a vegetable, you don’t want to spoil that magical moment.

Although not as quick to make as I would have liked, the roasted carrots were easy to make.

Candies and Sweets; the Best and Worst

I was at a Christmas party last night and I was given some candy which got me to thinking about some of my favourites, and my “less” favourite types of candies. 

First the three types of candy that I really enjoy. My favourite that can be purchased basically anywhere; the Crispy Crunch chocolate bar. Just enough sweetness, combined with the crunchy caramel centre that makes it all work just beautifully. 

After the Crispy Crunch chocolate bar my taste in sweets gets a little more exotic – Turkish Delight. Not the kind you buy in a grocery store but the kind you buy in a specialty shop. That ultra fine dusting of finer than fine icing suagr, the tender and yet softly yielding resistance as I bite into the cube of Delight…delightful. 

And then my other favourite, not a third choice, just another choice, the somewhat exotic All-sorts. Soft black licorice squares combined with those yellow and pink circles. Weirdly delicious. 

But then, the “candy” that is horrible beyond imagination; Turtles. Yuck. Disgusting. A solid caramel centre covered in crappy milk chocolate. The caramel centre is jaw-breaking. And once you do loosen it up it will break into chewy bits that will stick in your teeth for many weeks or worse, it will suck the fillings right out of your teeth. Yuck. 

And the final candy that disgusts and disappoints; Skittles. There is that moment when I open the package and I see those beautiful little shapes and my heart skips a beat thinking they maybe changed and are now like M&Ms. But no. They have that moment of sweetness when you start to chew them and then they only bring me heart ache and disappointment. Super chewy little balls of misery. 

Crispy Crunch bars, Turkish Delight, and All-sorts are my candy go-to candies. What we your favourites and not so favourites? Feel free comment on this blog post to tell me your favourites and not-so favourites. 

Noodle Soup with Soft Poached Egg

Today’s high school cafeteria lunch was a bowl of noodles in a sweet and savoury broth. The spiralized carrots and radish added a nice little crunch to the soup while the steamed spinach created a little bed for the beautiful soft poached egg. 

While the soup was delicious, it didn’t fill me up completely so I wandered over to Raw Cuts Sandwich shop for a sandwich. 

They made a bang up good job on their classic sandwich filled with turkey breast. Half of that sandwich was more than enough to fill me up! 

That was lunch. 

Sushi Town – Hastings Street

I was in North Burnaby yesterday around lunch time so I decided to try out the Hastings Street location of Sushi Town.

Sushi Town
BC Combo

I ordered the BC Combo – a BC Roll with an Alaska Roll and a piece of salmon and tuna sushi.

It was all good. The salmon and tuna nigiri sushi were my favourites; a tidy ball of rice under the nicely portioned salmon and tuna. Not too large.

The rolls were good. Not outstanding, just solidly good. The Alaska Roll was a bit too “creamy” with the squishy avocado but it had good flavour. The BC Roll was also good. The salmon skin had enough salmon on it to give it good flavour.

Service was also acceptable. They move people through the restaurant relatively quickly and the serving staff do not waste time on pleasantries. They bring the menu to your table, give you a couple of minutes to look it over and then return to take your order. A few minutes later your food is delivered and you eat and get out. That’s kind of it.

  • My BC Combo cost about $10.00
  • Sushi Town is located at 5935 E Hastings Street in Burnaby.

I know what to expect when I go to Sushi Town – nothing fancy. Just solidly good sushi that is served quickly and without any fanfare. I will return to Sushi Town.