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.

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.

 

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. 

Peanut Allergies; Big Changes

Did you know that there have been serious changes to the recommendations from the medical community about how parents should treat their very young kids around peanuts and products with peanuts in them?

The guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) are now recommending that children between the ages of 4-6 MONTHS be exposed to high-risk allergens like peanuts, eggs, and fish.

The Mom bloggers at the British Columbia Mom wrote on the issue of peanuts and little kids

Despite the recommendations that my daughter had grown up with, there was no evidence to suggest that dietary restrictions on first foods helped reduce the occurrence of food allergies in children. In fact, there was a rise in food allergies and so recommendations were made to introduce these potential food allergens around 6 months of age, and on a regular basis.

In fact, in Israel there are virtually no children with peanut allergies. Perhaps not coincidentally, from a very early age, children in Israel are fed snacks containing peanuts.

Contrast that to North America where for many years the medical community advised parents to NOT feed their children snacks containing peanuts and yet there has been no decline in the number of cases of children with peanut allergies.

Anyway, getting back to the issue, the Moms on British Columbia Mom wrote about how peanut butter is way too thick and gooey for a four month old baby and peanut butter cookies are not really good snacks for very young children because they are loaded with sugar, so they have partnered with Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs and are doing a giveaway of some of the peanut butter snacks that are suitable for young children.

Give them a visit – and I hope you win the Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs!

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.