Veggie Dogs Vs the Mystery Meat Wiener

I was at a barbecue earlier today. The objects being barbecued were hotdogs. The good folks organizing the communal feast were kind enough to recognize and accomodate me being a vegetarian. They brought along veggie dogs for me.

The funny part of this story is that when serving me a veggie dog, the person at the grill said, “I don’t know how you can eat these. What do they put in them?”

Now even if I was not a vegetarian I don’t think “meat” wieners would be part of my diet. When you consider, what part of a vegetable is it that they might put in the veggie dogs that is so disgusting? Which part of a vegetable is so repulsive, especially compared to a “meat” wiener?

A better question might have been, how can you eat the mystery-meat wiener? “All beef”? What part of the beef do they grind so fine that it is beyond any recognition to make wieners?

New McDonald’s TV Spots

Okay, so does anybody else see the weird humour in the new McDonald’s commercials? The new TV commercials have a bunch of young hipsters eating McDonalds food while sitting around a camp. Suddenly a massive bear arrives at the the camp and just ambles through, looks around and then walks away.

So what is the bear thinking? Obviously the stuff that they are eating is of no interest to the bear…is the food that unappealing? Weird message in that ad.

Fresh Asaparagus Season…I’m Lovin’ It

Dinner tonight is fresh asparagus. It is actually almost getting to the end of asparagus season but I LOVE fresh asparagus. I will only buy it in the spring so that I know it is not being brought in from Chile…how can it be fresh when it is flying all the way from Chile? I do not feel fresh even after flying as far as Seattle so I try to keep it local.

In the past I would travel to Keremeos and buy the asaparagus that grew around there. One of the best asapargus trips was picking my own fresh asaparagus along the Thompson River near Spences Bridge and cooking it over a campfire later that afternoon. However, seeing as I am now living in the Big Smoke, I walk up to the local green grocer with the twins in their Mountain Buggy and buy it as local as I can.

To prepare the asparagus I wash it as thoroughly as I can under cold tap water. Then I snap the bottom off at the point furthest down the stalk where it breaks easily. Sometimes it seems wasteful to break off and compost the tail end but if you have tried to eat it…yucky stringy mess that it is.

After washing and snapping each stalk I drop them into a pre-heated frypan that I have already added a tablespoon or so of olive oil into. Careful now because the water on the washed stalks will mix with the hot oil and splatter quite a bit. Be careful.

Using a wooden spoon I gently roll the stalks back and forth in the pan until the stalks have all turned a beautiful bright green, typically 3-4 minutes. Unload the bright green stalks onto a dinner plate and return the fry pan to the turned off stove top element. Drop in a dollop of butter and let it dance around in the pan until it has completely melted. Pour the hot butter and olive mix over the asparagus stalks and then sprinkle with some good quality balsamic vinegar and sea salt.

Serve on a bed of basmati rice or enjoy the asparagus on its own. Pure, delicious bliss!!

Raising Vegetarian Kids

My Sweetheart and I are vegetarians; we eat fish now and then but who can resist sushi out here on the west-coast? So the strident rule-followers say we are not actually vegetarians. My mother calls us “pescatarians.” And just because we are vegetarians does not mean that we hate meat. I drool as I drive by the KFC and smell that chicken frying…I do look on longingly when I see a plate of thick cut bacon going by me in a restaurant…I breathe deeply when I am visiting my mother (a verified-card-carrying carnivore) and listen to the pork loin sizzle as it spins on the rotisserie…we do not hate meat. We choose not to eat it.

Whatever though, that is not the issue. The issue is that we are raising our kids as vegetarians. Much to the horror of many people.

People exclaim in shock that the girls are not going to get enough protein. They won’t get any vitamin B-12, they won’t get iron, they won’t get this or that or…

Do people realize that there are cultures where vegetarianism is the accepted norm? Do people realize that just because I do not eat the “salty-supreme” pizza with salami and pepperoni on it, I will be okay? and my kids will be okay?

Some people have suggested that we are making decisions for the girls that are not ours to make. And then they asked if we were going to have the girls baptised. From what I understand you cannot “undo” a baptism. At least if the kids decide at some point later on in their lives that they in fact want to eat a shitty old hamburger, they can do whatever they like. So bring on the tofu-de-beast, I am hungry for some dinner!!

The Vancouver Restaurant Scene

In the days of long ago, during more innocent times, when we were childless, my Sweetheart and I would search out new and exotic cuisines at the most fashionable restaurants in our city. In fact we would plan our vacations around specific restaurants that we wanted to dine at.

Sometimes in the middle of the night we would drive across the city and have a bowl of potato wedges and miso gravy at the Naam Cafe. Saturday mornings we would try small, hole-in-the-wall breakfast joints like the Roundel Cafe, Deacon’s Corner, Chopper’s Diner, the Cafe Zen and many other cool places in the city.

At lunch we would stroll along Commercial Drive until something tickled our fancy; we would stop and eat somewhere different each time.

Japanese food, Korean, Indian, American Diner classics, seafood, pasta joints like Anton’s and so many more places for us to try.

And our favourite time of the year was Dine Out Vancouver. All the classic restaurants in our fair city would prepare special menus so that they were accessible for so many to try. We tried so many different places that we learned to appreciate and love even after the Dine Out specials were done.

And then recently I heard someone on the television talking about the new restaurant scene in Vancouver. They were describing where some chefs had moved to and where others were settling in and what the seasonal specials were at all these places.

However, now that we have our fabulous twins in our lives, the only question I had about these fashionable new restaurants was, do these places have a drive-thru. Omigawd times have changed. Changed for the better.

Rabbit; Free to Good Home

While I was out walking Jim Dog the other day I saw one of my neighbours had put a chest of drawers out on the curb with a sign on it saying “Free to good home.” That sign made me think back to a story my good buddy told me about his father’s first few years in Canada.

My buddy’s father had moved from France to Victoria, BC sometime in the 1950’s and he quickly adjusted to the BC way of life. He bought himself a Triumph 21 motorcycle that he would tour around the southern part of Vancouver Island on.

One day while riding along he saw a sign on a gate post that said, “Rabbit; free to good home.” Being a lover of rabbits, he wheeled that old Triumph into the driveway and took that rabbit home.

A week later he was out riding in the same area and he saw the same sign. Once again he wheels in. The people come out all full of smiles to greet him and hand him another cute bunny. Then they asked how the first rabbit was doing.

To which he replied in his very charming French accent, “It was very delicious.” At which point they gasped in horror, grabbed the bunny out of his hands and told him to get out of their yard.

Horizons Restaurant Burns

For me to leave the house this morning was similar to leaving a five alarm blaze. I walked away from the house just hoping that the crew I left in charge would be okay.

Speaking of five alarm blazes, I see that Horizons restaurant burned and has been essentially gutted. Sorry to hear this news but on the other hand, I have not been there for a number of years. Why? Because my Sweetheart and I went there late one evening for a late dinner. Beautiful views? Sure, except that they sat us with a view over the parking lot, even though the restaurant was nearly empty. We asked why we could not have a view seat and they told us those seats were already closed for the evening. We never returned to the place after that evening.

The Joy of Coffee

Do you ever stop and think about how our modern day conveniences came about? Things that we depend on everyday, things like, for example, coffee.

Who was it that stopped and picked the coffee berries and then had the foresight to dry them and save the hard little nut like thing that was inside? Imagine the conversation of the hunter-gatherer times discovering coffee…perhaps the conversation went something like this;

“Hmmm…food! Look, a bright red berry. Let’s eat it.” Chomp into nut inside, spit it out.

Who made the leap of logic to save that nut, dry it and then roast it? And then who thought, hey maybe if we grind it up and pour hot water over it we can have a lovely and invigorating morning beverage? Who ever it was, THANK YOU!!

If you want to know more about coffee, visit my online friend (that is the modern language for the old fashioned, time-honoured tradition of the imaginary friend) Coffee Nate.

A Romantic Dinner at our local Ikea Restaurant

Have you ever gone out for dinner in a restaurant only to have a child or two sitting at a nearby table yowling like wild beasts, throwing food on the floor, and basically acting like feral dogs spoil your experience? Yes? Well why did you not stop in a say hi to me and my family?

Ikea has an after-5pm dinner special that is actually pretty darn good. Thursday’s $2.49 meal special is the vegetarian quiche and salad, or as the young guy in front of us called it, “kwatchee.” He also asked if it is was a Swedish specialty dish. I’m not making a word of this up, no kidding. “Kwatchee.” Wow.

We knew that we were venturing out pretty late in the day. Wifey had been in the house with the twins all day and it is a treat for her to get out and see what she calls the outside world so I decided to take her for a lovely (although not so romantic) Ikea dinner even though it was getting late in the day for the twins.

Once we had our “kwatchee” we sat down at a table in the middle of the room. Ikea has cool little high-chairs for wee ‘uns so the twins were happily seated and ready to eat.

We fed the girls first, as usual. And then they were ready to go. Enough of this sitting around this big weird echo-y room. Even if we had not yet eaten our portion of the meal, they were ready to roll. To show her displeasure of having to sit in the high-chair Blonde Bear started to howl like a wild dog. And it was loud.

And you know, I understand that it is important to respect other people’s dining experience but c’mon! It is Ikea. A couple sitting nearby were growing increasingly annoyed looking as the howling continued. I was doing my best at stopping the noise but really was not having much success. So the looks bearing daggers continued coming our way. Whatever, it is Ikea, not the Cannery. When there is a child’s play area in the middle of the dining area and free plastic bibs alongside the cutlery, you should know what you are getting into. Big clues to tell you this is not going to be something upscale like Denny’s or the IHOP.

And then reinforcements arrived. Another family with three little boys sat down between our table and the Crankersons. In the old days I would have been just as peeved to see a family of little kids sit at a table near me. Today? These were my kindred spirits.

The Crankersons got up and rolled out of the restaurant as we introduced our feral beasts to their yammering off-spring. Life is beautiful.

Lunch at the Bo Kong Restaurant in Richmond

Today, in our ongoing efforts to introduce our girls to many different forms and flavours of food, we took them to the Bo Kong Vegetarian restaurant in Richmond.

Typically, when we go to restaurants that are not entirely kid/baby friendly, we get the table closest to the washroom door. Not today though. Instead we were led to a table in a  front corner of the restaurant. A table that was very awkward to get into, especially seeing as the host placed two high-chairs directly in our path. At that point we should have left. But we did not.

Not being familiar with the menus that the host set on the table before he hurriedly departed, we simply looked at the pretty pictures unsure of what to order. Seeing as Wifey and I are both vegetarian (yes we do eat fish) we were comfortable knowing that all the food in the restaurant is vegetarian, if not vegan. We persevered and ordered a set lunch for two as well as three small dim sum dishes.

We almost felt like VIPs with the speed at which we were served. Perhaps it had something to do with the twins giving out occasional yelps and screams, but I like the VIP idea better. It was also nifty how the servers would bring the dishes and place them, molten hot, right in front of the girls. They obviously are not aware that our girls arms can, and do, shoot out at lightening speed to grab whatever is within. Molten hot or not.

Also there was obviously no shortage of dishes in the kitchen seeing as the dirty dishes were piling up on our table. When I worked in the restaurant business the mantra was, “Always full hands.” If you take a dish of food out, you bring dirty dishes back. Not here, they just piled upon our table.

Once the food did arrive, we were not impressed. Too many weird looking mushrooms (vegetarian or not, things that look like cow brains are just not appetizing). I realize that the food we received was more of a reflection of our knowledge than of the restaurant’s menu. A little more help when ordering would have been appreciated.

Overall, not a place we would return to with the twins any time soon. Too bad for us.