Making Biscuits

I’ve been working on making biscuits for quite some time now and today I had my best results yet.

It was like I heard a voice from my past this morning, “Don’t work them so hard! Just gently introduce the ingredients!”

So today, I quickly stirred the dry ingredients together in my mixing bowl and then I added the cooking oil.

Once the oil was in with the dry ingredients I used two knives and “cut” the oil into the dry so that they formed pea sized chunks of biscuit dough.

Then I poured in the milk and used a rubber spatula (or as some call it, a rubber scraper) to mix the milk into the dough. I gently mixed the milk in within about 20-30 seconds and then rolled the ball of dough onto the board.

I flattened it out to about 3/4″ thick and then used a glass to cut the dough into little circles.

Into the preheated to 450° oven for precisely 20 minutes and then bingo, biscuit perfection. Sort of.

The ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup of milk.

I also had about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar I stirred in right after mixing the dry ingredients.

I ended up with 8 small biscuits. Just enough for breakfast for me and the kids.

The best part? The kids ate them and declared them “the best biscuits yet”. A parenting win.

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The Vancouver Wellness Show 2018

I was invited to attend the Vancouver Wellness Show again this year and I happily accepted the invitation. I always find it interesting to see the latest ideas and trends in healthy lifestyles and healthy foods.

The following video is a little montage of some of the images I captured from the Vancouver Wellness Show. Have a look.

I was going to see which phrase I heard first “gluten-free” or “no sugar added” and…I wasn’t on the convention floor for more than 30 seconds when I heard “no really, it tastes great and, there’s no sugar added!”

Wellness Show

And the truth is, the pure pomegranate juice did taste great! Sure, it was quite tart but, hey, no sugar added and it is loaded with antioxidants.

I did notice that there was significantly less “buzz” about gluten-free products. I wonder if that is now old news for the healthy eating crowd?

Wellness Show

Other than “no sugar added” I did see quite a few exhibitors with turmeric products. And, related to the turmeric, I also heard a number of vendors mention “social enterprise”.

“Social enterprise” in the sense that the vendor works with the local growers and producers rather than buying product from a faceless business. Interesting approach – growing a business and a community.

Overall, I really enjoyed the energy of the Wellness Show this year. I didn’t have time to take part in the cooking demonstrations but I did see that they were drawing large crowds – especially when they were giving away samples of the foods they were cooking!

The Vancouver Wellness Show is on again tomorrow – Sunday, February 18th. And, it is important to note that the show is back under the sails in the Vancouver Convention at 999 Canada Place


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Instant Pot French Onion Soup

I tried making French Onion soup yesterday. It went “okay”.

The recipe I followed called for a teaspoon of finely ground black pepper and I’ll be honest, it was too much. I also do not have oven proof dishes so I couldn’t put the filled bowls of soup under the broiler.

I’ll try this again and I’ll add some more to the very basic recipe that I followed. After that, I’ll add more details.

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Family Day Fun 2018

How was your Family Day? I spent the day traipsing around the city with my kids seeking all the spices and flavours that make meals marvellous.

We had success finding flavours of rosemary rock salt bagels, elk pepperoni and bison milk blue cheese at Granville Island. And we bought a mortar and pestle in the Punjabi Market so we can do like the mysterious chef on Almazon Kitchen and grind our own spice blends.

And then to finish off the day we stopped at Sushi Mori out on the Barnet Hwy and had some eats – even though we had bought all the supplies to make French Onion Soup at home.

Family Day. It was a beauty.

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Instant Beef Stroganoff

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Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff

Yesterday for dinner I decided to try and recreate a dish I remember quite fondly from my childhood – Beef Stroganoff. And I wanted to recreate the beef stroganoff in our Instant Pot.

I had an understanding of the basics of what goes into a Beef Stroganoff so I did my best to replicate what I remember the dish being like.

The basic ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3-4 small onions cut into thin slices
  • 1 package of broad egg noodles
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 3-4 cups of beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream

I started by cutting the onions into thin slices and then sliding them into the Instant Pot – which I had just given a spray of Pam. I let the onions sauté until they were translucent – that sort of clear look. And then I added in the ground beef and let it sauté until the beef was browned.

Once the beef was done I poured in the beef stock/broth and stirred to mix it all together. You want to try to deglaze the bottom of the instant pot so that all the meat and onions that are browned on to the bottom of the pot come off and get added into the flavour of the mix.

Then I added in the garlic powder, salt and pepper and stirred that all together to mix it. I flopped in the can of cream of mushroom soup and stirred it some more. And then I added a heaping tablespoon of flour to help the mixture thicken as it cooked.

Next the bag of egg noodles was poured in. And yes, I stirred to mix. Ready for pressurizing.

Put the lid on the Instant Pot and switch off the sauté feature. Set the lid to seal and manually set the pressure to high (the default position) and the timer to 9 minutes.

The pressure will now build. Watch that the little silver pressure valve to see it pops up. Shortly after it is sealed and up to temperature, the timer will begin to count down.

After the timer has finished, I let it de-pressurize naturally for about 5-6 minutes. After naturally venting, I did a quick release by carefully spinning the release valve.

Once the instant pot was de-pressurized I opened the top, gave it a stir and then spooned in about a cup of sour cream. Of course you know what I did next – stir to mix.

When serving the Beef Stroganoff it does look like pretty drab and brown. I had a big bag of baby spinach greens and fresh tomatoes available so to add some colour to the meal I sliced up the spinach and tomatoes and added it to the top of the dish. A little dollop of sour cream, and dinner was served.

Almost unbelievably, both my kids liked it. Me? It was just okay. I would make it again but I’d probably try it with stewing beef instead of ground beef.

My favourite part of the meal? Barely anything to clean up after cooking!

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Quick and Easy Homemade Bread

Typically I like to make homemade bread and do “cast iron cooking” while away at the cabin. However, I was given a couple medium sized cast iron pans and they needed to be seriously cleaned and seasoned. And one of the best ways to season a cast iron pan is while making homemade bread.

Homemade Bread

So the kids and I decided to do some “cabin cooking” here in the city. As you may be able to tell, I like cooking simple things – one-pot wonders. Or my newest favourite thing – the Instant Pot. And I wanted to find a way to make homemade bread that wouldn’t take a long time or make a huge mess – following my theme of one-pot wonders and simple things in the kitchen.

And then I remembered a bread recipe my mother sent me some time ago. Something like a 3 hour rustic bread. The recipe is surprisingly easy to make:

  • 3 cups of flour (I used 2 white and one cup of whole wheat)
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of honey (I didn’t have any so I used maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups of lukewarm water

I simply mixed the dry ingredients together with a fork, and then slowly added the water and stirred it. Of course as you can see in my video, I had the kids helping me through the mixing and stirring part. I felt it was a good way for them to learn to cooperate and to pay attention to details. Even though this bread is an easy one to make, baking in general is much more of a science than an art and attention to detail is important.

Homemade Bread

We covered the bowl of dough and left it sitting on the counter while we went to swim lessons. A couple of hours later after we got home and vigorously stirred the dough (sort of like kneading it to make the gluten stretch) and then let it sit for another half hour or 45 minutes while we ate our Instant Pot spaghetti.

At that time I started to warm the oven up to 450 degrees and put the two cast iron pans into the oven with a healthy coating of grape seed oil inside them.

Once the oven (and the two pans) were all up to temperature, I took the pans out, split the dough into two (I wouldn’t split it next time – make one bigger loaf) and then put them back in the oven. I also put a baking dish of water underneath the two pans so that the crust of the bread would get a little steamed.

I set a timer for 30 minutes and then sat back to watch.

Homemade Bread

Although the loaves of homemade bread were quite a bit smaller than I would have liked, the bread itself turned out beautifully. Nice dense texture with a firm, chewy crust. I loved it. And so did the kids!

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Instant Pot Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

Oh my. The Instant Pot is going to be my financial saviour. Wednesday night the kids have swim lessons until 6:30pm. Getting out of the pool, waiting for a shower stall, showering, getting to the car, and then home makes for a very late evening. And even though we eat before swimming, they’re still hungry after swimming.

In the past I would have taken the easy route and stopped for A&W Burgers or a slice of pizza for each of them. Not anymore.

I got home, cut up three small onions and sautéed them in the Instant Pot. Then I added a jar of spaghetti sauce and a 24 oz can of diced tomatoes.

On top of that I added a 375 gram box of whole grain spaghetti. A shake of salt and garlic powder (didn’t have any fresh garlic on hand), a grind or three of pepper, and then two cups of water.

I closed the lid and set the timer on manual to 9 minutes (should’ve gone 8) and sat back to help the girls with unpacking their swim bags.353

Admittedly, it did take about ten minutes for the Instant Pot to get up to pressure before the 9 minutes start counting down, but the end result…awesome. The kids didn’t even realize they were eating any veggies! And they enjoyed the pasta. And even better, I have leftovers for my lunch.

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Burnaby has Foodies on Board

On the weekend I visited Foodies on Board, a little restaurant on Production Way in Burnaby. I enjoyed a plate of Eggs Benedict as well as the general “vibe” of the restaurant. Have a look at the short video I made of my visit –

I appreciate the time that Chef Ken Ou and his kitchen team took to explain their concept – healthy food prepared with love and care. They make every effort to get organic produce whenever they can and the eggs they use are from free range hens.

I will return to try more of the Foodies on Board menu items.

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McRae’s Bistro in Victoria BC

As I posted the other day, I visited Victoria, our province’s capital city on the weekend and I managed to find a foodie’s gem – McRae’s Bistro.

I am experimenting with some more YouTube stuff (now that they have unceremoniously taken away my partnership agreement) and here are the results of my first experiment –

I will say, the shaved corn beef, the Montreal smoked meat, and pastrami on the Reuben Benny was exquisite.

McRae’s Bistro is located at 1652 McRae Ave in Victoria BC.

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