A Walk at Rocky Point and a Tortured Wedding Boat

The kids and I went for a walk at Rocky Point in Port Moody last weekend and they decided to play detective to solve the mystery of “the tortured wedding boat” – the old rotting corpse of a boat located washed up on the mudflats.

They began by surveying the shoreline for clues.

They then moved right to the wreck itself.

And then started looking closer to shore for other clues to help them understand the mystery.

They found some. Each discovery created deeply imaginative conversations as they pieced together the story of how the boat got wrecked.

Finding this plank and then the engine of the ship added details to their story.

It really was a fun experience to stand back while the kids created a story to connect together the clues they found.

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Burnaby’s Jinya Ramen Bar

I have had a couple opportunities to visit Jinya Ramen Bar on Central Boulevard in Burnaby just outside of Metropolis and all I can say is “WOW”. This place knows how to serve ramen.

Jinya Ramen BarThe Jinya Ramen Bar is located in the building near the entrance to Metropolis – right across from where the Target store was located. Or for the older timers in my audience, in the building where the Bread Garden Cafe used to be located.

Jinya Ramen BarThe people behind Jinya have done an amazing job with the shape of the room. Because they have put in long, communal tables they have managed to fill the room with seats and yet it doesn’t feel “cramped”.

Jinya Ramen Bar

When you stop and look around at how many people are actually in the room though, you realize just how effectively they have used the existing space. Very clever.

Jinya Ramen BarOn my first visit we started with their Brussel Sprouts Tempura ($6.80). Each sprout was split and then breaded before being fried to a crisp. Little flavour explosions! Why would anybody ever boil a Brussel sprout anymore?!

Jinya Ramen BarWe also had the Takoyaki – battered balls of octopus with a sweet mayo, okonomiyaki sauce and smoked bonito flakes ($7.80). Yep, more sensory over-load of goodness.

Jinya Ramen BarThe most recent time I visited Jinya, we tried the Salmon Avocado tossed with wasabi soy sauce ($7.80). I quite enjoyed the heat from the wasabi soy sauce but my dinner companion found it to be too strong. The avocado was perfectly ripe.

Jinya Ramen Bar

And the chunks of salmon? Nicely portioned.

Jinya Ramen BarAnd the ramen. In my experience, the most important part of the ramen is the broth. A rich and flavourful broth will overcome mediocre noodles. A weak broth will not be lifted by quality noodles.

At Jinya Ramen Bar – the broth is out of this world on the rich and decadent flavour and mouth feel. Out. Of. This. World. On my first visit I had the Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen bowl ($14.80). Super rich pork broth and nori dried seaweed (not really my thing) served with thin noodles.

On my follow up visit I tried the Jinya Tonkotsu Black which was just as flavourful as the Tokyo Ramen.

And, I may add, the noodles are also excellent. Both times I had the thin noodles and I loved them.

Jinya Ramen Bar

On my most recent visit to Jinya Ramen Bar I tried their Kaedama – a refill of the noodles for a $1.50. I had lots of broth leftover so I asked for the refill and instead of getting the thin noodles again, I had a refill of their thicker noodles. I may actually prefer the thicker noodles. Both thick and thin noodles are excellent, I just liked the feel of the thicker noodles which are about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle.

The bottom line – I loved Jinya Ramen Bar and I will definitely be returning and I have no hesitation to recommend this place.

  • Jinya Ramen Bar is located at 4575 Central Boulevard and they are open from 11am to 10pm. 
  • Be aware, they will not seat a partial party – no sneaking one or two people in to save a big table!


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Instant Pot Beef Stew

I went ahead and tried another Instant Pot meal. I figured I can make a pretty amazing mac and cheese, so why not try beef stew? So I did.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

What’s it take to make a beef stew? Some stewing beef, a couple potatoes, a sweet potato, a jumbo carrot, a cookie stalks of celery and some onion.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

I browned the chunks of beef in my favourite pan while I sautéed in the Instant Pot the finely chopped onions and celery stalk. Once the beef was browned and the onions and celery were limp, I then added the coarsely chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

I poured in some veggie stock, because that’s what I had on hand, but when I make the beef stew again, I’ll use beef stock to see if it adds more depth to the flavour. I also added a can of tomato soup concentrate, but again, next time I’ll make sure I have tomato paste for the stew.

I added some spices (salt and pepper, a bit of Italian seasoning, a couple bay leaves, and a shake of smoked paprika) before putting on the lid and setting the dial for 20 minutes of cook time.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

I watched the Instant Pot build pressure to make sure the little vent thingy popped into place before relaxing. Then I let it cook for the 20 minutes. After the 20 minute timer beeped I let it sit and slowly depressurize. Then I released the final bit of pressure before opening the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

The stew was very liquidy so I added about three tablespoons of cornstarch to about a quarter cup of cold water. I mixed the cornstarch slurry into the Instant Pot of stew and then turned the dial back to sauté to bring the pot of stew back to a boil. Within minutes the Instant Pot of stew was at a boil! As the cornstarch slurry mixed into the stew broth it thickened up quite nicely.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

All told, with the prep time of cutting up the veggies and browning the beef, getting the Instant Pot up to temperature and pressure, cook time, and then depressurization, thickening the stew, I would estimate it took about an hour to make the beef stew.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

And of course the best part of the stew? Both kids actually enjoyed it and ate it up! And we had enough for leftovers for three of us to have enough for lunch the following day. Another Instant Pot success!


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What the Numbers of Vehicles Sold in Canada Tell Us

I was looking over the data for vehicle sales in Canada and the most interesting part of the data is that trucks seem to be the biggest sellers in Canada.

In 2016 the top three vehicles sold in Canada were the Ford F-150, the Dodge Ram pick up truck, and the Honda Civic. The data compiled at the halfway point of 2017 shows that the Ford F-150 is still in first place.

Second place for 2017 sales in Canada are somewhat debatable. If you combine the sales of Chevy and GMC pick up trucks then that is the clear second besting selling vehicle in Canada and the Dodge Ram truck is in third place.

While gasoline prices are at some of the highest prices (around a dollar-40 a litre) ever in Canada, particularly out here on the west coast, the biggest selling vehicles are pick up trucks – nearly 200,000 pick up trucks were sold at the halfway point in 2017 (sales data for the second half of 2017 has not yet been released).

The argument could be made that trucks are not nearly the gas guzzlers that they were in the past. However, although that may be somewhat true, the fact is, the 2017 F-150 still consumes more than 12 litres per 100 kilometre when driven in town making the second best selling Dodge Ram truck look like a complete gas hog as it burns through 17 litres per 100 kilometre. The Chevy or GMC trucks are relative gas misers at 13.4 litres per 100 kilometre of town driving.

So what do these sales figures mean? First, they tell me that taxing something like gasoline has little to no impact on changing human behaviour. At a time when gas prices, particularly the taxes on gasoline are higher than ever, the top three best selling vehicles are pick up trucks…people are clearly willing to pay rather than change their behaviour.

Another thing the sales numbers tell me is that car/truck companies are putting their energy and efforts in the wrong place when it comes to electric vehicles. Why are they spending millions upon millions researching and developing compact and sub-compact electric vehicles when clearly, people want pick up trucks?!

Consider that for all of 2017 Nissan sold only 11,000 Leafs and there are now approximately 30,000 total electric vehicles on the roads in Canada. 11,000 out of two million car and truck sales in 2017 were Nissan Leafs.

So maybe Nissan, GM, Ford, and Tesla (and other car/truck manufacturers) should take a closer look at the buying habits of Canadians and work at developing an all-electric pick up truck for the Canadian market. The numbers indicate that pick up trucks are what Canadian want!

And one final point – if you think that Canada is too cold for EVs to be successful, consider that last year in Norway electric vehicles accounted for 52% of all new vehicle sales. Norway’s climate is not that different than Canada’s.

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

We got home from a soggy morning skiing on Grouse Mtn and needed some quick, warm-up the innards, comfort food. Daughter and I agreed to try making mac and cheese in our relatively new Instant Pot.

Although you can sauté inside the Instant Pot, I’ve been told that if you have a good quality skillet, it is sometimes just as easy to begin with that. So I did.

I diced an onion into pieces so small that Ms Picky-Eater wouldn’t be able to see them, melted a lump of butter into the pan, and sautéed those onions into a wilty, caramelized mess.

While the onions were cooking I added 4 cups of water, a 454 gram box of macaroni, a large dollop of butter (maybe a tablespoon), a shake of garlic powder, salt and a grind of black pepper, a spoonful of grainy mustard all into the Instant Pot. I then added about two cups of frozen, cubed butternut squash to the cooker. And then I added in the sautéed onions.

I pressed the “Manual” button, set the time to 6 minutes, and sealed the top vent. And let the pressure build to cook the macaroni.

Six minutes later the Instant Pot beeped, I “manually” vented the cooker so that I could open it and then added in about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and some sliced ham I found in the fridge. I stirred the ham and cheese in, added about a half cup of cream (that’s what was in the fridge) and then added another cup of shredded cheese. And then I let it “rest’ like a freshly cooked steak.

After about five minutes I served up a bowl for Ms Picky-Eater daughter and myself. I grated some of my Farm House hard cheddar over the top, and we ate. Both of us! I’ll be honest, it was delicious!

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New Year’s Celebrations and Resolutions

I’m not one for making resolutions on New Year’s Eve but I do try to make small adjustments to how I live my life.

Last year, or the year before, or maybe even the year before that, I decided to “choose green more often”. What I meant was I would choose the salad over the fries more often than not. I also decided to choose green by not driving as far as often. That was a good change to make and I’ll continue to choose green in 2018.

This year the small change I’m going to make is that I’m going to stop participating in the diluting of the once powerful words of “I’m sorry”. Really, what I mean is, I’m not going to say “I’m sorry” when I have no need to be saying sorry.

For example, I’m walking in an aisle in a grocery store and I pass between a customer and the shelf they are looking at. There’s no real need for me to say “I’m sorry” when I pass between them and the shelf interrupting their vision for a few seconds. Perhaps I’ll say, “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” but I won’t be apologizing.

I say we should save our “I’m sorry” for things that really deserve an apology. Things like stepping on someone’s toe or foot while riding transit. Or wrongfully incarcerating someone. Those things deserve a heartfelt apology.

That’s it for my New Years resolutions. I’m going to continue to choose green and I’m not going to apologizing for it.

So happy New Year to you all. And enjoy this little video I put together. It is completely unrelated to this topic but I think it is pretty amusing.


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Making a Farmhouse Kitchen Table

I decided to make myself a new “farmhouse style” kitchen table for my cabin from a couple of bug-killed trees I cut down around my cabin years ago. After cutting the trees down, my friend and I used an Alaskan-Sawmill and milled the trees into dimensional lumber.

That was 10 or 15 years ago and the lumber has been standing, drying in the shed all those years. Until this fall.

Farmhouse TableThe first thing I had to do was get the lumber from the cabin, back to another friend’s workshop out near UBC. Seeing as all my buddy’s with pick-up trucks have rendered them virtually useless by putting covers over the boxes, I cut the lumber to the approximate size I wanted the table to end up, and loaded the lumber into my Toyota Echo (a way better value than any pick-up truck on the road.)

Farmhouse TableWhich brings me to my next point; you need to know right from the get-go that your wood is not nearly as large as you probably think it is. I thought my wood was plenty big enough, but alas, when I looked at my wood from a different angle, my wood was not nearly as big as I thought it was. At least that was my experience.

Initially, the planks I had were 2 1/2″ thick and 9-10″ wide. But after planing the lumber to a smooth surface, I ended up with planks that were barely 1 3/4″ thick.

And like most guys, I thought my wood was way wider and longer than it really was. I wanted to end up with a table approximately 30″ wide and 52″ long. Well, by the time the lumber had been run through the jointer enough times to create a series of flat and smooth surfaces to glue together, my “massive” planks were no longer massive.

The good news is, I will likely end up with a table that is approximately 29″ wide and 50″ long. I’m good with that.

Farmhouse TableOnce I reconciled the truth about my wood, I placed the planed and jointed planks on the work table and flipped them end for end, top for bottom and place to place in order to fit them together with the most attractive surface and even more importantly, the most effective, strongest use of the lumber so that I would end up with the best quality table top possible.

I gave lots of consideration to the placement of the knots and other “features” in the lumber while placing the planks in place.

Farmhouse TableSee that piece in the picture above? The corner that has some brown-grey lines showing up? That is where the “art” of woodworking and the science “clash”. My artistic vision was to have the wane along the side of the outside boards featured. As it turns out, not much of the wane will be visible. I will save some of the wane-featured lumber for another project.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table

Once I had spent enough time flipping, rearranging and playing with my lumber, it was time to smear glue along the edges. The glue remains pliable for 10-15 minutes after application so I had time to get each board thoroughly smeared with glue before rubbing it against the neighbouring piece of lumber.

Farmhouse Table



After the glue was smeared from edge to edge on every board, I began to tighten the clamps that will hold them together.

Farmhouse Table


I snug the first clamp into place, adjust the planks for “up and down” (to make sure the table top will be relatively smooth) and then work around the newly created “tabletop” cinching in each clamp little by little.

I kept going around the tabletop until the planks were tight up against one another and the surface looked as much like an unfinished tabletop as I wanted. I probably made five or six circuits around the tabletop before deciding enough was enough.

And now I wait. The wood glue takes about 24 hours to cure but I won’t be back out to my buddy’s woodworking shop for about a week. So after a week, I will have more pics and info about my Farmhouse Kitchen Table project!

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Merry Christmas!

A day late but, Merry Christmas everybody!!

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Cabin Cooking; Brussel Sprouts

We took a trip to the cabin and we cooked the kids favourite vegetable – Brussel sprouts. Yep, my kids love Brussel sprouts. Perhaps that is because of the way we cook them. Have a look and see what you think –

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Taco Tuesday on a Wednesday

Our Taco Tuesday came a day late this week!

Taco Tuesday

We had tacos at Taqueria Playa Tropical Mexican Restaurant in New Westminster yesterday on our way home from a late day at school. The tacos are $2 each if you go on Taco Tuesday or $2.5 each if you go any other day.

Taco Tuesday

The Vegetariano (veggie) were my favourite while my kids liked the Carnitas (slow cooked pork) and the Alambre (grilled chicken). I really love the dollops of rich and creamy guacamole on the tacos.

Taqueria Playa Tropical Mexican Restaurant is located at 334 6th Street in New Westminster


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