We Made Grilled Blooming Onions

The other day after cruising through Pinterest and seeing all the beautiful foods that people have made with the help of their kids, I decided to get my kids to help me with grilling a blooming onion.

We started out by mixing up a bowl of dry ingredients – breadcrumbs, a shake or three of Johnny’s seasoning, some salt, some pepper, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika.

In another bowl we whipped up to eggs.

Using our apple slicer/core remover we cut the onions into segments. The first onion we did I pushed the slicer too far through and the onion fell all apart.

The second onion worked better – we learned from the mistakes of the first one. Even though the first onion fell int segments, we still used all the pieces.

We first dipped the onion into the dry ingredients and tried to work the dry ingredients down inside the onion.

Then we dipped the crumb covered onion into the bowl with the egg wash and we did our best to work the egg down inside all the slices without pulling the onion apart.

Back into the crumb mix to get a good solid coating of crumbs on top of the egg on the onion.

And then the onions went on the pre-heated grill for about 25 minutes.

After 20 or 25 minutes (I forget how long it really it was) I put the grilling blooming onion into a small cast-iron pan and “tented” it with foil so that the interior of the onion would soften up and cook.

Grilled Blooming Onions

 

I removed the foil, put it on the table, and we ate it. It was quite spectacular looking even though it wasn’t as pretty as the grilled blooming onions we saw on Pinterest.

The kids were quite impressed with the way it turned out and we are eager to try doing this again.

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The RadRover Flat Tire Adventure

So I got a flat tire on my RadRover – my electric bike.

RadRover

 

Just as I was approaching the Sperling Ave overpass near Lougheed I picked up a staple while riding along the Central Valley Greenway on my way into Vancouver.

And of course I didn’t have my patch kit or air pump with me! Plus the fact that my RadRover is an e-bike sort of made me nervous about changing the tire (more about this later).

And the fact that the RadRover is heavy – more than 60 pounds of bicycle, I didn’t want to carry it very far. I could’ve taken the bike up and onto the Skytrain and headed home but instead I chose to call my support wagon to take me home.

On the way home I contacted Rad Power Bikes via Twitter and they sent me a link to a support email. I also followed up with the staff in the new Vancouver Rad Power Bikes shop and they were very apologetic when they told me that they do not yet have their shop set up nor a mechanic available – shop is scheduled to be open around July 20th.

However, the staff did clearly explain to me how I could take the rear tire off the bike making it much easier to replace or repair the tube – and thereby taking away any anxiety I had about taking the wheel off an e-bike. It is remarkably similar to taking the tire off any bicycle – it is not complicated.

The first and most important thing I did for changing the tire was to turn off the power from the battery to the motor.

RadRover

And then, to take the rear tire off, all you need to do is take a wrench, I think it was a 28 mm, and loosen the nut on the axle on both sides of the tire.

RadRover

On the side near the rear disc brake there is a Phillips screw that you need to undo and remove. It is a little silver safety thingy (using the technical term of “thingy”) so that even if the axle nuts come loose, the rear tire is much less likely to come out of the frame – thereby preventing a catastrophic crash.

RadRover

You also need to snip one of the zap straps that holds the power cable onto the rear frame right near the rear wheel.

RadRover

Once you have the power cable free, there is a little connecter there and you simply pull the connecter apart. Use caution when doing this – remember, you’re dealing with fine electrical parts and you don’t want to screw up the connections.

RadRover

Once I had the rear tire off, I figured it would be easy to get a new tube installed.

So I stopped at a local bike retailer and asked them if they could replace the tube for me. They said they could change it, however they did not have the fat tire tubes in stock at their shop.

They told me their Port Coquitlam location had a bunch of the tubes in stock and they would be able to change it for me. They were very friendly. They told me that a new tube is $25.

I will admit, I was quite shocked to learn that a tube was $25.

I got a bit busy and I didn’t get a chance to visit the Port Coquitlam store so when I got home I found another e-bike retailer thinking maybe they have the “know-how” and the tubes and the ability to change it for me. (More of that anxiety about this being a complicated process because it is an e-bike.)

That shop told me the replacement tubes are $27 and that they charge $45 to change the tube of a bike that is not their brand – and then they added that it would be free if the bike was their brand. Ouch.

He also told me that it is “very complicated to take the back tire off of an e-bike.” He added that you need “very specialized tools and large tire-pulling tools” to get the tire off the rim.

I told him that I already had the tire off the bike and the tire came off the rim simply using my hands. There was no magic or sorcery or even special tools needed to take the rear tire off the bike nor for removing the tube.

At that point I realized that I was simply being silly. There was no reason in the world that I could not simply find a leak in the tire tube and put a patch on it myself. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to my friend who is the King “Sure we can do that!” and we put a patch on the tube. And inflated the tube. AND – it held air!!

RadRover

Then I went home and put the tire back on the bike, being careful and paying attention to the details and not jamming any parts. And now I am riding again. With my patch kit in my carry on bag.

**The staff at Rad Power Bikes repeatedly told me that the rear tire nuts need to be torqued to 40N.m. So that ‘s what I did.

So what did I learn? I learned that sometimes a “can-do” attitude and a search of YouTube can help solve all sorts of problems!

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National Ice Cream Day

Apparently on the list of “national days”, today is National Ice Cream Day.

My current favourite type of ice cream is sea salt and caramel. For a long time it was chocolate and peanut butter or any combination of those ingredients.

What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

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Forage Catering

I was at an event yesterday evening (more on the event in the coming day – unless you follow my adventures on Instagram where I’ve already spilled the story). Any way, at last night’s event, the catering was done by Chef Craig Sherer of Forage Catering. Oh my goodness did Chef and his team put on a beautiful display of culinary skills!

The first little delectable bite to come out were these beautiful salmon skewers with a little dusting of nut crumb with nasturtium leaves to complement the presentation.

Next to come out we’re these spoons with a couple slices of heirloom tomato in a herb sauce. That is also tiny dollop of goat cheese on top. One of my daughters loved them so much! She told Chef Sherer and he actually went back and prepped a couple more just for her.

Somehow I didn’t get a photo of the wedges of baby yellow beets that came of the prep area. My kids didn’t like them as much as the tomato spoons but I loved baby beet wedges on skewers.

Then dessert started coming out. These little gems were “apple pie”. Balls of compressed apple (insanely sweet!) on a thin and very flaky pastry base.

Exquisite. I think I ate the equivalent of an entire apple pie, one little morsel at a time.

Of course we can’t just have “healthy” apple pie. We need two-bite sized tarts filled with chocolate mousse with a fresh raspberry delicately set on each tart as well!

Then back to our “healthy” ways of eating fresh fruit – blueberry tarts with a perfect little daisy cut out of fondant. Just the right size for two bites and no mess.

I am now itching to get down to the Forage restaurant on Robson, actually located in the space where O’Douls previously existed – O’Douls – such good times in the 90s … ahhh. If the menu and food philosophy at the Forage restaurant is anything like their catering, I’m sure I’ll love it.

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Instant Pot Sourdough Bread

Following my cooking frozen meat in our Instant Pot experiment, I decided to try something else with the Instant Pot – making a loaf of sourdough-like bread.

Sourdough Bread

I say “sourdough-like” bread because I don’t actually have a sourdough starter anymore (I was bad and I let my over-100 year old starter die). So technically speaking, this wasn’t a sourdough bread. Just sourdough-like.

Sourdough Bread

To make the bread I started with my usual dry ingredients: 3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of yeast, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. I whisked that all together in my stainless steel mixing bowl and then I added the surprise ingredient – 1 1/2 cups of plain, unflavoured Greek style yogurt.

Sourdough Bread

That’s what gives the bread the sourdough-like taste.

I stirred in the yogurt until there was a pretty firm ball of dough and then I quite vigorously kneaded the dough.

Sourdough Bread

At this point I also added a sprinkle of “Herbs de Provence” to add another dimension to the bread.

Sourdough Bread

Then the Instant Pot came into play. Rather than actually using the Instant Pot to bake the bread, I used it to “proof” the bread. I started by placing a piece of parchment paper inside the Instant Pot and then putting the ball of well kneaded dough on the parchment paper inside the Instant Pot.

Sourdough Bread

After putting on the pot lid, I then activated the Instant Pot to the “yogurt” setting for 4 hours.

At that point I could’ve baked the bread, but I was tired and didn’t feel like baking so I just left the “proofed” bread sitting overnight in the IP.

Sourdough Bread

In the morning I put my cast iron Dutch oven in the oven and cranked up the oven to 450°. Twenty minutes later I took out the Dutch oven, plopped in the ball of dough, cut a few slashes on the top of the dough, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and fired it back into the up-to-temperature oven for 25 minutes.

Sourdough Bread

After 25 minutes I took the lid off the Dutch oven and slid it back into the oven for another 10 minutes so that the top of the loaf developed a brown and crispy crust.

The end result was a beautiful loaf of bread with just a hint of sourdough flavour. And of course the best part? Both kids loved the bread and willingly ate it!

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A Day of Eating and Drinking

Text to follow.

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Austin Texas and on to the Houston Space Center

Our third and final day in Texas was spent in Austin and Houston, Texas. Our stops included a cruise along the Colorado River where we go to experience the emergence of literally millions of bats, lunch at June’s Restaurant up in SoCo, and a tour of the Houston Space Center.

This was a great way to end a fabulous weekend in Austin Texas.

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Day Two in Austin Texas

Day two in Austin Texas included a wander along South Congress, a shopping district known to the locals as SoCo, an extended period of time in Allens Boots – Austin’s boot superstore, and finally, a visit to the Circuit of Americas racetrack.

Another crazy busy day that again ended with all of us on the dance floor.

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A Visit to Austin Texas; the First Night

I was invited to visit Austin Texas for a whirlwind tour – and I’ll be honest, we jammed more fun into a weekend than I ever thought was humanly possible! Austin Texas is a crazy, vibrant and exciting city filled with countless food trucks (that rarely move), eateries, restaurants, live music venues, and drinking establishments.

I am creating short videos to try to capture some of the vibe that we experienced. This first video is from our first night in the city of Austin.

More to come!

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Instant Pot Pork Chops

I got home yesterday to find that there was nothing in the fridge to feed the family. And they were hungry. Hungry and quickly transitioning to hangry.

Instant pot

What to do? Yes, that is correct, I turned to the Instant Pot. And, I went way out of comfort zone because I put FROZEN meat in my Instant Pot.

I had four pork chops frozen. Frozen into one solid block. Rock hard.

Did I mention the kids were about to turn on me? They were. So I turned the Instant Pot to sauté, added some olive oil and I let it heat up.

Then I dropped in the chunk of frozen pork. And poured in a cup and a half of chicken stock. Put on the lid, flipped to the lid to “seal” and the timer for 15 minutes. And then I stepped away to start working on some Carolina-style barbecue sauce.

Because the chunk-o-pork was frozen it took a few minutes for the liquid (chicken stock) to get up to temperature. Once it did, the timer started counting down from 15 minutes.

Once we got to zero, I was anxious to see what was inside so I did a “controlled quick vent”. Opened the lid and saw that my chunk-o-pork was now four sort of frozen pork chops. Good news!

I poured the Carolina-style barbecue sauce into the Instant Pot and put the lid back on. Sealed it. Set it. 15 minutes.

In no time the Instant Pot was up to temperature and under pressure.

15 minutes later I did another quick pressure release and opened up the pot. The pork was now ready to be “pulled” which I did in a large stainless bowl. Using two forks I pulled the pork into shreds.

I ladled on a little of the barbecue sauce and mixed it all together.

I split a few Kaiser buns and placed them under the broiler for a couple minutes to get them browned.

Instant pot

Then I scooped some of the pulled pork onto the bun, added a scoop of coleslaw onto the other side of the bun, ladled on some more of the Carolina-style barbecue sauce, and got ready to eat.

The most amazing thing? Both kids liked it and they actually ate it!!

And just like that, they went from neatly hangry to fully happy.

That’s A Dad in the Burbs style cooking!

Here is my A Dad in the Burbs “recipe” for the Carolina-style barbecue sauce:

  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestshire sauce
  • A scoop of mustard – about a tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

I added all the above ingredients into a medium sized saucepan, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low and let it simmer while I waited for the pork to cook in the Instant Pot.

The Carolina-style barbecue sauce has a strong vinegar hit – much different than the sweeter Texas style barbecue sauce – which I quite like. I just wanted to try something different this time.

That’s it!

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