The A&W Beyond Meat Burger

A&W has recently introduced a new burger they are calling the “Beyond Meat Burger”. It is a burger made entirely of plant-based protein. So obviously, I had to try it.

Beyond Meat Burger

What would I find? The commercials I’ve seen suggested they are pretty good – scenes of people biting into the burgers and being surprised to learn that they are eating a veggie burger.

Beyond Meat Burger

First impression – it looks attractive. The patty in the Beyond Meat Burger looks like a meat patty. Good optics are a good starting point – even if your camera doesn’t eat first (like mine does!) your eyes certainly do eat first.

Add in the lettuce, tomatoes, and optional slice of cheese I requested, and this “looks” like a Teen Burger.

Beyond Meat Burger

The first bite – and the second bite – good. The texture is very much meat-like. A little bit more mushy than a meat patty but still, quite a meat-like texture. Which, ironically, can be off-putting for people who are avoiding meat and want a veggie burger experience.

The list of ingredients is quite interesting: rice, beets, coconut oil, pomegranates, mung beans, yellow beans, potatoes, and apples.

And the bottom line? I’ll admit that the A&W product development team have done a good job on the Beyond Meat Burger. I very much enjoyed it.

And seeing as it is basically the same price ($6.00) as the Teen Burger ($5.75) I’ll be choosing the Beyond Meat Burger more often than not!

Beyond Meat Burger

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Another Free “Beat the Heat Activity”

As the heat wave continues to sit over top of Metro Vancouver and much of southern British Columbia I am looking for more creative ways to entertain my children while avoiding the heat as best I can.

I previously took the kids to Burnaby Village Museum which they loved, but today I wanted to be inside and away from the direct rays of the sun. So we went to one of the largest and most challenging escape room experiences there is in our city.

Yes, we went to IKEA.

The number one benefit of going to IKEA is that basically nobody bothers you or tries to sell you anything.

Unless your kids are like mine and are easily embarrassed by their Dad’s ridiculous antics like trying to climb through the tunnel tube only to get his ass-end stuck. Then they will bother you.

There are endless places to sit and read as well as if you get really tired, you can easily have a nap. If anybody from the store asks all you have to do is say “I’m just trying to get a feel for this furniture.”

Another benefit is that there is a relatively inexpensive cafeteria where there are many kinds of food that kids can get food. Foods that it is almost guaranteed that kids will like. The fact that kids are almost guaranteed to like it makes me question the nutritional value of the food. But not for long. They’re eating. That means they won’t be hangry later!

One of the things that I always consider when going to a place such as Burnaby Village Museum or the Vancouver Aquarium is what does the gift shop look like. The gift shop at Burnaby Village Museum is tiny and out-of-the-way. That means that a parent can escape without too much damage to their wallet.

The Vancouver Aquarium on the other hand has a massive gift shop that you have to exit through in order to leave the place. It is like running a gauntlet. You know you have to do it and you know you’re going to get hurt. At least your wallet is going to get hurt.

A drawback to spending the day at IKEA is that the entire store is essentially a gift shop. It is such an amazing and well organized gift shop that there are items that will tempt every age and every desire. I have to admit that I even bought a couple solar powered lamps for myself!

All things considered, while Costco is my favourite “escape from the sun shopping heaven” (free snacks and hotdogs for $1.50 WITH a drink) the Escape Room experience of IKEA is a real winner and I can almost guarantee we’ll be back inside IKEA before the summer is over.

Any recommendations from you for (free) places to take the kids and beat the heat?

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My Attempt at Making French Bread

This past weekend I was doing some more of my cabin-cooking and I started reading a couple classic books about baking that got me into experimenting with making bread.

I set aside my cast iron dutch oven and opted to use a plain old cookie sheet to try make a long loaf of French bread. Well, a French-style bread!

While the bread turned out beautifully, it certainly was not as light and airy as the typical loaf of French bread.

french bread

The ingredients are simple – flour, water, yeast, salt, and honey (or sugar).

french bread

I started with the water – warm water. Warm enough to dissolve the honey but not hit enough to kill the yeast. I dissolved the honey into the warm water.

french bread

Then added the salt.

french bread

Followed by the yeast. Adding a tablespoon of yeast is different than I usually do, but I was keen to follow the classic recipe in my old-timey baking book (title of which I forgot!)

french bread

Once the honey, salt and yeast have been added I put the bowl on the vent of my stove to let the yeast begin to “work”.

Within 10 minutes it will begin to bubble and foam like the witches cauldron in Macbeth.

french bread

Then I added flour. One cup and I stirred it in with my wooden spoon.

Second cup – stir it in.

french bread

Third cup I needed to knead in with my hands. I now had a very sticky ball of bread dough.

french bread

Then I began to knead the dough. To keep it from sticking to my hands I added flour. A pinch at a time.

french bread

Until I had a ball of dough that stuck to itself and not to my hands.

And then I formed the dough into a loaf, cut little flashes across the top, sprinkled some coarse flavoured salt on top and then let it sit and rise for about half an hour.

Into the oven for 25 minutes at 400°.

I had a gorgeous loaf of bread.

french bread

It was a different approach than I typically take but it worked!

The ingredient list is simple:

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of yeast
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups of white flour

The instructions:

  1. In a large glass bowl combine and dissolve the honey in warm water (warm enough to dissolve the honey, not hot enough to kill the yeast). Then add and stir in the salt.
  2. Add the yeast to the mixture in the bowl.
  3. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 – 10 minutes – bubbles should start to appear on the surface of the mixture as the yeast starts working.
  4. Add some flour. I added a cup at a time and stirred it in with a wooden spoon,
  5. Once three cups of flour have been added, begin to knead the dough. Keep kneading and adding flour until the dough sticks to itself.
  6. Once the dough is able to form a shape, shape it into a loaf shape – whatever shape you want!
  7. I cut shallow slashes across the top of the loaf and added a few grains of coarse salt to the top before baking.
  8. Cover the loaf with a towel and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  9. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes – until the top has a lovely baked brown colour.
  10. Let it rest after baking – simply to make it easier to slice.

Enjoy!

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1600 Pandas Plus at Metropolis at Metrotown

Disclosure: I was compensated for sharing this post with you. However, as always, my opinions, views, and the thoughts I share are my own.

Metropolis at Metrotown is pleased to host the North American premiere of the 1600 Pandas World Tour, launched in 2008 by the World Wildlife Fund and artist Paul Grangeon.

1600Pandas+

With recycled materials, the artist handcrafted 1600 papier-mâché pandas – the approximate number of pandas left in the wild at that time.

1600 Pandas+

The updated exhibit title 1600 Pandas+ refers not only to the 17% increase in the population of wild giant pandas to over 1800 in the past decade, but also to increased public awareness of panda conservation as an always symbolic reminder of wildlife sustainability.

1600 Pandas+

Paulo Grangeon

Paulo Grangeon, the artist who oversaw the creation of the thousands papier-mâché pandas has been active in his craft of sculpture for more than 30 years. His wooden sculptures and stage designs have appeared around the world. To date, he has created more than 10,000 papier-mâché pandas.

WWF Canada

WWF Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter the most for Canadians. WWF Canada works in places that are unique and ecologically important so that nature, wildlife and people can live and thrive together. Because we are all wildlife!

1600 Pandas+

Perhaps the best part of this exhibit – if you love pandas, you can adopt one of the papier-mâché pandas created by Paulo Grangeon.

Adopt a papier-mâché panda!

All the pandas in the exhibit at Metropolis at Metrotown are available for adoption (update – all the pandas available for adoption have now been adopted – meaning more than $46,000 has been raised for conservation efforts!) . All monies collected will be donated directly to WWF Canada for wildlife conservation and education work. You can visit the adoption kiosk in the mall to make your donation and reserve your panda.

1600 Pandas+

Be aware that the pandas you adopt are not available for an immediate take-home (much to my Bears chagrin – see the above photo to see the face of a child who has just learned that the panda she loves will not be coming home with her right there and then).

The reality is that the 888 pandas on display at Metropolis have a job to do in the mall until August 8th. They will be available to take home August 10-12th during mall hours.

Enter to win one of two great contest:

1. You can share your 1600 pandas+ experience on Instagram. Follow and tag @metropolisatMet, @WWFCanada, and #1600PandasPlusCA for a chance to win a weekly Panda Prize pack including a $50 metropolis gift card.

2. You can also enter on the touchscreens located in Metropolis for a chance to win a trip for a family of four to see the pandas at the Calgary zoo and a $500 Metropolis gift card.

1600 Pandas+

Whatever you do, get yourself and your kidlets to Metropolis at Metrotown to see the 888 papier-mâché pandas that are on display. It really is a spectacular display of creativity.

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Fun, Free, and Entertaining; Burnaby Village Museum

Are there any words more frightening than hearing a young child saying “I’m bored”?

During the summer months I am essentially a stay at home dad. As such I need activities to engage my children.

Seeing as our neighbours complained about the dirt track and the noise from the dirt bikes that we were running on the track in our backyard, I’ve had to go a little further a field to find activities to engage my children in.

With limitations like complaining neighbours and bylaw enforcement, there are only so many activities that I can do in our backyard that will fill the time and keep me sane and the kids safe. And to keep the neighbours from complaining. Again.

So what to do? Where to go for fun and free summer activities?

This week the kids and discovered such a place! And no, it wasn’t Costco! Although Costco is always a fun place to spend a sweltering hot afternoon – free snacks, air conditioning, lots of shade and a hotdog and drink for $1.50? What’s not to love?!

We discovered Burnaby Village Museum!

An old-timey place where kids can get an idea of what life was like before iPads and iPhones ruled the world.

There are all sorts of “hands on” activities for little ones – of course there are also many signs saying “don’t touch” that should be respected to protect the antiques on display.

Oddly enough, one of the activities that my kids particularly enjoyed was the black and white silent Charlie Chaplin movie! They were intrigued with figuring out what the characters were saying and actually doing a pretty good job of narrating the film until the old guy in the back of the theatre “shushed” them.

And of course there is the carousel. My kids LOVED choosing their own horse. Of course the carousel isn’t feee but for $2.65, it does provide a few minutes of entertainment for the kids while a parent can sit and watch. Or check their email.

All things considered, the Burnaby Village Museum is pretty solid option for keeping kids safely engaged. My kids enjoyed it. And I think they learned a few things about life in the “old days” that helps them understand that life was not always as easy as it is nowadays.

Best of all, it is free! And the Burnaby Village Museum does NOT force parents and children to exit through the gift shop – meaning you can avoid being forced to buy an over-priced stuffed toy!

Check it out. But be aware, Burnaby Village Museum closes at 4:39pm. It is located at 6501 Deer Lake Parkway in Burnaby.

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At the Movies; My Three Favourite Comedies

A couple of weeks ago I did a podcast about my three favourite comedy movies and unless you are one of the six people in North America who listened to that episode of my podcast, you probably missed it.

Of course, like any list of “bests” these are just my thoughts and opinions. Clearly this is not the definitive list of funniest movies ever because after all, what metric is there to measure “funniest movies” on? And further, who am I to decree which are the funniest movies? These are just my three favourites.

In no particular order I would say one of the funniest movies is the classic John Candy-Steve Martin comedy of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.

This has it all. Two completely mismatched guys forced to travel together and facing and overcoming adversity, and having a good time while we laugh uproariously.

My favourite line from “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” has to be, “Where’s your other hand?”

To which Steve Martin replies, “Between two pillows”. Classic stuff.

Another of my top three funniest movies is Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

I love that movie. I will watch it time and again during the Christmas season.

So many one liners from that movie. It is gold. comedy gold.

The third comedy that I always enjoy, another John Candy movie, “Uncle Buck”. Just pure comedy gold.

It is made of physical humour as well as so many memorable one liners. Just picture the mountain of a man that John Candy was trying to use a urinal in an elementary school. Good, innocent fun.

The Uncle Buck exchange with Gnat; “Have you ever heard of a tune-up?”

Evil laugh from John Candy followed by, “Have you ever heard of a ritual killing?”

Sure, taken out of context it seems almost bizarre, but add in the sneering face of a teenager, a back firing beast of a car, and screeching tires…comedy gold.

So that’s it, my three favourite comedies

  • Uncle Buck
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Care to share your favourite comedies? Commenting is free.

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Reflections on the Public School System

I have spent the first couple weeks of summer break reflecting on and thinking about how we do things in the K to 12 education system.

One of the things I have been thinking about is the way we treat people who arrive late.

Imagine if when you arrived at your workplace even a couple minutes late, you had to go down to a central office and get a little piece of paper from that office to take to your team leader or supervisor in order to get allowed into your workplace.

How long would you put up with that system? That begs the question; why do kids who arrive late to school have to report to the office to get a late slip – making them even later for their day of learning.

And then what about in schools where teachers choose to not allow late arriving students into their classrooms while they are giving the instructions for the days lesson.

Interesting concept. This guarantees that the student has completely missed what the day is going to be about. Why not let the late arriving student into the classroom and let them begin to get their head into the days lesson?

Another issue I’ve been thinking about is the bell system. It is interesting to note that prisons, saw mills,and the K to 12 public education system are the three institutions left using a bell or loud buzzer to indicate it is time to change activities.

Prisons, saw mills, and the K to 12 public education system. Now that’s something to think about.

At a school based meeting I proposed that we stop using bells to signal the start and finish of classes. The other educators in the room looked at me as if I had lost my mind. They said that without bells there would be chaos in the schools.

It is interesting to note that the post secondary school system does not use bells or buzzers to indicate it is time to transition from one class to another. No chaos there.

These issues remind me of the story about the family cooking a turkey. They cut the end off the turkey and when one of the kids asked why they had to cut the end off the turkey, the reply was, “because that’s what my mom did.”

The kids said that’s interesting. Let’s ask your mom why she cut the end off the turkey.

They asked the grandmother. And the grandmother said “said well because that’s what my mom always did.”

So they went back another generation and asked their great grandmother “why do you cut the end off the turkey?”

The great grandmother replied because I didn’t have a roasting pan big enough to fit a full sized turkey in. So I cut it down to fit.

Sometimes we do things simply because we’ve always done them that way. It is useful to think about what we do and think about why we do them that way. Ask yourself, is what we are doing still serving the needs of our students?

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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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