Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AMS Farmers Market @ UBC

I'm back from a brief two-week hiatus. I say "brief" because I have been the painful and debilitating thralls of an inflammatory bodily flare-up due to my scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine). In part, it is my fault, working two jobs for a year that had a high physical component and not lifting properly. Not doing stretches every single day like my back specialist said I would have to do every day for the rest of my life. Pushing myself too hard. Thinking myself more physically able and capable then I will ever be.

I'm on prescription anti-inflammatories and I have an appointment with my family physician next week. I had a back x-ray today and I will nervously await the results to see if a) my scoliosis has worsened and b) if any injury has surfaced. I am happy to say that I am for the first time in weeks free of a life-stopping, wholly upsetting, vice-grip headache (knock on the hardest wood ever-sexual pun really not intended at all there!) that has destroyed my life in more ways than one this month especially.

I'm determined to get to the bottom of all of this and start getting better again. I deserve a long and happy life.

Anyways, that's my emptying of my soul to you, my readers and cyberspace, and I feel better.

What I'm really here about today is to rave about the AMS Farmers Market @ UBC. When I was leaving work at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts a couple weeks ago, I saw a big bright poster advertising the market on the SUB. It was unfortunately not a day that the market was on (Sep. 17, Sep. 24, & Oct. 1), but I hoped I could still make it. Luckily, I was working on Sep. 24 and I finished work with plenty of time to go check it out.

Photo Credit:

The market is on the South Side of the SUB (South Plaza) right at the foot of the Grassy Knoll. There were six, great, local vendors there (a few of which I recognized from the Vancouver Farmers Markets: Natural Village Farm from Richmond selling vegetable produce, Hardbite Potato Chips (a local success story), Honeyview Farm from Rosedale in the Fraser Valley purveying honey and honey products, The Apple Barn hailing from Abbotsford selling peppers and other produce, Arkesteyn-Vogler Family Farm from Abbotsford selling a range of organic produce, and Golden West Farms from Summerland with their delicious organic
apples and peaches.

I didn't really know what to expect from the market, but I was really impressed. All local and often organic vendors with high-quality products at great prices that students, faculty, and visitors of UBC can really feel good about purchasing. I didn't come with a grocery list or much money, so I limited myself to buying some delicious and huge collard greens ($2) and some beets ($1.50). Only $3.50 for some really healthy local vegetables that have lasted me awhile!

Beets & Collard Greens, Natural Village Farm, Richmond, BC
I was so pleased! Thrilled and exhilarated, actually. Food should get people excited and I was happy to be one of those lucky folks. The 2 bags of Hardbite Potato Chips for $4 (full-size bags too!) was a hard deal to pass up. Tempting though. Very tempting.

If you're nervous about eating leafy green vegetables (hey, childhood eating habits are hard to break), all you have to do is sautee them for a few minutes (until they are wilted) in some butter or olive oil with minced garlic and/or  chopped onions and a sprinkle of salt. Delicious! And extremely healthy. The beet greens taste more like spinach when they are cooked, but the collard greens hold a more distinct, perhaps lettuce-like flavour (I can't describe it, but I prefer it). Roasting the actual beets are a good idea too. And here's a tip: use gloves and don't wear white when handling the beets. They stain and the juice is bright-pink!

I definitely recommend getting to the last market of the AMS Farmers Market series this Friday, October 1 from 10:30 am-5:30am, rain or shine. I don't know exactly which vendors will be there, but you are bound to find something worthwhile and delicious.

I'm so pleased to see this initiative from the AMS and I wish them the greatest success. Hopefully it will be an annual event that increases in length and size next year and far into the future. Kudos!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trout Lake-Cedar Cottage Pocket Market

A lot of people want to eat local and/or organic, but a lot of people cannot afford it. For the most part, prices of produce at farmers' markets are the same or even cheaper as those at supermarkets. (Please never buy produce at Safeway, which is always expensive!) But still, with low wages, high unemployment, and an ever-increasing cost of living, accompanied by a culture and society long accustomed to not seeing the virtue in spending more money on fresh groceries than on clothing (that's not an insult, it's just a general fact), buying and eating local and well is expensive. Especially in lower-income areas like East Vancouver.

Along comes the Trout Lake-Cedar Cottage Pocket Market. It is the project of the Trout Lake Cedar Cottage Food Security Network-newly revived after a brief hiatus-along with partners such as the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health. It's goal-and a well-met one too-is to provide fresh, local, and organic produce to its neighbourhood at low, affordable prices.

Sweet and delicious Organic Royal Gala Apples
from Cawston, BC

I bought these apples at the pocket market on Sunday (literally a stone's throw from our place) for only 50 cents each!

There were peaches, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and more produce as well. The quantity is small (at least when I got there), but the quality is high. And that is truly what matters, especially when it comes to food.

There is a coupon program as well for low-income persons with any profits from regular cash sales directly supporting the coupon program.

If you live in the neighbourhood, it is well-worth showing up to get a few things! It is really important to support programs and markets like these. This is ultimately what we need after all: markets in all of our neighbourhoods, each little nook and cranny served with fresh, healthy, and affordable produce.

The next one is October 17 with coupon program shopping only from 10-11:30 with the general public welcome after until 1pm. It takes place at Brant Villa at 2290 E. 25th Avenue.

If you want more details, go to TLCC Food Security Network's blog. And in case you're wondering what a pocket market is, here is a definition (generously sampled from the Coquitlam Farmers Market website):

Pocket markets are mini farmers markets where we sell the food our vendors grow or prepare, on their behalf. A fairly new concept in Metro Vancouver, pocket markets allow local producers, especially farmers, to focus their time and talents on growing or preparing food for local distribution and consumption while providing citizens with more locations where they can access fresh and delicious food from a known and trusted source. For our vendors, pocket markets provide an added way for them to get their food directly to your plate. This helps moves our region towards greater self-sufficiency!

*Also, there is a new pocket market happening at VCC-Broadway Campus from 11am-2pm on Tuesdays, run by the Coquitlam Farmers Market whom also runs a few other pocket markets in the Lower Mainland.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Favourite Food: Fraser Meadow Probiotic Honey Yogurt

The more I go grocery shopping, especially when I'm in Safeway, the more depressed I get. Everything has preservatives in it, soy lecithin, sugar, modified corn starch, colour X, flavour Y, toxic swill # 30.
I actually had a hard time finding a jar of freakin' pickles that did not have "Colour" in it. Colour? Are you kidding me? Why would pickles need colour? ACK!

A lot of my nervous breakdowns-always silent, always just in my head, although it's possible eyes are bugging out crazy-style-take place in front of the yogurt. Seriously, wtf! I urge you to really take your time when you're buying yogurt. Most of it is just loaded with the grossest, most unnecessary ingredients: modified corn starch, sugar, artificial colour and flavour, additives from Mars & Venus. I mean, honestly, yogurt is this: milk and bacterial cultures, for fuck's sake!

So, not surprisingly, I did not find actual delicious and healthy, honest yogurt in Safeway. I found it in Donald's Market on Commercial Drive. It is this: Fraser Meadow Probiotic Honey Yogurt. 2% milk fat, from Agassiz (so if you're scene of choice is the locavore crowd, you'll be extra happy!), made with only organic milk, honey, and probiotic, active bacterial cultures. And it is great! Creamy (but without the unnecessary cream and sugar), tasty, healthy, and no bad milky after taste.

Photo Credit:

In fact, one of Fraser Meadows' yogurts was included in Vancouver Magazine's 2009 Top 100 Things To Taste Before You Die. And I have to say, they know their food!
So, screw Safeway and buy some actual yogurt from a small family farm in your own backyard.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Unfortunately there will be no weekly farmers market post for this past week as I have been quite sick and have not had the wonderful opportunity to visit or work at any of the markets this week.

Instead, I am here to deliver the news: roasted chickpeas are awesome!!! A total revelation to me and finally, a healthy recipe alternative to chips that actually tastes good. (Crunchy nori...yuck. Kale chips...shoot me now.)

Photo Credit:

I came to this ultimate ephiphanal (is that a word?) conclusion while looking at my fridge, shutting the door with dismay, opening the cupboard, looking at it with dismay, and then alighting on my can of San Remo chickpeas.
I didn't particularly want a boring chickpea with lemon juice salad (I need to go grocery shopping, okay?), so I went to my version of Granny's searched "chickpeas".

I mostly came across recipes for hummus and then roasted chickpeas. After looking at a few and knowing that I had a lot of random spices perfect for the recipe, I went to work and created my own version of The Roasted Chickpea. And it rocked! And chickpeas are seriously healthy: they are very high in dietary fibre, excellent to eat for diabetics, and packed with protein, zinc, and folate, among other things.

Photo Credit:

So with no further ado, here is my recipe:

approx. 15 oz canned chickpeas, drained
2 tbsp. olive oil
cayenne pepper
cajun seasoning
parmesan cheese
(the above five are all to taste)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Whisk together olive oil, spices, and seasonings.
3. Drain chickpeas and mix into oil and spices.
4. Spread evenly on large baking pan.
5. Put in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. After 30 minutes, be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent charring.
6. Take out, put into bowl of choice, sit down, and enjoy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tomato Fennel Soup Recipe

Tomato Fennel Soup

Photo Credit: Jon Sullivan

*Cooking oil                                        (2 tsp./10 ml)
Chopped fennel bulb (white part only)  (2 cups/500 ml)
Chopped onion                                    (1 cup/250 ml)
Minced garlic cloves                            (2 cloves)
**Chopped tomatoes                          (28 oz./796 ml)
(any kind, as long as they 
are sweet and delicious!)
Chicken stock                                     (2 cups/500 ml)
Balsamic vinegar                                 (2 tsp./10 ml)
***Granulated sugar                           (1 tsp./5 ml)
Salt                                                     (1/2 tsp./2 ml)
Pepper                                                (1/4 tsp/1 ml)

*I used olive oil. I don't use any other cooking oil. Works every time.
**The recipe actually calls for a can of diced tomatoes (with juice), but if tomatoes are in season, for pete's sake, use those please!
***I halved this recipe, as it is designed to serve six and I only wanted to serve three. It worked perfectly, three medium-sized bowls of soup. I used one sugar cube (I don't have loose sugar as I don't bake). So two sugar cubes would work for the full recipe.

1. Heat cooking oil in large saucepan on medium.
2. Add fennel, onion, and garlic. Cook for approx. 10  minutes, stirring often, until onion and fennel are softened.
3. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil.
4. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender.
5. Carefully process in blender until smooth.
6. Makes about 6 cups.
7. Eat and enjoy.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (not what you may think...)

Grilled Cheese is a classic. The classic comfort food (feel free to dispute!). And like all classics, whether it's a Led Zeppelin song, Beethoven's Fur Elise, or the grilled cheese sandwich, putting your own spin on it-making a cover of it, so to speak-is not only welcomed but encouraged in my world.

Yours truly enjoying an American Grilled Cheese
@ The Grilled Cheese Grill Food Cart in the Alberta Arts District, Portland, Oregon

(Yes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. But, you see, I'm not trying to fix anything, or re-create it, or say that something was inherently or at all wrong about the original. I'm just doing my thing, inspired by the one and only original. That's what I call respect.)

Anyways, my mum and I went out for a detox spa treatment today and I decided a few days ago that I was going to treat her and my boyfriend to a homemade special lunch.

The Hungarian Grilled Cheese Sandwich
courtesy of  all you need is cheese 

The menu: Tomato Fennel Soup & Hungarian Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Yum!
Total Ingredients: 10 and 4, respectively
Cost: low
Difficulty Level: 5/10 (easy!)
Deliciousness Level: 8/10 (yum!)
Customer Rating ("customers" being my mum and my boyfriend): 4.5/5 (grand success!)

Even on a summer's day (perhaps not a plus-30 one) this meal would make for a great lunch! Making soups and sandwiches are seriously fun for me; they always seem less daunting than grand dinner dishes that I take one look at and turn away from in disdain. (I was looking at a Thanksgiving cooking course the other day and as soon as I saw that a recipe for a whole oven-baked turkey was going to be part of it, well, let's just say I'm not considering that class anymore.)

The soup recipe is from Company's Coming Soups cookbook and the sandwich is from the 2010 Fall Issue of all you need is cheese. The former you can easily find in any bookstore (or Zellers, or Home Outfitters, etc.) and the latter is free in many grocery stores. I will include both recipes in a following post for your thorough enjoyment.
P.S.: This issue of all you need is cheese is dedicated to the grilled cheese, so eat your heart out from the basic Italian panini to the more decadent Curry Me Brie by Chef Paul Rogalski or the seriously luxe French Toast Grilled Cheese by Chef Melissa Craig of Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Farmers Market Dinner, from beginning to end

Gosh golly gee. It has been over a month since I've posted on my blog.

As you can see, this post has to do with goods purchased by yours truly from the farmers market-the Main Street Station Farmers Market-to be precise, run by the Vancouver Farmers Markets, that were cooked and then joyously eaten by myself.

I'm toying with the idea of having a regular weekly or bi-weekly posting on the farmers markets. Thoughts?

For now, here is a photo of beautiful tomatoes from Celyddon Farms and my grocery list and farmers market dinner:

Location: Main Street Station Farmers Market

Groceries Purchased:
six organic Sunrise Apples; Golden West Farms
four-pack Tree Hophouse Butter Chicken Sausages; Beer Brats
one bag of salad mix, one head of Music Garlic, small bag of baby broccoli; Ice Cap Organics
one fennel bulb, two small sweet onions; Cropthorne Farm
two Pink ______ heirloom tomatoes; Celyddon Farms

Hole in the Wallet:
small, only $30 spent!

Farmers Market Dinner Made:
two pan-fried Beer Brats Butter Chicken sausages with fried Cropthone Farm onions and Ice Cap Organics Music Garlic, and lightly sauteed Ice Cap Organics baby broccoli! Delish!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leafy Greens, In the City

I recently took a photographic journey at Cedar Cottage Community Garden at Hull and Victoria in East Van to see if I could capture any special urban agricultural moments in time.

The tomato photograph below is an entry that I have submitted to the Home Grown Photo Contest co-sponsored by Edible VancouverVancouver Farmers Markets, and Farm Folk/City Folk. The grand prize winner gets some pretty cool stuff and there are four runner-up prizes.

I'm no pro photographer, or even a budding amateur, but I have always been deeply in love with powerful, raw photography and I figure this would be good practice for me.

I have yet to enter a second and last photograph in the contest, but I still have some time. I hope to finally! go to Avalon Dairy in South Vancouver and see if I can capture any beautiful moments early in the morning on the farm that would be worthy. But for now here is Cedar Cottage Community Garden captured by my digital Nikon on a summer's day in Vancouver. Perhaps one of these photos will be my last entry in the contest.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the peace amongst concrete. Better yet, go there yourself and take it all in.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tomatoes of the Tiny Variety

Here's some visual goodies for you:
Conchita Cherry Tomatoes at the East Van Farmers Market. Courtesy of Celyddon Farms, Delta, BC. Fantastic people, great products, first and currently only tomatoes of the season! I highly recommend.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something New, Something Blue

As is obvious, I have been absent from the blogosphere and DDF for just over a month.
I've been really busy with work, tired, and just generally flying at half-mast when it came to my ideas, enthusiasm, and committment to the blog. For me, it is a fledgling project, a hobby, not a business enterprise or a creative outlet I rely on for my sanity. Not that I don't appreciate those who do read my blog and the easy access to free speech and expression that it gives me. I've just been tired and busy.

But, I'm back! With a brand-spanking new design and template that I like much much more than what I had before. Thank you Blogger for giving me more to work with! I like the clean white background, the light blue text, and the welcoming open space of the blog. Perfect for summer. I hope that you will be able to find everything easier and more appealing and refreshing and fun to read!

Below is the reason for my post: a perfect omelette I made a few days ago. Free-range, organic two-egg omelette with local organic pea shoots, local Windset Farms hot peppers, and parmesan cheese. Mmmm good.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

With sunshine and summer come smoothies

During the dreary time between October and April, making healthy fruit smoothies or eating fruit at all is about as familiar to me as the Antarctic. However, as soon as the sun starts shining and it is warm again in May, I want salads, smoothies, fresh food, and lots of it all.

My mum bought me a fantastic blender for Christmas and man has it been getting a workout the last week. I'm loving my fruit smoothies! It feels so good on the stomach, it's quick, it's healthy, and it keeps me regular. (Apologies for some major TMI there.)

I use milk, yogurt, frozen fruit, and ground flaxseed in my smoothies. There are, of course, endless options for smoothies: maybe you're more of a crushed ice person, or a banana lover, or maybe you add sugar (please don't do the latter for the love of God).

Here are the basic rules, quantities, and ingredients I follow per serving:

1 cup milk
1/2 cup thick Greek-style vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen fruit
2 tbsp ground flaxseed

That's it! So get that Magic Bullet out and get blending. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roasted Yam Cream Soup

Roasted Yam Cream Soup


Sour cream (1/2 cup/125 ml)
Ground cardamom (1/2 tsp/2 ml)


Unpeeled yam cut into 1/2 inch slices (1 lb./454 g)
Carrots cut into 1/2 inch slices (1/2 lb./225 g)
Unpeeled garlic cloves (4)
Olive oil (1 tbsp/15 ml)

Olive oil (1 tsp/5ml)
Chopped leek (white part only) (1 cup/250 ml)
Finely grated gingerroot (1 tsp/5 ml)

Chicken (or vegetable) stock (5 cups/1.25 L)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Half-and-half cream (1/2 cup/125 ml)

1. Combine sour cream and cardamom in small bowl until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.
2. Pre-heat oven to 425 F/220 C.
3. Put yam, carrots, and garlic cloves into large bowl. Drizzle with first amount of olive oil (1 tbsp). Toss until coated. Spread evenly on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until yam and carrot are tender-crisp. Cool. Transfer yam and garlic to cutting board. Discard yam and garlic peels. Set aside.
4. Heat second amount of olive oil (1 tsp) in large saucepan on medium. Add leek and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leek is softened.
5. Add stock, salt, and pepper and the roasted yam, carrots, and garlic. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully process with hand blender or in blender until smooth.
6. Add half-and-half cream. Heat and stir for about 2 minutes until heated through.
7. Spoon chilled cardamom cream on individual servings.
8. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6.

I halved this recipe exactly and it worked out beautifully. It is a truly delicious soup, and while it may seem slightly laborious, it's not that bad and totally worth the effort. Easy to make in bulk, healthy, and unique. Just be extra careful if you use a blender to process it. Make sure the top of your blender is secure and cover it with a cloth while you are blending to be safe.  I had no problems, but avoiding burns and catastrophic splatters is important. Don't rush this part. Enjoy it! Seeing the soup go from a chunky vegetable broth to a smooth and silky delight is quite rewarding.

Also of note: I forgot to roast and thus include the garlic in the recipe, and I didn't discard the yam peels. The soup was still delicious and autumn-like, so if you suffer from memory loss and laziness like me, don't fret. You'll still make the greatest soup ever.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Portland Series: Tonalli's Doughnuts & Cream

This is the third and long-time-coming review in my Portland Food Series, and we again find ourselves in the Alberta Arts District. You will notice that quite a few of the reviews are in that area and in the respect of full disclosure, I stayed just a few blocks off of Alberta Street while I was in town.

Tonalli's Doughnuts & Cream is located on NE Alberta Street at NE 28th. We went there for a post-breakfast snack and I was truly blown away by the sheer number and types of doughnuts on display and for sale. Cake doughnuts, fluffy doughnuts, sprinkled, chocolate, coconut, iced, with filling, glazed. You name it, Tonalli's has it. Yeah, it's pretty bare bones inside and qualifies as a hole-in-the-wall, but those prove to me time and time again to often be the best places out there.

I got a Coconut doughnut, which was a cake doughnut with white icing and flaky, sweet coconut piled on top. I also got a coffee as well. Both were fresh and complimented each other well. Unlike with the coconut cupcakes at Cupcakes here in BC, I did not feel sick afterwards, but rather delighted. It didn't come to more than $4 and was fresher and tastier than your average Timmy Ho fare.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not dissing Timmy Ho joe and their double chocolate doughnuts. But, Tonalli's has a got a few important things on Timmy's: variety, quantity, freshness, and an actual neighbourhood feel (Tonalli's is not a chain).

If you want to compare Tonalli's to Voodoo, I don't think it's worth it because all they have in common is that they both sell doughnuts. Tonalli's does ice cream, cold drinks, coffee, espresso drinks, and the like, and has space to sit down. And while they may not have doughnuts with cereal on top or pieces of bacon, they do have a huge variety of your basics and your slightly fancy ones too.

If you're in the Alberta Arts District, you've got to stop by with a friend and be a cop for a day, coffee in one hand and doughnut in the other.

Tonallis Doughnuts & Cream on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lobster Foam is the part of the lobster that is...foamy?

I've known and read about molecular gastronomy and all its weird science creations for a few years now. I've read about savoury cocktails, strange culinary experiments of the marshmallow variety, and oodles of other edible fusions of science and food that would make Einstein go "oooh" and Bill Nye go "aaahhh".

Recently I was looking through the chef picks in The Straight's recent Golden Plates awards and The Pear Tree Restaurant  in Burnaby came up. It sounded intriguing and a faint ping of name recognition went off in the food section of my brain (an entire 50%, I would say), so I investigated. Meaning, I googled it.

After being impressed by the website (I won't book a B&B, hotel, or any other accommodation unless it has a website) and the photographs of the room, I went to the menu and found what you see above: 
"Lobster Cappuccino" Lobster Foam.

Pardon, I ask? Now the fact that the lobster cappuccino is in quotation marks would lead me to guess that it isn't really a cappuccino of the espresso and milk foam variety, which is good and I really hope to be true because the idea of seafood, espresso, and milk intermingled makes me want to projectile vomit all over myself. And my desk. And get the picture with major yuck factor.

I just don't understand this "foam" trend in fine dining. Just like I don't understand the love of cappuccino foam. But, seriously, crustacean foam? Sometimes, okay, often, fine dining restaurants just seem like a collection of big men with small dicks constantly trying to make up for the latter with stupid come-on's like, lobster foam. Here are some other local examples in this particular pissing contest:

Blue Water Cafe: Cannellini Bean Veloute with rosemary croutons, truffle oil, and parmesan foam

Raincity Grill: Seared Baynes Sound Scallop with melted leek risotto, sunchoke, and music garlic foam

db bistro moderne: Pork Cheek Tortellini with celeriac, wild mushrooms, carrots, crisp pork belly, quail eggs, and sage foam

Other recent culprits: C Restaurant's bacon foam and Social Restaurant &  Lounge's...wait for it...clam foam! In unison, ewwwwww!

As you may have noticed, I haven't included any sweet foams because in my mind, that could work. And there are and have been lot of sweet foams in town: Voya's seasonal fruit with coconut foam and pistachio powder and Bridges Restaurant's Chocolate and Licorice Mousse with vanilla bean foam are examples.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for culinary innovation and I'm open to trying new things, but sometimes if it ain't broke, don't try to freakin' fix it, okay. Clam foam is as disgusting and unnecessary as the pollution foam we see floating on our precious oceans and waterways every day. There are actually many dangerous and damaging chemicals and the like used in molecular gastronomy.

So, let's leave foam to the foam parties, mattresses, and cappuccinos where they belong.

And by the way, Urbanspoon rocks!

Friday, April 16, 2010

30th & 120th Place! Celebrate!

Ok, so maybe I won't be donning a tutu, spiking my hair Ace Ventura style, and dancing with the old crazies anytime soon, but I do have cause for celebration!

I was just checking my urbanspoon links to see if my reviews were being posted on urbanspoon and linking back to my blog, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my blog is the #30 ranked blog on Portland Urbanspoon! What a surprise, being that I only have one review (so far...) on a Portland eatery. Now, #30 may not be much to some, but there are 66 blogs on that list and it means a helluva lot to me.

Also, I found that my blog is the #120 ranked blog on Vancouver Urbanspoon, which also makes me proud because there are 156 blogs on the Vancouver leaderboard. For a truly fledgling blog that does not necessarily specialize in restaurant/eatery/cafe reviews, and that only has three reviews in total on Urbanspoon worldwide, I award myself a real big pat on the back! It actually makes me quite excited and hopeful for the future of this blog. I may not be as ripped as the above, but I'd venture that I'm just as freaking excited! Yay!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prawns, Garlic, & Tomatoes

Prawns, Garlic, & Tomatoes 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Tomatoes (4)
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil (6 tbsp/3 fl oz/90 ml)
Prawns (1 lb/500 g, peeled and deveined)
Garlic (1 tbsp, finely chopped)
Sherry vinegar (1 tbsp)
Fresh parsley (2 tbsp, chopped)
Cayenne pepper (dash)
*I served this dish with brown rice. I recommend you do as well or else it is just will not be hearty enough.

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C).
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side up in a shallow baking dish (I just used a regular cookie sheet. What exactly is a "shallow baking dish" anyways?) Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. About 3 minutes before the tomatoes are finished, in a saute pan over high heat, warm 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the prawns and salt and pepper to taste and saute until pink and firm, 2-3 minutes. (I personally would give more for this step. More like 6-8 minutes.)
4. Transfer the baked tomatoes to individual plates. Place the prawns on top of the tomatoes.
5. In a small saucepan over high heat, combined the garlic and remaining olive oil and saute until the garlic turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan by stirring to dislodge any browned bits, about 30 seconds. Pour the contents of the pan equally over each serving. Sprinkle with parsley and cayenne. Serve immediately, nice and hot! 
(If you follow my blog, you may remember this step crashed and burned almost too literally. The garlic  burnt, the vinegar burnt into thin air, thus leaving me with nothing. So, if you find yourself in the same situation-or are too scared to even try step 5-just follow steps 1-4, then drizzle a little bit of sherry vinegar and spread a small amount of raw minced garlic or store-bought crushed Asian garlic on top of each dish evenly while food is hot, right before serving..)

Serves 4. (More like 3).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Recipes

Chinese Crabmeat Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes  
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Canned crabmeat (7 oz/220g, drained)
*Peanut oil (1 tbsp)
Fresh ginger (1 tbsp, shredded)
Fish broth or chicken broth (3 cups/24 fl oz/750 ml)
Canned creamed corn (1 can/14 oz/440 g)
Fresh cilantro (1 tbsp, chopped)
**Chinese rice wine  (1 tsp)

*I used olive oil and it worked just deliciously.
**I used Japanese sake (rice wine). What's the diff I ask?

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and after about 30 seconds-1 minute add the broth and creamed corn. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. 
2. Once boil is reached, add crabmeat and stir well. Bring back to boil.
3. When the soup returns to a boil, stir in cilantro and rice wine. 
4. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4-6. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

"A Convention for All You Unconventional Conventionalists" (Or, An Unconventional Easter Lunch)

Full disclosure: This is my second attempt at writing this post, as I just deleted the first half. Motherf***er!

Almost simultaneously, when I thought of the title for this post "An Unconventional Easter Lunch", I thought of a phrase from one of my favourite films of all time and strongest and sexiest hero-villains in all of artistic creation (if I might say so myself), with the former being The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the latter being Dr. Frank'n'Furter himself. The phrase was "unconventional conventionalists". I love that kind of simple, but thoroughly excellent wordplay, so naturally with my pop culture addicted brain and immortal crush on Tim Currie as Dr. Frank'n'Furter I incorporated it into my title.

Moving on from the tangent of all tangents, which I obviously had to get out of my system, I cooked my first Easter lunch today. I don't celebrate Easter in the religious sense or any sense; it is merely a four-day weekend for me and always has been. Well, except for the childhood easter egg hunts.

Anyways, the last few years my mum, Anthony, and I have been having a special meal in honour of it. And this year, we even had one with my Dad. I don't relish cooking for other people most of the time, too much fretting and approval sought. But, it is excellent practice and when it goes right, it's self-affirming and even fun. Thus, yours truly cooking Chinese Crabmeat Soup at 11:30am this morning.

Chinese Crabmeat Soup, you may ask? Well. It is an unconventional Easter lunch after all. Bringing me to the menu. To Drink: Ginger Ale. To Eat: Prawns, Garlic, and Tomatoes with Brown Rice. Chinese Crabmeat Soup. Store-Bought (who do you think I am? Julia Child?) Caramel Apple Cake with Tin Roof Ice Cream.

To get it over with, the meal turned out great, except for one part of the prawn dish that proved inconsequential after some quick thinking on my bunion-ed (seriously I am already getting bunions) feet.

The Chinese Crabmeat Soup was remarkably easy and completely delicious and different. The cilantro gave it that special, unexpected kick with the sweetcorn lending a cozy sweetness (not sugary, but cozy) to it and of course the crab contributing a bit of glam and luxury. (I will be posting the recipes for these in a following post). I made it beforehand (we did not eat until 1:30pm), as it would have been literally impossible to have been making both savoury dishes at the same time, even if I had a big kitchen. Planning is key, even with the simplest and easiest of recipes.

Next was the Prawns, Garlic, and Tomatoes dish. I added the brown rice to make the meal more substantial, but keeping it healthy as well. I served it in a separate bowl so we could add however much we wanted to our plates. This dish basically consists of halved tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper baked in the oven (cut side up) with sauteed prawns. The part that went wrong involved high heat, garlic, sherry vinegar, and de-glazing of a pan. It didn't work, so I just put some Asian-style crushed garlic on top of the hot ready dish with a drizzle of sherry vinegar. Worked perfectly. Oh, I also forgot to put the chopped parsley on it with a dash of cayenne pepper. Balls. But, in the spirit of waste not and want not and the burgeoning chef in me, I added the parsley to the soup, which worked quite loverly, thank you!

Success! Everything was hot and delicious and fairly easy, not to mention healthy and nourishing, and offered some new spins on old tricks for me. I would make both recipes again (which were very well-received by Anthony and my mum), especially the soup as it took such a short time to make and was unlike any kind of soup I have ever tasted. There is such great diversity in cuisines around the world and I really enjoyed bringing a bit of that into this meal. So, what am I going to make next? Amped-Up Mac'n' Cheese. Just to get you salivating until the weekend-I won't be making it until Friday-it involves fontina cheese, mascarpone, cream, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Foodgasm-ing yet? I know I am. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Reflection

The Thinking Man. This is how I have felt most of today. When you don't have any money to spend and you have a day off and you're feeling bummed out, you spend the day like I spent it: half-dressed until the evening, sleeping on the couch, checking your e-mail every two minutes, not really doing much of anything. At least I did do the dishes, vacuum, sweep the floors, go out for dinner (which I couldn't afford, but I did anyways), and watch some special features of Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. For the most part though, not much was done and I was not in a happy space.

I've been thinking about what direction to take my blog. I think I will be posting only twice a week or weekly for now to keep the pressure off and allow for some creative headspace to develop and  blossom. It will certainly still be a collection of my daily experiences with food, whether that be simple recipes, cooking disasters, or restaurant reviews. One new thing is that I have started linking my restaurant reviews to

I am excited about my new venture in the foodie blogosphere. Also, looking back on my old posts, back in the blog's first few months, I've realized how far my blog has come and how dry it was before. I'm not saying I'm not proud of my blog's fledgling first few months, but my writing has become more diversified, it is more interactive, more visually appealing, and I have a wider (tiny, but wider) readership, which I am proud of. 

I will likely be slowly over time going to back to this old posts and re-vamping them a bit: more photos, more paragraph breaks, etc.. It is great to see that creative growth however and it motivates me to continue blogging away and enjoying this fantastic medium. 

So, a big thank you to my readers and those who have given me advice along the way. You know who you are and I thank you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Portland Series: The Magic Is In The Hole

FBF is back. Forcibly brought back from exile. I realized that the fact that I keep saying I am back after a long absence, I have writer's block, I'm tired, I'm busy, I'm sick, etc., etc... and not actually posting regularly might start ringing loudly of LAZY. As such, I am listening to my dance tunes (Thank you Ke$ha, Gaga and B, RiRi) and returning to my blog officially. I have no excuses. Thus bringing me to the fact that the magic is in the hole.

The hole of a doughnut. The hole of a Voodoo Doughnut to be precise. I first came to know about the sugary, battery goodness of Voodoo Doughnut via one of my favourite Vancity food blogs, noshwell. Bacon and maple doughnut, anyone? I swear that was one of the main reasons why I went down to PDX earlier this month. Plus, that doughnut (well, perhaps not one from Voodoo, but inspired surely) was featured on Criminal Minds earlier this year. Say no more. (Oh, and Anthony Bourdain is a fan.)

Was it worth it you ask? Hell yeah. $2.50 was a totally reasonable price and the doughnut was perfect. The bacon was salty, which really hit it off with the smoky, caramelized perfection of the maple topping. It was filling and sat lightly in my stomach. Really good. I imagine it would have been especially good with a cup of joe from Stumptown down the street (whose washrooms I used). 

And if salty-sweet isn't your thing (don't tell me that chocolate-covered pretzels aren't the best thing Rold Gold ever made), there are tons of other kinds, including ones with cereal on top and apparently one that has a Nyquil topping and involves Pepto-Bismol as well (it is unsurprisingly "on hold" according to their website). I suppose the latter would be great if you had  nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diahrrea. Although, a crazy creation like that could end up giving you all the above anyways.

If I was a resident of PDX, I would definitely be a repeat customer. The space is absolutely tiny; I am absolutely amazed at the sheer number and kinds of donuts they produce in such a small baking space, crammed behind the counter and display case, which is alternatively crammed behind a tiny space where people line-up (down the street) to get their goodies. They do everything that is possible with the space they have however. Talk about space management. The walls are pink, the interior is bright and fun, dominated by a crazy spiralling gold chandelier that is at once decadent, Dali-esque, and alien. Not to mention some violent, strange donut art on the walls that I loved in the way I love Family Guy, cringing while laughing hysterically and fighting nausea.

Needless to say, I loved Voodoo Doughnut and if you ever make it down to Portland, you must go. I went to the original Old Town location and I recommend you do too. 

Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hello? Is it me you're looking for? I can see it in your eyes...

Mmm, that's right. That's me getting my Lionel on. "Oh Lionel, you have been hurt. You have been hurt. Who hurt? Who hurt you?" Thank you Family Guy.

Well perhaps over the last week and a bit you have been looking for me, wondering where that basement dweller has been, lurking in the shadows of her kitchen, scared to come out and tell the world what she really feels about food.

The frank truth is nothing as cinematically exciting as this, but that I have been tired and busy and a little sick the last few days. Plus, my creative juices have just been feeling a little weak of late, but I'm back and ready to bust out with more pop lyrics for you in the coming days.

This brings me to the results of my last poll: Tacos, Burritos, and the mysterious "Other" are left in a tie! 

I'm surprised that poor Chimichangas didn't get one single vote. All that deep-fried goodness? All that bang for your buck? Well, maybe you just haven't had the Chimichangas at La Ceranita in Portland. You must, you must.

And on to the next poll: what is your favourite hot beverage?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Portland Series: Todbott's Triangles

As promised, this is the first of a few posts on my recent trip to Portland, Oregon, all on the topic of food, of course. At least for the most part. You can rely on various tangents on the Portland transit system (pretty awful), Portland State University (Vagina Monologues!), and the like. But it will mostly be pointed towards food.

First off is Todbott's Triangles (2827 NE Alberta). A hidden gem in the very literal sense of the term, as it is back from the street down a path, at the back of a house close to a popular nouveau-Mexican restaurant La Bonita. It was on a Sunday morning when I went there (it is currently closed on Mondays) and I was feeling queasy and tired (no, not from a binge drink the night before; I don't drink really), and I wanted some sort of calming drink in a calming environment from a calming person. I was staying with a friend just a few blocks from TT's, so I thought it was the perfect moment to explore it.

I was already charmed by the place (and affirmed in my decision to go there) as I walked up the path, greeted by a nice, mild-mannered young man on his laptop amongst a comfy outdoors seating arrangement. While I was intrigued by the remarkably inexpensive and beautifully presented nigiri ($1-$2) a piece, considering the previously mentioned queasiness, I stuck with the green tea for its warmth more than anything, as his homemade kombucha (or 'boocha as it said on the sidewalk sign) was tempting.

The indoor space was small, but lovingly appointed and comfortable. As he made my green tea, we chatted about how he got started (as a vendor at local farmers markets), my position with the Vancouver Farmers Markets, and his connection to Vancity (apparently there is a convention in March in Hope of all places that he attends every year, by bike all the way from Portland!). The great thing I found about Todbott's Triangles was it easily allowed for a connection to be made between owner and customer, vendor and patron, which is one of the many wonderful things about farmers markets is that you get to know the person who is providing you with their product; a valuable connection that is rare in the Western world and its big cities.

The green tea was steeped from loose leaves and was brewed right in front of me, giving me time to decide I also wanted to buy a 50 cent crispy pastry that was made in a waffle pattern but in the shape of a flower, with hints of coconut and deep-fried goodness.

I would definitely recommend Todbott's Triangles, especially if you find yourself in the Alberta Arts District. A peaceful oasis focussed on Asian healthful food and drink, done in a laid-back and artistic Northwest way that is hard to resist and relax into with ease.

Todbott's Triangles on Urbanspoon