31 January 2009

Greek Salad; Ravioli

Such a beautiful sunny day demanded the eating of salad. I had some tomatoes sitting around, these two in fact, and some feta cheese, so I bought some cucumbers and black olives and made a Greek salad. Also: beef ravioli with portobello mushroom spaghetti sauce.

30 January 2009

Akira Sushi

Akira on Denman: miso soup, gomae, spicy tuna sashimi.

29 January 2009


Leftover Sha Lin veggie dumplings and a mini-bottle of Sutter Home Merlot purchased from an American gas station.


Sha Lin cutting noodles! Also: dumplings. And several leftover dumplings. Perhaps I will eat one right now.

27 January 2009

Week of Grapefruit & Avocado

I had one grapefruit and one avocado left. If I'd felt adventurous I would have tried them with salmon or in a different salad, but I didn't feel like thinking and besides I still had some Tofu Parmesan leftovers, so that's what went into my belly, along with more Grapefruit-Avocado-Mint Salad. This time I made it with Marqués de Valdueza olive oil, a Christmas present from my boss, winner of awards, and described by their website as "Extra virgin olive oil, fruity, bouquet of apples, fresh grass and almonds, touches of dried fruit; slightly tart and a hint of spice."

For dessert, Chocolate Crush Pocky (the best of the Pockys yet) and delicious, delicious Candied Grapefruit Peel.

26 January 2009

Tortilla Soup; Candied Grapefruit Peel

My major produce purchases on the weekend were grapefruit and avocado, so that I could accomplish a few new recipes -- the first being yesterday's salad. Tonight I tried another recipe from the Real Simple convenience-food-upgrading article: Tortilla Soup. I mixed 1 can of Campbell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup with 2/3 can of water, added 1 cup frozen corn and 1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek, and topped with some ripe avocado wedges. I didn't bother with the tortilla chips. It was quite good, as far as convenience food goes; much more successful than the rice pilaf.

I also got started last night on making candied grapefruit peel when I peeled the fruit for my salad. I did the first five steps of the recipe and then let them sit out overnight before the final sugar-coating, with an upside down baking sheet over top of them to avoid ending up with airborne cat hair-coated candies. Note: Instead of grapefruit you can use three limes or lemons. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

Candied Grapefruit Peel

2 grapefruits, washed
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar (plus extra to coat candy)
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


1. Peel the skin off the grapefruit, then cut into strips and trim off some of the bitter pith. Don’t remove too much, as you don’t want the candy to be too thin.

2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the peels. Boil for 5 minutes and strain. Rinse and refill the pot with fresh water and bring it to a boil again. Add the peels and boil for another five minutes, then strain. Repeat this process two more times for a total of four pots of boiling fresh water. This blanching process removes the grapefruit's bitter flavour.

3. Place blanched peels in the pot. Add the sugar, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of water.

4. Simmer on medium-low heat until the peels are translucent (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).

5. Strain and place peels on a wire rack, with a piece of waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let air-dry for several hours, or overnight.

6. Fill a shallow bowl with sugar. Roll and press each peel in the sugar until evenly coated. The candy will last at room temperature for a couple weeks.

25 January 2009

Tomahawk; Grapefruit, Avocado & Mint Salad

Happy four-month anniversary to Michelle-Meals! Let's celebrate the occasion by also talking about brunch: A Sunday spent in North Van involved a trip to the Tomahawk Restaurant. I ordered the Chief Capilano burger, which is a ground organic beef patty topped with hot dog weiner, fried egg, aged cheddar cheese, lettuce, onions, tomato, and Tomahawk special sauce. I ordered it because of its sheer ridiculousness (I could've gone one step further with the Skookum Chief, which includes all these toppings plus Yukon bacon), but I was surprised to discover that it was also pretty delicious, and I ate the whole thing.

After working off about 10 calories at the driving range, we went for coffee and dessert at Honey's in Deep Cove, home of the finest and freshest doughnuts in the Lower Mainland.

For dinner: I've been wanting to try this recipe from one of my favourite food blogs for a while now, and it was the perfect light meal to follow an afternoon of gluttony.

Grapefruit, Avocado and Mint Salad

1 large grapefruit, peeled and cubed
1 large avocado, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
honey to taste
salt and pepper
handful of fresh mint leaves


1. Mix the grapefruit and avocado in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Pour over the salad and garnish with mint leaves.

24 January 2009

Rice Pilaf with Feta and Dill

In a fit of procrastination one day, I accidentally subscribed to Real Simple magazine. My intention was to cancel after my first free issue, but when the second issue popped through my mail slot I realized I'd forgotten. Then I came across the article "18 Easy Upgrades for Your Favorite Convenience Foods," which describes how to make a fancy-ish dinner out of a simple frozen pizza, can of chicken soup or box of Rice-a-Roni, and I knew I'd found a magazine after my own heart. Of course, the article is also online, which means I still didn't need to throw away my money on a magazine.

Tonight's dinner was based on one of the rice pilaf upgrades, which consists of adding crumbled feta and fresh dill. I also added diced tomatoes, because without them it basically was not very good. Now, when choosing a rice pilaf . . . you may get greedy and want to buy the 4-rice blend, which is what I did, but remember that different rices require different cooking times, and makers of rice pilafs, even the President's Choice varieties, don't necessarily take that into account.

Anyway. Also on tonight's menu was the following: a Delaney's latté, a banana parfait martini and three courses at Checkers: escargot, crab cakes and chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and edible oil product. I ate . . . a lot. Which I may regret at tomorrow's Tomahawk Restaurant brunch . . .

23 January 2009

Poor Man's Chicken Parmesan II

I had cornflakes in the cupboard, fresh rosemary sprigs and (formerly fresh) dried basil leaves and definitely-not-fresh McCormick thyme leaves, and above all a desire to try this recipe again. It's good timing for a chickenless Chicken Parmesan . . . so far as I know, slabs of extra firm tofu aren't susceptible to avian flu.

I did the following insteads tonight: Instead of buttermilk I used 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice. But I have a problem getting the cornflakes to stick uniformly and I'm wondering if trying yogurt or sour cream to thicken the mixture next time might help. Also, I mixed 1 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese in with the milk, and sprinkled a little more on the slabs before coating them in cornflakes. Also also, I added some diced onions and green peppers to the marinara sauce, because I had some leftover in the fridge.

Poor Man's Chicken Parmesan

one 350g package extra firm tofu
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
3 cups cornflakes
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
marinara sauce
grated Parmesan cheese


1. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick slabs across the short side of the tofu block and set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine buttermilk and herbs; add the tofu and turn it to coat well.

3. Let stand 20 minutes in mixture.

4. Meanwhile, crush the cornflakes, mix in salt and cayenne and pour into a flat, wide dish.

5. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and coat tofu slabs in the cornflake mixture, making sure to press the cornflakes gently into the tofu to cover.

6. Place the coated tofu slabs in the heated pan and allow them to cook for 4 minutes until golden brown.

7. Turn the tofu and cook on the other side 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

8. Coat crusted tofu with marina sauce, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2.

22 January 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Tonight's meal took care of some leftover ingredients in the fridge -- eggs scrambled in butter with diced onions, green peppers and tomatoes; Himalayan pink salt and pepper.

Brie; wine; danish

Tonight I ate brie and crackers (courtesy of Trader Joe's) for dinner. That's about it. Followed by some house red wine at the Railway, and a 7-11 cherry danish in bed. With that, this blog is once again up-to-date! Thank you and good night.

21 January 2009


Last night: Dine Out at Delilah's. The three courses were as follows:

1 - Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Ginger Greens and Tomato Jelly Terrine (pictured above)
2 - Butter Poached Red Snapper, Carrot & Jade Rice Risotto, Asparagus Tips & a Lemon Butter Mousseline (a lot of words when just the word "bland" would have sufficed)
3 - Chocolate Soup with Toasted Kumquat Marmalade Crouton & Honey Glazed Pistachios

Pacific Northwest Tour, The End:
Taco Bell; Villa Pizza; Trader Joe's

Monday's nourishment for the ride home began at a roadside Taco Bell: Dr Pepper, a crunchy taco and Nachos Supreme. Later there was some fine dining at the outlet mall just outside of Seattle: a super-dry thin crust pepperoni slice from Villa Pizza and an apple juice.

I had $33.80 left in American funds, and we stopped just before the border at Trader Joe's where I spent all but one penny of it on cheap organic groceries, including savory thins, double creme brie, pumpkin butter, salsa verde, peanut satay sauce, sardines, anchovy fillets, sesame soy ginger vinaigrette, pumpkin spice granola, dried ginger chips, pistachio nutmeats, macadamia-ginger-cranberry-almond trek mix . . . the near future is delicious.

Pacific Northwest Tour, Night 3: Kennedy School; Ground Kontrol; Voodoo Doughnuts

Sunday night: The Kennedy School is a series of pubs, restaurants, hotel rooms and a theatre that occupy space in the former classrooms of an old public school that closed its doors in 1975 after over six decades of educating tomorrow's leaders. The hallways are overflowing with artwork inspired by the stories of the children who wandered them in their formative years.

Some of the pubs include Honours, Detention, and the Boiler Room, a multi-level establishment that is elaborately decorated with old boiler room artifacts. The stairs are decked out in old radiator parts and an assortment of pipes and tubing line the railings. A description in words doesn't really do it justice and my camera lens wasn't wide enough to fully capture its essence -- it's a room that must be experienced.

While we waited for a table for twelve (they give you a pager so you can wander the school halls and pubs, drink in hand), we had delicious Warm Breadsticks and the house Pinot Noir in the Cypress Room. Then we dined in the Courtyard Restaurant. I had the Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon with cranberry butter, rice pilaf and roasted zucchini.

Following a mini-bottle of wine at Ground Kontrol where I got the #7 high score in Q-bert, we made a stop at Voodoo Doughnuts and ordered two dozen doughnuts, and we all basically took a bite out of each one. Some of the favourites included the Maple-Bacon, the Tangfastic and the Oreo "Dirt Doughnut."

20 January 2009

Pacific Northwest Tour, Night 2:
Rogue Distillery & Public House

Saturday night. We ate at the Rogue Distillery & Public House, situated at 1339 NW Flanders Street in Portland. The Black Bean and Quinoa Salad was delicious. Our table was a surf board. Our waiter was a charming moustachioed gentleman who allowed me to taste several of the beers before ordering. There were so many different flavours and they were all so fresh and smooth. My favourites were the American Amber Ale and the Honey Orange Wheat Ale.

Of Special Note: This was the occasion of Claudia's First Pint. It was the Hazelnut Ale. (It tasted like a latté.) To commemorate this special event, Aaron drew Claudia's picture, and I later procured a pint glass as a gift for her from Claudia's Sports Pub & Grill. OK, that's all for tonight. I'll do some more catching up tomorrow.

Pacific Northwest Tour, Night 1:
Bimbo's and The Chapel

Friday night. Our drive to Seattle was at the crux of dinnertime, but my Japanese-themed snack supply of wasabi peas and crystalized ginger was complemented by the others' cheese puffs, stoneground wheat crackers and applewood-smoked cheddar.

We ended up dining at Bimbo's Cantina, a Mexican restaurant and bar on Capitol Hill brimming with Christiana kitsch and Mexican Wrestling-themed decor. I had cervezas and the Basic Quesadilla.

This was followed up with a Hoegaarden at The Chapel, a former Mortuary Chapel, on whose bar we watched a couple eat some fire.

19 January 2009

Stay Tuned...

I am home! I need rest. Expect multiple posts tomorrow night.

15 January 2009


Checkers: A slice of Welland in the heart of Vancouver. Chicken & Chorizo Enchilada: Terrible. Banana Parfait Martini: the best martini in the world!! (I am prejudiced by my passionate love of all things artificially banana-flavoured).

I'm taking off after work tomorrow on a mini west coast road trip, so I may not be able to update regularly until Monday night.

14 January 2009

Leftovers; serenity

I have miraculously been finding time to read -- Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore -- and get in some cat naps, likely because of all the leftovers in the past couple of days. So for the first time since the holidays I'm feeling well rested. Just look at the serenity in this picture -- can't you just see it there, amid the pointy jutting chicken bones? Tonight was the last of the wings and roasted veggies. I also ummm, ate several handfuls of flaked coconut, another remnant of the weekend shoot. And some Pocky, which keeps mysteriously materializing in my apartment.

13 January 2009

Freezer Food

Leftovers from the freezer: frozen meatballs, frozen pasta, frozen sauce; mixed with green peppers and fresh Garden Select Parmesan & Romano sauce, which masqueraded as homemade ketchup in a recent photo shoot. And, because it was already in the photo, I went ahead and ate some So Good frozen dessert, topped with sour cherry preserves.

12 January 2009

Chicken Marinade; Week of Roasting

I made the last of the chicken wings that were in the freezer, and I tried this marinade again, this time mincing rather than chopping the garlic and ginger (finely grating it first actually, because I have a terrible knife). I mixed this with soy sauce, and added just a little sesame oil. Broiled for 20 minutes, turning and basting twice. It was better this time around, but still not enough ginger. Not enough to make you say, "Oh! There's ginger in there." That's the result I'm going for. It could probably use even less sesame oil. And... less chicken skin. From now on I will just pay extra for skinless chicken.

I served this with the leftover vegetable tian, and also some more roasted vegetables that I prepared yesterday from the leftover produce (carrots, green peppers and corn). It has been a week of roasting, trying out different vegetables to see how they taste (so far, all good -- well, corn is just OK). It dawned on me that if caramelized vegetables are good, then caramelized fruit must be delicious.

I've had this can of Del Monte fruit salad for so long it has become part of the family (pictured here being snuggled by Peanut). It has even moved apartments with me. I am pretty sure it was purchased around Christmas 2004, when my mom and sister were visiting for the holidays. Four years ago. I've considered throwing it away several times but could never bring myself to do so. And so today I decided to make it part of a roasting experiment.

I lined the bottom of an ovensafe dish with the fruit and some of its juice, sprinkled it with sugar and put it in the oven at 450°F. After ten minutes, I checked on it and it was a bubbling, soupy mess. I drained all the juice, resprinkled with sugar and turned the oven to broil. Minutes later my apartment began to smell like burnt caramel, so I figured I was on the right track. I kept it in for another ten minutes, until I was satisfied with the char forming on the tips of the fruit. Result: the delicious hypothesis was correct. I served it on So Good Creamy Vanilla soy "ice cream".

11 January 2009

Vegetable Tian with Leftovers

I spent the day photographing produce for a book, and then I ate it for dinner. As it turned out I had all the ingredients I needed for a recipe from the cookbook How to Forget Your Ex with the Stab of a Fork, a Christmas gift from my sister. The recipe is a suggestion of what to do with leftover cheese, persuading the newly single reader that "you can make a great deal out of almost nothing and that, in your situation, nothing never means emptiness."

While it doesn't mean emptiness, as a meal this is a little bland, and also lacking in the protein department... it would work best as a side dish. My leftover cheese was aged cheddar, and I also had fresh rosemary leaves leftover from the shoot, so I threw those in as well.

Veggie Tian

1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds and halved
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds and halved
leftover cheese, sliced
salt and pepper
thyme (and/or other herbs)
olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Brown the onions in a skillet. Place in the bottom of a small ovensafe dish. Brown the zucchini pieces on both sides.

3. Arrange tomato, zucchini and cheese alternately over the onion. Season with salt and pepper and thyme to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes.

All India

All India buffet on Davie Street.

09 January 2009

Grub; Blog your New Year's Resolution

Here is the exciting thing about learning to cook: there are opportunities every day to practice. Well, there are opportunities to practice anything you want every day, but no matter what, every day you must eat a meal to survive, so it's harder to procrastinate from cooking, than to say, skip a kickboxing class, or forget to play your trumpet.

Sure, you can take the easy route and eat a President's Choice frozen pizza. But once you've discovered how simple cooking really is if you just put an extra 20 minutes into it... suddenly there are endless recipes and meals to try!

Yep, it's exciting. It took me about 3 1/2 months of daily blogging, but I have reached the point where I am obsessed with cooking and learning new things, and I don't really want to do much else. So, if there's anything you want to do/learn/practice, but just can't seem to get into it, try keeping a daily blog about it for at least three months and see what happens.

There's my pep talk for the day; I didn't, however, cook tonight. I went to Grub, one of my favourite restaurants on Main Street. Specifically because they serve bowls of punch. Punch with Pimms, gin, ginger beer, strawberries, cucumbers, etc. I also ate a portobello mushroom stuffed with roasted vegetables, but that's besides the point.

The next stop was a birthday party for my friend Heather, where I ate the most delicious vegan birthday cake (with non-vegan icing) I've ever tasted.
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