31 July 2011

Spaghetti Dogs



Spaghetti Dog night! And instagram photos.



+ animal hangouts.


See more about spaghetti dog-making here. This was the fourth spaghetti dog night held at the Langley house, but the inaugural spaghetti dog night for me. Lucky for me, because they have figured out how to make them delicious:


The bread is coated with garlic butter, and then the spaghetti dog is smothered in marinara. This way it tastes like eating garlic bread and spaghetti all in one bite. Veggie dogs were used, by the way; only soy products died so that hot dogs could be eaten.

27 July 2011

Spiroodles!


Behold, my first zucchini noodles! Made with my new Spirooli that I was talking about in my last post. (Go check out the demo video there.)

Here's a look back at December 2008, and my first (and last) attempt at making zucchini noodles without a special noodle making machine. I nearly grated off a couple fingers that time, and the whole process just took too long, which left the noodles too watery -- the thing about zucchini noodles is that they need to be made immediately before eating, because once the zucchini is cut, it begins to weep. Which makes the Spirooli the perfect tool: it literally takes about 15 seconds to turn your zucchini into a bowlful of beautiful noodles. So you prepare the sauce and toppings first, then just shoot out some noodles and dinner is served!


What to serve them with? I fried up some onions and tomatoes, mixed in some pesto and smothered it with grated Parmesan. The noodles by the way don't have to be cooked at all. They have an al dente-like texture to them.


My next attempt: I made a Thai curry sauce using green curry paste, fresh grated ginger, lime juice and coconut milk. There's some spinach in there too.

I tried to make some carrot noodles to mix in, as I'm sure I will get bored sooner or later of just zucchini. This tasted fine, but ultimately, carrots are too skinny for the Spirooli. It would be just as easy, if not moreso, to use a grater for them. There are other veggies you can use though; the next ones I want to try: summer squash, eggplants, beets and sweet potatoes.


I used the larger noodle attachment to make these udon-like noodles.


In Raw Food class we touched on the five tastes -- sweet, salty, spicy, sour and bitter -- and how all five must be present and balanced for a dish to be really, well, tasty. Basically, if you hit all the tastes, you experience THE MOST TASTE.

For my udon noodles, I revisited my Thai curry recipe:

• curry paste -- spicy (curry!); salty (well I assume there's salt in there); bitter (garlic & onion)
• ginger -- also spicy
• lime juice -- sour
• coconut milk -- uhhh?

What was missing? Sweet. So, I chopped up a couple of dates and mixed them into the sauce. I also added some chopped walnuts, just because. (What taste are walnuts? Bitter?) Anyway: all five tastes were achieved, and? What they say is true: ULTIMATE TASTE.

(Now, what about umami...?)


I tried using the flat blade on a Gala and Granny Smith apple to make this apple salad. I topped it with some lemon juice, honey, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and chopped dates and walnuts. Going for that five tastes thing again.

I really missed the mark on balance, however: way too much lemon juice. I also should have added fat, maybe some olive oil. (The cancer-fighting lycopene in apples is fat-soluble, so oil aids in its absorption.) Also: the combination of cayenne pepper and lemon juice brought back memories of the Master Cleanse (shudder). So for spicy maybe next time I'll go with basil or ginger, or the appley classic, cinnamon.

To get rid of the taste of Master Cleansey apples in my mouth, I ate a couple handfuls of cacao nibs. Maybe next time I will just add them to the recipe.

Where Have I Been?

I've been on vacation. I've also been on a RAW FOODS ODYSSEY.

Remember my week of raw foods following a failed Master Cleanse last year? Well I've decided to do some more raw experimenting. This past week I have been dabbling in blue green algae, goji berry soak water (good!), and (not quite yet successful) Rejuvelac-making.


I also completed the Chef Certification class at Raw Food Foundation. This basically means I am a certified raw chef now. We made the following in class:


The Go Green Smoothie (You are supposed to drink a blender-full of this daily.)


Broccoli Soup (Warmed by the horse power of a Vitamix alone.)


Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps & Mock Salmon Pâté Collard Roll-Ups (MmmmMMM collard roll-ups.)


Zucchini Fettuccine Alfredo & Angel Hair Pasta with Marinara Sauce (MmmmMMM marinara sauce!)


Date Nut Torte (This is REALLY GOOD.)


I also went to Organic Lives last week, where I ate this delicious raw curry. But more importantly, while I was there, I purchased a Spirooli (Vegetable Spiral Slicer), which I've been using to make noodles out of zucchinis. I LOVE THIS THING. I thought I might use it once or twice then forget it in the back of a cupboard somewhere, but so far I've been pretty obsessed with it. Here is a nice Australian man giving a demo:



Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of my noodle adventures.

20 July 2011

Okanagan Wine Tour Guide -- Part Two


This video was originally intended to show off Ryan's cool herb pot (I want one), but it ended up being more about trying to get Bandit to look at the camera.


On Day #2 of our Okanagan Wine Tour, we explored Westbank with one of the locals (ie. Ryan) for our tour guide. But not before eating his food once again! Chocolate chip pancakes! SO GOOD. And they sort of set a chocolate theme for the rest of the day.


Behold my touring companions at Quails' Gate. [It should be noted that we would see many actual quails in the course of this day, scurrying in pairs across the highway.]


Our wine tasting included some more chocolate for breakfast: this time a dessert wine served in a chocolate cup.

Wine Notes
2010 Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris -- sweet, bright, fresh, fruity


Little Straw Vineyards


I'd never heard of this winery and neither have most of the wine shops I've visited since I've returned to Vancouver. (In fact the only place I've found it so far is in a liquor store in Campbell River!) But it was one of my favourite wineries. Simple and unassuming. Just quality wines! Whites, reds and even ice wines! All good.

Wine Notes
2010 Old Vines Auxerrios -- peaches 'n' cream, smooth
2007 Pinot Noir -- vanilla & black cherry
2006 Lemberger Icewine -- Pointing to my John Schreiner guidebook, I asked, "Where's the dessert wine that tastes like crème brûlée?!" Well, I was told, they ran out of it, but they do have this new red icewine that tastes like raspberry crème brûlée! Indeed it does. $40.


Volcanic Hills Estate Winery -- We would later encounter a Calgarian wine snob at Mt Boucherie who said he refused to taste wine here because it smells like samosas. (They sell them in the store.) Whatever, I think wine & samosas would be a delicious combination.

Wine Notes
2009 Gamay -- a decent red, most notable for its price: UNDER $10!


Mt Boucherie Estate Winery


A busy little shop. It should be noted that the above wineries (with the exception of Quails' Gate) are situated more or less within a stone's throw from each other. The area they occupy is a stratovolcano.

Wine Notes
Summit Reserve 2005 Cabernet Franc -- dry, spice, not too intense; acidic finish; pair with duck. [I later wound up pairing this with smoked goat gouda and it was great.]
Summit Reserve 2009 Pinot Noir -- didn't taste this in the store but bought it based on the Calgarian wine snob's raving about it. We drank it while camping and it is indeed a solid Pinot. Quite lovely paired with relaxing by a tent overlooking a lake, following a good long day's hard-wine-tasting-work.



We dined with our tour guide at Kelly O'Bryan's, and then bid him adieu. We headed down the west coast of Okanagan Lake, with time to spare for one more winery stop in Summerland. (That's the thing about winery touring... you have to start early because most of them close around 5 pm. ...It's probably a good thing.)


Dirty Laundry Vineyard


As evidenced by this photo of their dining area, Dirty Laundry tries really hard. They've got their whole marketing scheme down, based on a guy that at one time ran a laundromat that doubled as a bordello -- not on the site of the winery, not of relation to anyone who ever worked there -- the laundromat just happened to be located somewhere in Summerland. And they have appointed themselves the teller of this story. The site is littered with "risqué" items, accompanied by a whole bunch of "risqué" merchandise for sale.

They have specially designed wine labels, one of which is sold with its own magnifying glass so that you can discern the tiny "naughty" illustrations that make up its pattern.


And they have a fancy tasting room where they will tell you their little marketing blurb, then say, "Now that you know the legend, you've been pegged!" and stick a clothes peg stamped with their name on you.

All of this prompted the Lynley quote, Wineries are like people—some of them are phonies and showboaters; some of them are just good at what they do.


Luckily, while Dirty Laundry is a tonne of column A, they are some of column B as well -- their wines are not bad. While my favourite was the rosé, I was amazed at how a piece of chocolate that they served us to pair with a Cab-Merlot transformed it from a fairly average-tasting dry red into a most delicious experience.

Wine Notes
Hush 2010 -- Rosé; cotton candy aftertaste
Bordello 2008 -- aforementioned red (49.5% Cab Sauv, 49.5% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc), which comes with accompanying magnifying glass for the racy label. This is the wine that was served with chocolate. Given the $40 price tag, I plan to experiment on cheaper average-tasting dry red & chocolate combinations before indulging in this one.


What a day. "Wine is fun!" Right, guys?


Ok. Time for dinner and camping. But wait: we were passing through Okanagan Falls, so a visit to Tickleberry's was mandatory. This is a SMALL cone. Cherry custard and grape flavours. OH MAN. That grape ice cream is probably the best ice cream I've ever had.


We set up our tent at Gallagher Lake, drank my Mt Boucherie Pinot, then headed to the bar across the street.


Take special note of the sign.


What a quaint little pub.


Even better than the pub: the pups!


They breed dobermans in the neighbourhood, and they bring the puppies into the bar to socialize them!

Thus brings our Canada Day to a close, book-ended by some awesome Canadian animals, and filled with delicious Canadian wines, chocolates, ice creams and people.

19 July 2011

Elk Falls & Parrot Meals

Hi! I am back from my vacation and ready to keep talking about my LAST vacation. Props to Janos for taking care of the blog and Mr. P. You really outdid yourself this time, Sitar.

Before I get back to the Okanagan, here's a taste of Campbell River.


I didn't take many food photos while I was up there, but here's what I was eating when we reached Elk Falls, after a 2 km hike through the rainforest.


The Local Market & Café had some really delicious seafood chowder and rhubarb crumble. I suspect they might even make the best sandwiches in town, despite claims made by other establishments.


I also got some food photos and videos of what the parrots were eating at the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs. Aside from the awesome green dude pictured here and some cockatoos that were really into shaking hands, the African Greys were my favourites:

18 July 2011

Closing Night at the Beaver Dam

Saturday night Claudia and Liz had the last party at their place, The Beaver Dam, and I roasted red peppers and garlic for the hummus that I was bringing. I'd never done it in my toaster oven before and was surprised that it worked out really well. I split the peppers in half and removed the seeds before coating them in olive oil. I turned the toaster oven up to 350 and pulled them out once they had blackened on the skin and gone fairly soft. I let them cool in a bowl and peeled the skin off before using them in the hummus. The garlic took a bit longer.


roasted red peppers

At the Dam they served pulled pork sandwiches that were so good that I ate it before I thought to take a picture. The same goes for the potato salad based on Rosanne Cash's recipe with with extra pickles (big chunks of pickles is my kryptonite).

coleslaw
And the coleslaw, oh. The coleslaw.

cake!

Shappy brought a chocolate cake from True Confections that we decimated.


But the biggest surprise of the night was that Anna and Duncan brought Elenore with them. Peanut was excited to meet them but couldn't abide by the handwash rule, so he merely observed.

elenore and peanut

And got his own cuddles in with Anna.

anna and peanut

Aaron Also got his cuddles in. Oh Peanut!

Aaron

16 July 2011

Zakkushi & Boarding Peanut

I took Peanut in when I found out the situation that he was in and took it as an opportunity to look after a cat since I'm considering getting one myself.

roomie

They really do get into everything.

cat in a bag

And I can tell that Peanut really misses Michelle.

stalking

But he's been really good company so far and seems to have made himself at home for now.

lurking

So I felt bad on Friday since I didn't have dinner with Peanut and instead ate at Zakkushi with Richard, where he stomped me with a 400+ point game of Scrabble.

Mentai Kimchi Udon

The Mentai Kimchi Udon was really good and so was the Zakkushi set. But I have to admit that the pitcher of Sapporo was what called us in.

Zakkushi set

I'd never had their onigiri before and it was so tasty. A perfect little cake of rice that's a little crispy on the outside.

onigiri
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