Deluxe for dinner

My son claims to be a foodie. It is true that he loves to eat, at least whatever I make at home. But twelve years old is probably a little young to be trying to join the club of people who “live to eat”. Of course, for anyone that knows me, this situation does not sound strange at all. As soon as I’m done breakfast, (maybe even while still eating), it is time to plan lunch and for sure dinner.

My husband is not a foodie. He likes to eat certain things. While he is trying to expand his palette, (that involves forcing himself to eat things he does not like, over and over), he admits to food being mainly fuel for him. While he enjoys certain things, it is not going to make his day at breakfast to know what dinner will be.

Despite these differences, or maybe because of them, we have carved out a nice selection of restaurants in our local area where my husband will look forward to eating out. I get a full dose of well prepared dishes which always leave me feeling great that we went out. Portions need to be small and so tasty. This leaves you wanting more, but temporarily satisfied. There has to be some mystery. A reason to come back.

On our list and located at East Beach on Marine Drive is “Deluxe“. What a great name for a restaurant. Our time here has always been an adult affair. Lately we have thought our son would enjoy it, but could he handle the elevated level of manners required for fine dining?

Friday night we decided to give it a go. He did great and was such a pleasure to have with us. Great conversation, deep appreciation for the menu items, perfect manners. It was not a big deal at the time, but as I think back, another shift has occurred. He is not our little boy anymore. If we gave him a credit card, he could probably host a group, just like a pro.

Deluxe 6 shots

Connected

For our last days of vacation, we moved to a big Cabo resort. Two pools, hot tubs, Sea of Cortez swimming beach, drinks brought to your extended hand. This place caters to people who want the best of the Mexican weather, but don’t really want to leave the US or Canada. For a short period of time, this is heavenly. The room service, fresh towels each day, anything you can think of can be had.

Yesterday, as we were making dinner reservations, my husband’s La Paz phone quit working. Over to Telcel and they explained he probably needed a local SIM card, (local to Cabo?) and they would gladly sell him one once their computer systems were up and running. Companies have blips all the time and we have come to expect a little more of that here in Mexico. No biggie.

The thing about big resorts is they get you coming and going. Everything has a cost. So I finally decided to eat the daily surcharge and get online. About 3:30pm yesterday. My husband had no luck with his phone and when I couldn’t hook up my iPad, the front desk confirmed their entire internet connection was down. Might be working tomorrow, but could be as long as 72 hours. I guess they figure that people are not that good at math and won’t be able to calculate 3 days, which is quite a long time. But, oh well – I’m on holiday and the internet will still be there in 72 hours.

7pm table at our favorite restaurant in San Jose Del Cabo – Cynthia Fresh. New location from our last visit and the menu reads, tiny print at the bottom, cash only. No problem, my husband ventures over to the shopping complex and the cash machines. Then I try to get online with my phone and I’m getting no cell service all of the sudden. As I stare at my device trying to figure out what is going on, the waiter comes over and apologizes for sending my husband for cash because he won’t get any. The cell service is down along with the internet – in the whole of Baja California Sur. Cynthia comes over to our table and says don’t worry, we can pay for our meal when we can get cash. Don’t worry, relax and enjoy the evening. (I love her!)

The kids and I start to devise strategies for how to get over to my husband and let him know he is not getting any cash and to just come back and eat. But, sending one of my children off alone on the streets of Mexico, might be a bit much. Yes, they have MMA training and no, they probably wouldn’t get lost, but we 3 decide to stay put. (I have been trying to give my children challenges and responsibilities that build up their independence. Not to mention get things done for me. Thank you to my sister for constantly teaching me that lesson).

Anyway, my husband comes back and you would think the whole thing would be over, right? Well no. The discussion at our table was around, how long would the outage be and what is all connected to this problem? My husband was pretty certain that credit card processing would be down throughout the area, so there goes anything we would want to do, potentially for the rest of our stay. But we were in a full service resort and could make do there. My daughter almost started to cry when my husband started to list of all the things that we needed money for. And then the discussion turned to flying on Tuesday. Would the planes be able to take off without an internet connection?

OK, stop this nonesence. Never has one of my Oslo trips been cancelled due to a technology or natural disaster problem. If we made it out at the time of the volcano dust cloud in Iceland when most of the rest of Europe was effected, some technology issue in Mexico is not going to let me spend a few more heavenly days in the Mexican sun. Then I took out my phone and started to see the 3G connection come back. Cynthia’s phone rang and we all smiled to hear it.

We had been “down” with real knowledge of the extent for about 2 hours. In that time, we wasted so much effort wondering what bad things might happen, what minor inconveniences we might suffer that for me, the dinner was a bit wasted. Most of us lost our appetites. It was a sobering reminder of how connected we are digitally. How much we take those connections for granted.

After dinner, the cash machines were back up and spitting out Pesos. We paid back Cynthia before heading back to Cabo. We had a huge sense of happiness and relief to know our digital world was fine and well, at least for now.

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Cookbook problem

This is becoming a problem.

  • The space I have dedicated to hold cookbooks is overflowing. There are piles of cookbooks and recipes everywhere.
  • I have recently acquired 3 new cookbooks and only begun testing recipes from one of them.
  • I’m buying some of these new cookbooks for just one or two recipes and then not really liking the rest of the content.
  • I have so many cookbooks, I can loan them out for months at a time. I don’t miss them.
  • I own cookbooks which I have never cooked from. Sometimes these are gifts, but they also represent my good intentions. Everything in due course.

But I get so much pleasure out of cracking open a new cookbook and reading all the bits of the story hidden within. I feel the sharing of recipes to be deeply personal. These are the techniques and the ingredients which the author consumes themselves. (Or at least I like to think so).

Then there is a fantastic meal which ends up amazing me. Both for the pure joy of the taste and the wonder that, “I made this!” It still happens to me. Sometimes from a new cookbook and then  sometimes from a golden oldie where I dare to try something new.

The wonder at my talents is not something which is universally shared by my family. I suppose those who are closest to us don’t appreciate our internal obstacles, the dedication required to learn something new. And then there are children who just plain old don’t like the taste. But I’ve tried to show patience with that. Quite frankly, it is their problem, not mine.

This weekend and next week, (I’m home the whole time, which helps), I’m dedicating my efforts to a new cookbook from Curtis Stone called “What’s for dinner?” He has a great way of summarizing the home cooks mood on the days of the week. Phrases like “Time-saving-Tuesday” or “One-pot-Thursday”. We’ve all been there, we know what it means to be in the trenches trying to crank out healthy dinners.

Curtis Stone What's for dinner

A week to go

I can see the finish line. 7 more days. Date night is set with my husband. My experiment with a cleanse will be over.

I’ve kept up with it, but the strange rules are wearing on me. Things like: (Yes, I have a well-formed list by now)

  • no sweeteners except brown rice syrup and coconut sugar, really no honey or maple syrup? FYI – brown rice syrup is not really very sweet and you have to use a lot of dates to make a smoothie sweet
  • no bananas, they are sweet and they thicken a smoothie perfectly, and I like the taste
  • no tomatoes, or any nightshades, my husband convinced me to buy a few and make a small batch of my salsa. The late summer blight that hit my tomatoes and wiped out most of my crop might have brought me to tears, if I had not been on this cleanse
  • no potatoes, of course they are more than fine in the garden – what can be done with an over abundance of potatoes?
  • no corn, another delight of late summer and fall harvest, sigh
  • no soy, which is hidden in lots of things
  • no coffee or alcohol, see how far down the list? Hasn’t been bad to give up at all

Ok now for a few strange things that “we” have tried. While my family has not adhered to the cleanse, they have been subject to many new ingredients and experimentation.

  • EFA oils, omega 3 and omega 6 – super easy to splash into a smoothie, no taste and great benefit
  • homemade almond milk and the resulting almond flour – love this
  • maca powder, recipes were calling for 1 tablespoon which made both my husband and I feel nauseous, in fact that was how I started this thing, took it back to 1/2 teaspoon and no tummy ache, gotta figure this out – it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac!
  • spirulina – is a protein dense algae that comes in a powder form – but whew does it ever smell up the kitchen, when the bottle is opened the kids hold their noses!
  • sacha inchi – looks and tastes a bit like a peanut, is considered a super food because of its high protein and omega 3 content

I think what I have learned by this is to consider what I eat. I have always done that, or so I thought. I have a new appreciation for what is truly good for you, rather than what has been packaged, marketed and thrust upon us at the grocery store. The good stuff is there, you just have to find it.

Here is a super simple recipe to make and is very healthy and tasty.

Energizer Trail Mix by Julie Morris

  • 1 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 cup dried mulberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins, (subbed dried blueberries)
  • 1 cup sacha inchi seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup cocao nibs

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The morning before

White Rock foggy morning - August 2013

White Rock foggy morning – August 2013

It is my last morning of sitting in bed with a large coffee and cream. The end of an era. Time to shake things up. Try something new. I might return to this habit in 3 weeks time, I might not.

Tomorrow morning, I start a 3-week cleanse. I am using the principles outlined in the book called “Clean”, by Dr. Junger M.D. I borrowed his book from the library and am going over to my local “Choices” grocery store to procure some of the more unusual recommended ingredients. However, I am choosing to use food as the main ingredient. No powder drinks, no supplements, just a wide variety of fresh food. I am really crowding out the space on my plate where all the potential irritants are sitting. (Cleanprogram recipes are available for free online).

This idea started in June of this year with the purchase of a cookbook. (Ahh, the feeling of acquiring a new cookbook) And, I have been intrigued to know more about the food sensitivity to gluten, so many people have.  So when Gwenyth Paltrow was smiling out at me in such a happy, clean and bright way, I had to know more. This is where I first learned about the long list of processed foods that cause digestion problems. So many common and irritating ailments are a sign of poor digestion. (Who knew?) As each new “health type problem” was added to my running list, I just assumed these were signs of getting older. New and not exciting signs of ways that my body was betraying me. And that I was doomed to accept these forever more.

I had thought, up until that time, I practised a pretty healthy diet. But, if I looked closely, took the time to learn a few new things, it was surprising to uncover a some rather unhealthy habits. My kitchen cupboards contained a whole lot of processed food ingredients. I was then combining them all together, with a bunch of time and effort to create a home-made version of what was available at the store. Sure my baked goods had slightly less sugar in them, maybe a few bits of grated carrots or zucchini thrown in, but they were essentially a processed food. When the main ingredients are finely milled flour + processed sugar + butter, it is hard to say that is a going to produce a healthy product.

Once I looked beyond the big food manufacturers widely available at every grocery store, there is a small, (but growing quickly), and secret door into a world of TRULY healthy and tasty options. Every time I shopped for groceries I challenged myself to try a few new ingredients. So I became to experiment with coconut oil, chia seeds and cocao. My children know what agave nectar, stevia and mulberries are.

As I began to experiment in the kitchen and focus on what each and every meal contained, I was surprised by a few things:

  • I began to find sweetness in vegetables. Evidently, we have become accustomed to expect a very high level of sweetness in our food. High fructose corn syrup is present in a wide variety of processed foods. As the name indicates, it only requires a small amount to yield a highly sweetened result. As I shifted away from adding sugar or ingredients containing sugar, I started to really enjoy naturally sweet vegetables.
  • Home made milk alternatives ROCK. I have never enjoyed the feeling of drinking milk. I had long suspected it created excess mucus, and it does! But a freshly made  almond milk with a touch of vanilla, still frothy from the blender is amazing!
  • Needing caffeine to get going in the morning is not good. I have long thought this, but have so enjoyed the feeling and rush it gives. As my husband and I have experimented with smoothies in the morning, first thing, we have forgotten to drink the coffee afterwards. Maybe because the smoothie is filling and leaves a feeling of satisfaction, different from coffee.
  • Substituting flour with my home-made almond milk, flour-like leftovers has given us the most amazingly moist, rich and gluten-free muffins. I am throwing in all kinds of fresh or frozen fruits. The experimentation has only just begun. More on this to follow. I just got from the library, (after paying over $20 in fines! Travel to Oslo wreaks havoc on my library routines), “babycakes“, by Erin McKenna. A gluten-free New York City bakery I have heard about and will be trying in November.

Timing is everything. This is a great time of year to focus on fresh food. The local farmer’s markets are over flowing with local produce. A trip to Mary’s Garden yesterday yielded $60 worth of the most amazing vegetables and fruit. As I have slowly been changing over my pantry supplies, the investment today, should not be significant. (Will see about that. Is probably like doing a house renovation, double the time and capital from the budget!)

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It will be an interesting journey, for sure. I am going to keep a detailed daily journal. I’m not sure how much of it will make its way to this blog. I have read that this journey will be profound. The changes will happen on many levels and effect every part of me. Probably more information than anyone else needs to know. My husband will suffer all the details like a champion. My children will probably only question why I need to “drink” my dinner each evening while they enjoy a proper “chewing” meal.

But I am excited. This is not a diet-to-loose-weight kind of thing. Everything has led to this moment. At age 43, I am finally ready to formally commit to a healthier way of living. My children are young enough to benefit greatly from this effort. I will set them free in the world with an abundance of great recipes, happy memories and the enthusiasm for life that comes from the foundation of good health.

Check out the website for Clean.

Kombucha

Sounds like a type of salsa dancing. Or an African flute type of instrument that yields a low, melancholy sound. Maybe a fried German pastry with sugar sprinkled on top?

No, none of those things. Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea that is used as a functional food. Doesn’t sound so sexy. My first ideas are far more appealing.

But sometimes life becomes interesting when you mix things up. Not a lone ingredient. A single note hangs in the air, waiting for the others to accompany.

That was how we tasted kombucha today. A flight of different versions mixed with a pitcher of superfruit sangria. Now that was a great combination of flavours and so fun to compare one to another.

The proper recipe is included in the cookbook Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris. I didn’t have 2 of the superfoods on hand and really wanted to have the overnight soak time. So substitutions were in order.

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 T goji berries
  • 1 1/4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 750ml red wine, (I only had 600ml…..)
  • 2 cups kombucha

Instead of the raisins, I was to have 1/4 cup each mulberries and goldenberries. I have procured those and will include in the next batch. I can’t decide the best type of wine to use. Looking in my cellar, do I use wine that is good enough to drink its own? Great red wine is out of the question. There is also the wine I have received as gifts. Could be great, but how does one know? Which is how I ended up with 600ml above. Quite frankly that wine was undrinkable, but made great sangria.

The method here is, berries and wine together – marinate for at least 5 hours, better overnight. Pomegranate juice is added before serving. Once you have the kombucha sorted out, add just before serving. Assuming the whole batch will be consumed. Otherwise add to each glass like soda water.

kombuchaFor the kombucha, we wanted to be very analytical. Plain or ginger as recommended? We went with plain and GT’S “third eye chai”. And we had to compare to soda water as well. Good old Canada Dry for that.

“Third eye chai” won – 2 votes out of 3 cast.  Next favourite was plain kombucha. Canada Dry soda water will have to be used for something else.

Kombucha can be brewed at home. That practice would save money. This is an expensive drink. But supporting small companies like GT’S feels good. I think the aspartame industry can live just fine without me.

Writing a book

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”   ~Steven Wright

“Write drunk; edit sober.”   ~Ernest Hemingway

Nothing fancy. I am a lot of things, but a proper author is probably not one of them. But, I love food. And photography. Cookbooks, too.

In fact, I have a bit of a cookbook buying problem. There are almost 9 linear feet of shelves in my dining room lined with cookbooks. Those are the ones that are neatly put away. There is usually a pile about 14 inches high in my kitchen with tabbed pages of “active” recipes. It is no wonder my husband asks why we can’t have the same thing twice. Simple answer would be,”I can’t find the recipe for a second appearance!”

Then I borrow cookbooks from the library. Add to all that, the loose sheets of recipes printed from the internet. There are neat piles of those all over my house.

As luck would have it, I have a reasonably good memory for food. It is a bit strange really. I can remember exact dates, who attended a particular business meeting, for example, because I relate it to a meal we shared at a great restaurant.

It is time to start making sense of all these bits and pieces. Some favourite food moments, recipes, photo’s and habits. The way we eat. If nothing else, I’d like to organize it all.

I turned to the internet for a quick, easy and free way to compile everything. A 3-ring binder would be the cheapest, but something that looks like a real book would be better. I found what I was looking for in a program called blurb. It is iPhoto meets comic life with great built-in templates. So far, I am loving it. I have 3 pages done in a test book.

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Now, I run around taking pictures of all sorts of things. The guy re-stocking carrots at the market the other day probably thought I was a bit off. But they did look great.

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The trick will be to condense the book into the most important pages, or it will be $100 per copy. But, for my purposes, the ultimate cookbook with page after page of my favourites, my thoughts and memories is easily worth that price.

Stay tuned.

It’s all good

“It’s all good.” ~Albert Einstein

I’ve always been intrigued by the kind of people who use this phrase on a regular basis. They are so chill, relaxed and laid back – probably hippies. They take everything in stride. I want to be like that, I really do. I just can’t seem to achieve it.

Maybe it has to do with what you eat? Everything seems to be related to that these days. I’m already, pretty much converted to that idea, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. But how does one go about figuring out what to eat? There is so much information on what we should not be eating, but why start a project with a negative thought?

I’ve been on a hunt for the one resource, could be a book, or a website, a course, whatever. But I’ve continually come up short. I’m also skeptical of the ideas related to juice fasting, detox, etc. Extreme deprivation for relatively long periods of time just doesn’t sound healthy to me. (More than a day is a long time in my food life.) And, am I prepared for the consequences? Could I possibly have a food sensitivity? Would I be able to give up any of the foods which I enjoy so much?

Time will tell. I’m going “all in” for the next couple of months. My inspiration circles back to where I started this post – “It’s all good” by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Its all good

Let me digress. I came by this cookbook in the usual way of things. By accident. I was grocery shopping, (there should not be an entire book aisle in a grocery store, really, I’ve spent so much money this way), and there she was. Smiling out so nicely, she looked great. She always looks great, but in this photo, particularly so. So I bit. (All puns intended).

Once I got the book home and read Gwyneth’s story about discovering her food sensitivities and allergies when her body started to give off some pretty serious signs of problems, I stopped in my tracks. I just thought, it’s time. I can’t put this off any longer.

Enter another new way of eating, that will drive my family crazy, and have me questioning my sanity – the 21-day elimination diet.

There is a bunch of information about the idea of an elimination diet on the web and with Alternative Medicine practitioners. Simply put, this is a process to determine which foods may be causing problems, understanding how great you can feel, then moving forward in that new way. Won’t be entirely simple to do, but seems quite worth the effort.

I’m preparing in this first week. I’ve tried a bunch of recipes from the cookbook with great success. Leaving out certain things has little effect on the finished product. In fact, by adding certain other things, the flavour turns out to be better! The quinoa flakes granola is the most amazing breakfast cereal / snack I have ever had. (I didn’t know there was such a thing as quinoa flakes).

The next post about this topic will include the story of acquiring a high power blender. That journey has taken 2 years and significant expense. But, in order to make the amazing smoothies, nut butters, nut milks, etc. I had to have the real deal. Stay tuned…

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City that eats together

We know that a “family who eats together stays together.” But what about a city?

Families are close knit group with ties that bind them together over time. This shared history gives context and meaning. It can be an enjoyable way to spend time together.

For children, especially, a family meal gives structure and context. They begin to understand a sense of belonging.

Communication takes place around the dinner table that doesn’t have a chance to flourish at other times of the day. In a way, it is like a business meeting, but usually far more enjoyable. (Maybe we can learn something from this for our boardroom tables?)

New York City, the five boroughs and all the communities contained within, surprisingly act like a family. It begins in the way they eat together.

For the month of May, Madison Square Eats took over a small space adjacent to Madison Square Park. My husband and I were lucky enough to be there for the last 2 days of feasting. Vendors prepared food and drink from all parts of the city, representing culinary delights from around the world.

You have to see it and experience it to understand. There are no long and orderly lines where people are quietly waiting for their orders. This is New York baby. You work your way over to the stand you like, place an order, pay and they call your name across a sea of humanity that is talking, laughing and enjoying the ride.

Unfortunately, May is over and the whole operation breaks down for another season. But there is so much more to enjoy. A daily farmer’s market at Union Square and a full time establishment called the “Shake Shack”, in another corner of Madison Square Park to name just two.

It is lunch time here and breakfast time back in Vancouver….time to go eat with my temporary family in New York City.

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Hand made

The other day I was asked, “why does anyone knit anymore”? The assumption, of course, is that mass market consumer wearing apparel is so inexpensive, the economics of making something yourself doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows that goods produced in foreign lands are cheaper. And therefore, better.

But I think differently. As it turns out, so do many others. However, I am a realist. There are only so many things of which I use everyday that I can make for myself, or even source from another local, small-scale manufacturer.

I think the thrill comes from the hunt. As I learn about new and inventive ways that people are turning back to the basics of local resourcefulness, I am inspired.

  • FOOD – for anyone that has followed this blog, I have written about this so many times, (when I search for “local food” there are 2 pages of references). This is well covered, not just by me, but by a quick google search for your area.
  • SHOWS – Make it! – the handmade revolution. An upbeat experience that gives enlightened shoppers the opportunity to buy directly from Canada’s top artists, crafters and designers! Got Craft? – Vancouver’s largest Indie craft fair.
  • MAKER – Mini Maker Faire Vancouver – Vancouver Maker Foundation is a non-profit committed to building a strong and vibrant community of Makers in the city of Vancouver. Maker Faire – A family friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.
  • CLUBS – Lego club – Connecting adult building in greater Vancouver. West Coast Knitter Guild. Knit Social – Our mandate is to help this community of crafters and artisans grow and become even more closely tight-knit.
  • SHOP – Homesteaders Emporium – A one stop shop for all of your urban homesteading needs. Spool of thread – sewing lounge.
  • INFORMATION – The DIY Daily – searching the web so you don’t have to.

I have to give a personal shout out to my Mom – thank-you for teaching me all this stuff, before it was cool. I may not have appreciated it then, but I sure do now. Back in the eighties, (the height of conspicuous consumption), we were recycling, composting, making our own from whole foods, crafting for fun, gardening for the taste.

Food philosophy

I’m taking a Whole Food Workshop again this year, from the same lovely instructor Heather Bruggeman. She keeps a fantastic blog at “Beauty that moves“. Check out her thoughts if you are looking for inspiration.

One of the tasks in the first week was to write about my food philosophy. I had just finished my annual family ski week, and my thoughts on skiing and cooking easily came together. Strange how that sometimes happens.

Preparing food for my family is like skiing. I enjoy it, but it is tough going, leaves me exhausted, other people think I do it effortlessly. There is a peaceful feeling to be out in the snow and smell the clean air, same as my lovely kitchen with sharp knives and wood cutting boards, the smell from the stove. I can sometimes find the elusive rhythm on the snow where carving a turn is the most wonderful feeling. Plating a recipe with the freshest, tastiest ingredients, evocative smell, beautiful color and balance is a most delightful experience, but elusive just the same. But practice does count in both areas. Honing skills, paying attention to details, incremental improvements. However, the most important part of either skiing or cooking is to have fun. If I fall down after attempting a difficult run, or produce a somewhat less than spectacular meal, it doesn’t matter, the process should be fun, introspective, full of learning.

As I prepare new and interesting recipes for my family, I get a curious mix of responses. I eliminate certain dishes straight away due to known food aversions. But that list is always evolving. It is curious to see my daughter eat something quite well because it has no meat in it and my husband is fighting the same thing down because of the texture. (And maybe no meat).

Recently, I served a breakfast of millet, which has virtually no taste, so the extra’s were a must. My son, who has no food “issues”, could barely choke it down because it was so bland. Really?

Chick pea veggie burgers were a general hit on Sunday night. But my son was worried we were not going back to beef burgers, ever.

My challenge is to view all of this as success. Getting my family involved in what they are eating is the point. Understanding what is on the plate and asking themselves questions about where it came from, is it good for them, how much should they eat of it? Remembering to tread softly in the heat of battle, which is what it feels like when new ideas are met with a challenge, is hard to do.

Other ideas on food philosophy:

Corazón Cafe

Restaurant Review by: Fisher Brown 

Name Corazon Cafe
Address Revolución de 1910 385, Centro
La Paz, Mexico, Baja California Sur
Phone 01 612 128 8985
Website

Corazon cafeHello, my name is Fisher Brown. Today I am going to be writing about Corazón Cafe, a nice little restaurant, about 3 blocks up from the Malecon. The first thing that I noticed when I walked into the restaurant was that it had a very wide variety of music. It had all kinds of music, from English modern pop, to Mexican music. The coolest thing about this restaurant was that it reminded me a lot of a restaurant I went to in San Jose Del Cabo, and was the one and only Cynthia Fresh. The last time I went there, it was very wide and open, and that was very much similar to this Corazón restaurant I went to. Another thing I noticed about Corazón was that they really embraced art. While I was there, I noticed a lot of sculptures. Colored lights lighted up most of them. Now onto my review on the food. I ordered red enchiladas, with cheese, and I think that the food tasted great, but I think it could have used a little bit of meat, maybe some chicken. But the most distinguishable feature of this dish was that most of the cheese was melted on top of the enchiladas. Now my favorite thing about this restaurant was that if you go here with you’re friends, you will get a portrait of you and your friends or your family. In conclusion, this restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants so far. –Fisher

Local goodies

Recently, I stopped by a local cheese shop and brought home some Poplar Grove Cheese. Along with that, I picked up some Ace Bakery crisps. A wine from Summerhill and I had a nice little snack, all made in Canada.

It is interesting to look around your grocery store, and even farther flung to nearby specialty shops, and source local ingredients and products. Local folks putting their hard work on display, if we just cast an eye to something new.

It is too easy to quickly grab the brand of cheese with the most prominent display. Choose a wine from 3,000 miles (or more away) and crackers – who can tell the difference anyway?

Wouldn’t it be nice if local farmers, artisans and producers got a slight home team advantage? A sign that displays the local flag? Shouldn’t we know who are neighbours are?

Well in this little sampling, we did. And it tasted great.

Others writing about local food:

Smoked Salmon

If you talk to most people about smoked salmon, they will immediately think of a cold smoke treatment done to large filets of Atlantic Salmon. Then very thinly sliced and served in a number of favourite ways. Bagels and cream cheese in New York or with a creamy dill sauce in Scandinavia.

Here on the West Coast of British Columbia we like to eat Pacific Wild Salmon in the same way as the Indigenous people have done for thousands of years. That is a hot smoke treatment that yields a dry, firm fish which is well-preserved. Both the type of fish and the method of smoking combine together in a way that is very tasty.

At the age of ten, my grandparents moved from Calgary to Vancouver Island. On the many visits we enjoyed over the years, home-made smoked salmon was always in our midst. We might have sandwiches, a bit on crackers with cheese, or just a simple plate of smoked salmon. It became so highly coveted in my family that, depending on the size of piece you received as a gift, was your preference or standing in the family.

When I made my way out to Vancouver as a young woman and married into a West Coast family, my supply of smoked salmon has never been in question. My husband catches the fish and does all the preparation associated with smoking it. Now my children get to enjoy as much as they can take in a sitting, (which is a fair amount). This seems a luxury that I would have surely enjoyed at their age as I do now.

The recipe will not be included today. Suffice to say that these are guarded as closely as all other family secrets. But, you can see by the photo that we “steak” the salmon first. Which makes preparation much easier. However, the eater or chef has to watch out closely for the bones!

Other posts about Pacific Salmon: